Il gattino di Kauhuku

This was originally posted in Living on Lava on 10/10/2015, back when we thought that Francis was Frances.

 

Frankie-1
The composer and diva.

Frankie is composing an opera, Il gattino di Kahuku and is in a ferment of constant creation and rehearsal. First thing in the morning, she works on “Sto morendo di fame.” She experimented with the key and has settled on Squall Major. This is followed by the recitative “Mi elevare ora,” staccato con sentimento, accompanied by acrobatics which always bring down the house. In fact, this morning she experimented with hooking her claws into my shorts as I was trying to put them on, which certainly brought down the pants. This may not make it to the finished work.

The opening aria.
The opening aria. Note the pathos.

She then leads the rest of the cast in the Breakfast Chorus. The big dog, as always, maintains a dignified silence (that is, a basso so profundo that it is beneath the range of human hearing); the small dog, our alto, cavorts on her back legs, performing amazing backwards jetés, and the boy cat, the tenor, leaps onto the kitchen counter, is grabbed and thrown off, leaps again, is thrown again. All this time Frankie leads the company in “Miao miao adesso” or, in the small dog’s case, “Yip yip adesso,” come un rondo.

Basso and soprano in Act
Basso and soprano prepare for Act 2

Act Two is a true innovation in opera, as it is entirely in mime. The cast weaves along the floor, barely avoiding each other. The big dog collapses first, on the floor under the computer desk. The small dog makes sure Frankie has cleaned her plate, then stretches out on the big dog’s bed. The boy cat disappears and Frankie, after running from my shoulder to the keyboard and back again, curls up in the in-tray and falls asleep.

20151009_140751 (1)
Triumphant conclusion to Act Two.

After a few hours Frankie rises to perform “Gioca con me,” insistentemente esigenti, directed to the rest of the cast, turn and turn about. Eventually the boy cat knocks her over, holds her down, and performs acts of cleansing upon her best left to the imagination and not to the operatic stage.

The scene for which the opera was banned in Boston.
The scene for which the opera was banned in Boston.

She takes them stoically, like the classical heroine that she is. She makes her escape and reprises the opening aria as “Ora sono morti di fame,” frenetica ad alta voce.

Our tenor.
Our tenor

The fourth and final act commences with yet another reprise of the opening aria, this time reconfigured as “Sto davvero morendo di fame,” staccato e bellicoso, followed by another round, “Anch’io,” from the rest of the cast. The tenor then takes center stage to perform “Muoio, muoio di disattenzione,” while the soprano weeps. The tenor moves offstage sadly, and our splendid diva commands the stage for the denouement. She performs the aria “Filato giocattolo piede palla di punta” dancing piqué allegro before finding a nearby basket of yarn and diving face-down into it. The applause is tremendous.

All in all, a most satisfying operatic experience. This critic is advised that the work itself mutates slightly from day to day, so multiple viewings are recommended.

Author: Marta Randall

I was born in 1948 in Mexico DF, Mexico, but have lived in the United States since infancy. I have taught in several sf writing workshops and served in Science Fiction Writers of America as vice-president 1981-1982 and president 1982-1984. My first story was published in New Worlds 5 (1973).

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