When feeling blue, our great don does what he has to do

DAN RODRICKS

April 10, 1993|By DAN RODRICKS

Once again, events move us to the operatic form. The Don Donaldo Ring Cycle, based firmly on the life and times of the Lord High Governor of Maryland, continues today with the second act of its sixth opera.

In Act One, Don Donaldo faced an uprising. His plan to force a new gambling game, Keno, upon the citizenry was denounced by two men who covet his throne, Padre Michino Steinberg, the lieutenant governor, and Giusseppe Currano, the mild-mannered consigliere.

However, having quashed that rebellion, Don Donaldo enjoyed a peace he had not seen since his halcyon days in the Governor's Palace, before budget problems and stump dump fires.

Now, after a winter of relative contentment, the darkness has returned to Don Donaldo's realm. Another member of his court has rebelled.

This time it is Don Aho, the baffled -- and baffling -- state insurance commissioner.

Donaldo: Il disperato

(The Desperate One)

Opera VI, Act Two

Place: Legendary Maryland

As the curtain rises, the music is bright and familiar. We soon recognize it as "Take Me Out To The Ballgame," arranged in the style of a Gilbert and Sullivan overture.

The scenery is instantly familiar as an American ballpark -- specifically, Oriole Park at Camden Yards. A section of the balcony in the opera house has been converted into a luxury sky box. When the spotlight hits it, we find a dozen men enjoying a rowdy party.

Among the revelers is Don Aho. He is surrounded by several men dressed in plumed hats and white robes, each bearing a blue cross and a blue shield. Don Aho hoists a large stein and rises to his feet to sing.

Don Aho:

Take ME out to your SKY box.

Show a guy a good time.

Buy me some peanuts and schmooze me a lot.

I don't care if I EVER get caught.

So I root, root-root for the BLUE Cross.

But if you guys lose, it's a shame.

'Cause it's YOUSE!

WHO'S!

Runnin' da' Blues.

That's the OLE BLAME GAME!

Blue Cross chorus:

Don AHO is com-MISH-na.

Reg-u-LAT-tory guy.

So you don't like it, the way we do biz.

Gildin' the books, givin' ASSETS some fizz.

But it's time to ease off the BLUE team.

Time to jump in our bed.

For if DON

DA-

NALDO gets mad

You could LOSE YOUR HEAD!!

*

There is a commotion on stage. The music blends into a squall of boos that quickly turns into thunder.

Don Donaldo has just arrived at the ballpark. He is dressed in a black-white-gold-red robe, seated atop an elephant and surrounded by an entourage of lackeys in loin cloths. Don Donaldo approaches the Blue Cross sky box.

The music suddenly turns dark, brooding, Wagnerian. We hear "Ride of the Valkyries," popularly remembered as the helicopter attack music in "Apocalypse Now."

Chorus:

Don Donaldo! Don Donaldo! Don Don-AL-do! Donaldo! . . . Time is now-o! For Don Donaldo! Here he COMES-o! Don Donaldo!

Don Donaldo:

Here I am-o! Don Aho-ho! Here I AM-o! Don Aho-ho!

Chorus:

Don Aho-ho! Did a no-no! Woe-woe, WOE-woe! Don Aho-ho!

Magically, in a cloud of purple smoke, Don Donaldo ascends from the elephant to the edge of the Blue Cross sky box.

Don Aho, still seated, raises his arms, terror crossing his face.

Don Aho:

Oh-no, oh-no! Don Donaldo! Oh-no, OH-no! Gotta go-go!

Don Aho has been warned many times to leave Blue Cross alone, to make life generally easier for a nonprofit health insurance provider criticized for mismanagement and displays of fat-catness. The very sky box in which Don Aho sits was leased for $300,000 over four years, and Don Aho once accepted free use of it. That action undermined public confidence in him, so, since then, he has been trying to gain more power over Blue Cross and to recover his credibility.

But Don Donaldo thinks Don Aho has been too much a doomsayer. Donaldo, by contrast, is a champion of Blue Cross. His love of blue is blind.

"Tollivino!" Don Donaldo roars to his loyal body guard. "Tollivino, Tollivino, my loyal subject-o-rino! Bring me my stiletto!"

Tollivino climbs the elephant and hands Don Donaldo his weapon. The music grows more menacing. Don Donaldo raises his right arm. Don Aho screams as . . .

The curtain falls.

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