The one and only spectator
By Eduardo Quiles
Translated by Russell DiNapoli
THE STAGE IS IN DARKNESS AT THE OUTSET OF THE PLAY. GRADUALLY, CIRCLES OF LIGHT APPEAR, REVEALING MANNEQUINS OF VARIOUS SIZES AND SHAPES. THESE ARE THE ACTOR-MANNEQUINS, THE DISPLAY WINDOW SORT, MADE OF FIBERGLASS.
WITH THE REST OF THE STAGE IN DARKNESS, AND THE HOUSE LIGHTS STILL ON, AN UNSEEN SOPRANO COMMENCES SINGING AN ARIA FROM THE OPERA CARMEN, WHICH IS FOLLOWED BY THE SOUND OF APLAUSE AND BRAVOS FROM AN UNSEEN AUDIENCE, CLAMORING FOR THE PRESENCE OF ROSA MAYO. A SPOTLIGHT SHINES ON THE BACK OF THE MAJESTIC FIGURE OF THE STAR AS SHE BOWS, EMBRACING A LARGE BOUQUET OF GLADIOLAS. BLACKOUT.
A TRAIN WHISTLE BLOWS AS THE LIGHTS COME UP ON EULALIO, BUSY AT A TYPEWRITER. HIS CONCENTRATION IS SUCH THAT HE APPEARS TO BE SOMEWHERE ELSE, FAR AWAY FROM THE TEDIOUS LABOR THAT OCCUPIES HIM AT THE MOMENT. THE TRAIN WHISTLE TRANSPORTS HIM TO ANOTHER REALM. EULALIO SIGHS AND REACHES FOR A RED CARNATON IN A VASE. WITH LOWERED EYES, HE BREATHES IN THE FRAGRANCE DEEPLY. ALL AT ONCE A VOICE SOUNDS STRIDENTLY OVER THE LOUDSPEAKER. STARTLED, EULALIO DROPS THE CARNATION AND RESUMES HIS TYPING UNDER THE WATCHFUL GAZE OF AN EXECUTIVE-MANNEQUIN. THE MANNEQUIN'S VOICE IS HEARD.
EXECUTIVE MANNEQUIN'S VOICE: Management is alarmed by the latest reports from your section head. Reports of your negligence are increasing. It's time these safari excursions of yours into the realm fantasy ceased and you paid more attention to your work! You were always a model employee. The Railroad Company has invested a great deal in your future .
(THE SOUND OF A LOCOMOTIVE DROWNS OUT THE REST OF HIS SPEECH. BLACKOUT. LIGHTS
UP ON EULALIO'S APARTMENT. THE WALLS ARE COVERED WITH CLIPPINGS AND PHOTOGRAPHS
OF ROSA MAYO. ALONGSIDE HIS RICKETY OLD SOFA ARE STACKS OF MAGAZINES AND NEWSPAPERS.
EULALIO BRANDISHES A PAIR OF SCISSORS AS A T.V. BROADCASTER IS HEARD.)
BROADCASTER: That's right, T.V. viewers. According to reports, the audience at The Covent Garden went wild with jubilation. The main curtain went up again and again. The applause rocked the Thames and shook Saint Peter's dome. Flowers rained down on Rosa Mayo, that legendary voice who interpreted Carmen with such verve and absolute precision.
(EULALIO SUSPENDS HIS SNIPPING, AND WITH A LOOK OF RAPTURE ON HIS FACE, MOVES CLOSER TO THE TELEVSION SET. BLACKOUT. A LIGHT COMES UP REVEALING THE SILHOUETTE OF THE GLAMOROUS ROSA MAYO-MANNEQUIN. CAMARA FLASHES GO OFF AMONG THE HORDE OF UNSEEN REPORTERS AND EXUBERANT FANS CALLING OUT TO HER. STANDING ON HIS SEAT TO GET A BETTER GLIMPSE, EULALIO FIDGITS WITH HIS DERBY. HE UNPINS A CARNATION FROM THE LAPEL OF HIS DARK SUIT JACKET AND LAUNCHES IT IN THE STAR'S DIRECTION. THERE IS AN ABRUPT SILENCE. THE FRAIL LOOKING SPECTATOR HAS BEEN LEFT ALL ALONE. OFFSTAGE, A VIOLIN PLAYS SADLY. EULALIO GIVES A NOSTALGIC SMILE, SIGHS, AND STOOPS TO PICK UP THE CRUSHED CARNATION. HE CARESSES THE PETALS. BLACKOUT. AS THE LIGHTS COME UP AGAIN, EULALIO IS SEEN LYING ON HIS SOFA BED. HE IS IN SHIRTSLEEVES, WEARING A TIE AND A DERBY, AND IS SCANNING THE PRESS FOR PICTURES AND NEWS ARTICLES ABOUT ROSA MAYO. HE IS TOTALLY ABSORBED IN THIS ACTIVITY. THE VOICE OF A TELEVISION NEWSCASTER IS HEARD.)
NEWSCASTER: A magnificent performance. Another María Callas has graced the world of music with her presence.
(EULALIO HURRIEDLY DONS A GREY SUIT AND STICKS A RED CARNATION IN HIS LAPEL. HE DOUBLE CHECKS HIS APPEARANCE IN THE MIRROR ON THE WALL, AND DASHES OUT. LIGHTS OUT, THEN ON AGAIN. EULALIO KNOCKS ON AN APARTMENT DOOR. HE CARRIES A BOUQUET OF DAISIES. LIGHTS UP ON THE ELEGANT PROFILE OF THE ROSA-MANNEQUIN WEARING A HAT. THE DOOR OPENS SLIGHTLY. A HAND REACHES OUT AND GRABS THE FLOWERS. EULALIO, HIS HEART BEATING FAST, DOESN'T MOVE A MUSCLE. HE TAKES A DEEP BREATH, AND WITH A COURAGEOUS SMILE STEPS INSIDE. HE IS IMMEDIATELY SENT FLYING OUT THE WAY HE CAME, LANDING FLAT ON HIS FACE ON THE FLOOR. EULALIO PAINFULLY SHAKES HIS HEAD. THE BOUQUET OF DAISIES COMES SAILING THROUGH THE DOOR AND SMACKS HIM ON THE HEAD. THE LIGHT ON THE ROSA- MANNEQUIN FADES, BUT NOT THE SOUND OF HER WRATHFUL VOICE.)
ROSA COHEN'S VOICE: (FROM WITHIN) This is too much! Just when I'm expecting a visit from a stock market baron, some idiot has to show up with a bouquet of worthless daisies. I can't believe these ridiculous schizophrenics are still around. (CALMING DOWN SOMEWHAT) Next time, boys, just bust his spine. Maybe that'll smarten him up to the fact that a great star can't be bothered by ragamuffins.
(SOUND OF A VIOLIN PLAYING. EULALIO GLANCES AT THE FLOWERS SCATTERED ON THE FLOOR. PAINSTAKINGLY, HE CRAWLS OVER TO THE FLOWERS AND GATHERS THEM BACK UP INTO A BOUQUET. GETTING TO HIS FEET, HE SCRIBBLES SOMETHING ON A CARD, WHICH HE THEN PLACES IN THE BOUQUET AND LEAVES AT THE DOOR BEFORE LIMPING AWAY. LIGHTS OUT. THE SOUND OF A VIOLIN PLAYING EVOKES THE PASSING OF TIME. A LIGHT COMES UP ON WALTER FEVERISHLY TYPING AT HIS DESK. HE IS ROUND SHOULDERED, AND THE LITTLE HAIR LEFT ON HIS HEAD IS TURNING GREY. EULALIO'S THOUGHTS CAN BE HEARD OVER THE LOUDSPEAKER.)
EULALIO: Well now, railroad office clerk, not too long to go before retirement . (PAUSE) And just what did you ever do with your life anyway? Did you make a home? Where is you faithful, loving spouse? And your children? Now don't tell me, you're still in love with that bel canto rainbow? The one who only lets you see her at a distance, or in photographs? What do you say we check the balance sheet of your life story, old man? No, we'd better not.
