…the name’s Arbate. Giacomo Arbate.
[My excuse for this post: Eh, Agathe gave me a prescription for cough meds? (also, I promised). This is just some good-natured Bond fun with the Brussels “Mitridate”. Proceed at your own risk. – If you find all the Bond Girl/Bond Villain references, I will buy you a martini next time you’re in town.]
Since I do not want to tag the individual images (this is not really a post related to opera critique), here’s the overall cast list, and if you ended up here because you were looking for actual information on the 2016 “Mitridate” production at La Monnaie in Brussels staged by le lab, feel free to check out the liveblog and the aftershow review thread (for more screencap fun, see Aspasia’s Diary).
Giacomo Arbate – The Hunt for Legato Game
[based on screencaps of the 2016 Brussels “Mitridate”, featuring Michael Spyres (Mitridate), Lenneke Ruiten (Aspasia), Myrtò Papatanasiu (Sifare), Simona Šaturová (Ismene), David Hansen (Farnace), Sergey Romanovsky (Marzio) and – in the role of Bond – Yves Saelens (Arbate)]
The name’s Arbate. Giacomo Arbate.
I’m with LM6 (La Monnaie 6. It used to be MI6, but things between Brussels and London at the moment… well.)
This is a glimpse into my life as a suave tenor super agent
(my predecessor, Jaël Bond, unfortunately fell victim to casting choices in the line of duty) and my missions, which are full of action, wry one-liners and impeccable wardrobe…
…and adventures with beautiful women.
*sigh.* Not quite.
Actually, my job is to run this kindergarten:
Sifare over there, stop throwing a tantrum. – Farnace, get your feet off the armrest and sit down properly. And stop staring at Aspasia’s backside! – And Aspasia Amasova? Stop telling on the others!
And they’re not the only ones I have to wrangle:
“I really want you to be my Best Man, Moneypenny! We can throw the bachelor party on a remote island! With a volcano!”
Oh dear. Not the wedding again. (I don’t think Moneypenny will be willing to be your Best Man unless you seriously rethink your choices for the bridesmaids’ dresses. Just a thought.)
This is M.
(Unfortunately, he writes my paycheck.) He has some anger management issues, and believes he is in charge. He also has a fondness for underground party bunkers on remote islands. All he wants these days is getting married.
Marzio Jaws. He also believes he is in charge. Actually owns a remote island with an underground bunker. Tends to linger in meetings that deal with nuclear weaponry. Blinding smile.
Ms. Ismene Moneypenny. She actually *is* in charge around here. Owns more pantsuits than Hillary and Angela combined. Collects ex-membership countries like others collect ex-lovers, and loves to stack their flags into her martinis (she stirs them, though).
Farnace. Gets by on good looks and diplomatic immunity. Has been to more parties than political meetings and has the biggest number of Facebook fans of anyone on the Brussels circuit. The amount of time and resources I’ve already spent getting his incriminating selfies off social media is alarming. (He’s hell to handle with the press).
Sifare, Farnace’s tomboy sibling. Good at soulful staring and social guerrilla activism. Possibly once fronted a teenage boyband. The amount of time and resources I’ve already spent bailing them out of custody after protests gone wrong is alarming. (They’re hell to handle with the press).
Aspasia, the Princess Bride. She has a temper, and sizable trade deals in her briefcase. Got engaged to M after a wild yacht party off New Caledonia (maraschino cherries were involved). The continued prosperity of the Pontus economy (and my paycheck) hinges on her marrying M.
(M also hopes for a permanent vacation home on a cozy Greek island, where he can build a volcano and an underground bunker.)
Mission notes, May 2016:
Something is amiss. Aspasia is smiling too much. Genuinely smiling. Even though she does not like underground bunkers. She has missed various trade meetings and when she is present, she is smiling absently at her phone.
She must have met someone else. This jeopardizes the wedding!
New mission for the sake of the Crown of Pontus: find and neutralize the rival. Giacomo Arbate to the rescue!
First step: consult with Eve (codename: My Favorite Assistant).
[I’ve been meaning to ask her out to dinner for weeks]
[note to self: edit this out of the mission protocol.]
“What? Destroy Troy 2.0 is seeing someone else? – Just let me hack her phone…”
(did I mention Eve is my favorite?)
Aspasia enters the current meeting late and with sunglasses. I am unable to ascertain whether the reason is a hangover or lack of sleep. (additional note: she is wearing a shawl around her neck despite mild temperatures. Hm.)
A. keeps staring absently ahead [assumed “daydreaming”. Worrisome!].
At least this way it is easy to “borrow” her phone for a few minutes.
Task accomplished. (Asset A. keeps staring off into space)
Contacting Q about password-cracking software —
“Just let me try this one out… ***********. – Okay, we’re in. – Downloading data!”
“Eve? How did you do that?”
“I *am* Q, actually. – But also, ‘cadenza_queen’ was kind of obvious.”
Findings: no incriminating photo evidence (mainly family photos of Mitridate and his children. Nothing suspicious.). No incriminating text messages, though she keeps talking to a ‘Legato Game’ about…cadenzas?
Calendar: two evening meetings at the summit canceled (but she said she had urgent phone conferences!) in favor of ‘Dinner, Legato Game’. (who needs four hours for a dinner?) Then ‘Nightcap. Legato Game.’ — ‘Breakfast w/ LG.’ ??!!
