Don Donaldo's taxing ordeal

Dan Rodricks

December 06, 1991|By Dan Rodricks

And now the final scene of Act III of "Don Donaldo, On The Edge." In the first scene of this tragic opera, the darkest in the Don Donaldo canon, the Lord High Governor encountered the devil in a smoldering stump dump. Mephistopheles offered Don Donaldo a deal -- complete relief from the financial troubles that threaten his empire in return for the Don's surrender to corruption. Priding himself an honest man, the Don hesitated as the devil sang a song of seduction and sorcery.

Don Donaldo, su l'orlo del precipicizio (On the edge) Act III, Scene 2

Place: The Don's private chamber

From his bed, Don Donaldo releases a blood-curdling shriek. Brunnhilde Mae Snoops, Padre Michino Steinberg and dozens of the Lord High Governor's loyal subjects race to his side.

Donaldo: Oh, horrors! Oh, curses!

Chorus: Don Donaldo! Don DONALDO!

Donaldo: Horrors! Curses!

Chorus: Curses! Horrors! HORRORS!

Michino (waving his hands): Hey! HEY! Everybody! Shaddup!

Donaldo (hysterical): Save me! Save me!

Chorus: Save him! Save him! DON DONALDO!

Michino (to chorus): One more outburst from the chorus and you're all gettin' furloughed.

Brunnhilde (slapping Donaldo): SNAP out of it! What's the matter? You scared everyone.

Donaldo: The devil, he was here! He wanted me to take kickbacks! Oh, it was terrible!

Brunnhilde: Oh, get over it. You had a nightmare.

Chorus: A nightmare! A nightmare! Don Donaldo had A NIGHTMARE!

Michino (angrily): That's it! All you people in the chorus -- you're all furloughed! There's no money in the budget for a chorus anyway. Out! OUT!

Donaldo (composing himself): A nightmare? You mean it never happened? You mean I haven't become a desperate soul so lost in the budget mess that I'd sell my soul to Satan?

Brunnhilde: No, it never happened.

Donaldo: Well, then, does that mean we didn't name the new stadium Oriole Park at Camden Yards?

Michino: Well, yeah. That did happen.

Donaldo: And what about the $450 million budget deficit? Tell me I only dreamed it.

Brunnhilde: Nah. That's reality. We're all bummed out about it, too.

Donaldo: And the libraries in Baltimore -- are they really closing? Oh, tell me it's not so.

Michino: Get a life, your Largeness. It is so. Plus, we're looking at more revenue shortfalls -- another 220 million bucks. A tax increase appears inevitable.

Donaldo: I'm goin' back to bed.

Michino (grabbing him): Oh, no you're not! I've had just about enough of this gloom and doom! (He slaps him) We're in the middle of a bad opera and (shaking him) unless we break into a big production number RIGHT NOW the audience is gonna walk out. DO YOU HEAR what I'm telling you?!

Donaldo (suddenly alert and grinning): I hear you, padre. And you're right. Here's one operatic cowboy who won't be a tragic figure. No, sir! I'm gonna find a way out of this mess! Bring back the chorus!

Michino: We can't afford a chorus.

Donaldo: We'll find a way. Maestro, strike up the band!

The orchestra comes alive. Suddenly, the set brightens, the chorus crowds into the governor's chamber and follows Don Donaldo's lead (to "Everything's Coming Up Roses"):

No more gloom/ No more doom,

Gonna get new drapes for this room.

Startin' here/ Startin' now,

Baby, everything's comin' up taxes.

Ride light rail/Build a jail,

Charge the convicts extra for bail.

Charge a fee/At high tea,

Baby, everything's comin' up taxes.

Raise the toll/For shippin' coal.

Put a tax/On Big Macs.

Charge a duty/For bein' snooty.

Assess a fine/For drinkin' brine.

Yes, payin' the freight/

Will save our bonding rate!

Bay-Bee! Ev'ree-thing's com-in' up tax-es for you and for ME!

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