(LIGHTS FADE. IN THE DARKNESS MUSIC BY RAVEL IS PLAYED. LIGHTS COME UP ON EULALIO IN HIS BEDROOM LOOKING AT A POSTER WITH THE NAMES OF ROSA MAYO AND A WELL-KNOWN TENOR PRINTED ON IT. TERRIBLY SADDENED, HE TRIES FRANTICALLY TO SHAKE IT OFF BY FLIPPING THROUGH A STACK OF MAGAZINES.)
EULALIO: Nothing . (HE FURIOUSLY TOSSES AWAY ONE MAGAZINE AFTER ANOTHER) Nothing at all! Not a word in this worthless rag. (HE TEARS ONE TO PIECES IN A FURY AND GRABS ANOTHER) Nothing here either. Nor here. It's been a year since they've published anything about Rosa . Lousy journalists! Would it take such a monumental effort to print the loveliest of names on the earth? Ro-sa Ma-yo. Even a suckling child could pronounce it.
(EXASPERATED, EULALIO BURIES HIMSELF IN A MOUND OF PRINTED MATTER, READING FRANTICALLY. HE TEARS THROUGH ONE MAGAZINE AFTER ANOTHER UNTIL IT SEEMS EXHAUSTION AT LAST IS ABOUT TO FORCE HIM TO DESIST. BUT IN A FINAL OUTBURST OF RAGE, HE PUNCHES POUNDS HIS FIST ON THE STACK OF PRINTED MATTER UNTIL THE ROOM IS COVERED WITH TORN AND TWISTED PAPER. LIKE A LUNATIC, WALTER DANCES AND LEAPS ABOUT THE ROOM, PUMMELLING AND KICKING PAPER, UNTIL FATIGUE OVERTAKES HIM AT LAST. COLLAPSING ON A STACK OF MAGAZINES, HE SUDDENLY SPOTS A HEADLINE. TRANSFIXED, HE READS, AS THE LOUDSPEAKERS BROADCAST THE SOUND OF HIS VOICE.)
It was early morning when, closing up for the night, the security guard at the Seven Moons Club stumbled upon a woman sleeping among the trash bins and debris. In spite of attempts at keeping her identity a secret, it is believed that she is none other than .
(SILENCE. EULALIO TRIES TO HIDE HIMSELF UNDER PAPER. THEN HE BOXES HIS WAY OUT, HOWLING AS HE FLAILS AWAY AT THE NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES.)
No! No! No! Dirty, filthy lies . Loathsome slander! Not Rosa Mayo! (FLAILS AWAY WITHOUT STOPPING) After all these years . Still single and waiting for her. Infamy! Muckraking reporters! But I . (HE REACHES FOR A CAN OF LIGHTING FLUID) I'll put the torch to their lies! There's only one way to purify their filth! (PAUSE) They'll regret what they wrote. (HE STRIKES A MATCH) Here's to justice And I'm the avenger. (SUDDENLY TRANSFIGURED) Rosa Mayo couldn't possibly have ended up in the gutter like an abandoned cat. No! (HE PUTS OUT THE MATCH AND ADDRESSES A MAGAZINE) Come on . Don't say such things about about Rosa, the voice of Bizet and Verdi. Lovely, majestic Rosa Mayo. Don't you see?
(HE SOBS, THEN GRADUALLY PULLS HIMSELF TOGETHER. LIKE A LOST DON QUIJOTE, HE WANDERS ABOUT THE ROOM, LOOKING AT THE MANY PICTURES OF ROSA MAYO HANGING ON THE WALLS. HE CARESSES AND KISSES THE IMAGES OF HER.)
(LIGHTS FADE. CHORAL MUSIC IS HEARD. A SPOTLIGHT SHINES A BLUE LIGHT ON A SOMEWHAT DECRIPID LOOKING ROSA-MANNEGUIN STANDING ON ONE SIDE OF THE DOOR. ON THE OTHER SIDE, AN ELDERLY LOOKING EULALIO, DRESSED IN A FORMAL GREY SUIT, STANDS WITH HIS DERBY IN HIS HAND. HE RINGS THE DOORBELL)
EULALIO: What do you mean, who is it? Why, it's me. And just who might that be?! I'm your number one admirer. Admirer of whom? Why, Of Rosa Mayo, of course! (LOOKING PALE) Mayo's dead? But that can't be! (PAUSE) Get lost?! Me? (WITH A GLANCE AT THE CARNATION IN HIS HAND) But I would like to present you with a red carnation. (WITH A GESTURE HE IMPEDES OF CLOSING OF THE DOOR.) You didn't think there was a carnation bearing gentlemen left? (HOLDING IT UP FOR HER TO SEE IT BETTER) Well, is it or is this not a carnation? I certainly have not come here to wheedle or to rob or rape you, but JUST to bring you a carnation! Yes, a flower for Rosa Mayo. (HE WIPES AWAY A TEAR) Now, please, don't go and say a funeral wreath would have been more apropos. No, you don't really mean that. (HE BEGINS TO TREMBLE) Is Rosa Mayo really...dead? . Ah, but Rosa lives! Yes, she's ALIVE! Oh, thank goodness! Alive. (HE LAUGHS JOYFULLY, AND DOES A JIG.) Alive.
(AN ARIA FROM LA BOHÈME IS HEARD. HE HUMS ALONG WITH IT. SUDDENLY, HE STOPS DEAD IN HIS TRACKS, BLUSHING.)
Please excuse me . I can't help it. (HE SEARCHES FOR HIS DERBY) Now where can it be? (FINDING IT, HE PICKS IT UP.) Here it is. Where's Rosa Mayo? What do you mean am I blind? You! You? (STEPPING BACK IN SHOCK) But but, what?... Oh, I get it. This is some kind of joke! (HE SCRUTINIZES HER ANXIOUSLY.) No, it can't be. You're not Rosa. I can tell. No. (TO THE AUDIENCE.) Rosa is someone else... (PAUSE.) She had brilliant eyes. See here, madam, I've got a whole suitcase full of poems dedicated her eyes alone: like the sea they are. Do you understand? So you can't pull the wool over my eyes! (PAUSE.) Goodbye. (HE DOES NOT MOVE) her hair was ravishing . Have you ever seen a field of golden wheat under the stars? Well, like that. And graceful as a swan. (PAUSE) Goodbye, then! (HE CAN'T BUDGE) In short, madam, you need not play your little joke on me any longer (PAUSE) And what a voice! Do you know what it was like? (TO THE AUDIECE) The timbre of that final eighth was indescribably gorgeous . She performed with all the greatest tenors and baritones (LA DAMA DE PICO IS HEARD) No one has ever equaled her rendition of Lisa. And what about her Desdemona? Or her Mimi? (PAUSE.) I ought to know . (PAUSE) You, Rosa Mayo? (PAUSE. SADLY ACCEPTING THE FACT AT LAST) So you really are Rosa Mayo.
(EULALIO SITS ON A CHAIR IN FRONT OF THE MANNEQUIN-ROSA.)
