The Libretto of Manru [Act II]

by Alfred Nossig

English translation by Henry E. Krehbiel
Transcribed from the score by Zak Ozmo

 

ACT II.

 

Scenes: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Scene: Manru’s courtyard. In the background a dark forest of fir-trees. To the left (of the spectators), Manru’s hut; to the right, a small smithy.

 

Scene I.
Manru and Ulana

 

MANRU
She sits within, whom care would win!
So meek, so mild,
She rocks her child.
No grief, no pain can cause to wane
a mother’s matchless love.
Could I like her
Such love bestow!
Ah no! No! No!
Within this dove-cote I shall neér
Renew my former joys!
I curse the day I left the band
And follow’d love’s decoys.
I envy them the wind-swept camp,
The canvas homes unfurl’d,
Their tents unfurl’d!
I long to stroll thro’ forests damp,
And roam thro’ all the world!

(Ulana’s lullaby sounds from the hut.)

ULANA
Sleep on, precious one,
Treasure mine, darling son;
Come quickly, zephyrs mild,
Breathe upon my only child.
Treasure mine, darling son,
Sleep on! Sleep on!
Happy tho’day be done,
Sleep on! Sleep on!

MANRU
How sweet! How good!
Her love how glad!
And yet-it drives me mad!
I look on her my mind’s awry:
I think how true her love!
But love that can all change defy,
Is servitude!
She is so gentle, patient, kind,
So wondrous mild
But there are women fill’d with fire,
With passions wild!

ULANA
(within)
Flow’rs, thy canopy,
Each bears a dream for thee;
Radiant an angel band,
Dances round thee hand in hand!
Plays round thy golden bush!
Hush! Hush! Hush! Hush!
Sleep gently, darling son,
Sleep on, sleep on!

MANRU
(angrily)
No! No!
Too long I’ve been mistaken!
More music’s in the hammer’s sound;
And tho’ thee from thy dreams I waken,
I’ll hammer!
Ha! Thus I pound!
(He lets the hammer fall from his hand, and sinks down upon the bench

ULANA
(Coming from the hut)
Art weary?

MANRU
Exhausted!

ULANA
(Bringing a dish)
Come, eat, and then rest!

MANRU
I cannot eat when for food I’ve no zest!

ULANA
What ails thee?
Tell me thy sorrow!

MANRU
Don’t question!
Thou know’st it!
(Jumping up wildly)
Who can joy from such living borrow!
The holiest bonds I sever’d asunder,
To find ‘mid thy kin but shame for my plunder;
I’m paid for my labor with insult and scorn!
For love, but hatred at eve, noon, morn!

ULANA
O love, despair not!

MANRU
Falsehood, seduction, theft, conjurations,
These are the Gypsy’s true occupations;
And tho’the gallows comes at last,
He’s had his fling!

ULANA
Enough, if we two remain truly united!

MANRU
United! ‘Tis that has my happiness blighted!
Derided and spurned!
In exile! A burden!
Is this love’s guerdon?

ULANA
Patience, my love!
‘Twill not lust for ever.

MANRU
‘Tis false! Misfortune like this will mend never!

ULANA
Ah, if that were all!
Want, exile and hunger,
would neér give me fear,
For where need is great,
God is ever near!
Ah! if that were all!

MANRU
What more can befall?

ULANA
“When the full moon fills the night,
Errant grows the Gypsy wight!”

MANRU
Perdition!
That ditty to haunt me here?
Up hill and down dale,
I have heard this song!
And now you, too, dare!
‘Tis more than hell can bear!

ULANA
Manru, forgive me!

MANRU
Away! Hast come to this?
Then discords and brawls shall drive away bliss!

ULANA
Forgive! Sorrow from my heart dismiss!

MANRU
Shall one here accuse?
Then indeed ’tis I!
Many skulkers, have been seen hovering nigh!

ULANA
To thee till death I will be true!

MANRU
Thou once from home and child didst roam,
And hurried off to the harvest home!

ULANA
I begged for bread!

