KOANGA
Opera by Frederick Delius
Libretto by C. F. Keary (1897)
revised by Douglas Craig and
Andrew Page (1974)
Published by Boosey and Hawkes

Prologue

The verandah of a Southern plantation-house, orange trees on the left; huts in the background. It is evening. Dancing is going on in the house.

CHORUS
Ha, ha, ha, etc.

RENÉE
HÉLÈNE
Stop! stop! I am quite out of breath with dancing and it's so hot inside.

AURORE
OLIVE
Stop! stop! Let's stay here a while and cool ourselves before we return.

RENÉE
Look, isn't that Uncle Joe over there! What a wonderful story he can tell!

(Renee goes to meet Uncle Joe. Jeanne, Marie, Hortense, and Paulette now enter and join the others.)

AURORE
HORTENSE
Ah, there you are, Paulette, Marie, let’s watch the sun begin to set. Yes, the shadows of night are falling.

RENÉE
JEANNE
HÉLÈNE
MARIE
OLIVE
PAULETTE
Look! how the shadows of night are falling;
And from the hill the whippoorwill is calling.
Soon the yellow moon will be shining,
And the mocking bird for his fickle mate will be pining.

HÉLÈNE
MARIE
Come, let us all sit down and rest awhile.
Sit down and listen!

RENÉE
JEANNE
AURORE
HORTENSE
OLIVE
PAULETTE
Sit down and listen!

RENÉE
JEANNE
And you, dear Uncle Joe will tell us a story of long ago
of grief and love.

ALL THE GIRLS
Of grief and love.

UNCLE JOE
No, there is nothing fresh that I can tell.

ALL THE GIRLS
Oh, no, oh, no!

UNCLE JOE
You will not want to hear again a story that you have
heard before.

RENÉE
JEANNE
Oh, yes we do!

ALL THE GIRLS
Do tell us, please, go on!

UNCLE JOE
The story of Koanga and Palmyra.

ALL THE GIRLS
Oh yes, go on, we love that one!

UNCLE JOE
Koanga and Palmyra.

ALL THE GIRLS
Go on, go on!

(Clouds descend and cover the scene. After an orchestral interlude, the clouds clear away gradually and disclose the garden of the plantation with slave-huts to the right)

Act I

Fields of sugar-cane are seen in the distance, and behind them a stretch of the forest. It is quite dark though the full moon watches over the waving cane.

PALMYRA
Oh! I cannot sleep. My brain keeps turning round and round! How quiet it is; how hushed the world before the dawn, the coming dawn. How far removed my spirit seems from that of master or of slave, and yet no other life I know! Ah! look, the stars begin to pale and fade away. There sounds the horn that calls the workers from their beds to face again another day of sweat and labour in the fields.

SIMON PEREZ
Now then, it's time, come on, get up! Get out of you lazy lot. Get up, it's time, get out of bed you lazy lot, or else you'll get a taste of my whip! Ho there, get up! Get up! Get to your work and at the double you lazy indolent pack of slaves!

PALMYRA
Each cabin door opens to obey the foreman's voice. The world begins again its old unchanging round, and yet no hope shall dawn for me, nothing to ease my restless spirit!

(Negro men and women appear at the hut doors; they rub their eyes, yawn and gaze around.)

SIMON PEREZ
Up, get. up! It's time you were at work! Now then, get
up! time to be working, get out of bed and get to work.

SLAVES
It's dawn, it's dawn! Ev'ryone now will have to work his
hardest.
Put all thought of sleep aside till we reap the harvest.
Get up Pete, get up Pete, or they'll come and get you.
And Sal, not so happy. No not since your lover has left
you!
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

(Simon Perez disappears into the slave quarters.)

FIRST CHORUS OF SLAVES
Why here's Ned, just got up, half undressed, they woke him up with the whip; he always sleeps too long. Ha, ha, etc.

SECOND CHORUS OF SLAVES
Come on you girls, less chattering there! In the indigo fields you must do your share. Not until the work is done Can you have your fun! Ha, ha, etc.

SLAVES
O Lawd, I'm goin' away
And I won't be back 'til Fall.
I'm goin' to bring so much money
That your apron strings won't hold.
Don't chatter 'bout it, 'bout it,
For if you do I’ll cry.
Don't say you're goin' to leave me
For you know that that's a lie.
To work!

(They go to their work. It is now full daylight.

Enter Simon Perez)

SIMON PEREZ
Ah! There's Palmyra.

(Palmyra notices Perez)

PALMYRA
So his wooing begins at dawn! How much longer must I
endure it!

