Italian libretto by Giuseppi Adami
(from La Houppelande by Didier Gold)
English version by Edoardo Petri
Music by Giacomo Puccini

MICHELE (skipper)50
LUIGI (longshoreman)20
TINCA (longshoreman)35
TALPA (longshoreman)55
GIORGETTA (Michele's wife)25
FRUGOLA (wife of Talpa)50
Longshoremen—A Song Peddlar—Midinettes
An Organ Grinder
Two Lovers

A bend of the river Seine, where Michele's barge is lying at anchor.

The barge almost fills the entire front of the stage, and the gangplank is thrown from the deck to the wharf.

The Seine melts into the horizon. In the background, the silhouette of old Paris, and specially the majestic structure of Notre Dame, clearly stand out in the fiery splendor of a crimson-tinged sky.

To the right, in the background, can be seen the apartment houses bordering the river front. Tall maples shed a deep shade on front of stage.

Michele's barge is the usual Seine type. Very prominently placed on top of the cabin is the tiller. The cabin, neat and pretty, with its green painted windows, the tall smoke-stack and its flat roof, is embellished by pots of geraniums. The wash is drying on the lines. Above the cabin door, a cage with canary birds.

It is sunset.

As the curtain rises, Michele, the skipper, seated close to the tiller, can be seen steadily gazing at the wondrous sunset. His unlighted pipe is hanging from his lips.
From the hold to the wharf, longshoremen come and go, backs bent under heavy bags, and singing their customary song:
Oh! hoist! hoist! oh!
Another trip to go!
If we labor without zest,
At anchor we'll remain forever!
And Margot
With others will go!
(Now and then there comes from the river the whistle of the passing tugs. Automobile horns are heard in the distance.)
Oh! hoist! hoist! oh!
Another trip remains!
Don't grow weary, sailor boy
Leisure and rest will come later
And Margot
Will be full of glee!
Oh! hoist! hoist! oh!
Another trip remains!
Empty and clean now is the hold
Your weary arms you can fold
And with you
Margot will go!
(Giorgetta emerges from the cabin, not noticing Michele. She takes her wash down from the line. She draws up a bucket of water from the river and waters her flowers; then she cleans the bird cage. She finally sees her husband still seated motionless near the tiller, and, shading her eyes with her hand to protect them from the glare, she calls out):
GIORGETTA: O Michele?.... Michele?.... Are you not weary
Of blankly gazing there at that bright sunset?
Is it truly a wondrous sight?
MICHELE: Truly it is!
GIORGETTA: Indeed it must be so; I knew it was
For your pipe, Michele, now smokes no more!
MICHELE (pointing to the stevedores):
Are they all through down there?
GIORGETTA: Shall I go and see?
MICHELE: No; stay. I will go myself.
GIORGETTA: The men toiled hard all day!
And they fulfilled their promise
The hold will sure be emptied, and to-morrow
We can take in new cargo.
As a fair token of your appreciation
For their efforts, I think a glass of wine....
MICHELE: Of course! You have a heart of gold!
Never forgetting anyone! Fetch the wine!
GIORGETTA: They're almost through. A drink will give them courage.
MICHELE: My wine helps in quenching
Thirst, and lightens their labor.
But, didn't you think of me?
GIORGETTA: Of you?.... What can I?....
MICHELE (gently putting an arm around her waist):
No wine touches my lips now,
But, if my pipe is out,
My desire is aflame....
Just one little kiss, sweetheart....
(Michele kisses Giorgetta, who turns her face away. Disappointed, Michele walks off and goes down into the hold.)
LUIGI (coming from the wharf to the barge):
Oh! what heat! It's awful!
GIORGETTA: I am sorry!
But I have what will bring coolness!
Wait, and taste our new wine!
(Giorgetta walks toward the cabin after exchanging an expressive glance with Luigi.)
TINCA (coming up from the hold):
Some weight to carry!....
A life all burdens!....
Hurry, Talpa,
'Tis time for supper!
