13 March 2016
Now that I have the freedom again to speak freely by anonymity, and, that Sam’s set of works are also my own, I can add notes here for the reader (present and future) and to my present and future-self, as I wish. These may appear from time to time (there are a few already) and could serve (that is: my wish) as a sort of Federalist Papers on the set of works; in other words, a view of The War as I understand it. Too, the thought crosses my mind often that I may not finish this set of works (an opera by definition; how tragic) before I am finished. Too, whomever writes the music to this libretto some day may find the following notations of some help.
In Act I of this version of Rusalka we are shown the memory of a grown woman, a wife, who revisits in memory a time when she was a young girl. She had encountered once upon a time while swimming in the lake of her youth an overly large fresh water fish; a pickerel, that frightened her. And, because of its size, the size of a full grown man, stirred her imagination of what it would be like to be with a man some day. An intimate encounter. Surely, she thought, one day she would have a husband; what would that be like? Frightening but exciting the thought was then.
Because she is remembering a dream of the past; a dream which was not fulfilled, the idea of Rusalka now lives on as a dream in the fish’s heart. That is where she hid the dream. But the fish suffers with it because, as an animal, he is not suited to live with dreams. His life is simple. With the dream comes an emotional heart to contain the dream, where before he had merely a physical heart. And this heart longs for her as his mate. She empathizes with him. They can never be together, but only as they once were. In the mystical time and place they first met.
The story is told as an opera; as a continuation of the traditional Rusalka story. But in this version, the prince did not die. He became a fish.
The fish represents a kind of duality; the struggle with indecision in matters of love and commitment. The greater the consequences, the more clearly he is seen. This is why he swims forever along the ramparts; along the horizon. He lives only at the abrupt line of demarcation; between the expansive shallow water of indecision and the sudden drop off of when one changes his or her life by the act of decision.
She recalls the memory of the fish in her struggle to decide whether to cross the frozen lake to reclaim her husband who has been taken from her, or to wait for him to arrive on his own. Safer for her (and her father) or to risk their lives and find him. The ice separates them. Life above, death to this world below.
Or perhaps it is regret, since she feels so out of place in the world, or in this story, out of place on dry land. In the traditional story, she yearned to be there once, having left the water to love and live with the prince in his castle as his princess. Naturally, the love spell drew him into the water and, in our version, their fates were reversed. He has to live in the lake forever looking for her. They were cursed by their love.
The framework of the decision/indecision dualism arises in the natural demand for the expression of freewill which resides in man and woman. Since the framework exists within us, under tension for its expression, it demands constantly to be released.
This is why (in myth) the one creature longs to join in likeness with the other “in love”; an animal to be human and vice versa; Eve to be like God; Juliet to be with the forbidden Romeo; The mermaid to be human; the pickerel to take a queen; the girl to be his beloved Rusalka. Love is for “the other” freely. Love is to be joined with what does not exist in oneself but which only resides in the other. Eve is every bit a mystery to Adam; even as he knows her, he can never completely know her.
But this is just a story about the suffering aspects of love. Love is never a curse. One suffers in love that the beloved does not have to.
Next: Act II