Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Miniopera - The Death of Sigmund

Darling ones,

here is the libretto for my miniopera, The Death Of Sigmund.

Here is the ENO site and the seed story by Neil Gaiman.


THE DEATH OF SIGMUND


Scene: FREUD'S UNCONSCIOUS.


SIGMUND FREUD (83) dozes on his famous couch, wrapped in a shawl. A copy of his INTERPRETATION OF DREAMS clutched to his frail chest.
It slips out of his grasp and falls onto the floor.

A BRAZIER stands at the foot of the couch.

THE DREAM SWEEPER (83) enters, in belt, braces and tattoos, cigarette dangling from his lips. He holds a broom.

He peers underneath the couch. He sticks his broom in and sweeps out pictures.
He picks them up, perches on the couch and makes them into a neat pile on his lap.

The Sweeper holds up pictures as he sings the images to Freud.
As Freud answers each one, the Sweeper puts them in the brazier.


DREAM SWEEPER/FREUD

Mother / Fixation.


Self / Abasement.


Ego / Libido.


Father / Flagellation.


Diagnosis / Differential.


God / Reverential.


Gender / Identity.


Love / Non-entity.


Unconscious / Internal.


Behaviour / Empirical.


Thinking / Divergent.


Jungian / Critical.


Semantic / Confusion.


Self / Delusion.


Theory / Axiom.


Wife / Collusion.


Therapy / Didactic.


Hysteria / Reactive.


Instinct / Impulsive.


Neurosis / Corrosive.


The Sweeper sets light to the images in the brazier with his cigarette, throws the book in and warms his hands at the blaze.
Freud wakes up and joins him.


FREUD
Pigs dream of acorns and geese dream of maize.

DREAM SWEEPER
Sigmund dreams of his mother and earlier days.

FREUD
You're well-informed for a mere sweeper!

DREAM SWEEPER
It's a pleasure to meet you at last, Dr Freud. I'm your biggest fan.

FREUD
How do you know who I am?

DREAM SWEEPER
It's my task to know who everyone is.

FREUD
Are you Thanatos?

DREAM SWEEPER
I expect you'd prefer Eros, eh?


He nudges Freud.


FREUD
I'm too old for for that.

DREAM SWEEPER
Nonsense! You're never too old for Eros.

FREUD
Too repressed, then.

DREAM SWEEPER
You dream what you dare not do in life! Trust me, I've seen it all.

FREUD
Your appearance belies you, my friend. Your insights are profound.

DREAM SWEEPER
If you had seen what I've seen... I've been around!

FREUD
But there must be repression of the basic urges. Or else how could waking life go on?

DREAM SWEEPER
We've had sex with everyone in our dreams. Not a single kiss, caress or act have we regretted.

FREUD
I envy us!

DREAM SWEEPER
Flectere si nequeo Superos?

FREUD
Acheronta movebo...

DREAM SWEEPER
That's the spirit!

FREUD
And the desire to kill?

DREAM SWEEPER
We've done millions to death! A sea of blood has washed at our feet.

FREUD
I'm relieved! I was anxious that somehow I'd missed out.

DREAM SWEEPER
My dear doctor, I really have seen it all.

FREUD
Humans are so base! It is our tragedy.

DREAM SWEEPER
Yet you create art, symphonies, such works of beauty! Meanwhile, I'm in here, wallowing in filth...

FREUD
You sound envious, now.

DREAM SWEEPER
Look at your own life, Doctor. You're the story of the twentieth century! And I should know. I've swept it all up in my time.

FREUD
I suppose so. Yet you will live forever, won't you?

DREAM SWEEPER
I'm tired. It's a thankless task, sweeping up everyone's dreams.

FREUD
But when I die, won't you?

DREAM SWEEPER
When I'm done here, there's the next room, the next broom, the next person... Perhaps death is not the end for you, though.

FREUD
No, I will die and that will be the end of it. It's a depressing thought.

DREAM SWEEPER
But you don't know that for sure.

FREUD
Hmm, that's true. I don't.

DREAM SWEEPER
So where there is space for doubt, might there not also be space for hope?

FREUD
Hope for rebirth?

DREAM SWEEPER
Why not?

FREUD
But I won't remember what I did in this life! What's the point..?

DREAM SWEEPER
It's a chance to see the world afresh and to wonder at it! Something I will never do. I see it all second-hand, the manifest images whirling around, everything with its latent meaning...

FREUD
I'll see you again, won't I? At the end of another life?

DREAM SWEEPER
It would be my pleasure! I'll look out for you.

FREUD
Thank you, my friend. I'm comforted.


The two men shake hands.

Freud lies down and dies. The Dream Sweeper takes a fold of the shawl and gently covers Freud's face.

He breaks his broom in half and adds it to the brazier.
The flames take hold of it.
The Dream Sweeper shuffles away.


CURTAIN.




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