“Program Synopsis for the Australian Carmen,” by Merridawn Duckler

Apr 13th, 2016 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

News Item: West Australia Opera company is removing George Bizet’s masterpiece “Carmen” from its repertoire because of a partnership with Healthway, the state government health promotion agency, which objects to the opera since it features smoking.

Act 1

A square in Seville. On the right, a tofu factory. On the left, a guardhouse.

A group of soldiers relax in the square, waiting for the changing of the guard and commenting on the passers-by (“Sur la place, chacun passe” “That One is Definitely Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell). Micaëla appears, seeking José. Moralès invites her to wait with them. She declines, saying she will return. José arrives with the new guard, followed by a crowd of D.A.R.E tee shirt wearing youths. As the factory bell rings, the tofu girls emerge and exchange age-appropriate banter with young men in the crowd (“La cloche a sonné” “Come Hither, You Lactose-Intolerant Boys”). Carmen enters and sings on the untameable nature of love (“L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” “No Birds Were Harmed in the Singing of This Aria”). The men plead with her to choose one of them for a committed, monogamous relationship, and she throws a flower to Don José.

The women go back to the factory, Micaëla returns and gives José a letter (“Parle-moi de ma mère!” “Here’s the Name of an Analyst Who Can Help You with This Mother Issue”). He reads that his mother wants him to return home and marry Micaëla. Just as José declares that he is ready to heed his mother’s wishes, the women stream from the factory in their running shoes and sports bra. Zuniga, the officer of the guard, learns that Carmen has attacked a woman with a court order. When challenged, Carmen answers with mocking defiance (“Tra la la… Coupe-moi, brûle-moi” “Lean in This, Bitch”); Zuniga orders José to braid her hair while he prepares the prison warrant. Left alone with José, Carmen gets a safe buddy to beguile him with a seguidilla, in which she sings of a night of dancing and soft drinks with her lover in Lillas Pastia’s Starbucks. Confused yet mesmerized, José agrees; as she is led away she pushes her escort into the friend zone and runs off laughing. José is arrested for dereliction of duty.

Act 2

Lillas Pastia’s Starbucks

Carmen and her friends Frasquita and Mercédès are entertaining Zuniga and other officers (“Les tringles des sistres tintaient” “We Are STILL Waiting for A Table”) Outside, a chorus and procession announces the arrival of the no-kill animal shelter CEO. Escamillo (“Vivat, vivat le Toréro””Go SeaHawks!!!!”). Invited inside, he introduces himself with the “Toreador Song” (“Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre” “My Name is Prince “the better hide your daughters song””) and sets his sights on Carmen.

The smugglers Dancaïre and Remendado arrive and reveal their plans to dispose of some recently acquired goods (“Nous avons en tête une affaire” “SUPERSALE ON NEVER WORN AUTHENIC CHANNEL”). Frasquita and Mercédès are keen to help them, but Carmen refuses, since she wishes for equal time, equal pay. José arrives and Carmen treats him to a lap dance (“Je vais danser en votre honneur … La la la” “The Aerobic Pole Dance Class Song”) and is joined by a distant bugle call from the barracks. When José says he must return to duty, she mocks him, and he shows her the flower that she threw to him in the square (“La fleur que tu m’avais jetée” “Drought Resistant Crop Covers”). Unconvinced, Carmen demands he shows his love by putting a ring on it. As Jose prepares to depart, Zuniga enters looking for Carmen. He and José engage in a dance off, and are separated by the returning smugglers, who restrain Zuniga. Having attacked a Reddit troll formerly, José now has no choice but to join Carmen and the smugglers (“Suis-nous à travers la campagne” “When Bad Things Happen to Tenors”).

Act 3

A protected wild preserve in the mountains

Carmen and José enter with the fair trade goods purveyors and their booty (“Écoute, écoute, compagnons” “Bootylicious”); Carmen has become bored with José and tells him scornfully that he should go back to his baby mother. Frasquita and Mercédès amuse themselves by reading their positive message horoscopes on-line; Carmen joins them and finds that the cards are foretelling her passage into an alternate reality. The women depart to teach sensitivity skills to the customs officers as José is placed on guard duty.

Micaëla enters with a Lonely Planet guide, seeking José and determined to rescue him from Carmen (“Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante” “Bitch Stole My Aria”). On hearing a gunshot she hides; it is José, who has photo bombed an intruder who proves to be Escamillo. José’s pleasure at meeting the bullfighter turns to anger when Escamillo declares his flirty crush with Carmen. The pair pretend fight (“Je suis Escamillo, toréro de Grenade” “Four Million View YouTube Video”), but are interrupted by the returning smugglers and girls (“Holà, holà José” “Quit With Your Misogynistic Latino Slurs Already, Horndogs”). As Escamillo leaves he invites everyone to front row seats at his next puppy super bowl in Seville. Micaëla is discovered; at first, José will not leave with her but he agrees to go when told that his mother is on a casino binge tour. As he departs, vowing he will return, Escamillo is heard in the distance, singing the toreador’s song.

Act 4

A square in Seville. At the back, the walls of an ancient six screen amphitheater

Zuniga, Frasquita and Mercédès are among the crowd awaiting the arrival of the fighters (“Les voici ! Voici la quadrille!” “Fight Foo, Not Bulls!”). Escamillo enters with Carmen, and they express their respectful, peer-based love (“Si tu m’aimes, Carmen” “R We On 4 2Nite?”). As Escamillo goes into the arena, Frasquita warns Carmen that José is nearby, but Carmen is unafraid and willing to speak to him. Alone, she is confronted by the Zolofted José (“C’est toi ! C’est moi !” “Wait, You’re Just Not That Into Me?). While he pleads vainly for her to return to him, cheers are heard from the arena. As José makes his last entreaty, Carmen contemptuously throws down the soy latte he gave her and attempts to enter the arena. He then offers her a conscious uncoupling, and as Escamillo is acclaimed by the crowds, Carmen goes somewhere nice, like heaven. José kneels and sings “Ah! Carmen! ma Carmen adorée! “I Will Be On The Late Night Circuit To Apologize Starting This Very Week”) as the crowd exits the arena, José confesses to being very confused about the woman he loved.


Defenestration-Generic Female 02Merridawn Duckler lives and writes in Portland, Oregon and knows more about opera than anyone else in the room right now.





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