Robert Benchley: Opera Synopses II


[ Since the first of Robert Benchley’s Soap Opera synopses last week was reasonably well-received, let me follow up with the next from Love Conquers All. It’s some lighthearted fun, and should let me break in this new theme I’m trying out in place of Clean Home. ]

IL MINNESTRONE

(PEASANT LOVE)

Scene: Venice and Old Point Comfort.

Time: Early 16th Century.

Cast

Alfonso, Duke of Minnestrone Baritone
Partola, a Peasant Girl Soprano
Cleanso Young Noblemen of Venice. Tenor
Turino Young Noblemen of Venice. Tenor
Bombo Young Noblemen of Venice. Basso
Ludovico Assassins in the service of Cafeteria Rusticana Basso
Astolfo Assassins in the service of Cafeteria Rusticana Methodist
Townspeople, Cabbies and Sparrows

Argument

Il Minnestrone is an allegory of the two sides of a man’s nature (good and bad), ending at last in an awfully comical mess with everyone dead.

ACT I

A Public Square, Ferrara.—During a peasant festival held to celebrate the sixth consecutive day of rain, Rudolpho, a young nobleman, sees Lilliano, daughter of the village bell-ringer, dancing along throwing artificial roses at herself. He asks of his secretary who the young woman is, and his secretary, in order to confuse Rudolpho and thereby win the hand of his ward, tells him that it is his (Rudolpho’s) own mother, disguised for the festival. Rudolpho is astounded. He orders her arrest.

ACT 2

Banquet Hall in Gorgio’s Palace.—Lilliano has not forgotten Breda, her old nurse, in spite of her troubles, and determines to avenge herself for the many insults she received in her youth by poisoning her (Breda). She therefore invites the old nurse to a banquet and poisons her. Presently a knock is heard. It is Ugolfo. He has come to carry away the body of Michelo and to leave an extra quart of pasteurized. Lilliano tells him that she no longer loves him, at which he goes away, dragging his feet sulkily.

ACT 3

In Front of Emilo’s House.—Still thinking of the old man’s curse, Borsa has an interview with Cleanso, believing him to be the Duke’s wife. He tells him things can’t go on as they are, and Cleanso stabs him. Just at this moment Betty comes rushing in from school and falls in a faint. Her worst fears have been realized. She has been insulted by Sigmundo, and presently dies of old age. In a fury, Ugolfo rushes out to kill Sigmundo and, as he does so, the dying Rosenblatt rises on one elbow and curses his mother.

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

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