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8.223781-82 - RUBINSTEIN: Demon (The)
English 

SYNOPSIS CDI

Anton Rubinstein

The Demon (Complete Opera)

 

SYNOPSIS

 

CDI

PROLOGUE scene I

 

[1] The setting is Prince Gudal's castle in Georgia.

 

[2] The commanding figure of the Demon appears. Choruses representing the three levels of universal order - the spirits of hell, earth and heaven -are fused together in a dramatic musical picture. The chorus sing excitedly: "Above the earth again, Demon is flying" [Nad zyernloyu snova Dyernon prolyetayet].

 

[3] The Demon expresses his complete disillusionment: " Accursed world! Despicable world! Wretched, hateful world!" [Proklyatyi mir! Prezryennyi mir! Nyeschastnyi, nyenavistnyi rnnye mir!]. Human life is weak and insignificant, he finds no opposition to his power, and he even sows evil with no sense of pleasure.

 

[4] An Angel appears and reminds the Demon that love can restore him to heaven: "Do not curse, but love!" [Nye klyani, a lyubi!]

 

[5] The Demon rejects any such notion: "What is the radiance of eternal power to me, what is divine paradise? I desire my freedom, I desire wild passions and not repose. You praise his creation - you are all slaves! I want to live, I desire agitation, I desire struggles!" [Shto mnye siyan'ye vyechnoi vlasti, shto rai svyatoi!]

 

[6] The Angel retorts angrily: "Your knowledge is negation, your love is hatred" [Tvoi poznan'ya- otritsan'ya, i nyenavist' - lyubov' tvoya] and she warns the Demon not to touch anything which is dear to heaven. In his turn, the Demon warns the Angel that he loves a struggle, and that heaven too should watch out.

 

ACT I scene 2

It is evening on the shores of the river Aragva.

 

[7] Girls are filling their pitchers with water: "We go down to the bright Aragva each evening" [Khodirn my k Aragvye svyetloi kazhdyi vecher za vodoi].

 

Prince Gudal's daughter Tamara appears accompanied by her Nanny, and joins her friends.

 

[8] At this moment the Demon appears, sees her and she hears his voice: "What do I see? I am confounded by long-forgotten dreams. Her heavenly features shine with angelic beauty" [Shto vizhu ya? Menya smushchayet davno zabytye myechty]. Tamara is confused and grows pensive, feeling that some strange danger is oppressing her.

 

[9] To dispel her anxieties, her Nanny sings of her bridegroom: "That's enough now, enough! You listen to what I am going to tel you. A bridegroom is gallopjng on horseback to his bride" [Polno, polno! Ty slushai, vot shto rasskazhu tyebye. Skachet k nyevyestye zhenikh na konye]. Tamara drifts into day-dreaming of the forthcoming wedding and of the blissful life she will lead when she marries the Prince.

 

[10] Tamara is about to rejoin her friends when she hears the Demon's voice: "Child, in your embraces I shall be resurrected into a new life. Tamara love me! I shall not let another have you! A free son of the ether, I shall take you into the starry regions, and you shall be mistress of the world, my eternal companion" [Ditya, v ob'yatiyakh tvoikh voskresnu k novoi zhizni ya].

 

[11] She sees for the first time the Demon and is struck motionless. Alarmed by Tamara's wild and agitated look, her Nanny comes up to her and the Demon disappears. "He was standing there, shining in heavenly light... and he sang to me such wonderful songs; he spoke passionate words to me and promised me wondrous joys" [Tarn, na skalye on stoyla, svyetom nyebyesnym siyal].

 

[12] Unable to understand who Tamara means, her Nanny and the maidens decide it is time to return home to the castle. As they go, Tamara glances back, reminiscing on the words: " And you shall be mistress of the world, my eternal companion" [I budyesh'ty tsaritsei mira, podruga vyechnaya moya!].

 

ACT I Scene 3

A wild place in the mountains with a solitary chapel in the distance.

 

[13] An orchestral interlude pictures the scene as a caravan approaches.

 

[14] Prince Sinodal's Old Servant shouts to his companions: “Halt, brothers, halt” [Stoi! Brattsy, stoi!] as they prepare to spend the night in this desolate place.

 

[15] The Prince enters and orders a messenger to be sent ahead to Tamara to say that he will be at Gudal's castle at midday the following day: “Fit out a messenger to send to the Princess” [Snaryadi gontsa k nyevyeste].

