February 2013

Scene4 Magazine - Hypatia - Carmen's Lament | Griselda Steiner | February 2013 |

Griselda Steiner

The musical HYPATIA begins at the turn of the century when an OLD DIVA  wanders the grand opera stage where she performed during her career.  The theatre is slated to be torn down the next day.  Her deepest wish is that the Heroines she portrayed be set free from their tragic plots.   After she trips on a trap door, she is visited in a dream by HYPATIA, Crown Priestess of Destiny, who proclaims, "Souls born from man's imagination, challenge the premise of your creation.  Stop you can be free - You can change your destiny."

In the journey HYPATIA has set for her, Carmen (from the opera by Bizet) sings a lament, confronts her composer trying out for her own part, then visits the author of the book, Mérimée, in his Paris garret.  At the end she changes her destiny to gain the strength of the Indian snake goddess Nagina. a free spirit.

AT RISE:  A mist lifts from the floor covering the spider web backstage as HYPATIA emerges. 
                        A human destiny is to be born live and die
                        But a character in a myth, story or plot
                        Is not bound by a simple knot

                        As the threads of each story begin to unfold
                        Their shape is pliable like liquid gold
                        The story the gold has etched
                        Can be changed if you pass these tests

                        Heroines for the first test, you must have desire
                        For the second, confront your composers
                        For the third, your wishes come true
                        Then you must face yourselves
                        And choose destiny's role

                        Around the cosmos edge to edge
                        All matter spins on my spider's thread

AT RISE: A large Tarot Card of Death (the Hanged Man) is depicted on a narrow flat hanging center stage.   As the first bars of "Carmen's Lament" play, CARMEN dances on stage with her tambourine followed by her gypsy chorus who dance with her in a swirling flamenco.  As they dance in circles around the Card, they turn it to discover that it has an identical picture on both sides.  They try to pull it down and destroy it in vain.

            CARMEN'S LAMENT (sung)

            When I died, I died with pride
            But now I've died a thousand times
            While my sweet toreador won victory
            Don Jose struck a knife in me

            Now every time my opera plays
            My death inspires deeper rage
            To die once is just
            But each time I say enough

            I, Carmen
            A gypsy borne wild and free
            An ugly plot was hurled on me    
            My character expresses criminality
            To show men's fear of sexuality

            On a summer's day in Seville
            I stole a heart from Micaela
            She so fair loved Don Jose
            While on his heart my flower lay

            When in anger I knife a woman
            Don Jose guards me in prison
            I seduce Don with my eyes, my lips 
            He cuts the chain off my wrists

            When we escape to the mountain cliffs
            Don joins our gang  - his life split
            A deserter now, a smuggler - he
            Only falls deeper in love with me

            But the brave toreador has won my heart
            My fate is sealed when I pick the Card of Death

            Spades - A grave

            Off with the pure Micaela
            Don Jose sees his dying mother
            Vivo Vivo Escamillo
            The bullfighter is my new lover

            To the bullring Don Jose has brought a knife
            He stabs me - I picked the vile Death Card twice

            When I died, I died with pride       
            Now every time the opera plays 
            My death inspires deeper rage
            To die once is just
            But each time I say enough

            Stop I want to be free
            I want to change my destiny

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©2013 Griselda Steiner
©2013 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Griselda Steiner is a poet, dramatist and free-lance writer living in New York City. A member of the Playwrights and Directors Unit of the Actors Studio from 2007 through 2009, she has written the play MARY M and the MAD PROPHET, the musical HYPATIA and screenplay THE GODDESS IN EXILE.
For more of her writing and articles, check the Archives


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