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"Fall of the House of Opera", 6 April 2010
Author: WeatherViolet from United States
San Francisco opera devotees receive more than they bargain for when
the first wave of bodies begin to surface in an alley outside the
theatre during a performance of Giacomo Puccini compositions.
This begins in the aftermath of an altercation with firearms, leading paramedics to transport one victim, while police investigate a lifeless body amid a crowd of witnesses, which includes Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) and Dennis Stanton (Keith Michell).
When Paramedic (David Elliott) informs Silvana Bertolucci (Carol Lawrence) that she may not climb into the ambulance, she does anyway, and so Jessica invites Teresa Mancini (Lila Kaye) to accompany Dennis and her on the trail of the ambulance to the hospital.
SFPD Lieutenant Birnbaum (Jerry Stiller) questions Doctor (Tom Tarpey) as to the condition of the victim of a coronary seizure, and then Lieutenant Birnbaum turns his attention to Jessica to listen to her account of the incident.
Jessica reveals that she had been breakfasting in a San Francisco hotel, where Dennis Stanton reacquaintes himself with her and invites her to a Puccini opera performance even though she had planned upon leaving San Francisco, but she couldn't resist the invitation.
Dennis introduces Jessica to Rosanno Bertolucci (Theodore Bikel), a Tenor in the company, who in turn, introduces the opera fans to his performing wife, Silvana, and his Aunt Teresa Mancini, who also performs in the opera company.
After Anna Martinelli had passed the year before, Maria Deschier (Kathleen Beller) had presented herself to Rosanno as Anna's daughter, and so Rosanno had inducted Maria into his company in fond memory of Anna.
But Rosanno has grown very protective of Maria and prohibits her old flame, Lou Faraday (James Short), from seeing her, Rosanno going as far as to ban Lou from the opera house.
Reporter Barry Sanderson (Mark Herrier), meanwhile, also tags along with Maria to protect her from Lou and others who attempt to assault her, as Barry spends his time around the opera house and its dressing rooms.
Dennis invites Jessica into the rehearsal quarters, where she claims never to have seen an opera house backstage before, and where they meet performer Howard (Walter Olkewicz), who rejects Giorgio Russo (Leo Damian) as a candidate for a role as Tenor, with Stage Manager (Tom Kendall) conducting the thwarted audition.
Special Agent Dixon (Tom Van Hoof) soon begins to trail Dennis around San Francisco, Dennis spotting his pursuer through his rear-view mirror, and leading him into an office, where Special Agent Dixon informs Dennis of an international emerald-smuggling ring, which may be linked to the opera company.
But after another altercation occurs, this between Rosanno Bertolucci and Guard (Chuck Hicks), Rosanno lifts Guard's uniform to disguise himself, before he sneaks into an apartment building, at which he discovers the results of yet another altercation, this leaving a ransacked apartment with someone lying upon the floor, and another body lying in the courtyard, after a victim is bludgeoned and pushed from a balcony. Apartment security guards, naturally, enter right behind Rosanno, to accuse him of the new murder and another attempted murder.
After discussing clues with Dennis and Lieutenant Birnbaum, Jessica figures the identity of the perpetrator of the crime wave, and she sets a trap to force a confession before more bodies may turn up because the opera's all over "When the Fat Lady Sings."
This episode represents the only acting credit to date by Tom Van Hoof, as well as the the second of two "MSW" appearances for Kathleen Beller, the second of three for David Elliott, the second of four for Theodore Bikel, the third of four for Carol Lawrence, and the second of nine "MSW's" for Keith Michell (each in his role as Dennis Stanton).
(Extra points for the fine performance by the multi-talented Carol Lawrence, who capably handles demanding roles and foreign accents with convincing portrayals in spite of an otherwise downbeat episode with a weak title.)
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