No, I am not a glamour magazine reporter looking for gossip. I'm a retired--railroad office clerk It's not exactly what I wanted to be. (PAUSE) Nobody could ever possibly want to be that. (PAUSE) I was a singer myself once, an understudy, waiting for a break . Oh, well! (SIGHS) I wasn't cut out for being an understudy, you know. They hired me not to sing. I was always left behind the scenes. How I dreamed of one day being center stage (SIGHS) And seeing as how I liked trains, I decided to become a stationmaster in a village. (PAUSE. THE SOUND OF A TRAIN IS HEARD) Can you imagine? Watching a long line of railroad cars appears, the engine blowing its whistle. And me in a red cap signal flag in hand giving that iron steed the go ahead to charge across the country at full steam! (PAUSE.) Back then I used to present myself at your dressing room door with a bouquet of daisies. (PAUSE) Are you sure you can't recall? (PAUSE) Goodbye? You're dismissing me? (HE STRAIGHTENS UP, SEARCHING FOR THAT VOICE, THAT PRESENCE) Surely you can recall. Try. Remember? A young man with a bouquet of daisies . The one your thugs I mean, bodyguards--you know, the only ones who could get close to you--would invariably trounce on . Who me, getting on your nerves? Surely you haven't forgotten. I wrote you love letters. I even called long distance wherever you happened to be performing. I used up all my savings! (HE SHOWS HER HIS EMPTY POCKETS) What are you implying? What nuthouse did I escape from?! One, one day I wrote you a poem. Is it possible you did not even read a single one? Wait! (PAUSE) And that madrigal that went: Loves pantomime forever . Wait! Surely you haven't forgotten this line: Wrapped in the sweet sound of violins/ a railroad man discovered his Dulcinea. (BELLINI'S CASTA DIVA ARIA IS HEARD. HE SHRUGS) That's right the perseverant gentleman with the daisies. (PAUSE) The least expensive flowers. But, hey, what about those red carnations? . Why, each one set me back . And all those letters? Some of them could fly by themselves to the mailbox; they were that inspired. The epistolary cavalier! . Still lovely. Still blossoming. How shall I put it? An exuberating blossom of experience! Who says it no longer glows? Well, they're wrong! The petals radiate. I still like you. Truly . You would like me to give you my hand? (EULALIO DOES SO) The neighbors might think (PAUSE) I mean, I wouldn't want your reputation to be compromised . Thank you. That's very kind of you. I think I will enter.
(HE CIRCLES THE AREA, AS THE LIGHTS COME UP ON THE ROOM WHICH IS CLUTTERED WITH SHEET MUSIC, COMPACT DISCS, NEWSPAPERS, OPERA POSTERS, AND HUMIDIFIERS. HE STOPS BEFORE AN OLD GRAMOPHONE.)
It's an old flat classical stylish. (HE SITS) If these walls could speak. Talk about history . For that console table alone I bet you could get in an auction at least .
(ABRUPTLY HE IS STRICKEN BY A COUGHING FIT. HE POURS HIMSELF A STIFF GLASS OF BOOZE AND DOWNS IT IN ONE GULP. THE EFFECT IS IMMEDIATE. THE COUGH HAVING DISAPPEARED, HE SMILES WITH RELIEF)
First rate stuff, eh?
(PAUSE. HE STARES AT HER, AND FOR A MOMENT TENDERNESS UNITES THEM.)
The reason why I've come is . Beg your pardon? . A job? Me? (PAUSE) Oh, how did you know? (PAUSE) Admittedly, I used to be an understudy. (HE OBSERVES HER CLOSELY.) You understand: I'm not looking to go to work for Ms Mayo. (EULALIO BOWS HIS HEAD) I realize, of course, that a position with Rosa Mayo would make me famous. There would be write-ups in Le Monde.
(EULALIO PULLS OUT HIS PIPE AND NERVOUSLY FIDGITS WITH IT, BEFORE LIGHTING IT.)
What else can I do besides understudying and administering trains? Uh, well I'm pretty good with scissors. Yes, that's it! I can cut out press articles and pictures like nobody else . I've had years of experience at it, you know. (PAUSE.) Do I know anything about public relations? Could I properly represent Rosa Mayo? Oh, like nobody else in the world!
(HE STANDS UP STRAIGHT, GOES TO THE GRAMOPHONE AND PUTS ON A RECORD. MUSIC FROM CARMEN IS HEARD. THRILLED, HE CLOSES HIS EYES AND LISTENS.)
You were saying? Do you mean it? You're giving me the opportunity to be Ms Mayo's publicity agent? I'm I I need a drink. (HE DRINKS) I'd better get moving. I've got to arrange the debut. Why, yes, I'll need to charter a flight for a hundred musicians. Right, and as many singers: not to mention that many stagehands Oh, and I'll need to find a soloist to accompany her
(EULALIO SUDDENLY TURNS PALE. DOWNCAST, HE HEADS FOR THE DOOR. HE TURNS AROUND BRUSQUELY.)
I understand. I mustn't overlook the multinational record contract. I'll have to bring the operatic repertoire up to date. A recording, of course. Her voice will need to be in tiptop shape. (THE SOUND OF THE BELLINI ARIA INCREASES.)
EULALIO: But . Excuse me? . The contracts? . Locate and sign up only the best in the operatic field? Who me? . Oh, who if not . Well, here I go!
(HE DISAPPEARS LIKE A SHOT THEN IMMEDIATELY RETURNS.)
But where can I get contracts? . Oh, pardon me. (FIDGITING WITH HIS DERBY) It's all the excitement. It's not every day you get to represent someone like . Oh, but of course. The world is yearning to hear Ms Mayo sing once more. I shall not disappoint you, Madam. You have my word.
(HE KISSES THE INDEX FINGER OF HER HAND. LIGHTS OUT A MOMENT. BIRD SONG IN THE DARK. LIGHTS UP ON EULALIO IN THE PARK. HE IS WEARING A COAT AND A SCARF, AND IS FEEDING THE PIGEONS.)
Chow time. Come and get it . Jeez, where am I ever going to get a contract for Rosa Mayo? . Here pigey-pigeons . What a fix I'm in now. Ricey-rice! . That's what you get for sticking you nose where it doesn't belong! . You big blow-hard! Now how am I supposed to get her a charter flight with a stage on board for her alone? . Here pigey-pigeons: Where are you all today?
(HE TOSSES SOME MORE RICE, THEN, DISPIRITED, HE SITS ON A BENCH. THE BIRDSONG INCREASES. HE IS ON THE VERGE OF SLAPPING HIMSELF, BUT OVERCOMES THE IMPULSE. THE LIGHTS BEGIN FLUTTERING. SPOT ON EULALIO AS WE HEAR HIS THOUGHTS.)
In absolutely everything you are a zero (HE GRIMMACES.) You threw your career out the window (HE SHRUGS.) Isn't being an understudy a way for a talented singer to become well known? (HE BRUSHES THE THOUGHT OFF RESENTFULLY.) Idiot! It had to be either immediate stardom or white-collar clerk. Was that it? Either be one of Mozart's stars or nothing at all? (HE GESTURES IN DEFIANCE.) Just who do you think are you anyway? (EULALIO'S FACE SHOWS THE STRAIN OF TRYING TO ANSWER THAT ONE.) That's not true. I'm the number one spectator of a legendary soprano singer And to be top anything in this jungle competitive day and age is something Right? (SUDDENLY CROSS.) You're just kidding yourself. (CONTRARILY.) No I'm not. It's no small achievement for a person to be Number One in these times of Dolly sheep and (RIDICULING.) You? Number one? Ha! (LAUGHS. THEN PAUSES.) All right, so maybe I'm not number one on the opera stage, or in the world of ideas or technology, but (SMILES.) I am the number one fan of the best opera singer of the times. You bet, I most certainly AM number one! (CYNICAL SMIRK) Do you truly believe that you are anything other than a common loser living with no direction in life? (HE SHAKES HIS HEAD) You can't expect me to believe that you have found your way. That you actually have an idea-a goal on earth? Don't tell me that are not just another one of those sorry specimens without a clue as to why they were born, or why they grow and copulate and wander astray. (HE NODS HIS HEAD IN AGREEMENT) Obviously there is no sense in discussing matters with you. (EXPRESSIONLESS) Now don't insist. In short, you're nothing but one of Bizet's little dilettante protagonists. At best! (RESENTFUL) All right. So you were always in the front row. And you never missed a single performance of that musical rainbow. And maybe you do know more about her than even she does. So what! Does she love you? (A VIOLIN IS HEARD PLAYING) Well? Does she? (INSENSITIVE) Do you think she'll love you someday? One of these days? . When? (SHRUGS HIS SHOULDERS) You're absolutely sure that she'll come to love you? (TOYING WITH THE IDEA) Obviously, talking to you makes no sense at all. (BLACKOUT)
(SOUND OF OPERA MUSIC. LIGHTS UP ON WALTER IN HIS APARTMENT. IN THE BACKGROUND, THE ROSA-MANNEQUIN CAN BE SEEN.)