SIMON PEREZ
O lovely Palmyra, why d'you turn away?

PALMYRA
Must you always pursue me?

SIMON PEREZ
You're more fair than this dawn, and as the sunshine warms the earth, so your beauty warms my heart. You are like the golden lily upon the dark green lake, or like a single topaz gleaming on a band of burnished gold.

SLAVES (from the fields) O Lawd, I’m goin' away, etc.

SIMON PEREZ Pale as moonlight your brow; (he approaches nearer to Palmyra) eyes that sparkle like stars, they set my heart on fire; I must have you for my bride, 0 lovely Palmyra! (He tries to embrace her. Palmyra frees herself)

PALMYRA
No, that shall never be. Leave me! You only want me to
satisfy your pride!

SIMON PEREZ
Hah! Be that as it may! Stupid girl! must I remind you,
you are a slave, I am free!

PALMYRA
I am not a slave, but much more free than you. I have
nothing to do with you or your master.

SIMON PEREZ You silly child, when I ask you to marry me, you should be honoured! Why put on all these haughty airs and try to make us think that it's you who's running the house, instead of the mistress, Donna Clotilda? Remember this - you're just like the rest, a common slave girl!

PALMYRA
I hate you, but I am not afraid; my mistress will save
me from you!

SIMON PEREZ
If I hated you, my pretty one, you'd soon find out the
harm I could do! But here comes Martinez.

(Enter Don Jose Martinez; Palmyra is about to go.)

SLAVES
John say you got to reap what you sow;
To reap in the harvest, reap what you sow.
You sow in the rain got to reap in the rain,
You sow in the sun got to reap in the sun
Whatever the weather, you reap what you sow,
Oh, John say reap in the harvest! etc.

DON JOSÉ MARTINEZ Stay, Palmyra!

PALMYRA I must go, sir.

MARTINEZ
No, stay! and another time ask me first if I wish you to
go.

MARTINEZ (to Simon Perez) Well. what's the plan today?

SIMON PEREZ The men are down in the canes.

MARTINEZ
I want the big field cleared by the week, and if they
grumble, use the whip. And the women?

SIMON PEREZ
They are all in the indigo fields. But we'll get a worse
yield than we managed last year.

MARTINEZ
That old Diego's catamaran mostly brings us naught but trash, hardly worth the honest whip!

SIMON PEREZ
This time it brought the finest slave you've ever seen; a fierce Dahomey; already he has killed a driver with one blow!

MARTINEZ
We must find a way to render him of service!

SLAVES
(In the distance) John say you got to reap, etc.

SIMON PEREZ
I ordered them to bring him here. Look, here he comes.

(Koanga is brought in chained, guarded by two negroes. He looks neither to the left nor to the right and advances to the front of the stage.)

KOANGA
O Voodoo Martian, my fathers from your graves avenge me, avenge me on my vile betrayers. You hosts arise again and let the traitors' blood in rivers flow! (Palmyra suddenly arouses herself and looks at Koanga) And let them be burned over a thousand fires! Yet more, a heavier curse: send them across the sea for white men's slaves!

PALMYRA
The signs I know only too well! a Dahomey Prince, Voodoo priest who will not deign to glance on those around.

KOANGA
But I shall never, never see again the slow Ouemme river, nor the wide and shadowy forest, where the serpents hiss by day and great beasts hunt their prey by night; nor the rocky heights where lofty eagles soar; nor the water hole where the deer would drink at dusk; nor shall I feel again that pounding in my veins while stalking it by night. But since I was betrayed I'm now a captive; yet never, though my flesh be torn away with whips, will I be slave to those that bought me. Voodoo Koanga vows it, hear his oath!

MARTINEZ
Your words are bold enough for princes, but one thing you must learn, the slaves I buy from overseas repay me by their work. Come, Simon Perez, tell me now what sort of work he ought to do?

SIMON PEREZ
Señor Martinez, men such as he can't be made to work
He'll not obey, I know his kind too well.

MARTINEZ
Then we must use the whip, and in a little while we'll see
if he will work for us.

SIMON PEREZ
But even that would be a waste of time. He never would submit, never would utter a scream or groan, but laugh even at death! The common Congo slave may be cowed by the whip, not such as he! Over a wild and savage race once he was Prince and Priest. He'd think his tribe for ever shamed, should he consent to work and that his fathers would arise to give his soul peace in death.

