By Arnold P. Hinchcliffe
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Additional info for Volpone: Text and Performance
Drinking and losing jewels leads to food which, once more, is a matter of ransacking the world for the rare and the difficult (regardless of edibility or taste) and culminating in the threat to destroy the fabulous and unique Phoenix. This is good heady stuff, but if we listen carefully we discover that it is nothing more than a hymn in praise of waste. Again Celia's answer is brief and precise. She starts with the words 'good sir' and contrasts mind and innocence with delight and wealth. She defines her view of wealth, rejecting (with acute perception) 'sensual baits' and ending with 'conscience'.
What does he look like, and sound like? Vol pone should chant his hymn to gold, calling forth from the audience both admiration and shock. We should be charmed by the blasphemy of a world where gold replaces the sun as the centre and source of life, and where a gold coin replaces the wafer in the Sacrifice of the Mass (as in Tyrone Guthrie's 1968 production, where Volpone elevated the coin and proferred it, wafer-like, to a kneeling Mosca [I i 66-7]). A director will have to consider how shocking this stage image will be to a largely secular-minded audience.
Arriving back at Volpone's palazzo, Mosca finds he has to get rid of Lady Would-be. Having achieved that, he has just got Bonario concealed when Corvino instead ofCorbaccio arrives, with Celia. So Bonario has to be moved out into the gallery where he can hear nothing. But Bonario is once more suspicious. He may not stay where Mosca has put him. Or, if he does, he may still not be out of ear-shot - for, by the end of the scene with Celia, Volpone, frustrated by his lack of his success with her, must be getting louder and louder, so that the whole of Venice can hear him!