What Would Rossini Make of a Presidential Election?
Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868) the most gifted Italian born composer between Monteverdi and Verdi, was an opera specialist. He wrote over thirty works for the stage in twenty years. From the farsa La cambiale di matrimonio (The Marriage Contract) in 1810, to William Tell in 1832.
Rossini’s serious operas demand virtuoso singers and a skilled conductors. His fame until very recently rested on his comedies. (Then Marilyn Horne came along and brought with her two generations of virtuoso singers for Rossini’s serious operas–but that’s another story.) Rossini is the only composer I know of who could actually compose the sound of laughter-with notes! His orchestras cackle and comment and criticize and laugh, as his characters get themselves into all kinds of consternation. Think I Love Lucy.
So what would this master comedian think of our current political situation? Composers have always delighted in poking fun-or exposing-royalty and those in authority. Monteverdi used ancient Rome in Poppea to skewer Venetian society. Verdi’s early operas inspired Garibaldi and his followers. What about John Adams’ Nixon in China?
I submit that our buddy Rossini would have written a comic opera called I pazzi stupidi (The Stupid Crazies) with
Barak, Il Obama (Il padrone)
Giuseppe, Conte di Biden (Il padronino)
Michela, duchessa d’Obama
Mitto Romni (Il bello)
Rico Peri (il govenatore incapaci)
Michela, la Bachmann ( l’ignoranta)
We’d begin with a buddy duet between il padrone and il padronino as they embark on separate travels to visit the peasants. (Non tremare, o poveri.) They will have a cabaletta after singing lyrically of mutual affection and fidelity where in the fast notes one will comment on the cluelessness of the other (Ma che presidente, Orrore!)
La duchessa Michela will have an aria and cabaletta about her work and life in the palazzo casa bianca. (O vegitabili!) with an extended mad scene-in B mahor_ allowing for a top note of F#-decrying childhood obesity (Maledetti grossi!)
Meanwhile, il govenatore incapaci, in a hot tub, will attempt to blow dry his hair, ( O chiome bello), being saved from electrocution just in time by the chorus (O periglio!) Undeterred, he swears in an extended dramatic scene not to reveal the secret of safe bathing with blow dryer (No, non posso!) Said secret being kept from his rivale, Romni il bello.
But il Romni, busy on the campaign caravana has no time for such frippery. In a patter song in 6/8 he declares to Wolf Blitzer on CNN his own disdain for such tonsorial perfection (O signor lupo! Dippi-di doo, dippidi-di, dippidi -da)
Meanwhile, La duchessa and the other Michela (L’ignorante) discover that they are long-ago rivals for the same man, from their days in the convent. L’ignorate boxes the duchessa’s ears and escapes to the Festa d’Iowa. There, as the carnavale proceeds, the three candidates (I pazzi) sing of their rivalry (D’Iowa, d’New Hapmshire, giorni tremedi.)
Time for the final banquet. A silver platter of victuals is presented to the three candidates. But wait! Before anyone can eat, a winged chariot brings Il padrone, Il padronino and la duchessa. Unbeknownst to all, Michela, L’igonrante, has sworn vengeance on la duchessa-never mind the election. Steal a man from me? Vendetta! There’s a sumptuous platter of the local specialty, enjoyed by all (O Corndog gentilissimi)-but they are poisoned. The Electorate has had enough (Shut up). In the final ensemble with chorus, our (O Oprah! O speranza!)
Well, not exactly a comedy. But you must admit this is more fun than the shenanigans being parodied! Bravo Rossini!