Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tosca, Act I

Tosca
A series of unfortunate events in three acts

Music: Giacomo Puccini
Libretto: Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa

[Act I: Due to certain important historical events that take place during the story, this opera has a very specific setting (Rome, a couple days after June 14th, 1800) – but if you think that detail stops people from attempting to update the opera, you're wrong.]

Everyone Ever: That's... really weird.

Administrators of the Bregenzer Festspiele: YEAH WELL WE WERE IN A JAMES BOND MOVIE SO SUCK IT 

[The curtain opens on the interior of Sant'Andrea del Valle, a church in Rome. On one side of the stage, a large painter's scaffold stands beneath a covered painting; on the other, there is a locked gate leading into the Attavanti chapel. There's also a statue of the Virgin Mary near the chapel entrance, which you wouldn't think would be a plot point but it kinda is. Enter Angelotti, a political dissident who has just escaped from prison.]

Angelotti: Thank god I'm finally here! I was afraid that everyone I passed on the street was an undercover cop.

Javert: [offstage] I WILL HUNT YOU TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH

Puccini: Wrong country, decade, and art form. Get out.

[Angelotti runs over to the statue of Mary, examining it closely and mumbling to himself like the type of crazy vagrant he so strongly resembles.]

Angelotti: Oh, come on. My sister said it would be right over here – ah!

[He discovers a key hidden near the statue, which he promptly uses to open the chapel gate. He retreats inside just as the sacristan enters, carrying a bunch of paintbrushes.]

Sacristan: grumble grumble stupid artists and their stupid paints getting all over my robes –

[He looks around.]

Sacristan: Signor Cavaradossi? ... Huh. I could have sworn I heard him in here.

[One of the church bells chimes the Angelus, and the sacristan kneels to pray.]

Sacristan: And lo, an angel of the Lord appeared to Mary, and he was all like, "Hey girl haaaaay you're holy and you're going to bear the son of God," and she was all like, "That sounds pretty cool." And thus the Word of God was made flesh and came to dwell among us. Amen.

[Enter Mario Cavaradossi, painter and tenor extraordinaire.]

Cavaradossi: The fuck are you doing?

Sacristan: I'm praying the Angelus, you miserable heathen. 

[Cavaradossi climbs the scaffold and removes the cover from his painting. It's a foxy blonde woman.]

Sacristan: Wait, who is that?

Cavaradossi: It's Mary Magdalene.

Sacristan: Well, it looks suspiciously like the woman who's been praying near the statue of the Madonna every day for the past week.

Cavaradossi: Yeah... she was pretty hot, so I painted her while she wasn't paying attention.

Sacristan: That's kinda sketchy.

Cavaradossi: Just shut up and give me my paints.

Sacristan: grumble grumble godless pervert

[Cavaradossi resumes painting for about a minute before stopping to take out a picture of his girlfriend and stare at it lovingly.]

The Audience: Is he getting paid by the hour?

Sacristan: He wishes.

Cavaradossi: It's funny how people can look so different from each other! My girlfriend, the famous singer Floria Tosca –

The Audience: Name-dropper.

Cavaradossi: – has dark hair, but the woman I've been painting has blonde hair!

The Audience: Yeah, people can have different hair colors. You're not just noticing this now, are you? 

Cavaradossi: But that's not all! The woman in the painting has blue eyes, but Tosca's eyes are black!

The Audience: ... wait, her eyes are black?

Cavaradossi: Blacker than obsidian. Blacker than the nearly palpable darkness of a sealed tomb miles beneath the surface of the earth, in which slumbers an ancient, unspeakable horror. To gaze into her eyes is to taste madness. It is to be drawn into a twilit realm of gnawing fear and waking nightmare, from which there is no hope of escape.

The Audience: ...

Cavaradossi: ...

The Audience: ...

Cavaradossi: And she's got tits like you wouldn't fucking believe.

The Audience: Of course she does.

Cavaradossi: And even though I'm painting this random woman on a church wall without her knowledge or consent –

The Audience: – which, we have to admit, is pretty creepy –

Cavaradossi: – I'm still only thinking of Tosca because we're SO IN LOVE

The Audience: D'awwww.

Sacristan: THE ONLY WOMAN DESERVING OF SUCH SINGLE-MINDED ADORATION IS THE VIRGIN MARY BECAUSE SHE BECAME A MOTHER (which is, of course, a woman's highest calling) WITHOUT EVER DEBASING HERSELF BY ENGAGING IN THE SEX

The Audience: You're a bit of an extremist, aren't you.

Sacristan: No, that's more or less the church's official position.

Cavaradossi: And that's why I'm an agnostic! Among other reasons.

Sacristan: Shut it. Since you're clearly too busy thinking lustful thoughts to do your damn job, can I leave?

Cavaradossi: Please do.

[As the sacristan is leaving, he notices Cavaradossi's basket of food on the scaffold.]

Sacristan: Are you fasting or something?

Cavaradossi: I'm just not hungry.

Sacristan: Pity. Your flesh could use a little mortification.

Cavaradossi: JUST GO ALREADY

Sacristan: Fine. Lock up when you leave.

[He exits. Cavaradossi resumes painting. Angelotti, assuming that the church is empty again, emerges from the chapel. Cavaradossi hears the gate creak and looks up.]

Cavaradossi: WHO'S THERE

[Angelotti looks terrified for a moment, but then he recognizes Cavaradossi.]

Angelotti: Thank god it's you! You have to help me!

Cavaradossi: Sorry, man; I don't have any spare change.

Angelotti: I'M NOT A HOBO YOU ASSHOLE

Cavaradossi: [recognizing him] ... Angelotti? Weren't you in prison?

Angelotti: Yeah, I just broke out of the Castel Sant'Angelo. Can you help me out?

Cavaradossi: Sure, I –

Tosca: [offstage] MARIO

Cavaradossi: Fuuuck. It's my crazy-jealous girlfriend. [to Angelotti] You'd better hide again.

The Audience: Crazy-jealous, huh. Weren't you babbling about how much you loved her two minutes ago?

Puccini: This is opera. Insane jealousy is love.

