Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT SECOND. - Don Carlos: Opera in Four Acts
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ACT SECOND. - Giuseppe Verdi, Don Carlos: Opera in Four Acts 
Don Carlos: Opera in Four Acts (New York: Fred Rullman, 1920). Metropolitan Opera House, Grand Opera, Libretto.
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(The cloister of the convent of San Giusto. On the right an illuminated chapel, in which is seen, through a gilt railing, the tomb of Charles V. On the left, a door leading to the exterior. At back, the inner door of the cloister. A garden with lofty cypress trees. Daybreak.)
Chorus of Monks (in the chapel).
Charles a mighty Emperor once,
Is naught but dust and ashes now;
His haughty soul now suppliant sues
Before his Maker’s throne.
(Kneeling and praying before the tomb).
Vain man! He strove the world to rule,
Forgetting Him who thron’d on high,
Unto the stars their course assigns.
His pride was great, his fault, alas, was impious!
Charles, that mighty Emperor once,
Is naught but dust and ashes now,
His haughty soul now suppliant sues,
Before his Heav’nly Maker’s throne.
For God alone is great—if He doth will,
The heavens and earth alike do bow,
O Father, who thine elect dost ever spare,
Have mercy on the sinful man,
May grace and pardon on his soul descend!
For God alone is great, He alone is great.
Oh! God! Thy fury do not descend on his soul.
God alone is great. He alone is great!
(The day slowly downs.Carlos,wan and haggard, is seen wandering beneath the vaulted cloister. He pauses to listen and uncovers his head. A bell is heard. The Chorus of Monks issues from the chapel, crosses the stage, and is lost in the corridors of the cloister.)
Don Carlos and The Monk.
’Mid the cloisters of St. Just, where my great ancestor,
The mighty Charles, weary of glory and of pomp,
His days did end, I now do seek the calm
For which my tortured heart so vainly sighs;
But e’en amid the cloister’s gloom,
Naught can dispel the thought of her
So cruelly torn from me!
(Rising and approachingCarlos).
The woes of this world follow us,
E’en ’mid the cloister’s sacred shade;
In Heaven alone the troubled heart
Can peace enjoy.
(The Monkslowly and solemnly withdraws, passing in front ofCarlos.)
Carlos (drawing back in alarm).
That voice! An icy chill my heart pervades!
Oh, terror! I dreamed the mighty Emperor to see,
Shrouding his purple robes and panoply of gold
Beneath the monkish garb—
’Tis said that in these cloisters he at times appears!
(Without—his voice gradually becoming more and more distant).
In heaven alone the troubled heart
True peace can find!
That voice . . . my heart trembles . .
O terror! O terror!
It is he, he, the Infante.
Oh, my Rodrigo.
Is it you whom I am embracing?
Oh, my prince, my lord.
Heaven is sending you to me in my sorrow.
Oh, beloved prince!
The hour is come; the Flemish people call on thee!
Assist them, ’tis thy duty—be thou their saviour.
What is’t I see! Whence this deadly pallor?
A mournful fire doth gleam within thine eyes!
Thou sayest naught—thou sighest, thou’rt sad at heart!
(With an outbreak of tenderness.)
Oh, Carlos! Let me share with thee thy woe!
My saviour, my brother, my faithful friend!
Let me weep on thy breast!
Pour into my heart thy cruel torture
Thy soul shall not be closed to me, Speak!
Dost thou wish it? My sorrow thou shalt know.
And what horrible pain has pierced my heart,
I love. . . a mad love—Elizabeth.
All powerful Heaven!
Thou art deadly pale, thine eye doth seek the ground:
Ah! Woe is me! E’en thou, Rodrigo, dost desert me!
Nay, Rodrigo loves thee still;
Before Heaven, I swear it!
Thou’rt unhappy! Of naught else think I!
O my Rodrigo!
Say, has the King thy secret yet discovered?
Crave then, leave of him to set out for Flanders;
Curb thou thy throbbing heart—the effort is well worthy of thee
And learn, amid a hapless people,
How a good king should rule.
Brother, I’ll follow thee.
(The sound of a bell is heard).
Listen! The gates of the holy sanctuary are about to open!
Hither Philip and the Queen will come!
Strengthen my weakening spirit,
Serene still shines thy heavenly star!
May Heaven bless me with the virtue of strength
Carlos and Rodrigo.
O Lord, into our souls,
Love and Hope Thou did’st infuse;
Vouchsafe Thou in our hearts to kindle
The love of liberty!
Together we now swear to live.
Together we will die!
