An absolute shit-show in two acts (Act II)
Music and Libretto: Ruggero Leoncavallo
[Prologue: Tonio, the scheming hunchback, steps in front of the curtain and directly addresses the audience.]
The Audience: Hey, why do hunchbacks in opera always have to be morally bankrupt?
Leoncavallo: Because their outer ugliness represents their twisted souls?
The Audience: You're an asshole.
Tonio: EVERYONE SHUT UP AND LISTEN
The Audience: ...
Tonio: That's better. [bowing] Allow me to introduce myself – I'm the Prologue!
The Audience: Hi!
Tonio: Soooo here's the deal. Usually, when someone recites a prologue for the audience, it's full of a bunch of "don't worry if bad stuff happens onstage because none of it is real" bullshit. Well, I'm here to tell you that THAT'S NOT THE FUCKING CASE ANYMORE. This is a true fucking story and Leoncavallo poured his heart and soul into composing this shit and every emotion you see and hear onstage tonight is ONE HUNDRED FUCKING PERCENT REAL. Tears? Real. Anger? Real. Murder in a fit of jealous rage? YOU BETTER FUCKING BELIEVE IT'S REAL.
The Audience: Wait. Are you telling us that someone is actually, literally going to get murdered onstage tonight?
Tonio: I'M NOT DONE YET SO SHUT THE FUCK UP. Tonight, you assholes are going to learn that actors and singers and performers are real people with real emotions who feel the same things that you do.
The Audience: Yeah, we're already aware of that.
Tonio: ... you are?
The Audience: Yeah. It's not a hard concept to grasp.
Tonio: Oh. Shit.
Tonio: THEN LET'S GET ON WITH THE FUCKING SHOW
[He leaves. The curtain rises.]
The Audience: Well, that was weird.
[Act I: A village in Calabria, some time during the mid-nineteenth century. A trumpet and a drum are heard offstage. A chorus of villagers enters.]
The Chorus: OH SHIT THE CLOWNS ARE COMING YAAAAAAY THEY'RE SO AWESOME
The Audience: Sorry, but no. Clowns are fucking terrifying.
The Chorus: WE LOVE THIS TROUPE OF TRAVELING PERFORMERS BECAUSE THEY MAKE US MOMENTARILY FORGET THAT OUR LIVES ARE FUCKING BORING
The Audience: Oh. Well, that makes a bit more sense.
[The performers enter on a large cart, each dressed as a character from the Commedia dell'Arte. Tonio is dressed as Taddeo, the buffoon; Beppe and Nedda are dressed as the lovers Arlecchino and Colombina, respectively; lastly, Nedda's husband Canio is dressed as Pagliaccio, who is Colombina's cuckolded husband.]
Leoncavallo: See, their roles in the show mirror their roles in real life!
The Audience: Yeah, that's great.
Leoncavallo: Except Beppe, because fuck that guy.
Canio: Thank you, good townsfolk –
Chorus Men: YAAAAAAAY ARLECCHINO AND COLOMBINA OTP 4EVER
Chorus Women: WHY WOULD YOU SHIP THEM IT'S SO BORING AND CANON
Canio: Uh... guys?
Chorus Men: SHUT UP THEY'RE ADORABLE
Chorus Women: NUH UH PAGLIECCHINO IS THE ONLY PAIRING THAT MAKES ANY SENSE IF YOU PAY ATTENTION TO THE HOMOEROTIC SUBTEXT
Canio: [banging on a drum] WOULD YOU ASSHOLES SHUT UP WITH YOUR FANDOM BULLSHIT
The Chorus: [covering their ears] JESUS CHRIST THAT'S LOUD
[Canio keeps banging on the drum.]
The Chorus: DEAR GOD OUR EARS ARE BLEEDING
Canio: Are you guys gonna let me talk now?
The Chorus: AHAHAHA THAT WAS FUNNY
The Audience: No, it wasn't. You people are morons.
The Chorus: LET'S LISTEN TO WHAT HE HAS TO SAY
Canio: OKAY I KNOW YOU GUYS ARE ILLITERATE HICKS SO I'M GONNA KEEP THIS SHORT
The Chorus: Thanks!
Canio: WE'RE PUTTING ON A REALLY FUCKING AWESOME SHOW TONIGHT WITH ALL KINDS OF WACKY HIJINX AND YOU'LL LAUGH AND CRY AND IT'LL BE AMAZING SO Y'ALL BETTER FUCKING BE THERE
The Chorus: WOOOOOO
[Tonio tries to help Nedda down from the cart, but Canio shoves him away.]