TALPA: Why should I hurry? Just stop your shouting!
More yet to hoist and my back is breaking!
(He shakes his head and wipes the perspiration from his brow with the back of his hand.)
Heavens! What heat! Oh, Luigi,
Another trip to make!
LUIGI (pointing to Giorgetta who appears with a pitcher of wine and glasses):
There comes our other trip! Now come and be merry!
Here, all together,
Quick! Quick!
(They all rush around Giorgetta who distributes glasses and pours out the wine.)
Now then! Ready!
This wine will give us strength
For the rest of our work!
(He gulps down his wine.)
GIORGETTA (laughing):
Your words are hard indeed!.... But anyway
Wine, wine, for the whole party!
Here, Talpa!
You, Tinca!.... Now then! Drink, boys!....
TALPA: To your good health we drink with all our hearts!
Friends, lift your glasses!
Drink on!
And thank with all your heart
Our hospitable hostess!
(He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand.)
GIORGETTA: Come forth, come with your glasses!
TALPA: We never will say no!
(He extends his glass.)
GIORGETTA (to the others):
Come on! There is still more!
LUIGI (pointing to an organ-grinder who is passing along the wharf):
Look at the organ-grinder!....
He comes at the right moment.
TINCA (raising his glass):
In this good wine we drown all thoughts of sadness.
To our kind master!
Good health!
(He drinks. Giorgetta pours out more wine.)
Thanks, ma'am! Thanks, ma'am!
The only good of life
Lies at the bottom of my glass!
LUIGI (to the organ-grinder):
Say, there! Professor! Music!
(to the men):
You will hear a great artist!
GIORGETTA: I understand only one sort of music:
The kind that's good for dancing.
TINCA (approaching her):
Very good and
I am here at your orders.... I love dancing!
GIORGETTA (laughing):
I'll take you at your word!
TINCA (highly flattered):
I dance with our fair mistress!
(They all laugh, and the merriment increases because, in spite of all his efforts, Tinca does not succeed in keeping step with Giorgetta.)
LUIGI (to Tinca):
Say, Tinca, what's the matter with your dancing?
What are you trying to do? Polish the floor?
GIORGETTA: Ouch! You stepped on my foot, Tinca!
LUIGI (shoving Tinca aside and taking his place):
Stop it! You don't know how!
(He takes Giorgetta into his arms and holds her tightly. She abandons herself languidly. They are still dancing as Michele emerges from the hold.)
TALPA (quickly):
Oh, boys, the boss is coming!
(Luigi and Giorgetta stop dancing. Luigi throws a few coins to the organ-grinder; then, together with the other men, proceeds towards the hold, while Michele approaches his wife.)
GIORGETTA (after putting her dishevelled hair in order, with forced composure):
Tell me, Michele! Are we going to sail
Next week away from here?
MICHELE (vaguely):
We'll see!
(From afar is heard the shrill whistle of a tug.)
GIORGETTA: Will Tinca work with Talpa?
MICHELE: And with them also Luigi!
GIORGETTA: You didn't think so before....
MICHELE: But now I think....
A SONG PEDDLER (in the distance):
Who will buy the latest and newest song?
Who will buy?....
GIORGETTA (drawing near Michele):
MICHELE: Because I fear
He might die of starvation!
GIORGETTA: He always gets around.
MICHELE: I know he does: that's true! And for that reason
He'll never get ahead.
GIORGETTA (annoyed):
With you one ne'er can tell
If one is right or wrong!
MICHELE (simply):
He who works gets along.
GIORGETTA: Night already descends
What a clear crimson sunset of September!
How chilly is the air!
THE SONG PEDDLER (coming nearer):
The music and the words.... who wants my ballad?
GIORGETTA: Oh! look at the huge sun, as red as blood
Fast dying out in the Seine!
(She points beyond the river):
Oh! see who comes.... 'tis Frugola in quest
Of her fool husband. She is like his shadow....
MICHELE: She's right. He drinks too much!
GIORGETTA: Why! Don't you know she is jealous?
