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November 15, 2005, 5:38 pm

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Phantom Serpent, by Signore Anlar Parlat

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Among the Centasi, especially those of the northern regions (a peculiar debased form of opera is performed among the islands of the north of which we shall not speak), there is no more beloved, ancient, and respected art than opera, that wondrous blending of theater, song, and orchestra. And there are no more respected composers of opera among the Centasi, whether ancient or contemporary opera, than the late masters Signore Anlar Parlat and Don Hazhizhab Takl. Their masterpieces, Phantom Snake and Don Han, respectively, are iconic to all Centasi.

Phantom Serpent, by Signore Anlar Parlat
The masterpiece of the renowned opera composer Anlar Parlat, and one of the only works to survive the tragic fire which slew him, Phantom Serpent (or, more formally, the Tragedies of Emmia and Phantom Serpent) is the tale of mysterious events occuring in an playhouse of the Old Kingdom which is the entire setting of the opera.
The main character, the beautiful Emmia, is a young singer in the chorus of the playhouse, whose singing talents overshadow those of the playhouse’s prima donna, the arrogant Avluttia. One of the producers of the playhouse, Menclai, discovers that he has fallen in love with Emmia, and gives Emmia the starring role in a new play, where she is to sing a magnificent aria. Emmia’s beautiful voice also catches the attention of the playhouse’s secret owner, the bizarre and mysterious Phantom Serpent (a genius who is a master of Old Kingdom architecture, music, philosophy, and design; every year, the producers of the plays in the house pay him a salary of 6,000 lucreti and allow him a private box for the viewing of all plays). Phantom Serpent abducts Emmia into the vast, shadowy underworld of his lair, a partially flooded maze in which he hides his deformity.
Emmia discovers that Phantom Serpent has been watching her since her childhood, and has fallen in love with her. However, when the mysterious man removes his dark armor and cape, he is revealed to be a deformed lie of nature, a man with the scaled skin and fangs of a serpent. Emmia flees him in terror, becoming lost in the catacombs. Phantom Serpent, enraged and heartbroken, pursues her and himself becomes lost.
On the stage above, Menclai becomes frantic, searching for Emmia, and knows that the mysterious master of the playhouse has taken her. He discovers one of Phantom Serpent’s trapdoors and proceeds into the dark catacomb.
Emmia, Menclai, and Phantom Snake all wander through the catacomb, following each other in circles, only able to hear the voices of the others. Eventually, Phantom Snake becomes insane, and, encountering Menclai, attacks him. They battle; Phantom Serpent is killed, but gives out a dark curse before he dies. Menclai is mortally wounded. Emmia finds him, and falls down beside him. He gives her one last kiss and one final request- that she sing for him the aria of the play. She begins to sing, just as Avluttia on the stage above does; Emmia’s vastly superior aria, heightened by the heights of her sorrow, overshadows Avluttia’s voice.
The end of the opera sees Emmia lying down alongside the dying Menclai, and Avluttia being honored as the greatest singer and actress ever to have graced the stage.
It is to be noted that frequently, contemporary productions of this play have made Avluttia a more sympathetic character by making her envious of Emmia and despairing of ever gaining such skill. Also of note is the fact that the scene in which Phantom Serpent explains his origins is probably a later addition, possibly by a different author, because it contains references to political events (such as the Orange Navy Fiasco) which were not common knowledge when Parlat wrote the opera. Finally, the original costume which Parlat advised for Emmia has become so iconic that it is almost cartoon shorthand for a beautiful, innocent woman (a black girdle, white blouse, and a single yellow, ruffled skirt), and something of a metaphor for a woman who is unaware of her sexual attractiveness.



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Comments ( 3 )
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Michael Jotne Slayer
November 22, 2005, 18:18
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I like this version of the Phantom of the Opera. The part about the scales and the Phantom himself getting lost was really good. But it's a little too static for me. A more poetic approach might be better.

Voted Michael Jotne Slayer
November 22, 2005, 18:19
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Voted valadaar
October 30, 2007, 14:02
0xp
Of two minds on this one. It is a neat idea, a take on the Phantom of the opera as MJS said. That said, I would have a difficult time using this, except as a piece of background detail.


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