MARTINEZ
That's nonsense Perez! You must find some way to
tame him. This Prince and Priest, he's just a common slave, like all the rest! make him worth the money I have paid, or else the sun shall bleach his bones!

(Koanga becomes aware of Palmyra's presence.)

PALMYRA
Ah!

MARTINEZ
Did someone speak? Come here Palmyra! I had forgotten you w ere still here. My child, let's see if you can make him change his mind.

PALMYRA
But Don José, what can I do?

MARTINEZ
Perhaps your loveliness will prevail where whips and chains have no effect; so speak to him, Palmyra; and if that's useless, try a soft caress!

PALMYRA
What can I do, what can I say to him? Am I not filled
with that same pride which makes him like a god? -
Don Jose’, spare me this, I am afraid!

MARTINEZ
Afraid? But why?

PALMYRA
Who knows? What can I say? You would not understand that he has magic powers.

MARTINEZ
I think the magic lies the other way; you have the power
to make him know it. Come, show how my servants
work!

PALMYRA
To work as slaves, he and I working together. And then will Voodoo arm his Priest with power. (She turns to Koanga) if you agree to work with us, Koanga, you'll find your fate may not prove too hard to bear. If-you can picture here Ouemme's water flowing, and learn to wield the sickle instead of the spear, you will find a better life with us, Koanga, Dahomey Prince, Voodoo Priest, a demi-god! You have heard the sound of weeping in your country, but we're happy and the work is not too hard. (What strange magic power has overtaken me? It fills my heart with painful longing that I never thought I should find in this unloving country. I feel it control my brain, urging my tongue to speak fond words of love of such sweetness that I have never known.) Yes, if you agree to work with us, Koanga you'll find your fate will not prove too hard to bear.

KOANGA
What voice is this that charms your ear, Koanga? Soft the sound of silver torrents falling on the rocks in summer's midday languor! God, I renounce the words I spoke in haste! How far away now seems the wide Ouemme. Let others take revenge against my enemies. How quickly loving words dispel my anger! How they calm all the torrents in my heart! For her sake I will work, forget that I'm a prince. To make her mine I will renounce my people, forget my native land. Yes, let them bind my hands and take my freedom; I shall not care! If she's a slave, let us be slaves together! Give me this girl to wed and I, Koanga, will work for you. Yes, work beside your other slaves.

MARTINEZ
The magic works.

SIMON PEREZ
It's working well.

MARTINEZ
She holds him fast.

SIMON PEREZ
Look how he's all on fire! Well done, my Palmyra!

MARTINEZ
Well done, my Palmyra!

SIMON PEREZ & MARTINEZ
Yes, if we could get this Dahomey Prince, Koanga,to
work for us, what a triumph it would be. No other slave
would dare disobey a Voodoo. He would control them,
they would surely work for him Bravo! See, she's got
him in her spell! He'll make a driver who'll be worth his
weight in gold! Yes, if you agree to work for us,
Koanga, you'll find your fate will not prove too hard to
bear.

CHORUS (in the fields)

D'lilah was a woman fair,
Pleasant lookin' with black hair
D'lilah gained ole Samson's mind (fancy),
'Coz he thought she looked so fine.
He said to his Pa, "Now look see,
Can't you get that girl for me?"
Let me tell what Samson done,
he fought a lion and made it run;
Lawdy how that lion run!
Once they caught him but he looks
And sees a jaw-bone close at hand.
Picks it up and feels so sore,
He kills three thousand with that jaw!
Lawdy was ole Samson sore!
Samson's mother, she said to him,
"Find a girl among our kin!"
But Pa, he said, "Son, You done grieve your Ma's mind
Must you wed that Philistine (woman)?"
Oh! Oh!

MARTINEZ
Agreed then, that's a bargain! The girl belongs to him.

SIMON PEREZ
My God! What is he doing! I must not lose Palmyra! (To Martinez) But Sir, you cannot give Donna Clotilda's maid to him!

MARTINEZ
I cannot? Who says I can't give her to him? If she can
make him work, I can do with her as I choose!

(Enter
Clotilda; Simon Perez whispers to her.)

MARTINEZ
Come Clotilda, for you will have to help prepare for the wedding!

(Martinez turns to negroes who strike off Koanga's chains.)

CLOTILDA
No, she must never wed him, husband. She was placed in my care when she was a little girl.

(Koanga approaches Palmyra who stands spellbound.)


MARTINEZ
That's nonsense, dear, just look how her charm's begun to work!

SIMON PEREZ
But our confessor would refuse to sanction such an evil deed.

