The Don vs. the world in a musical tribute to gridiron tragedy


December 10, 1993|By DAN RODRICKS

Ladies and gentlemen, public events move us again to the operatic form. The Don Donaldo Ring Cycle, set in legendary Maryland and based on the life and times of the Lord High Governor, continues today with the third act of its sixth opera.

Early works in the cycle explored Don Donaldo's ascent to the throne, his battles with the Maryland Parliament and the efforts of his longtime companion, Brunnhilde Mae, to redecorate the Governor's Palace. Operas that followed, darker in tone, chronicled Don Donaldo's unsatisfying re-election victory, his failed attempt to annex the District of Columbia and his efforts to extinguish a demonic stump-dump fire in Baltimore County. We also followed Don Donaldo through the state's fiscal crisis and his bitter split with the once-trusted sidekick, Padre Michino, lieutenant governor.

The second act of the current opera, "Il disperato (The Desperate One)," premiered in this column last spring. In it, Don Donaldo severed the head of his insurance commissioner, Don Aho, in the Blue Cross skybox at Oriole Park.

Now a lame-duck governor, having lost many friends, including the pony-tailed merchant, Buggarino Vinoglasso, and lost too many battles, the latest one with the National Football League, Don Donal- do is weary, sullen, even morose.

Il disperato: Act III

As the curtain rises, the music is murky, then more distinct, evolving into dark, menacing phrases reminiscent of Mozart's "Don Giovanni" overture. Blue moonlight cascades through the tall paladium windows of the governor's waterfront retreat. Don Donaldo sits, hunched up in his robe, at a long table, a single candelight illuminating the hands pressed against his ample forehead. As the music boils into madness, laced with heavy organ chords derivative of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Phantom," Don Donaldo comes to life and, as the music breaks, bites his right index finger.

After a dramatic pause, the music snaps into something brighter and more ironic. Don Donaldo, his eyes frozen in a maniacal stare, stands to sing an aria (to "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered"):

I'm wild again, beguiled again, a simpering, whimpering child again.

I'm mad, moody and malicious.

Got fooled again, dem bums again, those football guys gave us the shaft again.

It was sad, sneaky and seditious.

(Clenching his fists, Don Donaldo strikes a determined pose.)

But I'll bite again, and fight again, and Bawlmer will get a team again.

I'm mad! Moody! And malicious!

Offstage chorus: He's mad! He's moody! He's malicious!

Don Donaldo: Yes, I'll fight again, I'll bite again. . .

Chorus: And Bawlmer will get a team again.

Chorus surrounds Don Donaldo on stage.

All: Mad! Moody! And malicious!

Suddenly, the paladium windows crash open as men in picturesque pirate costumes and plumed hats swing into the chamber on black ropes. A massive buccaneer's ship is seen outside the windows.

A pirate-king, in turban and sunglasses, appears. The tempo of the music increases and the pirate-king sings (to "Mack The Knife"):

Oh, Kent Cooke, babe.

He can cook, babe.

Cooked a stew, babe.

For youse to chews.

Yes, that Jackie's

Gotta plan, see.

Puttin' the Redskins

In Laurel town.

(Don Donaldo reacts angrily as the pirate king sings to him.)

Got that, Donny? Ho!

Through your head, babe?

Bawlmer nevuh

Gonna get da ball, babe.

You got backstabbed

By the league, babe.

It was rude, babe.

Tagliabued, babe.

Jack the Knife, see,

Ole Kent Cooke, babe.

Stickin' the Redskins

Up Laurel town, babe!

Yes, the line forms

To the rear, babe.

For tickets

You'll never see.

Yeah, watch out,

Ole Jackie's back!!!

As we hear a jubilant orchestration of "Hail to the Redskins," the pirates chase the female courtiers about Don Donaldo's chamber. They whack the male courtiers with big sticks.

The Lord High Governor, hearing this news about the Washington football team annexing the Baltimore market, pulls his robe over his head. As the music turns dark, brooding and Wagnerian, and as the lights flicker madly, Don Donaldo starts to grow larger and larger, as if he is being inflated -- the effect is that of a massive parade balloon -- until Don Donaldo has turned into an angry colossus, filling the stage.

As others on stage scurry about, 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! Save the day-o! Don Donaldo!

The giant Don Donaldo figure explodes into clouds of purple and red smoke as. . .

The curtain falls.

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