February 06, 2008

You must eat a beefsteak

GENTLEMAN WITH TOP HAT. I am your patron. Do you recognize me?

He throws him a purse.

I buy your genius. I buy your good digestion. I order big yellow billboard advertisements for your concerts.

On the rear wall, big placards appear: "THE MUSICAL GENIUS, SEBASTIAN, BACH'S NATURAL GRANDSON!"

You are my indivijiol!

SEBASTIAN. Mercy, sir! What have I ever done to you? Have pity on me: I am a harmless artist. Leave me my unheard obscurity. Leave me the sorrow which whips me, and which my darling Olga has left me. Are you perhaps blaspheming?

POLICEMAN. In the name of the law: you belong to the state. The collective community has a claim on you, but you have no claim to starvation and loneliness.

THE CROWD. Social liberation!

On the rear wall appears a bog placard in red: "SOCIAL LIBERATION! HUMAN KINDNESS!"

POLICEMAN. Loneliness is strictly forbidden! I'm giving you a reprimand! You must eat a beefsteak and take a walk in the park every day! And a minimum of work?

A man climbs upon the windowsill and unfolds a newspaper as large as himself: he is the JOURNALIST. He screams: "Sebastian, the musician-saint of the people!"

At the same instant appears on the rear wall in fat black newsprint: "SEBASTIAN, MUSICIAN-SAINT OF THE PEOPLE!"

JOURNALIST. Hurrah!

The CROWD shouts. Then it disperses. Through the door enters LUPUS, THE LANDLORD.

LUPUS.
Celebrated maestro!

SEBASTIAN. Pardon me, Mr. Lupus, don't underestimate me. Be frank. I know I owe you sixty marks. I slave for it day and night. I am perfectly aware that sixty marks for such a view and mice under the bed is not too much. Oh, I know everything. Just two more years of patience, Mr. Benefactor, then I shall have finished my forty-seventh opera!

Yvan Goll, The Immortal One
translated by Walter H. and Jacqueline Sokel

2 comments:

rbonotto said...

This reminds me of the libretto for Suppe's "Beautiful Galathea." An interesting, parallel work is also Pirandello's penultimate play, "When One Is Somebody," whose background story is as interesting as the play itself (I sketched a libretto with the idea that it'd make a good opera at one point.) --robert b.

rebecca.hunt said...

Sebastian should sell his overcoat to make the rent.