Sunday, September 7, 2014

Othello in California

It was the annual Opera in the Park today and the weather, the crowd and the music joined like a well-voiced chord to make it a soul-stirring event. Down in the wine and cheese crowd, people were visibly moved by the beautiful music and expressive singing. But reading the short synopsis describing each Aria, it struck me that all that beauty came from people with social-emotional challenges in desperate need of anger-management classes. Consider this little description of an excerpt from Verdi’s Otello (the Italian spelling of Othello):

The scheming Iago inflames Otello’s jealous suspicions about his wife Desdemona, saying he saw the young soldier Cassio carrying Desdemona’s handerkerchief. Otello swears vengeance on Desdemona and Cassio and Iago joins him in the vow, “Yes, by the marbled heavens, I swear!!”

So I’m trying to picture what would happen if Otello was a laid-back California dude:

Iago: “ Yo, O, Cassio’s messin’ with your woman!”

Otello: “Can you be more specific?”

Iago: “He was carryin’ her handerkerchief. Watcha gonna do about it?!”

Otello: Carrying a handerkerchief is hardly grounds for suspicion. Maybe he had a cold and she leant it to him.”

Iago: “Man, you didn’t hear what I said, The dude was carryin’ her ‘handkerchief!!’”

Otello: “Iago, you need to relax. First of all, Desdemona and I have an extremely trusting relationship. We’ve had a few years of couples therapy dealing with our issues and both have come to see that jealousy is simply a manifestation of our own insecurities.”

Iago: “What?!! You ain’t gonna hurt the man?”

Otello: “I happen to feel that violence just begets more violence. Even if I did dislike him or God forbid, hate him, the only cure for hate is love. Now that you’ve told me this, I’ll include him in my morning meditation and picture his handkerchief holding as a chivalrous act. Or maybe I’ll go camping with him and we can talk things out. After all, Desdemona is quite attractive and I can imagine him having some thoughts about her. But since he’s done nothing more than carry a handkerchief, it’s hardly grounds for suspicion or vengeful acts.

Iago: “Well, now we got another problem.”

Otello: “Pray, do tell.”

Iago: “If you ain’t gonna kill the man, those fat dudes on the stage ain’t got nothin’ to sing about. They sure as hell ain’t gonna use those big voices to sing about campin’ together!”

Otello:  “Hmm. Good point. Maybe I should tell Cassio he’s hurting my feelings.”

Iago: “You are one sorry dude. Man, you just killed a whole art form!”

Otello: “Well, there’s always Kenny G.”

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