Grant that in heaven, as on earth,
We ever may united be!
(Philip,conductingElizabeth,now appears, surrounded by Monks.)
Rodrigo (toDon Carlos).
Oh, terror! At the mere sight of her I tremble!
(Rodrigohas retreated a few paces fromCarlos,who bows mournfully and thoughtfully before the King, struggling to overcome his emotion. On seeingCarlos, Elizabethstarts. The King and Queen advance, and approach the chapel wherein is situated the tomb of Charles V., in front of whichPhilipkneels for a few moments with his head uncovered; he then proceeds on his way with the Queen.)
Charles that mighty Emperor once,
Is naught but dust and ashes now,
His haughty soul now suppliant sues
Before his heavenly Maker’s throne.
God alone is great.
She is his bride!
Lost! Lost to me forever! Oh, heaven!
Come! At my side thy heart will stronger be!
Ah! The peace, the pardon is coming from Heaven.
God alone is great!
Don Carlos and Rodrigo.
We shall live together, and die together!
It shall be the extreme breath,
It shall be one shout, Liberty!
(A smiling landscape situated near the Gate of the Convent of St. Just. A fountain, mossy banks, etc. Plantations of orange trees, pines, etc. In the horizon are seen the blue mountains of Estremadura. At the back, to the right, the door of the Convent, which is approached by a flight of steps.)
(ThePrincess of Eboli, Theobald,theCountess of Aremberg,Ladies of the Queen, Pages, etc. The ladies are sitting on grass banks around the fountain; a Page is playing on a mandolin.)
Chorus of Ladies.
Under the thick, immense fir,
Which gives shade and quiet
Mild defense to the sacred abode,
Let us seek shelter in the shade
From the fierce rays,
That fall upon us from the sky.
Amid these walls the Queen of Spain,
Alone can penetrate.
What say ye, maidens—till day declining,
Shall we the time with song beguile?
Thy wish, O Princess, thou well know’st is ours;
Sing on, we’ll listen to thy strain.
Hand me thy mandolin.
Unite we then, in song, our voices;
We’ll sing the Saracenic song they call “The Veil.”
To Love they say it is propitious!
Theobald and Chorus.
the song of the veil.
(ThePageaccompanies it on the mandolin.)
In the lovely garden of a moorish dwelling,
’Mid the shade and perfume,
Of the laurel blossoms,
Stood the fair Almea closely veiled, alone,
Lost in contemplation of a star unknown.
Mohammed, Moorish king, to the garden came.
Said to her, “I love thee, O charming lady,
Come, the king invites thee,
Realm and throne to share.
For the queen ambitious no more do I care. Ah! Ah!
Eboli and Theobald.
Weave then your veils,
O maidens coy,
Whilst in the heavens
The sun shines bright.
But dearer, far dearer to love is a veil,
When the pale stars do glimmer on high!
(Elizabethissues from the Convent).
Chorus of Ladies.
Some secret sorrow at her heart
(Seating herself near the fountain).
A joyous song did meet mine ear.
Alas! Flown are the days when my young heart
Their merriment could share!
(Rodrigoappears at back,Theobaldadvances towards him, speaks to him aside for a few moments, and then returns to the Queen, presentingRodrigo.)
The Marquis of Posa, grandee of Spain.
Rodrigo (Bowing to the Queen).
Lady, while in Paris, your august mother,
Did entrust to me a letter for your majesty.
(Rodrigohands the letter to the Queen, and quickly gives her a note, then shows the real letter to the ladies.)
(Read, lady! Read, in mercy’s name!)
Behold the royal seal, the fleur-de-lis of gold.
(Elizabeth,astounded, continues for a moment motionless, whileRodrigoapproaches the Princess ofEboli.)
Pray tell us of the court of France,
The centre of all that’s elegant and refined!
They talk now of a grand forthcoming tournay,
In which they say the king will take a share.
Elizabeth (looking at letter, aside).
No! I dare not open—if I but I read a line,
I do betray the kingly honor.
The dames of France ’tis said surpass us all,
In elegance and grace.
Ah! why do I tremble?
In you alone we see combined,
Both grace and beauty.
’Tis said that at the royal fêtes,
The noble dames of France so beauteous seem.
That naught of mortal mould can equal them.
My soul is pure.
And heaven doth read my heart!
And yet the loveliest dame of all,
Is not among them.
At the court balls methinks one now may wear
Silks, embroidered o’er with gold.
Elizabeth (aside, reading note.)
“By the memories that unite us,
By the recollection of a past so dear,
Confide, I pray you, in him who bears this letter.—Carlos.”