 

The advance of the caravan has suddenly been held up by an avalanche and the Prince's servants and horses are exhausted. In his imagination Prince Sinodal transforms himself into a falcon and flies to his beloved: “My heart beats anxiously, our caravan has been held up, and in vain does Prince Gudal await us today...” “Transformed into a falcon, I would fly to you, my timid turtle-dove, I would soar into the air” [Serdtse b'yotsia nyespokoino ...Obernuvshish' sokolom, i k tyebye, moya gorlitsa puglivaya, polyetyel by ya].

 

[16] The Old Servant consoles him with the thought that he will soon be with his bride: “Don't fret, don't be downcast' [Nye pyechal'sya, nye kruchin'sya, dorogoi moi knyaz'].

 

[17] The servants pour out wine and approach the Prince to congratulate him on his approaching wedding: “For the health of the Prince, hurrah!” [Za zdorov'ye knyazya, ura!]

 

[18] The Old Servant upbraids them for shouting in such an evil place: “What are you shouting for? Calm down and be silent. This is no place for shouting in. This is an evil place: look, there on the roadside stands a chapel. A saint lies there slain from vengeance by a cunning hand” [Chevo vy krichitye?]. He begs the Prince to go to the chapel and pray before retiring. Those who have offered up an ardent prayer at the chapel have always been protected from the Moslem's dagger.

 

[19] The Prince says that he will pray there the next morning before setting off on his journey: "Tomo"ow with first light, as we set off on our journey, I shall go to the chapel to pray, but now go and lie down all of you! You too, old fellow!" [Zavtra, v put'idya s zaryoyu, voidu v chasnovnyu ya s mol'boyu]

 

[20] He tells all his retinue to retire: the image of Tamara will protect him against all misfortune: "In the darkness of the night, the obedient winds seem to fly to your chamber, my darling. Everything that I say to you, how I love her, sing to my darling at her bedside" [Nochen'koi tyomnoyu, vyetry poslushnye]. The Prince lies down and talking in his sleep dreams of Tamara.

 

[21] The Demon appears and it is he who has lulled the Prince to sleep with sweet dreams of his beloved: "During his prayer I lulled him to sleep with sweet dreams. In the darkness of the night he kissed his bride's lips in his dreams. sleep, sleep, you shall not see Tamara! Time flies. The darkness of the night is full of woe, and your enemy - here he is!" [Yevo ya vo vremya molitvy myechtoyu sladkoi usyplyal].

 

[22] The menacing forms of Tartars creep forward and fall on the sleeping men: "Softer, softer, creep up" [Tishe, tishe podpolzaitye].

 

[23] The Old Servant runs in and tells him to protect his caravan: "Where are my servants... Have they run away or do they lie bravely on the ground?" [Gdye zhe slugi moi]. The Prince and the Old Servant pursue the attackers, but a shot suddenly rings out. Supported by the Old Servant, the Prince reappears wounded. Examining the wound, the Old Servant is forced to admit that it is fatal. Learning that he will not live to see the dawn, the Prince jumps up with the intention of riding to his bride's nuptial feast without delay. The Old Servant tries to calm him. The Demon appears, and with Tamara's name on his lips, the Prince dies.

 

CD2

ACT 2 Scene 4

A hall in Gudal's castle in readiness for the arrival of the bridegroom.

 

[1] A long prologue leads to the entrance of the guests who sing praise of Prince Gudal for this important day: "Hey! We have gathered together on this festive day" [V den' vese1'ya my sobralis'].

 

[2] A Messenger arrives with the news that Prince Sinodal has been delayed, but will come with his caravan at midday. Prince Gudal orders wine to be poured for all the guests and tells them to drink the health of the Prince and Princess. The guests respond: "Wine brings jollity and love" [Vino, vino, dayot ono vese1'ye i lyubov'].

 

[3] Suddenly off-stage cries presage bad tidings. Prince Gudal and his retinue go out and then some of the men return with anxious faces. The dead Prince's body is brought in. The Old Servant follows behind. Tamara falls on the corpse with cries of despair: "Oh God, God! What a terrible dread sight. My Prince, wake up, wake up for a moment" [O Bozhe, Bozhe. Strashnyi uzhasnyi vid].

 

[4] The Old Servant tells how Prince Sinodal was killed. The Messenger, Prince Gudal, the Old Servant, Nanny and Guests join together to deplore the news: "Our dear Prince, our beloved Prince, a sad lot has befallen you! At the height of your strength and your desires death has mown you down to the cold earth" [Knyaz' dorogoi nash, knyaz'nash lyubimyi]. In vain, Tamara implores the corpse to come to life, but seeing that her words do not touch him, she tears off her wedding veil. Her father tries to console her, but for her, only the tomb can unite her once again with her betrothed.

 

[5] As Tamara lies sobbing she hears the Demon's voice: "Do not weep, child, do not weep in vain, your tear will not fall like living dew onto a silent corpse" [Nye plach', ditya, nye plach' naprasno].

