6a 1910 A DECLARATION OF LOVE TO THE WRONG PERSON
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Mahler is playing music on bottles in the kitchen pantry. Gropius appears. He is not able to see Mahler, but he can hear his playing.
GROPIUS (whispers, enchanted:) Alma
?! - Alma?!! - Alma?!!!
Mahler stops playing.
GROPIUS No, don't stop. Don't stop, my dear!! Go on playing, my love. I don't want to disturb you. But... I wanted to tell you something. There comes a time in life when you have to make a decision, when you have to say »Yes« or »No«. I was ready to say yes the moment I saw you. You know my feelings. I have no doubts whatsoever. I beg you: Don't say »No«. I won't take »No« for an answer. Say »Yes« to our new-born love. - I know, there is a big difference between the two of us. You are married, I am not. But you don't love him. You love me. You don't have to say it in so many words. Your body tells it to mine whenever we touch. Your body offers itself to mine with absolute passion. There's nothing left of you for any one else . I know it. I feel it. If you say »no« to our love, this »no« will destroy the rest of your life. Alma, without you my heart is rotting away in the grave that my body becomes when it is not touched by you. - You say you love him too. But as I see it you just feel sorry for him. Don't tell me you love him. The only thing you feel for him is pity. If you stick with him, you will end your days in a false, love-forsaken life. He is a sick man. He could be removed from his position at the opera at any time! He's a Jew, even though he's converted. - Alma my love, my hope, my desire. The moment your nurse introduced us to one another, on that blessed evening of the 4th of June, my whole being was split in two: the first twenty-four years of my life without you are of no interest to me any more. All that counts from now on are the moments that we are going to spend together. It all started for me without warning. . During that moonlit walk we took by the little stream ... Alma my love, my body, my soul, I cannot live without you. If you have any feelings at all for me, you have to abandon everything and
come live with me. Alma my blood, my life, my universe!
Mahler comes out of the pantry and calls Alma through the house phone:
ALMA (calling from another room) Yes, what is it, my dear?
MAHLER Could you please come down for a moment?! I think there's someone here who wants to talk to you.
ALMA I'm coming! Just give me a minute, love.
Gropius intends to leave.
MAHLER Stay here, stay here. Just give her a minute.
Mahler and Gropius observe one another in dead silence. Alma enters.
ALMA What is it, Gustav? Do you need some tea, or can I get you... - Walter?
GROPIUS Alma... I
MAHLER Tell her what you've got to say. She's here now.
ALMA What is that supposed to mean. ?
MAHLER Well? She's waiting. - Has your courage left you? Do you want me to tell her for you? (Silence.) All right, I will ... (He addresses Alma:) My love... There comes a time in life when you have to make a decision, when you have to say »Yes« or »No«. I was ready to say yes the moment I saw you. You know my feelings. I have no doubts whatsoever. I beg you: Don't say »No«. I won't take »No« for an answer. Say »Yes« to our love... to our new-born love
- I know, there is a big difference between the two of us. Yes
You are 29, I am 50... And you don't love me. You love him. You don't have to say it in so many words. Your body tells it to mine whenever we touch. Your body offers itself to mine with absolute passion. There's nothing left of you for any one else. . I know it. I feel it. If you say »no« to our love, this »no« will destroy the rest of your life. Alma
without you my heart is rotting away in the grave that my body becomes when it is not touched by you. - You say you love me too. As I see it you only feel sorry for me. Don't tell me you love him. Yes, you do. I can see it. All you feel for me is pity. If you stick with me, you will end your days in this... »false..? Love-forsaken life?« Alma my love... I am a sick man, I could be removed from my position at the opera at any time. I'm a Jew, even though I've converted. - Alma, my love, my hope, my desire. The moment your nurse introduced you to him, on that goddamn blessed evening of the 4th of June, his whole being was split in two, and so was mine: the first twenty four years of his life without you are of no interest to me any more. All that counts from now on are the moments that the two of you are going to spend together. It all started for me without warning . I must say... During that moonlit walk you took by the little stream ... Alma my love, my body, my soul, I cannot live without you. If you have only the slightest feeling for me, you must abandon him and
stay with me. Alma my blood, my life, my universe! (to Gropius) Did I miss anything?
ALMA What's all this about?
MAHLER Well... I'm wondering the same thing . What's all this? I'd like to know myself. Can you explain it to me? - I'm waiting for an explanation.
