WRATH AND ECSTASY
by Eduardo Quiles
Translated by Russell DiNapoli
C a s t
The stage is in darkness at the outset of the play. with the house lights still on, an unseen soprano commences singing an aria from the opera Carmen, which is followed by aplause and bravos from an unseen audience, clamoring for the presence of Rosa Mayo. A spotlight picks up 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 walter, 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. the man 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 over the loudspeaker. Startled, the man drops the carnation and resumes his typing.
VOICE:... Management is alarmed by the latest reports from your section head...you are growing negligent...it's time these excursions into the realm of fantasy ceased and you paid more attention to your work! you were always a model employee, until now...the company has invested a great deal in your future and.... (the sound of a locomotive drowns out the rest of his speech. Blackout. In the darknesss, an aria is heard. Lights up on walter's apartment. The walls are covered with photographs, cutouts, and posters of rosa mayo. Alongside his rickety old bed are piles of magazines and newspapers that he will peruse, looking for pictures and articles to cut out. Walter readies his scissors as a T.V. broadcaster is heard.)
BROADCASTER:...That's right, T.V. viewers, the audience at The Metropolitan Opera House went wild with jubilation after the final act: The main curtain went up again and again as flowers rained down on Rosa Mayo. Not only local but international press reviews in unison are raving about her unforgetable performance as Carmen.... (Walter leaves off his cutting out ritual and moves closer to the television set. Blackout. A light comes up over rosa mayo wearing a mink coat. Camara flashes go off among the horde of unseen reporters and exuberant fans calling out to her. Walter, standing on his seat to get a better glimpse, fidgits with his theatre program. He unpins a carnation from the lapel of his dark suit jacket and launches it in her direction. There is an abrupt silence. Walter is all alone. Offstage, a violin plays sadly. Walter gives a nostalgic smile, sighs, and stoops to pick up the crushed carnation. He caresses the petals. Blackout. As the lights come up again, walter is seen lying on his bed in a shirt and tie and a hat, perusing the press for news about rosa mayo.)
BROADCASTER:... a magnificent performance. Another María Callas has graced the world of music with her presence.... A performance of such exquisite virtuosity has not been seen or heard in the Metropolitan in years. (Walter 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. Walter knocks on an apartment door. He carries a bouquet of daisies. The door opens slightly. A hand reaches out and grabs the flowers. Walter doesn't move a muscle. From within the apartment, a woman clears her throat. Walter 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. Walter painfully shakes his head. The bouquet of daisies comes sailing through the door and smacks him on the head. The wrathful voice of rosa mayo is then heard)
ROSA COHEN: (FROM WITHIN) This is too much! Just when I'm expecting a visIt from an oil rich Arabian Sheik, some idiot has to show up with a bouquet of worthless daisies.... I can't believe the gall of these ridiculous schizophrenics...! (calming down somewhat) Next time, boys, just bust his head.... Maybe that'll wisen him up to the fact that a great star like me can't be bothered with the likes of.... (Sound of violin. Walter 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 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. Walter's thoughts can be heard over the loudspeaker.)
WALTER: 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 your faithful, loving spouse? And your children? Now don't tell me, bel canto iris, you're still in love with that opera star? 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 a ravel is played. Lights come up on walter in his bedroom looking at a poster picture of a well known tenor and of rosa mayo in one of her splendid operatic costumes. Terribly saddened, he collapses onto the bed, only to get up immediately again. Frantically, he flips through a stack of magazines.)
Walter: Nothing.... (He furiously tosses away one magazine after another.) Nothing at all! not a word!... (He tears one to pieces in a fury and grabs another.) Nothing here.... nor here.... it's been a year since they've printed anything about Rosa.... Lousy journalists!.... would it take such a monumental effort to print the loveliest of names on the earth? Rosa mayo...! (Exasperated, Walter buries himself in a mound of printed matter, reading frantically. He tears through magazine after magazine until it seems exhaustion at last is about to force him to desist. But in a final outburst of rage, he punches and pounds on the stack of printed matter. 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 the security guard of the blue oasis club stumbled on 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. Walter 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.... 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 it.... (He strikes a match.) here's to justice.... and i'm the avenger.... (Suddenly transfigured.) Rosa mayo couldn't possibly have ended up drunk and comatose in the gutter like some old, disgarded whore.... no! (He puts out the match and addresses a magazine.) Come on.... you can't say things like that about.... about.... rosa.... lovely, divine Rosa mayo.... don't you see? (He sobs, then gradually pulls himself together. Wandering around the room, he looks at the many pictures of Rosa mayo hanging on the walls. Occasionally, he addresses one. Lights fade, then come up again on walter dressed in his formal grey suit and standing at a door with a carnation in his hand. He rings the doorbell.)
ROSA: (FROM WITHIN) Who is it?
WALTER: It's me.
ROSA: And just who might that be?
WALTER: It's...your number one admirer.
ROSA: (THE DOOR OPENS, REVEALING A PALID, DECREPIT, FIGURE IN AN OLD BATHROBE) Admirer? Who of?
WALTER: Why--Of Rosa Mayo, of course!
ROSA: Mayo's dead.
WALTER: But that can't be!
ROSA: Now, get out of here!
WALTER: I, uh....
ROSA: (INSIDIOUSLY) You--
WALTER: (WITH A GLANCE AT THE CARNATION IN HIS HAND) I would like to present her with a red carnation--
ROSA: (OPENING THE DOOR WIDER) Did you say a red carnation?... You're not serious? I didn't think there was a carnation bearing gentlemen left in this century.
WALTER: (HOLDING IT UP FOR HER TO SEE IT BETTER) Have you... ever seen a better specimen?
ROSA: (TAKING IT IN A MOMENT, THEN RECOILING) Why you...you've come to rob...rape...take advantage of... NOT JUST to bring me a carnation!
WALTER: (OFFENDED) No, I...just want to give Rosa Mayo a flower--
ROSA: (STILL ON HER GUARD) A flower? For Rosa Mayo?
WALTER: That's right.
ROSA: A funeral wreath would have been more apropos.
WALTER: Oh, you don't really mean that--
ROSA: Say, who ARE you?
WALTER: Rosa Mayo...dead?
ROSA: They wish! Rosa Mayo Is still very much alive! Understand? ALIVE!
WALTER: Oh, thank goodness! Alive-- (HE LAUGHS JOYFULLY, PULLING HIS HAT OFF AND TOSSING IT INTO THE AIR) Rosa Mayo lives! (HE HOPS AND SKIPS GLEEFULLY AROUND THE ROOM) Yuppiii! (ROSA STARES AT HIM IN UTTER DISBELIEF. SUDDENLY, HE STOPS DEAD IN HIS TRACKS, BLUSHING) Oh, please excuse me.... I can't help it (HE SEARCHES FOR HIS HAT) Now where is... (FINDING HIS HAT AND PICKING IT UP) she?
ROSA: You mean?...
ROSA: What! are you blind?
WALTER: You!.... You?.... (STEPPING BACK IN SHOCK) But...but, what?.... Oh, I get it. This is some kind of joke! (HE SCRUTINIZES HER FACE) You!.... But it can't be.... I certainly would know...
ROSA: Oh, would you, now!
WALTER: Yes.... Rosa is...someone else.... (PAUSE) She had brilliant eyes...soft skin...and her face was enchanting.... I've got a whole suitcase full of poems dedicated just to her beauty alone.... Madam, you can't pull the wool over my eyes! Goodbye-- (BUT HE STOPS AND STANDS THERE TRANSFIXED) And her hair was ravishing....like a field of golden wheat.... (TO ROSA) Goodbye, Madam. (AT A LOSS) And her figure--graceful as a swan! (IMPALED BY THE MEMORY OF THE WAY SHE WAS, HE CAN'T BUDGE) In short, madam, you need not play your little joke on me any longer.... (THE VISION OF ROSA COMES TO HIM AGAIN) And what a voice! Do you know what it was like? The timbre of that final eight was indescribably beautiful.... She performed with all the greatest tenors and baritones.... No one has ever equaled her rendition of Liza in La Dama de Pico.... And what about her Desdemona? Or her Mimi? (PAUSE) I ought to know.... (PAUSE) You, Rosa Mayo?....(SADLY ACCEPTING THE FACT AT LAST) You--are.... Rosa Mayo.
ROSA: You know, your face is vaguely familiar.... Aren't you that reporter for Interviu? Or was it The New York Times? No, you don't look like the type? (SUDDENLY EUPHORIC) I know--Paris Match sent you!.... No, hardly....(PAUSE) Perhaps a famous periodical from Madrid? (SIGHS) Frankly, I would have preferred the New York Times.... I have such fond memories of the Met!
WALTER: I am...Walter. That's right!--Walter.
ROSA: Yes, and you've been sent here by some star magazine to.... Now see here, my private life is not for sale....
WALTER: But I'm a retired--railroad office clerk...
ROSA: Railroad office clerk? I don't get it?
WALTER: It's not exactly what I wanted to be.... Nobody could ever possibly want to be that.... I was a singer myself once, an understudy, waiting for a break...Oh, well! (SIGHS) I wasn't cut out for being a substitute, you know--they hired me not to sing, always behind the scenes, and me dreaming all the time of being center stage.... (SIGHS) At first I thought I'd like to be train engineer.... Driving at the head of a long line of railroad cars, blowing the whistle all the way.... And then...an engineer cap...full throttle!...and that iron steed charging across the country at full steam!....
ROSA: Understudy?.... You mean you're not a reporter?
WALTER: All I wanted to do was to sing at your side.... It was just another chimera, I guess.... (PAUSE) How I used to fantasize about the two of us sharing top billing.... Oh, well--who really cares? (PAUSE) I was the one who applauded louder than anyone else. You believe me, don't you?... Though sometimes I was so tired after work that I'd nod off in my seat...but not for very long....And after the final curtain, I would present myself at your dressing room door with a bouquet of daisies.... Are you sure you can't recall?