MARTINEZ
My sanction is enough, I’ll hear no more! Our good confessor shall be paid!

PALMYRA
I feel a strange foreboding in my heart; this Voodoo will bring me to my grave. There is nothing I can do, all my life have I been calling to him in my dreams? Has he been sent by Voodoo in answer to my prayers to release me from my chains?

KOANGA
Have I really won this lovely girl's affection? Is she now mine? Great Voodoo Manian, hear me now! Forget the vow I made in my wrath. Do not condemn me Voodoo because I am weak. Jealous God, do not seek revenge for you are far away and she is here.
(Palmyra turns to Clotilda.)

PALMYRA
Oh, gentle mistress who always was kind to me, always
understanding; now I must leave your tender care
lead a life of my own. But I shall never forget that it was
you who, when my mother died took and cared for me as your own child. Why, when happiness to me do I fear to reply? And why am I so afraid that I'm in some evil power? I am captive in the toils for this Dahomey prince reminds me of my race, reminds me of that I can never never more enjoy: true peace of mind.

KOANGA
A little while and then this beauty will be my bride. And yet I am not happy; her beauty binds me fast where no man's chains could hold me. I tremble before a girl; I, who never flinched in war must in love faint-hearted prove, be afraid of woman's love! Hear me Voodoo Martian, forgive me the vow I made! She is all I have ever wished for, all I could ever want. My fathers, oh, hear my call! Jealous God, do not be revenged! Oh let her be mine.

MARTINEZ
Good that's settled without fuss; now it just remains to see to the arrangements. In a little while it will be my birthday. On that day we shall have a double feast. Yes, he shall wed her, I'll brook no interference in my plan. No, no Clotilda, nothing you can say will make me change my mind. Your entreaties will not move my heart. In spite of what you say, she is a slave and must do as I command. For he is a Voodoo and a Dahomey Prince who will have the respect of me and of mine.

CLOTILDA
Don Jose, how could you give Palmyra to a slave? She
who has been my faithful maid ever since she came to me as a child. Must she without a word leave my service to marry a heathen slave, tho' brought up to be a Christian, just to satisfy your whim? Have you thought, have you forgotten that my father made me promise to treat her as my sister? Would you let a sister of mine be married to a slave? Make her doomed to a life of misery? No, no, it must never happen to this girl, for my father made her mine.

SIMON PEREZ
Never did I think that she would agree to marry another. I thought that I could win her since Clotilda seemed to be so well-disposed towards my plan. God damn this heathen Prince! And damn Señor Don Jose and his whims! But I'm not defeated so easily, I will find a way to foil this plain. No, they will never wed, for with cunning shell yet be mine

CHORUS (in the fields)
D'lilah took ole Samson's fancy, 'coz he thought she
looked so fine
But there's something I can't say, did he visit (pay a call
on) Timothy?
But his daughters fair I know
Were mighty sad (They were sad) to see him go!
But Delilah was his love,
She coo'd to him just like a dove.
But though she agreed to become Samson's wife
(But although she said she would wed him)
In the end she cost him his freedom.

End of Act I

Act II

(Sounds of merry-making are heard.)

CHORUS
Now once in a way (Just for today)
We are free for a day
And can lay down our sickles and our hoes;
Let the cane stand high,
The sheaves ungathered lie,
No girls tread the long cotton rows.
Oh! oh! come out, come out!
Oh! oh! Come girls, come out!
Ha, ha, ha, ha! etc.

BASS
No work today, strike the banjo, come and play!
(The terrace before the main entrance to Don Josés house comes into view. On one side are seen the pillars and steps of the verandah; on the other side. behind orange trees, is an awning, under which negroes are celebrating their master's birthday and the wedding day of Koanga and Palmyra)

QUARTET OF NEGROES
He will meet her when the sun goes down
When the whippoorwill sings to the moon;
When from magnolia trees the heavy scent is blown,
And strange lights wander o'er the dark lagoon.

(Enter Clotilda from the house. Simon Perez enters from the plantation.)

CLOTILDA
Perez, what can I do to stop this marriage? It must
never come to pass!

SIMON PEREZ
If your husband, Don Jose, had made his mind up, no
words of mine will make him change his plans.

CLOTILDA
It's you, Perez, far more than my husband who wants to force the Prince upon her.

SIMON PEREZ
Me? She is all too willing to wed the Prince without
delay.

CLOTILDA
If only someone could win her, and save her from this
act of madness!

SIMON PEREZ
Even if she marries this Koanga would it be so disastrous?

