L’Audizione (The Audition)
Two singers audition for an opera that is yet to be completed. They come to a dilapidated
suburban theater, full of arrogance and carrying an attitude characteristic of divas. The
director, La Scala (the same name as the famous opera house in Milan), and the pianist,
Simplicio Martelletti (a hammering simpleton), await their arrival. As the divas throw verbal
punches at each other, their respective agents arrive just in time to complicate the situation.
Mayhem and confusion ensue, until the final plot twist.
This surreal comedy strives to poke fun at the dynamics that occur in the world of opera:
the agents, the stardom of the singers, and the entire system that is prevalent today. It also
parodies the old avant-garde, with its seriousness and lack of connection with the theater-going public, and mocks the system of extravagant directions that is solely used to
impress. In this play, there isn’t a plot, only a subject, laced with elements of meta theater
and characters that will appeal to the public, the conductor, and the musicians!
Fifì, Opera Diva, soprano
Cocotte , Opera Diva, soprano or mezzo
Simplicio Martelletti , pianist
Giovanni La Scala , director and owner of the theatre, bariton
Catone Checca of Int. & International, the agent of Fifì, tenor
Carlo Vacca of Artist Mannàggement, the agent of Cocotte, tenor
The Average Viewer, Man in the audience who protests, extra
Vanni Telaviscere, Composer (that never appears)
Oopart Out of place artifacts, Objects or people who have nothing to do
After a brief symphony in a dilapidated fourth-rate theatre, Simplicio inattentively puts the scores in order. Fifi and La Scala enter, inquiring if this is the place for the auditions.
Upon hearing the orchestra playing the introduction, La Scala determines that the auditions have just begun. At Cocotte’s arrival, the parties engage in mutually insincere flattery. As the music has not yet been delivered to the theatre, the participants will have to fight to get a role in a new opera auditioning with the stock repertoire. The agents, Catone and Carlo, enter the stage promising money and great success. Bickering resumes between the two.
Cocotte claims to be an expert in new music that could lead to the venue of the Venice Biennale. Fifì instead, suggests Mozart. A physical confrontation ensues. The pianist looks at the music and realizes that it is a fake. Oh well, says Fifi. A friend of mine, who is in love with me wrote the music, and the lyric is by DaPonte. Fifi sings her interpretation of Mozart with much criticism from her rival. Cocotte, who revels in her art, explains that she will not bring an aria, but wants to imagine the aria that she herself would write if she were a composer. She interacts with the orchestra and directs it. Arguing about modern music, the two rivals continue with low blows. Cocotte emerges the champion. Annoyed by their antics, Simplicio rebels, saying he has not understood what he is supposed to play. Fifi and Cocotte join together to mock him saying, “A rebellious pianist is unheard of!” La Scala puts an end to the bickering by asking the orchestra to play something cheerful. The
orchestra plays a theme of the symphony of the “Cambiale di Matrimonio” ( The Bill of
Marriage) of Rossini. La Scala notes that they are playing Rossini, a work they will soon be performing on another night of the festival. The orchestra then begins to mock La Scala with the themes of the symphony of the audition. La Scala decides to bring in the agents in order to talk to them. I n a loud voice he reads from a script, the last name first.
The agents act as defense lawyers for their respective clients, one claiming that it is not the fault of his client but of the system, and asks for both him and his client to leave, for he will have little to gain if he stays. The other demands a psychiatric report of his client and requests treatment at an adequate facility. At that point the wrath of Fifi and Cocotte is uncontrollable, creating an uproar. La Scala, disgusted by their behavior, throws them all out, shouting “Out! Get off my stage! I am La Scala! I am La Scala!” Left alone with the pianist, Fifi and Cocotte, reflect and wonder why they are there. They had misunderstood the “Audition with La Scala.” They wonder whether La Scala will return. “Certainly,” says Fifi, “He knows that it doesn’t end here (The Opera).” La Scala returns and reflects on his career. He had dreamed of being a great playwright, a director of theatre and cinema. He addresses the public.
“Many of you think that this is an opera, some believe that it is a theatre. But if instead, it was a movie theatre? Maybe this is really the cinema…”
Intermezzo which recalls the music of American film.
Fifi, as La Scala had requested, was all set to bring in a real aria, but she, too, decides to invent something. She wants to tell the public about the life of an opera singer. Fifi endures heavy criticism from her rival. At this point, La Scala has to decide whom to cast, but… a man arrives on stage. An average member of the audience. “I was in the gallery, and had the job of turning on the
lights.” He protests, declaring that “This is a work that has no beginning and no end, no reason, and no rhyme. It is all confusion and fighting!” Meanwhile, La Scala receives a phone call. It is the composer Vanni Telaviscere, who announces that he will not deliver his work to such a theatre, such a pile of shit! La Scala is dismayed and astonished. Everyone is shouting: “Noooooo!” But La Scala has a great idea and asks to all, “ Do you remember all that we said? And everything that you sang? Everything? Well, then we stage this! The Audition!” A great cheer ensues, and all excitedly dance on stage while the orchestra plays the postlude.