Schoenfield’s two-act opera, The Merchant and the Pauper, was commissioned by the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and given its premiere there in 1999. Its libretto is adapted from a tale fashioned and first told in 1809 by one of the most significant personalities in Hassidic history, philosophy, and lore—Reb [Rabbi] Naḥman of Bratslav (1772–1811), the founder of the Bratslaver Hassidic sect.
Reb Naḥman of Bratslav and His Doctrines
R. Naḥman was unique among the Hassidic rebbes (rabbinical-type charismatic leaders of individual Hassidic groups or dynasties) and tzaddikim (righteous Hassidic masters) in his reliance upon cryptic allegorical and even phantasmagorical folk-type tales as primary vehicles for conveying his theological, moral, and mystical teachings. He was also one of the most controversial and isolated of all the Hassidic masters. Naḥman was born in Medzibezh, a small village in the southwest Ukraine, and his maternal great-grandfather was the Ba’al Shem Tov, the progenitor of the Hassidic movement in the 18th century (Israel ben Eliezer, also known by the acronym BESHT). On his father’s side, he was a grandson of a pre-Hassidic leader who was later a disciple of the Ba’al Shem Tov— of Horodenka (Gorodenka), after whom he was named.
Naḥman’s childhood and youth were suffused with Hassidic atmosphere and spirit. Biographers and historians have pieced together a probable image of a young man increasingly drawn to asceticism and deep prayer, attracted to the mystical aura surrounding earlier tzaddikim, and beset with feelings of Divine rejection that were later to emerge as crushing disappointment when his messianic hopes were defeated. He is also said to have been preoccupied with eroticism and the conflicts it generated within him.
In the Kiev district town of Medvedevka, where Reb Naḥman settled for a number of years as a young man, he first began to attract Hassidim—followers, or disciples—and to function as a tzaddik. Reports indicate that his self-perceived role and persona differed even then from the quasi-royal, court-centered style of certain other Hassidic rebbes. He appears to have been more concerned with immersion in intense spiritual devotion and, ultimately, with mystical doctrines of repair, restoration, and redemption of the cosmic world. Nor did he surround himself continually, as others have, with courtly retinues or clusters of disciples; usually he restricted his meetings with disciples to a handful of annual occasions. In 1798, he traveled to the Holy Land (eretz yisra’el—the Land of Israel, or Palestine), where he visited Haifa, Jaffa, Tiberias, and Safed, and where, according to his disciple and first biographer, R. Nathan of Nemirov, he traveled incognito before returning to Europe after only a few months. After coming back to Medvedevka, and then living for a time in Zlatopol and Bratslav, he moved to Uman, in the Ukraine, where he died a year later and where he is buried.
In that last year in Uman, Reb Naḥman is known inexplicably to have associated with prominent nonreligious (certainly non-pious) haskala (Jewish Enlightenment) adherents, whose worldview could not have been more distant from the orthodox faith and mystical piety of a typical tzaddik. Also enigmatic and atypical of the rebbes was his failure to appoint a successor, especially since his only son had died and he was aware of his own failing health. Neither his disciples nor their descendants, therefore, have ever chosen one. Yet they did not disband or permit themselves to disintegrate in the absence of a dynasty. Known colloquially as the toyte hassidim (dead Hassidim) because of their “dead leader,” they have continued as a distinct group without a living rebbe, and those who are able still make a pilgrimage to his tombstone in Uman each year on Rosh Hashana.
Throughout his life, Reb Naḥman was often embroiled in sharp theological controversy and even bitter interpersonal disputes. At one time or another he alienated virtually all of his contemporary significant Hassidic tzaddikim and serious Hassidic thinkers, especially those with whom he had contact (with the exception of the legendary kindly and charitable Reb Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev). In some cases, the acrimony arose from attitude and behavior, but on a deeper level the conflicts were propelled by his particular conceptions and views—of himself and his own exclusive role; on the world and God’s relationship to it; on the nature, meaning, and means of ultimate redemption; on the nature and essence of faith; and on the kabbalistic concept of tikkun—repair, restoration, and redemption. The Bratslaver perception of tikkun has been understood to focus in particular on repair of that which is seen to be broken or shattered in existence itself—and of that which is broken in the soul, in the cosmos, in truth, and in the essence of Divine oneness with man and with the universe.
