A man who had traveled over many countries was shipwrecked off the coast of Opera land. After a desperate battle with the waves he managed to near the shore where the cruel waves played with him like a cat with a mouse. He called for help until the inhabitants espied him.
They came in a group, the women costumed as milkmaids and the men as cavaliers. "Oh! save him, save him!" sang the soprano. "Yes, yes! we will save him!" sang back the tenor. Then everybody sang "Save him; oh, yes, we will save him from the sea!!!"
"In the name of Mercy, help me!" screamed the drowning man.
"Oh, hear his piteous cry," sang the tenors, and the bass got in front of the company. He described how his strong arm plucked the stranger from the waves, and advanced to the beach to suit the action to the words.
But, alas! the traveler had given up the ghost several minutes before. Then the company sang a miserere and went home to lunch.