in the costume of Taddeo in the play, coming through the curtain
Ladies and gentlemen,
forgive me for appearing alone.
I am the Prologue.
Since the author is putting on the stage
again the old Comedy of Masks,
he would like to revive
some of the old customs
and so sends me out again to you.
But not to say, as of old,
"The tears we shed are feigned!
Do not alarm yourselves at our sufferings
and our torments!"
The author instead has sought to paint
for you a scene from life.
He takes as his basis simply
that the artist is a man
and that he must write for men.
His inspiration was a true story.
A horde of memories
was one day running through his heard,
and he wrote, shedding real tears,
with sobs to mark the time!
So you will see love,
as real as human beings' love:
You will see the sad fruit of hate.
You will hear agonies of grief,
cries of rage and bitter laughter!
So think then, not of our poor
but of our souls,
for we are men of flesh and blood.
Breathing the air of this lonely world
Just like you!
I have told you his plan.
Now hear how it is unfolded.
calling towards the stage
Come. Let's begin!
He goes in, and the curtain rises.
ACT ONEThe scene is a crossroads in the country, at the entrance to the village. At the angle of the road, a large tree on broken ground. Almost in front of the tree, on the road, is planted a rough pole from the top of which flies a flag such as is common at popular fairs. The right of the stage is almost completely taken up with a travelling theatre. Behind the theatre there is a little wall.
The sound of an out-of-tune trumpet is heard, alternating with the banging of a drum, together with laughter, gay shouts, urchins whistling and approaching voices. Attracted by the sound and the din, a crowd of villagers of both sexes in holiday attire run in from the avenue, while Tonio the fool looks down the road to the left and then, worried by the approaching crowd, lies down in front of the theatre. It is three in the afternoon, and the August sun is burning hot.
Here they are!
They're back again.
Everyone, grown?ups and children,
follows his quips,
everyone applauds his jests.
And he greets us gravely as he passes
and returns to beating his big drum.
Already among the cries the children are
throwing their caps into the air,
shouting and whistling once again.
Hey, whip up the donkey,
They're throwing their caps into the air.
Shouting and whistling once again.
Go to the devil!
Take that, you scamp!A group of urchins runs in from the left.
VILLAGERS AND CHILDREN
Here's the cart!
Stand back, they're arriving.
what a row!A picturesque cart painted in varied colours and drawn by a donkey comes in, led by Peppe in Harlequin costume, while he drives the children back with his whip. On the front of the cart is sprawled Nedda in a costume between that of a gipsy and an acrobat. Behind her is placed the big drum. At the back of the cart stands Canio, in clown's clothes, holding a trumpet in his right hand and the drumstick in his left. The villagers joyously surround the cart.
Long live Pagliaccio!
Hurrah! You are the prince of clowns.
You banish all woes with your gaiety.
Everyone applauds his jests,
follows his quips.
And he greets us gravely as he passes.
Long live Pagliaccio!
what a row!
Thank you …
Thank you …
May I …
When is the play?
CANIObanging loudly and repeatedly on the drum to drown the voices
ALLapproaching and stopping their ears
Ugh! You're deafening us! Have done!
CANIOwith affected courtesy, taking off his hat with a comic gesture
May I be allowed to speak?
Ha, ha! We must give in;
be quiet and listen.
and obedient servant
has prepared a grand performance
for eleven o'clock tonight.makes a comic bow
You will see the troubles
of poor Pagliaccio,
and how he's revenged
by a clever trap.
You will see Tonio's
big bulk tremble
and what a tangled
Skein of intrigue he'll devise.
Come and honour us,
ladies and gentlemen,
tonight at eleven!
We'll come, and you treat us
to your humour.
Tonight at eleven!Tonio comes forward to help Nedda down from the cart; but Canio, who has already jumped down, boxes his ears.
Get away from there.He takes Nedda by the arms and lifts her down.
VILLAGERSlaughing at Tonio
Take that, gallant fellow!
Do you good!Tonio shakes his fist at the urchins, who run away; then goes off grumbling and disappears under the curtain on the right of the theatre.
I'll get my own back … you scoundrel!
A VILLAGERto Canio
Say, will you take a drink
with us at the crossroads?
PEPPEreappearing behind the theatre, and throwing the whip he is still holding down in front of the theatre
Wait for me …
I'm coming too!He goes in at the other side of the theatre to change his clothes.
