Space Opera

30 Oct

Cesare Brizzi considered himself a kind of cultural ambassador for his home planet of Firenze. His opera company, aboard its own voidal vessel, traveled to scores of galactic destinations bringing Italian masterpieces to audiences flown up for performances while the craft circled in planetary orbit.

“What is a better, stronger glue among so many scattered worlds as the classic musical dramas we inherit from our ancestors back on our homeland?” the maestro asked many persons throughout the reaches of the galaxy. “The splendid performances of my gifted company bring joy and inspiration to untold numbers throughout this corner of space.”

Cesare’s closest friend and associate was his star tenor, Ettore Tamaro. He freely discussed all his problems and concerns with this golden-voiced singer.

“We are not the only opera company flying over the galaxy’s spaceways,” he complained to Ettore in his own private office as their galley headed for an orbit around planet Milano. “There is the new company that has been formed on distant Roma. Who would ever have considered it a possibility? Roma is rich and powerful, but has never achieved anything of value or importance in operatic production.

“But now there is announcement and advertising everywhere about this new phenomenon, the recently assembled outfit of a Mario Giaiotto. Do you know who this character is, Ettore? A nothing. A nobody with a small minimum of experience in production or direction.”

“We should then have very little to fear from such a weak, inept competitor,” said the short, tubby tenor with an emotional smile on his dark-skinned, circular face.

Cesare Brizzi frowned. “There are wealthy backers on Roma who are financing this promoter, Giaiotto. He is recruiting young singers from allover the back areas of our vast galaxy, places never before known for quality opera.

“On a multitude of inhabited planets around innumerable star bodies, there is excitement over early opera on the home world, Earth. Beyond the old popularity of Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, and Puccini, there is occurring mass revivals of Monteverdi and other early composers.

“It appears that Maestro Giaiotto is attempting to broaden popular tastes in the backwater areas of the galaxy with revivals of obscure, forgotten works from the early centuries of Italian and European opera. Something new and unfamiliar to audiences – that is what this charlatan, this imposter is trying to sell through his wide itinerary through the void.”

“Do we have anything to fear from such a promoter?” inquired Ettore. “Can his enterprise have any success at all?”

“We must keep an eye on him and see, my friend,” warned the Company Director.

Mario Giaiotto was the son of an obscure music teacher on Roma who never rose at all in the field of voice. The son nursed a profound sense of his father and his family having been wronged and mistreated by the leaders in Roma’s musical circles. But now he appeared to be taking his long-sought revenge through his journeying opera company. Planets that had been dormant and inactive experienced a new mass enthusiasm, almost a wild hysteria, for the Italian operatic tradition, from Monteverdi to Puccini.

The most popular singer in his company was the handsome bass, Andrea Moretti. Audiences throughout the Italic archipelago of stars, thrilled by his tapes and magneto-broadcasts, waited with impatience for the arrival of the vessel carrying the Roma Opera to their world.

Mario Giaiotto summoned the lead singer to his private quarters aboard the Roma Opera’s galactic transporter to have an important conversation with him concerning his strategy for overtaking the rival company in competition with their own enterprise.

The two men sat down at a comfortable sofa and drank glasses of cocktail that Mario had prepared ahead of time for them both.

“I am thinking of a risky tactical move that could place us in first place, Andrea,” began the Director with a wide, ingratiating grin on his face. “What would you say to winning over the top soprano singer in our entire galactic system? It could make us supreme in the field of opera in all the worlds that belong to our star conglomeration.”

Andrea gave a look of shocked surprise. “You must be thinking of Carla DeLetta. She has a magnificent voice unlike any other. It is often said that there has never been an interpreter of Verdi like Carla. I have all her tapes and crystals. No other soprano has so wide a repertoire of female roles as she does.

“But why would she ever transfer over to us? I have been told that she is perfectly satisfied with how her Director and fellow-singers treat her as a member of the Firenze company of Cesare Brizzi.”

Giaiotto made a reptilian, cynical smile. “Some handsome, good-looking singer of male parts might be able to tempt and then entice her to switch her allegiance. What in the universe is more powerful that desire based on love, especially among opera divas like dear Carla?”

The pair stared at each other without a word. The Director widened and deepened his communicative smile at the bass singer.

“It is possible that during the coming several weeks you can take your well-earned vacation, Andrea, and take a void liner to where our foe is to be in performance.

“I am certain that Carla will be very welcoming to a visitor such you. Think this over, then we can make all the necessary arrangements.”

Director Giaiotto worked a plan by which his bass star received a one month vacation, along with a vacuumship reservation taking him to Napoli, the planet where Roma Opera was to present three weeks of musical entertainment up above the stratosphere.