MANRU
And borest away a mother’s curse!
The breach was then wide, but now it is worse.

ULANA
Forgive me; forget the disgrace!

MANRU
Thou show not forever a tear-furrowed face!

ULANA
If smiles could be purchase,
What would I not pay!
I glance in thine eyes,
Which my sentence betray.
I feel it, I feel it,
Thou art mine no more!
Be merciful, heaven,
Send death, I implore!

MANRU
(He raises his clenched fist to strike Ulana.)
Must I endure all the torments of Hell!

Scene II.
The Same. Urok.

UROK
(Entering suddenly and seizing MANRU’s arm)
Forbear, dear neighbor!
This will not do!MANRU
What, thou here?

UROK
Myself!

MANRU
Imp of hell!
(The only one, who seems to wish us well)

UROK
(He approaches to anvil)
Aye, our neighbour’s are wroth,
but so are we. We agree.
Thank God that I came
in the nick of time, Romani chal
that was almost crime.
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

MANRU
O that a torrent of fire brands
would fall from in high,
consuming this place
and all else ‘neath the sky!
What glad, what mad delight were mine!

UROK
Old fellow, the world will not burn
for thy sake. But a word:
If thou art weary of life here below,
spare us the world,
thou cans’t go!

MANRU
‘Tis true! Perhaps ’twere best,
at least, ‘twould give me peace and rest!

ULANA
Go, demon, go!
Nor seek to add thus to my woe!

UROK
Ha! My wish e’er so long ago!
(to MANRU)
Thy hut is too narrow and close,
‘Tis a grave! Climb but in high,
If air dost crave. Thus might thou rise,
and rule o’er all the humble;
think to what depths here thou mayst yet tumble!
(to Ulana, Mimicking her voice)
Shouldst thou sorrow
to see him hang alone,
then mount, too, his throne!

ULANA
Infamous monster!
Heartless one!

UROK
I heartless? I?
Thou dost me wrong!

MANRU
‘Tis not for naught, ’tis not for naught
that thou art called a wizard!

ULANA
Thy wicked glance,thy evil tongue.

UROK
Ha, ha, ha, ha!

MANRU
Thy baleful magic thou mayst use,
on us while unsuspecting,
and fill our veins with fever
thro’them its fires injecting.

UROK
There is no necromancy,
that thou shouldst surely know;
it is not giv’n to man,
God’s laws to overthrow!
But try! Seated on high,
he sits and laughs to scorn!
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
He nods his head while deigning to say:
“Why all this straining?
The source of marv’lous things
is man’s own wondrous powers!
What is’t consumes his fires?
Unworthy, weak desires!
No witchcraft do I know!

ULANA
Yet potions thou dost brew!

UROK
‘Tis true. For shrubs and plants,
the herb that shyly hounts
Dank nook and moonlit dingle,
all saps that meetly mingle,
e’en brain of mole,
and lizard’s tail,
all mumbo, jumbo, mystic dole,
for those with faith avail.

MANRU
If so, thou’rt robbed of all thy powr’s.
O no! A fortune teller still am I!
Tho’witchcraft I again deny!
The world I know, my eye is keen,
and human hearts few secrets screen.
No sound escapes my waking ear,
the pulsing of thy blood I hear.
The bale I long have known, foreseen,
the evil blight in store,
is e’en now at thy door!
(MANRU listens with obvious emotion.)

ULANA
Ha!

UROK
Attend! A clever chap!
Mayhap, ’tis a bit wild!

MANRU
Aye, aye! He’s a magician who thus plays.
Is he in sight?

UROK
Beware! He’ll take thee in thy snare!

ULANA
My blood geals! God hear my pray’r!

UROK
He, he! Now mark, how in a trice
he’ll have his soul in paradise.
(to Ulana)
I pray thee, quickly shut the door!

MANRU
U hush, hush! Hear!

ULANA
I die with fear!

UROK
Know’st thou a minstrel here about,
Or any scraping lout,
Who thus can play the fiddle?
A stranger ’tis, I warrant!
Mayhap thou mett’st them coming this way?