“…what is this Legato Game?”
“A secret project? A carefully planned strike against Pontus economy?! “
“Giacomo, there’s not enough economy to even warrant a strike.”
(Eve has a point. And if this wedding doesn’t take place, the economy will suffer further!).
“…what if Legato Game is not a secret project, but the secret lover?”
“— Quick! Put it back! She has noticed something!”
“Wait, didn’t I put my phone into my purse this morning…?”
Who is Legato Game?
Must organize surveillance and keep an eye on all men who approach Aspasia. Then find out where she made dinner reservations.
[note to self: make some reservations on my own and finally ask Eve out]
“What am I hearing? The engagement between Aspasia and M. is on the rocks?”
“I have everything under control, Ismene. We already have clues about her secret lover —“
“You’re telling me that the Pontus/Greece trade deal is at risk because Vesper Lyric there can’t keep it in her pants?!”
“… so I’m happy to announce I’ve finally picked out a wedding date for Aspasia and myself, and of course the trade deal…”
(Mission Notes: oh dear.)
“Arbate! Does M. have any idea what is going on?”
“Do you have any idea who this Legato Game is?”
“Just keep smiling. And get me some answers!”
The one who keeps smiling is Aspasia. (she has been staring at her phone again)
Incoming text from I. Moneypenny:
“Arbate: if this Legato Game causes our Xenia Singontopp to smile like *that*, get me their number once you find them!”
[filed under: ‘things I really did not need to know’ – I am not getting paid enough to organize Moneypenny’s love life on the side.]
“Sharks. I need a trade deal on sharks. With laser beams on their heads. And then I’ll cause a subterranean flooding and take out the entire headquarters! Gill sushi! Mwhahahaaa!”
[note to security: who let Jaws into the Animal Control panel again?]
Surveillance in progress.
M has pulled Sifare aside (who was, no doubt, en route to another sit-in or protest).
“I finally settled on a theme. We can hire a blindfolded mariachi band! Look, here are my designs for the bridesmaid’s dresses!”
(now there is someone else staring off into space! Is this contagious?)
Just caught up with Farnace.
“Arbate, my man! Have you seen my entry for ‘Brussels’ most eligible Bachelor’? – The photo has gone viral!”
“Farnace! How will I ever scrub that off the net again?”
“But you have to admit I look good in that get-up.”
“Out of it is more like it. Christ.- What did I ever do to deserve this?”
“But I’ve been meaning to talk to both of you. I need your help in avoiding a national crisis in Pontus. Take one for your country! The trade deal and your father’s engagement are threatened—“
“What’s going on? Is this about the underground volcano budget again?”
“It seems that Aspasia has, uhm, been seeing someone else —“
“Nooo! Coloratura Jones is stepping out on Daddy Dearest? – Is there press coverage already?”
“The wedding is at risk! Do I need to mention what will happen to your trust funds if the economy tanks?!”
“What do you need us to do?”
“Your father is clueless, as usual. And you both get along well with Aspasia. So, be a little extra nice and try to get the name out of her! – And distract her from the mystery man. Invite her to dinner. Take her dancing. Flirt, if must be!”
“You want us to do… what?!”
“You want me to hit on Aspasia? – Seriously?”
“I don’t know what’s so funny about that. Especially you should help out here! You’re mild-mannered… harmless…”
“Harmless, riiiight. I’d guard the shores of Greece a little better if I were you, Arbate. And keep an eye out on Leonardo Dacapo there.”
“I’ll give you some Dacapo —“
“Stop it, kids! – What’s that supposed to mean, even?”
“Arbate. Have you actually heard Sifare sing sometime? – Anyway. I’m in. Take one for the country, right?”
“And can I count on you, too, Sifare? – It’s for the good of the country and the throne. She is our future queen!”
“Never be it said I’m not willing to serve my country, under any queen.”
Mission Notes, Operation ‘Hunt for Legato Game’:
Farnace is participating in the meeting on shore regulations for a change. Somehow, I am not imagining this to go over well.
Protocol of recorded conversation:
[Farnace]”So, Elektra Sing… How about you and I take a stroll by the moonlight around those deserted islands of yours, for a cadenza or two?”
(oh dear. This is even worse than I feared. I hope the other sibling is a little more suave.)
“And over there, an access slots for turtles. Hypnotized turtles! With mutated teeth, and missile carriers on their backs… and then I’ll run over the main hall. Diplomat’s goulash for every cartilaginous reptile! Bwahahahaaaa!”
Mission Notes, Operation ‘Hunt for Legato Game’:
Sifare has been approaching the target (note to tech staff: the microphones don’t seem to be working. Please look into the disturbances. This is Brussels, you’d think everything is properly bugged!).
In under a minute, Aspasia is smiling. Good. (Interesting smile, too. They’re probably talking about fashion tips? Or favorite actors? …Soccer stars?)
Thanks to the efforts of Sifare and myself, Operation ‘Hunt for Legato Game’ is well underway. Time for a martini!
Negotations of the marriage contract can resume and Pontus will be safe. Suffering through a theme wedding with a fake mariachi band and everyone in oversized sombreros will be a relatively small price to pay. (note to self: perhaps I can convince Moneypenny to organize me some extra work shift that day?)