(Michele does not answer. In the meanwhile the song peddler has appeared on the street beyond the Seine, followed by a group of milliners who have rushed out of a near-by shop and stop to listen.)
THE SONG PEDDLER: Who wants to hear my ballad?
THE MILLINERS: Go on! Go on! Quick! Quick!
THE SONG PEDDLER: Spring, beloved! Spring, beloved!
No longer are the youthful lovers sitting
In the dark and lonely corners.
Those who love with fervid passion
Their dear ones no more will see....
'Tis the story of Mimi!....
GIORGETTA (who has been watching Michele):
Oh, Michele, you seem so strange this evening
Say why! Do tell! What ails you? Why so silent?
MICHELE: I treat you well, Giorgetta.
GIORGETTA: Yes, Michele,
I get no abuse.
MICHELE: Have you lacked attention?
GIORGETTA: No, but to your dull silence I would fain prefer
Bruises, blows and rough handling!
(Not replying, Michele walks to the other end of the barge. Giorgetta follows him, with insistence.)
Michele! Tell me what ails you!
MICHELE: Why, nothing!.... Nothing!
“He who knows he soon must die
By the hour his days will reckon
With his heart's quick'ning pulsation.
But her beau did not return
And as still as still can be
Is the heart of poor Mimi!”
(The peddler disappears in the distance. The girls, reading the words on the sheets they have purchased, rush away, repeating the verse. Their voices grow fainter and fainter.)
GIORGETTA: When we linger in Paris
I am full of contentment!
MICHELE: Yes, of course!
(Frugola appears on the wharf; she comes up the gang plank and jumps onto the barge. She is a dirty, ragged woman, but still presents a characteristic figure. Frugola carries on her shoulder a large knapsack filled with the rubbish she has picked up.)
FRUGOLA: Oh, ye perennial lovers! Good evening!
GIORGETTA: How do you do, dear Frugola?
(Michele greets Frugola with a gesture, then enters the cabin.)
FRUGOLA: Is my husband
Through with his work as yet? You know this morning
He was all pains and aches, my poor old man!
Worse than ever, Giorgetta.
I patched him up all right, though! Rubbed and rubbed and rubbed
'Till his back had sponged up all my good rum!
(She laughs boisterously, then throws her bag down on the floor, and greedily rummages through it, bringing forth several objects.)
FRUGOLA: Giorgetta, look! A comb, brand new and shining!
If you want it, dear, take it!
It is the best result
Of all my work today!
GIORGETTA (accepting the comb):
Our friends were right in calling you Frugola....
For you search every corner to daily fill your bag.
FRUGOLA: A thousand and one quaint objects....
(She shows Giorgetta the various articles as she goes on naming them.)
....of every order. Things rare and common—
In this, my grab bag, huddle together!
Laces and feathers—silk scarves and velvets,
Cream pots and ruffles—old silver bracelets
Here in confusion—quaint and strange mem'ries,
Documents true of love and deep passion—
Pleasures and torments, here are kept in jumble
Making no caste line between rich and humble....
GIORGETTA: And in that bundle?
FRUGOLA: This is the supper
(And laughing at Giorgetta's amazement, she explains):
Beef-heart for dearest old Caporale
My fine Angora
With snow-white fur
And deep blue eyes!
Most rare, I tell you!
GIORGETTA (laughing):
A real privileged beast, your white Angora....
FRUGOLA: He truly is deserving.
The dearest cat and my most fond romance;
When my husband is out
Caporale, good boy, stays home with me.
Together, we two dream of a new life
Without distrust, or jealousy or strife!
Do you want me to tell you his philosophy?
Purr! Purr! Better be master
In your own little shanty
Than servant in a mansion.
Purr! Purr! You're better off
Eating heart, hard as stone
Than in a fruitless love wear out your own.
(At this moment Talpa emerges from the hold.)
TALPA: Well, see there my old girl! What's all about?
FRUGOLA: I was telling Giorgetta of our Angora.