ULANA AND MANRU
Whom?

UROK
The dusky wand’rers,
The Romanys.

ULANA AND MANRU
The Romanys?

ULANA
And are they here?

UROK
He, he! ‘Tis said their camp they’ve pitched close at hand.

MANRU
Accursed liar!
The Romanys?
Here? Close at hand?
(Walks towards the anvil to conceal his emotion.)
Hearest thou their anvils ringing?
Hearest thou the songs they’re singing?

UROK
Ha ha ha!
The anvil, indeed, I saw quite near,
The counterpart of this one here.
And now a bird is on the wing,
Up to thy door its song ’twill bring.
Attend! The song, the song
Thou didst invoke it!

ULANA
All’s lost! All’s lost!
My doom is sealed!

MANRU
No, no! No, no!
They’re not revealed!
No Gypsies these a sightless bard!
(He leaves the anvil.)

UROK
Wherefore so bloodless are thy cheeks?
Know’st thou the voice that in this music speaks?

ULANA
Thou’rt trembling?!

MANRU
A Romany alone such skill can own!
(MANRU seeks to rush off, but is detained by Urok and Ulana.)
Detain me not!

ULANA
O MANRU, my husband!
My dear one!
O leave me not!
In pity hear me!
MANRU!

UROK
Hold, hold! Stay!
Not so fast!

MANRU
See him I must!
Detain me not,
See him I must!
(Tears himself away and disappears in the forest.)

Scene III.
Ulana, Urok.

UROK
Thou lett’st him go?
Ha ha! Away hath gone thy pretty one!

ULANA
(in despair)
MANRU!
MANRU!
(With sudden determination, running after MANRU.)
To him I’ll run!

UROK
(Holding her back.)
Have done, have done!
Desist, desist!
To me but list!

ULANA
(Struggling to free herself.)
I’m cold with dread!
(Wringing her hands.)
All joy is sped, is sped! UROK
(Showing a phial.)
He will return.
Now note thy folly.
Look on me.
He runs away
Soon as the devil fiddles play,
False to his word,
The gallows-bird,
And meanwhile I to help thee try.

ULANA
Woe!

UROK
(Showing the phial.)
See!
Give him but a draught of this;
(Handing her the draught.)
He will return-But do not miss…

ULANA
(Scarcely heeding Urok’s words.)
Yes, yes, I know;
Now hence, misgiving, go!
Urok, thee I bless!
Thou giv’st me joy and happiness!

UROK
Still fool am I in my distress!
Rejoice not!
Love, that is not free…

ULANA
What! The drink.
Has then thy art no power
Oér Gypsy strumming?

UROK
We’ll test his thrumming!

ULANA
Ah! All my fears return!
(MANRU and Jagu appear at the edge of the forest.)
Ah!

Scene IV.
The Same. Manru, Jagu

MANRU
(and Jagu to the right, Urok and Ulana to the left of hut.)

UROK
A guest, a welcome guest.

ULANA
(In fear, seeking to approach Jagu.)
Who is’t?

UROK
(Holding her back.)
Be brave!
Our friend, old Jagu, who erst lived hard by.

ULANA
The fiddler ’tis!
I die!

JAGU
(To MANRU)
Thou savd’st me once from gibbet and death.
Now let me requite it.

MANRU
On things long past thou’rt wasting thy breath!
Enough! That’s of the past!

ULANA
What says he?

UROK
(Beckons to Ulana to remain quiet, while he listens to MANRU and Jagu.)
Silence!
(Urok carefully approaches MANRU and Jagu and listens.)

JAGU
The wrong thou did’st us all, is forgiv’n.

MANRU
Ha ha! A gen’rous recompense!

ULANA
(Trying to get nearer.)
What say they? Speak!

UROK
(Restraining her.)
I’ll tell thee all.

JAGU
With me
Come, come!

MANRU
No, no!

ULANA
(Takes a few steps forward, but loses courage and remains standing undecided.)
I dare not do’t
O torture! Woe!

UROK
Be quiet so.

