Bourland choral music: Rosarium Act 1 (1998)

July 18, 2009

tonanzin

Rosarium: A Drama for Chorus and Orchestra
Act 1: Flower and Song
1. Prologue
2. The Arrival
3. Tenochtitlan
4. Tepeyac
5. Don’t you know me?
6. Santa Maria

Music: Roger Bourland
Lyrics: William MacDuff
UCLA Chorale and the Angeles Chorale
UCLA Philharmonia
UCLA Opera Workshop
Conducted by Donald Neuen

LIBRETTO

Rosarium

Prologue: First Song of the End-Time

Herald (Tenor Solo)
Behold the End-Time,
dark days,
dark days of holocaust and insurrection.
The End-Time is come!

Chorus
Warring images collide:
the orphans and the amputees,
bewildered brides arrayed in black
and highways thick with refugees.
I am Sarajevo,
Kigali and Beirut.
I am a house divided,
the sniper and the parricide.
The global village trembles
and braces for attack.
Surely these are final days!

Herald
Behold the End-Time,
strange days,
strange days of irony and deconstruction.
The End-Time is come!

Chorus
There’s a loud, insistent wail
in the Land of the Disenchanted,
where justice is a thing-for-sale
and compassion is out of fashion.
I am California
and New Jerusalem.
I am the late Utopia,
the Promise spent and Hope denied.
The bureaucrats assemble
to handle the details.
Surely these are final days!

Herald
Behold the End-Time:
fierce days!
“Vengeance is mine!” cries the Earth…

Chorus
Wait for Doomsday by my side
beneath the bitter-orange haze.
Let’s sail on agitated seas
and watch the hills around us blaze.
I thrill to meet the tempest,
I dread the rising tide,
I fear my own destruction,
I cheer for my release.
Surely these are final days!

(The STORYTELLER enters.)

Chorus (Women)
Behold a traveler!
Who knows
what messages he brings from afar?

Chorus (Men)
A traveler? Beware!
Who knows
what foreign ways he has acquired?

Chorus
Tell us — Stranger! — tell us
what do you want from us?

Storyteller
(speaking throughout)
Don’t you know you called for me?
I heard you cry out.
How well I know that sound!
Like you, I have been gullible.
Of course, I was disappointed.
Like you, I have been cynical
and full of despair.
For many years I traveled,
searching for answers
on mountain tops and killing fields,
in houses of worship and houses of learning.
But knowledge alone won’t keep me warm at night
and wisdom isn’t earned until it’s spent.
So I’ve come home.
Welcome me and I will share
tales I collected in my travels.
Suspend your disbelief, step into my stories!
I promise to distract you
with mystic visions, miracles,
anecdotes of spiritual awakening
crafted to divert you.

Chorus
We are modern men and women!
We are teased by rumors of a time
when shamans rule the wind with incantations
and poets make the world anew in rhyme.
Show us the myth,
tell us the tale,
teach us the words,
sing us the song!

Act I: “Flower and Song”

Storyteller
“The Apparition of the Holy Virgin Mary of Guadalupe.”
“La aparición de la Virgen Santa Maria de Guadalupe.”

Scene 1
Scene 1: a hill in the Valley of Mexico.

The Aztecs call it Tepeyac.
Once Tepeyac was dedicated to Tonantzin,
the Great Mother Goddess, Goddess of Fertility.
Her house of worship rose atop this mound.
Her acolytes danced naked in the moonlight
and sold kindnesses to pilgrims.
Lush gardens carpeted these slopes.
Now Tepeyac is sand and ruins,
a desert kingdom,
its citizens the buzzard and the rat.
It is the Winter of 1531. It is nearly dawn.
Enter Juan Diego on the desert trail.

Chorus (Men)
Juan Diego on the desert trail.

Storyteller
Juan Diego’s feet are as heavy as his heart.

Chorus (Men)
Juan Diego, moving slowly.

Storyteller
In vain he searches for food and firewood
to provide for his sick uncle.
His uncle is dying of blisters no man can cure.
He is all that remains of Juan Diego’s family.

Chorus (Men)
Juan Diego’s heart is breaking.

Storyteller
Juan Diego is the son of Aztec warriors
but these are hard times.

Chorus (Men)
Hard times!

Storyteller
Juan Diego trembles from hunger!
Juan Diego (tenor solo)
My father fed on hearts-of-deer,
fresh eggs and corn tortillas.
He caressed the Earth and she replied
with honey and chocolate.

Chorus (Men)
Juan Diego feeds on salt-grass
and bits of adobe.
He’d eat a small lizard
if he could catch one,
but Juan isn’t getting any younger.

Storyteller
Juan Diego is fifty-seven years of age.
He shivers from the cold!