 

 

[6] Tamara gets up in confusion. She does not know who spoke those words: "What did he say? You heard, he called me" [Shto on skazal?].

 

[7] Prince Gudal orders the corpse to be removed immediately, and the Nanny orders the women to move away from Tamara, believing that the Lord has sent her a vision which will calm her. "Take the Prince's body away quickly" [Unesitye poskoryeyetyelo knyazya ot nyeyo]

[8] Once again the Demon appears to Tamara: "On the ocean of the air, without rudder or sail, the harmonious constellations of heavenly bodies sail quietly past in the mist; amid the immeasurable fields fibrous herds of intangible clouds pass by in the heavens without trace. For them the hour of parting, the hour of meeting is neither joy nor sorrow; they express no wish for the future, nor regret for the past. Remember them on a weary day of misfortune, be impartial to earthly things and unconcerned like them" [Na vozdushnorn okeanye, bez rulya i bez vyetril].

 

[9] The Demon tells her that as soon as night shrouds the mountain tops with its veil he will come to her, waft golden dreams on her silky eyelids and stay until dawn: " As soon as night shrouds the mountain tops of the Caucasus with its veil, as soon as the world, charmed by the magical word, falls silent, as soon as the golden moon rises silently from behind the hill, looking at you with a smile, I shall fly to you" [Lish' tol'ko noch' svoim pokrovorn verkhi Kavkaza osenit].

 

[10] At this moment Gudal and the men return. Tamara starts, as if waking from a dream, calling out: "Where is he? Stooping down to my head, he was looking at me so sadly and with such earnest love, as if he were sorry for me" [Gdye zh on. ..? Sklonyasya k izgolov'yu, on grustno na menya smotryel].

 

[11] Prince Gudal believes she has lost her reason. Tamara begs to be allowed to retire to a holy convent where the Lord will protect her: "Father , father , my soul is suffering. Father, take pity on me, send your foolhardy daughter to a holy convent!" [Otets, otets, dusha moya stradayet].

 

[12] In his old age Gudal will not give up his only comfort in life and at first will not listen to the entreaties of Tamara and the others. Eventually he agrees reluctantly: "Let her go to the holy convent, let her rest there" [Otpusti yeyo v obitel']. The Old Servant, the Nanny and Chorus join with Prince Gudal who casts a final glance at Tamara as she goes out.

 

ACT 3 Scene 5

Part of the convent enclosure in which the window of Tamara's cell can be seen.

 

[13] It is night and the Old Servant, striking an instrument declares: "The Christian world sleeps; before the sign of the cross and the power of prayer a/1 impure things fa/1 as dust" [Spit khristianskii mir]

 

[14] As he leaves the Demon approaches the convent enclosure. He gazes at the illuminated window of Tamara's cell, but fears to enter the enclosure: "The holy convent sleeps, only her window is still illuminated. She is waiting, she has long waited, and I am here! But I fear to enter the convent, and at the bottom of my old wound my sadness has begun to writhe like a snake. I could even weep!" [Obite1' spit, yeyo okno eshcho ozareno]

 

[15] He declares that the moment he saw Tamara he began to loathe his immortality and even began to envy the imperfect joys of earthly life: "Yes, I love her , I shall find renewal! Why delay? My soul is open to goodness and I shall enter" [Da, ya yeyo lyublyu].

 

[16] An Angel appears to bar his way: "Agitated and depraved spirit, what are you doing here at the midnight hour? You will not find your disciples here" [Dukh bespokoinyi, dukh porochnyi]. The Demon replies that Tamara is already his, but the angel warns him not to touch that which is dear to heaven. The Demon disregards the angel and angrily enters the enclosure.

 

ACT 3 Scene 6

Tamara's cell, illuminated by a candle.

 

[17] Tamara cannot sleep and is constantly troubled by a dream about a stranger and wonders who it might be: "The night is warm, the night is calm, I cannot sleep" [Noch' tepla, noch' tikha, nye rnogu ya usnut']. The Demon enters and Tamara and the Demon gaze intently at one another.

 

[18] Outside the cell the Old Servant repeats his incantation: "The Christian world sleeps; before the sign of the cross and the power of prayer all impure things fall as dust" [Spit khristianskii mir]

 

[19] Tamara asks the stranger who he is and the Demon replies: "I am the one to whom you listened in the silence of the midnight hour, whose thoughts whispered to your soul, whose sorrows you vaguely guessed. I am the one whose look destroys hope - hope will scarcely even blossom; I am the one whom no one loves, and whom all living beings curse; I am the scourge of my earthly slaves, I am the king of knowledge and freedom; I am the enemy of heaven, I am the evil aspect of nature, and you, I am at your feet! I have brought you in tender emotion the pure prayer of love - the first earthly torments, and my first tears!" [Ya tot, kotorornu vnimala ty v polunochnoi tishinye].