CLOTILDA
My husband must not know this, and I'm so terrified I hardly dare to tell you; Palmyra is my own father's child!

SIMON PEREZ
Good God! Is it true? Your father's daughter! This makes it certain, she must never marry the slave! But since you have no-one to help you, if I contrive to separate them and prevent the marriage, do you agree that I myself wed Palmyra?

CLOTILDA
Yourself wed her? But my husband ...

SIMON PEREZ
Your husband would prefer me to Koanga! Give me your word, and I will do my best to help you.

CLOTILDA
She's coming. You have my word. If you can somehow
stop this marriage; and therefore free Palmyra, I
promise to give the girl to you!

PALMYRA (singing in the distance)
How time flows on ! Whether it's dawn of day or evening scarce I know! I feel a strength within my heart that drives me on against my will. My life was lonely and so dull and while the future will not bring much change, at least I'll have a love to call my own, with whom to share my joys and who will dry my tears. (Palmyra enters splendidly attired in bright silks and a silk scarf wound round her head.) Or is it a dream and when I wake in the morning when the- world's asleep, will he be there beside me still, or will I find myself alone?

SIMON PEREZ
Come rouse yourself, Palmyra and listen.

PALMYRA
It's you! You've spoilt a lovely day-dream! Can't you ever leave me alone and understand that I detest you!

CLOTILDA
Hush now Palmyra, calm yourself! Why so headstrong and proud? The only gift Koanga brings is one of everlasting shame!

PALMYRA
How dare you say he brings me shame! Oh, could you fathom. oh could you feel the bond of blood, the ties of race that work to make us one!

CLOTILDA
Madness. it's nothing but madness! Would you renounce your faith and creed?

PALMYRA
Your faith! Your creed!

SIMON PEREZ
That's not the way to win her. I've a better plan. Leave
me with her a while; when you return you'll see I've told
the truth.

(Clotilda goes out.)

CHORUS OF NEGROES
Be it but for a day, Ned,
The fiddler will play,
And we'll dance while the sky is aglow;
But when night-shadows fall.
We will drink in the Hall,
And tell all the stories we know!
(He will meet her when the moon is high,
Where the screech owls hoot and cry,
While the poplar trees whisper low!)

SIMON PEREZ
Listen, Palmyra! I know the secret of your birth. You are the sister of Clotilda.

PALMYRA
Her sister?

SIMON PEREZ
Now you will surely see you must forget Koanga.

PALMYRA
Forget him, so near to my heart!

SIMON PEREZ
A negro slave, and you a planter's daughter! You shall be mine! I love you, and I will promise to make you happy, Palmyra!

PALMYRA
What! Be yours! You must be mad! I can never love
you.

SIMON PEREZ
You insolent girl! Do you despise me then?

PALMYRA
I hate you and always will!

SIMON PEREZ
Palmyra, you'd best take care. I'll have my revenge, you wait and see!

PALMYRA
I'm not afraid of you!

(Enter Clotilda.)

CHORUS OF NEGROES
Come leave the work, it can wait until tomorrow.
When there's dancing and song we forget our sorrow!

Dansons la Calinda, O he’

La, la, la, la, etc.

CLOTILDA
Have you persuaded her?

SIMON PEREZ
No. and never shall! We must use force to stop the wedding!

PALMYRA
The hour is near, when I to him my soul surrender. Koanga beloved, is it a dream? No, his love inspires and warms me and makes me proud of what I am, of
my descent. Africa! Land of his fathers! Glowing in splendour in radiance gleaming. Rapture filled, I think of him. Koanga. my beloved, brought here in chains, his freedom lost forever. Once a prince, but now a slave! But it's the Prince Palmyra will worship. Yes, I'll serve him with all my heart until I die. Dark and brave one, in joy or sorrow, whate'er befall us. Oh hear me promise, I am thine!

(Martinez enters)

CHORUS OF NEGROES
La, la, la, la, etc.

MARTINEZ
Here comes the happy bridegroom. dressed as a bridegroom should be! Koanga, come and greet your bride, then we can toast the happy pair!
(Koanga enters dressed in bright African robes.)

QUARTET OF NEGROES
Koanga hail!
(Koanga gazes around him, he advances slowly, and with great dignity towards Palmyra and lays his right hand upon her head.)

KOANGA
Far, far away, Palmyra, my people mourn for me. The streams more gently flow bewailing my fate. The mountains call me, yet I may never listen. No charms my land could offer, deprived of your love! Here I will work for you, a patient humble slave, and in your service find the labour sweet! Far, far away, my foes enjoy their triumph; my vile betrayers jeer and mock at me. And round their fires at night will run the story, how in the West, Koanga is a slave. But vengeance were a poor reward, Palmyra, if I might linger by your side, working with you, and find the labour sweet!

