As the following scenario was is based upon true, and well-known, events, the opera was abandoned out of fear for a libel action.
The Paris Opera
SCENE ONE: A Hotel Lobby and Bar, Paris, April 5th, 1965
J., a music critic, has fallen out of favor with his editor and has been abandoned by his lover and benefactor. Now, being unable to pay his bill, he finds he cannot check out of the Hotel. The Hotel’s desk clerk is constantly following him, suggesting that he make a partial payment. He is also being pursued by a German composer, angry about J.’s last review. J. hides out in the bar, where he gets caught in conversation: with a mercenary colonel just back from a short-lived coup on a distant island, with a gentleman seeking investors in a perpetual motion machine, with a mysterious blond woman, with a elderly couple who have retired to the Isle of Man for tax purposes, and with a pair of students arguing over the reconciliation of Marx with Bourbaki. For one reason or another, it seems that each of the guests shares J.’s inability to leave the Hotel. The bartender, an exile Cuban who had once been a cameraman for a surrealist filmmaker, listens with sympathy and then describes the perfect cocktail.
The clerk and the composer chase J., who makes a quick escape into the Hotel’s elevator. The stage rotates to reveal the inside of the lift.
SCENE TWO: The Hotel Elevator, moments later.
J. enters the elevator with the operator, finding that he has joined an elderly woman with a small dog and a man of indefinite age in dark glasses. There is a sudden power outage, the elevator stops between floors, words and knives are exchanged, someone expires, and the dog facilitates a rescue. J. is silent throughout this scene.
The stage rotates again and we find ourselves in:
SCENE THREE: J.’s room, later.
In the safety of his Hotel room, J. ponders possible income sources, some forgotten rules of counterpoint, and strategies for escaping the hotel. He contemplates calling the desk and having iced water with lime juice sent to his room, but reconsiders. There are knocks on his door. Is it the lost lover, his disappointed editor, the angry composer, or the Hotel manager? The knocks send him into reveries about good food and the sarabande. He wonders why Europeans have never taken to playing baseball. Loud splashing sounds give J. the impression that some large marine mammal has occupied his bath. The telephone rings. The knocking begins again. Two window washers, like angels, slowly descend on a platform outside his window. They beckon to him, offering a route of escape. He declines, politely, and decides, finally, to surrender to whomever has come to the door.
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