Poem 14: 7/23/01

Radio Opera

"Hello, this is Diana Smuth. Today, on Opera Highlights, we will hear the First Act of Who Wears These Pants!, by Italian composer Paulo Giustagai. The comic opera was composed in Prague, in 1927, and is the only known work of this rather obscure composer. Here with us today is Professor Ransec Dazíti, of King Frederick's University in Prague, to give us some highlights and comments. Professor?"

"Yes, thank you, Diana. Oh, this is a most interesting work, containing elements that have confused music historians for years, prompting some to suggest the opera was actually written in the late 1950s. However, there is good documentary evidence that it was composed – and first performed – in 1927. Ah, but enough of that. Here is a brief description:

"After a short prelude, the First Scene begins in the bedroom of Count Prepostóre, lord of the manor Depoti. The Count is disturbed to find a paper clip in the left front pocket of his jacket, because, as a nobleman of the old school, he never deals with office supplies. He becomes even more disturbed when he finds an identical clip in the cuff of his wife, the Contessa Preposterósa. When she is unable to explain the origin of the fasteners, the now angry Count gives us the aria, "Whose Clip Is This?," while hopping about, wielding the paper clips as if they were swords. As the aria and scene end, we hear the snide snickering of Douglas (known as "Dougie"), the Contessa's nephew. Always the trickster, he has placed the paper clips hoping to provoke just such a reaction.

"Scenes Two, Three and Four: Over the next few days, due to Dougie's tricks, the Prepostóres continue to find odd items in their clothing, including staples, a binder clip, a pad of Post-Its, and even a rubber finger. The increasingly irrational Count develops the theory that his wife is having an affair with one of the manor's office workers, and imagines the adulterer cavorting in his own bedroom, wearing his own clothes.

"Things come to a climax in Scene Five: At dinner, in the presence of the entire family, the Count discovers a bottle of correction fluid in the back pocket of his favorite tuxedo trousers. Now insane with jealousy, he loses control and sings the famous, "Who Wears These Pants!," while standing atop the dining room table. The evil Dougie, barely able to control his laughter, shoots a rubber band into the Count's open mouth. The Count chokes and falls to the floor; amidst the ensuing pandemonium, Act One comes to an end."

"Thank you, Professor Dazíti. Again, this is Opera Highlights, and today we are listening to the First Act of Who Wears These Pants!, by Italian composer Paulo Guistagai…

© 2001 Jim Nichols

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