I know you're there. Don't try to hide. (OPERA MUSIC STOPS) Who gave you a warrant to search my apartment? Just where do you come off thinking you can come in here and do as you please? (HE STARTS TO SHY AWAY FROM HER.) I am no longer your cavalier Prince Charming spectator. (CRESTFALLEN) I loved you in silence. Half my life I spent writing love letters to you (PAUSE. HE LOOKS AT HER) There's no time today for? I am absurd? I failed? Me? But how? How can you say that? Can't you see? Didn't you notice one man who was always in the front row? (HE MOVES DOWNSTAGE TOWARDS THE AUDIENCE) Did you hear her? She didn't have a minute to notice a humble clerk with a bouquet of flowers in his hand.
(THE SOUND OF A COUGHING FIT IS HEARD. EULALIO REACHES FOR A GLASS, AND FRANTICALLY CIRCLES THE EDGE OF THE ILLUMINATED STAGE AREA.)
Where are you? Calm down, please. (PAUSE) I am a mild-mannered individual. That's right. A gentlemen. I respect the frustrations of others, their shortcomings (TO THE AUDIENCE.) And because I adored this angel of the aria Well, I tried, and spent my life haunting hotels and airports. But her bodyguards were always on hand And after all, I am only a man, fragile, unassuming, with a fixed monthly salary
(LIGHTS DOWN LOW. THE SOUND OF AN ARIA FROM TOSCA IS HEARD. IN THE SOFT LIGHTING, EULALIO CAN BE SEEN. HE IS SITTING ON THE EDGE OF THE SOFA BED. A WOMAN IS HEARD RAISING HER VOICE IN PROTEST.)
Why, yes, I did some decorating
That's right. I decorated
Mayo Museum? I'm a decorator of dreams?
Oh? (HE SHOWS HER A SCRAPBOOK.)
Do I look like that? A magnificent example?
Straight out of the original
libretto? (PAUSE.) Am I really all that strange?
(SILENCE.) Why yes, of
course I have other hobbies to keep me from landing in the madhouse.
(HE STRAIGTENS UP AND GOES TO THE MANNEQUIN.)
I go to the park a lot. The Pigeons (LIGHTS UP.) It's not fair! Would you like to know a secret? They don't take the pigeons diet into account in the city budget. It's a downright shame! They just leave it up to the generosity of pedestrians. What if one day nobody thought to bring them a bit of rice? What would happen then? Uh? What do you mean forget the pigeons? I'll tell you what would happen: The city would be left pigeon-less. Can you imagine a city without a single solitary pigeon? Preposterous. A city without pigeons or birds would be like a sea without gulls or fishes. Or like a What's that you say? Forget the pigeons? But the vision of a song bird on wing can save a man's life when (PAUSE.) I certainly will not forget about the pigeons. I I like retiring to bed with a clear conscience.
(THE LIGHTS DIM LOW. SPOTLIGHTS ON EULALIO AND ON THE ROSA-MANNEQUIN. THE VOICE OF MAYO IS HEARD.)
MAYO'S VOICE: Rosa Mayo hurt you, didn't she? (EULALIO SHAKES HIS HEAD IN DENIAL) Can you ever forgive me? (HE TURNS AWAY FROM HER AS TCHAIKIVSKY'S ROMEO AND JULIET IS HEARD.) Ah, come on, little guy, don't be so hard on your Juliet. So you have always loved me? In silence, from a distance, in total anonymity. (EULALIO GRITS HIS TEETH) Only I never paid you any mind. (HE SHRUGS) Say, didn't I ever send you some pictures? (HE POINTS TO A PICTURE) What? You mean just one? I can't believe it! I was always very responsible about keeping up with correspondence Very responsible indeed! Why, I must have sent you at least a sack full of autographed pictures. You simply must believe me. (PAUSE.) Somebody probably stole them The swine! A photograph was sent to a railroad office clerk each and every day. (SILENCE) Believe me. They were sent by express post. (SILENCE) I assure you they were. You do believe me, don't you? (PAUSE) You don't? It's just as well. I'm inveterate liar. (PAUSE) But that can be fixed in the wink of an eye. This minute (EULALIO IS HUNCHED OVER THE PICTURE IN HIS HAND.) Oh, I get it. You'd like me to write a dedication. You sweet thing. You really are a professional admirer. With you, admiration is an art. (PAUSE) See how Rosa Mayo gratifies you. (PAUSE) Her arch-fan No! My poet and most faithful spectator No, I mean, my Oh, can't you lend a hand instead of standing there like a bump on a log?
EULALIO: Some other time.
(A COUGH IS HEARD.)
EULALIO: Rosa! . Water? Yes, of course. Hold on. Just a moment.
(EULALIO RETURNS WITH A GLASS.)
EULALIO: You don't look well. (PAUSE) Maybe I'd better call a doctor. (HE STARTS THEN IMMEDIATELY STOPS) Where am I going? To the bank for cash? (PAUSE.) Look, you're not in any condition to Someone might
(A FRAGMENT OF OPERA MUSIC IS HEARD. EULALIO AWKWARDLY STICKS HIS HANDS IN HIS POCKETS AND STROLLS AROUND HIS MUSEUM AS THE LIGHTS SLOWLY FADE OUT. A SPOT PICKS UP EULALIO, TALKING ON THE TELEPHONE)
Make no mistake about it--a celebrity of Rosa Mayo's caliber cannot disappear from the operatic scene without a trace What was that? That's no way to talk about Say, what? What does time have to do with ? What do you mean she hasn't taken care of her voice? She can still hit those high notes As well as ever! And those low notes As deeply as ever. (PAUSE) What matters is that a voice like hers, which can still seduce the most famous orchestra conductors around, cannot be simply relegated to some corner in the outback. No way! (HE GAZES SUSPICIOUSLY AT THE DOOR.) I personally phoned Walter, Ms Mayo's representative
(SWEATING PROFUSELY, EULALIO HANGS UP. FOOTSTEPS ARE HEARD. BEFORE HIM APPEARS A SHADOW, WHICH THE LIGHT COMING UP TRANSFORMS INTO THE ROSA-MANNEQUIN.)
EULALIO: Hum. Why so pale? What happened? I've got everything under control. The people at the bank were staring and Bah! I don't think they noticed. (HE LIGHTS HIS PIPE) Just forget it. What's that? (EULALIO RISES. HE'S GOT A SHOPPING BAG IN HIS HAND) So you went shopping, eh? What did you get?
(HE TAKES A PACKAGE OUT OF THE BAG AND GOES TO THE WINDOW OVERLOOKING A SHAFT. AS HE COMMENCES DROPPING ITS CONTENTS OUT THE WINDOW, THE SOUND OF CATS MEOWING CAN BE HEARD.)
Sardines! Now don't be greedy There's plenty where that came from. Mama Rosa bought enough fresh for the lot of you Hey! That was supposed to be for Pussy White. That's right. And this little sardine's for the Siamese. (IRATELY.) Hey, you--let that she-cat eat in peace. Can't you see she's about to give birth? (PAUSE.) And here's a sardine for the kitty with the gray fur. Oh, such savages! Just like humans. (PAUSE) What's the matter with you sweetie? Won't they let you eat anything more than bones? (PAUSE) Don't worry, as always Momma Rosa'll bring you down some milk. (SHE SUDDENLY SHAKES IT ALL OFF WITH A HAND GESTURE) That's enough! The party's over, my little ones. (PAUSE. WALTER FACES THE MANNEQUIN.) Hem I had a chat with Markos the big promoter. (HE POURS HIMSELF A DRINK) As you would expect, he had not forgotten the most famous operatic singer of our times. (SOLEMN.) Where will the debut take place? Uh, at the Lyceum, the Royal, the Scala (BESIDE HIMSELF.) Let's drink and dance. (HE SERVES TWO BRANDIES. HE GESTURES A TOAST AND DRINKS) We'll need to give the debut all our attention. (HE PUTS A RECORD ON. A WALTZ IS PLAYED. HE DANCES) Oh, yes. Yes, yes. So what do you think about that? Yes, yes, yes. (WITH A GESTURE, HE INVITES THE MANNEQUIN TO DANCE. HE DANCES AROUND THE MANNEQUIN.) My favorite waltz. (HE DANCES WITH THE BOTTLE.) Here you are, my sweet lovely.