Prominent among the accusations leveled against Reb Naḥman by his most vocal and most polarized opponents was his alleged inclination toward Shabbatean and Frankist messianic ideas (discredited conceptions harking back to 17th-century episodes of “false messiahs”). Scholars disagree on the extent to which he may have been influenced by those ideas—and on whether this can ever be determined. Central to the controversies and even the denouncements Reb Naḥman aroused was the highly paradoxical and complicated character of the particular concept of faith he and his followers embraced. When it came to questions of God’s personal versus impersonal relationship to the world and to existence, of the relationship between good and evil, and whether prayer is ideally an unfathomably distant yet personal dialogue with God or a complete submergence of the self in clinging to God, Naḥman’s teachings diverged sharply from the prevailing thought of other leading Hassidic theoreticians of the day. By some accounts, he seems almost deliberately to have provoked these disputes, for he is believed to have developed the notion that his place at the center of controversy was both inevitable and a mark of his own significance in the redemptive process. Apparently, he viewed greatness and ultimate legitimacy in a true tzaddik as inseparable from—perhaps even in proportion to—rejection and isolation as necessary stages to be overcome.
It is possible to articulate in analytical terms some of the debatable differences in doctrine and approach that account for the rift between Reb Naḥman and other Hassidic thinkers, but much of his modus operandi and many of his positions and actions were, and remain, fogged in mystery. Even his defining trip to the Holy Land and his motivations for the journey have an aura of mystery about them that has fueled speculation. Some biographers, including R. Nathan, have attached mystical objectives to the trip; other analysts and interpreters have discerned pre- or preparatory messianic purposes; and still others have connected the two. Arthur Green’s seminal and authoritative 20th-century biography, considered one of the most revealing intellectual examinations of the subject, suggests that the journey was a kabbalistic stage in Naḥman’s spiritual growth. Envisioning it as a possible paradigm for a rite of passage, Green compares the journey with undergoing a dangerous ordeal to attain a “next level.” In that context, the journey to the Holy Land might have been analogous to a journey to the center of the cosmic spiritual world, and the passage through water to arrive there could be viewed as a metaphor for a first stage of a rebirth process—and therefore the preface to restoration and redemption.
That Reb Naḥman’s tales, too, can defy understanding—at least outside the tightly packed epicenter of his initiated disciples—may also be a part of the self-imposed enigma he appears to have cultivated. It has even been suggested that the tales were never intended to be understood or deciphered. A slightly less radical variation on that idea suggests that Reb Naḥman expected only his inner core of disciples, who were oriented in Lurianic mysticism, kabbalistic conceptions, and in particular the Zohar—and were thus schooled in seeking out hidden references and symbolism—to understand the stories. Yet another variation on that assessment might be that their meaning would become revealed to the rest at some future time, perhaps as part of the eventual restoration in the cosmos.
Especially perplexing is the complicated matter of Reb Naḥman’s personal messianic pretensions. This can be—and has been—considered on various levels, for he never publicly declared that he was “the messiah.” Yet, however the question is interpreted, it is generally accepted that he believed not only that he was the one true tzaddik of his generation (tzaddik ha’dor), but also that in some sense his soul was actually that of the messiah who would usher in the period of redemption. His notion of his soul’s messianic status included a twofold, or perhaps two-stage consideration: messiah the son of Joseph and messiah the son of David. Modern interpreters have allowed more for the possibility that he might have seen himself in potential as the messiah son of Joseph, who would prepare the path for the arrival of the messiah son of David. In any case, his formulation also contended that the eventual messiah was destined to be one of his descendants. Moreover, Reb Naḥman’s position on faith went beyond obvious traditional Judaic faith in God and all that it has implied historically, and he required of his disciples faith in him as the true tzaddik—inextricable from the messianic parameters. In his view, the Jewish exile persists in its prolongation because of lack of faith, so that the meaning of redemption from that exile is tied to the resolution of all doubts.
