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Theater 30.3 (2000) 27-31
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An Opera in One Act
Music by Kurt Weill, Libretto by Iwan Goll
Translated by Jonathan Eaton
SOPRANO SOLO offstage
With the first bell the curtain rises slowly. Ideal landscape by an Italian lake. Terrace of the Royal Palace, with palms, cypresses, camellias. The banks on the far side of the lake are dotted with mountain villages and pink campaniles.
A chorus of women's voices is heard over the lake, coming closer and closer.
In car coats, DEJANIRA, the HUSBAND, YESTERDAY'S LOVER, and TOMORROW'S INNAMORATO step onto the terrace. A flock of red bellboys leap around them and perform a sort of short ballet. [End Page 27]
DEJANIRA We have traveled the world. I saw shepherds tumble from their violet-covered hills and women prostrate themselves in the maize fields out of longing for us, out of longing for us.
TOMORROW'S INNAMORATO Out of longing for you! The sun smashed into a thousand palm trees, and spiked beams stabbed the shadows dead, out of longing for you! Out of longing for Dejanira!
YESTERDAY'S LOVER On the highways their blood burned like heavy red Chianti out of longing for you! Out of longing for Dejanira!
WOMEN Tra la la . . .
HUSBAND We must drink orangeade! (Exits into the hotel)
DEJANIRA (To TOMORROW'S INNAMORATO) And be sure you get me a room with a balcony and view of the moon! I want a full moon for nine forty-five and the Milky Way right across the lake.
TOMORROW'S INNAMORATO Dejanira, how well you know me.
He kisses her hand and leaves. YESTERDAY'S LOVER stands turned away morosely.
SOPRANO SOLO My eyelids are camellias, camellias are my white breasts, so full of thrushes, quails, and swallows is my heart!
YESTERDAY'S LOVER (Approaching DEJANIRA) You no longer sing since our night together?
DEJANIRA I am tired, I will never sing again; do you still hear me laugh occasionally? That is the echo of my childhood, just as evening bells on the banks ring out at midnight over the lake.
YESTERDAY'S LOVER Where are your silver ships with birds of prey at the mast, cinnamon cargoes of love and dreams? They etch many furrows in the brows of men.
DEJANIRA Tired, tired, tired of sun, of acetylene, tired of champagne and tired of tears.
YESTERDAY'S LOVER We pursued you, three of us, and then three hundred, across the whole of Europe, through the whole Spring: a husband with rumpled trousers and a straight heart, a page boy with painted tears, and I, I who carry our nights with me like treasured documents.
DEJANIRA I no longer believe in myself.
YESTERDAY'S LOVER Believe in me, in me!
DEJANIRA You plucked the mimosas of my hair and the lemons of my small breasts; now leave me with my tired autumn, to freeze, to weep and to harvest the pains of my joys.
SOPRANO SOLO Camellias are my eyelids, camellias my white breasts . . .
HUSBAND (Arrives with the HEAD WAITER) The lady eats only stars in rust, rubies in milk, and rose ice cream. Isn't that right, sweetheart?
The HEAD WAITER bows.
SOPRANO SOLO . . . and full of thrushes, of quails, of swallows is my heart!
WOMEN Camellias, camellias!
The red bellboys begin to bring out fantastic delicacies for DEJANIRA. Ballet.
Downstage the HOTEL MANAGER and PORTER dance.
TOMORROW'S INNAMORATO (Returns, grips the HEAD WAITER tightly) I want to eat Dejanira, blue eyes, blue of blue eyes, red lips red of mouth and tongue, trees of green dreams, white neck, pink feet, violet, orange, black. [End Page 28]
HUSBAND (Gesturing to the lake) I would like to buy this whole lake.
YESTERDAY'S LOVER Because of the clocks of the drowned?
TOMORROW'S INNAMORATO For all the golden copper of the sunsets?
HUSBAND I am more poetic than both of you: no, simply to please my Dejanira. Now tell me: who loves you more, I or him or...