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: ...
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?
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...
The Audience: Jesus Christ, someone get 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: Holy water. HOLY WATER.
Tosca: But it only happens because I just LOVE YOU SO MUCH
Cavaradossi: I LOVE YOU TOO
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.]