(HE TRIPS AND FALLS TO THE FLOOR. A VIOLIN PLAYING IS HEARD. HIS FACE SHOWS THAT HE IS OVERWHELMED WITH MELANCHOLY.)
The pigeons in the park will be hungry.
(HE HEADS TOWARDS THE DOOR. THE VIVACIUOS VOICE OF ROSA MAYO IS HEARD.)
MAYO'S VOICE: Listen, you sentimental runt. You can't be a great artist when everything's coming up roses for you all the time. Do you understand? Sometimes you've got to jump as high as the clouds and escape and forget yourself. In my worst nightmares, my vocal cords wouldn't work. I couldn't breathe. Then I saw coming out of the woodwork of many stages young singers with lovely voices, the understudies! All of them looking to succeed at once, like you, all of them so young and wanting to be another Mayo. But there is only one Rosa Mayo! And let me tell you, there is a kind of sordid emptiness that will resort to any means. There are moments when a good dose of nirvana can work wonders . Now do you understand, even a tiny bit, your cherished Rosa?
EULALIO: (WITH A DRY VOICE) Give me time Who, me angry? I've got my pigeons waiting for me Disappointed? (HE SHAKES HIS HEAD IN DENIAL) The truth is, I searched the heavens for a star. For a man in the stars. (HIS BITTERNESS SHOWS ON HIS FACE.) No, I'm not contemplating taking my leave of you. Truly. But today I really do need to be with my pigeons.
THE ACTION CONTINUES FROM ACT ONE. EULALIO ENTERS AFTER HAVING DECIDED NOT TO LEAVE TO SOPRANO ALONE.
How could the great Rosa Mayo have plummeted so?
If I'm going to be with you for a second, a month, years, or for the rest of my life, I'll need to know who Rosa Mayo really is. (HE POURS HIMSELF A DRINK.) This understudy, moving in the shadows of the stars, would like to know Aren't you going to say anything? Well, the pigeons are expecting me in the park. (HE STARTS TO LEAVE, THEN STOPS.) You pampered your vocal cords and strained your voice as little as possible. You guarded against catching colds, and carefully chose your repertory. You practiced yoga, with the idea of performing Verdi or Donizetti till the end of time (PAUSE.) To be the bird of operatic glory or Mozart's clarion? That is the question. Rosa Mayo would not capitulate. She wanted to be the eternal Mayo. There was to be no bowing out for her. There were other options. She might have bid farewell to the stage, or given recitals carefully selected so as not to strain your voice. You could have imparted sensational classes. (PAUSE.) Come on, admit it. You stuck your head under your wing. You invented another world, a whole other logic.
(A COUGHING FIT IS HEARD.)
EULALIO TURNS AND RUSHES OFF INTO THE SHADOWS. HE IMMEDIATELY RETURNS ONSTAGE, WALKING BACKWARDS, SLOWLY, HIS HANDS RAISED OVER HIS HEAD.
Rosa! What do think you're doing? You're not going to shoot, are you? You don't know what you're doing. What? What do you mean a magnificent crime. Are you out of your mind? Rosa! Yes, yes, I'll get in the wardrobe (HE SQUEEZES INTO THE DILAPIDATED PIECE OF FURNITURE THAT SERVES AS A WARDROBE.) You're making a big mistake. I'm not your subconscious man-eater in a cage How many days? Ten? A month? (BANGS THE WARDROBE.) Please, Rosa. Come to your senses. (PAUSE.) Don't do anything you'll only Let me out of here. I can't breathe. I've got claus What funeral? The Misa pro Defunctis. (MUSIC FROM THE SYMPHONY IS HEARD.) Don't do anything that Who ran away from the theatres? No, no I'm not a retired switchman. (THE MUSIC CRESCENDOS.) Yeah, well just remember, you can choose the way to annihilate me, but nothing will prevent your own annihilation, Rosa Mayo.
(THE COUGHING FIT WORSENS, BECOMING A SPASM.)
Rosa. Rosa? What is it? Rosa!
(EULALIO CRAWLS OUT OF THE WARDROBE. HE DRAGS HIMSELF ACROSS THE FLOOR TO THE ROSA-MANNEQUIN IN THE SHADOW.)
Oh, my god. She's blown her brains out. (SILENCE) Rosa? Answer me.
(SHE COUGHS AND RETCHES.)
Misfired. (HE SIGHS) Take it easy, Rosa. Relax. I'll call an ambulance. (PAUSE) You deserve only the best. You were never indifferent to those who struggled for a more just and humanitarian world. (THE SOUND OF HER RETCHING GETS WORSE) You were always there to offer a fraternal hand when it was needed. No one can deny that Rosa Mayo contributed to our epoch the noblest of sentiments.
(BREATHING HEAVILY, HE DRAGS HIMSELF A FEW INCHES FURTHER ACROSS THE FLOOR)
My love, breathe. Breathe.
(SILENCE. THE SOUND OF A VIOLIN PLAYING. LETHARGICALLY, EULALIO SITS UP. BLACKOUT. SPOT LIGHTS COME UP ON EULALIO. HE IS SEATED ON A STOOL, WITH HIS CHIN RESTING ON HIS CHEST.)
VOICE: As Ms. Mayo's friend and physician, I feel it's my duty to inform you that she psychosomatically overstepped her bounds. Scientific advances in this area have come too late to be of any real help to her.
EULALIO: There must be a remedy. Some new miracle drug We can't just let her go to pieces It's Mayo Don't you realize? Without her Carmen and La Traviata wouldn't be the same (HE SOBS.) Organism. Body. Flesh. Cells. But Rosa is more than just a mangled liver and shattered respiratory tube. Rosa is much more than that. (HE SOBS.) Why, she is a bird on high. (PAUSE.) You can't just run a few tests and diagnose as if she were just a normal human being. Don't you see? Mayo is different! She most certainly is! (PAUSE.) Why, she's like (TEARS COME STREAMING DOWN HIS FACE.) You, doctor, in springtime, at sunset perhaps, surely you must have gone for a stroll once--if only to observe the miracle of a flower stretching its petals And, doctor, for all your staid and scientific demeanor, you hardly dared to breathe for fear your breath might disturb that flower. It was a poem made of petals plowing the earth under with lyrical geometry. (HE DRIES A TEAR.) I am nothing but a retired railroad office clerk. I'd never think of challenging your scientific judgment, doctor. But Rosa is much more than that. Yes! Spirit, voice, creativity, soul and essence, breath, substance. That and a whole lot more. (ANGRY.) You don't give a hoot about her. Let me tell you that as long as she breathes opera, the main curtain will never fall for good. I give you my word as her agent and a railroad clerk! (HE PUTS ON HIS DERBY, WHICH HE HAS BEEN NERVOUSLY TWISTING IN HIS HANDS) Goodbye, doctor. It's time I fed the pigeons their rice.
(BLACKOUT. A SAD ARIA IS HEARD. LIGHTS UP A FEMALE MANNEQUIN UNCLOTHED. EULALIO ENTERS. HE GOES TO A WICKER BASKET AND PULLS OUT SEVERAL ARTICLES OF CLOTHING. HE STARTS DRESSING THE MANNEQUIN.)
You're on the world stage, Rosa. And it's the last act of this comic opera? Ah, who cares? Tiny Rosa trained her voice by singing the dreams she had of music's muses. (HE PUTS A LARGE DARK GREEN WO0LEN SKIRT ON THE MANNEQUIN) And as her body developed, tiny Rosa pursued the masculine ideal... (HE PUTS ON A DARK GREEN SPORTSJACKET FROM THE NINETEEN-FIFTIES) And when she grew up, the soprano was swimming in a sea of doubt (HE PLACES AN OLD FISHERMAN'S CAP ON THE HEAD OF THE MANNEQUIN) She searched, and she doubted (HE PUTS A DARK NARROW POLKA DOT TIE ON IT.) To be a spiritual being. (HE HANGS A BROWN HANDBAG ON ITS ARMS) or a triumphant ape on parade. (HE PUTS RED LIPSTICK ON IT) Upon which road would love appear? (HE PUTS ON A RECORD. A WALTZ BY STRAUSS IS HEARD) Who would have ever thought that in the end your charming prince would be a simple railroad office clerk? The truth is I'm your man. (HIS VOICE QUAVERS) Even though the sweet bird of youth has flown and (BESIDE HIMSELF.) The incombustible Rosa Mayo has found her mate at last. That is all!
