A Night at the Opera

This weekend, a new opera opens at Mahogany Hall, called The Drowning Feast.

The score and libretto are by Miss Appolonia Von Ravenscroft, a well known composer of opera in the Neath, sometimes called The Entangled Dreamer.

A description follows for anyone who wishes to attend.

(ooc: This incorporates some lore and some made-up content. If you wish to avoid all lore related information, don’t read it. But most of it is just player-generated fiction.)

The opera is advertised as a romance, incorporating tunes and legends of the zee, true and false. Notably, one of the key roles is played by a drownie, the handsome Thrice Drowned Jones, the hollow-eyed tragedian. Other drownies are part of the choir.

The musical style is closest to Herr Wagner, for those who remember his work from the surface. Several of the motifs are from zee chanties and folk-tunes, but rendered in operatic format.

The libretto is in English.

Gossip prior to the opening hints at elaborate staging, and rumors of a romance between the lead soprano (heroine) and the lead bass (the dragon).

The story is said to be as sentimental as the music is stirring.

Miss von Ravenscroft’s operas are known to often incorporate elements from myth and legend except ‘the political one’ which is completely banned from being performed, and led to her permanent banishment from court.

Act I

Scene 1: Chamber at the Top of the Tree-Tower

On an isolated island in the middle of the zee, there is a tree that grows all the way to the Roof. Its branches weave into a tower-like shape. In a chamber at the top of the tree-tower, the heroine (soprano) grieves to be separated from her love (the hero, tenor). She is guarded by a dragon (on-stage, a huge puppet; off-stage, a bass), who is an aspect of Storm.

They speak through window-like gaps in the branches. Her chamber is entirely open to the audience’s view.

A passing bird brings her word that the hero is zailing NORTH to try to find a power strong enough to face the dragon and rescue her.

The dragon taunts her that it is only his winds – that follow his command – that permit the hero to zail in that direction, and the dragon blows him north knowing it will bring his doom.

She begs the dragon to reverse the winds and blow her love back home to the south where he will be safe, even though it means he will never rescue her. Better he live, himself, whole and sane, than that she ever see him again.

(Motif: Blow the Wind Southerly; Blow the Wind Southerly - Laura Wright - YouTube)

The dragon agrees, but is angered that her thoughts are ever with the hero.

Scene 2: The Zailing Ship, at Zee

The hero’s ship, a zailing vessel, is headed NORTH. He and his crew sing of the perils of their journey so far, and his love for the heroine.

The dragon appears and reverses the winds.

They are pushed back to the safer waters to the south.

The dragon’s anger stirs the fiercest of storms. Intentionally or unintentionally? – it is unclear.

The hero’s ship, carried south, zails into the terrible storm, and sinks, and he and his crew are carried deep under the waves.

Act II

Scene 1: Court of the Fathom-King

The hero sinks down to the realm of the Fathom-King (bass, Thrice Drowned Jones).

The hero sings of his love, and all that has happened.

The Fathom-King invites him and his crew to a drowning feast.

A choir of drownies sings throughout this scene, emphasizing the Fathom-King’s points, and helping to serve the feast.

The hero believes that each of the seven courses reflects a stage of the drowning process. The First Touch on the Skin. The Struggling Against the Current. Swallowed…

But the Fathom-King reveals that they are actually the seven stages of love, to which he himself is no stranger.

The Fathom-King’s heart is moved, and he reveals to the hero that there is another way to reach the Roof, though it is a slim chance. He sings of his own lost love, a song of great feeling and little detail. He will not part with the secrets closest to his heart.

(Swooning ladies in attendance may perceive the hope of a sequel.)

He gives the hero a map to a place on the zee-floor where Icarus fell, and his wings still lie. They should give the user the power to fly, if repaired.

There is no risk to using them, in a place with no Sun.

Scene 2: The Zee Floor

Weeks later, the hero and his crew return in a zubmarine, which should protect them from the influence of the traitorous winds, and follow the map.

The wings of Icarus are guarded by a huge beast of the zee. (A squid-shaped puppet that fills a quarter of the stage, comparable in size to the dragon.)

The hero triumphs in this battle, through bravery and cleverness.

The hero recovers the wings. A metal frame. Peculiar clockwork mechanisms to unfurl and steer. The feathers need substantial patching, secured with wax.

They will need repair, but it seems possible that he could use them to fly.

He finally tries them on for the first time, repaired, and looks like an angel.


Scene 1: Chamber at the Top of the Tree-Tower, and Base of the Tower

(In the stagecraft, the tower is in a fixed location on the right of the stage. The dragon is in the middle. The stage itself represents the top of the tower, or the base of the tower, or progress along its length, by a mechanism that raises and lowers the section of the tower in which the heroine’s room is located, with screens behind changing, as the view is raised or lowered, from the sands of the island (base), to blue sky (the length of the tower), to the dark roof (behind her chamber) with scuttling creatures of light-catching carapace crawling on the ceiling.)