ROSA: Why don't you just beat it? (IN A DAZE, RETREATS BACK INTO HER APARTMENT. WALTER FOLLOWS HER INSIDE)
WALTER: Try to 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.
ROSA: Mister, you're getting on my nerves.
WALTER: Surely you haven't forgotten. I wrote more love letters to you than anyone else.... I even called long distance wherever you happened to be performing.... I used up all my savings.
ROSA: Would you mind telling me which nut house you escaped from?
WALTER: One day...one day...I wrote you a poem. Then I wrote another. And another.... Is it possible you did not even read a single one?
WALTER: Wait! And that madrigal that went: Loves pantomime forever...
WALTER: I know you must remember this line: Surrounded by the sweet sound of violins/ a railroad man discovered Dulcinea.... (CRESTFALLEN, WALTER HEADS FOR THE DOOR)
ROSA: (MOVED, SHE INTERCEPTS HIM. THEY STAND FACE TO FACE) You! (WALTER, HEAD DOWN, ASSENTS) Is it really...you?.... Why didn't you say so in the first place? I didn't realize that it was...you! (WALTER SHRUGS) Of course, the unrelentless gentleman with the...daisies--
WALTER: They were the least expensive.... But, heh, the florist sold me only the loveliest.... And what...did...you think about those carnations?.... The red ones?...each one set me back....
ROSA: Ah, yes, the red carnations--
WALTER: And the letters? Some of them could fly by themselves to the mailbox, they were that inspired.
ROSA: The epistolary cavalier!
WALTER: (HIS VOICE SKAKY) You're still lovely. Still blossoming.
ROSA: I am no budding flower.
WALTER: Oh, but you are.... How shall I put it? An exuberating blossom of experience!
ROSA: Rosa Mayo no longer glows.
WALTER: Oh, but you're wrong. There is plenty of exuberance in you yet, just waiting to be revealed!
ROSA: You don't know what you're saying.
WALTER: I still...like...you. (AT THIS POINT ROSA DOESN'T KNOW QUITE HOW TO REACT) Truly.
ROSA: Give me...your hand. (WALTER DOES SO. SHE CARESSES IT)
WALTER: Careful! The neighbors might think.... I mean, I wouldn't want your reputation to be...
ROSA: Perhaps, then, we had better close the door. (SHE DOES SO. FOR THE FIRST TIME WALTER NOTICES THE SQUALOR: THE ROOM IS CLUTTERED AND CLOSED IN: THERE ARE SEVERAL DEHUMIDIFIERS. IN ONE CORNER IS A PIANO, AND IN THE OTHER A FAIRLY MODERN STEREO IN STRIKING CONTRAST TO THE OLD GRAMOPHONE SHE KEEPS; THERE IS SHEET MUSIC ALL AROUND. RECORDS AND CASSETTE TAPES ARE ALSO STREWN ABOUT)
WALTER: (TAKEN ABACK) It's an...old flat...typical of an era...stylish in a way....
ROSA: Shall we sit... (THEY DO, ON EITHER SIDE OF THE BED TABLE)
WALTER: If these walls could speak.... Hey!
WALTER: For that console table alone in an auction I bet you could get...at least....
ROSA: I wonder who gave it to me? Wasn't it...? (SHE IS ABRUPTLY STRICKEN BY A COUGHING FIT. SHE POURS HERSELF A STIFF GLASS OF BOOZE AND DOWNS IT IN ONE GULP. THE EFFECT IS IMMEDIATE. THE COUGH HAVING DISAPPEARED, SHE SMILES WITH RELIEF)
WALTER: First rate stuff, eh?
ROSA: The best medicine there is. (PAUSE. THEY STARE INTO EACH OTHER'S EYES, AND FOR A MOMENT TENDERNESS UNITES THEM)
WALTER: The reason I've come...is....
ROSA: You're looking for a job, is it?
WALTER: A job? Me? (CATCHING HIMSELF) Oh, how did you know?
ROSA: You said you used to be an understudy.... So now you think you might work for Rosa Mayo, right? (WALTER BOWS HIS HEAD) Well now, it's not all that easy, you know.
WALTER: Oh no, I never thought it would be.
ROSA: Because a position with Rosa Mayo would mean instant success--write ups in Le Monde. (WALTER PULLS OUT HIS PIPE AND NERVOUSLY FIDGITS WITH IT) You may smoke, if you like.
WALTER: (LIGHTING UP) Thanks.
ROSA: Now then, tell me: What else can you do besides understudy and administer trains?
WALTER: 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.
ROSA: (COUGHS AND POURS HERSELF ANOTHER GLASS, DRINKING) Now why on earth would I want to hire a guy like you...?
WALTER: I don't know.
ROSA: Do you know anything about public relations? I gave the boot to the last one I had.... Do you think you could properly represent Rosa Mayo?
WALTER: Like nobody else in the world!
ROSA: Have you got any vices?.... You know drugs...women...gambling? (WALTER SHAKES HIS HEAD) Do you still love opera? (WALTER CLOSES HIS EYES AND NODS ECSTATICALLY. ROSA CROSSES TO THE STEREO AND PUTS ON CARMEN) Does hearing this still excite you?
WALTER: And how!
ROSA: Then I hearby declare you my one and only agent.
WALTER: Do you mean it?
ROSA: I never say anything else.
WALTER: Of course. Oh, no mistake about it.... Well, you can count on me.
ROSA: Now get a move on. My debut needs arranging. If necessary, charter a flight to get me there. I'll need about a hundred musicians and as many singers: and about that many technicians and stagehands.... Oh, and I'll need a soloist partner.... (WALTER GOES PALE. DOWNCAST, HE HEADS FOR THE DOOR) Oh, I forgot--you mustn't overlook the multinational record contract. I'll need to record something....
ROSA: Oh, and one more thing--We really ought to make a toast to the future success of our merger.... (SHE FETCHES A BOTTLE AND TWO GLASSES) You may open the champagne. It's the last one left in the house.
WALTER: Let's have a look at that bottle....(UNCORKS IT AND FILLS BOTH GLASSES)
ROSA: To Rosa Mayo and her brilliant new agent!
ROSA: This bottle was given to me by an old admirer, the Marquis of...who knows what.
WALTER: And you've saved it till now?
ROSA: It's Rosa's way. (THEY DRINK)
WALTER: Exquisite! A vintage year, huh?
ROSA: Now off with you.... Search the music world through and through, and come up with something special just for me.
WALTER: I'm on my way! (HE DASHES OUT BUT IMMEDIATELY RETURNS) And...where...the devil would I ever get a contract?
ROSA: That's not for me to say. Now get to it, you incompetent lout!
WALTER: Excuse me. It's all the excitement. It's not every day you come to represent someone like...
ROSA: Get a move on! The world is yearning to hear Rosa Mayo sing once more.
WALTER: I'm on my way. You'll see, I won't let you down (STOPS SHORT OF EXITING. HE TURNS AND KISSES HER HAND AND DASHES OFF. LIGHTS OUT A MOMENT. BIRD SONG IN THE DARK. LIGHTS UP ON WALTER IN THE PARK WEARING A COAT AND SCARF AND FEEDING THE PIGEONS) Chow time. Come and get it.... Jeez, where am I ever going to find a contract for Rosa Mayo?.... Here pigey-pigeons.... What a fix I'm in now. Ricey-rice!.... That's what you get for sticking your nose where it doesn't belong!.... You big blowheart!.... Now how am I supposed to get her a charter flight with a private theatre on board for her alone?... Here pigey-pigeons: Where are you all today? (WALTER TOSSES SOME MORE RICE, THEN, DISPIRITED, HE SITS ON A BENCH. THE BIRDSONG INCREASES. THE LIGHTS BEGIN TO FLUTTER AS WE HEAR WALTER'S THOUGHTS) In absolutely everything...you are a zero.... You threw your career out of 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. A Wagnerian star or nothing.... Who do you think you are anyway? (WALTER'S FACE SHOWS THE STRAIN OF TRYING TO ANSWER THAT ONE. FINALLY HE COMES UP WITH SOMETHING TO SAY) Why, I am the top fan of the leading opera star of the century!.... And to be top anything in this day and age is something anyway.... (A DISCUSSION WITH HIMSELF ENSUES OVER THE SUBJECT) You're only kidding yourself....No, I'm not. It isn't easy being number one in something these days.... Who, you? Number one? Hahahaha!.... (PAUSE) All right, so maybe I'm not number one in the world of ideas, or art, or technology, but...(SMILES) when it comes to being the best fan of the best opera singer of all times I most certainly AM number one!....(CYNICAL SMIRK) Am I to assume that you are anything other than a common loser without a goal in life? I mean, do you really expect me to believe that you have actually found your way? That you are not just a no count any more? That you are no longer an exploited and totally debased human being? Because if that is your intention, then any further discussion with you will only be in vain... (WALTER TRIES TO GET A WORD IN EDGEWISE, BUT IS CUT OFF) You needn't explain. I know all about it: You're just a dilettante trying to bask in the tenuous light of a fading star.... (WALTER RESENTS THAT) So you never missed an opening: Big deal! And maybe you know more about Rosa Mayo than she does: So what! (A VOICE SINGING AN ARIA SINGS OFF STAGE) Does she love you maybe?... Do you think she'll love some day?...Huh, well do you? (WALTER, AFTER CONSIDERING THE PROSPECT AT LAST ONLY SHRUGS HIS SHOULDERS IN REPLY) Obviously there's no getting through to you. I'm only wasting my breath. (BLACKOUT. LIGHTS UP ON ROSA MAYO IN WALTER'S APARTMENT, RUMMAGING THROUGH HIS PERSONAL BELONGINGS. SHE REACTS TO CERTAIN THINGS, SUCH AS OLD PICTURES OF HERSELF HANGING ON THE WALL OR CUTOUTS THAT REMIND HER OF PAST GLORIES. WITH INCREASING EXCITEMENT, SHE PERUSES THE STACKS OF MAGAZINES AND NEWSPAPERS. THE EXCITEMENT OF DOING SO TOUCHES OFF ANOTHER COUGHING ATTACK. SHE COLLAPSES ON THE BED UNTIL THE SEIZURE WANES. SHE GETS UP AND RESUME HER RUMMAGING. WALTER ENTERS.)
