Opera for dummies, by dummies
Così fan tutte
Fidelity be damned!
Three of our four heroes, INVERTED-JABBERWOCKY, NATURETHEZAFARA and WITCHCHAO are assembled outside their local theatre – no small feat, considering they all live in different countries.
Inverted-Jabberwocky and NatureTheZafara are both garbed in cheap-quality Gothic Lolita dresses, replete with frills and ribbons. WitchChao – the sole boy of the group – is wearing what appears to be an odd amalgamation of Elizabethan- and Rococo-style clothing, including an ornate ruff and powdered wig.
INVERTED-JABBERWOCKY: See? Didn't I tell you getting all dolled-up is part of the fun of going to the opera?
NATURETHEZAFARA: This the first time I've worn anything Goth Loli; it's so cute!
WITCHCHAO: (scratching his neck) This ruff itches . . . as does this wig . . .
INVERTED-JABBERWOCKY: But you look great!
NATURETHEZAFARA: If a bit stiff . . .
WITCHCHAO: (now tugging at his wig) If it wasn't for the fact that I was supposed to wear this to the opera, I would rip this wig off right now! But given that Così fan tutte is the first opera I've ever been to, I'll put up with it . . . until intermission, anyway.
The final member of the band, SUPERMIMBLES360, finally makes her way across the street to meet up with the group. Like Inverted-Jabberwocky and NatureTheZafara, she is dressed in a Gothic Lolita-style costume.
SUPERMIMBLES360: Sorry I'm late, guys – I was in such a hurry, I almost knocked a few people into the road!
NATURETHEZAFARA: Speaking of late . . . (she glances around) Where are they?
SUPERMIMBLES360: Hopefully not abducted by otherworldly beings in a conspiracy to take over the universe . . . not that I have any idea who you're talking about.
INVERTED-JABBERWOCKY: If by "they", you mean the opera company . . . they'll be inside already . . .
WITCHCHAO: Usually, that's the case, unless they're suing McDonalds for Hot Coffee.
INVERTED-JABBERWOCKY: Yes, I've heard they do love their coffee . . .
SUPERMIMBLES360: (hanging her head in shame) I didn't think you meant that kind of "Hot Coffee" . . .
INVERTED-JABBERWOCKY: So, who were you wondering about being late, Nature?
NATURETHEZAFARA: You know what? I forget!
READERS: Great, it's only just started and already there's a plot hole . . .
WITCHCHAO: (shaking his head as much as the ruff will let him) Let's just get inside and take our seats . . . it's cold out here!
INVERTED-JABBERWOCKY: (staring at him) You've got to be wearing at least five layers of clothing and yet you're cold?
WITCHCHAO: Well . . . my face and hands are cold . . .
NATURETHEZAFARA: Try being in a not-so-thick Goth Loli dress if you want cold. (She shivers and tries to warm herself) This is what I get for coming from a tropical country . . .
SUPERMIMBLES360: It's probably warmer in the foyer.
INVERTED-JABBERWOCKY: True. Okay, gang! Let's split up and look for clues! And by that I mean, LET'S GO GET SOME CULTURE!
WITCHCHAO: Yes, ma'am!
SUPERMIMBLES360: I concur!
The merry band troop through the foyer and find their seats in the theatre. NatureTheZafara contentedly plops down in her seat; SuperMimbles360 tightens the ribbon in her hair and follows suit. Inverted-Jabberwocky briefly scans the audience, hoping to catch a glimpse of someone famous, before sitting down and burying her face in her program. WitchChao straightens his wig and scoots into his chair, attempting to look refined by crossing his legs.
The audience chatter dies down to a hush as the MUSICAL DIRECTOR takes his place in the pit and the curtain rises.
SCENE: A COFFEE HOUSE in 18th-CENTURY NAPLES.
Two young soldiers, FERRANDO and GUGLIELMO are sitting together at a table, engaged in earnest conversation regarding their fiancées, sisters DORABELLA and FIORDILIGI.
FERRANDO: Dorabella and Fiordiligi really are great, aren't they? We sure are two lucky guys to have girls as great as them!
GUGLIELMO: I hear that!
DISEMBODIED VOICE: Oh, they're great, are they?
The voice's owner ambles up to Ferrando and Guglielmo; it is DON ALFONSO, an old, self-proclaimed philosopher, wearing tatty clothing, a cracked monocle and a wig that appears to be made of cassata cake.
