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Friday, May 27, 2011

The Rest of the Story?

Five Operatic Sequels We'd Like to See
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Opera has its share of "sequels". The most famous is Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, which follows The Barber of Seville. Gluck followed Iphegenia in Aulis with the Greek princess' adventures in Tauris.

Back for more: Giuseppe di Luca as Rigoletto.
Richard Strauss followed the events of the Trojan War with The Egyptian Helen. And Wagner, not satisfied with his libretto for Siegfried's Death wrote three prequels to it, which eventually became The Ring of the Nibelung.




The burgeoning home market for direct-to-video movie sequels inspired this list of possible follow-ups to famous operas. These could be performed by small companies desperate for new repertory, or filmed and released on DVD for home viewing.

L'ultimo ridere
("The Last Laugh", follows Rigoletto and Don Giovanni)
The hunchback Rigoletto teams up with the cuckolded Count Ceprano and his old buddy Sparafucile for a second attempt to whack out the Duke of Mantua. As for the Duke, he has problems of his own with his new servant, Leporello. Leporello and Rigoletto set the Duke up to be murdered at a masked ball, but end up accidentally killing each other.

Die Rache der Ortrud
("Ortrud's Revenge" Episode III of the Grail Wars Trilogy, following Parsifal and Lohengrin)
Lohengrin of Montsalvat is about to inherit the crown of the Kingdom of the Grail from his father Parsifal. Suddenly the castle finds itself under siege from the pagan sorceress Ortrud, who seduces Parsifal and steals the Holy Grail from under the nose of the elderly knight Gurnemanz. Father and son must go on a quest to get the Grail back.

Smutnoye Vremya
("The Time of Troubles". Sequel to Boris Godunov)
The sequel opens with the marriage of the False Dmitri in the Kremlin. The would-be Tsar is thrown out of a Kremlin window by an angry mob, and Marina commits suicide. The Pretender's chief advisor Shuisky, who led the angry mob, becomes the new Tsar, Vasili I. Vasili must then contend with a second false Dmitri, who invades Russia at the head of a Polish army. The country descends into war with  Poland. Russia is then saved by Prince Pozharsky, aided by the Novgorod merchant and national hero Kuzma Mihn. The best part is: it really happened.

Le Triomphe des Taureaux
("The Bull Triumphant." Sequel to Carmen)
The band of smugglers breaks Don José (who is on death row) out of a Seville jail. He goes on the payroll of the bullfighter Escamillo, who is determined to enter the good Don in the Running of the Bulls. At his dead mother's grave, José has a touching reunion with Micaëla, who forgives him after finding out that he murdered Carmen. The couple revisits the tavern of Lillas Pastia. They perish in the streets of Pamplona, run over by one of Escamillo's pet bulls. We expect to hear from Ernest Hemingway's attorneys very soon.

Quiet Please
(Sequel to Capricco)
The gang from Capriccio reunites at the Chateau of their patron for the funeral of the Countess Madeleine, who has been killed in a coach accident. The impresario LaRoche reveals that he had an affair with the Count, much to the consternation of the Count's new wife, the actress Clairon. Following a series of flashbacks to the first opera, the cast goes out into the chateau garden and starts writing an operatic sequel to  Capriccio based around the all-important question: "Which is more important? The opera company or the union?"
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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.