WALTER: (PERTURBED) Who gave you permission to go through my things?
ROSA: Oh, it's you.
WALTER: Just where do you come off thinking you can come in here and do as you please?
ROSA: (STARLIGHT IN HER EYES) Oh, my love! (SHE WRAPS HER ARMS AROUND HIS NECK AND COVERS HIM WITH KISSES)
WALTER: You had no right...No right at all!
ROSA: Oh, my darling--you're so gallant...My cavalier who loves me so!
WALTER: (HE DISENTANGLES HIMSELF FROM HER ARMS AND SITS ON THE BED) I won't stand for it, do you hear?
ROSA: (SITTING DOWN BESIDE HIM) But...is it a crime to want to know about you a little better? Can it really be that you have...loved me so?...And in such a manner? (SILENCE) My god! (SHE GETS UP, BECOMES DIZZY, AND LEANS ON THE WALL RIGHT UNDER A PICTURE OF ROSA MAYO) Ooof, I feel a little faint...Just think, all this time I had the ideal lover...and I never even realized! (PAUSE) I must have been mad...I never thought anyone would ever really care... Why didn't you say so back then? You should have shouted it at me from wherever you were...that Rosa Mayo was the best loved woman on earth! (IN A FURY SHE TEARS HER PICTURE OFF THE WALL) Why didn't you? Why? Why? Why?
WALTER: I spent...my whole life...writing you...love letters.
ROSA: Writing? Writing!...Who the hell writes in this day and age? (SHE REALIZES THAT SHE HAS LOST CONTROL, AND TRIES TO REGAIN IT) No, no, my dear little railroad clerk...It was absurd...You were mistaken.
WALTER: Mistaken?...Me?...In what way?... (ROSA, MOVED TO TEARS, STARTS TO SPEAK, BUT CAN'T) Can it be?...You didn't notice a man, somewhat slight...always in the front row?...I mean, was it too much for you to take a second and notice a modest office clerk with a bouquet of daisies, or red carnations, or...?
ROSA: (FIRM) No! Do you hear? No, I certainly did not notice...I couldn't distinguish one fanatic from another among all those that followed me around everywhere.... (PAUSE) If you had really loved me...you would have gone to any extreme to make me realize....(FURIOUS) Why didn't you? If you really loved me! (ONCE AGAIN SHE HAS A COUGHING FIT. SHE FRANTICALLY SEARCHES FOR A BOTTLE) Quick...I need a drink. Now!
WALTER: (IN A FLUSTER) I think there's some milk in the fridge....
ROSA: Milk?...Something strong! Quick!
WALTER: Strong? Oh, yes...There must be a bottle around here somewhere...For medicinal purposes you understand...
ROSA: Get it...quick! (WALTER DUCKS INTO THE KITCHEN A MOMENT AND COMES OUT WITH A BOTTLE OF LIQUEUR, WHICH HE NERVOUSLY POURS INTO A GLASS. ROSA GRABS BOTH AND DOWNS THE CONTENTS OF THE GLASS IN ONE SWIG)
WALTER: Sip it slowly...
ROSA: (POURING HERSELF ANOTHER GLASSFUL) More...More...
WALTER: You really shouldn't...
ROSA: (GULPS IT DOWN. THE ALCOHOL HAS A SOOTHING EFFECT) Don't you see?...Can't you get it through your head? You should have made me realize how much you loved me!... But you didn't...You didn't have what it takes to win me....
WALTER: I...I'm not the cave man type...I've always been...mild mannered...Yes, a gentleman! And as for being frustrated and a failure....
ROSA: (THOROUGHLY DISGUSTED) You good for nothing...railroad clerk!...(SHE POURS HERSELF ANOTHER DRINK AND DRINKS IT DOWN) The whole universe is soulless...And you need the right stuff inside to keep it from...Whimp! You still don't get the picture?...(SHE REALIZES HE NEVER WILL) Oh, my love...You really should have screamed it out at the top of your lungs: I love Rosa Mayo! I love her because she's an operatic dream come true; she's an aria angel. I insist that she belongs to no one else but me!...I love Rosa Mayo! She's mine and nobody else's. I'm coming to get her before her lovely feet are turned into chicken claws and she's stricken down with menopause! (SILENCE)
WALTER: I tried...several--What am I saying?--hundreds of times. I've already told you: I spent my entire life tracking you down.... But every time your gorillas beat me as if I were a dog.
ROSA: And you just let them do it, eh, you little masochist?
WALTER: But--what could I have done? They were over six foot and knew Karate and god knows what else. (PAUSE) I'm a mild mannered man, sensitive, with a fixed salary.
ROSA: What the hell do I care for a man with a guaranteed monthly check? (SILENCE. ROSA AND WALTER LOOK INTO EACH OTHER'S EYES. THEN WALTER SMILES WARMLY, AND ROSA SMILES BACK) I suppose you have some background music that goes with this...museum?
WALTER: Which would you prefer? Or should I say, who?
ROSA: I think Tchaikowsky would...keep my head in the right place.
WALTER: Really?... He's one of my favorites!
ROSA: You don't say.... Well, I'll be! What do you have of his?
WALTER: (SEARCHING THROUGH A STACK OF OLD RECORDS) Let me see... (READS) The Fantasy of Romeo and Juliet.
ROSA: You're kidding? Romeo and Juliet? (PAUSE) Romeo without teeth and living on a fixed salary.... And Juliet...without a stage.
WALTER: I've got almost all his greatest works...Mimi, Desdemona, Tatiana, Liza....
ROSA: And of course, Carmen-- always Carmen. (LIGHTS FADE. THE SHADOWS OF WALTER AND ROSA CAN BE SEEN. THEY ARE SITTING ON THE EDGE OF THE BED HOLDING HANDS AND LISTENING TO TCHAIKOWSKY. SUDDENLY, ROSA FRANTICALLY STARTS BITING HER FINGERNAILS. LIGHTS UP) Would it be too much to ask what you did when you weren't in the office or prying into the life of an opera star?
WALTER: Well, I...I decorated some...Yes! That's it. I decorated.
ROSA: The Museum of Rosa Mayo, right? (PAUSE) And may I ask, just how long?
WALTER: Well, for exactly.... (HE PULLS OUT A LITTLE PAD) I've got every year, month, and day...written down here.
ROSA: (WHISTLING) You really are something else! (HE SHAKES HIS HEAD IN DENIAL) No really, you are.... Straight out of a book, I'd say. (PAUSE) You know, you're a funny guy. (PAUSE) Hasn't anyone ever told you before? (WALTER SHAKES HIS HEAD) But surely you must have another hobby--to keep you out of the madhouse, I mean.
WALTER: I go to the park a lot. Pigeons--
WALTER: Yes!... (PAUSE) Can I tell you a secret?... They don't take the pigeons into account in the city budget. It's a downright shame! Why, if it weren't for the generosity of a few visitors to the park.... What if one day nobody thought to bring them a little rice? What would happen then?
ROSA: Forget the pigeons, will you?
WALTER: I'll tell you what would happen: The city would be left pigeon-less. Can you imagine a city without a single solitary pigeon? A city without pigeons or birds would be like...like a river without fish...or a...
ROSA: Forget the pigeons.
WALTER: Do you realize that the sight of a live pigeon or the sound of a bird singing is enough to uplift the human spirit?...
ROSA: Will you forget about the pigeons! (PAUSE) You'll...never forget them.
WALTER: I like to go to bed with a clear conscience.
ROSA: (SITTING CLOSE TO HIM) Rosa Mayo...hurt you, didn't she? (WALTER SHAKES HIS HEAD) Can you ever...forgive me? (WALTER TURNS AWAY FROM HER AS TCHAIKIVSKY'S ROMEO AND JULIET CRESCENDOS) Ah, come on, don't be so hard on your little Dulcinea... (SHE CARESSES HIS HEAD) So you have always loved me...in silence...and from a distance...in total anonymity.... Only the star never paid you any mind.... Say, didn't I ever send you pictures? (WALTER POINTS TO A PICTURE ON THE WALL) 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 trainload of pictures.... Don't you believe me? (PAUSE) Somebody...must have stolen them.... The swine! Yes, that's what they are: Pigs! Because Rosa Mayo had a heart as big as a cathedral. Anyone confessing his love to her received a picture immediately. She even had a private secretary to keep a record of all her correspondence.... Oh, I remember now.... It was on the...What day was it now?.... A photograph was sent to a railroad office clerk.... (SILENCE) You believe me, don't you?.... It was sent special delivery. the pictures were in color, too.... It's true. Of course you believe me.... Oh, so you don't. Can't say as I blame you. I'm such a liar.... But we'll clear this matter up once and for all.... And right this minute, too. (ROSA NERVOUSLY SEARCHES THROUGH HER BAG, DUMPING ITS CONTENTS OUT ON THE BED AT LAST) Here you are! This picture's for you.... And this one too...and this one.... they're all for you.... Each and every one of them--forever.... Heh! Don't tell me you're just going to sit there and ignore them now. What? Ignore pictures of Rosa Mayo? Why, I've never heard of such a thing! (SHE REFLECTS A MOMENT) Oh, I get it: You want me to autograph them for you.... How sweet!.... You little rascal, you. Anyone can see you're a professional admirer. Nothing amateurish about you, no sir! You've got the art of admiring down to a science. Well at last your darling Rosa can satisfy your wishes (SHE CROSSES HER LEGS AND SCRIBBLES AN AUTOGRAPH ON A PHOTO) To my unconditional admirer.... No, that won't do--too cold.... To my oh so tidy and most faithful.... No, to my noble and discreet.... No, to my... Oh, why don't you help me instead of standing there like a lump?
