Friday, December 07, 2007


by Paul Maxim

Albinone wrote fifty-three operas,
none of which survived,
while Beethoven wrote only one,
all of which survived,
including four overtures,
three entr'actes, two intermezzi,
and one horrendous climax,
in which a caste of singers clambers back onstage,
and helps extract the tenor from his queasy cage.

But Rossini, nimble tunesmith,
outdid them all
by writing only half an opera
- called Semiramide* -
about an ancient Babylonian Princess
(or maybe she was just a Quean)
who thought she could reshape the course of history -
but why she thought so still remains a mystery.

Now, had that tunester only written
one whole Ramide
- it might have seemed a trifle overlong,
- it might have lacked a dance to fleshify its song,
but still most likely it would not have made him smirk
(as rumor swears he did):
"Half an opera she is better than none,
and mine have coined more lira than yours
have ever done!'

* Pronounced Seh.mee.RAH

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