CANIOcalling to the back
Hi, Tonio, are you coming?
I'm seeing to the donkey.
Go on ahead.
Look out, Pagliaccio,
he wants to stay here alone
so as to pay court to Nedda.
CANIOsarcastically, but frowning
Oh! You think so?half serious, half ironic
Such a game, believe me,
it's better not to play on me,
my friends; and I speak now to Tonio
and indeed to everyone.
The stage and life
are not at all the same thing;
if up there Pagliaccio
surprises his wife
with a handsome gallant in her room,
he preaches a comic sermon,
then calms down and allows himself
to be beaten with a stick! …
And the audience applauds
and laughs gaily.
But if in earnest
I should surprise Nedda …
The story would finish differently,
as truly as I'm speaking now …
Such a game, believe me,
it's better not to play on me.
I don't understand.
But do you seriously suspect her?
I? … Of course not! … Forgive me …
I adore my wife.Canio kisses Nedda on the forehead. A bagpipe is heard offstage: all rush to the left, looking into the wings.
CHILDREN AND WOMENshouting
The bagpipers! … The bagpipers! …
Our friends are going towards the church.
They are accompanying the procession
which is gaily going
in couples to vespers.In the distance, bells sound for vespers.
Let us go. The church bell
calls us to service.
Yes, but remember!
At eleven tonight!The bagpipers arrive from the left in festive attire, with bright coloured ribbons and flowers in their pointed hats. They are followed by a troop of villagers, also in holiday clothes. The crowd already on the stage exchanges greetings and smiles with these, then all divide into couples and groups, join the procession and move off singing, down the avenue at the back, behind the theatre.
Let us go! Let us go!
Ding dong, the vespers sound,
boys and girls quickly, in couples
come to church, ding dong!
Already the sun is about to kiss the heights.
Your mothers are watching you
Everything is radiant with light and love,
but the old people supervise
the ardent lovers!
Ding dong, the vespers sound,
boys and girls.During this chorus, Canio enters behind the theatre and takes off his clown's coat, then returns and after smilingly waving goodbye to Nedda, goes off with Peppe and five or six villagers. Nedda remains alone.
What fire there was in his look!
I lowered my eyes
for fear he should read
my secret thoughts.
Oh! if he caught me …
He's so brutal …
But enough: no more.
These are idle, fearful dreams!
O how glorious is the August sun!
I feel full of life, and, my senses glowing
with secret desire, I know not what I long for!gazing at the sky
Oh what a flight of birds,
and what a chatter!
What do they seek? Where are they going?
Who knows? …
My mother, who could tell fortunes,
understood their warbling,
and sang this song to me as a child:
The birds chirp up aloft,
freely launched in flight like arrows.
They defy the clouds and the burning sun
and onward they fly
through the boundless sky.
Let them roam through the atmosphere,
ever eager for the glorious infinite blue:
They too follow a dream,
a chimera, as onward they fly
Through the gilded clouds.
Though the wind freshen
and the tempest roar,
with pinions spread they brave all dangers;
rain or lightning, nothing defers them,
and onward they fly
over abysses and oceans.
Onward they go to some strange land
of which perhaps they dream
and which they seek in vain.
But the gipsies of the sky
follow the mysterious power
which draws them …
onward … ever onward!During this song Tonio has come out from behind the theatre and gone to lean against the tree, listening entranced. As Nedda ends the song, she notices him.
NEDDAsharply, put out
So you're there!
I thought you'd gone.
The fault lies in your singing.
It fascinated me and made me so happy.
NEDDAwith a scornful laugh
What poetry! …
Don't laugh, Nedda …
Go, off with you to the tavern.
I know that I am ugly and mishapen,
and arouse only scorn and horror.
Yet in my thoughts is a dream, a desire,
and my heart is beating too.
And when you pass me by disdainfully,
you do not know the cry
that grief wrings from me,
for despite myself, I have felt your magic
and love has conquered me.
I beg you, let me but tell you …
NEDDAinterrupting him banteringly
That you love me? Ah! Ah!
You'll have time to tell me so
this evening, if you must …
When you're pulling faces
There on the stage.
Don't laugh, Nedda!
You don't know how tears
wring grief out of me!