Juan Diego
My father dressed in gold and jade
and the feathers of eagles.
In the wintertime, he wore panther skins
and a thick, fur cape.

Chorus (Men)
Juan Diego’s head is bare,
his feet are wrapped in rags.
Juan Diego wears a tilma, a cloak
made from the paper-cactus.
His cloak is as thin as paper.

Storyteller
Juan Diego doesn’t blame the conquistador…

Juan Diego
The Spaniard is true to his nature,
like the scorpion.

Storyteller
He doesn’t blame the fallen emperor…

Juan Diego
Motecuhzoma was a mystic,
but the times demanded a general.
Storyteller
Juan Diego weeps with shame!

Juan Diego
My father died in battle,
like his father before him.
Plucked by the gods,
he was turned into a yellow bird.
Now he guides the sun across the sky.

Juan Diego and Chorus (Men)
I am a flower off the vine,
drying into dust,
slowly, slowly, slowly.
I am the song of an old man,
a haunting refrain
that has worn out its welcome,
slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly.

Storyteller
The quiet of the morning is broken:
Juan Diego hears the singing of birds!
But the songbirds left Tepeyac long ago.
Juan thinks he must be crazy with hunger.

Chorus (Women)
Don’t you know me, Juan Diego?
Don’t you know me, Juan Diego? Juan Diego?
Why have you forgotten me?
Why have you forgotten me?

Storyteller
Suddenly, Juan Diego sees a vision:
a beautiful woman floating on high,
astride the moon and the morning star.
She is clothed like the Christian Mary,
Mother of Jesus, but she doesn’t resemble
the pale lady of the friars’ picture-books.
Her face is dark and burnished by the sun
like the face of an Aztec queen.
And when she speaks, her voice is thunder…

Chorus (Women)
Don’t you know me, Juan Diego?
I am mestiza,
I am the red-skin Madonna.
I am the half-breed Mother of God!
Storyteller
And when she speaks, her voice is nectar…

Mary (soprano solo)
Juanito? Don’t you know me, my Juanito?
I am sent by One above
to show how flowers bloom with faith and love.

Storyteller
The lady doesn’t speak conquistador Spanish,
nor Latin, the mysterious language of priests.
When she speaks — and this amazes Juan Diego most —
the lady speaks his native tongue.

Mary
Huel nicnequi cenca niquelehuia…
Chorus (Women)
Huel nicnequi cenca niquelehuia…

Mary
It is my will
and my desire
to build a church
to crown this hill.
Let those who fear
and those who tire,
let all who want
find promise here.
The seed becomes the flower,
the tear becomes the song.
As Tepeyac shall grow,
so, too, shall Mexico,
so, too, shall Mexico.
Go! Till the land
and raise the towers
and fill my church
until this sand
is green with sod
and bold with flowers
and quick with life
and thick with God!

Storyteller
Only now does Juan Diego realize
the wilderness is transformed!
The frost has melted and the air is as warm as Springtime.
Tepeyac is awash with flowers,
the most beautiful blossoms Juan has ever known.
“Castilian roses,” they are called,
but Juan couldn’t tell you that.
Until this moment,
Castilian roses only grew in Spain.

Mary
Speak the words I teach you, Juan Diego,
and together, we will make the desert bloom.

Mary and Juan Diego
The seed becomes the flower,
the tear becomes the song.
As Tepeyac shall grow,
so, too, shall Mexico,
so, too, shall Mexico.
Go! Till the land
and raise the towers
and fill my church
until this sand
is green with sod
and bold with flowers
and quick with life
and thick with God!
Storyteller
As she appeared, the lady vanishes!
Tepeyac is again a wasteland.
But Juan Diego isn’t dismayed…

Chorus
Juan Diego feels
his father’s pride
stirring deep within his heart.

Juan Diego
I have witnessed something wonderful
and I must tell the Bishop!

Storyteller
Yes, he runs to tell the story.

Scene 2.
Tenochtitlan,
the floating capital, city of wonder!

Chorus
Tenochtitlan,
the fallen capital, the city of sorrow!

Storyteller
Once the Sun-God was carried in a palanquin
above these streets.
Now mercenaries follow in his path:
their horses fill the air with dust
and foul the boulevards with dung.
Second-sons, bastard sons,
these conquerors topple palaces to build stockades
and turn the native temples into treasure houses.

Chorus
Tenochtitlan,
the ruined capital, city of the plague!

Storyteller
Juan Diego requests an audience with the Bishop.

Chorus (Men)
Juan Diego stands before the throne of Christ!

Storyteller
Bishop Zumárraga is the most powerful man in Mexico.
He has closed the theaters and silenced the poets
because the native songs offend him.
He offers, instead, the Spanish Inquisition,
a very different sort of entertainment.
Juan Diego must be brave to face such a man.

