The matchless Houdini delighted the whole world with his tricks and illusions at the beginning of our century. The world was young. The emigrants thronged to America. You staked everything on survival – and getting into the limelight.
The Great Houdini is the story of such an emigrant, a boy with his roots in the streets “back in Salerno, Ferrari, Lasagne, Turin”: the escapologist Houdini. Houdini finds his niche in ordinary people’s dream of “freedom in the Land of the Free” and dexterously latches on to the needs of the age with his indomitable escaping tricks. He falls in love with the beautiful Polish emigrant Kowalski, but is steered through life by Mamma’s stifling love – and an obsessive passion for his art. Houdini embarks on a collaboration with “law and order”; an Irish police officer becomes his manager – and his wife Kowalski’s secret lover.
The Great Houdini is an opera with humour and poetry – a free fantasy over the life of Houdini.
The fates of four people, their dreams and hopes, are interwoven with some of Houdini’s most famous escape tricks.
Scene V. Houdini:
Come closer, ladies and gentlemen, madames, messieurs, mademoiselles, senoras, senores, senoritas, caballeros.
See a sensation, yes a sensation. I am in all modesty a king. Yes you heard me right, a king! The king of freedom in the land of the free. My name is Houdini. I’m the world’s original, the world’s greatest escape artist. I have broken in, I have broken out, nothing in the world can keep me in chains. My soul it yearns for freedom, for freedom. Free as a bird. I have been trapped in the darkest of caves, chained in the deepest of graves. But with the help of my freedom of thought, my pure heart, my swift hands, telepathy and the transport of souls, ropes break in two, locks open, chains snap. You shall see, what soon will happen. I will let myself be bound and tied, and to show there will be no cheating. I would like to invite, a person who might help me, help me perform this trick with no deception in sight…