But for now
you con spare me the annoyance.
Suddenly I'm in a spell,
love has overcome me!
Nedda!with wild force
No, it is here I must tell you,
and you shall hear me,
that I love you and want you,
and that you shall be mine!
NEDDAwith studied insolence
Oh really, master Tonio!
Does your back itch today,
or do you need
To have your ears pulled
to cool your ardour?
You mock me! You'll regret it!
By the Cross of the Saviour!
Beware, for you will pay dearly for it.
You threaten me? … Do you want me
to go and call Canio?
TONIOmoving towards her
Not before I've kissed you.
TONIOstill advancing, opening his arms to seize her
Soon you shall be mine!
NEDDAretreating towards the little theatre, sees the whip left by Peppe, takes hold of it and strikes Tonio across the face
TONIOgiving a howl and retreating
Ah! By the holy Virgin of the Assumption,
Nedda, I swear to you …
you shall pay for this! …He goes off, threatening, to the left.
NEDDAmotionless, watching him go
Now you have revealed yourself,
Tonio the fool!
You have a mind as deformed and hideous
as your body!
SILVIOhalf his body appearing as he climbs the low wall on the right, calling softly
NEDDAhastening towards him
Silvio! At this hour,
what folly …
SILVIOgaily vaulting over and coming towards her
Bah! You can be sure
that I'm taking no risk.
I saw Canio and Peppe in the tavern
from far off! …
But I came here with care, through
the wooded path I know.
Had you been a moment sooner
you'd have run into Tonio.
Oh! Tonio the fool!
The fool can be dangerous.
He loves me …
He told me so just now …
and in his bestial frenzy,
trying to kiss me, he dared to rush on me …
But with the whip
I cooled the ardour of the filthy dog.
Will you live forever amid these worries?
Nedda! Nedda! Decide my fate.
O stay here, Nedda!
As you know, the fair is over
and everyone will be gone tomorrow.
And when you too have left here,
what will become of me …
Of my life?
Nedda, Nedda, answer me.
If it is true that you love Canio no more,
if it is true that you hate
the nomadic life you lead,
if your great love is not a fiction,
let us go tonight!
Nedda, fly with me.
Do not tempt me!
Do you want to ruin my life?
Hush, Silvio, no more …
It is folly, it is madness!
I trust in you,
to whom I have given my heart.
Do not take advantage of me,
of my feverish love!
Do not tempt me! Pity me!
And yet, who knows! It's better to leave.
Fate is against us,
what we say is in vain.
But from my heart
you can't be removed,
I will live only for that love
that you have planted in my heart!
Ah! Nedda, let's flee!
Don't tempt me!
Do you want to be killed?
Stop, Silvio, no more …
it's crazy, lunacy!
What will become of me …
I'm telling the truth …
… when you're gone?
… you, to whom my heart belongs!
Don't abuse me …
… or my feverish love!
Don't tempt me … have pity on me!
Ay! Come on!
Ah! Fly with me.
No, you no longer love me!
What!Tonio appears at the back, on the left
TONIOhaving seen him, to himself
I've caught you, you strumpet!He hurries off by the path, threatening.
Yes, I love you, I do!
SILVIOlovingly trying to persuade her
Yet you leave tomorrow morning? …
Then tell me why you have bewitched me
if now without pity you wish to leave me?
Why did you give me those kisses
in that burning ecstasy of pleasure?
Even if you forget those fleeting hours,
I cannot, and I still want
that burning ecstasy, those ardent kisses
which filled my heart with such fever!
I have forgotten nothing;
this love that shines in your eyes
has thrown me into confusion.
I want to live close by your side,
in the spell of a life of calm
and peaceful love.
I give myself to you:
You alone shall rule me, and I take you
and yield myself completely
Let us forget everything!
Let us forget everything!
Look into my eyes!
Kiss me! Let us forget everything!
I look at you, and kiss you.
Let us forget everything!While Silvio and Nedda, still speaking, move towards the low wall, Canio and Tonio appear stealthily by the path.
TONIOholding Canio back
and you'll surprise them.Canio advances cautiously, still held back by Tonic, and not able, from where he is, to see Silvio climbing the wall.
At dead of night I'll be down there.
Come down carefully and you'll find me.Silvio disappears as Canio nears the angle of the theatre.
