mono-opera / mono-drama for singer / actor
and chamber ensemble by Michael Schelle
Concept, Story, Text, Music and Stage Design by Michael Schelle
Text(s): by Michael Schelle (and brief excerpts of various Capone correspondences)
Commissioned by ArtsFest 2015 : Outlaws and Outsiders
World Premiere Production personnel:
AL CAPONE : Steven Stolen
Kevy Bailey, clarinet, Jay Young, bass clarinet
Heidi Radtke, tenor sax, Catherine Bringerud, piano
Jon Crabiel, percussion and electronics
Davis Brooks, violin, Kurt Fowler, cello
Vu Nguyen, orchestra conductor
Laura Glover, lighting designer
William Fisher, production director
World Premiere Production : 16 April 2015
Schrott Center for the Performing Arts
Jordan College of the Arts / Butler University
Indianapolis, IN USA
Set / Lighting design: claustrophobic / cheap hotel room - a large bed,
and three large pieces of furniture: (ex. dresser, bedside
table, wash stand, etc.) … Props include
1930’s table lamp, large cigars, cigar boxes, an old beat up suitcase, violin (tommygun!) case, a gangster hat, many shoes /
slippers, chewing gum. Lighting is dim and
dingy, but through the ‘window’ is a
flashing neon sign from the illegal booze bar / strip club ‘across the street'
... adding to the stress, tension and paranoia, the sign (or abstract image of the sign) flashes
/ pulses throughout the piece (even during the curtain calls) and after everyone has left the set after applause.
Time / place / character: 1946 / 47: the last year of Al Capone’s life. After 7 years in Alcatraz, and suffering from
25+ years of untreated syphilis, Public Enemy No. 1 is yesterday’s news, the neurosyphilis has ‘gone to his head’.
Al “Scarface” Capone is a total nervous wreck. He suffers from dementia, schizophrenia, he is paranoid, neurotic, bipolar and yet occasionally nostalgic, but with the mental capacities of a 12 year old – in constant fear that his old rival Chicago gangs are ‘out to get him’ (even though they’re all dead at this point) - imaginary killers haunt him.
Disoriented, he lacks mental and physical coordination - he skips abruptly from subject to unrelated subject, babbling and mumbling as he stumbles and chatters. Physical manifestations of his disease include tremors, twitches, ticks, epilepsy - like seizures, an ‘awkward gait’, slurred (to virtually unintelligible) speech and violent explosive temper tantrums.
Rather than roots in traditional opera and music theatre, THE END OF AL CAPONE is far more influenced by the surreal, dada, abstract and expressionistic works of Marcel Duchamp, Samuel Beckett, Franz Kafka, Tristan Tzara, Luigi Pirandello, August Strindberg, Alfred Jarre, John Cage, Luciano Berio, Peter Maxwell Davies, Fritz Lang, etc.
Vincent (and Theo) van GoghScott Joplin, Charles Baudelaire, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann,
Bedrich Smetana, Edouard Manet, Frederich Nietzsche, Oscar Wilde, Hugo Wolf, Toulouse-Lautrec,
Benito Mussolini, Howard Hughes, Gustave Flaubert, Guy de Maupassant, Leo Tolstoy,
Frederick Delius, Ivan the Terrible, Pope Alexander VI …
Steven Stolen (Al Capone), near the end of THE END OF AL CAPONE (rehearsal)