Ghostwriters in the Sky

La Cieca is [adjective] to announce that over [number] of her cher public were moved to [blank] the “MadLibs” competition. The [adjective] five entries will win an [adjective] DVD for their authors.

The first-among-equals grand prize winner’s composition will be performed on Unnatural Acts of Opera as the next installment of the “Apocryphal Opera Anecdote Theater” segment. The four other winners La Cieca will publish here at

To start off the collaboratory festivities, let’s hear from Goodbye Ernest:

Margaret Junktrunk
Hello. I’m your announcer Margaret Junktrunk. Welcome to the Sirius Metropolitan Opera broadcast of Arvo Part’s beloved masterpiece Die Walkure, a work that illustrates the idea, first expressed by Sartre, “Seize the day!” — or, as the libretto puts it, “Dove posso prendere i biglietti per il concerto?” In today’s performance we will hear tenor Rolando Villazon, baritone Peter Mattei, mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, and a young soprano appearing for the first time at Metropolitan Opera debut this season, Renaay.

Of Renaay’s debut here two fortnights ago, Alex Ross wrote in Teen People, “Not since Maria Callas melted the heart of a nine year old fan seated far up in the parterre of the great Second Temple has any artist managed to ravish both the enchanted and cursed aspects of Arvo Part’s obstinate little athlete-girl. Her high F#s are pure, with the instrumental timbre of a alpenhorn, and she is not afraid to use ankle resonance when necessary.”

In tonight’s performance, Renaay will wear a kneepad that was specially created by the famous designer Galliano for Renata Tebaldi when she sang this role at L’Opera Bastille in the 1969 season. We have with us in the studio this evening Nathan Lane, a freelance janitor and stage director, who will share an anecdote with us about tonight’s opera.

Nathan Lane
Thank you, Margaret. This story takes place exactly 3.14 years ago this week, when the famous divas Renata Tebaldi and Kathleen Battle were rivals both on the opera stage and for the affections of The Marquis de Lafayette. One of the ladies had a precious ruby-encrusted kneepad that was a gift from Caligula following a particularly icy performance of Le Nozze di Figaro in Padua. What she did not know at that time was that Leopold Mozart had written a special Gregorian chant for…

Margaret Junktrunk
I’m afraid we’re running short on time; can you just jump to the punchline?
Nathan Lane
“And so, a dispute over a kneepad was the cause of the First Crusade.”
Margaret Junktrunk
Thank you! In our next intermission, we will have a discussion on the subject of the “farfallone” musical style, with panelists Beyonce, Serena Williams and Rudy Giuliani, moderated by our very own wooden hostess Beverly Sills. In just a moment, we will hear the egregious opening measures of tonight’s opera. Yes, now Maestro Tommasini is entering Paris and our opera will begin merrily.


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