FERRANDO: Oh! Well, if it isn't the Don Alfonso! Long time no see, old sir!
ALFONSO: Yeah, charmed, I'm sure. So I couldn't help overhearing you chatting about your lady friends . . .
GUGLIELMO: Yes, indeed, sir! And they really are gre –
ALFONSO: NO. Hear you me, boys, all women are scum.
FERRANDO AND GUGLIELMO: . . .
ALFONSO: No matter how often you sing their praises, in the end, they will stray – they always do!
GUGLIELMO: No way, I just can't believe that!
FERRANDO: Yeah! There's no way Dora or 'Diligi would even think of doing something like that!
A WAITER – who shall henceforth be referred to as "FIG" – arrives, carrying a tray laden with drinks.
FIG: Here are your orders, sirs. (He turns to Alfonso) And permit me to interrupt, old sir, but what you were saying cannot be true – my older sister has been married for five years and she has never strayed from her husband!
ALFONSO: But of course, sir; your sister is married, so she is not at liberty to stray . . . but any other woman most assuredly is! They are as fickle as a feather in the breeze! Oh wait, that's Verdi . . . regardless, my point still stands! A woman's fidelity is as non-existent as the phoenix itself!
GUGLIELMO: But, uh . . . the phoenix does exist – where else would we get Phoenix Down from? And I beg to differ! My Fiordiligi would never betray me like that!
FERRANDO: Nor my Dorabella!
ALFONSO: Care to test the validity of that claim, sirs? As you both seem so assured that your beloveds would never be even tempted to stray, I propose a wager!
GUGLIELMO: And that would be . . . ?
ALFONSO: I shall bet that in but a day's time, I can prove to you the inherent fickleness of your beloveds!
Don Alfonso turns away to allow the soldiers to confer, which – after each eating a fistful of his cassata wig – they do.
FERRANDO: We accept! Name your terms, old sir!
ALFONSO: Right! Here's the plan: we're going to pretend that you two have been called off to war! Then, whilst you're off "killing giant enemy crabs" and whatnot, we disguise you as handsome foreigners and each of you will seduce the other's girlfriend; you'll soon see how quickly they will abandon any thought of you!
AUDIENCE: . . .
ALFONSO: In short, it's foolproof! Nothing could possibly go wrong!
GUGLIELMO: This all seems a bit . . . convoluted . . . but, hey, any chance to expose Alfonso for the doddering old idiot that he is!
FERRANDO: Count us in!
FIG: Are you sure about this? I mean, not only is this plan stupid, but I daresay the girls don't even deserve to have a stunt like this pulled on them . . .
RANDOM AUDIENCE MEMBER: It's a comic opera; no one gives two hoots about what the characters do or don't deserve.
SCENE: SOMEWHERE THAT IS NOT HERE, like perhaps OUTSIDE THE COFFEE HOUSE or something, I don't really know.
Several townsfolk are bustling about, including one heartily singing 'O sole mio.
SINGER: Never mind the fact that this opera predates the song by about a century, at least it makes more sense like this than if I was a Venetian gondolier!
AUDIENCE: I don't get it . . .
Two well-dressed young women enter: Fiordiligi and Dorabella, the fiancées of Guglielmo and Ferrando.
FIORDILIGI: Don't we just have the most wonderful fiancés?
DORABELLA: We do indeed! It's all just so perfect!
Holding hands, they dance together in a joyous circle.
YURI FAN IN AUDIENCE 1: D'awwww . . . they're so cute together! Forget the men; these two would be the perfect couple!
YURI FAN IN AUDIENCE 2: I agree, only . . . they're sisters . . .
YURI FAN 1: . . . shoot, I'd quite forgotten that.
NATURETHEZAFARA: (nudging Inverted-Jabberwocky) Friends of yours, Jabbers?
INVERTED-JABBERWOCKY: Can't say I know them. Well, not yet, anyway.
Floating serenely in the sky above is CHIYO-CHICHI, an oversized, vaguely-anthropomorphised cat . . . thing.
CHIYO-CHICHI: (waving) HELLO EVERYNYAN!
TOWNSFOLK: AAAAAAGH! GIANT FLOATING CAT-THING!
FIORDILIGI AND DORABELLA: AAAAAAGH! TOWNSFOLK AND GIANT FLOATING CAT-THING!
Don Alfonso exits the coffee house, flanked by Ferrando and Guglielmo.