Canio: DON'T TOUCH MY WIFE
The Chorus: HA HA EVERYONE LAUGH AT THE CRIPPLED GUY
Tonio: Fuck you guys.
The Audience: No, but seriously. Y'all are assholes.
Random Villager 1: HEY CANIO COME DRINK WITH US
Beppe: I'LL COME TOO
Canio: How about you, Tonio?
Tonio: I'll be along soon; I have to clean the donkey first.
The Audience: Is that supposed to be taken literally or as some sort of euphemism?
Leoncavallo: … can it be both?
Random Villager 2: Watch out, Canio! He's only staying behind so he can bang your hot wife!
Canio: AHAHAHAHA YEAH THAT'S REALLY FUNNY but if you say that to me again I'll break your fucking nose.
Random Villager 2: Calm down, man. It was just a joke.
Canio: It's all well and good when Nedda takes a different lover onstage, because that's what's supposed to happen and everyone thinks it's funny. But if I ever found out she had a lover in real life, I'd probably have a serious mental breakdown and murder them both in the most public way possible.
The Chorus: … wait, seriously?
Canio: But I'd never actually do that, because Nedda would never cheat on me!
Nedda: HA HA YEAH TOTALLY BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE WRONG AND NOT REMOTELY HOT IN ANY WAY
[Suddenly, bagpipes are heard playing offstage.]
The Chorus: OH MAN THE BAGPIPES I GUESS IT'S TIME FOR CHURCH NOW
The Audience: … wait, there are Italian bagpipes?
Canio: JUST REMEMBER TO COME TO OUR SHOW TONIGHT
The Chorus: WE ARE BELLS NOW DING DONG DING DONG
The Audience: This is stupid.
The Chorus: AND ALL THE TEENAGERS WANT TO MAKE OUT ON THE WAY TO CHURCH BECAUSE THAT'S APPARENTLY A THING IN THIS TIME PERIOD
[Canio exits with Beppe and the villagers. Nedda stays behind.]
Nedda: Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck fuck fuck fuckity fuck he suspects I'm having an affair and he's probably going to kill me OH GOD WHAT DO I DO
The Audience: Well, you should probably keep calm and think about how you can get out of this dangerous situation.
Nedda: Actually, I think I'm just going to waste my time wishing I could turn into a bird.
The Audience: [facepalm]
Nedda: BIRDS ARE AWESOME AND THEY GO WHEREVER THEY WANT AND DO WHATEVER THEY WANT AND NOTHING CAN STOP THEM
The Audience: Except bigger birds. Or lightning, for that matter.
Nedda: SHUT UP IT'S MY DAYDREAM AND I CAN DO WHAT I WANT
[Tonio enters and listens to her.]
Nedda: UP IN THE SKY – IT'S A BIRD – IT'S A PLANE – NO WAIT IT'S DEFINITELY A BIRD BECAUSE PLANES HAVEN'T BEEN INVENTED YET
The Audience: You're crazy.
[Nedda starts to leave and notices Tonio watching her.]
Nedda: JESUS TONIO WHY ARE YOU SUCH A CREEPER
Tonio: It's not my fault! You're so hot that I can't control my own actions!
Nedda: You're gross.
Tonio: NO I'M NOT I'M THE NICEST GUY EVER AND YOU'RE JUST REJECTING ME BECAUSE YOU HATE HUNCHBACKS
Nedda: No, I'm rejecting you because you're an asshole who won't stop sexually harassing me even though I've repeatedly told you I'm not interested and I'm also married to your boss.
Tonio: COME ON STOP FRIENDZONING ME
Nedda: First of all, the friend zone is made-up bullshit. Second, I don't even want to be your friend, so please fuck off already.
Tonio: WHATEVER YOU'RE JUST A BITCH AND YOU'RE GONNA BE SORRY
Nedda: Just leave before I call Canio and he beats the hell out of you.
Tonio: HE WON'T GET HERE BEFORE I GET SOME
[Tonio attempts to grab Nedda and kiss her. Nedda grabs a whip left by the cart and whacks Tonio in the face.]
The Audience: Boom. Headshot.
