Anyone who has spent significant time in Slothjemia has likely encountered the opera “The Huntsman’s Lament”, infamously composed by the orcish musician Snaglak Durz. While the entire production can be found being performed by travelling thespians or in local theaters being done by local talent, it is more common to find individual songs from the opera being used by bards or wandering minstrels to entertain their audiences. This opera is rarely encountered outside of Slothjemia not because of the language barrier but rather because the whole mess is such a bewildering and badly conceived trainwreck that it is impossible to do and maintain its intended purpose of being a dramatic tragedy. It is, however, an unintentionally hilarious musical comedy, and this is the reason it is performed in Slothjemia.
Leaning heavily into the lunacy of “The Huntsman’s Lament” has been a staple of stage performers all across the Slothjemian Empire. When the opera was entered into the Grand Geldenreich Operatic Society’s annual artistic contest there were a slew of errors made both in the acting and in the overall production that have been made into permanent modifications to how the show is put on. For instance, there is a scene in which one of the supporting characters comes bounding out from offstage bellowing his lines before loudly singing “I’ve missed my cue!” and springing back offstage. Another blunder was in the orchestra pit when the cymbalist dropped their cymbals during a tense lull in conversation on stage between the male and female leads. Other errors were in inconsistent costuming, missing props on stage, and a fake tree that falls over during the vordgot hunt revealing a pair of stage hands trying futilely to manipulate the gigantic demon lizard marionette. All of these issues have been incorporated into the full-blown productions ever since with the occasional addition of something even more inane. The goal of “The Huntsman’s Lament” has become to make the audience laugh and to that end it succeeds.
Some productions of this opera encourage full audience participation, singing along with the cast or shouting out the mumbled and mangled dialogue in an unintelligible outburst. Other shows might be a tad more lowkey, but even then, there will be so many people in the audience and on stage howling with laughter that it may not be easy to hear the actual words being sung. At every turn the cast and crew are working doubly hard to get those laughs from the audience. It is a badge of honor to put on a show so ludicrous that those that paid the fee for entry do little else but cackle for the duration of the event. One of the best shows ever put on even boasted that Queen Tiffan snickered so hard that she had an accident and ruined her ornate seating cushion.
The opera is performed in three acts, more or less as follows. Depending on how well things fall apart it lasts from an hour and a half to two hours.
Act 1 – Polvar goes to the village
- Polvar sings “To Market I Go”
- Cupru sings “Another Crappy Day”
- The chorus sings “Behold the Swollen Loins”
- Polvar the Huntsman sings “How Strong She Seems”
- The chorus sings “Savage is His Passion”
Act 2 – Cupru and her unwanted lovers
- The chorus sings “Not so Fast, You Orcish Hick”
- Baron Lecher sings “I Saw Her First”
- Cupru sings “Keep it in Your Keep (a.k.a. “The Cram It” song)”
- Baron Lecher dances with a farming implement while singing “This Hoe has Broken My Heart”
- The chorus sings “A Fiendish Plot is Plotted”
Act 3 – The bait and switch hunt
- Polvar sings “I Shall a Vordgot Gut” to Cupru
- Baron Lecher sings “They’ll Never Find His Corpse”
- Cupru sings “Whatever, Leave Me Alone”
- The chorus sings “The Attack of the Vordgot”
- Polvar sings “The Huntsman’s Lament”
It is well-advised to find out beforehand how the show is going to handle the portrayal of the vordgot in the final act. Originally it was done mechanically with a lot of strings being pulled to animate a huge carved wooden demon lizard. Some troupes will use elaborate illusions for the maximum in effect. But every now and then some idiot director will get it into their mind that what the opera really needs is an actual living, breathing vordgot. These productions never go well but they are damn sure memorable. The records kept by the Musicians Guild of Slothjemia indicate that any performance at which a vordgot is present will result in casualties. Forty-five people have been maimed in such shows, and another twenty killed outright. No refunds were given on any of these occasions because those that survived got one hell of a show and had they known there would be that much bloodshed would have paid double the ticket price.
Slothjemian operas are understandably not that popular in other realms.