DON ALFONSO: AAAAAAGH! FIORDILIGI AND DORABELLA AND TOWNSFOLK AND GIANT FLOATING CAT-THING!
FERRANDO AND GUGLIELMO: AAAAAAGH! DON ALFONSO AND FIORDILIGI AND DORABELLA AND –
READERS: Stop doing that – it's not funny.
ALFONSO: (rushing up to Fiordiligi and Dorabella) Oh, ladies! I have the most terrible news! Your beloveds have been called away to war!
DORABELLA: I wasn't aware of any war going on!
ALFONSO: Er, i-it's . . . it's only just been declared! And it's against . . . Antarctica! Yes! We're at war against Antarctica!
DORABELLA: Oh, Ferrando! Is it really true? Are you really to go away to war?
FERRANDO: Y-yeah . . . we have to go defend our shores from . . . a band of penguins, apparently . . .
FIORDILIGI: Well . . . we shall remain and await your safe return . . . that's all we really can do, I suppose . . .
ALFONSO: Well, off you go, boys! Glory – and probably also death – awaits you! (aside) Before the day is done, victory shall be mine!
Behind them, the company of soldiers is assembling. In an uncharacteristic display of kindness, Alfonso steps away to give the lovers some time together.
GUGLIELMO: I'll miss you!
FIORDILIGI: I'll miss you, too!
They both burst into tears and hold each other.
FERRANDO: So, uh . . . just in case I don't come back . . .
He pulls something from his pocket and hands it to Dorabella – a star-shaped charm composed of shells.
DORABELLA: Your lucky charm? Oh, but I'll be sure to bring it back to y –
ARMY SERGEANT: COMPANY, MARCH!
FERRANDO: Hold that thought, yeah?
The men and their fiancées bid each other a tearful farewell as the soldiers join the rest of their corps and leave. Distraught, Fiordiligi and Dorabella fall to their knees in prayer for their fiancés' safety; Don Alfonso joins them and as the scene draws to a close, the music swells and it is BEAUTIFUL.
SCENE: THE SITTING ROOM of FIORDILIGI AND DORABELLA'S LAVISH HOUSE.
Fiordiligi and Dorabella's maid, DESPINA, wanders about the room, idly cleaning and muttering to herself. Despina is perky, snarky, and the audience immediately decides she will be their favourite character.
DESPINA: Who'd be a maid, honestly? Certainly not me, if I'd known what it entailed! Day in, day out, it's nothing but, "Despinetta! Fetch our breakfast!" or "Despinetta, do the laundry! Take the dog for a walk! Buy our groceries! Tend to the Stray Dog sacrifices!" The only reason I even signed up for it in the first place was that I'd imagined it to be all cosplay and fun! (sighs) I knew I should've taken that job at Sovereign Hill instead!
Grumbling, she leaves the room and promptly returns bearing a tea tray laden with a pot and cups.
DESPINA: And here's yet one more thing! This apparently delicious hot chocolate; I've no idea just how delicious it is because they never let me try any! (she frowns, peering into the teapot) Is it even chocolate? I honestly don't know anymore . . .
Fiordiligi and Dorabella suddenly burst into the room – very nearly colliding with Despina and in the process, almost upending her tea tray – and throw themselves melodramatically on the settees.
DESPINA: Well, I have to hand it to you – after all these years, you still know how to make an entrance!
FIORDILIGI: (ignoring Despina) Oh! It's all just so terrible!
DORABELLA: Why, I could just die!
DESPINA: So, I'm guessing your little trip into town didn't go so well?
FIORDILIGI: What in the world are we going to do?!
DESPINA: Maybe if you tell me what's happe –
DORABELLA: How can we possibly go on without them?!
DESPINA: Hey, so something's happened with yo –
FIORDILIGI AND DORABELLA: How cruel life is!
They run to each other and clasp hands, sinking to the ground and sobbing.
DESPINA: Nope, that's cool. Not standing here feeling ignored or anything . . . .
Sniffling, the sisters finally notice Despina.
DORABELLA: Oh . . . Despina, you're here?
DESPINA: More than that – I've brought your chocolate! That'll go some ways to cheering you up, right?
Fiordiligi lets loose a strangled cry and collapses theatrically to the ground.
FIORDILIGI: You and your wretched chocolate! As if that's ever solved anything!
DESPINA: . . . "Oh, thank you, Despina! How very kind of you! Please, won't you sit with us and have a cup? After all, you've been working so very hard all day!"