Juan Diego
I have witnessed something wonderful
and I must tell the Bishop.

Storyteller
Easier said than done.
A legion of friars surrounds His Eminence.
It’s their job is to see the boss is not disturbed.
They listen to Juan Diego’s story and respond.
Friars (Men’s Chorus)
Juan Diego, I like your style.
Juan Diego, you make me smile.
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, etc.
Ho, ho, ho, ho, ha, etc. Ha!
But let’s be realistic, Juan Diego,
let’s be realistic, Juan Diego:
The Bishop has so much to do
(smashing idols,
lashing heretics)
to bring the heathen under control.
The Bishop cannot talk to you,
he’s far too busy saving your soul.

Juan Diego
I have witnessed something wonderful
and I must tell the Bishop.

Friars
Juan Diego, I like your style.
Juan Diego, you make me smile.
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, etc.
Ho, ho, ho, ho, ha, etc. Ha!
But let’s be realistic, Juan Diego,
let’s be realistic, Juan Diego:
We have to write a full report
(dotting “i’s” and
jotting margin notes)
and seal it tight as set by the law.
We’ll file it with a papal court
so lawyers can decide what you saw.
Juan Diego
I have witnessed something wonderful
and I must tell the Bishop.

Friars
He has witnessed something wonderful
and he must tell the Bishop!

Storyteller
Hearing this commotion while passing by,
the Great Man Himself enters
wondering who or what could cause such a fuss.
Juan Diego falls to his knees
and recounts the miracle at Tepeyac.

Bishop Zumárraga (Bass-Baritone Solo)
Juan Diego, I like your style.
Juan Diego, you make me smile.
Friars
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,
ha, ha, ha, ha, ha—

Bishop Zumárraga
(speaking)
Bastante!
(singing)
But let’s be realistic, Juan Diego:
I don’t say your tale’s a fabrication.
Surely there’s another explanation.
Maybe you were drunk
or blinded by the moonlight
or mentally distressed.
Maybe you were high on peyote—
is this what you people call a vision-quest?
(gravely, as if explaining to a child)
Now listen very closely, Juan Diego…
The Lord Our God can do miracles,
the Bible tells us so.
He showed His Might through his miracles,
He guided Noah through the gale,
He rescued Jonah from the whale.
But that was many, many, many years ago.

Friars
That was many, many, many years ago!

Bishop Zumárraga
And men sought help from these miracles
for problems big and small.
Till God grew tired making miracles.
He did not leave us in the lurch,
He left His one and only Church
and it’s the last and greatest miracle of all.

Friars
It’s the last and greatest miracle of all!
Bishop Zumárraga
If you work hard at your catechism,
you’ll learn what’s right and wrong.
Refrain from dabbling in mysticism.
We can’t rewrite the Book of Prayer
each time a ghost gives you a scare.
Now be a clever Injun boy and run along!
Friars
Be a—
(The Bishop and the Friars can’t keep from laughing any longer.)

Bishop Zumárraga and Friars
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, etc.
Ho, ho, ho, ho, ha, etc. Ha!

Scene 3

Storyteller
Tepeyac. Another morning.
Juan Diego’s uncle has taken a turn for the worst:
he sends his nephew to fetch a priest.
Juan takes a different trail around the hill;
it’s the long way, but he has no time for visions.
Juan Diego bends low to the ground,
his eyes averted from the sky.

Chorus
Juan Diego curses the darkness,
Juan Diego curses the cold.

Storyteller
He says the gods are fickle.

Chorus
He says the gods are cruel.
They come and go.

Storyteller
They come and go
only to trick unfortunate mortals.
Suddenly, the voice from Heaven!

Chorus
Suddenly, the voice from Heaven!
Suddenly, the voice like nectar…

Mary
Don’t you know me, Juan Diego? Juan Diego?
Why have you forgotten me? Juan Diego?

Juan Diego
Lady, I know you all too well.
You must be a tzitzimime,
a tzitzimime,
the spirit of one who died in childbirth.
You haunt the living because you’re jealous,
but you should know better,
should know better.
Nowadays,
the living are no happier than the dead.

Mary
Don’t you know me, Juan Diego?
Why have you forgotten me?

Juan Diego
Or maybe, as you claim,
you are the virgin mother,
la madre de Jesús.
If so, it need not concern us Indians.
Build a church or don’t—
it’s not my problem.
This is a private matter
between the white man and his god.

Mary
Don’t you know me, Juan Diego?
Why have you forgotten me?

Storyteller
The Lady sings so sweetly,
Juan forgets to stare at the ground.
He discovers the dark Madonna as before,
astride the moon and the morning star.
But as Juan Diego contemplates the beauty
of her bronze complexion, he is reminded
of the many Sacred Mothers
his people have revered since the beginning of time.