MICHELE (steps out of the cabin and approaches Luigi):
Oh, Luigi, to-morrow
We take in heavy steel bars.
Will you come too and help?
LUIGI: I certainly will!
TINCA (comes up from the hold, followed by the other stevedores, who scatter off on the wharf after saluting Michele):
Good-night! 'Till to-morrow.
TALPA: Why such a hurry?
FRUGOLA: Bound for the saloon, I s'pose?
If you were my own husband....
TINCA: What would you do?
FRUGOLA: I'd keep on beating you 'till you'd give up
Consuming all your nights in the wine shop.
Don't you know better?
TINCA: No. Wine's the spice of life!
In wine we drown all thoughts of revolution,
When I drink, I don't think!
And when I think, I'm gloomy!
(Michele descends into the hold.)
LUIGI: Quite right you are. 'Tis vain for us to ponder;
With bended heads and backs we will fare better
In this cruel world where life is naught but hard toil,
Where ev'ry joy soon turns into a new fetter!
Down with your heads and backs, herd of the soil,
Heads down, or you will bend under the lash!
(With bitter resentment.):
To earn our bread, we work year after year,
Our hour of love is stolen with trembling fear,
The hour we steal is fraught with mortal anguish
And on our face is slammed love's blissful portal.
All is forbidden us, all is a crime,
Our hours of dawn are dark, more than night-time.
Quite right you are.... 'Tis vain for us to ponder!
TINCA: Then follow my example: Drink!
TINCA: I say no more!....
Until to-morrow, friends! God be with you!
(He walks away and disappears on the wharf.)
TALPA (to Frugola):
Shall we go home? I am too tired to stay.
FRUGOLA (with lassitude):
I wish were here the day
When we can buy a shanty
Where we can rest at last!
GIORGETTA: Always you've dreamt of living in the woods!
FRUGOLA (with rythmical cadence)::
I have dreamt of a small house
With a garden filled with roses
Just four walls, under fine old trees
A dear home of my own....
My old man stretched out in the sun,
At my feet old Caporale
Quietly waiting for Death's call
Which is cure for every ill!
GIORGETTA (with excitement):
Oh! My dream is quite different!
I was born in the suburbs, and the air
Of my Paris is life and joy to me!
Oh! If we could some day give up forever
Our vagarious and stupid, bleak, existence!
'Tis no life for a woman, in that dark, dingy cabin....
You should have seen the room of my young days!
FRUGOLA: Where did you live, then?
GIORGETTA: Don't you know?
LUIGI (suddenly):
GIORGETTA: Luigi knows the village!
LUIGI: The place where I was born!
GIORGETTA: Like me, he loves it still.
LUIGI: I can't forget that town!
GIORGETTA: Yes, it's all in the knowing...
(with growing enthusiasm):
Belleville is our own soil and all our world!
We cannot live forever on the water!
We want to hear our footsteps on the flag-stones!....
There is our home, and there live our best friends.
With joyous meetings of hearts fond and true!
LUIGI: There we all know each other! There we are all related!
GIORGETTA (continuing):
In the morning, there's work awaiting us.
And at night we come back home all together;
The shops in their bright splendor
Of light, and things attractive!....
And carriages rushing forth,
The merriment of Sundays,
Excursions two by two
To the Bois de Boulogne!
Feasts in the open
And amorous intimacy!
'Tis hard to comprehend, unless you witness
This frenzy of ours, this impelling home sickness!
LUIGI AND GIORGETTA (with excitement):
But all those who depart crave to return,
With boundless love their hearts constantly burn.
Down yonder rises Paris, ever calling
Her children with undying fascination!....
(The two lovers remain a while as if transfigured, hand in hand, as if spellbound by the same thought, one soul. Then, realizing that others are present, they drop each other's hands.)
FRUGOLA (after a brief pause):
Oh! Now I understand. Life is different on board!
TALPA (who is not interested in Giorgetta's outburst):
What about my supper?
(to Luigi):
Won't you join us?