Nedda: MOTHERFUCKER YOU BETTER CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE I WRECK YOU
Tonio: [running away] I WILL HAVE MY VENGEANCE
Nedda: What a fucking asshole.
[Enter Silvio, Nedda's secret lover.]
Nedda: WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE IT'S BROAD DAYLIGHT ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY
Silvio: You worry too much. Canio's at the tavern, and I made sure no one saw me on my way here!
Nedda: Yeah, well. If you'd gotten here any sooner, Tonio would have seen you.
Silvio: Whatever. Tonio's just an idiot.
Nedda: And an attempted rapist.
Silvio: Jesus Christ. Are you okay?
Nedda: Yeah, I'm fine. I hit him in the face with a whip.
Silvio: That's my girl.
Silvio: Soooo since your life with the traveling circus sucks so much, how about running away with me?
Nedda: You know I can't.
Silvio: Come onnnnnnnn you don't even love Canio and you never have so why are you still with him and why don't you want to run away and don't you love meeeeeeeeeeee
The Audience: Jesus. Are all the men in this opera crazy, needy, or some combination of the above?
Leoncavallo: Yeah, pretty much.
Nedda: It's too dangerous, darling. It would be better for us to part ways and pretend this never happened.
[Tonio enters, unseen.]
Silvio: THEN YOU DON'T LOVE ME ANYMORE
Tonio: [to himself] She's cheating on Canio? Time to get my Iago on!
[He runs off.]
Nedda: Of course I love you, Silvio!
Silvio: BUT YOU'RE GONNA LEAVE AND I'M GONNA BE SAD
Nedda: But –
Silvio: I DON'T BELIEVE IN LIFE AFTER LOVE
I CAN FEEL SOMETHING INSIDE ME SAY
I REALLY DON'T THINK I'M STRONG ENOUGH
Nedda: Oh, for fuck's sake. Fine, I'll run away with you and we'll live happily ever after and stuff.
[They start making out as Tonio and Canio arrive, hidden in the shadows.]
The Audience: He moves pretty quickly for a hunchback.
Silvio: [to Nedda] Meet me at midnight, and then we can be together forever!
The Audience: That's not even remotely ominous wording.
Nedda: Yes, I'll be yours forever!
Nedda: OH SHIT IT'S MY HUSBAND – RUUUUUUUN
[Tonio and Canio emerge from their hiding place, but Silvio escapes before Canio can see his face. Canio chases him off.]
Canio: [offstage] WHERE ARE YOU GODDAMMIT
Nedda: Is this your fault?
Nedda: This is low, even for you.
Tonio: It serves you right, harlot.
Nedda: Fuck yourself.
Canio: WHO THE FUCK WAS THAT
Nedda: I have no idea what you're talking about.
Canio: [drawing his knife] TELL ME HIS NAME OR I'LL KILL YOU
Nedda: Not gonna happen.
[Canio raises his knife to stab her, but Beppe rushes in and stops him.]
Beppe: JESUS FUCKING CHRIST MAN PUT DOWN THE KNIFE
Beppe: THE TOWNSPEOPLE ARE COMING AND THE SHOW STARTS IN TWENTY MINUTES
Canio: TELL ME HIS NAME
Beppe: CALM THE FUCK DOWN AND GO GET READY
[Tonio takes Canio off to one side as Beppe talks to Nedda.]
Nedda: Are we seriously going to do a show after he just tried to kill me?
Beppe: Oh, you know Canio. He'll calm down soon enough.
Nedda: And what if he doesn't?
Beppe: It's not like he'll try anything with the whole town watching. Come on – what could go wrong?
The Audience: [groan]
Canio: [to Tonio] What the fuck am I gonna do now?
Tonio: Just stay calm and get ready for the show. Nedda's lover will probably be there, so maybe you can kill two birds with one knife!
The Audience: You mean stone.
Tonio: I know what I mean.
Beppe: COME ON YOU GUYS GET DRESSED ALREADY
[Tonio and Beppe exit. Canio begins to get ready.]
Canio: HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO PERFORM WHEN I JUST FOUND OUT MY WIFE IS CHEATING ON ME OH GOD MY WHOLE LIFE IS RUINED
[He starts putting on his makeup and costume.]
At Least a Quarter of the Audience: Ohhhh, we get it now! This is that opera about the sad clown, isn't it?
Everyone Else: Oh, for fuck's sake.
[End of Act I.]
Next installment: Act II
Next installment: Act II