The dragon watches the heroine grieving that she will be forever separated from the hero. She is melancholic but resolved. It is clear they have become friends, with no one else for company.

The dragon looks down and sees the hero trying to fly for the first time on the Icarian wings, from the base of the island, to the chamber at the top where the heroine waits.

He sees what should be obvious to the hero – the wings are even more dependent on the winds than a zailing ship.

Repenting of the heroine’s sorrow, the dragon helps the hero fly all the way to the top of the tower, keeping up-drafting winds under the out-stretched wings.

The hero does not realize how much the winds are helping him with the flight.

The hero arrives at the chamber at the top, and meets with the heroine.

But, he is filled with pride (like Icarus of legend). He has truly become the hero he always wanted to be, a monster slayer, and thinks this is what will secure her love, rather than their fond history and faith in her constancy.

Rather than suggest they flee together then, he plans to use the wings to fight the dragon and slay him.

The heroine does not want to see either of them hurt in such a battle, and begs him to simply flee with her.

The hero realizes she is fond of the dragon, and has been caged enough. She does not need to be ‘won’. He carries her down to the island, and gives her the wings. She can fly up to the skies and be companion, on her own terms, to the dragon. Or, she can come home with him in his zubmarine.

She hesitates. Maybe she only wants to say goodbye to the dragon first.

The hero departs.

She sings a song of farewell to the dragon, and then decides to use the wings to fly after the zubmarine and catch up to the hero.

The dragon realizes he will have to manipulate the winds to support her all the way to her home far in the south, chasing the zubmarine, the entire length of the journey.

Scene 2: The Surface of the Zee (an empty stage, while the remaining set change occurs behind a curtain)

She flies south.

The dragon follows, keeping her aloft. He reprises ‘Blow the Winds Southerly’, now his motif, in a much lower register.

She does not realize he is following and helping. All her attention is on what lies ahead.

Scene 3: The Dock

Like all good zee stories, this one ends with a homecoming on a dock. The dock, in the hero and heroine’s home town, is crowded with the families of the zubmarine’s crew, waiting for them.

The hero arrives in his zubmarine.

The heroine arrives shortly after, flying on the wings of Icarus.

The dragon arrives last, shy, but glad to see her reach the dock safely.

At last, they realize how the dragon has helped them use the wings and winds at every turn.

The last song is of homecoming and family, families of birth, and families found.

Ezekiel regards the poster, his unmarred facial features unreadable as always.

“Is there anyone that has not been banished from Court?” It rattles, imitating the sound of a dainty aristocratic woman.

Eli scowls bitterly and wrenches the poster from Ezekiel’s tendril. “No.”

“Why aren’t Eli performing? Is better artist than most honey-mazed milquetoast.” The thing scratches at the skin beneath it’s silver mask, which has the texture of honeycomb.

“This isn’t any average Veilgarden jaunt.” Eli halts outside the brimming entryway to fix Ezekiel’s cravat and spray some perfume to cover up the smell of vinegar. “I’ve been looking forward to seeing Appolonia perform all month. Don’t make me regret bringing you out in public again, EZ.”

“Am not your pet.”

“No, you are my friend. Now try to smile an act civil please.”

Ezekiel smiles. Eli’s Nightmares increase to 5.

“Never do that again.”

Absimiliard attends, but does not attend alone. They are beside a magnificent woman with a swan of gold in her hair.

They do not remove their glasses, but there are several moments when they wipe tears away. At the final act they openly weep, those nearby will make out something about &quot… weep at a happy ending, and any ending that cheats the Zee . … .&quot

When it finishes they burst to their feet applauding.

edited by absimiliard on 6/4/2016

Elias gives a standing ovation at the plays end, although Ezekiel seems unimpressed.

“Enjoyment.” It says dourly, in the voice of a two year old. It crackles in a manner to suggest laughter.

It’s late at night and the Inescapable Professor is still taking notes on her office at Veilgarden. A ball of paper, coming out of nowhere, crashes on her head. She picks it and reads; it’s an unsigned note.

“You coming to the opera?”

She makes a ball out of the note again and throws it in the trash can. “Of course I will not go. Operas are wastes of my…”

Her complaint is cut by another ball to the face. Already planning how to kill the sender, she reads the paper.

“It doesn’t end with everybody dead.”

She raises her eyebrows. Well, that is new. She might be interested after all.

Dirae Erinyes claps loudly. “Lovely, quite lovely. And no monsters had to be killed off.” Evensong shrugs.
“I would’ve liked more dance numbers.”