LUIGI: No, thanks! I've got to wait and see Michele.
TALPA: Well, then, until to-morrow!
GIORGETTA: My friends, good night!
GIORGETTA (low, but fervidly):
O Luigi! Luigi!....
(But as Luigi rushes towards her, she stops him with a gesture.)
Do take care! He'll return here any moment!
Stay where you are! Remain!
LUIGI: Why, then, embitter thus my dreadful torment?
Why call me here in vain?
GIORGETTA: A new thrill my whole body pervades
At the thought of your kisses last night!
LUIGI: And your kisses felt like burning blades!.
GIORGETTA: Oh, my love!.... But hush!.... Hush!
LUIGI: By what sudden new fear are you seized?
GIORGETTA: If he knew, he would kill us!
LUIGI: Better death than living at the cost
Of constant separation!
GIORGETTA: Ah! To be alone with you, far away....
LUIGI: With you, forever!....
GIORGETTA: Ever loving and true....
Swear that you are true, Luigi!
LUIGI: True!
(He rushes towards her.)
GIORGETTA (hastily):
Be careful!
(In fact, Michele comes up out of the hold.)
MICHELE (to Luigi):
Still here? What made you stay?....
LUIGI: Kind sir, I thought I'd wait
'Till you came up again
To speak with you alone.
I wanted first to thank you
For keeping me at work....
Then I wished to ask you,
If such a thing be possible,
To take me to Rouen
And let me off down there!
MICHELE: To Rouen? Are you crazy?
There's no work for you there!
You'd be worse off, by far!
LUIGI: All right. I'll have to stay, then!
(Michele moves toward the hold.)
GIORGETTA (to Michele):
And now, where are you going?
MICHELE: I go to light the lanterns.
LUIGI: Good-night, sir!
MICHELE: Good night!
(He enters the cabin. Luigi is almost on the gangplank when Giorgetta rushes up to him. The ensuing dialogue is quick, in an undertone full of amorous intensity.)
GIORGETTA: Tell me, why did you ask him
To take you to Rouen?
LUIGI: Because I cannot
Share you with him, Giorgetta!
GIORGETTA: You are right: 'Tis a torment....
It gnaws.... it preys on me, and I lament
The cruel chain that binds mine to his fate!
'Tis far harder than hate!
But then your ardent kisses
Well reward my deep anguish!
LUIGI: As if we two were stealing keener raptures from life!
GIORGETTA: A more intense delight!
LUIGI: An enchantment with strife
'Midst ecstasy and fear....
GIORGETTA: We two, together clasped....
LUIGI: With stifled sobs and cries....
GIORGETTA: And low voiced, burning words....
LUIGI: And kisses without end!
GIORGETTA: Solemn oaths, sincere promises....
LUIGI: To be forever joined....
GIORGETTA: We two, in distant lands!
LUIGI: We two, together, away from the world....
(He starts as if he heard footsteps.)
'Tis he?
GIORGETTA (soothingly):
No, not yet, darling!
(with passion):
Tell me you will return....
Won't you?
LUIGI: In an hour....
GIORGETTA: Now listen! as last night,
I shall leave the gang-plank there....
That's a nightly task of mine.
Have you on corded shoes?
LUIGI (showing his feet):
What signal will you give?
GIORGETTA: You know.... a match I will light.
It shook and trembled in my hand last night
That tiny wooden bar....
Methought I had set fire to a new star,
Flame of our ardent love,
A star that ne'er will set!
LUIGI: I crave your dear, sweet lips,
And your bewitching kisses!
GIORGETTA: So then, you also are held
By that immense attraction?
LUIGI (with great intensity):
Burning with jealous fire,
I want to hold you entwined
Like ivy on a spire!
I will no longer suffer
Another to approach you....
And to forbid to all men
Sight of your form divine
I would kill without fear
And with drops of red blood
Make you a rare jewel!
GIORGETTA (startled, suddenly pushes him away; then, alone and walking up stage, she wearily passes her hand over her forehead):
'Tis hard indeed to find real joy on earth!