It matters little what is worn.
When grace and loveliness like yours do wear it.
Grateful am I—crave now a favor of the Queen!
I do accept thy offer,—though not for myself the boon
My trembling limbs do scarce fulfil their office!
Who, worthier than thyself, could owe a favor to the Queen!
Say, now, who?
Carlo, sole joy of our affection.
Dwells here in grief from all apart.
No one doth know how this dejection
Withers the bloom of his young heart.
On you alone, lies hope in his sorrow.
That peace and vigor shall come from thee.
Grant him the boon once more to see thee.
Let him return, and saved he’ll be!
Poor me, I can hardly stand this,
Great God, to see him again, were to die.
Love has he, love for me?
Why does he hide it from me?
Grant him to see thee again,
If he returns, he shall be safe,
If he returns, Carlo shall be saved!
(With dignity and firmness toTheobald,who has drawn near).
Haste thee! I am prepared to see my son!
Eboli (aside, agitated).
Perchance he’ll now reveal the secret of his heart!
(Rodrigotakes Princess ofEboliby the hand and retires with her, conversing meanwhile aside.)
Elizabeth and Carlos.
(Carlosappears, led byTheobald. Rodrigospeaks aside toTheobald,who enters the convent.Carlosslowly approachesElizabeth,and bows reverently without once daring to raise his eyes.Elizabeth,scarcely able to master her emotion, bidsCarlosapproach.RodrigoandEboliinterchange signs with the Ladies, who withdraw, and gradually disappear among the trees. The Countess of Aremberg and two of the Ladies of Honor remain standing at a short distance. The Countess and the two Ladies cross from shrub to shrub, pluck flowers, and withdraw.)
I come to crave a favor from my Queen!
She who in the royal heart the first place now doth hold
Alone this favor can obtain for me!
(Gradually increasing in animation).
The air I now do breathe is fatal to me!
My tortured breast it does oppress,
Like to the recollection of a fearful woe!
’Tis meet that I go hence. Obtain me leave
To travel hence to Flanders!
By that name call me not!
Call me as thou wert wont!
(Elizabethis about to withdraw.Carlossuppliantly entreats her to remain.)
Ah! woe is me! I know not what to do!
Ah! pity me! my sufferings are great.
One day of happiness alone was granted me,
And soon, alas! it fled!
(RodrigoandEbolicross the stage, conversing aside.)
Prince, if Philip will my prayer but hear,
To Flanders, ere to-morrow’s sun shall set,
As its vice-regent thou shalt quickly hie.
(RodrigoandEbolihave now disappeared.Elizabethmakes a gesture of farewell toDon Carlo,and is about to withdraw.)
Heavens! and has she not a word, a single sigh,
For the lorn wretch who, exiled, leaves the land!
Why do I never hear
Pity in thy heart?
Oh! This soul is oppressed!
In my heart, in my heart, there is coldness
Insane, I cried, I prayed in my delirium
I have turned to the cold marble of the tomb!
Elizabeth (greatly agitated).
Ah! why accuse my heart of coldness!
My silence you should better understand.
Duty’s bright ray before mine eye hath gleamed.
And guided by its light, I’ll on!
My trust I place in God and in mine innocence
Carlos (in despairing accents.)
O treasure lost to me for ever!
The light—the brightness of my life hath fled!
Speak! speak! that I may hear thee once again!
Thy words do cause me more than mortal happiness!
All merciful Heaven! may this true heart
Its woes forget and calm once more enjoy;
Carlos farewell—at thy side
This earth a paradise had seemed!
What voice from heaven of love now speaks?
Elizabeth! Yes, ’tis thou, adored one!
O terror! delusion wild is this!
I see thee at my side once more, as on that day!
Ah! all is now bright once more—
The forest its gay green again assumes!
He is dying Oh, Heavens! he is dying.
Oh! My treasure, is it thou, my sweet love?
Great God, just Heaven!
Don Carlos (reviving).
To my tomb, to the slumber of the tomb
Why take me away, unmerciful Heaven?
Oh, Carlos, oh, Carlos!
Under my foot, shall the abyss open
And may my body by lightning be struck,
I love thee, I love thee, Elizabeth,
(Takes her in his arms.)
To me the world has vanished!
Elizabeth (disengaging herself).
Complete thy work—go, slay thy father!
And with his blood besmeared.
Then lead thy mother to the altar!
Carlos (retreating in alarm).
Ah! woe is me! accurs’d am I!
(He rushes out desperately.)
(Falling on her knees).