JAGU
Our chieftain thou shalt be ere long.

UROK
(Aside.)
Your chieftain!
On me thou canst rely,
And I assure it.
Come, come!

MANRU
No, no!
She’d not endure it!

UROK
(Aside.)
The wretch!
As yet he’s too fainthearted!

ULANA
What is’t he whispers in his ear?

UROK
Ha ha! His duty-call,
His proper sphere!
Or else diddle, diddle,
A tune from the Gypsy fiddle!
Can’st thou guess the riddle!

JAGU AND UROK
Away!

ULANA
Ah, no!
With me he’ll stay!

JAGU
To see thee ‘mongst them,
Kinsmen are hoping.

MANRU
Kinsmen mine?

JAGU
Hoping!
Cast off the pale Gentile away!
We grieve to see in thee a renegade Gypsy!
Away!

MANRU
I cannot, I dare not!
(Aside.)
Her, her, who has been so trusting,
Betray?
Death alone shall lead me astray!

ULANA
He sends him hence!

UROK
He will deceive thee!

ULANA
No!

MANRU
cannot, will not leave me!
I have the drink!

UROK
(listening again.)
How strangely sounds the name I hear!

JAGU
‘Tis Asa calls! ‘Tis Asa!

MANRU
Ha! Is she still fair?

JAGU
A matchless beauty,
Fair beyond compare!
Her glowing eyes…

MANRU
…I know their beauty!

JAGU
Are fire now!

MANRU
Ah! Her lithesome gait!

JAGU
Neér was a wench who sang so well,
Upon old Jagu’s word!

UROK
He’s taén the bait!

ULANA
He’ll draw him hence! Let me go!

UROK
Stay!
‘Twere better far,
Thou had’st not heard.

MANRU
Thinks she of me?

JAGU
Thou know’st,
She loves but thee!

MANRU
all her song,
For

MANRU
doth she long!

MANRU
The darling one!

JAGU
Tho’ far thou roam,
Thou know’st it,
She is thine alone.

MANRU
And here I sigh and groan!

JAGU
But stay away!

MANRU
(vehemently seizing Jagu’s arm)
What then? Speak!
Quickly speak!

JAGU
She will to Oros surely fall a prey!

MANRU
To Oros! No!
Come, no delay!

UROK
Ha ha ha! Etc.

ULANA
MANRU!
MANRU!
(MANRU, who is struggling within himself, stops and gazes on Ulana.)

MANRU
(resignedly)
No!
(decidedly)
No!…
Hence, tempter, hence!

UROK
Too bad!
The wretch a saint would be!

JAGU
Come! Come!

MANRU (With a gesture of command, to the hesitating Jagu)
Thou know’st my will!
(Exit Jagu.)

Scene V.
Ulana, Manru, Urok.

ULANA (To Manru)
What was’t the old Gypsy sought?
Speak!

MANRU
(goes to the anvil.)
‘Twas naught!

UROK
He he!
I wonder what could be?

MANRU
The wretch must ev’ry act oérsee!

ULANA
Be kind!
Thou’ll trust me, surely!

MANRU
A-a beggar he!

UROK
For what? For what?

MANRU
(to Urok)
Despite thy pains,
Thou’lt learn no jot!

UROK
He came to steal!
To filch no doubt he’s scheming.

MANRU
What say’st thou steal?

UROK
O yes!
With seeming kindness
Toward little children they are filled.

ULANA
My God!

MANRU
Bah, silly stuff!

UROK
Ha ha!
Hear me aright!
The tiny, helpless wand’rers,
With gracious words they lure astray.

ULANA
My constant dread!

MANRU
Misled!

UROK
She would not lose,
If they’d again entice thee!

MANRU
Me? Me?

UROK
If eér again thou’lt wish to rove,
‘Twill be all day with wife and love!

ULANA
Is’t true?
Wouldst thou become a fugitive?

MANRU
Suppose ’twere true?
And if we both should wander
Who’s he, to whom account I’d give?
Who is’t, that to this clod can bind us?

