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Alma has been left by Oskar Kokoschka. Alma's friend, Lili Lieser, enters.

ALMA   Oh God! Oh God! I'm free!!! I'm finally free!

LILI   Congratulations! You handled it like a queen! Like a goddess!

ALMA   Lili, my dear! Have you been eavesdropping again? I didn't think I'd manage to shake him off. I hope I won't ever see him again. (She starts to pack for her journey) Now I have to get the abortion as soon I can, and then go to Berlin to hunt down Gropius. I've got to see him. I miss him so much! He'll marry me. No doubt about it.

LILI   But didn't you split up with him?

ALMA   Walter has to sacrifice himself at my altar so that his magnificent Aryan blood will merge with mine. to create a demigod.

LILI   But I thought you didn't love him any more--

ALMA   I don't know-- but when I was with Oskar I suddenly missed him. God knows why… (She bursts into tears:) Oskar is lost to me! I can't find him inside me any more. He has become a stranger He isolated me from the world so completely that I began to sense how little one is really needed in it. I know he'll go further, and probably be better off, without me. We almost killed each other with our love! We rubbed up against each other, and now he can live in peace and quiet. No-one to get on his nerves any more. No-one. I want to forget him. You have to help me to do that. You have to! !

LILI   What have you done to him?

ALMA   It's for his own sake--

LILI   You've mutilated an artist-- you'll never forgive yourself--

ALMA   If his real voice had called him to stay with me, and to paint a masterpiece, he wouldn't have given in…!

LILI   You abandoned yours when you were pressured! (she takes Mahler's bust) You surrendered...!

ALMA   It only proves I wasn't destined to be an artist-

LILI   You loved him.

ALMA   I loved him like crazy. He and I were compatible to the last fibre of our beings. He had everything a person needs to be great. I loved him for that, and I loved the ill-bred, stubborn child in him. That big kid. He robbed me of all my reason. He's the only one I ever let do that to me. I wish I'd never met him.

Alma leaves the room; Lili follows her.

LILI   There's nothing as delicate and fragile as the soul of an artist at the fugitive moment it conceives a new idea-- that moment requires perfect faith-- divine grace-- endless love-- not reservations-- disbelief and criticism of the new-born impulse

ALMA   Now you say it-- It's too late my dear-

LILI   You know how easy it is to strangle that fledgling before it grows feathers and spreads its wings-

ALMA   Too late!!

LILI   But you were born to become an artist yourself! You have to compose music -- remember how Gustav used to work-- if you don't let go of men you're lost. Stop running from one man to the next !

ALMA   Walter Gropius is not just anybody! He's a genius! He is going to be the prophet of modern architecture. And he will marry me! He will have to marry me! There's no alternative!

LILI   Listen Alma-- you don't know what you're doing with your life-you're still young -- you can still begin a new existence--

ALMA   There's not going to be any new beginning-- I'm not going to be a composer any more-- I can't help it-- the muses don't like me. But men do. And precisely the ones the muses love. These men adore me! They pray at my altar! That's why the muses are jealous of me. Let them drop dead with envy-- like their lovers die of love for me. That's the truth. - I don't know why, but that's how it is. Gustav was never as absorbed in his work as he was in his love for me, believe it or not! Whatever he did, he did for me, to reach me, to touch me, to worship me...! In his last Symphony, he even wrote it down! (takes a score:) Here, have a look: »Almschi! Almschi! To live for you, for you to die» There it is, in black and white! And that's what he died for!

MUSIC: Adagio from Mahler's 10th Symphony.

HOLLNSTEINER    (Obituary to Mahler)

Kokoschka is carried in on a stretcher. He is wounded.

ALMA   It's not my fault if I spark fires of passion, it's not my fault! Men swarm around me like moths to a flame, like flies to a honey pot...! I was made that way! That's why I was born into this world!

LILI   Flies swarm to shit in the street too ...

ALMA   You're just jealous.

LILI   Go on devouring life like a pig-- stuff yourself with food, drinks and cum--

ALMA   I am what I am! I was made to devour life, not to describe it…!

LILI   But you have to make a choice: men - or music. You have to choose one of them.

ALMA   When I start a new love there's more life in me than in any music--

LILI   But what are you left with when you finish a love affair…?

