Robert Benchley: Opera Synopses III


[ And now let me finish off Robert Benchley’s Opera synopses with the third part, “Lucy de Lima”, taken again from Love Conquers All. Obviously I’ll have to find something completely different to do for next Thursday. The first part of this ran two weeks ago. ]

LUCY DE LIMA

Scene: Wales.

Time: 1700 (Greenwich).

Cast

William Wont, Lord of Glennnn Basso
Lucy Wagstaff, his daughter Soprano
Bertram, her lover Tenor
Lord Roger, friend of Bertram. Soprano
Irma, attendant to Lucy Basso
Friends, Retainers and Members of the local Lodge of Elks.

Argument

“Lucy de Lima,” is founded on the well-known story by Boccaccio of the same name and address.

ACT I

Gypsy Camp Near Waterbury.—The gypsies, led by Edith, go singing through the camp on the way to the fair. Following them comes Despard, the gypsy leader, carrying Ethel, whom he has just kidnapped from her father, who had previously just kidnapped her from her mother. Despard places Ethel on the ground and tells Mona, the old hag, to watch over her. Mona nurses a secret grudge against Despard for having once cut off her leg and decides to change Ethel for Nettie, another kidnapped child. Ethel pleads with Mona to let her stay with Despard, for she has fallen in love with him on the ride over. But Mona is obdurate.

ACT 2

The Fair.—A crowd of sightseers and villagers is present. Roger appears, looking for Laura. He can not find her. Laura appears, looking for Roger. She can not find him. The gypsy queen approaches Roger and thrusts into his hand the locket stolen from Lord Brym. Roger looks at it and is frozen with astonishment, for it contains the portrait of his mother when she was in high school. He then realizes that Laura must be his sister, and starts out to find her.

ACT 3

Hall in the Castle.—Lucy is seen surrounded by every luxury, but her heart is sad. She has just been shown a forged letter from Stewart saying that he no longer loves her, and she remembers her old free life in the mountains and longs for another romp with Ravensbane and Wolfshead, her old pair of rompers. The guests begin to assemble for the wedding, each bringing a roast ox. They chide Lucy for not having her dress changed. Just at this moment the gypsy band bursts in and Cleon tells the wedding party that Elsie and not Edith is the child who was stolen from the summer-house, showing the blood-stained derby as proof. At this, Lord Brym repents and gives his blessing on the pair, while the fishermen and their wives celebrate in the courtyard.

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Author: Joseph Nebus

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

5 thoughts on “Robert Benchley: Opera Synopses III”

  1. However, as the fishermen and their wives are about to celebrate in the courtyard, Betty appears with a vengeance. She is extremely annoyed that she was not a part of this opera, and vows to kill everyone involved, thereby making this a genuinely unhappy affair, not to mention the caterers getting stuck for the cost of the the celebration. But Lucy will have none of this, and whacks her with a large mallet used to pound the fish, the meat, and the late arrivals. Betty expires, and everyone is overjoyed that they don’t have to hear anyone sing another lousy aria. The curtain falls, and the audience, greatly relieved, take in a movie afterwards.

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        1. Oh, now, this reminds me that back in the day the Robert Benchley Society would get submissions for its annual essay contest that tried to imitate Benchley’s plot-synopses pieces. But I don’t think they’ve run an essay contest in ages and I’m not sure they’re even still active.

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