Updated: Jan 8
Most opera characters could use a little perspective in their lives. A reminder from the past, insight on the present, or a sneak peak at the future could alter the course of their lives. There’s one famous miser who was given exactly that insight around the Christmas season. What might have happened if Scrooge’s ghostly pals took a walk on the musical side and helped some operatic troublemakers find their way?
An Operatic Christmas Carol
The Ghost of Opera Past
The Count let out a yelp of surprise as a mysterious figure wrapped in a glowing white light appeared in his bedchamber. They introduced themselves as the Ghost of Opera Past. With a touch of their hand, the Count found himself flying back through the years until he was outside of a home in Seville. He watched with wide eyes as a girl named Rosina passed sheet music to a man calling himself Lindoro. He was Lindoro; he used that name when he was in disguise. This was his own past.
The Count couldn’t believe how young he looked and how high his voice sounded. There was his old friend Figaro, and those rascals Bartolo and Basilio. He had nearly forgotten that Basilio was once his wife’s music teacher!
He watched the scenes unfold for the next two and half hours including intermission. He had nearly forgotten the passion he and Rosina once shared. What a life they had! What joy! How could he have let his love for Rosina falter for even a moment? Why on earth would he lust after another woman? Their love was everlasting! He would never take it for granted again. He thanked the spirit for showing him this vision, and just like that, he was back in his room.
When he woke the next morning, he brought his wife breakfast in bed, begged her forgiveness for his rude behavior, and Figaro and Susanna celebrated their marriage without any complications.
The Ghost of Opera Present
Otello was still pacing in his chambers when the clock struck two, and a large figure appeared covered in a green velvet cloak. With a joyous chuckle, the spirit led the brooding Otello out onto the streets of his city.
“Let me see me my wife, Desdemona,” Otello demanded. “Let me catch her with Cassio.”
The spirit did as instructed, but Desdemona was sighing over her husband’s distress to her maid, and Cassio was innocently enjoying his supper.
“How strange,” Otello said.
“I’ve got one more stop for us to make,” the spirit said.
They took Otello to Iago’s chamber, where Iago was cackling to himself and twirling his mustache.
“He’s fallen for it!” Iago monologued. “Otello believes the lie I have told him about Desdemona and Cassio! This will truly be his downfall!”
“Oh…” Otello sighed. “Got it. Thanks, Ghost of Opera Present.”
The spirit gave him a thumbs up and dropped him back in his bedroom. The next morning Iago was banished, Cassio was promoted, and everyone went on to live long and happy lives.
The Ghost of Opera Yet to Come
The clock struck three, and the Ghost of Opera Yet to Come appeared in Scarpia’s bedroom. It was a terrifying figure, tall and robed in a dark cloak. It beckoned Scarpia forward with a bony hand and he followed with fear.
The scene that unfolded was still in his apartment, but the beautiful Tosca was there. Scarpia watched in awe as his future self unveiled his plans to the woman. He would free her lover Cavaradossi if she gave herself to him. Tosca accepted the arrangement, and Scarpia was pleased to see how well his scheming would work out. However, he watched with horror as the woman stabbed him and life left his eyes. The meaning was clear: his future was death.
“Oh, Spirit!” Scarpia cried, turning to his dark escort. “Answer me one question: are these the shadows of the things that Will Be, or are they shadows of things that May Be, only?”
The Ghost of Opera Yet to Come said nothing but pointed at Scarpia’s future lifeless body.
“Maybe,” Scarpia said slowly, “I should not be blackmailing a woman to get her to sleep with me? Perhaps that is... a bad idea.”
The Ghost nodded solemnly.
With a snap of his fingers Scarpia found himself alone in his bedroom. He quickly packed all of his belongings and fled to the countryside, where he would never look at Tosca or Cavaradossi again for the rest of his days.
After their work was done, the the Three Ghosts of Opera removed their spirit cloaks. As they shed their costumes, the Three Ghosts of Christmas appeared.
“Thank you for letting us borrow those,” said The Ghost of Opera Yet to Come.
“Any time,” The Ghost of Christmas Present smiled. With matching bows, the three Christmas spirits disappeared.
Tosca pulled a bottle of wine from her cupboard and poured three glasses.
“Ladies,” Tosca said, addressing her compatriots. “Here’s to our long, happy, uncomplicated lives.”
“An excellent toast,” the Countess agreed.
“Here here,” Desdemona replied, raising her glass in appreciation.
And they all lived happily ever after. Opera bless us, every one!