Reb Naḥman’s greatest disappointment, therefore, was the frustration of his messianic expectations and the failure of his bid for acceptance of those aspirations, which occurred in 1806—the same year in which his only son died. That the birth of his tales and the beginning of his institutionalized storytelling coincide with that time frame should probably not be overlooked. He did not necessarily abandon his messianic convictions or his longing for messianic redemption. Rather, he appears to have refocused his energies and regrouped his spiritual forces, refracting his teachings and longings through the new prism of the tales. In one way or another, even if their details and deepest layers of meaning elude our understanding, these tales can all be viewed as dealing with the issue of faith in the yearned-for cosmic redemption.
Foreign as Reb Naḥman’s messianic self-perceptions may seem to modern rational orientation, they cannot simply be dismissed as psychotic delusions. For we really do not know the precise nature of these convictions, nor how literal was the plane on which he considered them. This component of his teachings remains a function of both his essential mystery and his pervasive mysteriousness. Little wonder then that his tales, too, are drenched in mystery and secrecy. In that context, their invention has been supposed as his means of encoding the very secrets that those outside his inner circle had rebuffed. Those secrets, according to this thesis, would then be protected and decipherable only by the elite few who had attained an exclusive level of understanding, and only they would be spiritually ready and worthy, by virtue of their faith in Reb Naḥman, to know the means to the world’s repair.
On their surface, Reb Naḥman’s stories resemble fairy tales with universal themes more than they do traditionally Jewish anecdotal folklore or typical religious exegetical literature. They concern such things from the world of enchantment as mythical kings and emperors, love-struck princes and princesses, far-off lands, improbable romances, mysterious riddles, evil spells, beggars who become prosperous, and magical cures. But they are saturated with mystical allegories, metaphors, and symbols. Whether all the tales were entirely original, or whether Reb Naḥman drew upon other folklore as models, cannot be known. It is possible, however, to consider some of their characters and situations as variants on well-known fairy-tale motifs. There is also the possibility, raised by some contemporary observers, that some of the tales might have been based on Reb Naḥman’s dreams. This, too, remains conjecture. Either way, the uninitiated audience, even if otherwise educated, might understandably relate to the tales as fanciful variations on universal folklore. But scholars of this Bratslaver chapter of Hassidic history and philosophy generally accept that when Reb Naḥman told these tales to his disciples, it was understood among them that they contained hidden secret messages and truths deliberately buried from all but those who knew not only how to unveil them, but also how to internalize them.
The fierce opposition to Reb Naḥman and the open controversies might have underscored in his mind the need for such secrecy. The deception of simplicity could guard those secret truths—at least until a later stage on the way to redemption—from those who would not understand them anyway and who might, under the influence either of his vilifiers or, simply, of Western ideas, misuse his teachings. The enigma would protect knowledge still too dangerous to be in such hands.
Thus, among Bratslaver Hassidim the tales are treated not as secular or quasi-religious ethical-moral literature, nor even as ancillary religious illustrations, but as basic sacred texts in themselves, where his sacred teachings are embedded in the images, objects, characters, and even in the landscapes.
There are thirteen primary tales and several other brief ones. Reb Naḥman instructed his Hassidim to burn all his writings upon his death, with the exception of these tales—which were recorded by his scribe. In Arthur Green’s evaluation, they address through mythological lenses Reb Naḥman’s central ideas on the very essence of existence “at the meeting place between the truth of the soul and the truth of the cosmos.” But even apart from their specifically mystical world, these tales may also have a historical place in the development of Jewish literature in general. From the vantage point of 20th-century literary criticism, they have been perceived as an inadvertent bridge from a centuries-old tradition of purely sacred and biblically related writings to a modern Jewish secular literature. In all likelihood, though, Reb Naḥman would have rejected that role.
