October 20, 2012

The 2-minute Pearl Fishers

WHOOPS! I almost forgot one of the hallowed traditions of this blog: my inanely irreverent opera libretto parodies.

Now that Virginia Opera's run of The Pearl Fishers is coming to an end, I can indulge my snarky side and poke merciless fun at a perfectly nice little opera without worrying that I'll discourage anyone from plunking down their MasterCard for a couple of tickets. Oh boy! There's nothing I enjoy more than disrespecting and totally trashing a classic work of art!

Let the mocking begin: it's

The 2-minute Pearl Fishers
CAST
Zurga, a guy who likes pearls, not to be confused with "Mr. Zurga", the fake name Carl Reiner's character uses in the George Clooney movie "Ocean's 11"
Nadir, a guy who likes girls. He didn't appear in "Ocean's 11" unless it was as a walk-on or something.
Leila, a priestess with short-term memory issues
Lord Brahma, a god (Not the bull you may be familiar with, as it turns out)
Nourabad, an elder. Highly dispensable - forget I mentioned him, okay?
Men of Ceylon, who have a lot to learn about the basics of capitalism
ACT I

(Time: March 23, 1974. Just kidding! A long long time ago. Before cell phones. Before phone booths. Before smoke signals. But not before smoke - big fire in Act III. 
Place: Ceylon)

(A bunch of Ceylonese people are hanging around the beach selling their pearls.)
1ST GUY:
Those are really pretty pearls you've got here. How much for a couple of 'em?

No pearls in THIS thing, just so you know...
for real: a bad source of pearls...
2ND GUY:
Two pearls.

1ST GUY:
That's right, a couple of them. How much?

2ND GUY:
No, that's the price. That'll cost you two pearls.

1ST GUY:
Two pearls for a couple of pearls? But that's... that doesn't make any...

2ND GUY:
You want them, or not?

1ST GUY:
Fine, here you go. (He hands over a couple of pearls.) ...I just can't help but think that there's a basic flaw somewhere in our national economic system.

2ND GUY:
Yeah, you're the Adam Smith of Ceylon. Enjoy your pearls. (Zurga comes in. He's all "het up", as we say in Southern Ceylon.)

ZURGA (speaking loudly, really projecting)
Men of Ceylon! Hear me; hear me well. The time has come for our tribe to choose a new leader; a chieftan; verily, a king. We must choose a bold, daring man, a man of vision. Someone who will, for instance, teach our people that there's no such thing as "fishing" for pearls; that, actually,  you have to "dive" for them.

MEN OF CEYLON:
Wait, ..what?

ZURGA:
Think about it: ever seen a tuna with a pearl in it? Ever said to yourself, "Geez, the pearls ain't bitin' today"?

MEN OF CEYLON:
Whoa... you're right! You're smart!

ZURGA:
I'm Zurga the Baritone, and I approved this message.

MEN OF CEYLON:
Zurga for king! Zurga for king!  Hey, Zurga, now that you're king, any chance you can get George Clooney to be your Prime Minister or something? Maybe have a summer home here? What's he like to work with?

ZURGA:
We've been through this. I'm not in that movie. That movie won't be made for several centuries. Chillax about it.

MEN OF CEYLON:
That's a crushing disappointment. Our spirits are at a nadir of gloom.

NADIR: (who has just wandered in)
Did someone say "Nadir"?

ZURGA: (very excitedly)
NADIR!!!!  Moan ah-mee! Friend! Comrade of many moons ago! Long-lost paisano! Trusted compatriot and childhood pal!

MEN OF CEYLON:
You know this guy?

ZURGA:
Do I know him?! Bow-howdy! Years ago, we fought over a woman and nearly murdered each other, agreeing to part ways and never see each other lest we draw blood and destroy one another in lust-induced rage.

NADIR:
Right. So, all things considered, it's kind of odd that you're so overjoyed to see me, wouldn't you say?

ZURGA:
Not one to hold a grudge, that's your old pal Zurga.

NADIR:
Congratulations on your movie career, by the way. Matt Damon is so KEWL!

MEN OF CEYLON:
George Clooney is gonna come live here and hang out!

NADIR:
Wow!  Hey - look at all these pearls. Why, they're beautiful! What do you do with 'em?

MEN OF CEYLON:
We use them to buy each other's pearls.

NADIR:
I don't understand. What's the point? Look: why don't you use them to create lovely adornments for women-folk such as earrings and necklaces? You could sell them in exchange for goods and services. You could become wealthy.

MEN OF CEYLON:
HOLY CRAP! Maybe Nadir should be the new king!

ZURGA:
Too late. You said I was the king. Nadir, we can be friends again because all the women here are married already, so there's no way we can ever get in trouble again like before.

MEN OF CEYLON:
Look! A boat approacheth! It bears our new priestess, and she's a real looker with a great pair of legs on her! Whoa, what a babe!

ZURGA and NADIR:
Oops. Trouble.

LEILA: (i.e., the aforementioned new priestess. But you probably figured that out - you're quick like that)
I'm here - your new priestess. Hi! What time's church? You people aren't into speaking in tongues and stuff, are you? Oh -and I don't handle snakes under any circumstances, just so you know. So gross. That's a dealbreaker.

ZURGA:
Hi. I'm Zurga, and just FYI: - we're Hindu.