DORABELLA: If it's the chocolate you want, then bloody take it! Take all of it!
DESPINA: . . . that was unexpected . . . but I certainly won't say no! (she downs the entire teapot in a single gulp) Damn, that's good! Now, if it's all the same to you ladies, I'm going to go talk to the dog – at least he listens to me!
She goes to leave the room, but Dorabella and Fiordiligi suddenly leap up, each grabbing one of her arms.
FIORDILIGI: Oh, but you can't leave yet, Despinetta!
DORABELLA: Yes, there's something you simply must do for us!
DESPINA: Don't worry, I've already seen to it that Sir Peter's been bagged . . . and no, I will not be making you any more chocolate.
FIORDILIGI: . . . what? No, no, this is so very much more important than any of that!
The sisters all but manhandle Despina to one of the settees and the three sit down.
DESPINA: (resigned) All right then, say on . . .
DORABELLA: Well . . . there's apparently a horrible war going on and . . . and . . .
DESPINA: Ahh . . . and your men have gone off to go kill some redshirts, yes? Well, I guess that explains the theatrics earlier, but really, you should both be celebrating! Just think – when those boys of yours return, they'll be welcomed back as heroes and there'll probably even be a huge ticker tape parade in their honour – and those don't even exist yet! Everyone will be so thoroughly impressed that they'll invent one specifically for your fiancés!
FIORDILIGI: But they could be killed!
DESPINA: . . . again, you should be celebrating! If they do both end up getting themselves blown to kingdom come, just think of all the men – or women, if you feel so inclined – you can pursue!
DORABELLA: (to Fiordiligi) I told you that's what she'd say!
FIORDILIGI: There's nothing else for it then . . . sister, we must go ahead with Plan B!
DESPINA: "Plan B"? Oh, of course . . . the standard tragic heroine's final solution. Hey, do you want some help? I'm sure I've got some deadly nightshade or a spare noose lying around somewhere.
DORABELLA: . . . aren't you supposed to say something like, "Oh, don't! Stop! You've got so much to live for!"?
DESPINA: To be perfectly frank, you haven't that much to live for . . . but still, at least think of all the potential suitors you'll be giving up!
FIORDILIGI: Why do you insist on having us betray our beloveds?
DESPINA: Because that's exactly what they'll be doing to you! The second those soldiers reach their destination, they'll be chasing anything in a skirt that they clap eyes on! They're all like that . . . hey, that's a good title for an opera!
DORABELLA: But they're going to Antarctica – I doubt they'll find any women there!
DESPINA: Then I'm sure they'll be chasing after all the seals and pengui –
FIORDILIGI, DORABELLA AND AUDIENCE: NO, NO, NO! HORRIBLE MENTAL IMAGES!
DESPINA: And besides, who's going to oversee those Red Crayon Aristocrat meetings if you two are dead?
FIORDILIGI: (grudgingly) . . . you have a point there.
There is a sudden knock at the door, before another of the sister's maids, MARLENA, enters. She is dressed similarly to Despina, and sports a shock of pink hair.
INVERTED-JABBERWOCKY: Oh, they've implemented another original character . . . fantastic.
SUPERMIMBLES360: Was that sarcasm or sincerity?
INVERTED-JABBERWOCKY: I haven't decided yet.
WITCHCHAO: . . . is that maid a woman or a man . . . ?
NATURETHEZAFARA: No idea.
MARLENA: Miss Dorabella, there's a telephone call for you!
A silence ensues as everyone stares at her.
DORABELLA: (blankly) Tele-what?
MARLENA: . . . oh, wait, telephones haven't been invented yet! HA-HA, WHOOPS! ANACHRONISM! FORGET I SAID ANYTHING! AND I'LL JUST BE GOING NOW!
She makes a hasty retreat from the room, slamming the door behind her.
DESPINA: Don't get me wrong, she's great, but remind me again why you hired her. Was I not fanservicey enough on my own or something?
FIORDILIGI: "Or something", yes. Now, if I remember correctly, Despina, you've got those other Stray Dog sacrifices to fix up, haven't you? The princess will have your head if they're late, after all!
DESPINA: . . .
DORABELLA: Yes, we'd very much like to be left alone, you see! Now, shoo!
DESPINA: . . . goodness, your tact and graces still floor me, miladies . . .
SCENE: THE FOYER of the sisters' house.
