Page 1

Ophelia Forever Libretto (with CD Track Indications) Texts Compiled and Arranged by Amy Beth Kirsten


Ophelia Forever 2

PROGRAM NOTES Ophelia has been portrayed in theater, art, poetry, photography, film, music, and dance over the course of generations. With each generation comes a fresh analysis of her significance to Hamlet, the mystery surrounding her death, and especially her madness. Many interpretations have formed over the years and seem to coincide with an established cultural ethos regarding women of the time. Because Ophelia has served as a social mirror she has reflected the journey of the female spirit that has sought to defy polite social labels, to resist gender-based restraints, and to forge a path that embraces both love and independence. The aim for this piece is to present the multiplicity of the character, the struggle between the aspects, and the eventual resolution of the struggle. Ophelia Forever is very much indebted to “The Myth and Madness of Ophelia”, an art exhibit spearheaded by Carol Solomon Kiefer of the Mead Art Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts. It was the printed version of this exhibit that not only pointed to non-Shakespearean sources for text but also inspired the concept of three Ophelia’s on stage at once, each representing a different aspect of her psyche, battling for control. Especially significant are the famous painting, Ophelia, 1851-52 by John Everett Millais, Gregory Crewdson’s photograph Untitled (Ophelia) 2000-1, and Linda Stark’s oil on canvas Ophelia Forever (1999). The libretto is constructed of fragments of text from Hamlet and poetry by Elizabeth Siddal, Christina Rossetti, Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, and the composer.


Ophelia Forever 3

Violated Saint Track 1: “Poor Ophelia” and “Ritornello 1”

Track 2: “I Know That Voice”

Mad Mermaid

Poor Ophelia Divided from herself and Her fair judgment, Without the which we are pictures, 1 Or mere beasts ;

Poor Ophelia Divided from herself and Her fair judgment, Without the which we are pictures, Or mere beasts;

Poor Ophelia Divided from herself and Her fair judgment, Without the which we are pictures, Or mere beasts;

We know what we are, but 2 know not what we may be .

We know what we are, but know not what we may be.

We know what we are, but know not what we may be.

Be, be, to be, to be, or not? 3 That is the question!

Be, be, to be, to be, or not? That is the question!

Be, be, to be, to be, or not? That is the question!

I KNOW THAT VOICE I know that voice. (I recognize the stark Shape of the friend who beckons from afar;) Your love, (your sister’s waiting. 4 In the dark…)

(I know that voice.) (I recognize the stark Shape) of the friend who beckons from afar; (Your love, your sister’s waiting.) In the dark…

(I know that voice.) I recognize the stark Shape (of the friend who beckons from afar;) (Your love,) your sister’s waiting. (In the dark…)

-Tell us, what did you see? Track 3: “What the Saint Saw”

Track 4: “Coaxing the Seductress” and “What the Seductress Saw”

Faithful Seductress

8

WHAT THE SAINT SAW …with his head over his shoulder turn’d, He seem’d to find his way without his eyes, For out a’ doors he went without their helps, And to the last bended their 5 light on me.

Go on, go on! (frightened)

Tell us, what did you see?

Tell us, what did you see?

COAXING THE SEDUCTRESS You’re all we have. Breathe on our sails. Describe The stars, the enormous spaces, you’ve adored. What 6 did you see?

You’re all we have. Breathe on our sails. Describe The stars, the enormous spaces, you’ve adored. What did you see?

Tell us, what did you see?

Go on, go on! (frightened)


Ophelia Forever 4 Violated Saint (“What the Seductress Saw”

I shall obey my lord 7 (seductively)

Mad Mermaid

I shall obey my lord (seductively)

And love, what did you see? Track 5: “What the Mermaid Saw”

Faithful Seductress WHAT THE SDX SAW …with his head over his shoulder turn’d, He seem’d to find his way without his eyes, For out a’ doors he went without their helps, And to the last bended their light on me.

And love, what did you see? WHAT THE MERMAID SAW …with his head over turn’d, He seem’d without eyes, out went helps, And to the last bended me, bended Bended bended

I shall obey my lord (seductively)

You’re all we have…

I shall obey my lord (seductively)

Wound in her veils

I shall obey my lord (seductively)

…a willow grows aslant

Go on, go on! (frightened)

Bended in her veils

Go on, go on (frightened)

Wound aslant in her veils

Wound me bended

…a willow grows aslant the brook

I shall obey my lord (seductively)

I shall obey my lord (seductively)

Track 6: “I Was Born”

I WAS BORN The time is out of joint O cursed spite that ever I was born to set it

The time is out of joint O cursed spite that ever I was born to set it

The time is out of joint O cursed spite that ever I was born to set it

Track 7: Ritornello 2

We know what we are, but 9 know not what we may be .

We know what we are, but know not what we may 14 be .

We know what we are, but 16 know not what we may be .

…that ever I was born to set it 10 right.

I shall obey my lord (seductively)


Ophelia Forever 5 Violated Saint Track 8: “Oh Help Him” – Enter Hamlet figure lingering in background

Mad Mermaid

Faithful Seductress

OH HELP HIM Oh help him you sweet 11 heavens All changes pass me like a dream I neither sing nor pray And thou art like the poisonous tree 12 That stole my life away Pray lets have no words of 13 this…

EXIT HAM. Nymph in thy orisons be all 17 my sins remembered…

Track 9: Ritornello 3

We know what we are, but know not what we may be

We know what we are, but know not what we may be

We know what we are, but know not what we may be I was born to set it right!

