Bella Donna by David Copelin


This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent

Scene 1

Giovanni is shining his boots

He wears the uniform of the Pope's Guard

GIOVANNI (to us): Bravo! The new Pope has excommunicated the Borgias,
that family of vipers! Bravo! Give a cheer for Pope Julius II, by
God's grace anointed earthly vicar of our blessèd Lord Jesus
Christ. Finally we have a Pope worthy of the Church! Rodrigo Borgia is
dead. He was Pope Alexander VI. Now his whole sordid clan is scattered
to the winds. They'll get what they deserve, especially Lucrezia,
that poisonous slut. I can see my face in my boot. Soon I'll see her
face under it.

He shows us a piece of cloth: a brightly colored scarf, torn in half

GIOVANNI:I may not know my family name, but I know what I can do.—
Holy Father! I, Captain Giovanni, I pledge to win your just war on the
Borgia parasites!

He sings, to the tune of "Santa Lucia"


Giovanni flings the scarf into the air, then draws his dagger and
catches the scarf on its point.

Scene 2

Ferrara. The Duke's palace.

A formal room containing two ornate thrones

One bears the crest of the d'Este family

The other bears the crest of the Borgias.

The thrones are placed side by side, equal in power
A bowl of apples sits on a stand.

Countess Angela diGhilini, around 15, enters cautiously.

Finding no one, she moves with greater assurance.

She chooses an apple, takes one defiant bite, then puts the apple back
into the bowl so that the bite does not show.

She caresses the d'Este throne, then kicks the Borgia throne and
slouches on it disrespectfully.

After a moment, Alfonso d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, 45, strides in and
sweeps off his cloak.

ALFONSO: Contessa.

ANGELA: My lord Duke! You're late.

ALFONSO: I'm never late, Angela. Parties don't start until I

ANGELA: Come play with me.

ALFONSO: What are you doing on my wife's throne?

ANGELA: Practicing.

ALFONSO: Practicing what?

ANGELA: You keep saying I should sit up straight. So—

ALFONSO: Angela, don't lie. Look at me.

ANGELA: No, Alfonso. You look at me.

They look at each other, then meet in a fierce kiss.

Alfonso picks her up and carries her toward his throne.

ALFONSO: Now then, what game shall we play?

ANGELA: Do me.

ALFONSO: Do you? On my throne?

ANGELA: First on your throne. Then on hers.

ALFONSO: God, you're shameless.

ANGELA: You like that.


ANGELA: Yes, you do. You want me.

ALFONSO: How do you know?

ANGELA: I can tell. Hard evidence. Give it to me.

ALFONSO: Give it to me ...?

ANGELA: Give it to me now!

ALFONSO: When you want something, you say ... ?

ANGELA: Alfonso!

ALFONSO: Manners ...

ANGELA: Please.

ALFONSO: I'm sorry. I didn't quite hear ...

ANGELA: Please!

ALFONSO: That's better.

They go at it, lustily but with some tenderness.

Enter Lucrezia Borgia d'Este, Duchess of Ferrara. She is in her late

Dusty, travel-stained, she stops when she sees what's going on.

She takes an apple from the bowl—it is Angela's.

Lucrezia discovers the bite marks.

She puts down the apple, draws a dagger, and touches its tip to
Alfonso's neck.

He freezes.

ALFONSO: So. My wandering wife returns.

ANGELA: Donna Lucrezia!

LUCREZIA: Need a few more seconds?

ALFONSO: Don't start.

LUCREZIA: Sorry to interrupt, but this is more important.

ANGELA: What is?


She produces a beribboned scroll and shows it to Alfonso.

Angela grabs it and examines the seal.

ANGELA: It's from the new Pope!

Alfonso takes the scroll from her.

ALFONSO: The new Pope. You can put a tiara on a turd, but it's still
a piece of shit.

ANGELA: Don't say that! He's the Holy Father!

Alfonso breaks the seal and starts reading.

ALFONSO: He can't do this.

ANGELA: Do what?

LUCREZIA: He has done it.

She takes the scroll from Alfonso, and reads:

LUCREZIA: “For crimes so loathsome that to name them one after another
would set this parchment aflame—"

ALFONSO: Melodramatic prick.

LUCREZIA: "—we denounce Duke Alfonso d'Este of Ferrara and his
infamous spouse Donna Lucrezia Borgia as atheists, apostates, avatars
of the Anti-Christ! We hereby excommunicate them and all their
subjects from the community of the faithful, and at the wish of our
sovereign God, we consign them to eternal torment in the blackest pit
of Hell.”

ANGELA: All your subjects?

LUCREZIA: Except priests, nuns, and anyone who betrays us.

ALFONSO: That's quite an incentive.

ANGELA: I'm excommunicated too?

LUCREZIA: I'm afraid so. Committed any mortal sins lately?

ALFONSO: All those cardinals who were so loyal to your father: where
are they now?

LUCREZIA: They kiss the ring, not whose finger it's on.

ALFONSO: It's not the ring they're kissing.

ANGELA: Alfonso, I don't want to go to hell.

ALFONSO: Nobody's going to hell.

LUCREZIA: Almost nobody.

ANGELA: But we've all been excommunicated.

ALFONSO: By a braggart and a blowhard. We'll soon be back in the
bosom of Holy Mother Church.