ULANA
The bird is fond of its small home,
And grieves when it is forced to roam.
Hast thou no heart within thy breast,
That parting brings thee no unrest?
O tell me, pray, why must thou ever ramble?
Why has rest no charm?

MANRU
I ramble not.
I’m drawn afield.
A riddle eén my heart does not yield.
‘Tis that doth tempt me far away.
But whence, or why,
it will not say.
I may not stay!
With longings wild my soul is fill’d,
Spring’s voices shout within me;
Each fibre in my frame is thrill’d
With feelings that would win me.
In bush and brake
The buds awake,
Of nature’s joy the woods partake,
And bear me helpless, spent, along,
Where freedom love,
far from the throng!
(Comes forward.)
Thus pours the mountain torrent wild,
That stubborn rocks would check,
Thus rolls the molten lava stream,
Dispersing havoc dire, supreme,
Enfolding, whelming all in wreck!

ULANA
See, see!
He’s in an ecstasy!

MANRU
Thus flies the pollen on the breeze,
To meet its floral love;
The song, outgushing from the soul,
Thus seeks the starry vault above!
Is it a curse?
There is no other life for me.
‘Tis written in the book of fate:
“Thy race must ev’ry pledge abate,
And wander, rove eternally!”
But why? And where?
I know it not
I needs must fare.

ULANA
“Wander, rove eternally!”

UROK
It makes one shudder!
And yet, I feel for thee no pity.
I pity her alone who gave thee credence.
Ha!

ULANA
Then ramble, roam!
My happiness for aye is gone!

MANRU
(with angry gesture.)
To hear thy maunderings, one might assume,
The Gypsies were already come
To steal me from my house and home!

UROK
‘Tis said, ’tis said, that they are near!
(MANRU turns away confused.)
To see thee amongst them, they are hoping;
“They grieve to think thee a renegade Gypsy!”

MANRU
Thou heard’st the words?

UROK
Ha ha ha ha!
Yes, truly,
And indeed, I saw, besides,
a pair of coal-black eyes!
But yet, he he!
All is one to me!

ULANA
A lass?

MANRU
Peace, thou imp of hell!
Peace!

UROK
Aye, aye!
I saw, I saw the teeth,
The teeth so pearly,
The rosebud mouth!

MANRU
Enough!

UROK
Aye, aye! There was a lass!
I saw the jade,
She danced and she capered,
The sinuous maid.
Her ragged red skirts were flying,
All hell delighted in spying!

MANRU
Thou Hellhound, peace!

ULANA
Speak! Was she fair?

UROK
Ha ha ha!
“A matchless beauty,
Fair beyond compare!”

MANRU
(approaching Urok with raised fist)
Wilt hold thy peace?

UROK
(Taking refuge behind the anvil and arming himself with the tongs.)
I’ll cease, I’ll cease!…
She danced and she sang a song!

ULANA
She sang?

MANRU
Peace, I say, peace!

UROK
“Neér was a wench
Who sang so well,
Upon old Urok’s word!”

MANRU
I’ll stop this wicked gabble!

ULANA
She ’tis, of whom they babble!

UROK
Huzza! How rings her tambourine!
‘Tis that which draws thee hence, I ween!

ULANA
(To Urok.)
Peace!

MANRU
Thou villain!
An admonition!

ULANA
(To MANR.)
Spare him!

UROK
To prove unfaithful?

MANRU
Ha! Perdition!
I’ll have thy life!

ULANA
Away, away!

UROK
Ha ha ha!
Ha! Gently!
Gently!
(going.)
Beware of strife!
(MANRU tries to follow him, but Ulana restrains him.)

ULANA
Stay! Stay!
(Urok runs into the woods.)

Scene VI.
Ulana, Manru.

MANRU
(gradually growing calm.)
I burn with rage!
To kill him long ago I swore!

ULANA
Stay, stay!
Help, potion, now my need is sore!
(goes into hut.)

MANRU
The imp of hell,
Whom a foul beldame bore!
(He picks up his hammer again.)
Why should I refrain?
His ev’ry word is bane!
(He throws the large hammer aside and selects a small one from his tools.)