WALTER: Some other time.
ROSA: Now there's a response: some other time. (SHE COUGHS HEAVILY)
WALTER: (CONCERNED) Rosa!
ROSA: (IN CONVULSIONS) Water--wat... (WALTER, ON PINS AND NEEDLES, FETCHES SOME WATER. ROSA POPS A PILL INTO HER MOUTH AND DRINKS)
WALTER: You don't look well.... Maybe I'd better call a doctor.
ROSA: (CUTTING HIM OFF IMMEDIATELY) Stay here--right next to me.
WALTER: But you need a doctor.
ROSA: Doctors-- (COUGHS AGAIN) can't do anything.
WALTER: Oh-- (LIGHTS BLINK ON AND OFF. ROSA'S CHEST HEAVES SPASMODICALLY. WALTER HOLDS HER HAND.)
ROSA: (ALL AT ONCE) I'd better get to the bank.... I'll just make it if I hurry.
WALTER: But...you're in no condition to.... Besides, someone might....
ROSA: Don't worry Prince Charming. I know how to take care of myself. (A FRAGMENT OF OPERA MUSIC IS HEARD. WALTER GAPES AT ROSA AS SHE SLIPS INTO A LONG THREADBEAR OVERCOAT. SHE PUTS ON A PAIR OF DARK GLASSES AND, NOTICING THAT SHE IS BEING WATCHED, SMILES WITH ADOLESCENT SHYNESS AND EXITS. WALTER STICKS HIS HANDS IN HIS POCKETS AND WANDERS ABOUT THE ROOM AS THE LIGHTS SLOWLY FADE OUT. A SPOT PICKS UP WALTER, TALKING ON THE TELEPHONE)
WALTER: You've got to listen to me.... Say what?.... Don't pay any attention to the press.... What?.... Of course, Rosa Mayo's lawyers will handle this.... Make no mistake about it--a celebrity of Rosa Mayo's calibre can't be cut off from her audience.... I most certainly am not just talking to hear myself blab.... Hello? Hello?.... Years? What years?.... But you just can't dump the most famous opera singer of our times.... Oh, so you can, can you?.... Why you little worm! (HE GLANCES NERVOUSLY AT THE DOOR) Look, let's say half of her fans are dying to see her again. How much does that add up to?.... (HE GLANCES AT THE DOOR AGAIN) What do you mean it's impossible?.... Well, now, you just do that.... Just ask for Walter--I'm Rosa Mayo's agent. (HE HANGS UP AND WIPES HIS BROW. ROSA ENTERS AS THE LIGHTS COME UP) Well, back already?
ROSA: (THROWING HER HAT AND OVERCOAT ON THE FLOOR) I could just scream!.... They can't do that to me.... I can't breathe.... That's never happened to me before.... Only once I couldn't catch my breath--it was in Riggoleto". But then no one noticed.... If they had, though.... (SHE SERVES HERSELF A DRINK) How dare that cheapskate banker imply that I am overdrawn?.... (SHE DRINKS) I've never been so insulted in my whole life.... Imagine, everybody was staring at me.... And all the while that fool kept insisting that I was broke.... (DRINKS) Do you think anyone recognized me?
WALTER: (LIGHTING HIS PIPE) Forget about it.
ROSA: I'll make him pay for that.... He'll come crawling to my feet like the insect he is. And I'll...nobody treats Rosa Mayo like that. Do you hear? Nobody! (SHE PULLS OUT A DAMP PARCEL)
WALTER: So you did some shopping, did you?
ROSA: Why don't you mind your own business? (PAUSE) Nothing matters anymore. (OPENS A WINDOW AND TOSSES SOMETHING OUT, CALLING TO THE CATS BELOW) Here kitty-kitty-kitty--
ROSA: (OBSERVING THE CATS) Don't be so greedy.... there's plenty for everybody.... Mama Rosa has got enough--Why, there's a whole fleet load where that came from.... Your stage angel went to sea for her little kitties.... Hey! What are you doing, Pussy White? That sardine's for the siamese.... (HYSTERICALLY) Hey, you--Will 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 grey fur on its back.... Ugh, how beastly--just like humans, some of these cats....(PAUSE) What's the matter with you sweety? Why don't you eat? If you don't real quick there won't be anything left but a few bones.... I'll tell you what, don't move--Momma Rosa'll bring you down some milk. (SHE SUDDENLY SHAKES IT ALL OFF WITH A HAND GESTURE) Enough! The party's over!
WALTER: (FLABERGASTED) I didn't realize that you....
ROSA: I forgot to...introduce you to my... (THEY GAZE INTO EACH OTHER'S EYES A MOMENT) So, you spoke to someone on the phone, right? Perhaps with...a woman? (THEY CONTINUE STARING INTO EACH OTHER'S EYES) Now, wouldn't that be something? At our age? You and I...cheating on one another. (SHE LAUGHS) Too much! A couple of wrecks like us playing at...at.... A pair of mummies with false teeth...getting it on. (LAUGHS) You do wear dentures, don't you?.... Come on, admit it. (WALTER PUFFS AWAY ON HIS PIPE IN SILENCE) Let's examine that candy mouth of yours (TRYING TO OPEN IT) Ah, come on--let's have a look at those great big fangs of yours.
WALTER: I had a chat with Markos--
ROSA: (LIVID) Markos the producer?
WALTER: The same.
ROSA: And? Tell me--he's watering at the mouth at the prospect of having me back on his stage, right? (SHE SERVES HERSELF A DRINK AND GULPS IT DOWN) Naturally.... That old fox still knows what's what.... He'll grab at the chance to sign on the greatest opera singer of the age. (TAKING A DEEP BREATH) Which theatre will it be then? The Paris Opera House perhaps? (BESIDE HERSELF WITH JOY) Oh, let's drink and dance! (SHE SERVES HERSELF ANOTHER DRINK)
WALTER: Wait a second, please.
ROSA: (HAVING ANOTHER DRINK) Hey there, autograph hunter--You didn't think Rosa Mayo had lost her stuff, did you? Well, just you watch this. (SHE PUTS ON A RECORD AND DANCES TO SOME HEAVY ROCK MUSIC) What do you think of that? (SHE LAUGHS AND, APPROACHING WALTER, MUSSES HIS HAIR. THEN SHE DRINKS, AND, WITH SWAYING HIPS, MOVES AWAY FROM HIM AGAIN)
WALTER: Will you stop that!
ROSA: (SALUTING HIM) Yes, sir.... Now the incomparable and oh so sexy Rosa will dedicate a striptease to her very attractive beaux.
WALTER: That'll be quite enough.
ROSA: Wouldn't you like to see my...? Don't you remember my lovely breasts and hips, the mere sight of them at one time would cause a furor. (PAUSE) Say, what if...? Why of course! What a great idea! (PAUSE) But first...first.... (SHE CROSSES TO THE VANITY) A dash of perfume. Then I'll throw something real skimpy on.... (SHE SLIPS INTO A GROTESQUE TUNIC) Soft light.... (LIGHTS FADE) Easy music.... (SHE PUTS ON SOME SEDUCTIVE MUSIC) So let's dance... (SHE WRAPS HERSELF AROUND WALTER, AND THE TWO OF THEM SWAY TO THE MUSIC)
WALTER: (UNCOMFORTABLE) But...but....
ROSA: Hey, you're built pretty well.... Not bad, not bad at all. (SHE GIVES HIM A LONG WET KISS ON THE MOUTH) Better get a move on, Romeo: Your Juliet is ready to ride.
WALTER: You're drunk!
ROSA: Here I am, baby--all woman.
WALTER: Oh, Rosa...Rosa...!
ROSA: We'll make love.... (SHE TAKES A SWIG FROM THE BOTTLE) Our names will be in the headlines.... Two mummies fornicating like a couple of camels! (SHE LAUGHS) Up and down, giddy up!.... Ah, who the hell cares? (LAUGHS) Who'd have ever thought your worn out aspect was just a disguise? Why, you're one big hunk of a man! (ROSA CLIMBS OFF OF HIM AND STARTS DISROBING)
WALTER: What do you think you're doing?
ROSA: Rosa Mayo will now reveal her oh so coveted birthday apparel.... (WALTER ABRUPTLY KNOCKS HER DOWN, AND LIKE A COUPLE OF FIGHTERS, THEY GO AT IT ON THE FLOOR: ROSA SMASHES WALTER IN THE MOUTH. HE IN TURN GRABS HER BY THE ANKLES AND DRAGS HER ACROSS THE ROOM TO THE BED, WHERE HE MANAGES TO FASTEN HER SO THAT SHE CAN'T MOVE) What the hell do you think you're doing? Let me go, you bastard!
WALTER: Are you going to calm down first?
ROSA: I can't move.... I'll call the police.... You sadist.... I'll see they lock you up for rape! (A VIOLIN IS HEARD SOFTLY PLAYING. WALTER SMILES MELANCHOLICALLY, WHILE ROSA STRUGGLES TO GET FREE)
WALTER: Can't you see?.... You're only hurting yourself.
ROSA: Let me go!
WALTER: You can still save yourself, Rosa Mayo.
ROSA: Save myself?.... That's just another lie.... Can't you get it through that pea brain of yours?
WALTER: I can't figure it--not Rosa Mayo.
ROSA: Oh, why don't you shut up?
WALTER: All that beauty and talent--one of the best voices there ever was....
ROSA: Be quiet, I said!
