Sunday, April 15, 2012

And now: a Mini-Opera


Several weeks ago, I stumbled upon this link, which was a call for amateur writers (librettists), composers, and film makers to write a mini-opera for a fun competition. 

Here is the story to inspire the script, written and read by Neil Gaiman.

So, this is what the website says: "We’re after the most creative, innovative and interesting writers, music makers and film makers out there, whatever your level of experience or knowledge." My experience would be nil, and my knowledge, very close to that (i.e., null?). (I love operas, but over the last few years, haven't been able to attend them as often as I'd like. So I watch them on DVDs and listen to them on the iPod.)

But after listening to Gaiman, who is wickedly genius, haunting me with his story, I sat down and wrote this. If you want to listen to the music I was listening to (Fratres, by Arvo Pärt) as I composed this, open this link, let the music play for a minute or so, then minimize the screen so you can read the opera and hear the music I happened to have on. 
source
THE LINGERER 
A Mini-Opera

SCENE :
AN EMPTY STADIUM AFTER A GAME. THE LANKY SWEEPER ENTERS, PUSHING A LARGE BROOM ACROSS THE BASE OF RISERS (BLEACHERS). HIS HAIR IS LONG AND UNKEMPT, AND ALTHOUGH THE SLEEVES OF HIS JUMPER ARE ROLLED UP TO REVEAL A DRAGON TATTOO AND A CIGARETTE DANGLES FROM HIS LIPS, THERE IS SOMETHING ALLURING ABOUT HIM. HE IS EXHAUSTED.

HE ENCOUNTERS PANINA, A HAUNTINGLY BEAUTIFUL YOUNG WOMAN, IN AN EMPTY STADIUM. IN THE ROW BEFORE HER, AN ARM'S LENGTH AWAY, IS A SMILING BOY, 6. PANINA SITS LIKE A STATUE ON THE BLEACHERS, GAZING AT THE BOY, AMID THE REMAINS OF THE GAME--CRUSHED POPCORN BOXES AND PAPER CUPS, CRUMPLED PAPERS AND SCATTERED NAPKINS AND OTHER DETRITUS.

THE SWEEPER STOPS, LOOKS AROUND, THEN EXTINGUISHES HIS CIGARETTE ON THE
FLOOR WITH HIS BOOT. HE RECOGNIZES PANINA, AND THOUGH HE HAS NEVER SPOKEN TO HER, HIS HEART ACHES AT THE SIGHT OF HER.


SWEEPER:
Another one. Lingerer,
Come, it's time.
The game is lost.
I've work to do.
Dreams to burn.
There is nothing here for you.

PANINA:
No. Please.

SWEEPER:

Lingerer, I've work to do.
You exhaust me at the waking hour.
I cannot make exceptions for you.
Go.

PANINA:


No!
SWEEPER:

You must.

PANINA:


I won't.
SWEEPER:


I've seen you before. Waiting here
hoping, holding your breath, the cheers
Of spectators still echoing,
lifting you on a cloud.
To the palimpsest of dawn,
to places we're not allowed.
SWEEPER TURNS ASIDE AND SPEAKS TO HIMSELF.


And I've seen those cheeks before,
Flushed, alive. How I've wanted more—
to touch them. To feel her pulse on my lips.
I am a fool. A Sweeper of Dreams.


HE TURNS BACK AND SPEAKS TO PANINA.

But look, these halls are empty now.
The sun is born
I've work to do
Dreams to burn.
(TO HIMSELF)
And you to burn from these visions now.

PANINA:
Six months, he has been gone from me.
Six months since he flew.
Six years is too young to go.
Six years is too few.
And here I'll stay, where we cheer,
Where his face is bright,
Where we meet each night.

SWEEPER:
Lingerer, there are dreams and there is death
Lingerer, you cannot have the two.
It will not do.

PANINA:

Please, please. I beg of you,
Do not wake me from this sleep.
Don't sweep away his singsong voice,
The smell of his skin, his palm on my cheek.
He's happy here, and I am, too.
Let the living world rust,
But do not burn my son to dust.

SWEEPER:

This is no world for you.
The boy is gone.

PANINA:


My boy is here.
SWEEPER:
There is only madness dear
If you choose to stay.
I've seen the sturdiest men
crumple under savage screams.
You cannot live in the wreckage
of your dreams.
Come, boy.

THE SWEEPER HOLDS OUT HIS HAND TO THE BOY. THE BOY STEPS DOWN OFF THE BLEACHERS AND SITS BEFORE THE SWEEPER, IN A SMALL PILE OF POPCORN BOXES, PENNANTS, FALLEN BALLOONS, ETC.

PANINA:

Take me, too!

SHE RUSHES DOWN AND COLLAPSES AT THE SWEEPER'S FEET. THEY SING TOGETHER.


