This fictional opera has an incredible storyline that seems far-fetched, but it’s unfolding in real life, says Bill Jamieson
Today I can exclusively reveal details of a stunning new opera set to take the Edinburgh Festival by storm.
The production, set in the US White House, brings the style of composer Giuseppe Verdi thrillingly to life. This contemporary opus, La Forza del Trumpo, has murders, betrayals, curses and assassinations.
Thrill to the themes of vengeance, stabbings, downfalls and death! Gasp as Scaramucci, a short-lived senior aide to Presidente Trumpo, performs his magnificent ‘curse’ aria about the White House Chief of Staff – ‘Il bastardo f****** useless heap of bleep bleep bleep’!
Thrill to his multiple stabbing two weeks before he had actually started the job! Shiver at the Presidente’s chilling 3am tweets! And swoon to the growing pile of dead bodies!
It’s often said that opera plots are too fantastical to be understood, let alone taken seriously. But this plot is all too serious. It is also said that we live in a ‘post-truth’ age. Who can really believe what we hear on broadcast news?
But this isn’t fake news. It’s all too real.
La Forza del Trumpo will shatter audience illusions. What happens on this stage - the brutal despatches of senior figures in Act One; a head of state ruling by Twitter decree in the darkest hours; the appointment of top military figures to run the supposedly most liberal and democratic nation on earth: is there an opera plot, never mind a script for political satire, that can match it?
After a cacophonous overture, the opera opens with a blood-curling curse from a wizened hag. It’s Presidente Trump’s defeated opponent, the exiled Hillario Clinton. Barely have her agonised curses faded than trumpets sound and the stage is filled for a mass chorus of Il Presidente Trump’s supporters:
The liberal elite deserves a thump
All hail to Presidente Trump!
Let’s drain the swamp! His fiery mane
Will make America great again!
Enter, stage right, the top new officials for the Trumpo White House, complete with close family members, a train of courtiers, dress designers, note-takers, spads and gofers. Trumpo delivers his sonorous aria: ‘They’re the greatest, they’re the best, sure, sure sure…’:
You’ve never seen a better team
I’ve picked the best there’s ever been
Champions all, they can’t be beat
The very best on America Street
They’re at my side for evermore
They’re the tops, sure, sure, sure
Rapid scene changes include Melania Trump in her gilded sitting room with the faux Louis XIV writing table; Presidente Trump being assisted offstage by Theresa May; the president with Tsar Vladimir Putin of Russia and shaking hands with leaders at the G20 summit.
But the stage darkens again as a blood-spattered White House emerges from the mist. Knives are flashed and gunshots fired. Slowly the stage floor is covered with the bodies of former top officials. Victims include James Comey, the former FBI Director (fired for loyalty to the constitution, or perhaps being taller than Presidente Trumpo); Preet Bharara, the former US attorney for the southern District of New York; Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser; Michael Dubke, Communications Director; Walter Shaub, from the Office of the Government Ethics Division (sic); Michael Short, press aide; Sean Spicer, the White House Press secretary; Derek Harvey, former top Middle East Adviser, and Reince Priebus, former White House Chief of Staff.
One by one their arias are cut short as Presidente Trump, from a platform above the stage, fires explosive tweets from a giant White House mobile phone.
But the best of Act 1 is yet to come. Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House Communications Director, takes to the stage with a soaring declaration of loyalty to the Presidente. But as he sings, black clouds gather as he delivers his blistering aria, ‘Il bastardo f****** useless heap of bleep bleep bleep’. This is directed at the White House chief of staff Priebus (as was) and Steve Bannon, former head of Breitbart News and now the President’s chief strategist (who himself was earlier removed from the National Security Council): A wildly gesticulating Scaramucci thunders:
You can quote me to the full on this
My boss Reince Priebus deserves a hiss
Here’s what I’d really stress
He’s a paranoic, schizoid mess
As for Steve Bannon, don’t get me started
He smells like a cockroach farted
His presence here really should be shorted
He has sex that’s most contorted
Il bastardo is a f****** useless heap
Best described as [bleep bleep bleep]
As for the staff I’ve only just begun
Ah’m goin’ to fire you every one.
This shocking aria stuns the audience. Our intrepid front row critic Joyce McMillan swoons. Barely has President Trumpo tweeted for an encore than knives flash and Scaramucci slumps to the floor. From his wife who is now seeking a divorce comes a fusillade of additional daggers.
As the bodies are carried from the floor and stage hands wipe away the blood, a row of military replacements march from the back of the stage to the theme of White House Down. General John F Kelly strides forward as the new chief of staff. He spent 40 years as a Marine, and six months as Homeland Security secretary where he cracked down on illegal immigrants. There are now three former military personnel in senior posts at the White House.
Still dangling above the stage by his fingertips is the US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, publicly criticised by President Trumpo. The last time an attorney general was fired was Howard McGrath, dismissed by President Harry S. Truman in 1952.
Might a similar drama be unfolding in the UK? Disarray is everywhere. The government is not only divided over Brexit but chancellor Philip Hammond also took the opportunity of the Prime Minister’s holiday to pronounce that the transitional period for migrant controls should extend well beyond the official leaving date of 2019. On the very day the Prime Minister sought to reaffirm the original timetable, former Tory leader William Hague declared in support of Mr Hammond.
Does anyone in this audience have a clear idea of what the Brexit plot is, never mind what comes next? Does anyone have a clear idea of what the Labour Party’s Brexit positon is? And are we not set in the autumn for an eruption of murderous backstabbing and departures?
The stunning point of La Forza del Trumpo is that it’s not a fictional opera at all. It’s unfolding in real life. Verdi’s original Forza del Destino acquired a reputation for being cursed following a series of unfortunate incidents. In 1960 at the Metropolitan Opera New York the baritone Leonard Warren collapsed and died during a performance. The supposed curse reportedly kept Luciano Pavarotti from ever performing the opera, while the tenor Franco Corelli performed small rituals during performances to avoid bad luck.
Meanwhile, La Forza Del Trumpo is set to play to full houses – doubtless followed by a polemical homily from the director - and a rousing rendition of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.