ALMA   There's always a new love to start up.

LILI   And you think Walter is that new love? What's so new about him ?

ALMA   Walter is not just anybody. He is going to be the prophet of modern architecture. I know it!

LILI   You can deceive me, Alma. And you can deceive the world - but you can't deceive yourself.

ALMA   I'm going to get that Gropius, or I'll eat my hat!

LILI   I'll probably do the same - one day.

ALMA   Does it have to be your hat? There are alternatives.

LILI   For example?

ALMA   The sperm of a genius!

LILI   What?

ALMA   Nothing tastes better than the sperm of a genius. Didn't you know that?

LILI   You should know.

ALMA   You think so?

LILI   You are disgraceful. You have such awful comic timing.

ALMA   Well. Shut up then.

LILI   You're right. I have to shut up. When I start talking, I don't know what I'm saying. I'm a bag full of holes. I play the clown only to hide my real feelings.

ALMA   You're just trying to hide the truth from yourself.

LILI   That I love you? Maybe. But don't worry. I've not really fallen in love with you. I'm only playing games. I've never been in love. Never. You'd better believe that. But it's so goddamn easy to pretend you are. In love with people, with convictions, with beliefs. But inside it's all hollow.

ALMA   But you've got me! I'm your friend!

LILI   Why is it that we always spend our only existence with the wrong people? Always saying the wrong words, always doing the wrong things.

ALMA   Why are you saying this to me?

LILI   You know what I'm talking about. Don't you? We are birds of a feather, you and me. Don't try to deny it. And don't play games with me. It's so boring! You owe me nothing, and I don't owe you anything.

ALMA   You've always been very generous. And I know why, too.

LILI   Oh, that little sum of money? That's insignificant. It was my pleasure.

ALMA   Are you sure?

LILI   Yes. I was even silly enough to spend my own good money to help finance the printing of Alban Berg's “Wozzek”.

ALMA   I knew you were behind it.

LILI   Yes! I had to do it! If it weren't for my money, he would not have been able to dedicate his opera to you.

ALMA   Really? But don't get your hopes up. . I won't show any appreciation.

LILI   Alma, relax! I know there's no chance of a relationship between the two of us. So we can tell each other the truth . It's such a luxury! Wow! Otherwise neither of us would dare.

ALMA   I can do without it.

LILI   You do believe in love, don't you? You believe the love of others will save you. But it can't. All it can do is help you fall asleep. And there is always the morning after. But mornings are not the time for love. Mornings are the time for waking up. And when the morning is without love, the end of the day is without hope. Didn't you know that?

ALMA   I had a voice-- a gentle-- tender voice-- that used to sing in my soul-- it sang about people I loved-- new-born feelings -- the grief of parting -- I had a voice that mourned beloved friends who had died-- there are not many other things worth talking about-- I had a voice that knew how to sing about things like that those -and it was my responsibility to safeguard my voice-- not to let strange hands touch it-- but I didn't protect my voice-- a man came who said that because he loved me- I would have to silence my voice-- listen only to his -- because it was stronger-- and that he would speak for me-- and I-- instead of telling that man-- get out of my way-- I don't want to hear your voice-- I said I agree-and to this day my voice is stifled inside me-- broken- torn-- shattered - like a mirror that doesn't reflect who I am anymore. !

LILI   Unless you open your mouth one day- and try it. Try it...! But don't let it shock you. . Because a cry of despair will come out-- the likes of which the world has never heard-- the scream of a woman-- of millions of women-- whose voices have been strangled by weak and frightened men--

ALMA   You make me sick...!

LILI   You are sick! How can a person be so blind, so deaf, so vain? Go on, go to Berlin. Slaughter your noble wild beast, your prophetic architect. But at least let me watch. May I?

ALMA   What do you mean?

LILI   Can I come with you to Berlin? I'll cover all expenses. I'm willing to pay to see you suffer. It will be my pleasure!
Alma puts the courtesan's costume on Lili.

ALMA   Hmm, nice. If you really want to know what life is like at the front line of the battle of the sexes, come with me.

LILI   Oh, darling!! (embraces and kisses her) Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

ALMA   You'll be surprised...!

Alma and Lili leave as Venetian courtesans to Oskar's Masked Ball.