WALTER: Down she went, like an albatross shot through the heart.
ROSA: That's enough! (SHE TRIES IN VAIN TO FREE HERSELF)
WALTER: I'll never understand how.... I worshiped you...followed you everywhere.... (ROSA LAUGHS MOCKINGLY) I always knew where you were, anywhere in the world--I had each place marked with a pin on a map.... (ROSA LAUGHS AGAIN) I remember the time I read how the mayor of Rome presented you with the key to the city.... (ANOTHER DRUNKEN LAUGH) Then one day...I lost...all trace of you (PAUSE) There was nothing left of Rosa Mayo but silence.
ROSA: Imbecile! (TUGS AT HER BINDINGS)
WALTER: It made no sense--How could the brightest of stars suddenly stop shining?
ROSA: Let me loose, you bastard!
WALTER: How could a person whose name was on everyone's lips, whose picture was everywhere, whose words were sought after by journalists everywhere...?
ROSA: I'll get you for this. I'll squash you like a....
WALTER: Then came the rumors...unheard of impertinences I just wouldn't let myself believe.... (HE PULLS OUT A NEWSCLIPPING) How could the star of stars just waste herself away on drugs and alcohol? How?
ROSA: (TRYING TO SEIZE THE CLIPPING) Give it to me, you thief!
WALTER: I happened on it, quite by chance, among your books.
ROSA: Don't you ever go through my belongings again. Never, do you hear?
WALTER: They locked you up in a hospital.
ROSA: Unfasten me!
WALTER: You! You were...
ROSA: Was, I was, I was...so what?.... I was addicted to the stuff.... After this I'm going back to it, too.... It's the price you HAVE to pay.
WALTER: The pigeons in the park will be hungry. (HE HEADS TOWARDS THE DOOR)
ROSA: Listen, you sentimental slob--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, you know--forget yourself and.... In my worst nightmares...there were so many youngsters aspiring to be Rosa Mayo.... But there is only one Rosa Mayo. And let me tell you, there are moments when a good dose of nirvana works wonders.... Now do you understand your cherished and marvelous Rosa?
WALTER: (WITH A DRY VOICE) Give me time.
WALTER: You could...teach.... I mean, you've got so much to offer....
ROSA: An entire lifetime. (PAUSE) Are you leaving?
WALTER: The pigeons.
ROSA: Are you...angry? (WALTER INDICATES WITH HIS HEAD THAT HE IS NOT) Disappointed? (HE SHAKES HIS HEAD) This is no longer your radiant star.... The hell with it! You searched the heavens for a star and...and you erred. (BITTERNESS SHOWS ON HIS FACE) You are, perhaps, contemplating...leaving me?
WALTER: Today I...need my pigeons.
(THE ACTION CONTINUES FROM ACT ONE)
ROSA: I knew you wouldn't leave. (PAUSE) Every bone in my body is killing me.
WALTER: I don't get it--How could a star like you just plummet?
ROSA: (IRATE) What's with you, anyway?
WALTER: If I'm going to be with you for any length of time...say for the rest of my life, I need to know who Rosa Mayo really is.
ROSA: Help yourself to a drink.
ROSA: That's despicable! (PAUSE) Do you really want to know?... Well, all right then...You might say this little doll opened her eyes for the first time in the bazaar.... A place with only one ethic: compete. It was just the training the little doll needed to succeed in the real world. Do you follow me?.... In time, the little doll with the mermaid's eyes learned to get around in that bazaar where everyone was supposed to fit but in fact, only a few really did.... The chosen few with the right code that excluded all the rest. Do you get the picture now, railroad clerk? (PAUSE) Those of us on the inside just assumed the world was ours for the taking.... How utterly stupid!.... Doesn't seem possible now.... What need was there to compete when the magic bazaar was there to keep us all busy anyway?.... I was a little doll with pigtails, dreaming of other bazaars and toys... toys that could feel right. Something like, say, genuine equality. (SHE MOANS) You see, railroad clerk, my parents tucked their little doll away in a crib, and all the while they coaxed her on with sweet melodies...Rosa, little angel, lovely Rosa, divine, inimitable, and oh so admired.... (SHE LAUGHS) Isn't that something?... Just listen to mammy and daddy and you'll become the doll of the century: The cosmic bazaar will be all yours.... Is there anything simpler than that? Huh? (A TEAR ESCAPES AND SHE QUICKLY WIPES IT AWAY) And you, are you satisfied now? You lump of retired feces!
WALTER: (STARTING TO LEAVE) The pigeons are expecting me in the park....
ROSA: Wait.... You want to know who Rosa Mayo is, don't you?.... I accepted Rosa because-- there are certain demands made on a myth when she is standing in the stagelight.... Naturally, time takes its toll. But I pampered my vocal chords and strained my voice as little as possible; I watched my health, did yoga, with the idea of eternally performing Wagner or Verdi.... I thought nothing could ever come between the stage and me....
WALTER: Go on, please. (ROSA MAYO BURIES HER FACE IN HER HANDS AND SOBS. THE CATS CAN BE HEARD MIAOWING OUTSIDE) Now I remember.... There came a time when you were always angry, or being excentric, or walking out on rehearsals....
ROSA: That's enough from you!
WALTER: Fixed or shooting star? What a dilemma!
ROSA: I knew it--you're cracked!... Nothing but an ass kissing paranoid.
WALTER: Yes, my little songbird, you had but two alternatives, two poses to strike....
ROSA: Shut your mouth!
WALTER: Your radiance faded. Though you knew how to give off other kinds of sparks.... Here then was the issue in the nutshell: The essential Rosa Mayo at a crossroad.
ROSA: (FURIOUSLY STRUGGLES TO BREAK FREE) You'll regret this, I swear!
WALTER: But Rosa Mayo would not capitulate. So great was her pride she thought she could defy time itself and side step the final resignation.
ROSA: (SPITS ON HIM) Slimy rat!
WALTER: You hid yourself away in a fantasy world of your own creation.... (ROSA HAS ANOTHER COUGHING FIT. WALTER IMMEDIATELY RELEASES HER) Rosa! Rosa! (ROSA STRAIGHTENS UP AND, AS IF SHE WERE LOST IN A DREAM, AND BREAKS INTO LAUGHTER. THEN SHE PULLS OUT A PISTOL AND POINTS IT AT WALTER)
ROSA: Ha, ha, ha!
ROSA: How do you like this act? Does this Rosa Mayo still carry a clout, or what?
WALTER: It certainly is...(HE MOVES BACKWARDS) impressive...magnificent...(SWEATING PROFUSELY) For a second there I thought I was a gonner.
ROSA: Now you're going to get it, you little ink sucker!
WALTER: You're not going to....
ROSA: You bet, nitwit.... I'm going to waste you, but not just any ole way.... Rosa Mayo can only commit an aesthetically correct crime.... Now let me see, how should I do it? What would be the perfect way to finish off a scumbag?... Slowly-- yes, that's it! In stages of increasing agony.... All right, creep--get your hands behind your neck!
WALTER: (DOES AS HE IS TOLD) Okay...anything you say.
ROSA: I might let you die of thirst...or maybe hunger. Rosa could have her own private skeleton hanging in the closet... No, wait! I've got something even more original, more revolutionary....
WALTER: Rosa, have you lost your mind? Rosa!
ROSA: For now though, get in the closet.
WALTER: Say what?
ROSA: Get in the closet or I'll.... (SHE COCKS THE FIRING PIN. WALTER, TERRIFIED, DISAPPEARS INSIDE THE CLOSET, WHICH ROSA PROCEEDS TO LOCK) So, finally I've got the little pain out of the way. (SHE LAUGHS) How many days will it take, I wonder? Ten? A month? An eternity?.... This calls for a celebration! (SHE POURS HERSELF A DRINK AND GULPS IT DOWN AS WALTER BANGS ON THE CLOSET DOOR FROM WITHIN)
WALTER: Please, Rosa, will you come to your senses?... Don't do anything you'll be sorry for later.
ROSA: (CHUGS DOWN WHAT IS LEFT IN THE BOTTLE) Little ass-wipe! .... Some macho-man!.... They're all the same: Exploiting women all the time. Now in the name of the Universal Female I'm going to make you pay for it! (SHE GOES FOR ANOTHER BOTTLE, OPENS IT AND DRINKS)
WALTER: Let me out! I'm claustrophobic.... I can't breathe....
ROSA: To hell with your claustrophobia. (SHE DRINKS SOME MORE) I know what--I'll put on a little music to send you on your way.... (SHE STUMBLES TO THE RECORD PLAYER) How about FANTASIA for the little gentleman? No! Better still, Prokofief's Buffon.... Nah, not that either.
WALTER: (WITH A WEAK VOICE) Rosa, please.
ROSA: No, something more appropriate for a funeral.... I know, Misa Pro Defunctis (SHE DANCES TO A SELECTION FROM THE SYMPHONY)
Yes, just the music for a singer who abandoned the theatre.... Lousy paper-pushing retiree.... (SHE TAKES ANOTHER SWIG FROM THE BOTTLE) I may explode any minute now, but you'll get yours as well--won't you? (SHE LAUGHS, THEN DRINKS).... Moreover, it makes for a memorable romance story.... Such a cruel affair!.... You know, I think I really ought to cream you. (SHE LAUGHS, THEN DRINKS)
WALTER: My annihilation won't prevent yours from happening, you know, Rosa Mayo. (ROSA TURNS LIVID. HER COUGHING FIT RETURNS, LEAVING HER WRITHING ON THE FLOOR) Rosa.... Rosa? What is it? Rosa! (ROSA DRAGS HERSELF OVER TO THE CLOSET) Is it bad, Rosa? Answer me. How bad is it? (ROSA RETCHES) Listen to me, sweetheart.... Try to call an ambulance.... No--first, open the closet.... Rosa! Can you hear me? You've got to try--turn the key.... Turn it, or we're gonners!
