Monday, March 11, 2013

Riggoletto, Rigaletto, Rigolletto (for Rigoletto)

The premiere of Verdi's Rigoletto took place in Venice on March 11, 1851. Which leads me directly into my little story for the day. An upcoming local performance of Rigoletto had prompted a silly joke on the part of a skeptical colleague who convinced me that I should "write an opera about Bigfoot called Bigofooto." I immediately saw the wisdom in it. Bigfoot is such a cultural meme right now, it actually seemed kind of surprising that no one else had thought of it yet. What with his oversized, tenor-like physique and his booming and highly versatile voice (they scream, whistle, yell, and chatter), this could be the role of a lifetime for one of those big fat opera singers! At first, I thought I might make the musical centerpiece a version of "La Donna è Mobile" (the woman is fickle), retooled in such a way as to express the sad and frustrating faithlessness of most modern-day scientists. I mean, come on, they’re right there for that little hobbit woman and the coelacanth and the giant squid and all the rest, but when it comes to Bigfoot, where are they? Yukking it up with the rest of the scofftics! In any case, rather than doing a strict parody of the Italian classic, I decided to take an assortment of well-known arias and other similar songs, and rewrite the lyrics to them in a satirical mode. So far, I've done this with "La Donna è Mobile," "Summertime" by George Gershwin ("Summertime, and the squatchin' is easy, I smell sumpin', and it's rotten, oh my!"), and "Funiculi Funiculà" by Luigi Denza:

Some think that Bigfoot claims are hyperbolic,
We disagree! We know it's he!
Responses range from vexed to vitriolic,
They state with glee, "That's just a tree!"
But I, I find their criticism stinging
And simply wrong, so come along,
And see the one who suddenly is springing
With strides so long! He's really strong!
Walking, stalking, knocking from afar,
Rocking, shocking, slowing down your car,
Funiculi, funiculà, funiculi, funiculà!
Oy, it's not a bear, funiculi, funiculà!

Today's typos, like Bigfoot, are rather elusive and shy, appearing in OhioLINK just once or not at all, and between five and 13 times apiece in WorldCat.

(Sherrill Milnes and Maddalena Bonifaccio, as Gilda, in "Rigoletto" at the Colón Theatre, Buenos Aires, January 1, 1973, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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