Heaven has kept watch o’er us!
(Philip II., Elizabeth, Theobald,theCountess of Aremberg, Rodrigo, Eboli, Chorus, Pages,entering in succession.)
(Entering precipitately from the cloister).
Why find I thus the Queen alone!
What! not a single lady at thy side!
Ignor’st thou thus my royal rule?
Which of thy ladies should have been with thee!
(TheCountess of Arembergissues trembling from the crowd and stands before the King.)
(To the Countess.)
Countess, to-morrow you’ll to France return.
(The Countessbursts into tears. All contemplate the Queen in surprise.)
And doth he thus insult the Queen!
Ah! weep not, dear companion, ah! do not weep.
Let sorrow hence depart.
From Spain thou art now banished,
But not from this fond heart,
With thee, my life’s bright morning
Was passed in joyous glee.
To our dear home returning,
My heart will follow thee, ah!
Take heart, O kindly soul,
Thy grief assuage.
What, in my very presence,
The airs of injured worth she dares assume!
(The Queen mournfully tears herself away from the Countess, and withdraws, learning on thePrincess of Eboli.She is followed by the Chorus.)
(Rodrigokneels, then approaches the King and covers his head without embarrassment.)
(ToRodrigowho is about to leave)
Why hast thou not yet asked to be admitted?
I know how to reward
All my defenders;
Thou hast served, I know,
Faithful to my crown.
What can I ever hope from the favor of the King?
Sir, I am satisfied, the law shields me.
I love a noble spirit.
Audacity I forgive . . . not always . . .
Thou hast left the business of war;
A man such as thee, a soldier of high lineage,
Can he remain idle?
When Spain shall be in need of a sword,
An avenging hand, worthy of its honor,
Readily will mine shine, stained with blood!
I know It . . . . . . but for thee . . . . . . what can I do?
Nothing! No . . . . . . nothing for me! But for others . . . . . .
What dost thou mean? . . . . . . For others? . . . . . .
I shall speak, Sir, if I do not vex thee!
Sir, from Flanders I have come,
That country once so beautiful,
Now deprived of every light
And like a tomb, is full of horrors!
The orphan without a home,
Goes crying through the streets;
Everything is destroyed by fire,
Banished is pity!
To the eyes it seems
The river is glowing red with running blood;
The mother’s cry is echoing
For the sons who have expired!
Ah! blessed is the Lord,
That has spared me to narrate
This cruel agony,
So it shall be known by the King
Only through bloodshed, could I get the peace of the world
Horrible, horrible peace! It is the peace of the dead!
Oh King! May it never be said in history!
That thou wert like Nero!
This is the peace thou givest the world?
Such gift awakens terror, untold horror!
The priest an executioner, every soldier a bandit!
The people moan, and die unheard,
And in thine large and desolate empire,
Thou hearest everyone curse Philip, yes, curse him!
Like a redeeming God, the entire globe restore,
Raise thyself to a sublime height, above any other King!
For thou shalt the world gladden, give liberty!
Oh! strange dreamer!
Thy thoughts would change, if the heart of man
Thou knew, as Philip knows it!
Do not fear!
Say no more! naught has the King heard . . . . . .
Do not fear!
But . . . guard thyself against the Inquisitor!
What? . . . . . . Sir! . . . . . .
Thou remainest in my royal presence
And naught hast thou yet asked the King?
I want thee near me!
No! sir! what I am, I wish to remain!
Thou art too haughty!
Has thine glance dared to penetrate my threshold?
From my head burdened by my crown,
Thou canst see the anguish and grief!
Look at my kingdom!
Trouble surrounds it, unfortunate parent!
Still more unfortunate spouse!
Sir! What sayest thou? . . . . . .
The Queen . . . a suspicion troubles me . . . . . . my son! . . . . . .
Fearless and pure is his soul!
Philip (with much pain).
Naught under the sky can replace
The contentment he took from me!
(Rodrigoalarmed, looks atPhilip,without answering.)
Their destiny I entrust to thee!
Search into that heart, that a foolish love is reaping!
Always permitted art thou to see the Queen!
Thou who alone art a man, among the human multitude,
I trust myself to thy loyalty!
(Aside, with great joy)
An aurora unexpectedly in Heaven!
In thy hand!
His heart has revealed that which no one could seek!
May peace return to me some day!
Oh! what a divine dream!
Oh! glorious hope!
Beware of the great Inquisitor!
(The King gives his hand toRodrigo,who kneels and kisses it.)
(The curtain falls rapidly.)
end of the second act.