ALMA An explanation
Well. An explanation! He's waiting for an explanation. I'll give you an explanation. - No, Walter, don't go! You can't leave me alone with him now. - I wasn't even 23 years old when I met him. He was already 42, imagine that. And the director of the Royal Opera house. What did I know about life? What did I know about men? Nothing. Almost nothing. My only experience before that was Alex. »Experience«! Now I know, - thanks to you, Walter - that that was no experience at all. We kissed, that's true. And yes, he touched me. He caressed me very intimately. We were very familiar with each other's bodies; and I will never forget his hands. It was all so very exciting for the innocent virgin that I'd been - until I met you, Walter. Yes, Gustav! I've been married to you for seven years, I gave birth twice, but God knows how I got pregnant. I still felt like a virgin. A virgin
! You never made of me a woman, never! Never! - And now you ask for an explanation. Well here it is. - When you first declared your love for me, seven years ago, and you asked me to make up my mind, I didn't know what love meant. I mean real love, between a real Man and a real Woman. All I had known was Alex Zemlinsky's fluttering hands on my nakedness. It was like an Etude. But when you asked me to be yours, you put me in a terrible dilemma. I would whisper to myself »my love«, and immediately I would add: »Alex«. I asked myself honestly if I could love you as you deserved, and as I was capable of loving... And would I ever understand your art, or you mine? With Alex it was mutual - he loved every tone that came out of me - and all you said was: »there's something to consider seriously.« You kept telling me how much you loved me, and I couldn't find a loving answer- yes. It would have been a lie. How could you ignore my lack of feelings towards you?! How could you have been so blind to my condition , to the aversion I felt towards you? I kept asking myself over and over : do I love this man? And the answer was: I don't know. Or sometimes it was a plain »No«. But there was never a "yes". - So many things about you irritated me. Your smell
your way of walking, your humming, the endless walks, even the things you said. When you held me in your arms - I missed Alex. So badly. Every minute, every second... I didn't know what I felt - did I love you or didn't I? Or if I did - was it the director of the opera, the great conductor that I loved, or was it the man? It certainly wasn't the composer. Your music leaves me cold, so dreadfully cold. I never believed in you as a composer. - You understand, Walter? This was the man I was supposed to be bound to forever, but I didn't even like his hands! At least not the way I loved Alex's hands, even worshipped them. And - stupid as I was - I wondered if he would encourage me to compose the way Alex did, if he would support my artistic striving - And if he would love it, like he ... And what did he do instead? Nothing but nagging, nagging, and more nagging: »Another two days without any news from you. Why don't I get any mail? I don't understand why you did that. Is this necessary?« - You don't understand why? Because I was discovering for the first time in my life what love really meant. I mean real, passionate love, between a man and a woman. Not love letters, not love in words, poems or pictures, reams of paper on which love is described at great length, without the slightest knowledge of what it really is! Without even the desire to know what it is! Without knowing that it even exists!! I am talking about love between two living creatures, between two beautiful young healthy bodies!
GROPIUS Alma, stop it! It's torture!
ALMA No. He asked for it. He wanted it to be like this. - While we were discovering our love, he kept nagging me with his daily letters and telegrams: Another three tormented days for me without news from you! Give me a sign! I'm very worried! Please answer urgently! Are you hiding something from me? Answer my questions! Write more! Can't you send me at least a postcard?«- No! I did not write. What did you want me to write to you: I am drunk with love? I'm spending magical nights in the arms of my lover while the dawn and the nightingales' song lull us into , in a wild, exhausted slumber. ? - To « My Child and Wife« - he wrote ... but such an addressee no longer existed. The letters had to be sent back. «Almschili, my Almschibilili, my Almschilitzilitzilitzili» These were no longer terms by which I could be addressed! I was not a child any more. I was a woman, with a lover who, on countless unforgettably steamy nights, panted in my ear, «Alma, you, my Alma!» as he lay breathlessly on top of me ! Our two bodies lost themselves in one another as our two souls found themselves in our love.
GROPIUS Alma, you have no right
ALMA Of course I have! I have every right in the world. I spent years yearning for his love ! How blind he was in his quest for asceticism. «Whole-wheat bread and apples»! After eight years of forced asceticism, that turned me prematurely into a discouraged old woman, alienated from the world, I was dying for love and passion! Prometheus didn't give people fire just so they could light matches!! Walter gave me in one night what you didn't give me in eight years of barren, sterile marriage. You asked for the truth - now you have it.
Themes from Mahler's 10th Symphony explode in a crazy arrangement. Mahler exits.
MAHLER Merciful heaven ! Oh, God! Oh, God! Why did you forsake me? Eli Eli lama shevaktani? The devil is dancing with me! Madness, take hold of me, goddamn it! Annihilate me, make me forget that I exist ! Make me stop being, make me disapp- Only you know what that means. Ach! Ach! Ach! Be well, my harp! Be well, be well! Ach Ach. To live for you, for you to die! Almschi!
GROPIUS Stop him! Run after him! You can't let him leave like that!
ALMA Let him go, and stay gone !!! - Oh, Walter, I'm burning for your naked body to lie at my side, with nothing to separate us but sleep! Come, my love! I I live only for the time when I'll be completely yours! Your wife. My Walter - from you I want a child - to cherish and nurture - until the day comes when we can be united and drown in each others' arms without remorse. Your spirit and my body - such dual perfection will surely engender a demigod. I want to have you over me again, physically, inside me! I want to see you like your god created you - for only a god can produce such a creature. I want your beauty to melt inside me! I ache for your embraces! I'll never for¬get the touch of your hand on my most intimate parts. You sent fire and joy flowing through me. Yes, it is possible to be entirely happy, there is such a thing as perfect joy. In your arms I've known it. One little nuance more, and I would have become a god. Everything about you is holy to me. I want to kneel down and kiss your loins - kiss everything. Everything! Amen!