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    Last Savage, The

    Santa Fe Opera

    Overview

    Menotti’s “grand opera buffa” follows an ambitious young Vassar anthropologist on her journey to capture the last savage. She succeeds, they fall in love, and both discover that American 1960s suburbia is far more savage than life in the jungle. Anna Christy and Daniel Okulitch star in this quirky “Mad Men” era piece.

    July 23, 27; August 5, 11, 18, 25

    Synopsis

    Composed by Gian Carlo Menotti

    Sung in English

    ACT I
    Scene 1 - The Palace of the Maharajah of Rajaputana, near the Himalayas.
    Mr. Scattergood, an American millionaire, and his daughter Kitty are guests of the Maharajah in his lavish oriental palace. Kitty, a student of anthropology, is supposedly there to capture the last savage, the topic of her graduation thesis. The true reason is that Mr. Scattergood and the Maharajah are anxious to arrange the marriage between Kitty and Kodanda, the Crown Prince. Though both parents agree on this marriage of convenience, the young Prince and Kitty are in complete disagreement. Kitty refuses to marry before finishing her studies. Realizing they cannot convince their own children, both parents decide to rush the marriage and invent this savage man. They persuade Abdul, a simple countryman, to play the savage for $100,000 dollars: $1 dollar in advance, the other $99,999 to be paid when it is all over. In order to be completely convincing, Abdul has to let his hair and nails grow, and after living in the jungle for a while, let himself be captured by Kitty during one of her expeditions. The simple Abdul, first unwilling to accept, is then swayed by his girlfriend Sardula, a maid-servant who is attracted by the large financial reward.

    Scene 2 - The courtyard of the Palace, six months later.
    Kitty comes back from an expedition after capturing Abdul, who looking ferocious with his long hair and nails, plays his part of the wild man perfectly. Kitty eagerly plans to bring Abdul to the United States and donate him to the New York Zoo. Alone in his cage, Abdul is uneasy with the idea of being brought to the States and sadly must leave his charming but greedy girlfriend Sardula who has pushed him to choose such a treacherous adventure.

    ACT II
    The living-room in Kitty’s house in Chicago
    During the trip home, Kitty has become fond of Abdul and decides not to give him to the Zoo but teach him English and slowly introduce him to modern civilization. Abdul is also attracted to Kitty’s charm; becoming an attentive, affectionate student. In honor of her star pupil, Kitty decides to give a party inviting all the leading elements of contemporary civilization including press agents, clergy members, socialites and artists. Terrified by all of this, Abdul suddenly knocks down all the people around him, destroying everything within his reach. He runs away leaving the entire party in complete confusion.

    ACT III
    A forest in India, three months later.
    After Abdul’s sudden exit, Mr. Scattergood, Kitty and the Maharajah go searching for the fugitive following his tracks in a forest where they believe he is hidden.
    Though Kitty expresses her love for Abdul, Mr. Scattergood and the Maharajah still hope to arrange the marriage between her and Kodanda. They explain that this has all been a farce and show her the bank-notes they still owe Abdul. At last Abdul is discovered living happy and alone in a primitive cave deep within the jungle. When Mr. Scattergood and the Maharajah offer him the sum they still owe him, he’s horrified and refuses to go back to the civil world which fills him with fear and disgust. Kitty is overjoyed to hear this which proves that Abdul is really the man of her dreams. She tells her father she will stay and live with Abdul; sharing a simple, primitive life. In the silence of the beautiful forest finally alone from civilization, Abdul and Kitty lie peacefully on a bed of leaves while the night begins to fall. And just while Abdul is kissing her with enthusiasm, Mr. Scattergood’s servants appear in the background carrying a fridge, a bathtub and a television into the cave.

    Artists

    • Sardula - Jennifer Zetlan
    • Kitty - Anna Christy
    • Maharanee - Jamie Barton
    • Kodanda - Sean Panikkar
    • Abdul - Daniel Okulitch
    • Mr. Scattergood - Kevin Burdette
    • Maharajah - Thomas Hammons
    • Conductor - George Manahan
    • Director - Ned Canty
    • Scenic Designer - Allen Moyer
    • Costume Designer - Allen Moyer
    • Lighting Designer - Rick Fisher
    • Choreographer - Seán Curran