Day 64: “Hail Capua!” – An Excerpt From My New Musical About 9th Century Italy

originally published March 4, 2012

The scene: the Bridge of Teodemondo, over the Volturno River. The year: 859. The cast: Lando I, the Count of Capua; Lando II, his eldest son, general of the Capuan army; Peter, the youngest son of Lando I. They are waiting in a tower overlooking the bridge, where a battle is about to take place. The attacking forces from Naples, Amalfi, Salerno, and Suessola will soon be arriving, and Lando II is leading the battle. Lando I has been stricken with paralysis – he will watch the battle from the tower with his young son.

LANDO I: I foresee this as our most important battle, my son. Is your army prepared?

LANDO II: Yes, father. These are our most seasoned and experienced soldiers. And Peter, of course.

LANDO I: Ah, Peter. How I wish you could taste the meaty flesh of battle on this day.

PETER: Why can I not, father?

LANDO I: You simply cannot. And you will not.

<<music begins>>

PETER (to audience): Why must they tease me? Why must they doubt me?

It must be because of my name.

Why are they cruel to me? Constantly fooling me?

Must be because of my name.

Why name your sons Lando and Landulf and Pando?

Why Landenulf, all names so neat?

His daughter Landelaica, sweet sounds the tongue make-a,

Then call his youngest son Pete?

Dad isn’t up for this battle, yet still

He keeps me up here at the top of the hill.

I must abide every word of his will,

Yet just one Napoli troop I’d love to kill!

(the music picks up in intensity. Two rows of people in lobster costume enter from the back and dance in front of the three men, then exit stage right)

LANDO I: Lando, my boy, how I wish I could join you,

Oh curse these immovable legs!

I know in a while the Solernans will ride

And you’ll crush them like yesterday’s eggs.

PETER: Oh father, I beg you, allow me to fight,

Just allow me the chance to defend!

ALL: Capua! Hail Capua!

Only a day’s hike from Roma!

Capua! Hail Capua!

The land we shall always call home-a!

(the lobsters appear once more, each one swinging a large foam pool noodle over its head. They exit stage right again)

LANDO II: The battle is dawning, we’ll spill blood this morning,

Look, here they are coming o’er yonder!

PETER: I’m ready to slay them, to kick friggin’ A them,

Please settle this over-long ponder.

LANDO I: My God, what a flap you’re in, you’re hardly Capuan!

Why must you whine so damn loud?

‘Pete’ doesn’t command-o! Now, take the name ‘Lando’,

Befits a sweet city in the clouds!

Cloud city! Sweet cloud city!

Your border will surge with bad weather!

I’ve just made a deal that will keep the Empire out of here forever.

PETER: Young Lando will forfeit, I tell you I’m more fit,

I carry the power of Jesus.

LANDO II: You half-witted thespian, I’ll banish you to Bespin,

And righteously scare your bejeebus!

ALL: Capua! Hail Capua!

A city of power and hell-fire!

Capua! Hail Capua!

Right next to the Byzantine Empire!

LANDO I (to Peter): Is your head filled with yeast? You know I want peace,

It would taste sweeter than a crisp wafer.

I’m the count of this land and I’ll offer the hand

Of my daughter to our old foe Guaifer.

Solernans appeased, I will calm Amalfi

And that should buy us time for a few years.

But still there’s Seussola, who has not a soul-a,

And Naples will not back down, I fear.

LANDO II: But come on now, Peter, you’re frightened of wheat, or

Was it something else that you feared?

Don’t listen to him, pops, the boy’s scared of hops!

A phobia of grains is too weird!

(music slows. Peter steps into a solo spotlight and addresses the audience directly)

PETER: True… it’s true…

Wheat and bran and oats and hops are all my deepest fears.

But still… oh still…

What is the likelihood they’ll use these grains as spears?

(music picks up again; Peter turns back to his father)

Is it too much to ask that I drink from my flask

And I brave the approaching Napolis?

If I’m willing to die for the land ‘neath this sky,

Why make me the butt of your follies?

They’re there on that ridge, I will fight for this bridge,

I require but one spear and a mount.

My name is not Lando, but I’m still a young man-do

Come on, you’re the boss! You’re the Count!

ALL: Capua! Hail Capua!

Upon the hill of Triflisco!

Capua! Hail Capua!

(this play has been sponsored by Nabisco!)

LANDO II: Now father I must go, just like that old fresco

Of Charlemagne ready for battle.

I’ll leave you in your seat, alone with your young Pete,

And his endless parading of prattle.

PETER: Enough with the mockery! Silence your talkery!

I am more fit than my brother.

I swear under Venus, he has a wee penis,

And cries like a bitch to our mother.

(the lobsters descend from cables, swaying their sparkly antennae and foam noodles to the music while Peter and Lando II battle with one another)

LANDO I: Enough! Enough I say!

This cannot go on this way!

I won’t have you quibbling when you should be nibbling

On victory for noble Capua.

Such joy will be sweet, and you’ll taste it, young Pete,

But knock all this off or I will slap you-a!

PETER: You mean it? You really mean it?

May I bring this victory up at you?

LANDO I: My son I won’t lie, there’s a good chance you’ll die,

And I won’t make you into a statue.

LANDO II: M’lord, I won’t argue, they’ll come at Pete hard, you

Are right, this may be his last day.

Oh look, we should go – it’ll be quite a show!

They are firing a new trebuchet.

PETER: They are?

LANDO II: They are.

LOBSTER CHORUS (from above): They are!

PETER: Oh father, I’m thinking, this tower is stinking,

I should probably clean it for you.

Your shoulders look sore, I’ll pass on this war,

And make sure you’re fed the day through.

ALL: Capua! Hail Capua!

Beside the bridge Teodemondo!

Capua! Hail Capua!

Is it great? Correctamundo!

Capua! Hail Capua!

Where mighty men shall take a stand! Oh!

Capua! Hail Capua!

Defended by honorable Lando!

(everyone exits: Lando II stage left, Peter assisting Lando I stage right. The lobster chorus is pulled back up and out of sight as we hear the sounds of battle…)

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