ROSA: I won't ever forget...the way you defined and hung a sign on lovely Rosa.... Worthless dilettante! (COUGHS) Rosa Mayo is more than just...the wretched picture you've painted of her...(COUGHS) Rosa enchanted an entirely demoralized society with her art...(COUGHS) That's right, office clerk: She mesmerized a world that believed it could happily possess everything.
WALTER: Oh, God--I'm suffocating--
ROSA: Rosa gave her body and voice...(COUGHS) to the loveliest operas by the most brilliant composers...(COUGHS) At the same time, Rosa Mayo was never indifferent towards those who struggled for a more just and human world....
ROSA: I was always there to offer a fraternal hand when it was needed...(COUGHS)
ROSA: Rosa contributed to the noblest sentiments....(COUGHS)
WALTER: (WEAKLY) Rosa...(ROSA CRAWLS TO THE CLOSET AND MANAGES TO UNLOCK THE DOOR. SHE LOOKS WITHIN AND GASPS)
ROSA: No! (WALTER SIGHS WITH RELIEF) Oh, breathe, my love, breathe...(SILENCE. A VIOLIN PLAYS)
WALTER: At last, air.
ROSA: I'm feeling awfully bad. (WALTER, IN A DAZE, SITS UP)
WALTER: I'll get you the best doctor in the city.... You'll get your health back. (CRESTFALLEN, ROSA GIVES HER HEAD A SHAKES) Just wait...you'll see...(PAUSE) Now...into bed with you. (WALTER TAKES HER IN HIS ARMS, BUT COLLAPSES FROM THE WEIGHT. HE TRIES AGAIN, ZIGZAGGING ACROSS THE ROOM TO THE BED, WHERE HE FINALLY LETS HER FALL)
ROSA: I feel...like...falling...and this is the final curtain.
WALTER: Then stop it from falling! You are Rosa Mayo and you can do whatever you WANT....
WALTER: (DESPERATE) I'll find a medicine.... (KISSES HER ON THE FOREHEAD) Just try to get some sleep...because her public relations agent is on the the look out.... (BLACKOUT. LIGHTS UP ON WALTER SITTING ON A STOOL WITH HIS HEAD BOWED)
VOICE: As Ms. Mayo's friend and physician, I feel it's my duty to inform you that Rosa psychosomatically overstepped her bounds. Scientific advances in this area have come too late to be of any real help to her.
WALTER: There must be a cure! Some new miracle drug.... We can't just let her go to pieces...It's Rosa...Don't you realize?...Without her Carmen and La Traviata wouldn't be the same....
VOICE: True, she's not that old. But it's a miracle that her weakened organism can still....
WALTER: Organism. Body. Flesh. Cells. (EXASPERATEDLY) Rosa is more than just a mangled liver and shattered respiratory tubes.... Rosa is...is...a bird on high.... You can't just run a few tests and diagnose as if she were just a normal human being...Don't you understand? Rosa is something else!.... It's like...(TEARS COME STREAMING DOWN HIS FACE) You, doctor, in springtime, at sunset perhaps, surely you must have gone for a walk just once--if only to observe the miracle of a flower stretching its petals in the final glimpse of light.... And you, doctor, for all your staid and scientific demeanor, you hardly dared to breathe for fear your breath might disturb that flower...because it was a living poem.... I am nothing but a retired office clerk. I'd never think of challenging your scientific judgement doctor.... But Rosa...is something else...Yes! Spirit, voice, creativity, soul and essence, breath, substance...and so much more.... (ANGRY) You don't give a hoot about her. Only let me tell you that as long as she breathes opera I'll see to it that the main curtain never falls.... I give you my word as her agent and a railroad clerk! (HE PULLS ON HIS HAT, 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 ON ROSA MAYO LYING ON THE BED IN CONVULSIONS. AFTER A MOMENT, SHE MANAGES TO GET TO HER FEET AND MOVES UNSTEADILY TO HER DRESSER)
ROSA: (AFTER LIGHTING UP A CIGARETTE) You're on the world stage, Rosa. and it's the last act of--which opera? Ah, who cares? (SHE SLIPS INTO A PAIR OF EXTRA LARGE UNDERPANTS, IN STYLE LAST CENTURY) Who...would have thought it would come to this?.... Such a little girl....and the Anderson tales to acompany me to sleep...And Grimm...(SHE DARNS A NINETEENTH CENTURY SPANISH ISABELLINE BLOUSE, WITH SLEEVES AND A COLLAR MADE OF HAND STITCHED LACE) Little Rosa trained her voice singing the dreams she had of elves, and...soon she fell in love with a noble prince, the sort who'd never think twice of marrying an illiterate barefoot, shepherdess...(SHE PUTS ON A LARGE DARK GREEN WO0LEN SKIRT) And as her body developed, she followed the masculine ideal... (SHE PUTS ON A DARK GREEN SPORTSJACKET FROM THE NINETEEN-FIFTIES) And when she grew up...she would search for...search for...(SHE PUTS ON A NARROW TIE) Only there was never a trace of Adonis anywhere....(SHE PLACES AN OLD FISHERMAN'S RAIN CAP ON HER HEAD) Rosa had a weakness for the temptations of success...(SLIPPING INTO SHOES FROM THE FORTIES) And there wasn't a trace of... (LOOKING AT HER REFLECTION IN THE DRESSER MIRROR, SHE PUTS ON RED LIPSTICK) Once again there was a hero made of straw....(A WALTZ IS HEARD) And deep down Rosa suffered for her many castles that had turned to sand....
ROSA: (REACHING UNDER THE BED, SHE PULLS OUT A COFFIN) The most solicited of opera singers turned away from the stars. She felt the cold running up her spine when she saw the asphalt below her feet.... (WITH A FEATHER DUSTER SHE DUSTS OFF THE COFFIN AND SPRAYS IT WITH A PERFUME MIST) Say what?.... How did I ever come to know...that there were anonymous street princes...? Ah! How?.... (SHE MEASURES THE LENGTH OF THE COFFIN WITH A MEASURING TAPE) Who would have ever thought that in the end my charming prince would be...a railroad office clerk? Was there ever a more cruel paradox?... (SHE OBSERVES HERSELF CRITICALLY IN THE MIRROR. SHE DONS AN IMAGINARY NECKLACE OF JEWELS AND, ELEGANTLY SLIPS INTO THE COFFIN) It makes no difference, long lost nightingale. You have found your man at last.... Even though...(HER VOICE BREAKS) you are over thirty...forty.... (LOSING CONTROL) The incombustible Rosa Mayo has found her mate in the railroad heavens...That is all! (BLACKOUT. LIGHTS UP ON WALTER WANDERING IN THE PARK)
WALTER: Nobody! Not a living soul in the park.... What's it to me where the all rolling stones 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 someone like me?.... What do I know about managing anyway?.... (WALTER COLLAPSES ON A BENCH. HE STUFFS HIS PIPE AND LIGHTS UP. AS HE SMOKES, HIS VOICE CAN BE HEARD OVER THE LOUDSPEAKERS)
VOICE: 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...Idiot!.... Whoever told you to fall in love with an extravagant singer who's completely off her rocker? (HE SHRUGS) Just what I thought!.... 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, good looking, sentimental--you even had a pretty decent baritone voice.... 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 an old dodderer....(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 the dislocated shoulder they gave you....(HE NODS) And the slipped disk...(HE MASSAGES WHERE) And came this close to being smothered to death...(NODS HIS HEAD) You'd better run! (SHAKES HIS HEAD) There's still time. Get a move on before it's too late. (SHAKES HIS HEAD) Get rid of her!...Her days are numbered anyway...She's never done anything for you...Use your head!
WALTER: (THE LIGHT INTENSITY INCREASES. WALTER COMES OUT OF IT. HE DIPS HIS HAND IN THE BAG OF RICE AND RISES) Here pigey-pigeons...Come and get it...Come...(LIGHTS UP ON A MANIKIN DRESSED LIKE A BOHEMIAN. THE MANIKIN HAS A PEN AND A WRITING BLOCK. A STACK OF PAPERS HE HAS ALREADY SCRIBBLED ON IS BESIDE HIM) Pigey-pigeons.... (HE GLANCES AT THE MANIKIN) Have no fear little pigeons. Papa is here with his rice.... (ANOTHER GLANCE AT THE MANIKIN) Not a single pigeon! Where did they all go?.... Could it be...someone made them fly the coop...because they were a bother?...Why, every living creature on earth is.... (SITS BESIDE MANIKIN) Do I bother you?.... (PAUSE) I said, am I a bother?.... (PAUSE) Excuse me. I wouldn't want to disturb your concentration.... (PAUSE) Or just maybe you'd enjoy seeing a grown man crying.... (PAUSE) But then again, why should I cry? There's nothing more depressing than a grown man in tears.... (PAUSE) I understand. At my age you'd think I'd have more sense.... I swear I feel like I'm going to pieces!.... And you...How can you just let a poor man like me come apart at the seams?.... (PAUSE) Would you believe I'm going to flood this park?... Can you swim?... Then...get your butt off that bench...any minute now this park's going to be a torrent.... (PAUSE) Say, what are you staring at anyway? 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, now!
WALTER: (WALTER SURPRISES HIMSELF BY BREAKING INTO TEARS. MOMENTARY CRESCENDO OF BIRD SONG. WALTER TRIES TO REGAIN CONTROL OF HIS EMOTIONS. HE WHISTLES AT THE BIRDS. THEN HE GLANCES AT THE MANIKIN AND SMILES) 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...(THE SHADOWS OF OTHER MANIKINS SITTING ON THE GRASS AND ON BENCHES ARE PROJECTED ON A SCREEN)just bum around...like them.... (PAUSE) Others make a mess of humanity.... While some just fade away...or mistake copper for gold...or cultivate philanthropical gardens.... (WALTER JUMPS ON AND IMMEDIATELY OFF THE BENCH, WHIRLING DELIRIOUSLY AROUND THE MANIKIN) Prostitutes play bridge, and birds in brown derbies fly on Concorde jets....(LAUGHS) The philosopher broods over the truth of being and the world, and the auctioneer minces words...(LAUGHS) There are times that enlighten generations. Times when all search is in vain, and ages when herds wander astray. Sometimes 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 individiual 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....