CHORUS OF NEGROES
How clearly the voice of our homeland; how loud still it
calls!
But for him, love is stronger and faith more clear than
the palace of Kings.
Ah, Koanga, learn the lesson of strangers, for we are
also held in bondage,
And yet on days like these, we also can be free.

CLOTILDA
Not yet. Koanga, no, not yet! First a glass of wine, and
then the priest can start the service!

(Wine is served. The white folk gather round the the table. Palmyra hands a cup to Koanga and kneels before him.)

SIMON PEREZ
A glass of wine to toast the happy pair, Koanga and
Palmyra.

PALMYRA
Hail to thee mighty prince! At thy feet I gladly fall to bless our bond and grace our love! Now behold, for thee alone I'll dance; unloose my garment, my hair untwine, to please my chosen lord.

CHORUS AND PALMYRA
Dansons Ia Calinda! Ah! Ha, ha, ha, ha!
Dansons la Calinda! Ha, ha, ha, ha! La, la, la, la, etc.

CHORUS ALONE
Koanga, we drink a toast to the bridegroom, 'Health and Joy!' . . For the bride, the lasting wish: may she never live to mourn! And is there one among us to be found, that will not give the toast?

PALMYRA
Come, take the drink I offer; greet thy bride, pledge her in crimson wine! Drink! drink, for ere the dawn of day, Koanga and Palmyra shall be one. Ah!

CHORUS AND PALMYRA
Dansons Ia Calinda, ah! Ha, ha! etc.
(Ballet of Creole Dancers, during which Palmyra finds herself swept to the back of the stage.)

CHORUS
He will win her when the sun goes down,
And the whippoorwill sings to the moon;
When from magnolia trees the heavy scent is blown
And dragonflies disturb the dark lagoon. Ah!

(Simon Perez, aided by a few servants, seizes Palmyra and drags her away by force. She screams. Koanga, astonished, does not understand at first.)

KOANGA
Where is Palmyra?
(Koanga approaches Martinez and strikes the table violently)
Where is my bride? Who dares to steal Koanga's only joy?

MARTINEZ
Who dares to thwart the will of Don Jose?

KOANGA
Quick, bring her back or else my curse will fall on you!

MARTINEZ
Miserable slave, my stick shall make you tremble!

(They fight, Don Jose falls. Thunder and darkness -
Koanga, alone on the stage, advances and falls on his knees, with arms outstretched.)

KOANGA
Hear me God Voodoo: I have betrayed my trust, I have foresworn my faith. False to my fathers, now on thee do I call. I know thy secret power, reject me not and grant the gift I crave! Let all my white companions learn what magic may perform; that on their heads descend the worst of mortal woes, the triple curse, on land, on air, and flood: from water, ling'ring death, starvation on the earth, and tainted fevers to corrupt the air! Ogoun
Badagris hear and answer me and let thy thunder wake applause!
(Koanga rises and is seen, by occasional flashes of lightning, making his way through the dense forest.)

KOANGA (in the distance) Voodoo Manian, Voodoo Manian, thy hand hath set me free!
Hevioso and Tokpodu, protect me from harm!

End of Act II


Act III
A swamp at nightfall, an opening where a faint reflection of evening light lingers but soon fades. Will-o'-the-wisps are seen on the pools of water. on the right, the ground rises towards the hills.

VOICES (heard from afar)
Ah! Ah!
Onyame! Onyame!
Ruhanga!
Alivo du!
Mahou!
Dambala come!
Ayida come!

(Negroes gather together.)

RANGWAN
Hougan, Hougan, Koanga comes, I hear the sound of drums across the marsh. No creature dares to leave his home while Voodoo spirits are abroad.

NEGROES (gathering closer together)
Hougan, Hougan, Koanga comes!

(Enter Koanga accompanied by negroes with torches.)

RANGWAN & NEGROES
All hail, Koanga, mighty Prince. the leader of a noble race! Under you, we shall be free, never more to slave.

KOANGA
Come tell me Rangwan, holy priest, you know the spell
that shall be cast tonight?

RANGWAN
All is prepared to work the magic spell we cast tonight.

KOANGA
Have you the nameless thing for sacrifice?

RANGWAN
I have its blood, my lord, it's all we need.