Don Alfonso has somehow entered the house; CILIEGIA, Fiordiligi and Dorabella's large dog, runs excitedly around him.
ALFONSO: (rubbing his hands together in glee) Now for phase two of my master plan! (clears his throat) Oh, Despinettaaaaa!
DESPINA: (coming down the stairs) Ugh, I'd recognise that whine anywhere . . . hello Don Alfonso, how the heck are you?
ALFONSO: Why don't we just skip the pleasantries, yes? I've a favour to ask.
DESPINA: (baffled) A favour?
She frowns, about to ask for clarification, then sees the significant expression on his face.
ALFONSO: Yes, I've great need of you!
DESPINA: Oh, great need? Why didn't you say so?
She approaches him and leans forward until their faces are almost touching. Just when it looks as if she's about to kiss him, she turns her head and takes a huge bite out of his wig, then dances tauntingly around him.
DESPINA: (around a mouthful of cake) Right here, against the wall? Is that where you wanted it? Your legs would surely break from the strain, old man! And are you sure "little Alfonso" is even up to it?
Alfonso stares blankly at her for a few seconds, before suddenly realising what she means.
ALFONSO: God, not that kind of favour! And even if it was – and I'm not saying it is, because it isn't – I certainly wouldn't be asking you!
DESPINA: (huffs) Oh, so now the old man has standards, does he? (she plucks some of the candied fruit from Alfonso's wig)
ALFONSO: Yes, he does. He would also appreciate it if people would STOP FEASTING UPON HIS WIG!
DESPINA: (smirks) Touchy. Well, if not that, what was it you wanted me for?
ALFONSO: I'm, ah . . . wanting to help some friends out, and it'll benefit your mistresses too, but I'll need your help bringing them around – and the sooner we start, the better!
DESPINA: Oh . . . but I was actually planning to ask for this afternoon off. See, there's this local theatrical company putting on some show called "Deflator Mouse", and I was rather hoping to see it . . .
ALFONSO: And I'm sure I'm very sorry, but this is a zillion times more important! And at any rate, I'll be sure to make it worth your while!
DESPINA: You will?
ALFONSO: But of course. Just name your price!
DESPINA: Well then . . . I've always wanted to see the Piazza San Marco, so perhaps you could buy me that! Of course, I'll also be needing a gondola to get there . . . and a small Pacific island of my own would be nice, too! Though I'd prefer one without a vicious smoke monster, if you can manage it.
ALFONSO: . . . how about five thousand munny instead?
DESPINA: You've got yourself a deal!
Fig – the waiter from the first scene – suddenly comes rushing in.
FIG: I'll be damned if I only appear in one scene! Don Alfonso! I really think that you – HOLY CRUD, LOOK AT HOW FANCY THIS HOUSE IS!
DESPINA: Well, hello there!
FIG: Oh, um . . . hi!
ALFONSO: Good, now that that's over, kindly go away, preferably to somewhere that is not here – I've business to discuss.
FIG: Ohh no . . . if this is about that idea of yours –
ALFONSO: Well, of course it is. Now you, make like some poor sucker who's seen a boojum and vanish!
ALFONSO: Okay . . . then we'll leave! (he grabs Despina's arm) Let's skedaddle!
He whisks Despina into a nearby room, unaware that Fig is following.
ALFONSO: Now then, I understand your mistresses are quite, ah . . . upset about their men going away to war. And I have these two friends who've come to visit me, you see – wonderful chaps, the both of them. Anyway, I figured your mistresses wouldn't mind entertaining them during their stay.
DESPINA: I suppose not, but what do you need me for?
ALFONSO: Just do whatever you can to . . . encourage the ladies to take to my friends.
DESPINA: Sounds like fun! So, where are these friends of yours?
ALFONSO: Why, right here!
He pulls back a curtain to reveal Guglielmo and Ferrando, both dressed in ridiculous costumes, complete with ragged wigs and rather disturbing facial hair. Their disguises are very poor and barely conceal their identities – but as opera has the infuriating habit of rendering even the most intelligent of characters completely brain-dead, Despina fails to recognise either one of them.
DESPINA: (aside) . . . those are the ugliest-looking freaks I've ever seen! (to Alfonso) So, these are your . . . friends? How . . . wonderful . . .
Bowing theatrically to her, the men attempt to kiss her hand, which she hastily pulls from their grasp.
