April 3, 2015

Top 10 Rejected Curses for "Cavalleria Rusticana"

Now, don't jump all over me, Faithful Readers, but as much as I love Mascagni's Sicilian one-acter Cavalleria Rusticana, there's one moment that always struck me as funny. It's the conclusion of the big confrontation between that two-timing jackass Turiddu, and Santuzza, the lover he dumped in favor of the comely Lola.
Gemma Bellincioni as Santuzza
Wash your mouth out with soap, girl!

It's when Santuzza, so angry that she forgets to sing, shrieks out a terrifying curse on Turiddu as he walks away: "A TE LA MALA PASQUA!" In English this literally means "A BAD EASTER TO YOU!"

I'm confident that there are elements of Italian/Sicilian culture, not shared by Americans, that explain how this phrase came to be a thing. It reminds me of my own parents, in a way. My dad always had trouble remembering to bring the trash container out to the curb on pick-up days, so my mom always put a post-it note on the refrigerator door the night before: "Happy Trash Day". In time, "Happy Trash Day" became a thing in our family; something you said as a random greeting on any day.

So on this Good Friday in the year of our Lord 2015, I flew over to Mascagni's studio, rummaged through some desk drawers, and came upon a legal pad containing some alternate curses for Santuzza's big moment, curses that obviously were rejected in favor of the "bad Easter" one.

As a scholar, I feel it my duty to share them with you now. Feel free to adopt any of them that strike you as useful. And gosh - isn't it eerily coincidental and convenient that there happen to be ten of them? I'll say!

TOP 10 REJECTED CURSES FOR SANTUZZA IN CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA

10:  I HOPE ALL YOUR CANDY HAS NUTS IN IT BECAUSE I KNOW YOU'RE ALLERGIC!

9.   I HOPE YOUR BUNNY BITES YOU AND THEN RUNS AWAY AND YOU NEVER SEE IT AGAIN!

8.   I HOPE YOU HAVE TO SING AT AN OUTDOOR SUNRISE SERVICE AND THE WEATHER IS AWFUL WITH RAIN TURNING TO SLEET!.

7    I HOPE YOU GO TO AN EASTER BRUNCH AND THE PRIME RIB IS RUBBERY AND GREASY AND THE DESSERTS ARE DRY AND TASTELESS!

6.   I HOPE A TREE FALLS ON YOU ON ARBOR DAY! (Golly, I didn't even know they celebrated Arbor Day in Sicily...)

5.   I HOPE YOU GO TO A PLAY ON LINCOLN'S BIRTHDAY AND SOMEBODY SHOOTS YOU! (I'll admit - this one really surprised me,)

4.   I HOPE YOU GET A CUTE FUZZY LITTLE CHICK FOR EASTER AND YOUR FERRET EATS IT WHILE YOU WATCH!

3.   I HOPE YOU GET ONLY CINNAMON JELLY BEANS AND NO FRUITY ONES!

2.   I HOPE A GUST OF WIND BLOWS YOUR EASTER BONNET OFF YOUR HEAD AND INTO A MUD PUDDLE! (Apparently Mascagni's librettists momentarily forgot that Turiddu is a guy, so this rejection makes sense.)

And the number one rejected curse for Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana:

1.  I HOPE YOU DON'T GET PASSED OVER AND THAT YOUR BITTER HERBS ARE INAPPROPRIATELY SWEET!

Mascagni, genius that he was, chose well in the end.


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