Nausikaa





Second Part of the Tetralogy: The Odyssey.



Musical Tragedy in three acts and a Prologue by AUGUST BUNGERT.





The first representation of Nausikaa took place in Dresden on March

20th 1901.--The reception was much warmer than that given to Kirke.

Naturally the charming episode of the Phaeakean Princess is far better

adapted to the composer's lyric genuis.



Though the whole music is polyphoneous the easy flow of its melodies is

hardly ever interrupted except in the highly dramatic moments.



There are real pearls of lyric melody in this tragedy, which, totally

different from Kirke's selfish passion glorifies Nausikaa's pure love

for Odysseus, her death of sacrifice and the hero's resignation;--it

might be called a hymn of renunciation.



The sirens' songs in the Prologue are most enticing, the choruses of

Nausikaa's companions treading their dances are lovely; also Odysseus'

"home motive" which expresses his longing for hearth and home, is

very expressive, but Nausikaa's "love motives" surpass all the other

parts in sweetness.



The contents of the libretto are as follows:





Prologue.



Across the calm blue sea in the distance a ship passes. In it can be

seen the figures of Odysseus and his companions. They can be heard

lamenting their long absence from home and praying the gods to send

them favourable winds and a speedy return to their native land.



In the foreground is the rocky coast of an island. Partly hidden by

the high cliffs, sirens may presently be seen looking out for their

prey. Brilliant, many coloured lights cast a lurid glare over their

hideous den that is full of dead men's bones, out of which roses,

poppies and other flowers have sprung into bloom. The sirens try to

attract Odysseus and his companions by singing sweetly, and playing

enticing music on weird instruments made out of the bones of their

victims.



Odysseus, however, is on his guard. He causes his men to stop their

ears with wax, and to bind him fast to the mast of his ship. The

attempt to lure them is unsuccessful. Though Persephoneia herself

rises from the depths to aid the sirens, Odysseus' ship sails safely

past and the sirens and their rocks sink into the sea.



But the hostile god Poseidon pursues Odysseus in rage. Seated in his

cart drawn by sea-horses he strikes the ship with his trident,

and it goes down in the now stormy sea.



Zeus and the friendly gods now interpose. Poseidon is forced to

withdraw, and, though his companions perish and the ship is wrecked,

the nymph Leukothea brings a magic veil which ensures the hero's safety

and he swims to the shore.





Act I.



Odysseus has landed in the country of the Pheacians. In the first part

of this act he is lying asleep hidden among the shrubs and trees in the

background.



Nausikaa, the King's daughter has come at the bidding of Athene with

her companions to wash the linen and garments of her family. While the

clothes are drying in the sun the maidens dance and play at ball.

Their voices and laughter awake Odysseus who rises and shows himself

through the foliage. Seeing a nearly naked man the girls run away

screaming; only Nausikaa stands still and asks the stranger fearlessly

who he is. Odysseus tells her his piteous story and his cruel fate.

Nausikaa calls to her maidens to bring raiment for the hero whose name

however she has not yet heard. A sudden and tender love fills her

heart for the outcast wanderer. Odysseus too feels drawn towards the

noble maiden, for a moment he forgets his wife and child at home.

Nausikaa invites him to follow her to her father's court and promises

him a kindly reception there.







As the procession is starting, the sound of horns is heard and King

Alkinous and his followers come up. Among them are his son Leodamus,

and Prince Euryalos, a would-be suitor of Nausikaa. The King welcomes

the stranger kindly and invites him to come and stay in his palace.

Euryalos, however, regards Odysseus with suspicion and hostility; he

sees in him at once a favoured rival. With songs of welcome Odysseus

is greeted by the men and maidens and by the King's side he moves

towards the palace.





Act II.



This scene takes place in front of the palace of King Alkinous. The

gardens and terraces extend downwards to the shore of the sea that

forms the background. It is evening. Youths and maidens are busy

decking pillars and statues with garlands of flowers and making wreaths

to crown the victors in the next day's games.



Odysseus comes out of the palace; he cannot sleep; he thinks of his

home, his father, his wife and child. He sees a temple to Athene on

the right and resolves to spend the night there praying to the gods to

restore him to his home. He passes across the stage and goes into the

temple.



