Opera Template by J. Paul Dutterer

Seduce a peasant. If you do not know what a peasant looks like, seek a woman with an expression of superhuman purity, probably wearing a kerchief, an apron, and maybe even wooden shoes. Find out that she is your archenemy’s sister. Vow undying love anyway. Arrange to be surprised in the act by someone, preferably her indignant father, or no—a haughty landowner who has also fallen in love with her. Either way, he must have a mustache. Fight a duel with aluminum swords, and if you kill him, you must flee with your lover (oh, the click-clack of her heels) and disguise yourselves as gypsies, shepherds, or nuns. It really doesn’t matter, because you will be found. Stage another fight, but resist the urge to triumph. If you prefer to avoid another battle, stab yourself instead. The undying love was certainly beautiful for a while there, but it is important that you die anyway. The peasant girl will probably do something regrettable as well. The challenge is to sing regardless. All of this is much more difficult than it seems, so bend at the waist and treasure the applause.


J. Paul Dutterer‘s work has appeared at Right Hand Pointing, White Knuckle Press, and the 2020 edition of Maintenant. He lives near Baltimore with his family.

Photo by Zoran Borojevic