[Somewhere in a drafty Parisian attic, Mimi and Rodolfo high-five.]

Tosca: [offstage] MARIO WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU

Cavaradossi: [calling back] Right here, darling! [to Angelotti] Seriously, man, you need to get back in that chapel.

Angelotti: BUT I'M HUNGRYYYYY

Cavaradossi: [handing him the basket of food] Here. Now shut up and go.

[Angelotti retreats into the chapel as Cavaradossi goes to let Tosca in.] 

Tosca: [offstage] MARIO LUIGI CAVARADOSSI IF YOU DON'T LET ME IN THIS INSTANT

Cavaradossi: [opening the door] Hello to you too, darling.

Tosca: Why was the door locked and WHO WERE YOU TALKING TO JUST NOW AND IS SHE PRETTIER AND/OR YOUNGER THAN I AM

Cavaradossi: The sacristan wanted it shut, I was talking to you, and you need to calm down because there's no one else here.

Tosca: NUH-UH I HEARD YOU TALKING TO SOMEONE SO WHERE IS SHE

Cavaradossi: There's no other woman. Calm down.

Tosca: ARE YOU SAYING I'M WRONG

Cavaradossi: That is exactly what I'm saying. And also that I love you.

The Audience: For some reason.

[Cavaradossi attempts to give Tosca sloppy makeouts, but she pushes him away.]

Tosca: Not in front of the statue of Mary! I can feel her ever-watching eyes silently judging us!

Cavaradossi: Yeah, I've never really been a fan of T. J. Eckleburg's sculptures. There's always something weird and off-putting about them.

Tosca: Hush, darling. I have to pray!

[She kneels in front of the statue of Mary and arranges some flowers around the base.]

The Audience: That's not prayer; that's botany.

Tosca: YOU SHUT UP I'M THE BEST CATHOLIC EVER [to Cavaradossi] Sooo I'm singing in a concert tonight, but if you meet me backstage after I'm done, we can go to your villa and have passionate pre-marital sex!

The Audience: Yup. Best Catholic ever.

Tosca: I'M PIOUS AS SHIT SO YOU CAN ALL FUCK OFF

Cavaradossi: Sorry, what were you saying about tonight? 

Tosca: We're gonna go to your flowery little love-nest and bone in the light of the full moon!

Cavaradossi: [distracted] Yeah, sure. That sounds fine.

Tosca: I'm overwhelmed by your enthusiasm.

Cavaradossi: No, really. I'm excited and aroused and stuff.

Tosca: It's been so long since we enjoyed each other carnally in the sweet embrace of nature, with the moon and the stars and all sorts of nocturnal creatures watching us in the throes of passion and OH GOD I NEED IT SO BAD

Cavaradossi: ... did it just get really hot in here?

Tosca: I'm just sayin' – Tosca's got a fire in her loins that needs you to quench it.

The Audience: And Tosca apparently likes referring to herself in the third person.

Cavaradossi: Are you sure we can't just have a quickie here in the church?

Tosca: Of course not. That would be sinful.

The Audience: You really pick and choose with the sin stuff, don't you.

Cavaradossi: Well, fine. If we're not gonna bone yet, I need you to leave so I can get some work done.

Tosca: Are you seriously kicking me out of church?

Cavaradossi: I really need to finish this painting. The sacristan has been a passive-aggressive bitch to me all day.

Tosca: Fine, I'll go. But can I see your painting first?

Cavaradossi: Sure!

The Audience: ... this isn't going to go well, is it.

Tosca: [looking at the painting] WHO IS THAT AND WHY IS SHE SO BEAUTIFUL

Cavaradossi: It's supposed to be Mary Magdalene.

Tosca: NO SHE LOOKS FAMILIAR SOMEHOW

Cavaradossi: Just one of those faces, I guess.

Tosca: HOLY SHIT IT'S THE MARCHESA ATTAVANTI

Cavaradossi: Well, technically...

Tosca: I KNEW YOU WERE SEEING SOMEONE JUST NOW YOU RAT BASTARD TELL ME WHERE SHE'S HIDING

Cavaradossi: Whoa, girl; calm your exceptionally nice tits. She was here to pray and I painted her. That's all.

Tosca: ... you promise?

Cavaradossi: I promise.

Tosca: [whining] But now she's staring at meeeee and I don't like iiiiiiit

Cavaradossi: You are literally the craziest person I have ever met.

Tosca: But her eyes –

Cavaradossi: – are nowhere near as beautiful as yours. [mesmerized] Your black, shining eyes... filled with all the secrets of the nether-world... one could almost get lost in them forever...

Supernatural Fans in the Audience: Ooookay, time to break out the salt and the holy water.

Tosca: [hugging Cavaradossi] Aww, you say the sweetest things sometimes.

Cavaradossi: [waking from his trance] What? I didn't say anything.

Tosca: Okay, I guess I'll leave now. But can you do me a favor and paint her eyes black, like mine?

Cavaradossi: You're crazy and jealous and apparently feel the need to interfere with my work, but I love you!

The Audience: That doesn't really answer her question.

Tosca: You would forgive me for my jealousy if you knew how it tormented me inside! Sometimes I get so upset that I black out and wake up hours later in a field – naked, covered in blood, and surrounded by eviscerated livestock!

Cavaradossi: That might be the most terrifying thing I've ever heard.

The Audience: I know, right?

Tosca: But it only happens because I just LOVE YOU SO MUCH

Cavaradossi: I LOVE YOU TOO

[They embrace.]

Tosca: GODDAMMIT MARIO YOU MESSED UP MY HAIR

Cavaradossi: Sorry. Can I finish painting now?

Tosca: Of course – just promise me that no women of any hair color whatsoever will come and pray here!

Cavaradossi: That's not something I really have much control over, but... sure?

Tosca: Good. See you tonight!

[She starts to go.]

Tosca: Oh, and don't forget to paint her eyes black!

Cavaradossi: YES THANK YOU PLEASE LEAVE NOW

[They give each other a quick kiss and Tosca finally leaves. Once she's gone, Cavaradossi hurries over to the chapel and lets Angelotti out again.]