DESPINA: D-delighted, I'm sure, but . . . (blanching, she dry-retches) I-I'd really rather you didn't . . .
FIG: (suddenly appearing behind Despina) Alfonso, I'm not going to stand around and watch you pull others into your crazy schemes! Do your dirty work on your own!
He gently takes Despina's wrist and attempts to leave with her, when Marlena suddenly leaps out of a nearby closet, brandishing a broom.
MARLENA: How dare you lay a hand on Despina! (she smacks Fig upside the head)
FIG: OW! What was that for? I haven't done anything!
ALFONSO: Do you mind? I am trying to continue my exposition!
MARLENA: My apologies, sir; I'll have this done in a second . . .
She hits Fig with the broom in a very uncomfortable place. The waiter promptly drops to the ground in agony.
MEN IN AUDIENCE: (cringing in sympathy) Oooooh, ouch!
DESPINA: . . . see, Marly, this is why we don't get visitors to the house anymore . . .
ALFONSO: Now, if I could continue . . .
A knock is suddenly heard at the door.
ALFONSO: OH, FOR PETE'S SAKE! NOW WHAT?!
He stomps to the door and opens it to reveal MINNIE MOUSE.
AUDIENCE: . . . WHAT.
MINNIE: Good day to you, sir. I'm a collections agent for Euro Disney!
ALFONSO: Oh . . . all right, but . . . this isn't actually my house . . .
MINNIE: Oh! Well, would you be so kind as to direct me to the owner's wallet, then?
DESPINA: Upstairs, first door on the right, top shelf of the closet.
MINNIE: Pleasure doing business with you, ma'am! (she walks off, presumably to retrieve the wallet)
ALFONSO: Ahem . . . now then . . .
Ciliegia suddenly rushes into the room, barking excitedly.
ALFONSO: ARGH! I must continue explaining my plan and I cannot do so with this creature here!
MARLENA: No! You get out of here and take your dirty paws with you, dog! I just finished cleaning the floors!
Tail wagging, the dog leaps up at Marlena, knocking her to the ground.
MARLENA: AHHHH! GET IT OFF! GET IT OFF!
Minnie walks back in, wallet in hand, then sees the dog and screams.
MINNIE: Eek! Foul creature!
Squealing, she runs offstage, dropping the stolen wallet . . . which is now conspicuously empty.
ALFONSO: Oh, sod it! I'll just continue anyway!
Fiordiligi and Dorabella suddenly enter.
ALFONSO: Or perhaps not . . .
Somehow overlooking both Guglielmo and Ferrando, the women are confronted with the sight of Alfonso whistling nonchalantly, Despina looking bemused, Marlena being trampled beneath Ciliegia's paws, Fig writhing on the floor in agony, and in the middle of it all, Fiordiligi's now-empty wallet on the ground.
FIORDILIGI: Er . . . anyone care to explain what's going on in here?
ALFONSO: Wh-why of course! We are all here awaiting your return!
FIORDILIGI: (gesturing to Fig) Why, then, is this man on the floor in obvious pain?
ALFONSO: . . . beats me!
FIORDILIGI: And why is my wallet lying here on the ground, ransacked of all its monetary value?
ALFONSO: The mouse did . . . oh, shoot, she's gone . . .
FIORDILIGI: I know what this is all about now!
ALFONSO: Oh, really now?
FIORDILIGI: (thrusting a finger at Alfonso) You sent our men off to war so you could rob us of our riches and elope with our maids! Then we would be alone and helpless, wouldn't we?
DORABELLA: We . . . would?
FIORDILIGI: There isn't even really a war, is there?
ALFONSO: . . . actually, that's not too far from the truth; I'm impressed! Have you ever considered a career as a private detective?
FIORDILIGI: You're impressed? Are you really?
ALFONSO: Oh yes, very much so! But you're incorrect about at least one thing – there is indeed a war! And your men are still there, which is why, out of the goodness of my heart, I've invited some acquaintances of mine to keep you and Dora company while they are away!
So saying, he gestures grandly to the men, finally drawing Dorabella and Fiordiligi's attention to them. Ferrando and Guglielmo bow ostentatiously to the women, both going completely unrecognised.
FIORDILIGI: . . . I, er . . . (she gawps, dumbfounded)
DORABELLA: . . . are they even human . . . ?
DESPINA: My thoughts exactly.
GUGLIELMO: (in a thick, indescribable accent) Are we human? Ohoho! How my lady doth jest!