Flesh-Stick attends reluctantly, despite not being much of an opera fan, because the shows at Mahogany Hall are fairly cheesy that evening and he doesn’t want to get kicked out yet again for chucking tomatoes at the stage.

He amuses himself during the first act by sitting behind Eli and sticking gum in his hair.

At the end of the opera he quickly leaps to his feet, causing the cast to cringe. Tomatoes, however, remain unchucked, as he is only giving a standing ovation.


runs out, waving his pants in the air enthusiastically

The Euphemian Game-Carver observes Flesh-Sticks display of questionable sanity from their side seat and sketches down other visitors and their reactions, the grimaces of woe and visages of calmness.
At the opera’s end the Game-Carver provides some commentary on the piece “Interesting subject matter. Don’t think I’ve seen an opera about the Drownies, and the Wings of Icarus have some interesting and poignant symbolism. Wonderful performance.”

Agata attends the Opera, with her notebook, to write a recension. She sits quietly towards the whole play. At the end she is left crying. &quotGreat… just… make a sequel… set in space, that sounds very good!&quot

Hebediah and his daughter sit near the back, the former greatly enjoying the performance while the latter takes notes. Hebediah cheers the hero, loudly bemoans the wretchedness of fate and circumstance and is generally rather annoying. When the opera ends he applauds so vigorously that he almost knocks the poor chap next to him over. &quotI don’t see what all the fuss is about,&quot his daughter sighs, &quotthere weren’t even any deaths.&quot She wipes her eye to remove a small piece of dust that must have found its way in there during the final number and certainly not for any other reason (why the very thought is preposterous!)

Hark hides in the rafters, their eyes tiny candles in the dark. Most will never know they ever attended tonight, but a few sharp eared Londoners may hear the purring of cats and someone quietly humming the Fathom King’s song as they make their way to the exits.

A voice from the darkness behind Absimiliard speaks, “I must admit, I hadn’t expected quite so happy an ending. These things usually have some element of tragedy to them.” Irene’s shadowed lips curl up in a smile. “And when they don’t, there’s usually a lot more beer involved.”

Absimiliard dabs at their cheeks with a handkerchief, &quotI always cry at such things. It’s not tragedy, it’s happiness. You should have seen me at Lady Parelle and Sir Joseph’s wedding.&quot They smile, a sharp contrast to their tears.

&quotLet us hope things work out so well in all stories. I do not know if I would have the courage or strength to follow the Dragon’s path and land at the end. I quite admire that resolve.&quot

edited by absimiliard on 6/4/2016

Eli begins chattering to Flesh-Stick excitedly, not noticing the gum still stuck in his hair. “Did you like it? I think it was positely revolutionary! I absolutely must meet the creator!”

Ezekiel groans as if he’s embarrassed to be close to Elias’ show of juvenile enthusiasm. It’s abdomen swells alarmingly. “Want to skin person what invented waistcoats.”

[quote=The Absurd Rogue]Eli begins chattering to Flesh-Stick excitedly, not noticing the gum still stuck in his hair. &quotDid you like it? I think it was positely revolutionary! I absolutely must meet the creator!&quot

Ezekiel groans as if he’s embarrassed to be close to Elias’ show of juvenile enthusiasm. It’s abdomen swells alarmingly. &quotWant to skin person what invented waistcoats.&quot[/quote]

Maria, who sat in front of Eli, was excited just as much, which may be the status quo for her. &quotHey, Eli, do you think you could translate something for me into english? I think I have a nice message to deliver, after breaking in… and I won’t take anything, I promise! And maybe I will Eliza here tomorrow…&quot

Agata, decided to let a note be passed to Absimiliard

'Dear Absimiliard,

why do happy endings always happen to other people? And how much of the wonderful myths in this opera were true? I would like to write an article about it! And I guess I may have to interview Appolonia… and who is the woman next to you?


“We have flowers to deliver us well. It is nice to have something sweet to watch for once instead of tragic, mind-scarring, or simply obtuse.”

Afterwards, as people continue to talk in their seats and then out in the lobby, Appolonia will be possible to find in the lobby.

She goes backstage first, congratulating the performers, and then comes to the lobby afterwards.

She waves at the folks she knows, as she greets other patrons.

She is recognizable from her picture in Slowcake’s, if you have not met her before.

Tonight, she is wearing an elegant pink gown, with matching necklace. There is a fluffy green sorrow spider on her shoulder.

A handsome Turkish man in a fedora and an elegant suit is with her, and appears to be carrying a coat and a very dignified black cat, for her.

It is also possible to get her contact information from the box office, if any attending the opera would prefer a private conversation, or to become a patron of the arts.