When Schoenfield was searching for a Jewish subject for his opera, he was faced with an artistic dilemma. He wanted to address an aspect of serious Jewish literature that would be worthy of probing theatrical treatment, yet neither despairing nor tragic—nor even tragicomic. But the work also had to embody his personal approach to “Jewish music”—which is inseparable from joy and spiritual elevation. Strangely, he perceived one level of solution in the long-standing tradition of the purimspiel, which has often accompanied and amplified the Purim festivities celebrating the averting of Jewish genocide in the ancient Persian Empire. Purimspiel is a genre of jocular theater dating at least to the Middle Ages in Europe and containing some of the germinal seeds for the much later birth of secular Jewish theater. Even during the period when some rabbinical authority still proscribed instrumental music as a sign of continued mourning for the destruction of the Temple (and also, according to some views, “unnecessary” vocal music—apart from liturgical intonations and biblical cantillations), the purimspiel and weddings were the two permitted exceptions. A purimspiel typically combines revelry, lampoon, and caricature; yet the event it commemorates—the near success of a conspiracy to annihilate the Jewish people—has both redemptive religious and sober historical ramifications and is itself hardly humorous.
In his quest for a specific topic, Schoenfield turned to the tales of Reb of Bratslav, and he found his desired nexus in Naḥman’s own words concerning joy: “To find true joy is the hardest thing of all—more difficult than all other spiritual tasks. One must literally force oneself to be happy all the time…. When you bring joy to another person, you literally give new life to a soul…. Often the only way is to do something foolish or childish.”
“And so it was in the spirit of the purimspiel that I decided to write The Merchant and the Pauper,” Schoenfield explained. “People who wonder whether I am being serious or sarcastic when I use 18th- and 19th-century harmonies must remember that in a Purim play the division between fact and farce can and should be very blurry.” But he has gone beyond harmonic language in fashioning the contradictions of this multilayered work, clothing mystical and melancholic Bratslaver yearnings in the vestments of uplifting and even cheerful music. He has created a work that ties his perception of “an opera on a Jewish subject”—viz., something ultimately and inherently joyful—to Reb Naḥman’s cosmic messianic concerns. “I’ve come along to write some entertainment to ‘make the sad happy and bring peace among enemies,’ as the Talmud expresses,” Schoenfield wrote in the program booklet for the premiere. “I haven’t had to concern myself with profundity or musicological importance—because such an attitude would be antithetical both to the purimspiel and to the views of Reb Naḥman.”
But this opera is no mere diversionary entertainment. Perhaps, as subtexts wrapped in the garb of an entertaining musical theater piece, its composer has in turn hidden some of the profundity he denies. The basic substance of The Merchant and the Pauper derives from the interrelated twin mystical doctrines of the exile of the sh’khina (the Divine Presence) as part of the Jewish Exile, and the persisting delay of the messianic era of restoration and redemption by the continued exclusion of the messiah (also a form of exile). The libretto, a synopsis of which follows here, is not a literal transcription of the tale in all its details. Rather, it was adapted from the original story, and as a theatrical vehicle, it naturally omits certain important elements that bear upon a full deliberation of the symbolism and metaphors of the tale. First published in Sippurei ma’asiyyot in Warsaw in 1881, the full tale can be found in modern English translation in Arnold J. Band’s Naḥman of Bratslav: The Tales, and in Beggars and Prayers: Adin Steinsaltz Retells the Tales of Rabbi Naḥman of Bratslav.
