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Don Giovanni, Carmen and Parkinson's

Posted Oct 14 2009 10:03pm

Don Giovanni, Carmen and Parkinson's? Those of you who can scratch your heads no doubt are scratching them right now, wondering what the connection is. But in fact Parkinson's is now the subject of an opera Gravity and Grace.

An opera about a disease that can leave you unable to move or speak, much less sing? It's a surprising choice of subject matter, but rife with dramatic possibilities. I have no clue how the story of this production goes, but I could easily write a story for a PD opera of my own.

One can imagine the hero shuffling onstage and singing at barely audible volume as other singers keep repeating "What? What?" Mystified by his condition, the hero goes to a series of doctors who misdiagnose him until the climax of the first scene when a movement disorder specialist informs him that

"You've got Par-har-har-harkinson's disease, my friend! It's progressive!"

(Chorus: "PROGRESSIVE!")

Doctor: "Incurable!"

Chorus: "INCURABLE!")

Doctor: "And practically unendurable!"...

(Chorus "UNEDURABLE! UNENDURABLE! UNENDURAAAAAAABLE!")

Doctor: "But a handful of these magic beans will see you through the next few scenes, they may result in sex compulsion or cause you strange unwanted motion. And when at last you cannot maintain, if all goes well we'll put a wire in your brain."

Chorus: "And come the day you can't maintain, you'll hope for wire into your brain, your brain, your gray defective brain"

Our hero clutches his head as the lights fade to black and the curtain falls on scene one.

Whew! Just contemplating the possibilities for scene two, the mind boggles at the operatic potential as the hero fights depression, financial ruin, family crises, and the loss of all that is known of normal life and everyday expectations. The possibilities for tragedy and redemption are there for anyone involved with this disease to see.

The question goes from "An opera about PD? How can you do that?" to "Why didn't I think of that first?" Followed by the realization that if I had thought of it first, I'd never have the momentum to get it off the ground. So here's congratulations to the authors for imagination and passion. Break a leg.
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