(Now darkness is complete; Michele emerges from the cabin carrying the lighted lanterns.)
MICHELE: Why don't you go to bed?
MICHELE: No.... not just yet....
(A deep pause. Michele sets the lanterns in place.)
GIORGETTA: You were quite right in keeping him at work.
MICHELE: Him?.... Who?....
GIORGETTA (negligently):
MICHELE: Perhaps I was wrong....
As two hands would suffice.... Our work will not be heavy.
GIORGETTA: Well, then, why not dismiss that fellow Tinca?
He's always drunk....
MICHELE: Yes, he drinks
To forget his fearful sorrows....
For his wife was never faithful....
He drinks so as not to kill her....
(Giorgetta does not answer, but she seems troubled and nervous.)
MICHELE: What ails you?
GIORGETTA: Why all this foolish gossip?
I really don't care to hear....
MICHELE (close to her, with anguish):
Why don't you love me, dear? Why can't you love me?
GIORGETTA: You're wrong!.... I love you.... You are kind and honest!
(Then, to cut the conversation short):
It's time to go to sleep!
MICHELE (staring at her):
You don't sleep!
GIORGETTA: You know the reason why....
And then in there I stifle.... It's suffocating!
MICHELE: But now the nights are cool and so refreshing
'Twas but last year that there, in our dark cabin
We lived happy, all three.... there was the cradle
Of our dear child....
GIORGETTA (painfully):
My little baby! Darling!
MICHELE (insisting, deeply moved):
You would put out your hand and would rock him
So tenderly....
Gently, softly....
And then you'd fall asleep quietly on my arm.
GIORGETTA (as above):
I beg of you, Michele.... do keep silent!
MICHELE (as above):
Evenings were they, like this clear night....
If the breeze was too brisk
Tightly I would wrap you both in my old cloak,
As in one fond embrace....
I felt upon my shoulder
Your two beloved heads....
I felt your fragrant lips
There, close to my own!
I was so warm and happy!
Now that he is no more
My gray and scanty hairs
Seem like a gross insult
That I bring to your door!
GIORGETTA: Hush! Hush!.... Keep quiet, Michele.... I am weary
So weary.... Come, dear!
MICHELE: And yet you can't sleep!
You know that you won't sleep at all to-night!
GIORGETTA (frightened):
Oh, tell me why you say so?
MICHELE: I'm not sure....
But I do know it's long since you could sleep!
(Then, mastering himself and trying to draw Giorgetta into his arms.)
Stay here.... here, close to me!.... Don't you remember
Other nights, other skies and other moonlights?
Why thus close your dear heart?
Remember the sweet hours,
The fleeting hours we spent happily together,
Swept away by the tide!
GIORGETTA: I'd rather not remember....
'Tis cruel to make me pine.
MICHELE: Oh, love me, love me again
And be forever mine!
Remember how you loved me
With ardent passion....
My lips e'er sealing
With burning kisses....
And the first crimson fires of the new sun
Would then gild our two bodies, still entwined....
Two souls merged into one!
Stay here! Keep close to me! The night is divine!
GIORGETTA: We're growing old.... I no longer feel the same....
You also seem another.... You doubt me? What's on your mind?
MICHELE: Truly, I don't know myself!
GIORGETTA (to cut short):
Well, good-night now, Michele! I am sleepy....
MICHELE (with a sigh):
Yes, yes, good-night.... I'll soon be over!
GIORGETTA: Good-night!
MICHELE (tries to kiss her, but Giorgetta escapes him and runs away. As he follow her with his eyes, he savagely mutters):
Vile wench, you!
(On the boulevard, the shadows of two lovers, entwined, pass by. They sing):
“Mouth like vermillion roses
And kisses fresh as dew—
O lips so sweet and pungent....
O night, so clear and starlit!
See the moon shining brightly upon our path
The moon so sweetly smiling,
Until tomorrow, sweetheart
Good night, my own beloved!
