The Unhappy Prince—an opera

For the overture imagine a clarinet a clarinet so long you have to stand on a ladder to play it and then imagine a loaf of bread and a waffle iron a clarinet you have to stand on a ladder to play and a waffle iron in the key of G# major and a loaf of bread the size of a piano a Steinway maybe or a Bosendorfer and the waffle iron in G# major announces the arrival of the Prince who has been hunting field mice in Lithuania and is cold and hungry from his unsuccessful efforts and now the court beautician joins in playing The Entrance of the Prince (Without a Mouse) on the great loaf of bread from which the Prince tears off small pieces to dip in a bowl of Claret several bottles of which his father the King removed from the cellars of the Count of Caravecchio whose entire family he (the King) murdered in a fit of pique over a croquet match gone sour meanwhile a large but dexterous pig trained at Julliard has climbed the ladder and is playing the clarinet however not in G# major which angers the waffle iron but the waffle iron does not allow the porcine reedist to ruffle its (the waffle iron’s) composure and adroitly transposes to G# minor when the Prince was a minor well a major prince but a minor kid he became fascinated with Lithuanian field mice and hence his recent excursion to that country for the purpose of meeting up with said rodents sadly (for the Prince) the rodents themselves every single one of them are vacationing on the Croatian coast near a band of insurance executives who came to explore an alternative lifestyle but find that they go into delirium tremens every time they are 39 inches or more away from their wallets or their major credit cards the rodents kindly suggest a 12-step program to help them (the insurance executives) overcome their addiction to which suggestion the insurance executives respond that the American people should fuck themselves and they (the insurance executives) return to their previous lives and pursue honorary degrees from Harvard Business School an institution whose sole purpose is to assure its students that they are smarter than everybody else and thus deserving of the profits from their crimes against humanity the departure of the insurance executives is a great relief to the proletarian Lithuanian field mice for they don’t cotton to oligarchs who are in addition to being members of the rape-pillage-plunder class stupefyingly dull Wallace Stevens notwithstanding while Lithuanian field mice in addition to their class consciousness are easily the most well-read and highly cultivated of all rodents and there’s nothing they appreciate more than the old give-and-take about Marx or Dostoyevsky in fact it was Lithuanian field mice who started the book group craze on cold winter nights they would come from all over the country to the capital of Lithuania which is not Rekyavik and gather inside the walls of bookshops for nightlong discussions of great works of philosophy and literature while competing with each other over who could bring the best bits of dessert and when as a minor the major Prince got wind of these Lithuanian field-mouse book clubs he was electrified and saw his chance at last to have a genuine meaningful conversation with someone because as is well known people who spend their lives hanging around palaces are not only completely useless they are also utterly brainless and insipid and by some freak of nature the Prince was born with a little more than half a brain making him an intellectual giant among his kind and it used to drive him nuts when all anybody he knew ever talked about was Necco wafers and horses with the names Botulism and Catarrh and on the day he finished reading Those Crazy Guys and Gals from Troy he said to no one in particular By Jove I’d love to have a good discussion about this book and was overheard by the guy who folded his burritos for him who turned out to be an amateur zoologist and told the Prince about the Lithuanian field mice and thence began the Prince’s lifelong quest every few weeks heading for the capital of Lithuania which is not Ulan Bator but so far he has been quite unlucky because each time he goes the Lithuanian field mice flee to Croatia for a vacation for they mistakenly but quite understandably believe that the Prince comes not to join them in their tête-á-tête-á-tête-á-tête-á-tête-á-têtes but to eat them for besides being the most intelligent of rodents they are also the most delicious and many’s the poor Lithuanian field mouselet who has grown up without a Mumsy or a Popsy because Mumsy and Popsy have been rounded up by the culinary minions of the ruling class and made into mousemeat pies available only in the finest most exclusive restaurants so the Lithuanian field mice hightail it to Croatia which is not Guniea-Bissau and our poor Prince returns to the palace once again without having engaged in meaningful dialogue and believes himself to be on the verge of going mad and in deep despair sings a hauntingly beautiful lament in G# major and/or minor accompanied by a whole wheat grand piano a waffle iron and a pig on a clarinet