FERRANDO: (in a similarly-strange accent) Oh, rather! Why, simply behold us! Are we not God's gift to women?
DORABELLA: Oh, undoubtedly; I can tell He was feeling particularly sadistic when creating you!
DESPINA: Well said, Padawan!
GUGLIELMO: I see my lady is quite the joker! How wonderful!
He and Ferrando fall to their knees before the women, clasping their hands and spouting cheesy love poems. The sisters stare at each other, quite unsure of what to do. Despina, meanwhile, is helping Fig to his feet.
DESPINA: Sorry about Marlena and the whole broom thing; she just gets a little funny around strangers. Say, you wouldn't happen to be proficient with sharp implements, would you?
FIG: If it helps, I have been known to moonlight as a barber.
DESPINA: That's perfect! You can help me prepare the kicking and screaming peas for their burial tomorrow!
FIG: Oh, I-I wasn't really planning on being here for more than an hour at the most . . . but if you'd like me to stay . . .
DESPINA: (smirking) Why yes, I would rather . . .
INVERTED-JABBERWOCKY: . . . a guy whose name is only a few letters away from being "Figaro" and who used to be a barber is flirting with a snarky maid . . . we haven't accidentally wandered into the wrong opera, have we?
Fiordiligi and Dorabella manage to break away from the men and flee the room, Ferrando and Guglielmo following in hot pursuit.
DESPINA: My, that was successful. (She applauds sardonically) Bravo, Don.
ALFONSO: Hey, if you've got something to contribute, be my guest.
DESPINA: I might just happen to have a plan B up sleeve.
ALFONSO: "Plan B"? You're going to kill yourself? Nice! Hey, can I help?
DESPINA: I'll ignore that. Right then, here's the plan . . .
SCENE: THE GARDEN.
Dorabella and Fiordiligi are sitting together on a bench, having somehow managed to escape their pursuers.
FIORDILIGI: I honestly don't know how Don Alfonso expects us to entertain those friends of his – they're just too, too hideous!
DORABELLA: Oh, I agree, sister . . . though I am rather flattered that they made advances towards us –
Fiordiligi suddenly slaps Dorabella across the face.
FIORDILIGI: Pull yourself together, woman! We're supposed to be pining for our fiancés! They've only been gone half a day, and I'll be hanged if I let you go all starry-eyed over those monstrosities!
Alfonso suddenly comes rushing along the path.
ALFONSO: Oh, there's been a horrible development, ladies! Absolutely shocking!
FIORDILIGI: Why, whatever is the matter?
ALFONSO: My friends were so crushed by your callous rejection that they've resolved to kill themselves!
DORABELLA: Isn't that a little melodramatic? I don't think we were being at all callous when we escaped from them.
ALFONSO: Well, whether you intended it or not, you've gone and broken those poor boys' hearts and they can't be reasoned with! They even said they'd be doing the deed here in your presence, they're that cut up about it!
As if on cue, Ferrando and Guglielmo burst through the doors of the house, each brandishing a LARGE BOTTLE LABELLED CONVERSION GEL.
GUGLIELMO: Look at what it's come to! Look at what our love has made us do!
FERRANDO: Farewell, cruel world!
Before either of the sisters can comprehend the unfolding events, the men ingest the gel, totter about drunkenly and promptly crumple to the ground.
DORABELLA: Are . . . are they . . . ?
FIORDILIGI: Heavens, I hope not!
ALFONSO: And Heaven help you if they are! Why, just imagine what people will say should they find out you drove two men to suicide in your own backyard! And obviously, being my friends, I'd also be quite distraught at their passing, if only for an hour or so.
DORABELLA: O-oh! What can we do?!
FIORDILIGI: We simply aren't equipped to deal with something like this on our own!
DORABELLA AND FIORDILIGI: DESPINA!
DESPINA: (coming along the path) Either I'm nuts or I heard someone call my na – WHAT IN THE DEEPEST, SICKEST HELL HAS HAPPENED?!
ALFONSO: My friends here didn't take your ladies' rejection too well and . . . well, you can probably tell what they ended up doing about it.
FIORDILIGI: What can we do, Despina?
DORABELLA: Please tell us – we're hopeless without you!
DESPINA: Watch over them and make sure they don't swallow their own tongues or something – it's the least you can do. As for Don Alfonso and I, we shall go fetch a doctor for these poor sods.