Andrea arrived only hours before the cast that included Carla DeLetta started to perform operas by Rossini, Donizetti, and Verdi in the spacious drama theater at the center of their gigantic carrier.

How was Andrea to introduce himself to and link up with his intended target, the diva Carla DeLetta?

The Roma Director had advised him on an indirect approach, through other members of the opera troupe. It would be possible to make contacts by identifying himself as who he was, an important singer in a rival company who was curious to see how this particular group performed on the stage of their space vehicle as it circled the world that was providing the current audience.

Andrea traveled by public spaceliner to the planet of Napoli and found a room in a hotel that catered to people in the arts and entertainment. He joined a group of music-lovers who were going to fly up to the Roma Opera Company to watch a presentation of Verdi’s Il corsaro.

“I must see this production of that beloved classic,” gushed the opera fan who was visiting the world of Napoli. “This famous company from Firenze is said to be creating a sensation wherever it travels in the Italic Archipelago of stars and planets. Can I fly up there with you, friends?”

The group of music fans from the planet’s art scene agreed to take Andrea with them on the galley taking patrons up to the vacuum ship.

Soon the interloper was in the operatic theater, enjoying the musical drama along with several hundred inhabitants of Napoli.

Andrea focused his dark eyes on the soprano lead he intended to introduce himself to at the first available opportunity.

He was surprised how slim and young-looking Carla DeLetta appeared on stage in costume.

She had not assumed the weight and features of the typical opera diva on the Italic planets that he was familiar with.

Yes, he told himself, a campaign to win this woman would not be unpleasant or devoid of attractions.

The finale of the last act of the Verdi opera was when Andrea carried out the action he had planned, thought out, and rehearsed on his space flight to Napoli.

He sat in the middle of a row of orchestra seats filled on both sides of him by his new associates he had acquired down on the surface of this particular planet.

The bass removed the single tiny pill lodged in his suit coat chest pocket, brought it up to his mouth, then ingested and swallowed the nearly invisible object.

The opera named Il corsaro came to its end, the audience from Napoli rose to its feet and applauded the magnificent performance, including Andreas with everyone else present in the great hall of the ship.

The listeners began their exit, except for Andreas, who suddenly collapsed back into his seat. His comrades turned aghast at him and stared at their unconscious companion.

“What has happened to him?”

“He fainted. His emotions may have overwhelmed the unfortunate fellow. Someone get the medical guards and inform them. Our friend must be taken and treated in the space vessels hospital unit at once.”

Andrea awakened from his self-induced coma lying on a patient’s bunk in the spaceship’s medical section. The vessel’s chief doctor soon appeared and asked him how he was feeling.

“I don’t know what happened to me,” lied the man sent to infiltrate himself. “All of a sudden, my excitement at the performance of Verdi overwhelmed me. I felt my head begin to spin and then my mind blanked out in an instant. And now I find myself in one of your beds here.”

“Do not worry or have any concern,” said the medico. “We have the necessary means to treat any visitor who may come down with any illness. We shall keep you here under our constant care until you are recovered enough to return to your previous life in good condition.

“One of my nursing assistants shall take your name and address and see to your comfort and rest,” smiled the doctor, who took Andrea’s right hand and shook it.

It was only an hour later that the patient had his first visitor from the opera cast of the Firenze.

Ettore Tamaro, the tenor, realized the identity of the patient as soon as he saw his face.

“You are Moretti, the famous bass with the new Roma Opera. I recognize you from videos of productions you have appeared in.

“How has this happened, though? What are you doing here with us? may I inquire.” He gazed at Andrea with admiration and amazement.

“I am on a month’s vacation from all performances, and I decided to take a trip to Napoli so that I could witness the pioneering work being done in your company.

“I was deeply impressed and affected by seeing Il corsoro, and it seems that my excitement completely overwhelmed me. I lost my inner equilibrium and then all consciousness, it would appear.”

“We singers will be thrilled to have you aboard with us,” thrilled the tenor. “I believe that all of us will wish to meet and talk with you.”

That is what I came here for, said Andreas silently to himself.

Maestro Cesare Brizzi came I time to welcome the patient to the vacuumship.

“We are sorry for your sick condition, but it is an opportunity to show you how highly we value your vocal gifts and achievements. All of us know how wide your roles have been with your company. You have sung in operas that were forgotten or ignored for many generations. It is evident that few singers anywhere have your knowledge, experience, and talent in all areas of the Italic operatic tradition.”

