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


"Playing on the nerve ends, Schelle's "The End of Al Capone" 
held its own between two landmark works by Peter Maxwell Davies, 
"Eight Songs for a Mad King" (1969) and "Miss Donnithorne's Maggot" (1974)."

Jay Harvey, Upstage        complete review here


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.



This piece is dedicated to those 'outlaws and outsiders' who have 
had and / or who have died from neurosyphilis, including:

Al Capone, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolph Hitler, Paul Gauguin, James Joyce, Christopher Columbus, Vincent (and
Theo) van Gogh, Scott Joplin, Charles Baudelaire, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Toulouse-Lautrec, Benito Mussolini, Howard Hughes, Gustave Flaubert, Bedrich Smetana, Edouard Manet, Frederich Nietzsche, Oscar Wilde, Hugo Wolf, Guy de Maupassant, Leo Tolstoy, Frederick Delius, Ivan the Terrible, Pope Alexander VI



Dress rehearsal :  Steven Stolen / Al Capone (L), and composer Michael Schelle


Steven Stolen (Al Capone), near the end of THE END OF AL CAPONE  (rehearsal)

some rehearsal audio  ....  CLICK HERE







Warsaw, Poland  -  May 2019

Jacek Szponarski (tenor), Al Capone

UMFC Modern Ensemble / Warsaw Chamber Opera
Uniwersytet Muzyczny Fryderyka Chopina

Ignacy Zalewski, music director and conductor
Mateusz Żaboklicki, stage director
Natalia Jarosiewicz, technical director

Mateusz Sowa, clarinet
Wiktora Krużyk, bass clarinet
Michał Ochab, tenor sax
Piotr Loranc, piano
Sabina Aftyka, accordion
Jan Gralla, percussion and electronics
Leszek Lorent, percussion
Daria Domachowska, violin
Piotr Rościszewski, cello
Marcin Rybiński, contrabass


on stage with Al Capone (Jacek Szponarski)
after the opening night production in Warsaw, Poland - May 6, 2019

w/ Capone and stage director Mateusz Żaboklicki

BIG hug for music director, conductor and dear friend
(and also great composer!)  Ignacy Zalewski

BELOW : link to the rough cut video recording of opening night

-  more Warsaw production photos - audio & video - coming soon  -