Conveying the basic plot and the principal allegorical elements presented a theatrical staging challenge to the librettist and the director. The solution was to have many of the major plot details as well as allegorical commentary declaimed by a narrator. In the St. Louis production, that narrator was portrayed as Reb Naḥman himself, recounting the story and commenting on it to his disciples. The emotional expressions of the characters’ reactions are in turn the base for the musical numbers—the arias, ensembles, and choruses.
The Pauper’s beautiful wife is kidnapped by a “wicked” general, but she is rescued and returned home by the honorable Merchant. The Merchant and the Pauper are both rewarded with the birth of children—a son to the Merchant and a daughter to the Pauper. The Pauper’s daughter is uncommonly beautiful—considered “the most beautiful child on earth.”
The two children are promised to each other for future marriage by their parents. Over the years, the Pauper’s daughter, Beauty, becomes the means to his increasing wealth and power, since he prospers when people bestow gifts upon her, and his social as well as economic rank expands as noblemen vie for her as a bride for their sons. The Pauper, whose greed increases accordingly, eventually becomes emperor of the entire land, and now he is determined that his daughter must make a noble marriage rather than marrying the Merchant’s son, as promised. The Pauper’s wife, however, refuses to acquiesce in breaking their promise, and by that time the children also feel committed to each other as predestined partners.
The Pauper therefore conspires to bring ruin upon the Merchant by spreading false rumors of fraud, which then reduce him to poverty. Even then the Pauper’s wife and daughter remain committed to the promise, so he orders his men to abduct the Merchant’s son, put him in a sack, and throw him into the sea. But the Merchant’s wife clandestinely manages to have a convicted criminal put in the sack instead, and the Merchant’s son escapes through a fierce storm at sea.
The Merchant’s son is shipwrecked on the shore of a wild land that is uninhabited by humans. He and Beauty have pledged to each other that wherever each one happens to be, they will both observe the evening star each night as it rises out of the sea. Thus, no matter where they are, they will be able to see into each other’s hearts.
The Pauper assumes that the Merchant’s son is dead, in which case his daughter is no longer betrothed. She can now receive other suitors, but she is veiled in order to prevent them from fainting at the sheer sight of her unequaled loveliness. Beauty is abducted and carried off by an evil pirate who plans to sell her for ransom. He has lured her onto his ship, tempting her with mechanical golden birds that sing and dance. Once again a fierce storm arises at sea, and they are shipwrecked on the same shore where the Merchant’s son is living. The wild animals there have ignored him, but they seize upon the pirate and tear him to pieces.
Meanwhile, chaos reigns in the emperor’s palace. The nobles now realize that without his daughter, the Pauper turned emperor is no longer of any use to them. The places of the Merchant and the Pauper are once again reversed. The Merchant is restored to his former prosperity and high social standing, and the emperor returns to poverty. But the Pauper’s wife becomes the empress in his place.
Since so much time has passed since their separation, Beauty and the Merchant’s son do not immediately recognize each other on the wilderness shore. But when he tells her his story, they become reunited, returning home to rule over the kingdom—“to everlasting joy.”
Howard Schwarz, in a 1982 article in Judaism on the Bratslaver tales, considered their role as a forerunner of modern Jewish literature, and he has published several studies of Jewish folklore and rabbinical storytelling. In his annotations contained in the program booklet for the St. Louis production, Schwarz attempted to imagine a conventional Bratslav interpretation of the story on the basic allegorical plane. In what he views as a dual allegory—one biblical and the other mystical and kabbalistic in its focus on the sh’khina and the messiah—the Merchant represents Moses (“the man whose wealth is both worldly and spiritual”) and the Pauper’s wife symbolizes the people of Israel. On this level, then, the tale would refer to the redemption of the people of Israel from Egyptian bondage and their wandering in the wilderness after the Exodus in search of completion of that redemption through possession of their land and fulfillment of the Divine promise. But the story’s deeper concern is with the Merchant’s son, who represents the messiah, and the Pauper’s daughter, who symbolizes the sh’khina.
