Dom Casmurro

by Machado de Assis

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IX - An Opera

He no longer had a voice, but he insisted that he had it. "The disuse is what makes me bad," he added. Whenever a new company arrived from Europe, it went to the impresario and exposed him to all the injustices of the earth and the sky; the businessman committeth another, and he went out to cry out against iniquity. He still had the mustaches on his papers. When he walked, he looked like an old man, he seemed to woo a Babylonian princess. Sometimes he would hum, without opening the mouth, some part even more so than he or so; Voices thus muffled are always possible. I came here for dinner with me a few times. One night, after much Chianti, he repeated to me the definition of custom, and as I told him that life could be such an opera, as a sea voyage or a battle, he shook his head and replied,

"Life is an opera and a great opera. The tenor and the barytono fight for the soprano, in the presence of the bass and the comprimarios, when they are not the soprano and the contralto that fight by the tenor, in presence of the same bass and the same comprimarios. Ha are numerous, many ballets, and the orchestration is excellent ...

"But, my dear Marcolini ..."


And after sipping a drink of liquor, he put down the calix, and exposed the history of creation, with words that I shall sum up.

God is the poet. The music is of Satanaz, young maestro of much future, that apprendido in the conservatory of the sky. Rival de Miguel, Raphael and Gabriel, did not tolerate the precedence that they had in the distribution of the prizes. It could also be that the music in too sweet and mystical of those other condiscipulos was abhorrent to its essentially tragic genius. He struck a rebellion that was discovered in time, and he was expelled from the conservatory. Everything would have passed without anything else, if God had not written a libretto of opera, which he had given up, to understand that such a genre of recreation was improper of its eternity. Satan took the manuscript with me to hell. In order to show that he was worth more than the others, -and perhaps to reconcile himself with the composer-the score, and as soon as it was finished, he was taken to the Eternal Father.

"Sir, I have not unpaid the licenses received," he said. Here you have the score, listen to it, amend it, make it perform, and if you find it worthy of the heights, I allowed myself with it at your feet ...

"No," replied the Lord, "I do not want to hear anything.

"But, Lord ..."

-Anything! anything!

Satan supplicated, without better fortune, until God, weary and full of mercy, consented that the opera be performed, but it was from heaven. He created a special theatro, this planet, and invented an entire company, with all parts, primaries and comprimarias, comedians and dancers.

"I've heard a few rehearsals!"

"No, I do not want to know about rehearsals. It is enough for me to have composed the libretto; I'm ready to share the copyright with you.

It was perhaps an evil this refusal; This led to some disconcerts which the prior audience and friendly collaboration would have avoided. As a matter of fact, there is a place where the verse goes to the right and the song to the left. There is no shortage of people who say that in this very thing is the beauty of the composition, fleeing monotony, and so explain the Tettotus of Eden, the aria of Abel, the courts of the guillotine and slavery. It is not uncommon for the same bids to reproduce without sufficient reason. Certain motives abound with the force of repetition. There are also obscurities; the maestro abuses the weeping masses, often masking the meaning in a confused way. The orchestra parts are treated with great skill. Such is the opinion of the impartials.

The master's friends want it so difficult to find such a well-finished work. One or the other admits certain rudeness and such or such gaps, but with the gait of the opera it is probable that these are fulfilled or explained, and those disappear entirely, not refusing the master to amend the work where he thinks he does not respond at all to the thought sublime of the poet. Friends of this one no longer say the same. They swear that the libretto was sacrificed, that the score corrupted the meaning of the letter, and, since it is beautiful in some places, and worked with art in others, it is absolutely different and even contrary to the drama. The grotesque, for example, is not in the poet's text; is an excrescence to imitate the Merry Wives of Windsor. This point is disputed by Satanists with some apparent reason. They are told that, at the time when young Satan composed the great opera, neither this fake nor Shakespeare were born. They even affirm that the English poet had no other genius than to transcribe the letter of the opera with such art and fidelity that he seems to himself the author of the composition; but of course he is a plagiarist.

This piece," concluded the old tenor, "will last as long as the theater lasts, and it will not be possible to calculate at what time it will be demolished by astronomical utility. Success is increasing. Poet and musician receive their authoritative rights punctually, which are not the same, because the rule of division is that of the Scripture: "Many are called, few chosen." God receives in gold, Satanaz in paper.

-It's funny...

-Grace? he cried with fury; but he quieted at once, and replied, "Dear James, I am not amused; I am a horror of grace. What I say is pure and ultimate truth. One day, when all the books are burned for unfaithfulness, there must be someone, maybe tenor, and perhaps Italian, who teaches this truth to men. Everything is music, my friend. In the beginning it was the do, and the do was made back, etc.

This calix (and filled it again) this calix is ​​a brief refrain. Do not you hear? Also you can not hear the stick or the stone, but everything fits in the same opera ...


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