King Roger - Act III

Ruins of an ancient theater. On the right, benches carved in stone curve in a huge arch from the front to the back of the stage. Their majestic semicircles, rising one above the other, reach almost half the height of the stage. Above them there is still the deep abyss of the sky. The stone is cracked, damaged by countless centuries, weathered, decrepit by water and wind. From the cracks and rubble grow luscious weeds, wild flowers. Here and there fresh grass spreads in a green carpet. On the left, diagonally toward the back, the ruins of a stage. Half shattered huge columns are still standing; at their feet, in the dust, proud flowery capitals, fragments of friezes, metopes once adorning the theater. On pedestals, the remnants of statues. Their wonderful heads, round arms, fragments of torsos lie scattered among the rubble. The double stairs leading from the proscenium to the stage have been preserved nearly intact. Also preserved is a large part of the wall behind the stage, concealing a broad view. In the middle of the orchestra the remnants of an altar. Light smoke rising from the altar, wreaths and flowers at its base seem to suggest a recent sacrifice offered by mysterious hands to the "Unknown God." In the back, between the edge of the stage and the amphitheater a huge gap through which can be seen the blue infinity of the sea. On the stage there is nothing but dead stones, the sky and the sea. It is night. Stars glow brightly in the sky. A pale moon sheds weak light on the interior of the ruins, casting long shadows, creating black chasms of depth in the bends of the walls. Peace and calm, only the sea, restless, tireless crashes heavily on the rocks.

(From the right, King Roger and Edrisi enter the stage. The King, wearing a tattered, dusty tunic, with his hair in disarray, tired, sits heavily on one of the rocks. He hides his face in his hands. After a while he raises his head and looks around.)

King Roger
Around only lifeless stones,
the blue infinity of the sea,
and the silver mystery of the stars!
(to Edrisi)
Where have you brought me, my friend?
Is this our journey's end?
Among the stones, where lingers forever
the scary specter of raptures past!
Maybe our call will echo back
with an enchanted laugh?

Edrisi
Awake it, awake it, call!

King Roger
The dawn lulls me to rest,
my worry falls asleep like a child.
Oh where is my beloved?

Edrisi
Awake her, awake her, call!

King Roger
Today the king is a beggar;
the longing of his hands
extends for a gift of alms;
he hides his empty heart
in the tattered rags of his dreams!
Hatred, love - empty words!
Fire will burn power and might!
Whom does the king search today?
Whose song does he yearn to hear?

Edrisi
Awake it, awake it, call!

King Roger
Blue fear sleeps in the void,
scores of specters glide to dance.
Awake the specters? Charm the dreams?
(calling)
Roxana!
(He listens.)
Roxana!

Roxana
(in the distance)
Roger! Roger!

Edrisi
Awoken! Awoken the charm!

King Roger
Edrisi! Hear!
Her voice is flowing from the distant seas!

Edrisi
Awoken the charm!

King Roger
(calling)
Roxana!
(He listens.)

Shepherd
(in the distance)
Roger!

King Roger
That's him! Hatred, love!
Edrisi, where is the end of doubt?

Chorus
(behind the stage, from afar)
A...!

Soprano
The King shattered his sword of bronze.

Tenor
The great King has appeared for trial!

Chorus
For trial, appear for trial, O King,
O great King!

Roxana
(closer)
His heart burning like a torch
he will offer to his God.

Chorus
A...!

King Roger
Blue fear is singing in the dark!

Shepherd
(in the distance)
O Roger, leave all your fear,
where you threw down your sword:
in the past scare of the storms...
(Suddenly, the moon appears from behind the clouds, lighting up the ruins with a mysterious glow. Roger looks around in silent enchantment.)

King Roger
Unearthly glow dawns around!
(From the back of the stage Roxana slowly approaches, wrapped in a long gray coat.)

Edrisi
Phantom light, silver charm
calling forth dazing dreams...
(Edrisi suddenly sees Roxana.)
O Roger, look!

King Roger
(sees Roxana)
Roxana!

Roxana
Here am I, Roger, did you call me?

King Roger
(looking at her feverishly)
Is that you, Roxana!
Red lips bloom with the same sweet smile,
the same living gold of your hair
fills the face with wondrous glow.
But in your eyes there is a mystery
deeper than in the gleaming of the stars!
Roxana! Is that you?
Or is it a pale ghost
born of the madness of longing?

Roxana
I am with you my King, my Lord!
I come to you in the morning light!
Give me your hand, Roger!
I will lead you into the gates of my palace,
there you will rest on my bed.
Give me your hand, Roger!

King Roger
And he? Where is he? The Shepherd?