WALTER: (WALTER STOPS WHIRLING AND 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.... Earthly goshawks? How ridiculous!... (WALTER APPROACHES THE MANIKIN) No! Relax, signore!... (PAUSE) This time the pigeon man won't cry.... (PAUSE) And so...farewell. I'm off with.... (PAUSE) Didn't I tell you? I've got a girlfriend.... She's really wild.... (LAUGHS) That's a joke. She is...a stage swan...and I'm just mad about ponds.... (PAUSE) Debbo partire subito, signore.... I am a traditional kind of suitor. The lady must have her flowers.... (HE TAKES OFF HIS HAT AND BOWS REVERENTLY) It's been a pleasure speaking to you, sir. A pleasure and an honor. (WALTER SMILES. HE PUTS ON HIS HAT. BLACKOUT. A SINGLE LIGHT COMES ON WALTER IN ROSA'S APARTMENT. HE BLINKS PERPLEXEDLY. THE UNEXPECTED SIGHT OF BURNING CANDLES STARTLES HIM. INTRIGUED, HE ADVANCES. NOTICING THE COFFIN, HE SHRIEKS. LIGHTS UP ON ROSA'S APARTMENT) Oh, Rosa, Rosa!...(HE SITS BESIDE THE COFFIN AND MOANS. ROSA SITS UP JUST ENOUGH TO BLOW OUT THE CANDLES.) Rosa!
WALTER: You mean you're not...?
WALTER: Thank heavens! What a relief! (ON SECOND THOUGHT) But why?... (PAUSE) Where did you get...?
ROSA: A witch with a portable computer predicted the exact day and hour.
WALTER: This is insufferable! Any way you look at it...thoroughly! Get out of there this instant! (HE TRIES TO PULL HER OUT. THOUGH ROSA RESISTS, HE FINALLY SUCCEEDS) This death box goes...to the cats! (WALTER TOSSES IT INTO THE PATIO)
ROSA: (ON THE BED, EMACIATED AND WAN) You dolt--What have you done? (SHE COUGHS) The carpenter across the street made it especially for me, at a good price too....
WALTER: Nobody wants a box around here. There's no need for a coffin...hear me? This is your agent speaking.
ROSA: The insurance people.... (COUGHS) Let me go... (COUGHS) Rosa Mayo had her own coffin built.... (COUGHS) And now you, son-of-a.... (MOANS)
WALTER: You'll get your funeral soon enough.... The kind of honorific funeral every soprano has always dreamed of.
ROSA: Bon voyage,Rosa! Bon voyage!... (PAUSE) That's all I hear.... (PAUSE) Life bids Rosa Mayo adieu....
WALTER: That's just hogwash. Nobody's saying goodbye. And nobody wants you to go.... (PAUSE) Quite to the contrary...the mass media dote on Rosa Mayo's every word and deed.... (PAUSE) Newspapers, reporters, magazines, television cable companies--all of them...Do you hear me, Rosa? (BENDING OVER HER) Won't you believe your gentlemen friend?
ROSA: You're lying through your teeth.... (COUGHS) It's a vice with you, little man....
WALTER: I'm not lying, Rosa! The daily newspapers don't even talk about the inflation anymore, or unemployment.... (PAUSE) The only thing matters is that tough spirited Rosa Mayo will never throw in the towel.
ROSA: Oh, bull!
WALTER: All the papers are saying so! (HE PULLS OUT A BUNCH) They're the ones doing all the talking.
ROSA: Let me see those.
WALTER: The newspapers?
ROSA: I need to inform...myself...please.
WALTER: But of course, songbird. Only another time.... One must steer clear of excessive emotions.
ROSA: Hand them over, you dunce! I said give them to me now! (SHE TRIES TO WRENCH THEM FROM HIM, BUT IS TOO WEAK AND FAILS)
WALTER: It's perfectly understandable that you should...(HE BURIES HIS FACE IN A PAPER)
ROSA: Let me see!... Where does it say that I am more important than the unemployment level and the price of oil?
WALTER: Right here.
WALTER: On the editorial page....in the significant events section.
ROSA: Where? Where?
WALTER: Open up your eyes, and you'll see.
ROSA: I can't! Madame Butterfly can hardly see anymore.
WALTER: Then shall I read it for you?
ROSA: Promise you won't leave out a word or add one that isn't there?
WALTER: Not a letter.
ROSA: Even if what is written is cruel to Rosa Mayo?
ROSA: (MURMURING) Yes?
WALTER: The editorial says.... (CLEARS HIS THROAT) Rosa!
ROSA: (LIVID) I'm...listening.
WALTER: Ah! (GASPS) For a moment there I thought.... (PAUSE) The editorial...says...the unforgettable Rosa Mayo, convalescent....
ROSA: Is that the title of the column?
WALTER: It is the headline.
ROSA: In big letters?
ROSA: Read on.... (COUGHS) If you would be so kind...
WALTER: 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....
ROSA: (TRYING TO HOLD HER HEAD HIGH) Swear that you're not just making it up.
WALTER: Do you doubt the word of your own agent?
ROSA: Swear on your honor.
WALTER: You want me to swear on my honor?
WALTER: I'm not in the habit of....
ROSA: Then...You're lying!... You're a liar, you dirty little paper pusher!... (COUGHS) I can just scream!.... Where's my pistol? (SHE PULLS IT OUT AND, WITH A TREMBLING HAND, PUTS IT TO HER HEAD)
ROSA: (PULLS THE TRIGGER) Bah! No money and no bullets.
WALTER: Holy cow!
ROSA: I know, Valium. (SHE TAKES OUT A BOTTLE OF PILLS)
WALTER: No! Not that! (HE GRABS THE BOTTLE AWAY FROM HER)
ROSA: You louse! Filthy dirty rat! You've got a nerve, messing with the mind of a dying woman.
WALTER: I swear, on my honor.
ROSA: (KISSING HIS HAND) Mon chéri, mon amour...Oh...je t'aime, je t'aime.
WALTER: (BESIDE HIMSELF) I've already sworn!
ROSA: Now I know, my dear gentleman friend. It's true what the newspapers say about....
WALTER: Rest easy, my love.... (HE HANDS HER A GLASS OF WATER, WHICH SHE DRINKS)
ROSA: (SPITTING) What kind of concoction is this? Are you trying to poison me?
WALTER: It's only water, Rosa.
ROSA: A drink! Get me a real drink! Do you hear me?.... And don't forget who it's for.... (PAUSE) If you're short of memory...you ought to read the papers.... Read!.... And maybe then you'll get the message.... Because it's...just possible that you won't enjoy another second more... (SHE COLLAPSES)
WALTER: Here's your drink.... (ROSA DRINKS IT DOWN) How do you feel now, darling?
ROSA: I demand to star in the latest opera of the most successful composer around.... I want Markos the producer here within an hour... Get me the most innovative musical and stage directors... Have the t.v. people get over here on the double! I want to see the critics! The reporters! Get a move on...or you'll be out of a job. And then the famous star will just let the main curtain drop.... Do you...understand?
WALTER: But, Rosa, my love....it's such short notice. I....
ROSA: This time...Rosa Mayo will make good on her word. Now get going! (SHE CLOSES HER EYES AND TRIES TO CATCH HER BREATH, WHICH SHE IS FINDING INCREASINGLY MORE DIFFICULT TO DO. WALTER DOESN'T MOVE A MUSCLE. BLACKOUT. BIRDSONG. LIGHTS UP ON WALTER IN THE PARK. HE VISIBLY RECOVERS FROM THE SHOCK OF THE PREVIOUS SCENE UPON SEEING THE BOHEMIAN MANIKIN FROM BEFORE. ANOTHER MANIKIN IS SITTING ON THE BENCH WITH AN OLD VIOLIN CASE.)
WALTER: Here pigey-pigey-pigeons.... (TO THE BOHEMIAN MANIKIN) Hello. (HE SHAKES ITS LEFT HAND) Don't you remember me?... (PAUSE) I am...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...I mean, you're just that. I sensed it from the moment I laid eyes on you.... (PAUSE) I said to myself...this person with the deeply set eyes and noble forehead...must be an artist...in something.... (PAUSE) And you were in the midst of a creating process, right? What about?.... Oh yeah? May I ask which genre?...Biography?...Novel?...Short story?...Say? (HE EXAMINES A FEW SHEETS) Now don't tell me that you compose music too!... (ECSTATIC) Do you do any opera of the fantasy sort? (PAUSE) You do? Why that's just great! What a coincidence!...Eh?...No, no I don't myself...Not at all!...But I...do have...connections...in the world of Verdi and company.... Wait! That's a lie.... I'm a baritone. Only I didn't want to end up being an understudy all my life. I wanted to be.... (SIGHS) Now...I am nothing less than.... (PAUSE) You seem like an understanding person. Well, here goes...Actually, I'm Rosa Mayo's agent...Not much! Right?...