(BLACKOUT. A SOFT ARIA BY ROSSINI IS HEARD AS THE LIGHTS COME UP ON EULALIO WANDERING IN THE PARK.)
EULALIO: Nobody! Not a living soul in the park. What's it to me where the rolling stones of the earth lie and dream? As if a retired office clerk weren't a rolling stone, too? (PAUSE.) For that matter, there are no pigeons around either. Whatever made me think that Markos, king of the opera producers, would ever receive the likes of me? What do I know about public relations anyway? Will I be able to intuit which opera would best suit her voice?
(EULALIO COLLAPSES ON A BENCH. HE STUFFS HIS PIPE AND LIGHTS UP. AS HE SMOKES IN A SPOTLIGHT, HE RUMINATES ALOUD, GETTING LOUDER AS HE PROCEEDS.)
Little office clerk. Do you have any idea what you're up to? (HE FROWNS.) I figured as much. You've blown your youth--the best years of your life. Fool!. Whoever told you to fall in love with an extravagant singer? (HE SHRUGS.) Just as I thought! (PAUSE.) The city was full of pretty girls. Any one of them would have made you happy. You had your pick of the lot. A man with a steady job, not all that looking but sentimental. You even had a pretty decent baritone voice. (PAUSE) By now you should have a bunch of grandchildren around you to palliate old age. (A LONGING EXPRESSION ON HIS FACE.) But no. Look at you now. (REMORSEFUL) You're nothing but a dodderer teetering on old bones (WITH A GUILTY EXPRESSION) Imbecile! At your age, wasting your life on a woman who never gave you a second thought. Someone you have never even made love to who always turned her back on you who even resorted to violence to get rid of you (HE SHAKES HIS HEAD) Don't tell me you've forgotten the beating her bodyguards gave you? Why, you still suffer from a dislocated shoulder they left you with. (HE NODS) And the slipped disk. (HE MASSAGES WHERE) You came this close to being smothered to death (NODS HIS HEAD) Haven't you had enough? (HE NODS HIS HEAD) You'd better run then! (SHAKES HIS HEAD) There's still time. Get a move on before it's too late. (SHAKES HIS HEAD) Get rid of her! (HE SHAKES HIS HEAD) Dump her once and for all! (HE SHAKES HIS HEAD) Her days are numbered anyway. She's never done anything for you. Use your head!
(EULALIO COMES OUT OF HIS REVERIE AS THE LIGHT INTENSITY INCREASES. HE DIPS HIS HAND IN THE BAG OF RICE AND RISES)
Here pigey-pigeons...Come and get it...Come to papa.
(LIGHTS UP ON A MANNEQUIN DRESSED IN BOHEMIAN FASHION. THE MANNEQUIN HAS A PEN AND A WRITING PAD. BESIDE HIM IS A STACK OF PAPERS HE HAS ALREADY SCRIBBLED ON.)
Pigey-pigeons. (HE GLANCES AT THE BOHEMIAN-MANNEQUIN) Have no fear little pigeons. Papa is here with his rice. (ANOTHER GLANCE AT THE BOHEMIAN-MANNEQUIN) Not a single pigeon! Where did they all go? (TO THE BOHEMIAN-MANNEQUIN.) Could it be that predators have invaded the area? No. Just for breathing the whole world is at fault. (HE SITS BESIDE THE MANNEQUIN.) Do I bother you? (SILENCE) Perhaps the sight of a grown man in tears would disturb your concentration. (PAUSE) I am going to cry, you know. A rather depressing spectacle, I'm afraid. (PAUSE) Oh, but of course I understand, believe me. A man my age should know how to contain his emotions. Only I'm going to pieces. (PAUSE) Would you mind if an unfortunate soul sheds a few tears? (PAUSE) Thank you. That is very kind of you, sir. What would the world be like without generous beings like yourself, who allow others to weep? No! I won't say another word. (PAUSE) Perhaps if I interrupt my sentiments, maybe then the tears won't come. (HE GLANCES AT THE MANNEQUIN) You don't suppose I'll flood the park, do you? (PAUSE) Can you swim? (PAUSE) In that case. You'd better get a move on, because any minute now this here park's going to be one big torrent. (HE STUDIES THE MANNEQUIN) what are you staring at? Do you want me to prove it? Who do you think you are anyway? What right have you got to demand anything from me? (PAUSE.) Oh! Now. Oh, yes, here it comes!
(BESIDE HIMSELF, EULALIO BREAKS INTO TEARS. MOMENTARY CRESCENDO OF BIRD SONG MIXES WITH THE SOUND OF HIS SOBS. WHEN HE STOPS CRYING, HE LOOKS AWKWARDLY ABOUT HIM. HE IS UNABLE TO DISGUISE HIS APPARENT WEAKNESS. WITHOUT GETTING UP, HE WHISTLES AT THE BIRDS. THEN HE GLANCES OVER HIS SHOULDER AT THE MANNEQUIN AND SMILES.)
So what do you do? I mean, for a living? (PAUSE) Of course it's none of my business. Everybody has to make a living at something. Some people create life Others stand in life's way. (PAUSE) Some are always trying to pull the wool over people's eyes. Others, plant gardens with their philanthropy.
(EULALIO STANDS UP ON THE BENCH. THEN HE GETS OFF. HE STARTS WHIRLING MORE AND MORE DELERIOUSLY AROUND THE BOHEMIAN-MANNEQUIN.)
Some can't tell the difference between the wheat and the chaff Prostitutes play bridge, and birds in brown derbies fly on Concorde jets (LAUGHS) The philosopher broods over the truth of being in the world, and the auctioneer minces words (LAUGHS) There are times that enlighten generations. Times a loudmouth becomes king of the hill for a while (LAUGHS.) The opportunist baits his hook with caviar. The wise individual uses parsley. (STILL WHIRLING) Dilettantes masturbate with art fads, while creators wither away for lack of stimulation (LAUGHS). God is always a hot news item, even though he's not on the five o'clock news. (LAUGHS) Creatures from out of space fornicate with earthlings while their spouses rave in sports stadiums. (LAUGHS) One business makes an individual rich, while another drives him to an early grave. (LAUGHS) The Arabs tell it like it is: No one can escape his shadow. So I'll play tennis with mine. (LAUGHS) I'm in love, a baritone, and retired. When all is said and done, you... said and done, you
(EULALIO STOPS WHIRLING. HE SIGHS. HIS SMILE IS GLOOMY AND DISTURBED. HE MOVES AWAY FROM THE BENCH, CONTAINING HIS EMOTIONS AS HE TOSSES RICE ON THE GROUND.)
Here pigey-pigeons Turtledoves She bird messengers of Come to me! Don't stop communicating with with Goshawks? Ridiculous! (EULALIO APPROACHES THE MANNEQUIN) No! Relax, signore! (PAUSE) This time the pigeon man shan't weep. (PAUSE) And so, farewell. I'm off with (PAUSE) Didn't I tell you? I've got a lady friend. She's really wild. (LAUGHS) I'm only kidding. She is an operatic stage swan and I'm just mad about ponds. (PAUSE) Debbo partire subito, signore. I am a traditional suitor. The lady must have flowers. (HE REMOVES HIS DERBY AND BOWS REVERENTLY) It's been a pleasure speaking to you, sir. A pleasure and an honor.
(EULALIO SMILES. HE DONS HIS HAT. BLACKOUT. A SINGLE LIGHT COMES ON EULALIO IN THE STAGE AREA DESIGNATED AS ROSA'S FLAT. HE BLINKS PERPLEXEDLY. THE UNEXPECTED SIGHT OF BURNING CANDLES STARTLES HIM. INTRIGUED, HE ADVANCES. HE SHRIEKS WHEN HE SEES A COFFIN ON THE BED. LIGHTS UP ON ROSA'S APARTMENT.)