Cavaradossi: Sorry about that.

Angelotti: She seems a bit... clingy.

Cavaradossi: You've got no idea. And she tells her priest literally everything in confession, so I thought it would be best to leave her in the dark about this.

Angelotti: Yeah, keeping secrets from your jealous and easily-angered girlfriend seems like the most logical course of action here.

Cavaradossi: Shut up. So what's your plan?

Angelotti: Well, I either need to hide somewhere or to get out of Rome. My sister, the Marchesa Attavanti, left some women's clothes in the chapel so I could disguise myself.

Cavaradossi: Oh, so that's why she's been coming here so often.

Angelotti: Yuuup. She took a pretty big risk, helping me escape from Scarpia and all that.

Cavaradossi: Scarpia! That asshole of a baron who likes to torture men and seduce women!

The Audience: He's gonna be a baritone, isn't he.

Puccini: How'd you guess?

Cavaradossi: But seriously, you can't stay here until nighttime. There's a path behind the rectory that leads through some fields and straight to my villa – you can hide there. [handing Angelotti a key] This will get you inside, and I'll be there as soon as I can. If there's any trouble, you can hide in the well – there's a secret room about halfway down.

Angelotti: Awesome. [fetching the dress from the chapel] Should I wear this?

Cavaradossi: No need. The path is usually deserted at this time of day.

Angelotti: Aww, but I wanted to be pretty!

Cavaradossi: Fiiiiine, you can play dress-up. But make it quick, okay? It probably won't be long before they discover that –

[A cannon sounds in the distance.]

Cavaradossi: – you've escaped. Fuuuuuck.

Angelotti: Yeah, I'm pretty sure that was the cannon at the prison.

Cavaradossi: Okay, we need to get you out of here before Scarpia and his henchmen show up. I'll come along, just in case you run into any trouble!

[They rush out. The sacristan enters.]

Sacristan: HEY MISTER PAINTER I'VE GOT GREAT NEWS

[He looks around and sees that he's alone.]

Sacristan: Oh, for the love of – he's gone again? That painting's never gonna get finished. [sighing] And I wish I could see his face when he hears the news! After all, anyone who ruins a heathen's day is granted an indulgence!

The Audience: Shouldn't you treat him with respect and love? You know, like Jesus would?

Sacristan: That sounds like filthy Protestant talk to me.

[Various priests, altar boys, and children's choir members enter in a hurry.]

The Chorus: WHAT'S GOING ON

Sacristan: Wonderful news! Napoleon has just been defeated by the Austrian army!

The Chorus: WOW REALLY TELL US MORE

Sacristan: When they write about this war in history books, the Battle of Marengo will forever be remembered as the final defeat of that uppity Corsican scumbag!

Historians in the Audience: [snicker] 

The Chorus: HOW DO YOU KNOW ALL THIS

Sacristan: General Melas sent a messenger along with news of the battle! I mean, the battle wasn't technically over yet, but he was completely sure that the French army wouldn't possibly be able to turn their crushing defeat into a surprise victory!

Historians in the Audience: [guffaw]

Sacristan: And in celebration of this joyous occasion, we're going to be doing a full Te deum mass that starts in ten minutes, followed by a gala celebration at Palazzo Farnese and the premiere of a new cantata – presumably written in the past thirty minutes – starring Floria Tosca!

The Chorus: ooooooooh 

Sacristan: Now go get ready for the mass!

The Chorus: LOL NO IT'S PARTY TIME

[And then the children run around screaming about how excited they are.]

The Audience: This is an entirely accurate depiction of how children behave in large groups. 

Puccini: Thanks!

The Audience: That wasn't a compliment.

[The craziness continues until Scarpia enters, followed by several flunkies. Let's do a roll call!]

Spoletta: I'm Spoletta, Scarpia's right-hand man!

Sciarrone: And I'm Sciarrone, Scarpia's left-hand man!

Javert: AND I'M JAVERT – DO NOT FORGET MY NAME

Spoletta and Sciarrone: STOP FOLLOWING US

The Chorus: WOOOO WE'RE SO EXCITED AND STUFF

Scarpia: EVERYONE SHUT THE FUCK UP THIS IS A CHURCH FOR FUCK'S SAKE

[Everyone cowers.]

Sacristan: Um... sorry. We're just really excited about the great news and stuff...

Scarpia: Everyone get out. Start preparing for the mass.

[The chorus departs quickly, and the sacristan prepares to leave as well.]

Scarpia: Except you.

Sacristan: [whimpers]

Scarpia: [to Spoletta] Search every corner. There has to be evidence somewhere.

Spoletta: Yes, sir!

Scarpia: [to Sciarrone and the others] Keep watch at the doors, but don't make it too obvious.

Sciarrone and the others: Yes, sir!

Scarpia: [to the sacristan] And you're going to answer my questions – but I want you to know in advance that this is a matter of national security. I will literally feed you your own entrails if you lie to me.

Sacristan: ... yes, sir.

Scarpia: A prisoner just escaped from the Castel Sant'Angelo, and we have reason to believe he hid here. Where is the Attavanti chapel?

Sacristan: [pointing] Over there! And the gate's open!

[They go inside. Scarpia returns, holding a fan.]

Scarpia: I'll have to find the jackass who fired off that cannon and torture him to death. Angelotti was here, but he must have known we were coming and run away. He must have had some help... but from whom?

[He paces, tapping the fan against his hand.]

Sacristan: Maybe from whoever left that fan in the chapel... ?

Scarpia: Oh, don't be ridiculous. This clearly belonged to Angelotti.

Sacristan: But... that's a lady's fan.

Scarpia: His predilection for dressing in women's clothing is widely known – and it's at least half the reason we arrested him in the first place.

Sacristan: It looks like there's a family crest on it.

Scarpia: [looking closer] HOLY CRAP THERE IS

The Audience: The world's greatest detective. Move over, Batman.

Scarpia: This belongs to the Marchesa Attavanti! [noticing the painting] And there she is! Thank god no one painted her eyes black, or I wouldn't have recognized her! [to the sacristan] Who painted that portrait?

