There were once two composers of opera. They were both fat men and met while eating, during their time at the conservatory. In their later life each encountered personal and professional difficulty. One lost his wife in a train crash, the other was divorced. Each had a son whom for their own reasons they could hardly look in the eye. Where music goes, the first found himself increasingly incapable of comprehending his own compositions. Every note he had written seemed senseless or arbitrary and they became difficult for him to remember, like strings of consonants without visible order, or faces strangely lit and glimpsed only for a moment (indeed he could barely remember what his son looked like; or his deceased wife.) The other, meanwhile, rarely listened to his old work; as for the new he hated it. Every phrase was a rug with wrinkles and every wrinkle he tugged distended the rest; he descended each night into frenzies of correction, pursuing to the point of self-torture every fevered detail until finally he had to slam the cover down across the keys, glaring, for half an hour afterward, at his obscene reflection in the ebony. In the end, though, he completed a comedic opera about a pig who is made a composer by royal error. The pig’s overblown coloratura sent roars of laughter through Vienna. His colleague, on the other hand, wrote a comedy about a farmer whose cow begins to speak, but unfortunately (for the cow) only in the most splendid and ornate Latin.