Don Donaldo brims with fury

Dan Rodricks

September 21, 1990|By Dan Rodricks

And now, opera fans, the long-awaited continuation of the Don Donaldo Ring Cycle -- a fourth opera loosely based on the pTC life and times of Don Donaldo, legendary Lord Governor . . .

, Don Donaldo: L'Infuriato (The Infuriated One) Act One Place: Legendary Maryland Time: The Present Two years have passed since we last visited Don Donaldo in the Governor's Palace, Annapolis. By now, he has fought many wars with the Parliament, losing several and suffering near-mortal blows to his ego. He has attempted to annex the capitol of the United States and failed. His enemies continue to plot new ways to tweak him. Still, Don Donaldo takes comfort in the loyalty of his palace guard -- from Brunnhilde Mae, his longtime companion, to Padre Michino, the Lieutenant Lord Governor and trusted adviser. The numerous squires and ladies of his court, the Merchant Chorus, the Lobbyist Cabal -- all have flattered Don Donaldo with testimonials, fabulous trips to the capitols of Eastern Europe, a new Victorian fountain, new wallpaper and drapes for the Governor's Palace, and more than $2 million in tribute.

But even so, as we rejoin the story, Don Donaldo is about to get some very troubling news. . . .

-The curtain rises- At center stage we see a simple trailer home, guarded by three sentries in sunglasses and Robert Hall suits. Beyond the trailer home we see the glow of the Ocean City boardwalk and, beyond that, the vast expanse of the Atlantic. A horse-drawn cart pulls up to the trailer home and Padre Michino, nervous and excited, jumps from it.

He sings somberly (to "Yesterday"):

Yesterday . . .

All my troubles seemed so far way/

But then we had to have Election Day/

Oy, did things go wrong, Election Day.

Soon you'll see . . .

Just how mad the Don can get to be/

When he gets the final vote from me/

He'll have a fit, get ug-ug-ly.

Why'd . . . he . . . be so mad/

When he had/

A landslide win?

Well . . . Don . . . thinks a vote/

Not for him/

Is mortal sin-in-in-in.

Yesterday . . .

Things were moocha better yesterday/

He was smilin' with Brunnhilde Mae/

But then we had Election Day. . .


Padre Michino sighs heavily, turns and steps into Don Donaldo's trailer home. Inside, he tells Don Donaldo that only 78 percent of the people of Maryland voted for him, that some 100,000 people actually voted against his re-coronation.

Now the music builds into a menacing chaos. Suddenly, the scene becomes dark and cold. Storm clouds, torn by the wind, swirl across the sky.

The Lord Governor's trailer home starts to wiggle, then shake. Dark gray smoke starts to pour from its windows. The satellite dish falls off the roof with a crash. Pink flamingos in the front yard become startled, screech, attempt to fly, but become tangled in the wind. The trailer home rocks from side to side, crushing the cinder blocks beneath it. The scene is thrilling and frightening.

As the music reaches a Wagnerian crescendo, with clashing cymbals and gong and timpani, the door of the house trailer slams open. Smoke pours out. Don Donaldo's servants scurry out of the fumes -- Wassermunder, Schmidt, Lainy di Lammermoor, members of the Lobbyist Cabal, several shocked members of the Merchant Chorus. Crushed by despair, they fall to their knees.

To the powerful strains of "Ride of the Valkyries," the chorus sings:

"Don Donaldo! Don Donaaalldddoo! Don Donaaallldddooo! Don Donaldo!"

The increasing roar of orchestra and chorus heralds the Lord Governor's entrance. "Don Donaldo! Don Donaldo! . . ."

Dressed in his swirling black-and-yellow robe and holding a long staff-a-la-Wotan, Don Donaldo steps from the wreckage of his trailer home. He is huge. His face is filled with a fury to match the storm swirling about him. He raises both his arms and howls: "Nooooo mooorrreee Mister Nice Guy," as . . .

The curtain falls.

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