Sacristan: Mario Cavaradossi.

Scarpia: Tosca's boyfriend? This might be an excellent opportunity to blackmail her into sleeping with me.

[One of the policemen comes out of the chapel, carrying Cavaradossi's empty food basket.]

Sacristan: The basket! It's empty!

Scarpia: So?

Sacristan: There was food in it for Cavaradossi, but it was full the last time I saw him!

Scarpia: Yeah, the funny thing about food is that it tends to disappear when people eat it.

Sacristan: But he said he wasn't hungry – and he didn't have a key to the chapel, either!

Scarpia: Well, I guess I'll just have to arrest this guy and bang his girlfriend. Work, work, work.

[Tosca enters.]

Scarpia: Speak of the devil! [stepping out of sight] I guess it's time to start Operation Manipulate a Jealous Girlfriend Into Helping Me Arrest Her Lover!

Tosca: MARIO WHERE ARE YOU

Sacristan: Who the hell knows? He just vanished, probably with the help of some heathen black magic.

Tosca: What? You're crazy.

[The sacristan exits. Scarpia steps out of his hiding place, dips his hand into the holy water basin, and offers some to Tosca.]

Scarpia: Care to bless yourself, my lady?

Tosca: Thank you! That's not remotely sketchy behavior at all!

Scarpia: It's nice to see someone like you coming to church with entirely pure intentions. Not like some other sluts I could mention.

Tosca: [eyes narrowing] What do you mean?

Scarpia: Well, there's a woman – who looks remarkably like the one in that painting, by the way – who's been coming her every day to meet her lover. [holds up the fan] She even left this among his paintbrushes!

[Tosca grabs the fan and notices the crest.]

Tosca: WHAT THE SHIT IS THAT ATTAVANTI WHORE DOING WITH MY BOYFRIEND

Scarpia: OH NO IS CAVARADOSSI YOUR BOYFRIEND I HAD NO IDEA THIS MUST BE SO UPSETTING FOR YOU

Tosca: I JUST WANTED TO TELL HIM THAT I COULDN'T GO TO HIS LOVE-SHACK TONIGHT BECAUSE I HAVE TO ATTEND THE ROYAL GALA BUT I GUESS HE'S TOO BUSY BONING SOME PRETTY BLONDE BITCH

Scarpia: [to himself] This is way easier than anticipated. It's like taking candy from a fish, or shooting babies in a barrel, or however those sayings go.

Tosca: THAT FUCKING ASSHOLE

Scarpia: I'm sorry to see you're so upset – is there anything I can do comfort you?

The Audience: You are such a sleaze.

Scarpia: Yuuuuuuuup.

Tosca: HOW DARE HE TURN OUR SPECIAL PLACE INTO A SEEDY BROTHEL

Scarpia: YEAH THAT'S TERRIBLE I THINK YOU SHOULD GO THERE RIGHT NOW AND FIND HIM AND TELL HIM EXACTLY WHAT YOU THINK OF HIM

Tosca: YEAH THAT'S A GREAT IDEA AND I'M DEFINITELY NOT BEING MANIPULATED RIGHT NOW

[Tosca runs out. Scarpia signals for Spoletta to come over, and people begin filing into church.]

Scarpia: Follow her. She'll lead you straight to Cavaradossi and Angelotti.

Spoletta: [in a singsong voice] Weeeeee're following the diva, the diva, the diva –

Scarpia: Shut up. Meet me in my quarters at the Palazzo Farnese when you've found them.

Spoletta: Yes, sir.

[Spoletta exits. The mass begins, and the procession of cardinals, priests, and altar boys passes behind Scarpia.]

Puccini: You know, I'm a little concerned that Scarpia isn't villainous enough.

The Audience: Maybe you could give him a gloating monologue while the Te deum goes on in the background.

Puccini: You think?

The Audience: Oh, yeah. The juxtaposition of sacred and profane actions will make him seem so much more evil than he would on his own!

Puccini: ... you may have a point.

The Chorus: OH GOD YOU CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH

Scarpia: GO, TOSCA – FEEL MY VENOM PENETRATE YOUR BOSOM

Puccini: How's that?

The Audience: It's a good start. Try expanding on his lustful intentions.

The Chorus: PRAISE GOD'S NAME NOW AND FOREVER

Scarpia: I CAN'T WAIT TO SEND CAVARADOSSI TO HIS DEATH WHILE I SCREW HIS GIRLFRIEND

The Audience: Good, good.

Puccini: And now for the big finish!

Scarpia: TOSCA YOU MAKE ME FORGET GOD

Everyone: YAAAAY JESUS

Puccini: ... nailed it.

[End of Act I.]

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pagliacci, Act II

Previous installment: Act I

Act II: Sooo let's do a quick recap here. Canio (the murderous clown), Nedda (the murderous clown's wife), Beppe (the only named character in the opera who isn't actively trying to fuck and/or murder Nedda), and Tonio (the scheming hunchback who is also a Men's Rights Activist) are getting ready to perform a show for a group of townsfolk in Bumfucchio, Italy. Canio has also just discovered that Nedda is having an affair with one of the villagers, but he doesn't know with whom (SPOILER ALERT: it's Silvio!) and Tonio is manipulating Canio into murdering Nedda and her lover because Tonio happens to be one of the most irredeemable assholes in the history of opera. Seriously, fuck that guy. Also, Nedda and Silvio think it's a good idea not to run away together until after the performance, even though her crazy, jealous, violent husband knows that she's cheating on him.

The Audience: Brilliant plan.

Nedda: Canio wouldn't dare hurt me in front of the entire village! It's foolproof!

The Audience: [sigh] It was nice knowing you.

[Meanwhile, Beppe is the only person who seems to actually give a fuck about their performance.]

Beppe: :(

[But he's also trying to make sure Nedda doesn't get murdered.]

Beppe: :( :( :(

[And now we're more or less caught up. On with the show! The stage has been set for the play-within-the-opera, and the villagers enter and start taking their seats.]