(From a near-by barracks taps are sounded. Michele, taking his big, black cloak, throws it upon his shoulders, and leaning upon the tiller of the barge, he steadily gazes upon the still river.)
MICHELE: Flow on, flow, eternal river!
Flow, deep and mysterious waters!
The anguish that pervades my soul is endless!
Pass on, pass, eternal river!
Drag me on, engulf me!
How many profound sorrows
Were soothed by the waves?
Of many dire distresses
Thou hast mark'd the vile end!
Forever calm, thou flowest, nor art halted
By laments, nor sorrows, nor cringing fear
Nor lapsing of long years!
Forever flowing on
A'moaning on thy way!
Are those perhaps the moans of icy corpses
The thousands of dead men that thou did'st carry
In quick succession towards their fatal goal,
Upon thy slimy arms, nor did'st thou tarry?
Are those perhaps the sorrows thou did'st quell
By choking in thy vortex their last yell?
O mysterious, silent waters
Flow on, pass o'er my broken heart!
Wash away my tears and my bitter sorrow!
Dispose of my fate, too,
And if peace you cannot give me
Then let me die with you!
(At these words he collapses entirely. Mechanically he takes his pipe from his pocket and lights it. At the flaring of the match, Luigi cautiously moves toward the gang-plank and jumps onto the barge. Michele, seeing the shadow, is startled; he hides, then recognizing Luigi, he throws himself upon him and catches him by the throat.)
MICHELE: I've got you!
LUIGI (struggling to free himself):
By all the Saints! I'm caught!
MICHELE (hoarsely and almost voiceless):
Don't scream now!
How and why did you return?
Are you looking for your mistress?
LUIGI: I am not!
MICHELE: You are lying! Confess! You seek your mistress!
LUIGI (trying to get at his knife):
By all angels!
MICHELE (pinionng his arms):
Drop your knife!
No escape for you, scoundrel!
Vile beast, fit for the gallows! Monster!
You would have me take you to Rouen?.... True?
Dead you'll go.... there's the river!
LUIGI: Help! Assassin! Assassin!
MICHELE: Confess now that you love her!
LUIGI: Let me go!
MICHELE: No! Confess!
You rascal! Scoundrel! Scoundrels!....
Confess, and I'll let you go!
LUIGI: Yes....
MICHELE: Repeat it!
LUIGI: I love her!
MICHELE: Repeat it!
LUIGI: I love her!
MICHELE (tightening his hold of Luigi's throat):
Once more!
LUIGI (with a raucous cry):
I love her.... Ah!
(And he remains holding on to Michele in a death-like contortion.)
(From inside the cabin, Giorgetta's voice is heard calling: Michele! A deep pause. Hearing her voice, Michele quickly sits down, throwing his claok over the corpse still clinging to him. Giorgetta appears on the threshold and looks about her, frightened.)
GIORGETTA (in a low voice):
I'm afraid, Michele!
(Then, as she sees her husband quietly seated, she is calmer and continues):
No.... I did feel afraid....
(She draws near Michele always looking around anxiously.)
MICHELE (very calm):
Didn't I tell you before that you were not to sleep?
GIORGETTA (meekly):
I am sorry, Michele,
For having been so horrid!
MICHELE: Don't worry.... You are nervous....
GIORGETTA: Yes, I know.... you are right.
Tell me that you forgive me!
Don't you want me near you?
MICHELE: Where?.... Where?.... Under my cloak?
GIORGETTA: Yes, quite close.... very close....
(with trembling voice):
You know, you used to tell me....
“Every man must needs carry
Some great cloak, where he hides
Sometimes a wondrous joy
Sometimes a profound sorrow.”
MICHELE (savagely):
Sometimes a crime.... a murder....
Come, hide beneath my cloak! Come here! Come here!....
(He rises, throws open the cloak. Luigi's dead body falls at Giorgetta's feet. With a great cry she draws back, horror stricken. But Michele rushes upon her and violently throws her upon the body of her dead lover.)


contributed by Richard S. Bogart

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18 May 2014