Theater 30.3 (2000) 37-61
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Die Bürgschaft [The Pledge]:
An Opera in Three Acts
Music by Kurt Weill
Libretto by Caspar Neher and Kurt Weill
Translated by Jonathan Eaton
JOHANN MATTES cattle dealer in Urb(baritone)
ANNA his wife(mezzo-soprano)
LUISE their daughter (young soprano)
DAVID ORTH grain dealer in Urb(bass)
JAKOB his son (young tenor)
JUDGE OF URB (tenor)
COMMISSIONER Commissioner of the Great Powers(tenor)
HIS ADJUTANT (tenor)
TENOR, BARITONE, BASS
MAN WHO WANTS TO SELL HIS LAND
TWO MEN [End Page 37]
Act 1: SMALL CHORUS in neutral position, outside the action, preferably visible in the orchestra pit
Act 2: MALE CHORUS onstage
Act 3: SMALL CHORUS in the pit, and LARGE CHORUS onstage
PLACE OF ACTION
The country of Urb
In front of JOHANN MATTES's house. ANNA MATTES in the doorway. JOHANN MATTES rushes in.
MATTES Woe is us! Woe is us! We are lost! I was gambling and had just won some money, then I stood up and wanted to leave. The others however blocked my way and urged me to stay. So I sat down again, to try my luck once more. My luck deserted me! I have lost everything, gambled everything away, my house and goods, all my possessions! Now I must be gone. They are on my heels. Before dawn they will come and take everything away, my house and goods, all my possessions!
ANNA Tears stream down my cheeks and my wounded heart is overcome with grief!
MATTES It will be hard to part from you, and my heart is overcome with grief!
ANNA Oh don't go away, don't leave me behind, alone in the country of Urb, prey to misery and destitution! [End Page 38]
ANNA AND MATTES Here I stand and scarcely know what to do. It will be hard to leave her behind. / It will be hard to let him leave me.
ANNA Listen to me!
MATTES There is no way out!
ANNA Listen to me!
MATTES There's nothing to be done!
ANNA Go to David Orth from whom you buy chaff. He was always friendly to us, perhaps he can advise us. Go and bring him back here! Go to him, do it out of love for me, he was always friendly to us, perhaps he can help us. Go and fetch him! I will stay here. When the creditors come, I will detain them until the sun rises. By then you will be back with him!
MATTES It is getting light. I will go to David Orth. I will be back by sunrise.
ANNA He has always been this way, since I first knew him. And he will never change.
CHORUS Mankind does not change. It is circumstances that change man's behavior. Man comes and goes but remains who he is, what he does in the beginning is the same as in the end, it is circumstances that change his behavior; mankind does not change.
ANNA Fear lies heavy in my limbs. I would like to close my tired eyes. It is late already. I will rest my weary limbs. In deep sleep I will forget my fear and pain. He has always been this way, since I first knew him. And he will never change.
Three CREDITORS appear.
CREDITORS Is this the house of Johann Mattes? We are looking for him.
ANNA This is his cottage, come in, he's just gone out.
CREDITORS He's run off!
ANNA He's coming back!
CREDITORS He's run away!
ANNA He's coming back! He's coming back. He will be back before the sun comes up.
CREDITORS Clear out the furniture and seal up the house. We can't lose any time. Clear out the furniture!
CHORUS The sky is clouding over. Will they get back in time? The wind has turned. Will they get back?
CREDITORS We cannot wait. We have no...