The Chorus: LET'S ALL GET GOOD SEATS FOR THE SHOW

Tonio: EVERYBODY SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP

The Chorus: Nah, we think we're gonna keep yelling for another ten or twenty pages. And we're also gonna let our children run wild all over your set!

Tonio: I hate you all so much.

The Chorus: COME ON START THE SHOW ALREADY

[Beppe and Nedda enter.]

Beppe: WE'RE NOT PERFORMING A DAMN THING UNTIL YOU ASSHOLES PAY US

The Chorus: Fiiiiiiine.

[Nedda goes around and starts collecting money from the chorus. A fight breaks out between a couple villagers because they're Italian and that's all the reason they need.]

The Chorus: YEAH HIT THAT DOUCHEBAG IN THE FACE

[While everyone is distracted, Silvio slips out of the crowd and finds Nedda.]

Silvio: Hey, baby. Gimme some sugar.

Nedda: Don't be a fucking idiot. My husband is right over there. Also, you should be glad he didn't see who you were earlier, because then he'd probably stab you to death.

Silvio: Oh, don't be so melodramatic. We're still planning to run away together after the show, right?

Nedda: Of course. Now that Canio knows I'm cheating on him, our marriage is probably gonna take a turn for the worse.

Silvio: No shit. In any case, I can't wait for us to be together forever!

Creepy Ghost Twins: ... and ever... and ever...

[Silvio goes back into the crowd and Nedda finishes collecting everyone's money.]

The Chorus: WHY HASN'T THE SHOW STARTED YET COME ONNNNNNN YOU LAZY FUCKERS

[Nedda, Tonio, and Beppe scamper backstage. The curtain rises.]

The Chorus: YAAAAAAY IT'S STARTING EVERYONE SHUT UP

[The Play-Within-the-Opera: Nedda/Colombina is alone in her kitchen, waiting for her lover (Beppe/Arlecchino).]

Nedda: BOY I'M SURE HAPPY MY HUSBAND ISN'T HOME BECAUSE I'M GOING TO CUCKOLD THE SHIT OUT OF HIM

The Chorus: GET SOME

Nedda: Also, where the fuck is Taddeo with my FreshDirect order? He was supposed to be here ages ago.

[Beppe approaches the house, strumming a lute or a mandolin or whatever the fuck.]

Beppe: COME OUT, COLOMBINA -- DON'T LET ME WAIT
YOU CATHOLIC GIRLS START MUCH TOO LATE
AH, BUT SOONER OR LATER IT COMES DOWN TO FATE
I MIGHT AS WELL BE THE ONE

Nedda: There's Arlecchino!

[She sits down at the table, with her back to the door. Enter Tonio/Taddeo, carrying a chicken.]

Tonio: There's my beloved! [sighing] Oh, if only I could tap that sweet ass! Even though she finds me utterly revolting, I might as well try to seduce her. You know, just 'cause.

The Chorus: HA HA HA HE'S SO FUNNY

The Audience: Nooooope.

[Tonio comes up behind Nedda.]

Tonio: Baby, I should call you "my back," because I gotta hump. [pause] ... you. I gotta hump you.

Nedda: First of all, no. Second of all, give me that damn chicken. Third through tenth of all, that was the worst pick-up line I've ever heard and I find you utterly repugnant and please never speak to me again.

Tonio: [whispering] That last part wasn't in the script.

Nedda: [whispering back] But it sure felt appropriate!

[Tonio falls to his knees in front of Nedda.]

Tonio: Pleeeeeeeease sleep with me! I know you're as pure as the driven snow --

The Chorus: IT'S FUNNY BECAUSE SHE'S A SLUT

Tonio: -- but I need to get me some of your hot body!

[Nedda snatches the chicken from Tonio.]

Nedda: Fuck off, Taddeo.

Tonio: But -- but --

[Beppe climbs in through the window, sneaks up behind Tonio, and kicks him in the ass.]

Beppe: GTFO N00B

Tonio: OH NO SHE ALREADY HAS A LOVER well then I guess I'll go outside and keep watch for them because that's clearly the logical thing to do here.

My Readers: Are you really looking for logic in an operatic parody of a Commedia dell'Arte performance?

Me: Shut up. I don't need your sass.

[Tonio hobbles outside to keep watch while the lovers embrace.]

Nedda: Arlecchino!

Beppe: Colombina!

[They exchange some chaste kisses and then sit down to dinner instead of going off to have sex.]

The Chorus: ... this is the most boring affair ever.

Nedda: ISN'T THIS DINNER SUPER DELICIOUS

Beppe: IT SURE IS EVEN THOUGH YOU'RE HOGGING ALL THE FOOD

Nedda: WELL YOU'RE HOGGING ALL THE WINE SO FUCK YOU

[Beppe takes a vial of liquid out of his pocket and gives it to Nedda.]

Beppe: Here! Use this to drug your husband, and then we can run away together!

Nedda: YAAAAAY

[Tonio runs back in, looking terrified.]

Tonio: HEY GUYS PAGLIACCIO IS COMING BACK AND HE KNOWS WHAT'S UP

Nedda and Beppe: OH SHIT

Tonio: I'M OUT, BITCHES

[Tonio hides in the closet and Arlecchino slips out the window.]

Beppe: Don't forget to roofie your husband!

Nedda: I won't forget, darling! Just wait until midnight, and I'll be yours forever!

[Canio/Pagliaccio enters and hears Nedda's last line.]

Canio: [to himself] THOSE WERE THE SAME WORDS THAT SLUTTY SLUT SLUT SAID TO HER LOVER THIS AFTERNOON AHHHHH GODDAMMIT

Tumblr Users in the Audience: And that's what trigger warnings are for.

[Canio takes a deep breath and tries to calm down. SPOILER ALERT: It doesn't work so well.]

Canio: HEY COLOMBINA WAS THERE ANOTHER MAN HERE JUST NOW

Nedda: I have no idea what you're talking about. Are you drunk or something?

Canio: Yuuuuuuup.

Nedda: Why are you home early?

Canio: Oh, did I interrupt something? [pointing to the table] And if you were alone, why are there two places set for dinner?

Nedda: Oh, that was for Taddeo -- but he hid in the closet when he heard you coming.