NEDDAto Silvio, who has disappeared below
and then I'll be yours forever!
CANIOwho from where he is has heard these words, gives a shout
NEDDAturns in terror and calls towards the wall
Fly!With one bounce Canio is at the wall: Nedda throws herself before him, but after a brief struggle he pushes her aside, vaults over the wall and disappears. Tonio stays on the left looking at Nedda, who, as if nailed to the wall, tries to hear if there is any sound of a struggle.
O Heaven … Protect him! …
Coward, where are you hiding?
Ha! … ha! …
NEDDAhas turned at Tonio's laughter and says to him scornfully
Bravo! Bravo, dear Tonio!
I did what I could!
That's what I thought!
But I don't give up hope
of doing much better …
You fill me with disgust and loathing.
Oh, you don't know
how happy that makes me!Meanwhile Canio has jumped over the wall again and returns to the stage very pale, wiping the sweat off his face with a dark-coloured handkerchief.
CANIOwith intense anger
Derision and scorn!
Nothing! He knows
that path too well.
No matter; for now you shall tell me
the name of your lover.
You, by the living God! …taking a stiletto from his belt
And if this very moment
I have not already
cut your throat,
it is because before fouling
this blade of mine
with your vile blood,
you shameless creature,
I want his name. Speak!
Your threats ore in vain.
My lips are sealed.
His name, his name,
woman, without delay!
No! No, I'll never tell you.
CANIOfuriously rushing on her with raised dagger
By the Madonna!Peppe, who has entered from the left, runs to Canio at Nedda's reply and seizes the dagger, which he throws away among the trees.
Master! What are you doing! …
For the love of Heaven …
The people are coming out of church
and are coming towards our theatre
Come, pray calm yourself!
Let me be, Peppe.
His name! His name!
Tonio, come and hold him.
We must go; people are coming.
Control yourself.Tonio takes Canio by the hand while Peppe turns to Nedda.
And you, take yourself off
And go and get dressed.
You know that Canio
Is violent, but honest!He pushes Nedda under the canvas and disappears with her.
CANIOholding his head in his hands
TONIOsoftly to Canio
Calm yourself, my master.
It is better to pretend;
her lover will be back.
Trust me.Canio makes a despairing gesture, but Tonio digs him with his elbow.
I will watch her.
Now we must begin the play.
Who knows, he may return
to see the show and betray himself!
Now come. You must pretend
if you would succeed.
PEPPEcoming out from the theatre
Go and dress yourself.
And you, Tonio, beat the drum.Tonio goes behind the theatre and Peppe also goes back inside, while Canio despondently makes his way slowly to the curtain.
To act! …
While gripped by frenzy,
I no longer know
what I'm saying or doing!
And yet … I must … force yourself!
Bah, are you a man?
You're a clown!
Put on your costume
and powder your face.
The audience pays and wants to laugh.
And if Arlecchino
steals Colombina from you,
laugh, Pagliaccio …
and everyone will applaud!.
Turn into jest your anguish and your sorrow,
into a grimace your sobs and your grief.
Laugh, clown, at your broken love,
laugh at the pain which poisons your heart!In deep emotion he goes under the canvas, while the curtain falls slowly.
ACT TWOThe same scene as in Act One.
Tonio appears from the side of the theatre with the big drum and places himself in the angle left of the proscenium of the little theatre. Meanwhile people are arriving from every side for the performance, and Peppe is putting out benches for the women.
Oh! Oh, ho!arriving
Right away! Let's make haste, friends!
Right now, let's go quickly, friends …
Come forward, come forward!
… for the play ought to begin.
Good heavens, run to get there on time!
The play ought to begin.
Yes, from the beginning!
Right away, friends, let's hurry.
The play ought to begin.
TONIObeating the drum
Let's have it, come forward!
Look, how the girls are running!
What a rush, Lord!
Take your places, pretty ladies!
Lord, what a rush
to get in first!
Take your places! Walk up!
Let's find a place well to the front!
Let's try to get
Well in front!
Now then, hurry up!
Get on with the play.
Why are you waiting?
We're all there.
Walk up! Walk up!Silvio enters at the back and takes a seat in front on the left, greeting his friends.
WOMENpushing and trying to sit down
But don't push,
It's too warm, hey!
Hey, Peppe, help us
There's a seat near you!
