Below are actual scenes or routines from A Night at the Opera that were eventually removed from the final script. Being a writer for the Marx Brothers undoubtedly brought with it plenty of trial and error. Play the role of producer and see what you think about them...
Groucho (Otis B. Driftwood) is a wrestling entrepreneur who turns to opera contracts when he finds there's more money in it. Chico (Fiorello) is a voice teacher, and Harpo (Tomasso) is the greatest tenor in all Italy. To those who may be shocked, the script was written so that he didn't sing a note, nor did he utter a single word. Allan Jones (Baroni) is a wrestler who is in love with Lili, who is in love with Tomasso, who is in love with Maria, who is in love with Ted. Certainly, a tangled web!
In one first scene draft, Otis B. Driftwood is dashing back and forth from phone to phone making trans-Atlantic calls to his officers in New York and London for the sole purpose of telling them he's too busy to talk to them now. In Italy, he keeps introducing himself as Otis B. Driftwood, handing people his card and getting it handed right back to him. "You too?" he states after having this happen several times. "Everybody can't be Otis B. Driftwood..."
Driftwood (to the cab driver when he learns that he has arrived at the opera house before the opera is over): On account of you, I nearly heard the opera! Next time I go to the opera, I'll take a turtle. At least with a turtle you've got something. When you get tired of it, you can make turtle soup. Of course, you can get turtle soup in cans. But you can't go to the opera in a can. On the other hand, you can't go to the can in an opera.
Driftwood (to the members of the orchestra): Boys, this is the beginning of a new season. Last year, they said we were yellow; that we couldn't take it. But that was last year. This is the beginning of a new season, which I said before. Mind you, I'm not blaming it all on you boys. We had a little tough luck. The trombone player lost his tonsils. Six months later, we found them in the trombone. But that won't happen again, because we took away the trombone. The drummer got into a jam with a chorus girl. His wife sued for divorce and was awarded custody of the drum. But that won't happen again. We took the case to a higher court and got the drum back. The harp player's wife had a baby. But that won't happen again. We sent the piano player out of town. The breaks were all against us. But that was last year. This is the beginning of a new season. If I say that again, I'll scream. Boys, go out there and fight.
Driftwood: That's the trouble with you women. All you think about is marriage. Why should you ask me to give up your career? You've got a goal. I've got a goal. Now all we need is a football team.
Mrs. Claypool: Otis, you do care a little.
Driftwood: Fluffy, you'll never know how little. If only you could see me in the dark hours of the night, on my lonely couch. Tossing and tossing, rolling and rolling. Before I know it, it's four, five, six - and no matter how I try I can't roll a seven.
Driftwood (as Mrs. Claypool sings): I realize it's madness, but I'm staying. You should be singing over the radio.
Mrs. Claypool: Why?
Driftwood: I haven't got a radio.
Mrs. Claypool: I adore singing.
Fiorello: I like-a singing, too. You know whatsa my favorite opera? The elephant opera.
Mrs. Claypool: The elephant opera? What's that?
Fiorello: La Tuska...
Mrs. Claypool: It's hard to say which my favorite is. I love them all so much. But I just melt away when they play Butterfly.
Driftwood (to the orchestra): Play Butterfly.
Driftwood: Steward, do you have any French pastry.
Steward: But this is an Italian boat.
Driftwood: Well then, what's the rate of exchange?
(The lines above were replaced with Driftwood saying "Waiter, have you got any milk-fed chicken?", whereupon being told that they do, Driftwood says, "Well, squeeze the milk out of one and bring me a glass."
Other rejected scenes included Tomasso, Fiorello, Driftwood, and Baroni seeking employment. They eventually find a job in an Italian restaurant. Tomasso, as a cook and dishwasher, takes orders from pheasant to mongoose and whips up a plate of spaghetti instead.
Driftwood takes time out by hiding in the freezer, wearing a fur coat and huddling around a fire, where he enjoys the evening newspaper. When asked, "Where's Baroni?", Driftwood takes out a handkerchief and covers his eyes, saying, "I see a boat! And at this boat I see Baroni!" When asked why Baroni went on the boat, Driftwood replies, "To get to the other side." He carries on the psychic theme when an angry customer asks where his food is. Driftwood covers his eyes with the handkerchief and replies, "I see a blue haze... You don't want a blue haze, do you?"
When the federal agents come to take the illegal immigrants away, Baroni and the Marx Brothers hail a fire truck, and ride furiously to the opera house. Driftwood lights a cigar in the truck's smokestack and says, "This is the first car I've ever been in where the lighter works." En route, they pass an actual fire where they call out, "Keep it going 'til we get back!"
At the end of the script, the brothers tie up Lassparri with a fire hose and rush Rosa and Baroni on stage, where they capture the appeal of the crowd and Mrs. Claypool. Driftwood ends the scene with a scheme to cash in on their popularity - "I'm going to get the government to put Baroni's picture on half dollars. The government buys the pictures from us for a dollar each. We sell the half dollars for a quarter and make seventy-five cents on every half dollar."
From Driftwood, Tomasso, Fiorello and sometimes Zeppo. Written by Joseph Adamson III, 1973. Published by Simon and Schuster, New York, NY.
Marx Brothers Night at the Opera Treasury