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Monday, April 1, 2013

Out Comes the Evil

Prince of Darkness cracks down on Gounod Faust. 
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Art by Joe Quesada from Spider-Man: One More Day © Marvel Comics.
Balloon caption by the author.
In a stunning series of multiple lawsuits filed in New York, Paris and the United Kingdom, Mephistopheles, the reigning Prince of Darkness, Lord of Hell and General Manager of the Underworld has demanded that Charles Gounod's opera Faust be withdrawn from the general operatic repertory.

The legal actions (which arrived in smoking red envelopes from the international firm of Milton, Chadwick and Waters on the desks of the general managers of the Metropolitan Opera, Paris Opera and Royal Opera House of Covent Garden) were leaked to Superconductor after a facilities staff member noticed a "funny smell" coming from the mail slots at the Metropolitan Opera legal department.

"I think it was sulfur...maybe brimstone," the staffer said. "Either way, it made a terrible stink."

The legal document cites "irreperable emotional damage to the reputation and character of the Dark Lord" by the Gounod opera, which reduces Mephistopheles to a conjurer who leaves caskets of jewelry on people's doorsteps and spends most of his time in the opera as Faust's travel agent.

The wrath of Hell is particularly directed at the Gounod Faust.

  1. The legal departments of Hell hereby find that Faust causes reckless disregard for the possibility of eternal damnation.

2. Our client, absolute ruler of Hell, has suffered severe emotional distress after seeing a recent performance where the actor playing Mephistopheles (referred to hereafter as the Prince of Darkness, Lord of Flies and Ruler of the Eternal Abyss) produced a handkerchief out of a cane, an act of cheap illusion that violates clear precepts set forth by the Thaumaturgic Daemonologie written at Corfe Castle in 1233....

and so forth.

A sub-clause in the document points out that the forces of Hell have no complaints about similar operas on the same subject by Ludwig Spohr (Faust), Hector Berlioz (Le Damnation de Faust), Arrigio Boito (Mefistofele) and Ferruccio Busoni (Doktor Faust. Also exempted: Franz Liszt's Faust Symphony and  Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 8, also known as the Symphony of a Thousand.

Hell's legal representative on Earth, New York attorney Kevin Lomax, commented: "Those operas tell my client's side of the story. We feel that the Gounod work has run its course, and he's frankly sick of "Avant des quitter lieux."

"However," Mr. Lomax added "that Soldier's Chorus is damned catchy."

A source inside the opera company said "It is not our business to negotiate with unrecognized rulers of parallel dimensions" citing a 1984 incident when a giant Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man destroyed the dwelling of a member of the New York Philharmonic.

The Met has two more performances of Faust scheduled for the 2013 season.

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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.