WALTER: (SCRUTINIZES THE MANIKIN'S FACE. THEN HE MOVES AWAY, TOSSING RICE AS HE DOES) Here pigey-pigeons. Rice pigey-pigeons. Come and get your rice little cousins.... (HE LOOKS BACK OVER HIS SHOULDER AT THE MANIKIN WHILE HE TOSSES RICE) 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 total do-rey-mi-fa type poet.... (WALTER HUMS A FEW BARS OF SOME CLASSICAL OPERA PIECE) Inspiring, right? Tell me, how are the lyrical children of fantasy treated by others? I mean, your operas--how do they work? Are you...a celebrity? Has your work ever been premiered?... (PAUSE) Oh, I see. You have yet to premier in one of the great musical temples.... Are you perhaps developing some kind of new approach to music?... I thought as much. Then how do you explain...? Was that a new lyrical drama for the end of the millennium?... I thought as much.... An attic full of musical scores, right?... Cruel art! (PAUSE) But don't torture yourself, sir. I'm here to.... Me? Oh, Yes, I'm the bluebird of Signorina Mayo (SIGHS) With your permission....
WALTER: (HE GOES THROUGH THE MOTIONS OF TOSSING RICE, AND HEADS FOR THE BENCH, HIS EYE FIXED ON THE OLD VIOLIN CASE) Would it interest you if Rosa Mayo were to premier one of your operas?... Of course it would! How could it not? (HE GIVES THE MANIKIN A FRIENDLY DIG WITH HIS ELBOW) Just imagine...the Paris Opera House in all its splendor...and on the main entrance marquise...the title of your opera in huge gold letters...and the magical name of Rosa Mayo...How does that sound? (PAUSE) And the public packed inside like sardines...And me, wearing a tuxedo and a derby, announcing.... (HE WINKS, DOES A PIROUETTE AND LEAPS UP ON THE BENCH) Entrez, messieur-dames!...Pasen señoras y señores...Entrate, signore y signori...Come in ladies and gentlemen.... Please do not delay...The most important musical event in recent times is about to begin...the composer of which is.... (CLEARS HIS THROAT) Music and lyrics by....(CLEARS HIS THROAT) No standing in the doorway...Please, There is no need to push...There are tickets enough for everyone....
WALTER: (HE CLIMBS OFF THE BENCH, SWEATING PROFUSELY. WITH HIS HAT IN HIS HAND, HE WAVES TO THE BOHEMIAN MANIKIN) So, what do you think? 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) And why do I do it? Well...I do it for opera...And you breathe life into musical dramas with large choruses, soloists, and an orchestra that's out of this world...right?.... (PAUSE) Go...Get your as yet unheard of opera, young Stravinsky.... (PAUSE) Why are you looking at me like that? Get going, you're on the threshold of success.... (PAUSE) Hurry! (WALTER MOVES AWAY FROM THE BENCH) I hope you realize that Rosa Mayo's commitments can wait for no one...That's all. (THE LIGHT OVER THE BOHEMIAN MANIKIN GOES OFF. DEEP IN THOUGHT, WALTER SMOKES. HIS ATTENTION FALLS ON THE MANIKIN WITH THE VIOLIN CASE, WHOM WALTER FINALLY GOES OVER TO AND SHAKES)
WALTER: Hey, brother...I said hey!... (PAUSE) How could you just sleep like that, when you have such a beautiful violin? As a musician, doesn't that bother your conscience?... (PAUSE) How would you like to play for Rosa Mayo?... (PAUSE) You know who Rosa Mayo is, don't you?.... You don't? Why, that's sacrilege!... (PAUSE) By the way, how's your repertory?... Ah, who cares anyway.... (PAUSE) Heh! What are you fluttering your eye lids like that for?... (PAUSE) Do you mean to say you wouldn't want to participate in the Salzburg Opera Festival?.... That's right, Salzburg, Mozart's birthplace. That's where Rosa Mayo would get you.... Can you imagine? Your violin being heard in Salzburg?.... So what are you waiting for? Start tuning up!
WALTER: (WALTER CHEWS ON HIS PIPE A MOMENT, WHILE A VIOLIN IS HEARD. ALL AT ONCE, A BATTERY OF SPECIAL SPHERICAL, MOON-SHAPED LIGHTS COME ON, ILLUMINATING WALTER'S FACE AND THE VARIOUS MANIKINS ON STAGE. SMILING, WALTER ENGAGES THE MANIKINS, AS HE PANTOMIMES HAVING A CONVERSATION WITH THEM. WALTER GESTICULATES, AND FINALLY PULLS OUT MONEY, TRYING TO MAKE A DEAL WITH THEM. HE IS EUPHORIC. THE LIGHTS DIM TO DARKNESS. ONLY THE VIOLIN IS HEARD. THEN IT TOO FADES AND THE LIGHTS COME UP AGAIN ON A TROUBLED WALTER WHO IS PACING BACK AND FORTH IN ROSA MAYO'S BEDROOM.) Rosa, my love.... (IN A PANIC, HE WATCHES HER VERY CLOSELY) Darling, it's me...your conscientious agent, who brings you.... (SEEING THAT SHE DOESN'T MOVE, HE TAKES HER PULSE. ROSA OPENS HER EYES)
ROSA: Is that you?
WALTER: Rosa!.... How...do you feel...my sweet?
WALTER: But that can't be...No...you mustn't disappoint the world that worships you.
ROSA: My bodyguards should have really given you a good beating!... You pulled another one over on me!
WALTER: Hold on. (HE FLASHES A TRIUMPHANT SMILE)
ROSA: (FIGHTING BACK A COUGH) Why don't just let this flower wither in peace?
WALTER: Do know what? You've got guests.
ROSA: Give me a break, will you?
WALTER: All right. Only you tell them, not me.
WALTER: That's right. Tell the composer of as yet unheard of musical compositions and the script writer who writes things as they come to him. Go on and inform that director who can transform the stage into a dream.... Then you can break it to one of the most apluaded orchestra conductors today, and to all the writers and news reporters, and television and radio correspondents....
ROSA: Do you mean to say...that they're here...? Is it possible? I mean, this isn't just another misunderstanding? (SHE COUGHS, AND AS SHE DOES, THERE IS A BURST OF APPLAUSE AND SHOUTS OF ENTHUSIASM)
WALTER: Don't tell me the unforgetable Carmen has lost her hearing.
ROSA: Quick. Hurry up. (THE NOISE MADE BY AN UNSEEN MULTITUDE INCREASES. DEATHLY PALE, ROSA MAYO RECLINES ON A STACK OF COLORFUL THROW PILLOWS.)
WALTER: Is there anything I can get you?
ROSA: Give me a mirror... and my lipstick.... Hand me that vanity case...I need to put some makeup on! Rosa Mayo will rise out of the ashes....Well, what are you waiting for? Get moving! (WALTER DOES SO, AS THE CLAMOR OF THE UNSEEN MULTITUDE INCREASES) Faster! Can't you hear the journalists? Maybe I ought to get somebody else to do your job.... Not just anybody can represent Rosa Mayo, you know....
WALTER: Of course not, Rosa. I realize....
ROSA: And straighten up this place.... (ROSA APPLIES HER MAKEUP WITH DELICATE CARE)...It stinks of sardines in here. Do something about it.... (WALTER SPRAYS ALL AROUND. SUDDENLY THERE IS A DIN, AND LIGHTS COME UP ON A CROWD OF MANIKINS WITH CAMERAS. THEY ARE SPREAD AROUND THE STAGE IN VARIOUS POSTURES AND POSITIONS. ONE OF THE MANIKINS STANDS BEHIND A TELEVISION CAMERA MADE OF WOOD) My but aren't the reporters beside themselves today!.... (ROSA SMILES WITH THE BENEVOLENCE OF A STAR WHO CAN TOLERATE THE FRAILTY OF THOSE BENEATH HER) Please, ladies and gentlemen of the press! You really must control yourselves....
WALER: Such rudeness...such fretting....
ROSA: Let it be.... It's only natural.... But of course the press is anxious to....
WALTER: Well, then. (HE STANDS BETWEEN ROSA AND A MANIKIN) Rosa, it gives me great pleasure...to introduce you to one of the truly great lyrical composers of our times....
ROSA: (OFFERING THE MANIKIN HER HAND) Pleased to meet you. (PAUSE)
WALTER: And on my right, a director who knows how to transform a mere stage into a universe...
ROSA: It's a pleasure to know you.
WALTER: And now.... (HE FACES THE MANIKINS) Are you ready, Rosa Mayo?
ROSA: Ready, my greatest of all agents....
WALTER: May I have your attention please! Let the press conference begin. Rosa Mayo will now grant an interview to the ladies and gentlemen of the press.... (CHEERS AND CLAMORS ARE HEARD. WALTER 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 economic crisis, the danger of war, and all the rest.... (WALTER TURNS AND FACES ROSA, WHO IS VISIBLY IN PAIN)
ROSA: (STRUGGLING TO RECOVER) Oh, Walter. My darling Walter.... (WITH TEARS IN HIS EYES, WALTER SITS BESIDE ROSA)
WALTER: (TO THE MANIKINS) Ladies and gentlemen...for reasons beyond our control...Ms. Mayo has delegated...her agent...as proxy.... (HE LOSES CONTROL OF HIS EMOTION, BUT QUICKLY RECOVERS) In just one minute...I shall be at your complete disposal.... (PAUSE) Now...if you WOULD be so kind as to leave us.... Please....
(ONE BY ONE THE LIGHTS ILLUMINATING THE MANIKINS GO OUT, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE LIGHT OVER THE MANIKIN WITH THE VIOLIN. BESIDE HIMSELF WITH GRIEF, WALTER CROSSES TO ROSA, WHO LIES MOTIONLESS WITH A SMILE ON HER FACE. AS THE LIGHTS FADE, A STAGE LIGHT COMES UP, ILLUMINATING THE BOHEMIAN MANIKIN AT AN ANGLE. A VIOLIN IS HEARD. WALTER GENTLY CLOSES ROSA'S EYES FOR GOOD. AS THE LIGHTS FADE OUT, A FEMALE'S VOICE IS HEARD TO SING FROM La Forza Del Destino.)