LEILA:
Really? Fine, no problemo. I studied all the religions in grad school. Which caste, Zebra?

ZURGA:
Brahman. And it's "Zurga".

LEILA:
Like the cattle? You know, "Brahman bulls" and such-like?

ZURGA:
Didn't they prep you at all for this?

LEILA:
They just said I'd be paid in pearls. Works for me. All righty, let's get to praying here. Those evil spirits aren't going to keep themselves away, am I right, people?

ZURGA:
Hold on a second. First, the oath of office. Place your hand on the Bible.

LEILA:
I thought y'all were Hindu.

ZURGA:
Right. Silly me! Never mind. Do you promise to uphold your sacred duties, do nothing but pray all day, and never, under any circumstances, have anything to do with men?

LEILA:
Aren't you a man? Aren't we talking right now?

ZURGA:
I meant sex. It was clearly implied we were discussing sex.

LEILA:
It wasn't that clear.

ZURGA:
Fine! Do you promise you won't have any sex for the rest of your life, and just pray all day?

LEILA:
These better be some stunning pearls. Fine! No sex. (aside to the audience. As if this version will ever have an audience) Except if the guy is super-cute! (to Zurga) Want me to pray now?

ZURGA:
You're on the clock. Go.

LEILA:
"Now I lay me down to sleep"...

MEN OF CEYLON:
HINDU!!!!!

LEILA:
Right, right, got it. Sorry. (She starts praying away in a language most of you don't probably know, so.....

ACT II
(Time: later that same day, at nightfall. If this parody wasn't already running a little long, there would be a few good lines for ol' Nourabad, but sadly, there just isn't time. He was pretty angry about it, and I get that - I really do. Satire like this involves making tough decisions, and I'm not afraid to make 'em.)

LEILA:
Thanks, Nourabad! I appreciate your support! Nighty-night! Sleep tight! See ya bright and early at breakfast! I'll say grace! (She yawns.) Golly, eight straight hours of praying will take it out of a girl - I should really go to bed, but I don't think I can sleep. Right in the middle of praying, BAM! -- I saw that super-cute guy who used to undress me with his eyes back in Kandi in the old days. He's still as hot as ever! It's so cool that he's here. (Suddenly, with thunder and lightning bolts, a voice from heaven is heard. It's BRAHMA! No, not the bull, the god! In person!)

BRAHMA
LEILA!

LEILA:
Yes, my Lord?

BRAHMA:
You have got to be kidding me.

LEILA:
Pardon?

BRAHMA:
Wasn't it earlier today - TODAY - that you swore a sacred oath in my name that you would forget about men and just pray to me?

LEILA:
Um, yeppers, that was today.

BRAHMA:
And you would forget about men for... how long, did we say?

LEILA:
Um, the rest of my life.

BRAHMA:
And you couldn't stick to this promise - this sacred religious vow - for twenty-four hours before you're drooling over some hot guy who looks cute in a pair of jeans?  REALLY?!?!

LEILA:
But he is super-cute. You'll have to admit that. I mean, you made him cute, right?

BRAHMA:
Whatever. Brahma out. (He checks out and goes back to Paradise. Nadir enters.)

 NADIR:
 Knock, knock! Hey, sweet pea - how you doin'?

LEILA:
That is the worst impression of Joey from Friends I ever heard. By the way, should you really be here? Didn't you and Zagnut...

NADIR:
Zurga.

LEILA:
Whatever. Didn't you guys swear a sacred oath that you would leave me alone in the future? Aren't you betraying the lifelong bond of friendship you share by sneaking in here to see me? Aren't you ashamed?

NADIR:
At least I didn't get reamed out by a god. I heard that last scene. You got in trouble!

LEILA:
Shut up. Kiss me.

ZURGA: (who bursts in just as Nadir & Leila start sucking some serious face.)
Yo yo yo, what the freak is going on here?

LEILA:
Oh hi, Zaire!

ZURGA:
ZURGA. Geez, didn't you see Ocean's 11? And you're fired, by the way. And just so you know, around here that means actual fire. Tomorrow at dawn. You're toast. Literally. Or charcoal. Something burnt.

LEILA:
Well, you do owe me one day's salary, anyway.

ZURGA:
Fine. Here's a pear. Enjoy.

LEILA:
Wait, the agreement was for pearls, not pears.

ZURGA:
There was a typo in your letter of agreement, but you signed it - no use whining about it now. You could take it up with Human Resources, but they don't open til 9 AM and by then, you'll be... you know...

LEILA:
Toast. Right. Look, be a mensch,  Zipcode, let us go. I know you used to be hot for me too, back in the old days.

ZURGA:
You're right. Just to prove I'm a great human being with a heart of gold, and morally superior to either of you betrayers, I'm going to free you with my clever plan.

NADIR:
What's the plan?

ZURGA:
While all my subjects are asleep, I'll set fire to the village. And when everyone is freaking out, trying to put out the flames and save their infant children, you guys can make good your escape.

LEILA:
Wow - you really are morally superior! Too bad Nadir is super-cute, or you might have gotten lucky.

ZURGA:
I'm a baritone. I'm used to it.
THE END


 My book THE OPERA ZOO: SINGERS, COMPOSERS AND OTHER PRIMATES is available from Kendall Hunt Publishing. Order online or by phone from customer service: 1-800-344-9034, ext. 3020.


2 comments:

  1. thanks for sharing.

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