(Ulana returns. Flowers are in her hair, and she carries a bottle and goblet.)

ULANA
Patience, MANRU!
Come, be kind!
See, see!
A cooling drink I proffer.

MANRU
Is’t wine?

ULANA
Take what I offer.
Try but a sip, a sip!
Thou’lt grateful be.

MANRU
‘Tis sweet on the lip.
There’s treason oft in wine!

ULANA
Drink, drink!
‘Twill thee to sleep incline.

MANRU
Is’t thy desire?
Then fill the cup thou didst inspire.
Here, thou dove!

ULANA
Most gladly!
(Hesitates.)
Do I have thy love?

MANRU
Canst thou ask?

ULANA
Thou love’st me not?

MANRU
Is all forgot?
The cup!

ULANA
Here, drink!
(Pours out the wine.)

MANRU
Ah! That is good!

ULANA
Drink, drink!
‘Twill cool thy blood.

MANRU
I feel new life!
All trace is gone of my dejection!

ULANA
O God! Restore me his affection! O fill his love with love sincere!

MANRU
A potent drink! Who brought it here?
(His actions indicate that the potion is taking effect)
Up, up; light as the air I’m soaring.

ULANA
Then drink again!

MANRU
How fair! Bedecked with flowers!

ULANA
‘Tis naught.

MANRU
Life’s filled a new pleasure!

ULANA
‘Tis true, ’tis true; God has restored to me my treasure!

ULANA
! A torrent through my veins is throbbing,
like balsam sweet, yet like a fire’s fierce glow!
‘Tis joy in living! ‘Tis joy in loving!

ULANA
Ah! Were he safe from rowing!

MANRU
ULANA! Ah! Cease thy sobbing! Come! Come! So, so! Past is woe! Grant me a smile, my heart beguile! Show me thy face!

ULANA
My heart is sad; thy love is dead!

MANRU
A wicked dream! Away ’tis sped!

ULANA
Cold was thy heart, thy thoughts did stray!

MANRU
Forgive, forgive, ULANA, pray!

ULANA
And now, again have I thy love?

MANRU
My star! My wife! My dove!

ULANA
Oh, speak! Dost thou me truly love?

MANRU
As the balmy zephyrs meet the sun’s caresses,
perfume from the roses nature’s love confesses;
As the ardent singer loves his harp’s sweet measure, as the bells their chiming,
I love thee, me treasure! Fiercely as the lion,
filled with love alate, gently as the twilight,
I love thee, my mate!Turn to me thy cheek!
Why so is silent? Speak!

ULANA
No, ’tis past believing, that thy heart is mine;
Words are often deceiving, can I trust in thine?

MANRU
Sweet one, banish fear! My love is true, sincere!

MANRU
Lone was I, deserted, thoughts of death were mine!

MANRU
Sweetheart, cease repining not to despairing,!

ULANA
Grief, my heart entwining, had me in its snare.
No, ’tis past believing, that thy heart is mine!

MANRU
List but to its beating, hear my voice repeating, I love thee, my fair!

ULANA
O my God! Is’t true? Has indeed thy heart turned to me in kindness?

MANRU
Long I groped in blindness, feeling joy depart.
Whose the voice that now fills me with delight?
Whose cheek and brow, gentle fair and white?
Whose the heart so tender? Whose the eye so clear?

ULANA
Gladly would I banish memories of pain, having thee again!
Gratitude I render, knowing joy so near!

MANRU
Life within me welling; through my veins is coursing,
every cloud dispelling, happiness enforcing! Thou art mine, mine only! I shall leave thee never, sorrowful and lonely, thine I am for ever!

ULANA
Ah! Such heavenly rapture does past grief repay! Ah! Ah! thine am I, thine for ever!

MANRU
Thou my sun, my treasure, thou my bliss divine, ever, ever I am thine!

ULANA
Loving without measure, ever I am thine!

(Curtain falls rapidly)

 

End Of Act II