Kiss me!

Kiss me…as one incapable 15 of her own distress…

Track 10: “Let Me Go On” – Enter Hamlet, sits on chair, zombie like

Kiss me!

LET ME GO ON Her clothes spread wide and mermaidlike awhile they …laid her beckoning body out for love; far below the waves of passion broke; from high above she watched them break impetuous and slow. Let me go on biting at your heavy black tresses, When I chew at your elastic 25 rebellious hairs I seem to be eating memories

EXIT HAM. Track 11: “I Know That Voice”

I KNOW THAT VOICE I know that voice. (I recognize the stark Shape of the friend who beckons from afar;) Your love, (your sister’s waiting. 18 In the dark…)

(I know that voice.) (I recognize the stark Shape) of the friend who beckons from afar; (Your love, your sister’s waiting.) In the dark… I was born… I was born…

(I know that voice.) I recognize the stark Shape (of the friend who beckons from afar;) (Your love,) your sister’s waiting. (In the dark…)


Ophelia Forever 6 Violated Saint Track 12: Ritornello 4

We know what we are, but know not what we may be.

Track 13: “Never Doubt I Love” – Enter Hamlet as before I did love you once.

19

Mad Mermaid We know what we are, but know not what we may be. NEVER DOUBT I LOVE The shadow of my dear love’s face So far and strange it 21 seems. Doubt thou the stars are fire Doubt that the sun doth move Doubt truth to be a liar 22 But never doubt I love.

I shall obey my lord.

Faithful Seductress We know what we are, but know not what we may be.

I did love you once. I shall obey my lord.

I loved you not.

I loved you not. But never doubt I love.

But never doubt I love!!

Track 14: “I Stare Through Winows”

EXIT HAM.

Towards me

I shall obey my lord hath of late made many tenders of his affections Towards me Towards ME 23 Towards ME

Towards me

Poor Ophelia Divided from herself and Her fair judgment…

Poor Ophelia Divided from herself and Her fair judgment…

Poor Ophelia Divided from herself and Her fair judgment…

I stare through windows at infinity, Longing for death’s insensibility, Or for a world of Form and Being, made Not of the winds that blow from that strange sleep 20 Nor any part of me

I stare through windows at infinity, Longing for death’s insensibility, Or for a world of Form and Being, made Not of the winds that blow from that strange sleep Nor any part of me.

I stare through windows at infinity, Longing for death’s insensibility, Or for a world of Form and Being, made Not of the winds that blow from that strange sleep Nor any part of me

I loved you not.

24


Ophelia Forever 7 Violated Saint Track 15: “One Face”

HAM. Enters in slow motion HAM. Begins strangling the Mermaid in slow motion – all Ophelias begin choking as they’re singing. She rips his arm away on her high B flat

Mad Mermaid

Faithful Seductress

I loved you

I loved you

I loved you

ONE FACE One face looks out from all his canvases One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans; We found her hidden just behind those screens, A nameless girl in freshest summer greens,

ONE FACE One face looks out from all his canvases One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans; We found her hidden just behind those screens, A nameless girl in freshest summer greens,

ONE FACE One face looks out from all his canvases One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans; We found her hidden just behind those screens, A nameless girl in freshest summer greens,

One, one, one

One, one, one

One, one, one

He feeds upon her face by day and night And she with true kind eyes looks back on him Not wan with waiting not with sorrow dim; Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright:

Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright:

Not as she is but as she fills 26 his…

Not as she is but as she fills his…[dream]

…dream.

…dream, to dream, to die, to sleep, perchance to 27 dream… Good night, ladies, good night. Sweet ladies, good 28 night, good night.

And flights of angels sing 29 thee to thy rest.

Not as she is but as she fills his…


Ophelia Forever 8 END NOTES 1

From Hamlet – Claudius, Act IV, sc. v Ibid., - Ophelia, Act IV, sc. v 3 Ibid., - Hamlet, Act III, sc. i 4 Baudelaire, from Voyages 5 From Hamlet – Ophelia, Act II, sc. i 6 Baudelaire, from Voyages 7 From Hamlet – Ophelia, Act I, sc. iii 8 Baudelaire, from Voyages 9 From Hamlet – Ophelia, Act IV, sc. v 10 Ibid., – Hamlet, Act I, sc. v 11 Ibid., - Ophelia, Act III, sc. i 12 Elizabeth Siddal, from Love and Hate 13 From Hamlet – Ophelia, Act IV, sc. v 14 From Hamlet – Ophelia, Act IV, sc. v 15 Ibid., – Gertrude, Act IV, sc. vii 16 Ibid., - Ophelia, Act IV, sc. v 17 Ibid., - Hamlet, Act III, sc. i 18 Baudelaire, from Voyages 19 From Hamlet – Hamlet, Act III, sc. i 20 Baudelaire from The Abyss 21 Elizabeth Siddal, from A Year and a Day 22 From Hamlet – Polonius reading a letter from Hamlet to Ophelia, Act II, sc. ii 23 From Hamlet – Ophelia, Act I, sc. iii 24 From Hamlet – Hamlet, Act III, sc. i 25 Baudelaire, from Hemisphere of Hair 26 Christina Rossetti, from In an Artist’s Studio 27 From Hamlet – Hamlet, Act III, sc. i 28 From Hamlet – Ophelia, Act IV, sc. v 29 From Hamlet – Horatio, Act V, sc. ii 2

Ophelia Forever - Libretto