Opera is known for its ridiculous plots, but La Scala is taking it up a notch. According to the New York Times , they have commissioned the Italian composer Giorgio Battistelli to write an opera of Al Gore’s book An Inconvenient Truth . The Times’ John Tierney has a marvelous satire of what this might look like. Here’s a sample:

Perhaps, as you complain, Petroleo does exude a certain glamour in his patter song promising magic lanterns and horseless carriages and flying machines. But when he seduces the chief Minemaiden, the music darkens with a menacing crescendo as they embrace, singing “Combustione! Combustione!” There is no mistaking the unholiness of their union, nor its catastrophic consequence once their daughter Carbonia is born.

I grant you it would be more chemically precise to give Carbonia twin siblings named after oxygen. But this would dilute the role and doom our chances of getting Anna Netrebko for Carbonia, and she is essential for the scene on Olympus. If it is to be credible, we must have a Carbonia with the sinister beauty to inflame the passions of Zeus, Poseidon, Aether and the other weather gods . . . .

I don’t share your fear that audiences will expect Prince Algorino to “offset his travel footprint,” so I don’t see the need for the tree-planting scene you suggest. Once the Weather Seer has explained Poseidon’s passion and shown him the rising seas, Algorino should immediately rush back to save Gaia. And why, with his lover in peril, would he pause en route to rescue a drowning polar bear?

Articles by Nathaniel Peters

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