The Story: cARUSO A cUBA

Bruno Zirato, manager of the world-renowned
tenor Enrico Caruso, telephones
the opera director Adolfo Bracale: Caruso
will perform in Havana for 10,000 dollars
per evening. At the same time, the Lukumi
priest Calazán reads his godchild Aida’s
palm. He predicts Caruso’s imminent
death, but says it must be prevented because
Caruso’s earthly task has not yet
been completed. Upon arrival in Cuba, Caruso
tells Bracale that the mafia has been
sending him threatening letters. His fears
prove well-founded: a bomb explodes during
the performance. In the ensuing chaos,
Aida, in the company of a local cook,
bumps into Caruso and realizes at once
that he is the love of her life. She takes him
to her mother’s home. Caruso informs
Zirato of his whereabouts.
 
Caruso feels miserable, so they turn to
Calazán, who says that first Caruso must
submit to a ritual to appease the gods, and
second, that he will not die in Havana, but
in Naples. During their amorous night, Caruso
tells Aida that he feels the end is near;
she replies that she wants a child, but
not a child that resembles them, because
they only encounter bad luck. Meanwhile
Calazán prepares the ritual, together with
a small group dressed as elephants, in a
reference to its African origins; the subject
is to be dunked in the lagoon. Underwater,
Caruso has a vision of his youth in Naples
and realizes how lonely he is as a celebrity.
 
Even after the ritual has been carried out,
however, the threats continue, and Caruso
is driven to distraction with fear and
distrust. Aida’s mother, in the guise of a
saint, warns that it is unwise for Caruso
and Aida to defy the gods. Aida then calls
on her friend Tata, who will help them flee.
While Bracale and the cook try to process
everything that is going on, Caruso and
Aida are attacked. Caruso is beaten up
and Aida is abducted to a remote location.
After a fearful night, Tata rescues her and
returns her to the traumatized Caruso,
whom Zirato is on his way to fetch so he
can board the boat for New York. There is
no way Aida can join him, and torn by grief,
she reveals that she is pregnant. Aida’s
mother reacts by saying that all this had
been foretold.
 
Caruso leaves Havana a nervous wreck.
When Aida, left behind, hears Caruso’s
voice in the distance, as though it were a
ghost, her mother says: if a person dies
and still has unfinished business elsewhere,
then his spirit will fly to that place.
 
Translation: Jonathan Reeder