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Abu Hassan Libretto
English Translation

Overture

No. 1 - Duet

ABU HASSAN
Little wife, give me some wine!

FATIMA
Neither white wine nor red wine,
Mahomet has forbidden
such a thirst as thine.

ABU HASSAN
Well then, pour so he can't see.
Quick, a drink.

FATIMA
Do try some water.

ABU HASSAN
No, for water makes me ill.
Lobster, stewed in sherry -

FATIMA
Gourmand!

ABU HASSAN
Or a pastry!

FATIMA
Here's some bread!

ABU HASSAN and FATIMA
Can one live on such poor victuals?
Life's not only beer and skittles.
Is that all that's to be had?
Bread and water - water - bread?

Recitative

FATIMA
Now I'll sing that little ditty:
With Aurora's rosy fingers …

ABU HASSAN
I'll go crazy! Have some pity!

FATIMA
No - 't will calm such hunger as lingers.

Recap duet

ABU HASSAN
Little wife, give me some wine etc.


SCENE 2

No. 2 - Aria

Recitative

ABU HASSAN
What shall I do now, with all this gold, whene'er
the gods shall send it? However shall I spend it?

Aria
I'll give some feast entrancing
With singing and with dancing
Feasts entrancing
With singing and dancing!
There in the place of honor sits my darling wife
And on her brow a crown of roses.
And in her hand a wreath of posies!
For queen is she, and treasure of my life!
Hey! Slave there! Bring some wine!
And wreathe it with the vine!
And spill no drop nor waste it,
But let Fatima taste it!
So, fill the cup once more!
I drink to you, my dearest,
For to my heart you're nearest.
Here's to her whom I adore.

We'll pass our days in singing.
To winds our woes be flinging.
Come, join in sport and play!
For Bacchus and his pleasures
Are surely wisest measures
To drive dull care away!

O Fatima! O, my fairest!
All the stars in Heav'n above,
Sunsets of colors rarest.
All are pale beside my love!
Unto thee my love I'm giving,
From its bonds I'd not be free!
Ah, for thee alone I'm living
And I'd die alone for thee!

My dearest whirls past me in lightest of dances!
She'd tempt me and try me with sweetest of glances!
Fine! Bravo! 'Tis splendid!
A smile in her eyes,
And soon she will yield me a kiss for a prize.
So e'en should my plans miscarry,
What diff'rence would it be?
With singing and dancing,
With pleasures entrancing,
A queen she will be!
Bravo! Splendid! Yes, 'tis splendid!


SCENE 3

No. 3 - Chorus of the Creditors

CREDITORS
Gold! Gold! Gold!
I must be paid this minute!
Our threat has something in it!
We're not to be cajoled!

ABU HASSAN
Patience one more day,
or at least until evening!

CREDITORS
No! No! No!
Too long have you philandered!
We're still on the gold standard!
We must have what you owe!

Dialogue

ABU HASSAN
Omar, most charitable of bankers,
please, intervene in this matter!

OMAR
No, not for your sake, but for your wife's.
I am sorry for your poor woman, because your
thoughtlessness makes her so unhappy!

ABU HASSAN
Don't let it rest with mere sympathy!

OMAR
Yes, yes. Come with me to my house, my friends;
there I'll settle your demands. Are you satisfied with that?

Chorus

CREDITORS
Yes! Yes! Yes!

OMAR
Well, are you quite contented?

ABU HASSAN
Yes, yes, yes! And you?

OMAR
Yes, yes, yes!
O yes, I'm quite contented.
aside
When I've myself absented,
I'll soon return, I guess!

ABU HASSAN
The rascal is contented,
But he'll be circumvented,
And lost beyond redress!

CREDITORS
O yes - we're all contented -
Forget unpleasantness.
Yes, yes - we are contented -
Forget unpleasantness.

OMAR
O yes - I'm quite contented.
When I've myself absented,
I'll soon return, I guess!


SCENE 5

No. 4 - Duet


ABU HASSAN
Nevermore to bitter griefs I'll yield thee,
Not a tear thy cheeks shall stain,
From all sorrows I would shield thee,
I would spare thee ev'ry pain!

FATIMA
Tears are dewdrops on love's flowers,
Keeping blossoms fresh and fair.
They are only April showers!
They are trifles, light as air!

ABU HASSAN
Prove my love!

FATIMA
I love you truly!

ABU HASSAN
Evil fancies, thoughts untrue

FATIMA
Have no pow'r to come a-nigh
To the love I bear to you!

ABU HASSAN and FATIMA
Love that harbors no suspicion
Is the love that lasts for aye!

Surrounded with joy and affection,
No trouble our future dismays;
Secure in our true love's protection,
Together we'll pass all our days.

Nevermore to bitter griefs I'll yield thee … etc.


SCENE 6

No. 5 - Aria

FATIMA
Will Philomel he sorry
If from her cage she's freed?
Or in some bow'r of roses
Will she be glad indeed?
And peeping in at the window
No thought of her prison dismays,
Breaks forth in joyful melody
And songs of grateful praise;
She spreads her wings while singing
And flies to realms unknown,
In cloudless regions winging
Near Heav'n's eternal throne.

So, Abu Hassan, husband dear,
I live but when thou'rt near me.

When sorrow comes with shadows drear,
'Tis thou alone canst cheer me!
And though by chains of love I'm bound
And yet a pris'ner willing,
In thy sweet slavery I've found
That love is life's fulfilling.