KOANGA
This is the night of the new moon. Selwanga's sacred night, and he will save us from our foes. Voodoo, now grant us strength! Rangwan, the holy priest and I prepare to sacrifice the blood. Gods of the upper air, and the depths below, reveal your mighty power.

CHORUS OF NEGROES
Come Papa Lebat, open wide the gate and let Koanga
pass!
Now comes the shedding of the blood which thus fulfils
our vow of sacrifice.

(Koanga and Rangwan gash their arms with knives.
The priest pours blood from a gourd onto the fire.)

Look, they perform the magic spell.
Fear now is fled, Koanga is with us; and with Rangwan
of the silver hair they cast the spell of destiny.

(Mysteriously, but not fast, the fire blazes up)

RANGWAN
Voodoo hear! The fire consumes the blood!

KOANGA
Voodoo hear! I shed my blood for thee!

RANGWAN
Ogoun Badagris, set thy dark forces to work!

CHORUS OF NEGROES
Papa Lebat hear your servant!
Lift the barrier, let him pass!
Come Onyame, come Ruhanga
Hear our call and answer us!

KOANGA
Onyame hear!
Show us thy mighty power!

(Koanga ascends the hill.)

CHORUS OF NEGROES
Papa Lebat hear your servant!
Lift the barrier, let him pass!
Oh hear our prayers, thou mighty power,
We have answered your command!
(The negroes gash themselves with knives and commence a wild dance. One by one they fall down exhausted. The fire dies down; a mist covers the scene Voices are faintly heard through the darkness.)

VOICES (severally)
See, he prays! . . . Voodoo must hear him ... Can he reject a son? ... Hard was our fate! ... Yet we did bear
it ... Now those days are past! ... Rangwan waits! ...
The fire is dying ... Dark is the night ... Far over the marsh the heron calls ... What thing in the shadow went past in such a haste? ... Dark is the night, etc

(A vision of Don Josés plantation appears. Negroes are lying prostrate and almost dying on the ground. Koanga is seen on the hill.)

VOICES
Sick and pale, sick and pale the sun sinks down on the dark and gloomy swamp. Yes, we are weary too and would gladly welcome death. Nothing can save us now, then why does death delay? Mist, mist obscures the dome of night; not a star looks down. No deliv'rance, no relief! Hope is fled and life is vain; death alone can save!

PALMYRA (Plaintively)
Ah!

KOANGA
I hear Palmyra's voice, it comes from far away, trembling on the haunted midnight air. Once to me that voice was life itself. I would have followed it everywhere. Close my ears O God, let me not hear, lest all our magic rites should come to nothing! There is nothing I have held so dear as my own people's plight and shame.

PALMYRA
My only love is far away! Ah!

KOANGA
Again she calls and all my vows are shattered! She is
dying while I am far away. Let my new-born kingdom
fall to ashes! Wait, I come to you!

(The vision fades and the morning star appears.)

Lead me morning star and light me on my way!

(The vision fades away and the scene changes to Don
José's plantation.)

CHORUS OF NEGROES
Oh! Oh! etc.

(Early morning, a lurid light shines through the mist; on the left are seen some cabins. Some negroes are gathered at the door of one of them. On the right, a shrine; houses of the white folk behind. Other negroes are praying before the shrine; Simon Perez is among them.)

CHORUS OF NEGROES
Once again, once again, the weary sun begins to light the gloomy swamp. Now another day begins in this land of living death. From this curse there's no escape, only in the grave. (Enter Don Jose Martinez.)

MARTINEZ
Fools you are to weep and wail! Christians, Voodoos, you're the same, short of courage and heart! Will this wailing change your fate? If you must pray, then go to church and perhaps your prayers may do some good! Meanwhile, I want you back at work. (Pointing to a cabin) Who lives there?

NEGRO I
Palmyra, master.

MARTINEZ
Palmyra, she was to have been married to that wild Dahomey Prince who ran away and caused me so much trouble.

NEGRO II
You mean Koanga, it's his vengeance that's brought this curse upon us.

MARTINEZ
Fool! Do you believe that tale?

NEGRO II
We all believe it.

NEGROES
We all believe it. None can escape the curse of a Voodoo. Yes, we are dying through Koanga's curse. Forget him, master, let him not return, but rejoice in his freedom lest a worse fate befall us, even than that we know!

MARTINEZ
Listen, this is nothing but heathen chatter, and yet a bargain I will make with you: if I should ever capture Koanga, he shall suffer all the pains and torments that you yourselves have borne! That is a promise I will keep.

