The Superbowl as Opera? : Gli Ariete

Prologue: The TWA Dome. A chorus of St. Louisans bemoans their lack of a professional football team since the departure of the Cardinals, and the resulting emptiness of their lives. (Chorus: “Non e sopportabile, che miseria.”)

Enter Georgia (mezzo-soprano) to announce that she will bring the Rams to the Gateway City. (Aria: “Sperate, o figli! Gli Arieti arrivano!”) There is general rejoicing (Chorus: “Gloria a Georgia e gli Arieti!”) and Georgia is carried out of the stadium on the shoulders of the grateful crowd.

Act I, Scene 1:
Years later, the Dome. The Rams have come to St. Louis at great expense, but keep losing. The fans are restive, the press dismissive. (Chorus of cheerleaders and football players: “Siamo perduti! Ohime!”)

Enter Coach Riccardo (baritone) to give a pep talk. (Aria: “Coraggiosi! Audaci! O forti!”). The chorus is unmoved and accuses him of incompetence. (Chorus: “Tu, pazzo! Sia maledetto!”) Riccardo promptly goes mad; as usual in these affairs this is the occasion for a particularly long and florid scena. (Aria: “Cardinali . . . Arieti . . . Delphini . . . Orsi . . . tutto il giardino zoologico mi tormenta!”) Curtain.

Scene 2: Georgia’s office. Georgia wonders how to pull the team out of its slump. (Aria: “Vieni, idea!”) Enter Kurto (tenor), the last-string quarterback, with his wife, Brenda (soprano). Kurto convinces Georgia that, given the chance, he can lead the Rams to victory. (Aria: “Signora, ascolta!”) Georgia agrees to let him try. (Trio: “E perche no?”) Exit Georgia. Kurto and Brenda affirm their love. (Duet: “O futbol adorato del mio core.”)

Act II, Scene 1: The Dome. Riccardo has been restored to sanity by the revelation that Kurto is a really good quarterback. Using unorthodox strategies that came to him while over the edge, he has coached the Rams to victory, and now they are bound for the Super Bowl. To celebrate, the receiver Isacco (tenor), running back Marshallo (baritone), and lineman Kevino (bass) sing a drinking song about kicking the other teams’ butts. (Trio brindisi with men’s chorus: “Avanti, pestate i Pirati di Tampa Bay”)

Enter Stephano (bass), the opposing quarterback, sneering. He tells the Rams that he is not only fleet of foot but a very bad dude indeed. (Aria: “Son rapido, e son un malfattore.”) He challenges Kurto to a duel, but Kurto says that they will meet upon the field of battle. (Scena: “Morte ai Titani! Sangue! Vendetta!”)

Scene 2: The night before the game, Brenda’s hotel room (because you have to give the soprano a big scene, and how else are you going to do it in an opera about football?). Brenda reflects on her love for Kurto and for the Rams, and prays for his safety and a glorious victory. (Aria and caballetta: “O Dio mio . . . dateci un dono tremendo.”)

Act III, Scene 1: The Georgia Dome. The crowd eagerly awaits the coming game. (Chorus: “O splendide feste.”) Riccardo tells the team they “gotta go to work” (Arietta: “Hai-ho, hai-ho”) as they assemble themselves upon the field. The Titans sing glumly about how much they hate their name and resent being stuck in Tennessee, after the glory of being Houston Oilers. (Chorus of tenors: “E un nome stupido, e la patria e un hicksville”)

The Football Ballet (a choreographed spectacle of dancing and singing players, cheerleaders, referees, print journalists, TV sportscasters and marching band) follows. The score is tied in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter.

Suddenly Stephano emerges from a scrimmage and repeats his challenge to Kurto. They fight. All seems lost when Kevino appears and sacks the enemy. Kurto throws a stunning pass to Isacco, who makes the winning touchdown. Brenda and Georgia run onto the field and embrace Kurto. A grand triumphal scene and vocal free-for-all ring down the curtain (Septet and chorus: “Gloria, gloria, siam’ tutti felici e feriti”). Fine.

THE RAMS: THE OPERA By Sarah Bryan Miller Post-Dispatch Classical Music Critic copyright 2000 – St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Reprinted with permission.

Editor’s Note: This piece was written before the Super Bowl. Given her clairvoyance, Ms. Miller should consider stock-picking, weather forecasting or gambling as an alternate career path.