Bryan D. Leys

La Ribalta

(The Spotlight)


Is fame a blessing or a curse or both? La Ribalta asks whether it is better to enjoy a moment of glory, even if it destroys us, than to live a life in safety and darkness.

The show opens in Italy in 1965, in the home of the modern gods, the Glitterati. Through masks, the four members of the chorus (Jupiter, a portly businessman; Juno, an elegant party hostess; Venus, a blonde sexpot; and Pan, a young playboy) look down upon Italy searching for amusement. They fix their gaze upon Fausto Palletta, a poor repairman who lives with his wife, Elena, in one dark room in Anzio. They decide to change his fate.

Fausto and Elena have been huddled together in grief and guilt for over twenty years. During the war, their ten year old son, Salvatore, escaped their sight, tried to steal food from the Germans’ trucks, and was shot dead. Ever since, the couple has lived in alternating states of anger and melancholia.

Fausto’s life is changed when renowned film director Vito Bonamicci, comes through town on a bicycling trip. Vito is accompanied by his lover, Damian, and the beautiful, exotic actress Dominique Dodin. When they stop to have a bicycle repaired, Vito “discovers” Fausto. He decides to bring him to Rome to star in his new movie. Inspired by the colorful, vivacious movie people, Fausto says goodbye to Elena, telling her he’ll be back in a month.

In Rome, Fausto soon falls under the captivating spell of the booming Italian film industry and is seduced by both Dominique and the idea of being an artist. When the movie is completed, Fausto finds that his rough gangster looks have made him the biggest star in Italy. When Elena arrives unexpectedly, Fausto realizes he can’t go back to his old, drab life.

Fausto’s story comes to a tragic end. But life goes on for Elena. She realizes life is hard, but when opportunity comes we must seize the moment and step into the light, even if that light consumes us.

Production Requirements

Cast of Characters (in order of appearance)

La Ribalta has a cast of five principals, a chorus of four.

Note: The film scene in Italy during the sixties was International. Although Fausto, Elena, and Vito are Italian, the other characters could be any race or ethnicity.

Jupiter A portly, well-dressed businessman, 40’s, baritone.
Juno A stylish society matron, 40’s, alto.
Venus A young blond sexpot, 20’s, soprano.
Pan A handsome gigolo, 20’s, tenor.
Vito Bonamicci A famous Italian film director with a lust for living, 45, baritone-bass.
Fausto Palletta A local repairman, rough and gangster-like on the outside, but a saint within, 48, baritone.
Damian Vito's assistant, a once-pretty boy, now turning older and bitter, mid 30’s, tenor.
Dominique (Niki) Dodin An international film star, exotically beautiful who doesn’t quite understand misery, alto.
Elena Palletta Fausto’s wife, a plain, earthy woman, but also loving and passionate, 46, soprano.

Music Excerpts