This bit of whimsy was inspired by listening to Count Stankar’s 3rd Act recitative and aria (“Disonorato io son!” and “Oh gioia inesprimibile”) in Stiffelio.
Argument: In Acts I & II, Count Ammazarlo, learning that Baron Scellerato said hello to Innocenza, the count’s daughter, without first having been properly introduced, considers all aspects of the outrage for almost a full minute before concluding that there is only one way (other than immediate suicide) to deal with such an insult. Accordingly, he accosts the baron at a party and, after hinting at his disapproval of the baron’s conduct by boxing his ears, spitting on his shoes, and pouring punch all over his doublet, he challenges him to a duel. The duel is duly fought (offstage), after which the Count appears on stage and sings:
Justice! Justice! I have found it! Halleluia! Praise the Lord!
Surely ‘twas the hand of Heaven that directed my sharp sword:
As we parried, thrust, recovered, as we fought with might and main
I soon chopped him into fragments that now decorate the plain.
Oh the remnants of his person have been scattered far and wide
Once my blade went in his liver and came out the other side.
So the honor of my family is restored to pristine state
Now that Baron Scellerato can be henceforth called “the late.”
My sweet daughter, Innocenza, I’ve protected all her life
For I’ve never met a man who could deserve to call her “wife.”
And a father has a duty to keep libertines in line.
(She is only fifty-seven and I’m only eighty-nine.)
In some countries family problems might be taken up in courts
With the lawyers and the judges scribbling stuff ‘bout pleas and torts—
But down here in fair Italia we despise mere feeble prose
And defend all slights to honor by just carving up our foes.
Count Ammazarlo then hastens to church to ask pardon for any recent peccadilloes.