March 17, 2015

La Traviata: the spoof

In previous seasons of this blog, I used to do a parody of each of Virginia Opera's productions. "The 2-minute Carmen"; "The 2-minute Butterfly", and so on.

I more or less retired those recently, and then this season the Suits at the Harrison Opera House asked me to write and narrate spoofs for both Salome and La Traviata. These were posted on YouTube in the hopes of 1) possibly selling a few more tickets and 2) proving that we're NOT STUFFY! NOT STUFFY! Oh yeah, we're FAR from stuffy around here!!!

I'll be taking a blog-break soon, but thought I'd close out the mainstage season with the script and corresponding YouTube video for Traviata.

The forrmat for the video was dictated by inclement weather. Each time a shoot with live human actors was scheduled, a gi-normous snowstorm would descend on Southeastern Virginia and cancel it. So my friends at Lucid Frame Productions got creative and came up with a Monty Python-style animation. If indeed "animation" is the correct term. Well - you'll see for  yourself.

First, here's the script:

See this beautiful woman? She’s the glamorous Violetta. Violetta gives simply fabulous parties. She loves expensive clothes, jewels, and champagne. Oh - and rich boyfriends. She has quite few rich boyfriends. She sort of collects them, actually. Hey, everyone needs a hobby! She’s thinking of going to a take-a-number system for potential boyfriends, just to keep them organized.

Violetta would be the ideal woman except for one teensy-weensy, pesky little flaw. She’s got an annoying cough (Violetta coughs violently into someone’s champagne glass, then pantomimes “Oops – sorry.”)

See this guy? That’s Alfredo. He’s a nice boy. He comes from a nice family. He’s having a nice time at the party. He would be the ideal boyfriend except for one teensy-weensy, pesky little flaw. He isn’t rich. Violetta is not impressed. (She coughs violently into Alfredo’s face.) Whoops – there’s that annoying cough again.

Alfredo is very persistent! He corners Violetta after dinner and does two things. First, he gives her a spoonful of Robitussin. Second, he pours out his nice little heart in a declaration of love. Violetta laughs merrily at his boyish charm. (She pantomimes laughing which then turns into a coughing fit.) You know, she should really see her primary care physician about that.

Well, lookie here – Violetta and Alfredo are living together out in the country! Violetta has found her domestic side, spending her days cooking pots of homemade marinara sauce. (She coughs into the pot then makes a face: “Ew, gross”)

Who do we have here? Uh-oh, it’s Mr. Germont, Alfredo’s dad. He’s shocked, shocked, I tell  you, to learn that his baby boy is Boyfriend Number 47 of the glamorous Violetta. He tells her to break if off before the entire family is disgraced. Violetta, after a few coughs of sadness, tells him that even though Alfredo technically isn’t rich, she LOVES him. Germont realizes she’s not so bad, a lot nicer than he was expecting. But she still has to leave Alfredo, because: courtesan. (Germont does a “thumbs-down” gesture. Violetta pantomimes “aw, shucks”) Exit Violetta, coughing.

Look, it’s another fabulous party! Violetta is there with rich boyfriend No. 59. She’s been a busy courtesan! But guess who’s crashing the party? Alfredo. He’s… different. Hmmm… what’s different about him? (Alfredo pantomimes pitching a fit, jumping up and down, etc.) I know! He’s not nice anymore! He calls Violetta a lot of ungentlemanly names like “Robitussin-breath”. Violetta is sad.


(Jump to shot of Violetta in bed, coughing). Uh-oh – I TOLD her she should see a doctor about that cough. I don’t think Robitussin is going to help this girl. No more parties or boyfriends, and she’s all out of champagne. (She tosses away an empty champagne glass) What a bummer. Hey, look – it’s Alfredo, and guess what: he’s nice again! He’s a lot more likeable when he’s nice like this. And look! It’s Mr. Germont, too! He’s sorry for all that stuff he said before. He’s nice too! All this niceness is lifting Violetta’s spirits. She feels WAY better! (She gets out of bed and starts dancing comically, i.e. Charleston or the Twist. Then suddenly she freezes and drops to the floor.) Or…. Maybe not….

And now: here's what Tricia and Gordon of Lucid Frame made of it: Click here for "One-take Opera: Traviata for Simpletons"


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