Roxana
He's left, vanished,
dissolved in the dark,
he melted into the mist...
(In the distance strange music, as if of plaintive voices of women and pan-pipes.)
Hear! Just a quiet song of a flute
sobbing like a distant echo...

King Roger
I don't believe you! I don't!
His distant call,
like the echo of secret longing
still sounds around!
Where's the Shepherd?

Roxana
He's in the smile of the stars,
in the sound of the storm.
In the great ring of stone seats
he circles like a ghost.
Around the fire that dances in joy on the altars
and rises in mournful smoke toward the silent heavens!
(She points to the stage.)
There among the rubble,
where lives the eternal longing
he wanders with a happy smile!
And from there he's calling the abyss of your heart
and he wants to charm your lonely might into an eternal shape!

Shepherd
(from afar)
Roger! Roger!

Roxana
Do you hear him?

King Roger
That's him! That's him!
(He looks intently at the stage. Roxana wakes him from his musing.)

Roxana
Feed the sacrificial fire!
Let it reach up to the heavens!

King Roger
In the ashes living sparks!
Longings will die in the fire!
(Both feverishly throw into the fire the piles of flowers and wreaths lying at the feet of the altar; the fire suddenly bursts out with a bright flame. At that moment the Shepherd in the form of Dionysus appears among the rubble of the stage. There is something unearthly in this event. He is surrounded by a glow that seems to emanate from him; behind him everything is submerged in contrasting darkness. The many figures that will start to appear shortly on the benches of the amphitheater are barely visible, felt rather than seen. The sounds of the flute and human voices continue throughout the next scene, getting ever louder, turning to separate shouts and calls.)

Shepherd
(on the stage)
Roger! Roger!
Can you hear my voice?
Which eternally from your heart
sings a joyous song?

Chorus
(from afar behind the stage)
Can you hear the song?

Shepherd
Flames are shooting to the heavens,
glow unearthly, joyous madness!
Now the mystery is smiling,
depths become all clear now.
At the bottom of a lonely heart,
your dream undreamed,
dream of a great might!

Chorus
Can you hear the call, the mysterious call?
The mysterious call of the abyss?
To you! To you!
To you! To you!
(Throughout the scene the King stands staring with feverish eyes into the apparition of the Shepherd, his hands raised high. The first dawn, stars fade slowly.)

Shepherd
(calls upstage)
To me! To me!
I'm calling you all!
To the blue seas,
to unbounded oceans,
I'm calling you to an endless journey,
to a joyous dance!
To me! To me!
I'm calling you!

Roxana
To you! To you!
In the frenzy of the song!
In the frenzy of the dance!
To the land of extasy!

Chorus
In the frenzy of the song!
In the frenzy of the dance!
To him, to him he's calling us!
To him, to him he's calling us!
To the land of eternal extasy!
Calling us.
He's calling us, calling us!

(In the light glow of the dawn figures appear suddenly at the top of the amphitheater, a few at first, then more and more; crowding, they run down the huge steps of the benches, through the back of the stage toward the standing Shepherd; they surround him with a tight circle; the glow emanating from the Shepherd subsides until he eventually becomes invisible. At the point of the highest tension of motion and shouting, Roxana, in whom for a while one could sense an awakening of a mysterious force, suddenly throws down her long coat and appears wearing the clothes of a Greek maenad, seizes a flower-wrapped thyrsus lying at the foot of the altar and joins the shouting crowd. Shaking the thyrsus, she runs to the stage disappearing in a crowd of figures. The King seems not to see that, lost in torpor. The shouting continues for a while, subsiding slowly in the distance. The crowd of figures disappears as well. At one point the stage is completely empty except for the King, standing motionless in torpor, and Edrisi. The fire on the altar grows dim. At the same time the light of the dawn grows stronger. Soon the first copper-gold ray of the sun can be felt over the rim of the theatre. The interior of the theatre still remains in relative darkness.)

Edrisi
(as if regaining consciousness)
The dream is done! The chain of illusions breaks!

King Roger
(looking around; with joy)
Edrisi, it's dawn!
(As if pulled by a mysterious force, he goes toward the back of the stage, starts to climb lightly the rising steps of the seats. Edrisi looks at him in surprise. Finally the King stops at the top of the theatre which is still covered in blue darkness while he is brightly lit by the morning sun.)
Sunlight! Sunlight! Edrisi!
Like the white wings of seagulls
sails on the wide blue seas!
They sail to the farthest ends.
Like the light, nimble,
white foam of the waves!
Edrisi! Wings are growing!
They'll embrace the whole world!
And from the depth of loneliness,
from the abyss of my might,
I'll tear out my clear heart,
I'll offer it to the sun!
(He stretches to the sun his palms pressed together, as if carrying in them a priceless gift.)


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