"It's better to burn out than to fade away."
San Diego Opera Director Ian Campbell is being sought by police after allegedly igniting a blaze that consumed the San Diego Civic Theater during an onstage address to attendees at what may have been the Opera's final performance on April 6. [An effort had been underway to save the embattled musical company, contra Mr. Campbell's declaration that it must close at the end of the season.] Details are still being resolved, but SD on the QT has spoken to several survivors, who have independently verified the following events.
Before the scheduled beginning of Don Quixote, Mr. Campbell, clad only in black tights and apparently slathered with white greasepaint, strode onto the stage. In one hand, he carried a flaming torch. The other hand he held aloft, extending a defiant middle finger to the chorus of boos and insults hurled from the audience. The orchestra began to play, which led the audience to believe that the actual opera would be starting soon, and silence fell over the crowd. But instead of Don Quixote, they were treated to Senor Campbell, who broke forth in a mighty aria:
- Magnificent opera
- Great work of my life
- I saved you from ruin
- Loved you more than a wife
- But now I have slain you
- And my foes call it rash
- Now the wolves circle 'round me
- And they howl for my cash
- And now I must leave you
- But the wolves, they must learn
- If I cannot close you
- Then it's burn, baby, burn!
As Campbell held the final note, a green blizzard of dollar bills began to pour from the rafters. Confusion reigned for a moment, but it soon became clear that the money had been soaked in gasoline. Laughing "maniacally," according to one victim, Campbell simply waited until one of the bills landed on the flame of his torch, then watched as the inferno spread throughout the theater before disappearing into the smoke and fire.
Over 100 attendees have been treated for burns of varying severity, as well as smoke inhalation. No fatalities have been reported, but at least 30 people — all members of the Opera Board — have yet to be accounted for. "We're just lucky there weren't more people there," says San Diego Fire Department Spokesman Sam Brightside.
Napoleon was sent to St. Helena. Is this Campbell's prison exile?
Authorities have so far been unable to locate Mr. Campbell, but SD on the QT has learned that a search of the dressing room he used to don his costume turned up the photograph to the left.