Schwarz goes further to suggest that the search for the sh’khina here may also be an individual personal quest to seek out and free the sh’khina within each human being. In this he echoes the words of Reb Naḥman’s scribe, to the effect that “everyone in [the people] Israel is preoccupied with the search for the lost princess”—viz., the sh’khina. Schwarz also invokes comparisons that have been drawn between this kabbalistic concept and the Jungian idea of the anima—the theory of a symbolic feminine in every male and the symbolic male aspect, or animus, in each female. According to that psychological theory, those two sides must be integrated and reconciled to produce wholeness. From the Jungian perspective, it is the anima that must be sought out and with which each man must come to terms, just as all Israel must seek out the sh’khina.
In The Merchant and the Pauper, forces of greed and pure evil separate two who are destined—bashert—to be together as one. In Reb Naḥman’s mystical view of the world and of existence, so long as evil and doubt persist, they preclude the messianic era. But if this story is, at least on one plane, a metaphor for messianic redemption, then Naḥman has not relinquished his own faith in an eventual resolution and permanent harmony in the cosmos and among humanity. That ultimate resolution is implied by the tale’s optimistic conclusion—almost an echo of the typical fairy-tale cliché “and they lived happily ever after.”
Still, none of this relatively transparent interpretation necessarily negates the basic Bratslav tenet that the tales contain secrets unknowable by any outsider—including even the most perceptive modern literary critics and contemporary theologians. Even if the messianic metaphor is essentially the basis for this tale—if in fact it is no ruse intended to deceive—there may yet remain undecipherable secrets embedded in even deeper planes and perhaps encoded in minute details that escape us. More precisely how and when the exile can and will be concluded, for example, and, in reality, who will be the one ultimately to usher in that redemption, may be only some of those secrets.
(Excerpts From Act II)
ACT II, SCENE 1
When the terrible storm abated, the young man found himself shipwrecked in a deserted place, miles from the sea, where there was water in abundance, and trees with apples and pears, and deer and rabbits and fish. There were wild animals in the forest, animals which can be beautiful but also fierce and dangerous, for they are the minions of evil....
Shining earth transcendent, miraculous grass and water; rich earth, and wide sky. Let us rejoice, let us rejoice in abundance and sing of the bounty of heaven!
... but the flesh of the animals nourished the young man, and he used their bones and skin to make musical instruments—and thus the messiah uses the forces of destruction to create harmony.
Deliver me in this wild place with arrows that will pierce the hearts of the creatures of the night. The lyre and the bow, the lion and the antelope, preserve me and keep me. Bring harmony from danger, music of longing and pain, music for Beauty, who is lost to me, music from my heart—for here in exile I remain, far from my love forever.
And since he could not return to her, he decided to live in this wilderness for the rest of his life, and thus the messiah waits for his beloved in the Garden of Eden.
A bird sings deep in the silent forest, a dove with wings of silver and feathers of gold. Oh, messenger! Go to my love and sing—and sing again when you return with joy! Oh, shining earth transcendent, oh, miraculous grass and water; rich earth, and wide sky. Here beneath the shining stars, I remain alone, to sing of my love forever.
Shining earth transcendent, miraculous grass and water; rich earth, and wide sky. Let us rejoice, let us rejoice in abundance and sing of the bounty of heaven!
And every evening he waited impatiently for the evening star, and every night when it appeared, he gazed at it longingly, knowing that Beauty, too, was gazing at it far away—and thus they kept their promise to each other.
Now in the sunset glowing, as the land breeze blows softly and the stars appear and the great star, brilliant in the west, rises in love from the sea, I know I see beyond the sky into your heart, oh, beloved of the sun and moon. And the universe will hear our singing, and the heavens tremble with our song, For we are the blazing flame at the heart of the world, We are the splendor of the rose....
And then the glory faded from the sky. The moon rose, and the quiet waves lay white along the shore,and it was softly dark.