The pair proceeded to discuss the early operas of Luigi Rossi, Antonio Sartorio, and Claudio Monteverdi.

Brizzi left the ship hospital exhilarated by his conversation with the bass from the Firenze Company. If only he had such a bass in his troupe!

At last, victory came.

After a number of minor singers and company employees visited him, Andrea succeeded in having a conversation with Carla there in the shop’s hospital ward.

“I have heard many wonderful things about the quality of your singing,” beamed the bass, his face shining with delight. “It is doubtful that there is anyone in the Italic Archepelago that has mastered so many of the early and almost forgotten operas of the formative centuries in the old world. You have succeeded in opening new doors for singers and opera troupes throughout our galaxy.”

Andrea could see that the willowy singer was moved by his well-rehearsed words of warm praise.”

“You greatly flatter me, Mr. Moretti,” she blushed.

“Call me Andreas, please,” he told her. “And I will take the pleasing liberty to call you Carla, as well. That will make it easy for the two of us to communicate,” he laughed with a sparkle in his eye.

The two went on to discuss her role in the coming production of Monteverdi’s Le nozze d’Enea con Lavinia. Then they went on to Rossini’s L’equivoco stravagando and his La Scala di seta.

Each of them gave opinions concerning comic and epic forms of early opera.

Carla stayed with him much longer than she had planned or intended, enjoying her exchanges with this knowledgeable bass from another space-based opera house.

Andrea, determined to remain a hospital patient until he succeeded in gaining his goal, pretended to aches in his legs and over his shoulders that no electronic scans with instruments were able to identify or pinpoint. He remained in bed, enjoying constant visits from the soprano diva who showed profound sympathy for his supposed medical condition.

It was Carla who, on her own, went to see Maestro Brizzi in his office. She revealed to him what her thoughts were concerning the bass in the infirmary.

“He would be a marvelous addition to our singing staff,” she contended.
“His voice has startling strength and vibrato. And we have no bass as competent as Andrea Moretti to master the intricacies of Monteverdi’s and Rossini’s less known works, the ones that you are planning to reshape and produce for the days ahead.

“Why not make an offer to join our Roma Company? There are high chances that he will be tempted to come over to us if you describe the extensive plans you have to return to the earliest ages of the operatic tradition.

“Andreas knows quite a lot about not only Bellini and Donizetti, but also such forgotten composers as Marazzoli, Legrenzi, and Cavolli.

“I guarantee, he would present us an enormous advantage in the bass vocal range. It would be exciting to sing with him,” she said with a radiant smile on her lips.

Brizzi pondered several moments. “Yes, I think I should talk to him.”

The Director of the Firenze gave the bass a strong, hearty handshake then spoke to him about what his plans were for new extensions of his company’s repertoire.

“I dream of attempting new, modern productions of forgotten classics from the past. It would be wonderful to have a gifted voice such as yours. You would add a great deal of dramatic force to our troupe of singers.

“I can foresee you in works such as La Gazzetta and La pietra del paragone by Rossini, or even earlier to il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria by Monteverdi. Those would be marvels to see and hear on the stage, and I am certain you would enjoy roles such as those.

“What do you say, Andrea? Will you move over and sing with us?”

Overwhelmed and astonished, the singer was at a loss as to how to reply.

“I must think, Maestro, it a hard choice for someone like me to make,” he mumbled in confusion.

“You shall be paid much more than what the Roma company gives to you,” added Brizzi, who soon rose and left the reclining patient.

When Carla came to see him in a few hours, Andrea was at a loss to say anything to her about the offer made him by the Director of the Firenze Opera Company.

He made a weak attempt to avoid that particular subject, asking her a question remote from it.

“Where will your next port-of-call be? Where in the Italic Archipelago is your path to lead the company?”

She smiled as she answered him.

“We shall be playing about the large, important planet of Pisa. It is said that grand opera is like a mad obsession with the Pisans. Their entire planet seems eager to see our new productions, especially the early masterpieces that lay unsung and unacted for so many years.” She hesitated and paused a moment. “It would be wonderful to have you on stage with us, Andrea. I can’t think of anything else that would assure us of popular success as your presence and participation.”

Looking into her inviting, flashing eyes, the bass made an irreversible decision, one of life-shaping dimensions.

“I think it can happen, Carla,” he slowly declared. “My contract with the Roma Opera provides an option that allows me to transfer elsewhere if I have a valid reason to do so.

“I am sure that there will be no negative legal penalties to pay for leaving Giaiotto and his outfit.

“Yes, I can do that and join your company, Carla.”

The latter leaned forward next to his head and surprised him with an unexpected kiss to his lips.

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