Mary and Chorus (Women)
You know Chimalman. Don’t you know me?
Her name is sung in the flutter of bluebirds.
Chimalman swallowed a precious stone;
she gave birth to a child.
I gave birth to a child.
If the holy Quetzlcoatl calls me Mother,
how can you resist me?
How can you resist me?
You know Coatlicue. Don’t you know me?
Her name is sung in the rattle of serpents.
A ball of feathers dropped from heaven;
she gave birth to a child.
I gave birth to a child.
If the Fire-that-Rules-the-Sky calls me Mother,
how can you defy me?
How can you defy me?
I have many faces,
I have many names, my son,
in this world and before,
in this world and beyond.
You know Tonantzin. Don’t you know me?
Her name is sung in the roar of the jaguar.
The Giver-of-Life fell heavy on me:
all the Earth is my child.
If the One-Who-Invents-Himself calls me Mother,
where will you go,
where will you go,
where will you go to hide from me?

Storyteller
The Lady vanishes,
but the hill remains covered with roses.
Juan Diego gathers up the blossoms,
all that he can carry in his cloak.
At least, he can bring something to his uncle.
Perhaps the scent of roses
will ease the suffering of a dying man.

Scene 4.
Juan comes home, but the house is empty!
His uncle is hard at work again.
His uncle has gone for water to irrigate their garden.
His uncle is cured! Not even the elders can explain it.

Scene 5.
Still clutching the roses in his cloak,
Juan Diego returns to the Bishop’s palace.
The cream of colonial society is gathered here.
There is music and dancing
when Juan Diego rushes in, unannounced.

Bishop Zumárraga
Juan Diego, you make me smile,
but this is not a laughing matter.
This is no time for idle chatter;
(threatening)
Juan Diego, think awhile before you speak!

Storyteller
Without saying a word,

Juan Diego unfurls his cloak.
A shower of Castilian roses
rains upon the marble floor.

Chorus
¡Ay, qué lindas! ¡Ay, qué lindas
las rosas frescas!
¡Es portento!

Bishop Zumárraga
This does not prove that I was wrong.
Maybe there were roses in the desert all along.

Storyteller
But on Juan Diego’s tilma,
there is emblazoned an image:
a dark-skinned lady
astride the moon and the morning star,
above a field of Spanish roses.
Before the startled eyes of the crowd,
the painted Madonna comes alive!

Mary
¿No me conocéis, m’hijos?
Yo soy mestiza, la madonna india.
Yo soy la madre morena de vosotros,
la madre amarosa de todos.

Chorus
¡Ay, qué linda! ¡Ay, qué linda
la madre morena!
¡Asombrosa!
Nadie no lo puede explicar
Nadie no lo puede refutar.
¡Ay, qué linda! ¡Ay, qué linda
nuestra madonna
milagrosa!

Storyteller
None of the bishop’s advisors can explain
the animated figure on the tilma.
Even the Great Man himself must embrace this miracle!

Chorus
¡Santa María!

Bishop and Juan Diego
Santa María, Santa María,
madre del mundo viejo,
madre del mundo nuevo,
del indio y
también del conquistador.

Storyteller
(translating)
Mother of the Old World,
Mother of the New.

Bishop and Juan Diego (with Mary)
Contigo (Nosotros) haremos
al Tepeyac un templo.
Contigo (Nosotros) haremos
el canto y la flor.

Storyteller
Together, we will create
a holy place at Tepeyac.
We will make the desert bloom.

Bishop and Juan Diego
Santa María, Santa María,
somos el pueblo tuyo,
somos los mexicanos.
Envuélvanos
en la tilma de tu amor.

Storyteller
Holy Mary, we are your people.
Wrap us in the cloak of your love.

Chorus with Bishop, Juan Diego and Mary
Santa María, Santa María,
madre del mundo viejo,
madre del mundo nuevo,
del indio y
también del conquistador.
Contigo haremos
al Tepeyac un templo.
Contigo haremos
el canto y la flor.
Santa María, Santa María,
somos el pueblo tuyo,
somos los mexicanos.
Envuélvanos
en la tilma de tu amor.
Storyteller
And so a shrine was built and a great nation revived.
Go ahead, celebrate while you can.
The memory of man is short,
his spirit restless.
All too often,
yesterday’s miracle is drowned out
by the clamor of this evening’s news.
All too quickly, we discover
that roses have thorns as well as blossoms.
But that will be another story…
Chorus and Soloists
Go! Till the land
and raise the towers
and fill the church
until this sand
is green with sod
and bold with flowers
and quick with life
and thick with God!

Intermission

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