Dramatic Monologue for baritone and chamber ensemble

Драматический монолог для баритона и камерного ансамбля

Text and music by René Staar
Russian version of the libretto: Natalya Kamaeva-Gründler

For flute (doubling on Piccolo); Clarinet in B flat; Trumpet (playing both C and B flat trumpets); Trombone; Percussion; Accordion; Piano; 1 Violin; 1 Viola; 1 Cello; 1 Bass
Duration: 20 minutes

Premiere (German version): June 18, 2015, Konzerthaus Vienna (Berio-Saal), Ensemble Wiener Collage, Steven Scheschareg (37. Internationales Musikfest der Wiener Konzerthausgesellschaft)



Exile - as seen here provocatively and with a tone of accusation, through the eyes of a continually rejected contemporary asylum seeker. He is not a polite and patient man. His adversaries are breathing down his neck, those from his homeland as well as those from the countries that appear to preach humanism and human rights.

He is no begging petitioner. Driven by the longing for peace and justice as well as by disillusionment, he vehemently demands the right to be accepted. His protest is imbued with self-confidence. He would so gladly believe that his case will be granted, but he runs up against the laws that prevent this—laws that he cannot reconcile with his feeling for justice. His indignation regarding this has transformed his disappointment into cold arrogance.

In a short prelude the atmosphere of fear and confinement becomes audible. Throughout the whole piece the protagonist lives with the fear of being discovered, rejected, and indeed even being destroyed. The stage becomes the staging of the rapidly fluctuating emotional states of the anonymous protagonist. Despite the gravity of the situation he seems to play with his own feelings, to sound them out. The audience (a stranger that seems to support the laws that hunt him down) is just as much his enemy as that which can be concretely felt behind the curtain, that which at the end of the piece reveals itself as the militia that tracks him down, captures and beats him, and … The noise behind the stage continuously threatens to interrupt and terminate his passionate appeal and vehement accusation.

The first five measures played in retrograde make up the end of the piece.

The work was written as prologue to an evening of four one-act works, all of them devoted to the theme of exile. But it can also be played in combination with other works or by itself, scenically or concertante.

For performance in connection with other one-act works the composer has written a march which uses the harmonic material of the prologue and has four different endings, or better said: connections to the forthcoming work. These can be used as transitions respective to the specific performance situation.



…gunshots, screams and whistles are heard...

The Anonymous (shrouded in rags, blindfolded, on a crutch, with one arm bandaged) is thrust out onto the stage from behind the curtain, hobbles hastily to one side, attempts to escape, and is hustled back onto the stage…

He is exhausted, suddenly notices the audience, and is startled.

(points at the audience with his crutch)

Why are you all staring at me like that?

(sarcastic) Ha! Now I can see you face to face,

you unapproachable beings, protecting yourselves with your words, paragraphs and barriers.

(outraged) Where are they, your wounds, crutches, fears, hardships?

Your murderers, where are they lying in wait for you?

(mocking) Are you that scared of us, our diseases, our... 

A muffled thud and a muted scream are heard from backstage.

our poverty and our (almost screaming) inadequacies?

(contemplative) Much has been told me,

some things I have read.

The images that extol your wealth, your amusements.

The obliviscence that you have gifted us.

Publicity that poisons us with your greed,

I have seen and also experienced it.

(with scarcely concealed bitterness)

Playing with the power of money,

with which you get your will,

plaster the world, (erupting) suffocate humanity

and hypocritically (sugary) hand out charity,

so your conscience (almost sobbing) is alleviated.

It is the power to buy us and our genuineness,

(bitterly again) to plunder our soil and our last possessions.

You have mastered this game!

(walks to and fro, filled with fury)

Disturbance is heard from backstage.

A sudden deathly hush.

(The Anonymous goes to the curtain and seizes it.)

(mocking) You juggle with money like others juggle with apples,

and you define their value at our cost, (grunts and points at the audience)

(emphatic) however you like.

You don’t care that the fruits of their own soil

have become unaffordable for many people,

you take the soil by force and shortly afterwards you leave it stripped like a desert.

More noise is heard from backstage: Hitting, screaming, a woman crying.

Anonymous, very panic-stricken, hurries to the curtain, wants to go behind it, but is pushed back time and again.

(extremely dramatic) You steal the treasures of the soil that enable us to live

and instead give us (emphatic)your (grating) filth and your poison,

(sugary) for which you want our gratitude.

Do you really think we are blind, and that we can’t see it?

Every day your doors are battered by thousands, no! Millions!

(clenches his fist)

(self-destructive) They shall bleed to death on the barbed wire of your strongholds.

The desperation in overcrowded boats and cramped hideaways,

you shrug it off in resignation.

(glares at the audience despisingly)

Weapons have been designed by you to ward off those who come begging.

Only a few manage to enter your concentration camps

and then you torment them with your laws and your cynicism.

(points his finger threateningly)

Rules on which you have squandered your (enfatico) strength and productivity,

just so you can feign an illusion of order and justice

with the aim of appeasing your flimsy conscience.

(enigmatic) You sow discord, sell us your weapons, and cast a slur on our spirit and belief.

(furious) If there is nothing for you to gain, you fold your arms,

when Cain slays Abel.

(with unconcealed rage) If you lust after our women, you disown the children that (pacing around restlessly)you have sired,

you even laugh while humiliating them.

(protesting) If we defend ourselves, you call us terrorists,

and if we don’t, then you treat us like wimps and fools,

who have no idea what they are doing.

(slightly more solemn) You are surprised when your arrogance and ignorance,

your interventions in our thoughts and feelings,

your blame for the enslavement of our brothers and sisters

motivates so many (very upset)to bang on all doors with increasing vehemence.

(smug) You would so much love to be rid of us, but when you attempt to sever us from your body,

then you lose your lifeline – your blood!

(sermonizing, like a priest) Your communities would be ghost towns,

weeds would run rife in your gardens,

nature would reclaim what you took from her.

Noise is heard from backstage.

Suspicion governs your life, suspicion and fear,

that somebody could accomplish more than you yourself.

(malicious) Poison creeps into your life and you do nothing to rid yourself of it.

The curtain is torn aside. Boots and machine guns are visible.

(bitter, patronizing, almost pitying) Your dignity was lost long ago,

you want to judge us,

although you aren’t even in control of yourselves!

Cursing and swearing is heard from backstage. Militias appear from the back, with pistols drawn. The Anonymous avoids them and looks around.

(breathless) And so I ask you:

(tormented) Who is the weak one?

… he is gradually being surrounded…being threatened with truncheons

You or us,

… he is beaten down … squirms in pain …

You or us

gradually loses his consciousness, his speech is slurred …

… or us or you …

Now only twitching, the lifeless body is quickly dragged to the back. The militias disappear with him.

Total silence.