04 April, 2010

Capturing the Zeitgeist, Part One: Maestro Bellini

So what happens when Sophie DePalma of Terrance McNally's Master Class meets Bel Canto composer Vincenzo Bellini of Terrance McNally's Golden Age? A world of fun.

Here at The Kennedy Center Nights at the Opera festival, we are exploring three of McNally's plays only all about the world of opera. But the connections between the pieces are not tenuous-- there are even some lines throughout the three plays that are early identical. The connections are beautiful, touching, delightful.

Golden Age explores the night of January 24, 1835, opening night of Vincenzo Bellini's final opera I Puritani (The Puritans). We follow Bellini himself throughout the evening.

The Lisbon Traviata explores the world of opera fanatics, the two we meet: Mendy and Stephen are particularly taken with their passion for Maria Callas.

And of course, Master Class is about Callas herself.

All are about art and authenticity. It is a beautiful triptych and I wish you could all be a part of it.


What is one little actress, passionate about her part of this festival and only in Act 1 supposed to do about it all? Um... capture the zeitgeist of the triptych in photographic form of course!

Sophie DePalma, the disastrous wreck of of Master Class, studying at Julliard and working on Amina's famous Ah non credea mirarti from Bellini's La Sonnombula, comes across composer Vincenzo Bellini himself in the hallway! What a coincidence! She is beyond thrilled and, armed with her admittedly beaten up score, cannot help herself: she must ask for his autograph.

[FYI: Things you need to know about the pieces in order to appreciate the following fully:

- Bellini suggests a haircut with the wigmaster to distract himself from the pain of being backstage.
- Sophie is asked by Calls if she is Italian, she responds she is Greek/Italian. (It accounts for her "fiery-ness"...hm...)
- Sophie famously forgets to bring her pencil in a very big way...
- Callas asks the audience about a good beauty parlor for she can't get a good "wash and set in this city"
- and at the end of the act poor Sophie doesn't even know how to get off the stage...

So. without further ado, here is the dialogue I imagine:

* * *

Sophie: MAESTRO BELLINI! MAESTRSO BELLINI I am a HUGE fan. Ohmygoodness. Um, So. My name is Sophie. Sophie DePalma and I am singing Amina's aria from your Sonnombula right now at school and...and know that my score is a little...um, worse for wear--I sort of dropped it in the tub by accident BUT! That was only because I find your work SO AMAAAAAAZING and was studying in the bath...blaaaah so. Anyway... WOULD YOU SIGN MY SCORE?! I would be SO. HONORED.

Bellini: Um... of course my dear. To whom shall I make it out again?

Sophie: Oh! Sophie. Sophie DePalma.

Bellini: Italian?

Sophie: Greek/Italian. You know I get asked that a lot!

Bellini: Lovley. [he takes up her VERY. SHARP. READYTOGO. PENCIL. and begins to sign]

Sophie: [watching a liiiiittle too close...] ...You can add "darling" if you want.

Bellini: Alright...


[Pause. He stares at her. Puzzled.]

Bellini: Okay.

[he returns to the score]

Sophie: .....and could you sign it Vincenzo? I've always liked your first name.

Bellini: ... [voice pinched now, eyes not still on the page] With pleasure. [finishes signature with flourish] There you are Sophie DePalma, now off you go. I must run I have a haircut with the wigmaster. I can't get a good cut in this city. I wish you luck.

Sophie: Oh, thank you Maestro! Thank you.

[Bellini straightens his coattails and exits]

Now how do I get off the stage?


* * *

Yes. This is what I get up to in Act 2...


  1. Sophie DePalma, you are a creative genius!
    Thank you!

  2. i LOVE this. all of it. i love you both!!!!

  3. Go Girl Go!!! xxoo

  4. Hey Alex.. we're looking forward to seeing you Tuesday night!!! I'll also be in Baltimore from Sat-Mon... any chance you have any time? We're having Easter lunch at Tony's :-)

  5. oh my god! my worlds have now collided in the most MAGICAL of ways! this makes my heart happy.

  6. i knew you would love this one especially! x



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