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Monday, March 7, 2011

Lino e Lucia di Arachidi, an Opera Parody

An Opera, with music by Vincenzo Guaraldi (and occasionally, Beethoven and Mendelssohn.)
Carlo Marrone (left) following the wedding night in Act III of Lino e Lucia di Arachidi
Art and costume design by Charles Schultz.
Image © Estate of Charles Schultz/United Features Syndicate
(With apologies to Charles (Carlo) Schultz. Any resemblance of this to the beloved Peanuts® characters means that you spend entirely too much time at the opera.)

Overture: "Lino e Lucia."

Act I: (Near a baseball diamond, after practice. To the left, the kite-eating tree.)
Lucia is a member of the van Pelt family. They live in a big spooky house in Suburbia which is haunted by the ghost of the Barone Rosso, who perished in aerial combat during the First World War with Snoopido.

She enters, flying a kite. After it gets caught in the tree, she sings a lengthy aria: "Le gioie di essere scorbutico."

Lucia (and her kite) are rescued by Schroedero, an itinerant local musician who is leaving to study Beethoven at a nearby conservatory. They sing a lengthy duet "Se tu fossi l'ultima ragazza sulla terra!" and declare fealty to each other. Schroedero promises to marry Lucia when he knows how to play the Hammerklavier sonata from memory.

Act II: (A room in the van Pelt house.)
Lucia's conniving brother, Lino van Pelt, is determined to save the family pumpkin patch by marrying his sister off to another nobleman, Carlo Maroni. Lino in turn will (reluctantly) marry Carlo's little sister Alva, thus saving the family blanket factory. Carlo and Lino sing a duet cementing their friendship: "Perché tutti sempre prendersela con me?"

(An outdoor wedding chapel in the pumpkin patch.)
As the two couples approach the altar (with Snoopido, the faithful Maroni family companion, acting as the minister) Alva notices that Carlo keeps looking at a little red-headed girl in the front row. She sings a two-part aria about her devotion to Lino ("O mio babboo caro!...Non è forse la cosa più carina?") but Lino is clearly only interested in the marriage from a business perspective.

Just after both couples sign the marriage contract, Schroedero bursts in, runs to the piano and plays the opening movement of the Hammerklavier, stopping the opera dead for twelve minutes. While everyone applauds his performance, he is too late to stop the wedding. All sing a massive ensemble, ("O buona dolore!" sung to the tune of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!") and the "minister" does the happy dance.

Act III: (On the roof of the Cane di Casa, a ramshackle dwelling)
On that same evening, Lino confronts Schroedero on top of the local residence (where Snoopido lives.) They agree to a piano duel, the next morning at a local brick wall belonging to Carlo Maroni.

(The main hall of  Van Pelt Castle)
Lucia, (in her bright blue dress) goes up the grand staircase to the wedding chamber. A scream (Auuuuuuuuuugh!!!) is heard. Horror-struck, Snoopido slides down the balcony, and attempts to tell the guests (in a series of mute gestures and interpretive dances) what has happened. He is followed by Lucia, who is still in the blue dress and carrying a football.

In the famous "Really, Really Mad Scene," Lucia reveals that she had pulled the football out at the last minute, just as Carlo had attempted to kick it. Emotionally shattered by the ordeal, she sings a few bars of the Hammerklavier  to warm up, and then explains to the stunned crowd: "Ho dovuto farlo. Era un blocco di testa" in a lengthy aria.

Act IV: (At Carlo Maroni's wall)
Schroedero is alone with his piano. He plays the entire Hammerklavier sonata by Beethoven (stopping the opera dead for another 40 minutes) and finds out that Lucia has left him forever. She has moved to California, setting up a local practice offering:

[Psychiatric Help: 5¢.]

With his last breath, Schroedero sings his final two-part aria: "Il medico è qui" and collapses on his piano.
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.