Friday, December 10, 2010
Bravo, Don Willie!
“I guess he [Clinton] slept with every woman in Arkansas except you.” . . . “Sorry,” [Norris Mailer] replied. “I’m afraid he got us all.”
Which leads me to my beef with Billy Blythe, the one-act opera (so far just for voice and piano) that debuted in fragments on November 19 at the Women’s City Club in Little Rock. (No new performances as of this writing) Composed by Arkansas natives Bonnie Montgomery and librettist Brit Barber, the opera distills a day in the life of young Bill at 15, shedding light on the tangos and imbroglios of the troubled Blythe/Clinton household. Highlights include Willie’s confrontation with his alcoholic step-father and the future president’s contemplation of his mother’s stratigraphic application of makeup.
Don’t get me wrong—my sympathies are with those who seek the cosmos in a grain of sand, but any opera that trains a psycho-historical micro-lens on William Jefferson Clinton is missing the point: Mr. Clinton and his supersized appetites—from belles to books to burgers--are made to order for the grandest of grand opera. More to the point, hasn’t Willie proved his worth as the Don Giovanni of our times?
Hail, to the Don. The Don transcends all cultures, all eras—he is an archetype among Homo sapiens. In this, Clinton is a lock—a gift to any enterprising composer or librettist. Some Wig & Pen suggestions: Build febrile momentum by cherry picking among pregubernatorial razorback belles, Troopergate dalliances, and subsequent action in the Federal Triangle. Cast roles for Donna Paula, Donna Jennifer Fiori and Donna Monika.
Kenneth Starr is made to order for Satan: a devil who will FAIL. Who will twinkle as Willie’s Leporello? Not the sanctimonious Al Gore, who ditched the tottering Clintonian loveboat of state. But let’s bring him back for the final scene, when Willy and Donna Hillary walk hand in hand along a Martha’s Vineyard beach—while 400 miles south, on a Virginia strand, a supersized Al Gore ambles alone.