Opera spin-offs, round two Paul Szot as Escamillo in San Francisco Opera's 2011 Carmen.

Opera spin-offs, round two

Jenna Simeonov
Good operas and good productions often make me think about the characters after the curtain closes. When that happens, I end up imagining the operatic spin-offs, sequels, and prequels that could be. Since our last instalment was such fun, I’ll share a few of my imaginings once again; readers, leave your ideas in the comments below!

After Carmen: Escamillo

After the scandal at the bullfight, Escamillo’s career is never quite the same. He gets a lot of bad press for being (indirectly) wrapped up with Carmen’s drama, and people boycott his fights. He tries to set the record straight by testifying at Don José’s trial, but ends up fending off questions from animal rights activists, set on smearing his name.

The good news? The ladies have never loved Escamillo more.

After The Magic Flute: Papagena

After she’s done charming the audience with her nymphomaniacal chirps and enriching the life of our favourite singing bird-catcher, Papagena has a moment to reflect. What did I just do? she thinks. I was just looking for a fun way to forget about my ex, and now I’ve promised this guy at least four kids. Everyone is telling her that Papageno is obviously the one for her because they’re both sort of birds and their names are almost the same. But really, not all birds like each other, and Papageno is a pretty common name in the realm; it’s like getting excited over a couple named Michael and Michelle.

I see a The Last Five Years-type of spin-off for Papagena, maybe a one-woman-show version called The Last Five Minutes.

After L’elisir d’amore: Dulcamara

Remember when Dulcamara was trying to sell Adina some of his bogus elixir so she could get Nemorino? She was playing coy, too pretty to need a love potion, and Dulcamara noticed that she was a pretty smart lady. Too smart, actually; Adina did some investigation with Nemorino about Dulcamara’s product, and they ended up exposing him as a fraud.

Dulcamara gets arrested en route between small-town stops, and when the word gets out about the crooked wine salesman, the victims speak out in huge numbers. Tales of drunken embarrassment lovesick men and women are laid out one by one in a lengthy and probing trial. Dulcamara might be a crook, but he’s a hell of a salesman; the meat of his L’elisir spin-off happens in prison, when he charms his way into heading an intra-prison contraband liquor market. Dulcamara discovers that selling wine to prisoners is lucrative enough, even without re-branding it as a love potion.

Before Madama Butterfly: Suzuki

It’s fun for me to imagine Suzuki going on a Kill Bill-esque, vengeful search for Pinkerton, fueled by an irrational yet understandable hatred of Americans. Or, she puts her anger to good, winning small victories in the early days of Japanese women’s suffrage.

Suzuki’s story works well as a prequel, too. Before working for Cio-Cio San, Suzuki had a husband; although the marriage was arguably an arranged one, she was head over heels for the guy. Out of the blue, her husband asks for a divorce and leaves. Suzuki is brokenhearted, and bitter about #allmen. The idea of America (and American men) was romantic and heroic-seeming, and Suzuki becomes convinced that Western husbands are faithful, not the type to run out on their wives. Then she meets Pinkerton, and it’s a damn nail in the coffin.

That’s it for now, but like I said, leave your ideas in the comments below. Maybe Schmopera can commission one of these spin-offs one day. Maybe.

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