[Tonio steps out of the closet.]

R. Kelly: This is amazing. I really need to write an opera one of these days.

Tonio: Everything she says is true! She's pure and wonderful and would never, ever lie to or cheat on her husband!

The Chorus: IT'S FUNNY BECAUSE IT'S NOT ACTUALLY TRUE AT ALL

Canio: [to the chorus] SHUT THE FUCK UP

The Chorus: oh shit

Canio: [to Nedda] WHAT'S HIS NAME

Nedda: Whose name?

Canio: YOUR LOVER YOU FUCKING WHORE

The Audience: Is anyone else, like... super uncomfortable right now?

Silvio: Yuuuuup.

Nedda: Hey, Pagliaccio, maybe you should calm down --

Canio: MY FUCKING NAME ISN'T FUCKING PAGLIACCIO I'M JUST THE CUCKOLDED JACKASS WHO TOOK YOU IN AND MARRIED YOU WHEN YOU WERE STARVING AND HOMELESS AND I THOUGHT YOU LOVED ME

Chorus Women: OH MAN THIS PLAY IS SO GOOD WE'RE GONNA CRY

Chorus Men: SHUT UP WE'RE TRYING TO LISTEN TO THIS UNEXPECTED TIRADE THAT IS CLEARLY A PART OF THE SHOW

Silvio: Uh, guys? I don't think he's acting.

Chorus Women: Exactly! His emotions are so raw that it's almost impossible to tell that everything he's saying is written in the script! He's such a wonderful performer!

Silvio: That's the exact opposite of what I just said.

Chorus Men: SHUT IT

Canio: I THOUGHT THAT YOU WOULD LOVE ME OR AT LEAST RESPECT ME BUT I WAS CLEARLY WRONG BECAUSE YOU'RE A HEARTLESS DEVIL WOMAN

Nedda: [looking out at the villagers] You guys have to know something's wrong here, right? Is anyone gonna back me up if shit starts to go down?

The Chorus: BRAVO BRAVO THIS IS THE BEST PLAY EVER

Nedda: ... fuck.

The Audience: [facepalm]

Nedda: [to Canio] Well, if I'm such a heartless bitch, maybe you should divorce me.

Canio: YOU'D LIKE THAT, WOULDN'T YOU

Nedda: Kinda, yeah.

Canio: NO FUCKING WAY NOW TELL ME YOUR LOVER'S NAME

Nedda: [attempting to get the play back on track] Well, I guess it's time to tell you the truth! Taddeo, tell Pagliaccio that the man who was with me before was just the adorable, harmless Arlecchino!

Canio: DO YOU THINK THIS IS A FUCKING GAME

Nedda: APPARENTLY

Canio: TELL ME HIS NAME OR I'LL MURDER YOU IN FRONT OF THIS WHOLE AUDIENCE

Nedda: My mama didn't raise no snitch. I'm not telling you shit, you punk-ass motherfucker.

Beppe: [to Tonio] Hey -- shouldn't we do something about this, maybe?

Tonio: What do I look like, a police officer?

[Canio pulls out a knife.]

The Orchestra: [starts playing The Rains of Castamere]

Game of Thrones Fans: Too soon.

Canio: WHAT'S HIS NAME

Nedda: GO FUCK YOURSELF 

Silvio: [jumping to his feet] JESUS CHRIST SOMEONE HELP HER

The Chorus: SIT DOWN SILVIO YOU'RE RUINING THE BEST PART OF THE SHOW

[Canio grabs Nedda and stabs her repeatedly.]

Silvio and Beppe: HOLY FUCK

The Chorus: OH MAN THIS IS AWESOME THEY EVEN HAVE FAKE BLOOD AND EVERYTHING

Canio: TELL ME WHO IT IS

Nedda: [dying] ... nnnnnnope... you'll never know...

[Silvio draws a dagger and rushes onto the stage.]

The Audience: That might have been useful some time before Canio stabbed your lover to death.

Silvio: NEDDA NOOOOO

Canio: Oh. Well, I guess it's this guy.

[Canio stabs Silvio repeatedly.]

Nedda: ... goddammit, Silvio.

[Silvio and Nedda both die.]

The Chorus: ... waaaaaaaaaaait a minute.

The Audience: Oh, NOW you get it, you dumb fuckers.

The Chorus: HOLY SHIT HE JUST KILLED TWO PEOPLE

The Audience: And you didn't do a damn thing. Fuck you all.

Canio: [dropping the knife] THE COMEDY IS FINISHED

The Chorus: ...

The Audience: ...

The Chorus: ... THAT WASN'T A FUCKING COMEDY AT ALL YOU ASSHOLE

[End of the opera.]

Monday, June 17, 2013

Pagliacci, Act I

Pagliacci
An absolute shit-show in two acts (Act II)

Music and Libretto: Ruggero Leoncavallo


[Prologue: Tonio, the scheming hunchback, steps in front of the curtain and directly addresses the audience.]

The Audience: Hey, why do hunchbacks in opera always have to be morally bankrupt?

Leoncavallo: Because their outer ugliness represents their twisted souls?

The Audience: You're an asshole.

Tonio: EVERYONE SHUT UP AND LISTEN

The Audience: ...

Tonio: That's better. [bowing] Allow me to introduce myself – I'm the Prologue!

The Audience: Hi!

Tonio: Soooo here's the deal. Usually, when someone recites a prologue for the audience, it's full of a bunch of "don't worry if bad stuff happens onstage because none of it is real" bullshit. Well, I'm here to tell you that THAT'S NOT THE FUCKING CASE ANYMORE. This is a true fucking story and Leoncavallo poured his heart and soul into composing this shit and every emotion you see and hear onstage tonight is ONE HUNDRED FUCKING PERCENT REAL. Tears? Real. Anger? Real. Murder in a fit of jealous rage? YOU BETTER FUCKING BELIEVE IT'S REAL.

The Audience: Wait. Are you telling us that someone is actually, literally going to get murdered onstage tonight?

