Colin Raff’s Torpid Slivers

The static image above illustrates Héaussel’s La Jellionidonippe, Act III, Scenes iv-vii.

Here the story shifts focus to Grunduline, who, having sung an air describing her flight from the convent, arrives in Vadtstul to find her groom-to-be embracing her mother — whose enormous headdress explodes (before any note of outrage can be sung) into a flock of doves, one bearing a letter for Grunduline. It bids her to embark, alone and blindfolded, for the lagoon island of Silvuntianno in a self-propelled gondola that drifts onstage to receive her.

As the craft nears the rocky shore, Grunduline is whisked to safety by a pair of maiden-sized sawfly nymphs who unveil her eyes and declare her the secret Queen of the Were-Sawflies. All she need do now is masticate an enormous acanthus leaf and spit it up into a special goblet (both provided by her new companions) to become heir to a vast fortune and an ancient title.

This scene is spied upon by none other than Pinizet, still in monkey form, who remarks in his celebrated arioso (“O, those mandibles”) that Grunduline’s change of fortune will not mitigate the tragedy that awaits her descendants, nor is it sufficient to excuse her uncle’s architectural creativity.

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