NEGROES
No master, it is Koanga's curse. Make peace with him, let him never return again; or else a dreader fate may fall than even this one we know!

MARTINEZ
Enough, silence! (To Simon Perez) Perez, I came to tell you a troop of horsemen are coming here. See that they lack for neither food nor comfort, for they've been searching for Koanga all day. (He goes out)

NEGROES
Alas, our only hope of joy is fled, our days are nearly
done!

(Palmyra steps out of a cabin, she is weak and leans against the door. The negroes disappear slowly)

PALMYRA
Ah! Tell me where Koanga is! Will he return again? Is he alive? Or is he dead? How feeble and sick am I now; there's none who cares for me!

SIMON PEREZ
There's one who cares, Palmyra sweet! Do not mourn that heathen prince; why not marry me instead? (He tries to embrace Palmyra) I could make you happy if you would be my wife.

PALMYRA
No, never! Let me go! Help! Koanga, where are you? Koanga!

SIMON PEREZ
Koanga will never hear you; he is a thousand miles away!

PALMYRA
No, it's not true, you're lying to me!

SIMON PEREZ
I'm not, you'll have to face the truth! Why make yourself so ill with pining? Come, let's be happy while we may! You and I, Palmyra sweet!

PALMYRA
Oh coward! If he were here, you'd never dare!

SIMON PEREZ
What! Can you think of no-one else? Save your breath, for Koanga will never return.

PALMYRA
Ah!

SIMON PEREZ
And I shall gain your love! (He takes her in his arms) Great God in Heaven! (Enter Koanga) Can this be true? Koanga!

KOANGA
Now, by the seven times seven plagues in
Agoue's deepest realm; it was time Koanga came!

(He approaches Perez)

SIMON PEREZ
Spare me, have mercy! She is yours. Let me go unharmed!

PALMYRA
Slay him, O great Koanga, slay him! Kill him like a
dog, Oh grant me that!

KOANGA
It shall be granted! He, most of all, deserves to die!
(Perez flees; Koanga follows and kills him with his spear.)

PALMYRA
Oh God! There are the hunters! Yes, they have seen him! Away, away and leave the coward where he lies! The horsemen are nearing; quick, Koanga, run! They overtake him. Ah! (A wild shout) Too late! I cannot bear the sight! Let him be killed at once! But that's not what they do! They'll scourge him to death with their whips! Oh spare him God!

(Koanga is brought in on a litter and set down beside Palmyra. She falls on her knees.)
KOANGA
My spear, where is my spear? Palmyra, is that you?
Oh, Voodoo, I have foresaken thee, and though I now
repent, I await my sentence. But God defend my people, upon the wide Ouemme under the ancient oak that proudly stands, whose branches protect our father's graves! Where every moon my tribe would gather round. (Half raising himself) I see them now, the hougan singers too; they dance, they dance; oh Voodoo, they call on thee. Arm them with all thy power, prepare their ways! The day shall come, oh sunlight send it soon, when on my white companions Koanga's vengeance falls! And then, then all is over. (He dies.)

PALMYRA
My Lord Koanga dead! Dead is my beloved Prince and Prophet! For all he suffered can there be a just revenge? He has passed beyond your anger, but his curse will stay with you! Hated whites who dared to kill a Voodoo Prince! He has passed beyond your anger! Mighty Prince, Dahomey's pride; great in war, great in love! You, who gave me my belief, and showed me Voodoo's mighty power. My Dahomey Prince, I cannot live if you are dead. I renounce my Christian faith. Accept my sacrifice, Voodoo, and remember thou the day! (She tabs herself. Clouds cover the scene)

End of Act III

An orchestral interlude leading to

Epilogue

The clouds lift and reveal the verandah steps of the plantation house (as in the Prologue). The girls are grouped on the steps, listening intently to Uncle Joe.

JEANNE
How sad, how sad, Uncle Joe, that she should die, and
you say it really happened.

RENÉE
How sad. I know that I will never sleep but in my
dreams I'll hear Palmyra's cry.

JEANNE, HÉLÈNE, AURORE, OLIVE, PAULETTE
And I, and I.

RENÉE
Let's stay up and watch the coming dawn of day; for the moon has already gone to bed. All fears, all troubled thoughts will flee our minds, when once again, the warming sunlight streaming falls!

(Day breaks)

ALL THE GIRLS
See how the sun-kissed world awakes,
With Spring herself adorning;
Let's hope true lovers will find happiness
This soft May morning.

(Sunlight floods the scene.)

End of Opera.