 

[20] Fearing the Demon's words Tamara commands him to be silent: "Your words are dangerous! Did hell or paradise send you to me?" [Rech' tvoya opasna! Tyebya prislal rnnye ad il'rai?]

 

[21] The Demon confesses that in Tamara he has found all he sought before he was cast out of heaven, and implores her to understand his unacknowledged sorrow and suffering: "Your image was impressed on my soul from the beginning of the world: it was before me in the deserts of the eternal ether. Long ago, disturbing my thought, the sweet name sounded to me; in the days of bliss in heaven, it was you alone who were lacking! If you could only understand my sorrow, my sufferings, the battle between aspirations and desires, - all that I was forced to hide! What is the chronicle of painful deprivations, the labours and the misfortunes of the human herd, of generations past and future, compared with one moment of my unacknowledged sufferings! What are people? What is their life and their labour? They have lived and they will die. ..They hope and they await true judgement. He can forgive, though he will condemn them! My sorrow is immutable now, and like me, it has no end - it will not slumber in the grave! Now it caresses me like a serpent, now sears and flickers like a flame, now crushes my breast like a stone -the indestructible mausoleum of dashed hopes and passions" [V dushe rnoey s nachala mira tvoi obraz byl napechatlyon].

 

[22] The Demon rejects Tamara's fear of God and eternal damnation, for God is concerned with heaven and not earth. Tamara feels compassion for the Demon's suffering, but acknowledging her own female frailty, asks him to forswear evil. He replies "I swear by the first day of creation, I swear by the last day, I swear by the shame of crime and by the victory of eternal truth... I swear by bliss and torment, I swear by my love - I have renounced old vengeance, I have renounced proud thoughts. I want reconciliation with heaven, I want to love, I want to pray, I want to believe in goodness" [Klyanus' ya pervym dnyorn tvoren'ya].

 

[23] Dawn begins to show and a chorus of nuns is heard in the distance: "Creating everything eternally good" [Vsyo sozidayushchii, vechno blagoi].

 

[24] Tamara calls upon the creator, and exhausted by her own spiritual struggle begs the Demon to leave her: " Ah, creator, creator, I call upon you! I have no strength, alas, no strength to pray" [Akh! tvorets, tvorets, tyebya, tebya zovu].

 

[25] Once again the Demon repeats his familiar refrain: "I shall dive to the bottom of the sea. I shall fly above the clouds, I shall give you all earthly things, all, all! Love me!" [Ya opushchus' na dno rnorskoye], telling her what wondrous delights await her there.

 

[26] Tamara continues to struggle with her emotions: she cannot love the Demon, she must not. He could conjure her passion by the powers of hell, but desires her love. The fate of the earth is in her hands, for it is in her power to end evil. Once more she calls upon heaven, but she is unable to withstand the Demon's entreaties: "I am in your hands... But take pity on me!" [Ya v tvoikh rukakh... No poshchadi rnenya], and in it declares her love for the Demon which she seals with a kiss.

 

[27] The angels are stunned: "Tamara!"

 

 

EPILOGUE

[28] The Angel appears to save Tamara's soul and conjures the Demon to be gone: "Be gone, spirit at doubt!" [Ischezni, dukh sornnen'ya!]

 

[29] The Demon responds: "I cannot give her back! She is mine!" [Yeyo otdat' ya nye rnogu! Ona rnoya!]

 

[30] The Angel declares: "No, she was not created for you! Be gone gloomy spirit!" [Nyet! Nye sozdana dlya tyebya ona].

 

[31] Once more the Demon has been abandoned and is alone and he curses heaven and earth: " Again I am abandoned! Again alone! Ah! Accursed world! A curse on everyone!" [Opyat' ya sir! Opyat' odin!].

 

APOTHEOSIS

[32] The voices of angels ascending to heaven bearing Tamara are heard: "We bear the sinful soul, the soul which loved and Buffered, ta heaven!" [My dushu greshnuyu, dushu lyubivshuyu, dushu stradavshuyu k nyebu nesyorn].

 

It should be noted that Rubinstein numbered the scenes in chronological order through the opera, in addition to giving act numbers. In this performance in Act 2 (scene 4) which follows track 2 of CD 2, the ballet, was omitted, and the conductor also made several smaller cuts. The recording faithfully reproduces this Wexford Festival Opera production in its entirety.


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