I’ve taken sick with some kind of stomach bug, and when I crashed out on the couch, I left the TV on PBS, where I was exposed to Berlioz’s grand opera, Les Troyens… all 4 1/2 hours of it. While I was in and out of a fitful sleep, I learned that opera is all about taking a story that could be told in 20 minutes and stretching it out to three hours in song.
With that in mind, I have begun my first opera, based on the popular folk song House of the Rising Sun. It’s a little rough, but keep in mind this is only the beginning, and if sung in another language it will probably rhyme.
DIABETES, an adventurer (Tenor)
CORICIDIN, his best friend (Bass)
UVULA, lover of DIABETES (Soprano)
VELVEETA, the maid (Alto)
The scene is the house of UVULA. The time is any time period for which you can rent cool costumes on the cheap. UVULA sits on one of those half-couch things reading a scroll.
My mistress! I bring you news of great joy! Diabetes returns!
Oh, weep for joy! Joy of joys! Diabetes returns!
Diabetes my love returns!
And he has been gone a really long time!
Forever, it seems.
And don’t say we didn’t warn you, girlfriend.
Where is he now?
He comes down the lane by your house
And now he is opening your gate.
He will soon open the gate of my heart!
And now he comes up the sidewalk
And he is nearing the door
I think he will just walk right in
Because he usually doesn’t bother knocking.
No, he never knocks.
Diabetes! Diabetes! My love returns!
Her love returns!
(DIABETES enters with CORICIDIN and the MEN)
Diabetes! Can it be?
Uvula! My little grommet of love!
My love! My love!
I love to love my love!
And I love to be in love with my love, my love!
I missed you, too.
Now tell me of your adventures
Of all the things you’ve seen
But maybe not everything at once
Save a bit for later, for my attention span is short.
I have traveled all across this world
And I have seen many things
Polar bears and narwhals
And devices that let you vote straight ticket
I have seen our enemies weep in big tears
And I watched as my bosun’s mate
Choked to death on a toothpick
But there was one thing I saw
A thing more tragic and terrible than anything else
I wish to forget it
But oh, my heart, my heart will not allow.
Tell me about it.
Yes, tell us.
I really don’t think you want to hear this.
Shut up. Who asked you, anyway?
You’ll be sorry!
I saw… this house.
What kind of house?
Yes, what kind of house?
We really don’t have anything better to do.
We’re heard this before.
So we’re going for pizza, then.
We’ll be back later.
(The MEN exit. CORICIDIN tries to follow, but DIABETES pulls him back)
I haven’t had pizza in many days.
Nor have I, old friend.
I will make you a nice quiche or something
If you only stay
And tell me of this house.
The house… the house.
Tell us of the house.
It is a house in the new town of Orleans
Not the old Orleans in France
And not the band that sang “Amy”
It is a loud town of high water
And food that makes your mouth hurt
The music there is amazing
And they do interesting things with beads.
I spent many beads there!
And I have many beads from there!
You naughty persons!
Can I go get pizza now?
Tell me more of this house!
The house takes its name
From the first rays of the morning
But rather than a metaphor of hope
It’s the opposite, really
For it has drawn in the poorest of young men
And dropped them down
Grinding them into the filth with cruel heels.
You might say they were brought to ruin.
You might say that, yes,
But he didn’t.
Tell me more, tell me more, tell me more!
As I considered the denizens of this house
I could not help feel
I was no better than they
And perhaps I was one of them.
He was one of them a lot.
What does Coricidin mean by this, my love?
He’s only speaking in jest, my love
Ha, ha, forever the kidder
Good old Coricidin!
Besides, I entreated the mothers of my crew
All except for the bosun’s mate, that is
Not to allow their sons
To befall the fate that befell others.
We have returned!
And the pizza, it was mightily good.
We saved you a slice.
Whoa, look at the time!
I need to go and debrief these men
I owe them many ales for their service
See you soon, my love!
(He departs with CORICIDIN and the MEN)
Do not worry, mistress!
I will step lively
And fetch a box of Klondike bars
And we can watch ‘Pride and Prejudice’ again.
END OF ACT ONE, SCENE ONE