Look! They're fighting!
They're calling for help.
Come, settle down, no shouting.
Come, seat yourselves!
Sit down, now, no shouting!
And stop shouting!Nedda comes out dressed as Colombina, with a plate to collect money. Peppe tries to settle the women. Tonio re?enters the theatre, taking the big drum away.
SILVIOsoftly to Nedda, paying for his seat
He didn't see you.
I'll be there waiting for you.
Don't forget …
Come here! Move quickly!
Why do you delay?
Heavens, what a row!
First you must pay!
Nedda, collect the money!
VILLAGERStrying to pay all at the same time
Here, this way!Nedda, after leaving Silvio, takes more money for seats and then goes inside the theatre with Peppe.
Get on with it, now then!
Why this delay? Hurry up!
Hey, let's go with this comedy!
Let's make a racket,
it's already past eleven o'clock.
Everyone's panting for the performance.A bell is heard being rung long and loudly.
The curtain's rising!
Quiet there! Hurrah!The women are partly sitting on benches placed obliquely, facing the stage of the little theatre, partly standing in a group with the men on a rise in the ground by the big tree. Other men are standing on the left by the front wings: Silvio is in front of these.
NEDDA - COLOMBINA
PEPPE - ARLECCHINO
CANIO - PAGLIACCIO
TONIO - TADDEOThe theatre's curtain rises. The stage, poorly painted, represents a little room with two side doors and a practical window at the back. A table and two rough chairs of straw stand on the right. Nedda, dressed as Colombina is anxiously walking up and down.
My husband Pagliaccio
will return only late tonight.
And why ever isn't
that idiot Taddeo
here yet?The sound of a guitar is heard off-stage: Colombina rushes to the window, showing signs of amorous impatience.
O Colombina, your faithful,
loving Arlecchino is close at hand,
Calling you and sighing for you,
o wait for your poor swain!
Show me your sweet face,
for I long to kiss your little mouth
Love plagues me and torments me! Ah!
O Colombina, open your window to me,
for close at hand, calling you
and sighing for you
is your poor Arlecchino!
COLOMBINAturning restlessly downstage again
The moment approaches
to give the agreed signal,
and Arlecchino is waiting!She sits down agitatedly, turning her back to the door on the right. This opens and Tonio enters in the costume of the servant Taddeo, with a well-laden basket on his left arm. He stops to gaze at Nedda with a mock-tragic air.
It is she!
Heavens, how beautiful she is!The audience laughs.
If I could but reveal
to this beauteous creature
this love of mine
which would move the stones!
Her husband's far away, why not risk it?
We are alone and no one can suspect us.
Come on; let's try. Ah!
Is that you, you dog?
Yes, it's me.
And Pagliaccio has left?
What are you standing there for?
Where's the chicken you bought?
Here it is, divine maid!throws himself on his knees and offers the basket with both hands to Colombina, who goes towards him
Yes, here are both of us
at your feet,
for the moment has come,
to open my heart to you.
Will you hear me?
From the day …Colombina goes to the window, opens it and makes a signal, then turns to Taddeo.
COLOMBINAsnatching the basket from him
How much did you spend at the shop?
From that day my heart …
Don't bother me, Taddeo!Arlecchino jumps in through the window, puts on the ground a bottle he carries under his arm, and goes towards Taddeo, while the others pretend not to see him.
I know that you are pure
and chaste as the snow!
But though you show yourself harsh,
O cannot put you out of my mind!
ARLECCHINOtaking him by the ear, giving him a kick and forcing him to rise
Go and get some air!
TADDEOretreating comically towards the right?hand door
Heavens! they love each other!
I yield at your words.to Arlecchino
My blessing on you! …
There … I'll watch over youExit Taddeo. The audience laughs and claps.
ARLECCHINOwith exaggerated emotion
Colombina! At last
love has yielded to our prayers.
Let's have dinner.She takes from the drawer knives, forks and spoons for two. Arlecchino fetches the bottle, then both sit at table, facing one another.
Look, my dear
what a splendid
little meal I've prepared!
Look, my love,
what divine nectar
I have brought!
COLOMBINA and ARLECCHINO
Love loves the odours
of wine and food!
My greedy Colombina!
My dearest toper!