So saying, she and Alfonso depart. Guglielmo and Ferrando turn their heads to look at each other, unnoticed by the women.
GUGLIELMO: Looks like they've fallen for it. Nice bit of acting there, bro.
FERRANDO: Thanks, you too, man.
DORABELLA: (slowly approaching the prone men) You know, in this light, they're perhaps not quite so ugly as I first thought . . .
FIORDILIGI: If that doctor doesn't get here soon, they'll also be not quite so alive!
As if he was hiding close enough to hear her (which, incidentally, he was) Alfonso returns, followed by Despina dressed in a doctor's uniform, her disguise being even more pathetic than those of the men.
ALFONSO: Fear not, ladies! Salvation is at hand!
DESPINA: Yez, yez, here I am, ze doctor extraordinaire! Let'z zee if I can't cure your illz, ja?
GUGLIELMO: (aside, to Ferrando) Anyone can clearly see who that "doctor" really is; how dumb does Alfonso think our fiancées are?
FIORDILIGI: Oh! Doctor, thank goodness you're here!
FERRANDO: (aside, to Guglielmo) . . . I think that answers your question . . .
DESPINA: All righty, zhen . . . first ve should – ACHKLACKLEACH!
DORABELLA: Oh! He speaks in foreign tongues! How very impressive!
DESPINA: Oh, no, not at all – zat vas nozing more zhan my lunch trying to resurface! (noticing that Fiordiligi is scrutinising her rather closely) Und vhat might you be staring at?
FIORDILIGI: I'm having difficulty placing your accent, doctor . . .
DESPINA: Vhy, I am a German ouiaboo, obviously! Now, if zhere are no more interruptionz . . .
She paces around the prone Guglielmo and Ferrando, feverishly writing notes.
DESPINA: Hmm, yez, mozt interezting . . .
ALFONSO: And what would you prescribe, most learned aren't-you-jealous-I-possibly-got-my-PhD-at-Melbourne-University-or-somewhere-similar doctor?
DESPINA: Vell, for starterz . . . (thrusting a finger at Fiordiligi and Dorabella) Ze two fräuleins really must stop viz ze lovey-dovey hand-holding und ze happy dancing – it leavez ze audience quite confuzzled!
DORABELLA: . . . I'm sure he actually meant what you'd prescribe for these two unconscious men, doctor.
DESPINA: Oh, zhem? Vhy, zhey are quite dead, liebchen! (she laughs nuttily) But, az luck vould haff it, I can cure zhem wiz ze aid of my magical magnet!
She produces said magnet, a strange, semi-molten mess of metal and screws.
DESPINA: Vunce upon a time, you know, he vas actually a Magnemite . . . until he had an unfortunate run-in viz a potter's kiln.
She sticks two electrodes to each of the men's temples and then connects them to the magnet using wires.
FIORDILIGI: You're going to revive them . . . by electrocuting them?
DESPINA: Don't question my methods, liebchen – I'm a professional! Now zhen, stand vell back, everyone. Vait for it, vait for it . . . and BUZZAP!
She presses a button atop the magnet, and the men's bodies start jerking and contorting horribly.
DORABELLA: Wh-what's going on?!
DESPINA: No, no, zat's nozing to worry about – death throes, nozing more!
FIORDILIGI: Then you have killed them!
DESPINA: Did I say death throes? But of course I meant life throes!
DORABELLA: . . . with all due respect, I'm sure I don't ever want you operating on me, doctor.
Despina presses the button again and the men grow still, before slowly sitting up.
ALFONSO: Oh! My friends! It's a miracle!
GUGLIELMO: (throwing himself at Dorabella) My angel!
FERRANDO: (clasping Fiordiligi's hands) My goddess!
GUGLIELMO: Pray, give us a kiss!
FERRANDO: Or perhaps something more!
FIORDILIGI: (rounding furiously on Despina) You wretched doctor – you've made them worse!
DESPINA: Oh, you're most velcome, liebchen! And don't vurry about payment – I'll fax you ze invoice . . . just az soon az Alexander Bain gets off his lazy backside und invents ze fax machine!
Fiordiligi and Dorabella push the men off and race into the house, Ferrando and Guglielmo charging off after them. Despina watches them go, amused, and begins to remove her disguise as Don Alfonso dances in gleeful anticipation of his victory.
The curtain falls, signalling the end of the first act; noticing this, the majority of the audience rushes out of the theatre in the hopes of avoiding the giant cue for the toilets.