A cutlass between his teeth, linen shirt open
to his navel, the lusty brigand as imagined
by our hitherto forgotten composer
betrays a hint of Rossini, remembered weaving
down the boulevard from bistro to bordello
dribbling absinthe on his paisley scarf.

A brash emancipator, the King of the Bandits
is likewise in the spirit of Mozart, a rebel
obliged to wear wig and garter at court,
bowing to Budapest’s syphilitic elite,
dusting off his chryselephantine clavichord,
holding (contra Liberace) a working candelabra.

State censors confine mockery to the opera house –
Rhine maidens in drag, Valkyrie in harem garb –
and the audience laughs at jokes Verdi once told,
applauds when the tenor wails in flawless frenzy.
During intermission the sounds drift out of sync
and you can feel the subway beneath your feet.

On the rain-slick street we wave competitively
for cabs to whisk us away to condos uptown.
We await the reviews to form a final opinion
but agree the soprano was simply ravishing.
With a new production of Tosca promised
we need to book tickets well in advance.

Douglas Smith, formerly a teacher of Anthropology at York University, is a homeopathic physician.and author of several books on alternative medicine. It is claimed (although Dissident Voice has no proof of this!) that Doug and his partner grow the best garlic in Haliburton County. Read other articles by Douglas.