Oh, Rosa, Rosa!
(HE SITS BESIDE THE COFFIN AND MOANS. PUTING HIS AN EAR TO HER CHEST, HE SIGHS WITH RELIEF.) She's not a corpse. Thank heavens! What a relief! (ON SECOND THOUGHT) But why? (PAUSE) Where did she get ? This is insufferable! Any way you look at it thoroughly intolerable! Remove yourself from that crate this instant! (HE TRIES TO PULL HER OUT. THOUGH ROSA RESISTS, HE FINALLY SUCCEEDS) This body case belongs with the cats!
(EULALIO DROPS IT DOWN THE SHAFT. HE STANDS ON TIPTOE TO SEE WHERE IT LANDS BELOW.)
EULALIO: Nobody needs a box around here. There's no need for a casket do you hear me? This is your agent speaking. (PAUSE) You'll have your funeral soon enough. The kind of honorific funeral every soprano dreams of having. (PAUSE) What! Who is, saying goodbye to you Rosa? Hogwash! Nobody's bidding Rosa Mayo adieu. (PAUSE) Au contraire. The mass media still dote on Mayo. Even in cyberspace. (PAUSE) Do you hear me, Rosa? (LEANING TOWARD THE MANNEQUIN) You do believe the word of a gentleman, don't you? I'm not lying, Rosa! The press has an interest in keeping the great Mayo from ever being eclipsed . Who's a humbug? I'm telling you, it's in all the papers. (HE INDICATES A BUNCH) They're the ones doing all the talking. Would you like to see one? You don't trust me, eh? Go on, read them yourself. Well, if that's the way you want it. (HE GOES TO THE STACK OF OLD NEWSPAPERS) Look, here it says that you're more important that the price of oil. And here. Look, on the editorial page, in the significant events section. Where? Where! Woman, open your eyes! Just read. Oh, you'd so like me to read it for you. Without skipping a word or adding anything that's not there, of course. (PAUSE) The editorial says (CLEARS HIS THROAT, THEN SHOUTS) Rosa! (GASPS) For a moment there I thought (PAUSE) The editorial the unforgettable Rosa Mayo, convalescent That's the heading In large print. Letters in monumental size.
(THE SOUND OF A COUGHING SPASM IS HEARD.)
It is impossible to say just how an insignificant crisis brought on by fatigue could possibly deprive the operatic world of one of its greatest voices . Swear that I'm not just making it up? You mean to say you doubt the word of your own agent? You want me to swear on my honor? Well, I'm not in the habit of taking oaths (BESIDE HIMSELF) I've already sworn! (PAUSE) Rest easy, my love What's that you say? The latest opera of the most popular composer today? Is that what you'd like? (HE LEANS IN CLOSE TO THE ROSA MANNEQUIN) Markos the promoter, musical director and probably the most revolutionary operatic stage designer around, should be here within the hour . And also some people from the T.V. Not mention critics and reporters! I tell you, I don't stop. Don't want to leave my crystal bird without proper representation. But remember, there'll be no letting the last curtain fall. Agreed? Eh?
(EULALIO SLOWLY SITS UP. BLACKOUT. BIRDSONG. LIGHTS UP ON EULALIO IN THE PARK. UPON NOTICING THE BOHEMIAN-MANIKIN FROM BEFORE, HE VISIBLY RECOVERS FROM THE SHOCK OF THE PREVIOUS SCENE. ANOTHER MANNEQUIN, THE VAGABOND-MANNEQUIN, IS LYING ON THE BENCH WITH HIS HEAD RESTING ON AN OLD VIOLIN CASE.)
Here pigey-pigey-pigeons... (TO THE BOHEMIAN-MANIKIN) Hi there. (HE SHAKES ITS LEFT HAND) Don't you remember me? (PAUSE) I'm I mean I'm the one who (TONGUE TIED) The fellow who drenched your clothes with tears the other day (PAUSE) No, don't worry. I'm no pest. I'm not here to bug you or anything. Honestly I'm not! (PAUSE) I'm not one of those who No siree, I respect artists. Because, you're one of the family. I knew it from the moment I laid eyes on you. (PAUSE) I said to myself, this person with such deeply set eyes and a noble forehead must be some kind of an artist. (PAUSE) And you were in the midst of a creating process, right? What was it? . You don't say! May I inquire as to the genre? Novel? Short story? Say, (HE EXAMINES A FEW MUSIC SHEETS AT HIS SIDE) don't tell me that you compose music too! (ECSTATIC) Are you by any chance interested in fantasy opera? (PAUSE) You are? Why that's just great! What a coincidence! Come again? Oh, no, no I don't actually, myself. Not at all, in fact. But I do have connections in the world of, well Verdi and company No, wait! That's not true. I used to be baritone. Only I didn't want to end up being an understudy all my life. I wanted to be me. (SIGHS) Now I am nothing more than (PAUSE) You seem like an understanding person. Well, here goes Actually, I'm Rosa Mayo's agent That means nothing to you. Right?
(HE SCRUTINIZES THE BOHEMIAN-MANNEQUIN'S FACE. THEN HE MOVES AWAY FROM THE BENCH, TOSSING RICE AS HE GOES.)
Here pigey-pigeons. Rice pigey-pigeons. Come and get your rice little cousins. (AS HE TOSSES RICE, HE LOOKS BACK OVER HIS SHOULDER AT THE MANNEQUIN) See, nice fat grains of rice for my Say! Is it true that on the stage of your subconscious mind you hear as yet unheard arias? (PAUSE) But are you sure? Of course! I could tell the moment I laid eyes on you. You look like a do-rey-mi-fa type poet (EULALIO HUMS A FEW BARS OF SOME CLASSICAL OPERA PIECE) Inspiring, eh? Tell me, how are the musical children of fantasy treated? I mean, your operas--how do they work? Are you a celebrity? Has your work ever premiered on any of the famous stages? (PAUSE) Oh, I see. You have yet to premier in one of the great musical temples. Are you perhaps working on new approach to music? I thought as much Did you say, a musical drama for the new millennium? It figures. An attic full of musical scores, right? Ah, cruel art! (PAUSE) But don't torture yourself. I'm here to Me? Oh, Yes, I'm Signorina Mayo's bluebird. (SIGHS) If you'll excuse me
(EULALIO GOES THROUGH THE MOTIONS OF TOSSING RICE AS HE HEADS FOR THE BENCH, HIS GAZE FIXED ON THE OLD VIOLIN CASE.)
What would you say if Rosa Mayo were to perform in one of your operas? Naturally. His face is glowing like a light. How could it not be? (HE GIVES THE MANNEQUIN A SOFT POKE WITH HIS ELBOW) Just imagine, the Paris Opera House in all its splendor. And on the marquis at the main entrance, the title of your opera with your name in huge gold letters. Alongside the names of the great Rosa Mayo the most famous tenor. Now how does that sound? (PAUSE) The public will be packed inside like sardines. And me, I'll be wearing a tuxedo and a derby, making the presentation
(EULALIO WINKS, DOES A PIROUETTE AND LEAPS ONTO THE BENCH.)
Entrez, messieur-dames! Welcome ladies and gentlemen. Entrate, signore y signori. Please do not delay. The most important musical event in recent times is about to begin. The composer is standing by with his musical score. (CLEARS HIS THROAT) There is no need to push. Please don't crowd the entranceway. (CLEARS HIS THROAT) There are tickets enough for everybody.
(SWEATING PROFUSELY, HE CLIMBS DOWN OFF THE BENCH. WITH HIS DERBY IN HIS HAND, HE FACES THE BOHEMIAN-MANNEQUIN.)
