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Ghost​ ​Variations By​ ​Kim​ ​Feltkamp Dramatis​ ​Personae Clara​ ​Schumann​ ​–​ ​mezzo Johannes​ ​Brahms​ ​–​ ​soprano Robert​ ​Schumann​ ​–​ ​baritone Florestan​ ​–​ ​soprano Eusebius​ ​–​ ​mezzo Dr.​ ​Franz​ ​Richarz​ ​–​ ​tenor Marie​ ​Schumann​ ​–​ ​soprano Set​ ​Details The​ ​stage​ ​is​ ​split​ ​in​ ​half:​ ​stage​ ​left​ ​is​ ​the​ ​Schumanns’​ ​living​ ​room​ ​in​ ​Düsseldorf​ ​and​ ​stage​ ​right​ ​is​ ​Robert’s cell​ ​in​ ​the​ ​asylum​ ​in​ ​Endenich.​ ​The​ ​two​ ​spaces​ ​share​ ​a​ ​wall,​ ​which​ ​has​ ​a​ ​door​ ​in​ ​it​ ​that​ ​swings​ ​both​ ​ways. The​ ​Schumanns’​ ​home​ ​has​ ​a​ ​piano​ ​with​ ​a​ ​bench,​ ​a​ ​couch,​ ​and​ ​a​ ​small​ ​table.​ ​The​ ​cell​ ​has​ ​a​ ​cot​ ​and​ ​a​ ​hard chair.


Act​ ​I,​ ​Scene​ ​1 February​ ​1854,​ ​Düsseldorf ROBERT,​ ​middle-aged​ ​and​ ​cagey,​ ​bends​ ​over​ ​at​ ​the​ ​piano​ ​in​ ​his​ ​home,​ ​composing,​ ​as​ ​FLORESTAN​ ​and EUSEBIUS​ ​look​ ​on​ ​from​ ​their​ ​place​ ​in​ ​the​ ​dimly-lit​ ​cell.​ ​FLORESTAN​ ​and​ ​EUSEBIUS​ ​are​ ​genderless​ ​and ageless​ ​with​ ​an​ ​impish,​ ​ephemeral​ ​quality​ ​to​ ​their​ ​movements;​ ​in​ ​short,​ ​they​ ​are​ ​the​ ​embodiment​ ​of chaotic​ ​neutral. ROBERT​ ​plays​ ​snatches​ ​of​ ​the​ ​first​ ​song​ ​in​ ​his​ ​Gedichte​ ​der​ ​Königin​ ​Maria​ ​Stuart.​ ​Meanwhile,​ ​FLORESTAN picks​ ​up​ ​a​ ​clarinet​ ​and​ ​prepares​ ​to​ ​play. Suddenly,​ ​ROBERT’s​ ​composing​ ​is​ ​interrupted​ ​by​ ​a​ ​single,​ ​sustained​ ​A:​ ​FLORESTAN​ ​on​ ​the​ ​clarinet. ROBERT​ ​gets​ ​up​ ​from​ ​the​ ​piano​ ​in​ ​frustration. ROBERT The​ ​fear​ ​of​ ​death is​ ​a​ ​trifle to​ ​the​ ​fear of​ ​losing​ ​one’s​ ​mind. CLARA​ ​(​from​ ​off-stage​) Robert,​ ​my​ ​love,​ ​is​ ​something​ ​wrong? ROBERT It’s​ ​only​ ​that​ ​infernal​ ​ringing​ ​again. A​ ​solitary​ ​A​ ​will​ ​not​ ​leave​ ​me​ ​in​ ​peace! EUSEBIUS Florestan, you​ ​play​ ​with​ ​the​ ​soul​ ​of​ ​a​ ​poet. FLORESTAN Why,​ ​thank​ ​you,​ ​Eusebius. Perhaps​ ​you​ ​have​ ​an​ ​ear​ ​for​ ​talent​ ​after​ ​all. EUSEBIUS Don’t​ ​be​ ​a​ ​prick. FLORESTAN Don’t​ ​be​ ​an​ ​ass! CLARA​ ​enters,​ ​followed​ ​by​ ​their​ ​12-year-old​ ​daughter,​ ​MARIE.​ ​CLARA​ ​has​ ​a​ ​quiet​ ​strength​ ​about​ ​her, starkly​ ​calm​ ​against​ ​ROBERT’s​ ​restlessness. CLARA Should​ ​we​ ​call​ ​the​ ​doctor?


ROBERT Don’t​ ​bother— he​ ​does​ ​nothing​ ​for​ ​me but​ ​prod​ ​and​ ​question until​ ​I​ ​feel​ ​worse​ ​than​ ​before. The​ ​ringing​ ​will​ ​pass. CLARA Rob,​ ​dear,​ ​take​ ​a​ ​seat. Rest​ ​for​ ​a​ ​minute. You​ ​know​ ​how​ ​agitation makes​ ​everything​ ​worse. MARIE Father,​ ​why​ ​don’t​ ​you play​ ​Dominos​ ​with​ ​me? It​ ​always​ ​makes​ ​me​ ​feel​ ​better. FLORESTAN​ ​changes​ ​to​ ​a​ ​B​ ​as​ ​Marie​ ​sets​ ​up​ ​the​ ​game. ROBERT Wait,​ ​it’s​ ​changing. CLARA What​ ​do​ ​you​ ​mean? ROBERT Wait… FLORESTAN​ ​stops​ ​playing​ ​and​ ​giggles.​ ​EUSEBIUS​ ​joins​ ​in. MARIE It’s​ ​your​ ​turn,​ ​Father. CLARA Robert? FLORESTAN​ ​(​in​ ​a​ ​ghostly​ ​voice​) Robert!​ ​It’s​ ​me,​ ​the​ ​ghost​ ​of​ ​Schubert! I’ve​ ​come​ ​to​ ​help​ ​you​ ​compose. FLORESTAN​ ​prances​ ​around​ ​like​ ​an​ ​elf. ROBERT Schubert? CLARA Schubert?


EUSEBIUS No,​ ​it’s​ ​Mendelssohn, the​ ​true​ ​master! FLORESTAN Do​ ​shut​ ​your​ ​trap,​ ​Sebb. to​ ​ROBERT No,​ ​it’s​ ​Schubert! I’m​ ​sending​ ​you​ ​my​ ​very​ ​best: this​ ​new​ ​and​ ​beautiful​ ​melody. FLORESTAN'S​ ​ARIA (​with​ ​verve,​ ​taking​ ​on​ ​the​ ​sprightliness​ ​of​ ​Schubert)​ Some​ ​philistines​ ​assert that​ ​I​ ​devote​ ​myself​ ​solely to​ ​those​ ​most​ ​noble​ ​of​ ​sentiments: the​ ​lofty​ ​handprint​ ​of​ ​God, the​ ​secrets​ ​of​ ​immortality, the​ ​wild​ ​courses​ ​of​ ​the​ ​stars​ ​above. But,​ ​no! No,​ ​no,​ ​no. Though​ ​the​ ​blossoms​ ​of​ ​my​ ​floral​ ​crown do​ ​reach​ ​toward​ ​the​ ​Heavens, my​ ​feet​ ​are​ ​firmly​ ​rooted in​ ​this:​ ​my​ ​beloved​ ​Earth! EUSEBIUS​ ​claps​ ​and​ ​wipes​ ​his​ ​eyes.


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Ghost Variations excerpt  

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