ALFONSO: I don't know.

LUCREZIA: We need a plan.

ALFONSO: I'm listening.

LUCREZIA: So is someone else.

ALFONSO: Who? Angela? She's old enough.

LUCREZIA: You mean she's young enough.

ALFONSO: Maybe she can help.

LUCREZIA: Maybe she can get out of our throne room and stay out.

ALFONSO: May I remind you that Countess Angela diGhilini is our ward?
We owe her protection.

LUCREZIA: Indeed. But who will protect her from you?

ANGELA: Face it, Lucrezia. He loves me.

LUCREZIA: Oh, child. He'd love a knothole in a wood fence, but God
created splinters.

ALFONSO: Lucrezia. Help me.

LUCREZIA: You want my help?

ALFONSO: Of course I want your help. What's wrong with you?

ANGELA: Excuse me? I am still here.


ANGELA: Alfonso, the Pope doesn't hate you. He hates her. Beg the Pope
for a divorce!

ALFONSO: The Church doesn't permit divorce.

ANGELA: I bet he'd make an exception!

ALFONSO: I'm not asking that man for any favors.

ANGELA: Her father's dead. She's no use to you any more.

ALFONSO: That's none of your—

ANGELA: You could kill her. Like she killed her second husband!

LUCREZIA: That's a lie! My brother Cesare did that.

ANGELA: Kill her! Since the Church doesn't permit divorce.

ALFONSO: Stop it.

ANGELA: At least think about it.

LUCREZIA: Oh, he does. All the time. Now shoo!


LUCREZIA: Yes, dear.

ANGELA: You're letting her kick me out?

ALFONSO: I'll come to you later.

ANGELA: Maybe I'll be busy later.

ALFONSO: Maybe you won't.

ANGELA: Don't you take me for granted.

LUCREZIA: A rivederci, cara.

ANGELA: You stink of horses. Take a bath.

Angela leaves.

LUCREZIA: Your little conquests aren't usually so feisty. Better be

Alfonso is reading the scroll.

ALFONSO: Mmmmh. When your father was Pope, I was Captain-General of
the Roman Catholic Church. Now I'm the excrement of ten thousand

LUCREZIA: From this Pope, that's a promotion.

ALFONSO: First he'll incite our citizens to rebel against us, then
he'll invade Ferrara to "restore civil order." Mouthing pieties
as he steals everything he can get his hands on.

LUCREZIA: Sweet revenge on my father. And on me.

ALFONSO: Revenge on a dead man and a woman. Hail the conquering hero!
Lucrezia, we need to buy time.

LUCREZIA: Yes. Let's write Julius a fawning letter. Beg him to at
least lift the interdict on Ferrara, in exchange for a significant
increase in our annual tribute to the Holy See.

ALFONSO: How significant?

LUCREZIA: Enough to get his attention. He may order us to come to

ALFONSO: I don't think we'll go. Offer him—

LUCREZIA: Triple Ferrara's usual tribute.

ALFONSO: Triple!

LUCREZIA: We tell him that we fear his power. It's no lie. Then
then we plead with him to send some high official here to receive our
utterly abject submission to his spiritual and temporal majesty.

ALFONSO: "Utterly abject submission." I like that.

LUCREZIA: The official he sends: Better our choice than his.

ALFONSO: Certainly. And no one lower than a cardinal.

LUCREZIA: Agreed. Someone slow

ALFONSO: Slow and stupid—

LUCREZIA: Slow, stupid, long-winded—

ALFONSO &LUCREZIA (together): Cardinal Vincenzo.

ALFONSO: Perfect. In the meantime, I'll order more artillery from the
Austrian foundries.

LUCREZIA: With what money?

ALFONSO: Our credit's good.


ALFONSO: So we'll raise taxes.

LUCREZIA: Raise taxes? Now?

ALFONSO: For when Julius invades us. Then after we've chased the big
pig back to his holy sty, we'll lower the taxes. A little. Reward
the people for their loyalty.

LUCREZIA: If we win. And there's no guarantee of that. We've been
excommunicated. Denied the sacraments, condemned to everlasting
hellfire if we die before the excommunication is lifted. The Pope has
the power to loose and to bind. Julius may be a pig, but he's
God's pig now.

ALFONSO: Well, well. Lucrezia Borgia scared.

LUCREZIA: Aren't you?

ALFONSO: I'm not going to hell without a fight. Julius really does
hate you.

LUCREZIA: He hates you, too. No matter what your little friend says.

ALFONSO: Because I married you. I know. Well. Draft a letter that's
truly, um ...

LUCREZIA: Obsequious.

ALFONSO: Grovelling. On our naked knees in the snow of the Alpine

LUCREZIA: Abject self-abasement.

ALFONSO: Pour it on. But make it sincere.

LUCREZIA: I wonder if a letter is the most effective way to—

ALFONSO: Do you have a better idea?

LUCREZIA: I'm not sure.

ALFONSO: Well then, work on the letter until you are sure.

LUCREZIA: Alfonso we used to be close ...

ALFONSO: I still am close. Just not with you. Show me the draft when
you're finished. You know where to find me.

Alfonso exits.

LUCREZIA: Lorenzo!

GUARD (off): Madonna?

LUCREZIA: Find Sister Bibiana, and bring her to me. Subito!

Lights down

[end of extract]


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