Tonio: I'M NOT DONE YET SO SHUT THE FUCK UP. Tonight, you assholes are going to learn that actors and singers and performers are real people with real emotions who feel the same things that you do.

The Audience: Yeah, we're already aware of that.

Tonio: ... you are?

The Audience: Yeah. It's not a hard concept to grasp.

Tonio: Oh. Shit.

[Awkward silence.]

Tonio: THEN LET'S GET ON WITH THE FUCKING SHOW

[He leaves. The curtain rises.]

The Audience: Well, that was weird.

[Act I: A village in Calabria, some time during the mid-nineteenth century. A trumpet and a drum are heard offstage. A chorus of villagers enters.]

The Chorus: OH SHIT THE CLOWNS ARE COMING YAAAAAAY THEY'RE SO AWESOME

The Audience: Sorry, but no. Clowns are fucking terrifying.

The Chorus: WE LOVE THIS TROUPE OF TRAVELING PERFORMERS BECAUSE THEY MAKE US MOMENTARILY FORGET THAT OUR LIVES ARE FUCKING BORING

The Audience: Oh. Well, that makes a bit more sense.

[The performers enter on a large cart, each dressed as a character from the Commedia dell'Arte. Tonio is dressed as Taddeo, the buffoon; Beppe and Nedda are dressed as the lovers Arlecchino and Colombina, respectively; lastly, Nedda's husband Canio is dressed as Pagliaccio, who is Colombina's cuckolded husband.]

Leoncavallo: See, their roles in the show mirror their roles in real life!

The Audience: Yeah, that's great.

Leoncavallo: Except Beppe, because fuck that guy.

Canio: Thank you, good townsfolk –

Chorus Men: YAAAAAAAY ARLECCHINO AND COLOMBINA OTP 4EVER

Chorus Women: WHY WOULD YOU SHIP THEM IT'S SO BORING AND CANON

Canio: Uh... guys?

Chorus Men: SHUT UP THEY'RE ADORABLE

Chorus Women: NUH UH PAGLIECCHINO IS THE ONLY PAIRING THAT MAKES ANY SENSE IF YOU PAY ATTENTION TO THE HOMOEROTIC SUBTEXT

Canio: [banging on a drum] WOULD YOU ASSHOLES SHUT UP WITH YOUR FANDOM BULLSHIT

The Chorus: [covering their ears] JESUS CHRIST THAT'S LOUD

[Canio keeps banging on the drum.]

The Chorus: DEAR GOD OUR EARS ARE BLEEDING

[Canio stops.]

Canio: Are you guys gonna let me talk now?

The Chorus: AHAHAHA THAT WAS FUNNY

The Audience: No, it wasn't. You people are morons.

The Chorus: LET'S LISTEN TO WHAT HE HAS TO SAY

Canio: OKAY I KNOW YOU GUYS ARE ILLITERATE HICKS SO I'M GONNA KEEP THIS SHORT

The Chorus: Thanks!

Canio: WE'RE PUTTING ON A REALLY FUCKING AWESOME SHOW TONIGHT WITH ALL KINDS OF WACKY HIJINX AND YOU'LL LAUGH AND CRY AND IT'LL BE AMAZING SO Y'ALL BETTER FUCKING BE THERE

The Chorus: WOOOOOO

[Tonio tries to help Nedda down from the cart, but Canio shoves him away.]

Canio: DON'T TOUCH MY WIFE

The Chorus: HA HA EVERYONE LAUGH AT THE CRIPPLED GUY

Tonio: Fuck you guys.

The Audience: No, but seriously. Y'all are assholes.

Random Villager 1: HEY CANIO COME DRINK WITH US

Canio: OKAY

Beppe: I'LL COME TOO

Canio: How about you, Tonio?

Tonio: I'll be along soon; I have to clean the donkey first.

The Audience: Is that supposed to be taken literally or as some sort of euphemism?

Leoncavallo: … can it be both?

Random Villager 2: Watch out, Canio! He's only staying behind so he can bang your hot wife!

[Everyone laughs.]

Canio: AHAHAHAHA YEAH THAT'S REALLY FUNNY but if you say that to me again I'll break your fucking nose.

Random Villager 2: Calm down, man. It was just a joke.

Canio: It's all well and good when Nedda takes a different lover onstage, because that's what's supposed to happen and everyone thinks it's funny. But if I ever found out she had a lover in real life, I'd probably have a serious mental breakdown and murder them both in the most public way possible.

The Chorus: … wait, seriously?

Canio: But I'd never actually do that, because Nedda would never cheat on me!

Nedda: HA HA YEAH TOTALLY BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE WRONG AND NOT REMOTELY HOT IN ANY WAY

[Suddenly, bagpipes are heard playing offstage.]

The Chorus: OH MAN THE BAGPIPES I GUESS IT'S TIME FOR CHURCH NOW

The Audience: … wait, there are Italian bagpipes?

Canio: JUST REMEMBER TO COME TO OUR SHOW TONIGHT

The Chorus: WE ARE BELLS NOW DING DONG DING DONG

The Audience: This is stupid.

The Chorus: AND ALL THE TEENAGERS WANT TO MAKE OUT ON THE WAY TO CHURCH BECAUSE THAT'S APPARENTLY A THING IN THIS TIME PERIOD

[Canio exits with Beppe and the villagers. Nedda stays behind.]

Nedda: Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck fuck fuck fuckity fuck he suspects I'm having an affair and he's probably going to kill me OH GOD WHAT DO I DO

The Audience: Well, you should probably keep calm and think about how you can get out of this dangerous situation.

Nedda: Actually, I think I'm just going to waste my time wishing I could turn into a bird.

The Audience: [facepalm]

Nedda: BIRDS ARE AWESOME AND THEY GO WHEREVER THEY WANT AND DO WHATEVER THEY WANT AND NOTHING CAN STOP THEM

The Audience: Except bigger birds. Or lightning, for that matter.

Nedda: SHUT UP IT'S MY DAYDREAM AND I CAN DO WHAT I WANT

[Tonio enters and listens to her.]