Well, what do you say? Wouldn't it be a dream come true? (PAUSE) Well, that and a whole lot more is what Rosa Mayo could do for you. (HE LIGHTS HIS PIPE AND EXHALES WITH SATISFACTION) Why would I am doing all this for you? Why, I do out of a passion for opera. You breathe life into musical dramas with large choruses, soloists, and an orchestra that's out of this world. Am I right? (PAUSE) So not another word. (PAUSE)
Go on. Fetch your as yet unheard of opera, my young Stravinsky. (PAUSE) Why are you looking at me that way? Get going. You're on the threshold of success. (PAUSE) Hurry!
(EULALIO MOVES AWAY FROM THE BENCH.)
Just a moment. I hope you realize that Rosa Mayo's commitments won't allow her to wait but for a short while. No more.
(THE LIGHT OVER THE BOHEMIAN-MANNEQUIN GOES OFF. DEEP IN THOUGHT, EULALIO SMOKES HIS PIPE. HIS ATTENTION FALLS ON THE VAGABOND-MANNEQUIN WITH THE VIOLIN CASE UNDER HIS HEAD. EULALIO GOES OVER TO HIM AND GIVES HIM SHAKE.)
Hey, brother. I said hey! (PAUSE) How could you just lie there sawing logs when you've got a beautiful violin? (PAUSE) As a musician, doesn't that trouble your conscience? (PAUSE) How would you like to play for Rosa Mayo? (PAUSE) You do know who Rosa Mayo is, don't you? You don't? Why, that's sacrilege! (PAUSE) Ah, who cares anyway. What matters is that you are going to play for a star soprano. (PAUSE) What kind of repertory have you got? That'll do. (PAUSE) Heh! Why are your eyelids fluttering like that? (PAUSE) Do you mean to say you wouldn't like to participate in the Salzburg Opera Festival? That's right, Salzburg, Mozart's birthplace. That's where Rosa Mayo would get you. Imagine that. Your violin being heard in Salzburg? (PAUSE) In the meantime, why don't you just start tuning up.
(EULALIO CHEWS ON HIS PIPE A MOMENT, WHILE A VIOLIN IS HEARD BEING PLAYED. ALL AT ONCE, A BATTERY OF SPHERICAL, MOON-SHAPED LIGHTS COME ON, ILLUMINATING EULALIO'S FACE AND THE FIGURES OF VARIOUS VAGABOND-MANNEQUINS LOUNGING ON BENCHES AND ON THE GRASS. EULALIO SMILING ECSTATICALLY. HE ENGAGES IN PANTOMIMED CONVERSATION WITH THE SHADOWS AROUND HIM. HE PULLS OUT A WAD OF MONEY, TRYING TO CAPTURE THEIR INTEREST. THE LIGHTS DIM TO DARKNESS. THE VIOLIN IS HEARD PLAYING. IT TOO FADES OUT. THE LIGHTS COME UP ON A TROUBLED EULALIO, PACING BACK AND FORTH IN ROSA MAYO'S BEDROOM. THE ROSA-MANNEQUIN IS LYING ON THE BED.)
Rosa. My little Rosa. (IN A PANIC, HE WATCHES HER VERY CLOSELY) Darling, it's me, your enterprising agent, who brings you
(SEEING THAT SHE DOESN'T MOVE, HE FEELS HER PULSE.)
Rosa! (HE SIGHS) How do you feel, my darling? That bad? But that can't be. You mustn't disappoint the world that worships you. No, I haven't return just to wheedle you. Wait and see.
(WITH A TRIUMPHANT SMILE ON HIS FACE, EULALIO STANDS UP. THE SOPRANO COUGHS IN SPASMIC BURSTS.)
You realize that you're expecting guests! What do you mean, skip it? How about
you telling them instead of me? Tell it to the composer of unbelievable musical
scores. Go on and inform the librettist who can plot the greatest stories. Then
you can break the news to the director whose staging would leave an audience
spellbound. And don't forget that sensational orchestra conductor, as well as
all those reporters and talk show hosts. No, I'm not the one who's delirious.
They'll be here, all right. Make no mistake about that.
(EULALIO COUGHS, AND AS HE DOES, A BURST OF APPLAUSE AND SHOUTS OF ENTHUSIASM ARE HEARD.)
Don't tell me the unforgettable Carmen has lost her sense of hearing? (HE SMILES) I knew you would snap out of it What? Quick? You want me to get a move on?
(THE SOUND OF AN UNSEEN MULTITUDE INCREASES.)
Is there anything I can get you? Why yes, a mirror. (HE HANDS IT TO HER) And lipstick, of course Now don't forget your vanity case. You'll need to put a bit of make up on. Rosa Mayo ascends from out of the ashes. Perfect.
(EULALIO IS TRYING HIS BEST TO PLEASE HER. IN THE BACKGROND, THE DIN OF THE MULTITUDE CAN BE HEARD.)
Hey, now, take it easy. I am shaking a leg Of course I can hear the ladies and gentlemen of the press You don't need to chide me You certainly will not have me replaced. Darling, do you think it's easy representing the likes of Mayo? (PAUSE) I can hear you all right Look, I am straigtening up and perfuming the place. It does not stink of sardines in here.
(EULALIO SPRAYS AIR FRESHENER ALL AROUND. SUDDENLY THERE IS A DEAFENING NOISE. LIGHTS COME UP ON A CROWD OF VAGABOND- MANNEQUINS, ALL OF WHICH HOLD TOY CAMERAS THAT ARE FOCUSED ON THE ROSA-MANNEQUIN. ONE OF THE MANNEQUINS CROUCHES BEHIND A FACSIMILE OF A TELEVISION CAMERA MADE OF WOOD.)
My but aren't the reporters rowdy today! Ladies and gentlemen, you really must control yourselves Oh, such rudeness such fretting. (PAUSE) On the other hand, it's only natural. But of course the press is anxious to Well, then. (HE STANDS BETWEEN ROSA AND A MANNEQUIN) Rosa Mayo, it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to one of the truly great composers of our times.
(SIGHS OF ADMIRATION ARE HEARD.)
And on my right, a director who knows how to transform a stage into a universe. (PAUSE). And now (HE FACES THE JOURNALIST- MANNEQUINS) Ready, darling? (HE ADVANCES TOWARD THE JOURNALISTS) Ladies and gentlemen, let the press conference begin. The amazing Rosa Mayo will now take your questions.
(THE SOUND OF CHEERING IS HEARD. EULALIO EXTENDS AND OPENS HIS ARMS.)
But first. (PAUSE) As Rosa Mayo's agent, I must insist that you refrain from asking Ms. Mayo any embarrassing questions. (PAUSE) For once let's just forget about the issues of unemployment and illegal immigrants
(SENSING THAT THE WORST IS ABOUT TO TAKE PLACE, EULALIO TURNS AND FACES THE ROSA-MANNEQUIN IN AGONY.)
Rosa, it's me. You're little railroad bard .
(DISTRAUGHT, EULALIO SITS BESIDE ROSA. THEN HE STRAIGHTENS UP. WITH TEARS IN HIS EYES, HE FACES THE MANNEQUINS.)
Ladies and gentlemen, for reasons beyond her control, Ms Mayo has been forced to delegate her voice to her agent. (HE MOMENTARILY BREAKS DOWN, BUT QUICKLY RECOVERS) In a moment I shall be at the disposal of the prestigious members of the press. (PAUSE) Now, if you would be so kind as to leave us, please. (HIS VOICE QUAVERS) Please.
(ONE BY ONE THE LIGHTS ILLUMINATING THE MANNEQUINS GO OUT, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE LIGHT OVER THE MANNEQUIN WITH THE VIOLIN. BESIDE HIMSELF WITH GRIEF, EULALIO CROSSES TO THE ROSA-MANNEQUIN, WHO SEEMS TO WEAR A SMILE ON HER FACE. AS THE LIGHTS FADE, A STAGE LIGHT COMES UP, ILLUMINATING THE BOHEMIAN-MANNEQUIN AT AN ANGLE. A VIOLIN IS HEARD. EULALIO, WITH A GARROTED LOOK ON HIS FACE, TENDERLY CLOSES ROSA'S EYES. AS THE LIGHTS FADE, A FEMALE'S VOICE IS HEARD SINGING FROM VERDI'S La Forza Del Destino.)