SWEEPER:
PANINA:
She comes to me each night. Standing here
Waiting, holding her breath,
The crowd, the cheers,
lifting her on a cloud…

To serenity. I'm not allowed...



And to see her cheeks, flushed, alive.

How I've wanted to
hold them…


To feel her pulse upon my lips.
My ashen lips turn golden…


I am a fool, a Sweeper of Dreams...



But look, these halls are empty in the sun...
He comes to me each night. Standing here
Living, I hear his breath,
The crowd, the cheers,

lifting him on a breeze…

But heaven can't have him, he's here with me.

And to see his cheeks, flushed, alive.

How I've wanted to

take them.

To feel his pulse upon my lips,

My mourning soul awaken.



I am a mother, without her son...


But look, these halls are empty in the sun...

DAWN IS BREAKING AND THE STAGE IS COLORED MORNING.
SWEEPER:
I've work to do, for you, I swear.
Back to the breathing, the waking air.
Back to your living child who waits.
I sweep so you can come again, come       renewed.
These dreams I burn for you.



THE SWEEPER PLACES ANOTHER ROLLED CIGARETTE IN HIS MOUTH AND LIGHTS IT. THEN HE STRETCHES HIS HAND OVER THE PILE OF OBJECTS AND THE BOY AND FLICKS ON THE LIGHTER. A PILLAR OF SMOKE RISES UP AND ENVELOPES THE CHILD.

PANINA BACKS UP SLOWLY AS THE SWEEPER PUSHES HIS BROOM ACROSS THE STAGE. HE LOOKS BACK AND WATCHES HER RELUCTANTLY EXIT INTO THE SUNLIGHT.



CURTAIN

18 comments:

  1. Lori Ann -

    Love it! Fantastic end with "These dreams I burn for you." =)

    This was a fascinating contest, wasn't it? I'm having so much fun reading people and seeing such different, creative responses.

    ~Jenny

    P.S. Okay, how did you get your columns to line up so beautifully? No matter what I did, my side columns looked like a wavy river!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jenny! Isn't it fun to read others? I linked a few in today's post, if you want to read more. "The Waitress and the Sweeper" is amazing.

      Did you submit one? I'll take a look at your site.

      Oh my gosh, the column thing put me in a fit. As you probably know, Blogger doesn't support columns, so I typed it all in Word, using a Table to separate the columns and to match (and separate) their lines. Then I pasted it into the post. There were still some little issues with formatting, but it mainly did the job. Now that I've read through other people's entries (much more professionally formatted), I have a better idea about different ways to embed my material.

      Delete
    2. Thank you! I will go try that.

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Do you have a plaintext version? Can't read it properly on a mobile device - when i slide to see the text, it goes to the next blog post

    Thx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll try to figure out how to either post a new plaintext version this morning. Thanks for letting me know!

      Delete
    2. Can you try reading it here: (http://lastephens.blogspot.com/2012/06/thing-that-made-me-cry-in-car.html)? if not, I'll have to figure out another way.

      Delete
  4. Congratulations Lori. Very tender & moving. -pr

    ReplyDelete
  5. I chose your script for my composition entry! I fell in love with your libretto and I started hearing themes as I was reading. I haven't recorded it yet with singers, but if you want to hear the MIDI version, I'll include a link. Panina is the viola MIDI and the Sweeper is the cello. http://soundcloud.com/nickerricomusic/the-sweeper-of-dreams

    Congratulations on making it to the finals.

    -Nick

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Nick! I listened to the recording--it's the first recording I've heard of the piece. I adore the wistful cello and the repeating piano (?) motif. Was almost humming along with the voices of the characters in this MIDI version--well done! Can't wait to hear the finished version. Good luck!

      Delete
    2. Unfortunately, I never got this recorded. We went to record it last summer and a big storm sent trees down on top of the building we were in, so we couldn't record. It may happen this summer, but obviously not for the competition. I'm a little late for that, lol. If we get it recorded, I will let you know. Side note: do you know how the copyrights work with all of this? Like, can I record it and use it in my portfolio?

      -Nick

      Delete
    3. Oh no! I'm sorry about the storm. I hope a recording happens anyway, and yes, I'd love to hear it. I don't know how copyrights work with other libretti, but since so many others have recorded this one, (and since the competition was in the spirit of collaboration) I see no problem for you to record it and use it for your portfolio. Just place my name on the libretto attribution, and you're good to go! Have fun.

      Delete
  6. Hi there,

    I'm a theater director in Minneapolis. This piece is beautiful! I'll be following your work from now on, that's for sure. The images are so memorable...I'd LOVE to stage something like this. Keep it up, please :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Nicole. I'd LOVE to see a staged version. You can stage my novel, too. ; ) I'm not picky.
      (Though that may take some really creative liberties on your part.)

      Delete
  7. So happy for you! This is just wonderful. Just listened to it as well and so moving.

    ReplyDelete