In Trump-inspired opera parody, it ain’t over until the third wife sings
It ain’t over until the third wife sings. And yes, her name is Melania.
“The Drumf and the Rhinegold,” by composer Matti Kovler, is a Donald Trump-inspired parody of Richard Wagner’s “Ring” cycle. To be presented at the Boston New Music Festival kick-off concert at Oberon in Cambridge on Nov. 2, the short operatic satire follows three Rhinemaidens, water-nymphs named Ivana, Marla, and Melania, as they attempt to take down an evil overlord who stole the mystical Rhinegold, which bestows world domination upon its owner.
The overlord’s name? You guessed it — Drumf.
“I’ve been following Trump for a while and being terribly upset about what’s happening in this country,” said Kovler, a rising composer whose work has been commissioned by Tanglewood Music Center and Carnegie Hall. “I just thought that the Wagnerian angle is a great way to ridicule Trump in a way that actually resonates with the gestalt of what he is.”
One striking feature of Kovler’s opera is that the power-hungry Drumf is left snoring throughout. The entire story is told from the perspective of his three wives, each of whom has spent 15 years with the overlord. We are introduced to the tale on the last day of Melania’s cycle at Drumf Tower, as she struggles to discern the Rhinegold from the rest of Drumf’s golden belongings. As she despairs, her tears fall on his tuft of golden hair. The tuft begins to sing — why wouldn’t it? — and it’s made apparent that the Rhinegold has been hidden in it all along.
“Melania is panicking. She doesn’t know what to do with herself,” Kovler said. “She cuts the hair off Drumf’s head, and as soon as she does this, the hair soars into the air while Drumf loses his human shape and turns back into the dwarf he initially was.”
The 15-minute opera concludes with the five characters — Drumf, the three Rhinemaidens, and the hair — flying out the window and toward the Rhine River. Melania stands on the shore, golden hair in hand, while Drumf is pulled into the Rhine and left to fend for himself.
“The Drumf and the Rhinegold” is produced by Juventas New Music Ensemble and Floating Tower, a multimedia production company Kovler launched in 2014 while at Boston University’s Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies. It was formulated at New York’s BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, in collaboration with playwright Tasha Gordon-Solmon. Doug Fitch will direct the production, which will be performed first in New York, Oct. 30-31.
“You can certainly see instances where high art is used to make a political statement,” Kovler said. “But in this case, I wouldn’t look at this as just a political statement. It’s an artistic piece that was just inspired by the very unusual political situation in this country.”
The Drumf and the Rhinegold
At Oberon, Cambridge, Nov 2. Tickets: $12-$15. www.americanrepertorytheater.org/oberon