Nausikaa now comes out of the palace with some of her companions. She

presently dismisses them and remains alone in the moonlight. She prays

to Aphrodite to deliver her from the importunate wooing of

Euryalos and to grant her the love of the stranger.



The vision of Aphrodite appears; with a threatening gesture she seems

to refuse Nausikaa's request. While Nausikaa sinks fainting on the

steps of the terrace the voice of Euryalos is heard in the background

singing a love song, and soon after he comes forward and stormily

declares his love to Nausikaa who rushes away from him with a cry into

the temple of Athene. As the bold youth is about to follow Odysseus

appears at the door of the temple and forces Euryalos to retire. The

baffled suitor rushes upon Odysseus with his drawn sword in blind rage;

but Odysseus instantly disarms him, breaks the sword, and Euryalos

vowing vengeance goes into the palace.



Though deeply moved by Nausikaa's passionate gratitude and affection

for her protector, Odysseus remains faithful to the memory of his wife

and child and prays the gods to help him to be strong.





Act III.



In a great court in front of the gymnasium where games and wrestling

matches are going on a procession of priests and young boys enter

singing; they offer prayers and burn incense before the altars of the

gods, particularly before that of Poseidon the special patron of the

Phaeakens. Girls and matrons follow in a like procession and deck the

statue and altar of Athene with flowers. The shouts of the people in

the gymnasium greeting the victors in the games are heard at intervals.







Among the maidens is Nausikaa. Her brother Leodamus enters soon

afterwards in great excitement and begs his sister to come and witness

the feats of Euryalos who is victor in all the games. But she coldly

asks if the stranger has entered into competition with him, and hearing

he has not done so she refuses to go into the gymnasium.



Queen Arete enters and Nausikaa throws herself into her mother's arms.

Arete guesses the truth that her daughter loves the stranger; she

tenderly warns Nausikaa that life is full of disappointments--of

sacrifices.



The King now enters from the gymnasium; beside him walks Odysseus who

had at last been persuaded to wrestle with Euryalos and had entirely

vanquished him. The people hail Odysseus as victor. Nausikaa hastens

to him and crowns him with the victor's wreath; she shows her

preference for him in such a marked manner that Euryalos is beside

himself with rage and draws his sword upon Odysseus who in selfdefence

wounds Euryalos severely.



Odysseus then turns to the King and implores him to give him a ship

that he may go back to his own country and family. These words fall

like a knell upon the heart of Nausikaa; she is led out fainting by her

mother.



The aged poet Homer now enters. All hail him with joy; the King bids

him sing them a song about Troy. The blind poet sings the tragic

story--the people join in the chorus. Odysseus listens; at last

he can keep quiet no longer. Springing up he goes on with the story

giving his own share in it with such vividness that Nausikaa, who has

stolen back again, rushes forward and cries: "Thou art Odysseus

himself!" He acknowledges with tears that he is that unhappy man. The

people greet him with joy and wonder; the King embraces him warmly.

Odysseus relates his sorrows, his wanderings; he speaks of his wife and

child; he implores the King to give him a ship that he may return home.

The King readily promises his help, he gives orders that a ship shall

immediately be prepared and filled with costly gifts.



But the priests see in Odysseus the enemy of their god Poseidon; they

press the King to slay Odysseus--but the King sternly refuses to do so

and orders the High Priest to be bound till Odysseus is safely gone.



Nausikaa's hopes are dashed to the ground; heartbroken she murmurs to

herself her mother's words: "Each human life is a sacrifice, a death

for the dearest in the world." She slowly goes away and is seen later

standing on a high wall of Athene's temple overlooking the sea.



In the meantime all is ready, the King, Queen and Laodamus accompany

Odysseus to the ship and take leave of him; he goes on board and the

ship moves off. At this moment the sky is overcast and Poseidon

appears in his car and threatens Odysseus with his trident.



Nausikaa calls to Poseidon to take her for a victim and with a

cry springs into the sea. The nymphs bear her dead body to Poseidon.

Zeus suddenly appears and drives Poseidon away, while Athene hovers

over Odysseus with shield and lance. He sails away in safety.





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