Originally performed live at The Spoken Word, New York City, July 25th, 2016.
In 1924, in Paris, France, three great artists carefully staged a new opera entitled Danse de Nuit, or Night Dance. The Russian choreographer collaborated with the German composer who recruited his wife, to play the lead part, so beautiful was her voice. The opera was performed flawlessly. However, upon the finale, during the rapturous applause, an interdimensional portal to hell was opened inside the grand Palais Garnier. It would not be the last time such an event occurred.
The composer always waited for the sweet sound of applause before taking his place for curtain call. From behind the curtain, the audience’s clapping and cheers suddenly drew inward, the entire theater draped in a hushed silence. He stormed through the curtain, sensing something was wrong. The composer’s eyes betrayed him.
The entire audience was on fire, their heads great jack-o-lanterns of white-hot pain and suffering. The center of the auditorium had collapsed into a glowing red sink hole, taking half the seats with it. A blood-red harpee crawled out of the chasm, flew into the air, and landed on the composer’s head. As the creature plucked his eyes from their sockets and began to eat them, dozens more of the winged creatures emerged and descended on the line of performers. The entire cast was dismembered and maimed. Then, a great rumble echoed from the hole in the auditorium as a humongous, horned monster rose up.
“I am Abaddon, angel of the bottomless pit! Who dare summon me?” he asked. Abaddon, a great and powerful beast, declared that her would bow to whoever was responsible for his summoning and call them his master.
The choreographer and the dancer stared at the composer’s maimed body and said nothing. The creature snatched them both up and gobbled them down in one gulp. Then the great Abaddon retreated into his bottomless pit, the throngs of harpies following after. The theater burned, there were no survivors, and the Parisians mourned the loss of so many.
Scholars of the arts lamented the supposed genius of the opera and longed for it to be performed again. Extensive notes on the staging of Danse de Nuit were kept, and they were able to recreate the Opera perfectly.
So on the anniversary of the Paris tragedy, the opera was revived, this time on the great stage in Vienna. Tickets to the show were nearly impossible to get, with throngs of people showing up simply to wait outside. From the street, they could hear the final drum beat crescendo, signaling the end of the opera. Applause, then an absence of noise as the ornate stone facade of the theater crumbled and Abbadon lurched forth, his great black horns steaming in the night air.
“I am Abaddon, angel of the bottomless pit!” And again he asked: “Who dare summon me?”
The mayor of Vienna stepped forth and claimed himself Abaddon’s master, but the creature smashed him into jelly with his palm and screamed “Liar!” He scooped scores more into his gaping fanged mouth, gulping them down like ripe fruit. With nobody left to claim responsibility for his summoning, Abbadon retreated again into the pit, leaving Vienna to burn. The story spread far and wide, even making headlines in the united states. “Opera of Death?” asked the New York Times. Inevitably, the people only craved more.
In 1943 Hitler staged a performance in Berlin. It was widely believed to be an assassination attempt and the death toll numbered in the thousands. Many survivors claimed that Abbadon, the star of the show, barely made an appearance. While his harpy army reaped all the spoils, survivors insisted that the great horned beast looked rather bored and retreated into the great pit soon after being summoned.
On New Years Day, 1950, in Chicago, the opera was staged beneath a great glass dome which had been blessed by clergy from seven different religions. The orchestra performed with precision, their heads exploding in unison upon playing the final notes. The performers were decimated when Abbadon unleashed a stream of molten fire from the center of his chest, vaporizing many in an instant. Upon discovering the glass barrier, the demon became enraged, banging his fists against it. Abaddon could not escape and he snarled at the thousands of people who had come to gawk at the great and powerful angel of the bottomless pit.
“Who dare summon me!?” He screamed yet again.
Several people attempted to claim responsibility, but Abbadon denounced them all as liars.
Just before he was to return to his pit, a young woman approached the glass and placed her hand there. She explained that no one person was the author of Danse de Nuit, and that each time the demon was summoned, in fact, dozens of people were responsible. Singers, musicians, the nice young man who operated the spotlight. Abbadon did not fully understand, and decried that he was being made to suffer each time he was summoned to the surface world. For without a single master, he was useless. He could not be a servant to many. “Cease calling upon me, lest humanity suffer for eternity!” he bellowed.
The young girl explained that there was no way to ensure the performances were going to stop -- the opera had been copied many times over. Abbadon proclaimed that humanity had made a mockery of his power, reduced him to nothing but a cursed curiosity. He was Abbadon, angel of the bottomless pit! Fear him and despair!
Someone in the audience muttered, “Isn’t he in a mood?”
Abbadon began to chant a spell. He grew in size ten-fold and finally burst through the top of the glass dome. He stormed the city, crushing everything in his path, reducing Chicago to dust. Abbadon stormed across the globe, searching for any and all copies of Danse de Nuit. The creature seemed drawn to them, and many people believed he was using some heightened ability, the way a dog can hear frequencies humans cannot. Copies of the show... they were calling the great beast. Armies around the world attempted to fight back, but his power was too great. Cities burned and many souls were stolen to the great pit below. Finally, after weeks of destruction, Abbadon declared that he had rid the world of the ability to summon him. He would prefer if they left him to dwell peacefully in the lake of fire. Before he crawled back from whence he came, he surveyed the destruction he had caused. Abbadon rejoiced for the first time in ages and the pit closed up with a great churning of the earth.
Humanity cursed those they once lauded. They who first opened the door and invited the beast. Rebuilding the world would take many years. Such a lesson was the coming of Abbadon, that generations began to pass down the story as a cautionary tale. Then it became a tale of almost unbelievable proportions and, as children were born who knew nothing, curiosity set in. Abbadon had indeed destroyed every copy of the opera he could find. But surely there might be a way to piece it back together again. To remake it, to do justice to the original and yet find new meaning in such an old and well-worn story.
There have been whispers of an underground performance of Danse de Nuit, of a secret location, of tickets selling out in minutes.
And people are willing to sell their soul for a seat.