ARLECCHINOtaking a small phial from under his tunic
Take this drug,
give it to Pagliaccio
before he goes to bed,
and then let's fly together.
Yes, give it me.
TADDEOthrowing open the right?hand door and crossing the stage with exaggerated alarm
Pagliaccio is here, beside himself
with rage … and looking for a weapon!
He knows all. I'm off to shut myself in!He rushes in to the left and locks the door.
ARLECCHINOjumping through the window
Pour the philtre in his wine.Canio in the costume of Pagliaccio appears in the right?hand doorway.
COLOMBINAat the window
I'll be yours for ever!
CANIOto himself, putting his hand to his heart
In Heaven's name!
The very same words!advancing to play his part
A man was here with you!
Are you drunk?
CANIOstaring at her
Drunk? Yes … for the last hour.
NEDDAresuming the play
You've come back early.
But in time!
Does it worry you,
dearest wife?resuming the play
Ah! I thought you were alone,pointing to the table
But the table's laid for two.
Taddeo was sitting with me;
he's locked himself in there
for fear.towards the left door
Come on, speak! …
TONIOfrom within, in pretended fear, but meaningly
Believe her. She is pure!
And those pious lips of hers
would scorn to tell a lie!The audience laughs loudly.
CANIOangrily to the spectators
Death and damnation!thickly to Nedda
Have done! I too have the right
to behave like any other man.
I want the name of your lover,
of the vile wretch
in whose arms you lay,
a shameless creature!
NEDDAstill acting her part
No, I am Pagliaccio no longer:
If my face is white, it is with shame
and the longing for revenge!
My manhood claims its rights again,
and my bleeding heart
needs blood to wash away the shame,
o vile woman! …
No, I am a buffoon no longer!…
I was a fool to pick you up,
an orphan, by the roadside,
half dead from hunger,
and offer you a name and a love
which was mad and passionate!He falls dejectedly into a chair.
My dear, it makes me weep!
The play is so real!
Silence down there!
What the devil!
I can scarcely restrain myself!
CANIOresuming and gradually becoming excited
I hoped, such was
the blind madness I felt,
if not for love, for pity kindness!
And cheerfully I imposed
every sacrifice on my heart,
and trustingly believed more in you
than in God himself!
But only vice inhabited
your heedless soul;
you have no heart …
you are ruled only by your passions.
Go, you are not worth my grief,
you worthless wretch;
in my contempt I could
crush you beneath my feet!
NEDDAcoldly, but seriously
if you think me so unworthy,
send me away this moment.
Ha! Ha! You'd like
nothing better thon to run
to your lover straight away.
You are sly!
No, by God, you shall stay
and tell me
the name of your lover.
NEDDAtrying to resume the play, with a forced smile
Well, well, I never knew
you were so frightening!
But there's no cause for tragedy here,
for Taddeo here will tell you
that the man who was with me
just before was … the timid
and harmless Arlecchino!laughter in the crowd, quickly checked at Canio's attitude
Ah! You mock me!
Do you still not understand
that I will not give you up?
His name, or your life! His name!
No, by my mother's soul!
I may be unworthy,
whatever you like, but I am
not dishonourable, by Heaven!
Are they in earnest?
It's turned serious.
Shut up down there!
It's turned dark and serious.
I can bear it no longer!
This is a strange play!
We must go out there, Tonio!
My love is stronger
than your scorn!
I will not speak.
No! Even if you kill me!
CANIOshouting, seizing a knife from the table
His name! His name!
SILVIOdrawing his dagger
He's in earnest …The women retreat in fright, upsetting the benches and blocking the men's path, so that Silvio has to struggle to get to the stage. Meanwhile Canio, in a paroxysm of rage, has suddenly grasped Nedda and struck her from behind, while she tries to run towards the audience.
PEPPE and THE CROWD
What are you doing!
Take that! Take that!
In your death agony
You'll tell me!
PEPPE and THE CROWD
NEDDAfalling in agony
Help … Silvio!
SILVIOwho has almost reached the stage
Nedda!At Silvio's voice, Canio turns like a wild beast, rushes towards him and instantly strikes him.
Ah! It is you! Welcome!Silvio falls as if struck by lightning.
Jesu Maria!As some throw themselves on Canio to disarm him and stop him, he, motionless and stupefied, lets his knife fall.
The play is over!