Dearest Hassan, what would life be to me
Without thee!

SCENE 7

No. 6 - Duet

OMAR
This big sheaf of bills you see
Are a comment anecdotal
And they add up to a terrifying total-
Now they all belong to me!

FATIMA
From our creditors' demands
That now threaten to enslave us
Who but you alone can save us,
For our fate is in your hands.

OMAR
Come! be brave!

FATIMA
I am so timid!

OMAN
Lov'st thou me?

FATIMA
I don't detest you!

OMAN
Be more frank.

FATIMA
I can't decide.

OMAN
Nothing hide!

FATIMA
No! Yes! No! No!

OMAR
Now I'm sure that I have caught her
And my plan will have success.
to Fatima
You love's meaning now have taught me,
My beating heart shows my distress.

FATIMA
Now he thinks that he has caught me,
That I'm his beyond redress!
to Omar
But my glowing cheeks betray me!
What I'm feeling you may guess.

OMAR
You love me, my fairest?

FATIMA
Love you? No! No!

OMAR
O grant me a kiss now, my rarest,
One sweet little kiss ere I go.

FATIMA
I know not - I fear you'd deceive me! I'm fearful!

OMAR
Now do what I say;
A kiss now to show you believe me!
To prove that the bargain you'll pay!

FATIMA
You mean, sir, that nought should dismay, then?

OMAR
Surrounded with goods and with gold,
The notes and the bills you could pay then

FATIMA
The bills?

OMAR
Now quick a little kiss stolen
stealing a kiss, he lays the bills on the table
Are paid now, behold!
aside
Ha! the little one is captured
Thus succeeds my clever plan.
to Fatima
For a woman's rosy blushes
Always mean her heart is kind.

FATIMA
Ha! at last the bird is captured,
All in vain his clever plan.
Silly fool! And how enraptured
Now will be my darling man!


SCENE 8

No. 7 - Trio

FATIMA
I've looked in every single corner!
Where is that pestilential key?

ABU HASSAN
I saw it sticking in the keyhole!
Wherever can the darn thing be?

OMAR
Alas! He'll soon find out I'm hidden;
Without a doubt disgraced I'll be!

ABU HASSAN
Were I inclined to be suspicious,
I rather think I'd jealous be!

FATIMA
And if I ever lead been naughty,
Then you might have your doubts of me.

ABU HASSAN and FATIMA
Pursuing fate on him advances!
In vain to Allah he will pray!
No more from him those roving glances,
If he this once can get away.

OMAR
I'd like to be out of this, believe me;
O Mahomet, to thee I pray:
If ever without help you leave me,
Then you are doing so today!

ABU HASSAN
There in that cupboard, do not deny,
you have hidden a lover.
Give me the key now,
that I may thrash him,
That I may smash him,
that I may tear his lech'rous
eyes out of his head!

FATIMA
I have a notion that you
have got the key yourself.
Why should I hide it?
There's nought inside it!
No, no, I swear it -
I've naught to hide!

ABU HASSAN
Your temporising
is not surprising.
I'll smash the door!

FATIMA
I have looked for it in ev'ry corner,
but that key, believe me,
I simply can't find it!

ABU HASSAN
See here!

OMAR
Woe's me!

ABU HASSAN and FATIMA
Death's terrors fill him,
He's lost, I vow!
Abu Hassan swears to kill him,
And nought can save him now.

OMAR
Death's terrors fill me,
I'm lost, I trow!
Abu Hassan swears to kill me,
And naught can save me now.


SCENE 10

No. 8 - Aria

FATIMA
Here lies my love, so good, so brave!
May Allah Heav'nward guide him!
And when he's laid within the grave,
My heart will lie beside him.
How gladly would I in your stead,
For you, my lifeblood giving,
Have lain me down in Death's dark bed!
You die! I go on lining!


SCENE 12

No. 9 - Trio and Chorus

FATIMA and OMAR
O, my heart is beating madly,
Where will all our scheming land us?
Yet we move as Fates command us!
And a miracle alone can save!

ABU HASSAN
My heart now is beating madly
O, where will our scheming land us?
We move as the Fates command us.
And wit alone can save!

ABU HASSAN
Little wife!

FATIMA
Can you joke now?

ABU HASSAN
Why, of course!

FATIMA
This situation!
What shall we do?

ABU HASSAN
Silly question!
That we'll settle later on!

FATIMA
O, I'm nearly scared to pieces!

ABU HASSAN
So am I! I'm terrified.

FATIMA
Did you hear?

ABU HASSAN
Alas! They're coming!

FATIMA
Zobeide …

ABU HASSAN
And the Caliph!

FATIMA, ABU HASSAN and OMAR
Alas! They're coming!
Fear and trembling paralyze me!
What we shall do I do not know!

ABU HASSAN
Quickly, quickly, on the divan!

FATIMA
Well, already I'm half dead!

ABU HASSAN
You'll stay dead a little while,
And awake in a better world.

FATIMA
We are in a sorry plight!

FATIMA, ABU HASSAN and OMAR
Hush! Be quiet! Now, good night!


SCENE 13

ATTENDANTS
Open, open all the portals!
Bow ye down, deep in the dust!
Bow, ye ordinary mortals -
For the Caliph now you must
Bow ye down … etc.

No. 10 - Final Chorus

ALL
O happy is the household
That's by the Caliph blest!
Its worries all are ended,
Its future, peace and rest!
All hail!
All hail!
All hail!