ACT, SCENE 4
Still, there was terrible sorrow, for they were childless once again, just as they were before....
All of the rivers run to the sea, then they return again.
And only the will of God prevails, and never the will of men.
Despair and joy are only dreaming, for only God sees the purpose of men.
Truth, hope, beauty, and love, nothing is left in the end.
The sun in the ocean, and waves on the shore;
All of it fades with the day, and all of our wisdom, all that we know;
All of it passes away, all of it passes away....
ACT II, SCENE 5
After wandering a long time, Beauty reached the place where the Merchant’s son was living. She had reached the depths of her degradation; she was unkempt and dirty and dressed in sailor’s clothes, so he did not recognize her—for all he saw before him was a young man, a wanderer like himself ... and so much time had passed, and the Merchant’s son was so transformed that she for her part saw only a young man, a wanderer like herself.
Welcome, stranger in the wilderness.
Let me give you shelter and share the riches of the earth, for I am glad of the company.
BEAUTY [as a sailor]
Lost in storm and fear, terror and exile,
I am glad of shelter here.
I will rejoice in the riches of the earth, and we will live as wanderers together.
But can you live in a wild place like this alone—even wilderness as beautiful as this?
Such loneliness is only born of fear.
Doomed by pride and greed and wickedness, death awaits if I return.
I only dream of the emperor’s child and must remain in loneliness forever.
And then she knew he was her bridegroom, and said to him:
Behold, it is I.
I will know my beloved by the words of his heart.
BEAUTY, THE SON
A miracle in the wilderness has saved us from despair.
Chaos and darkness are gone, and the wind reveals the sky.
For the universe has heard our singing and the heavens hear our song,
And the glory shall never fade from the sky.
For you are my beloved, before the throne of God.
Behold the splendor of the rose, the world is filled with light.
BEAUTY, THE SON
Rise up, my fair one, and come away, for the time of singing of birds is come.
Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field.
Rise up, my fair one, and come away.
When the two young people at last found their way home after wandering for a long time, they found that things had changed very much for the better. For Beauty’s father was deposed, and his wife ruled in his place. So Beauty went before her mother, told her the whole story, and at the end said, “Behold, we have come home.” And so, my children, goodness shall prevail, and we shall all come home. For home is anywhere we gather together; home is the truth we carry with us, and it will be with you always.
BEAUTY, WIFE, SON, PAUPER, MERCHANT
So they were reconciled; the Pauper was forgiven.
So they were married, and the joy was complete.
And the lovers ruled upon the earth and reigned supreme upon the earth.
And the supreme joy was complete upon the earth.
So they were reconciled, the Pauper was forgiven, and the triumph was complete.
There was hope and celebration, love and joy.
They shall rule the kingdom.
Majesty and power, grief shall turn to joy.
Wisdom and truth shall rule on the earth, for light will pierce the darkness and the flame of our love shall rise until we all rejoice together.
[sings a Yiddish song to an authentic Bratslaver tune]
kum arayn un varem zikh on
kum arayn un ru zikh op
vayl der flam vet
eybik laykhtn un brenen
kum arayn un varem zikh on
kum arayn un ru zikh op
kum arayn un varem zikh on
in dem heylikn fayer
(Come in and warm yourself up;
Come in and rest yourself,
for the flame will
shine and burn forever.
Come in and warm yourself up ...
in the holy fire.)
[As the palace fades away, there is the impression that the gloom of the beginning is still outside and the story has disappeared like a puff of golden smoke.]
Performers: Mark Kent, Bass; Kenneth Kiesler, Conductor; Jennifer Larson, Soprano; Christopher Meerdink, Tenor; Gary Moss, Baritone; Tyler Oliphant, Baritone; Isaiah Sheffer, Speaker; University of Michigan Opera Theater; Pei Yi Wang, Mezzo-soprano
Publisher: Migdal Publishing
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