Nedda: UP IN THE SKY – IT'S A BIRD – IT'S A PLANE – NO WAIT IT'S DEFINITELY A BIRD BECAUSE PLANES HAVEN'T BEEN INVENTED YET

The Audience: You're crazy.

[Nedda starts to leave and notices Tonio watching her.]

Nedda: JESUS TONIO WHY ARE YOU SUCH A CREEPER

Tonio: It's not my fault! You're so hot that I can't control my own actions!

Nedda: You're gross.

Tonio: NO I'M NOT I'M THE NICEST GUY EVER AND YOU'RE JUST REJECTING ME BECAUSE YOU HATE HUNCHBACKS

Nedda: No, I'm rejecting you because you're an asshole who won't stop sexually harassing me even though I've repeatedly told you I'm not interested and I'm also married to your boss.

Tonio: COME ON STOP FRIENDZONING ME

Nedda: First of all, the friend zone is made-up bullshit. Second, I don't even want to be your friend, so please fuck off already.

Tonio: WHATEVER YOU'RE JUST A BITCH AND YOU'RE GONNA BE SORRY

Nedda: Just leave before I call Canio and he beats the hell out of you.

Tonio: HE WON'T GET HERE BEFORE I GET SOME

[Tonio attempts to grab Nedda and kiss her. Nedda grabs a whip left by the cart and whacks Tonio in the face.]

The Audience: Boom. Headshot.

Nedda: MOTHERFUCKER YOU BETTER CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE I WRECK YOU

Tonio: [running away] I WILL HAVE MY VENGEANCE

Nedda: What a fucking asshole.

[Enter Silvio, Nedda's secret lover.]

Silvio: Nedda!

Nedda: WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE IT'S BROAD DAYLIGHT ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY

Silvio: You worry too much. Canio's at the tavern, and I made sure no one saw me on my way here!

Nedda: Yeah, well. If you'd gotten here any sooner, Tonio would have seen you.

Silvio: Whatever. Tonio's just an idiot.

Nedda: And an attempted rapist.

Silvio: Jesus Christ. Are you okay?

Nedda: Yeah, I'm fine. I hit him in the face with a whip.

Silvio: That's my girl.

[They embrace.]

Silvio: Soooo since your life with the traveling circus sucks so much, how about running away with me?

Nedda: You know I can't.

Silvio: Come onnnnnnnn you don't even love Canio and you never have so why are you still with him and why don't you want to run away and don't you love meeeeeeeeeeee

The Audience: Jesus. Are all the men in this opera crazy, needy, or some combination of the above?

Leoncavallo: Yeah, pretty much.

Nedda: It's too dangerous, darling. It would be better for us to part ways and pretend this never happened.

[Tonio enters, unseen.]

Silvio: THEN YOU DON'T LOVE ME ANYMORE

Tonio: [to himself] She's cheating on Canio? Time to get my Iago on!

[He runs off.]

Nedda: Of course I love you, Silvio!

Silvio: BUT YOU'RE GONNA LEAVE AND I'M GONNA BE SAD

Nedda: But –

Silvio: I DON'T BELIEVE IN LIFE AFTER LOVE
I CAN FEEL SOMETHING INSIDE ME SAY
I REALLY DON'T THINK I'M STRONG ENOUGH

Nedda: Oh, for fuck's sake. Fine, I'll run away with you and we'll live happily ever after and stuff.

Silvio: Really?

Nedda: Really.

[They start making out as Tonio and Canio arrive, hidden in the shadows.]

The Audience: He moves pretty quickly for a hunchback.

Silvio: [to Nedda] Meet me at midnight, and then we can be together forever!

The Audience: That's not even remotely ominous wording.

Nedda: Yes, I'll be yours forever!

Canio: A-HA

Nedda: OH SHIT IT'S MY HUSBAND – RUUUUUUUN

[Tonio and Canio emerge from their hiding place, but Silvio escapes before Canio can see his face. Canio chases him off.]

Canio: [offstage] WHERE ARE YOU GODDAMMIT

[Tonio laughs.]

Nedda: Is this your fault?

Tonio: Yuuuuuuuuuup.

Nedda: This is low, even for you.

Tonio: It serves you right, harlot.

Nedda: Fuck yourself.

[Canio re-enters.]

Canio: WHO THE FUCK WAS THAT

Nedda: I have no idea what you're talking about.

Canio: [drawing his knife] TELL ME HIS NAME OR I'LL KILL YOU

Nedda: Not gonna happen.

[Canio raises his knife to stab her, but Beppe rushes in and stops him.]

Beppe: JESUS FUCKING CHRIST MAN PUT DOWN THE KNIFE

Canio: NEVER

Beppe: THE TOWNSPEOPLE ARE COMING AND THE SHOW STARTS IN TWENTY MINUTES

Canio: TELL ME HIS NAME

Beppe: CALM THE FUCK DOWN AND GO GET READY

[Tonio takes Canio off to one side as Beppe talks to Nedda.]

Nedda: Are we seriously going to do a show after he just tried to kill me?

Beppe: Oh, you know Canio. He'll calm down soon enough.

Nedda: And what if he doesn't?

Beppe: It's not like he'll try anything with the whole town watching. Come on – what could go wrong?

The Audience: [groan]

[Nedda exits.]

Canio: [to Tonio] What the fuck am I gonna do now?

Tonio: Just stay calm and get ready for the show. Nedda's lover will probably be there, so maybe you can kill two birds with one knife!

The Audience: You mean stone.

Tonio: I know what I mean.

Beppe: COME ON YOU GUYS GET DRESSED ALREADY

[Tonio and Beppe exit. Canio begins to get ready.]

Canio: HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO PERFORM WHEN I JUST FOUND OUT MY WIFE IS CHEATING ON ME OH GOD MY WHOLE LIFE IS RUINED

[He starts putting on his makeup and costume.]

Canio: SMIIIILE THOUGH YOUR HEART IS ACHING
SMIIIIILE EVEN THOUGH IT'S BREAKING

At Least a Quarter of the Audience: Ohhhh, we get it now! This is that opera about the sad clown, isn't it?

Everyone Else: Oh, for fuck's sake.

[End of Act I.]

Next installment: Act II