Translating Literature into english

in art •  last year


ALEXANDER PUSHKIN

MOZART AND SALIERI

Translated by Alec Vagapov

SCENE 1

Room

S a l i e r i

There is no truth on earth they say.
There is no truth in heaven either.
It's clear as day to me, so plain to see.
With love for art I came to birth;
In childhood when the organ played
High up in the age-old church of ours
I'd listen with delight, as sweet
Involuntary tears fell down my face.
From idle pastime I refrained untimely;
I hated all the sciences except for music
I stubbornly and haughtily repudiated them
And gave myself entirely to music.
It's hard to make first step,
First path is always boring.
The early miseries I easily came over
And made a craft a pedestal to art;
So I became a craftsman, and I gave
My fingers dull and docile fluency
And loyalty to ear. And I killed
The sounds, and dissolved the music
Like a dead body. I checked up harmony
With algebra. Well versed in science,
I dared lapse into creative dreams.
And I began composing; secretly, in silence,
Without daring to think of fame.
I'd often sit in silent cell for a few days
Forgetting utterly about sleep and food,
Enjoying tears and delight if inspiration
I'd burn my work and coldly watch
My thoughts and sounds I'd begotten
Along with smoky air disappear.
What do I say? When the great Gluck
Came opening to us fascinating secrets
(new intimate and captivating secrets)
Didn't I cast aside all I had known,
All I had loved and what I had believed in,
Didn't I freshly follow him, resigned,
Wasn't I sent by counterpart
in different direction?
By energetic, tense consistency
I had at last achieved a high degree of
Proficiency in art. Renown smiled on me
I found in the hearts of people
Response to my creative works.
I was delighted: I peacefully enjoyed
My work, success and fame as well as
The works and luck of friends
Associates in the amazing art.
Oh no! I've never known envy
No never! Neither when Puccini
Could please the ear of wild Parisians
Nor when I heard for the first time
The first accords of Iphigenia.
And who will say Salieri was a proud man
Some time a hateful envious man,
A viper, trampled down by humans,
And gnawing sand and dust despairingly?
Nobody will!.. But now - I'll say it - now
I am an envious man. I envy deeply
And poignantly. Oh, Heaven!
Where is the virtue, when the holy gift
Has not been sent as a reward
For burning love, work, self-denial, zeal
And prayer but instead
Lights up the madman's head
And idler's mind? Oh Mozart, Mozart!

Enter Mozart

M o z a r t

Oh yeah! You saw it! And I wanted
To treat you to an unexpected joke.

S a l i e r i

You are here! - How long?

M o z a r t

Right now. Well, I was going
To show you something; but
As was passing by the pub
I suddenly heard a violin play,
Oh no, my friend, Salieri!
You never heard a funnier thing...
A blind man played voi che sapete
Miraculous!
I couldn't help but bring him here.
To entertain you to his art
Come in!

Enter the blind man, violin in hand

Something from Mozart!

The old man plays an aria from Don Juan; Mozart laughs.

S a l i e r i

How can you laugh?

M o z a r t

     Oh, Salieri!

Aren't you laughing?

S a l i e r i

No.
I do not find it funny when a worthless painter
Stains Raphael's Madonna for me,
I do not find it funny
When a contemptible buffoon
Dishonours Alighieri. Now get off, old man.

. M o z a r t

Wait: here you are

Drink to my health.

Exit the old man

Salieri,
You're down at heart. I'll come to you
Some other time.

S a l i e r i

What have you brought me?

M o z a r t
No - well, a trifle. The other day, at night
Insomnia tormented me,
And two or three ideas came to my mind.
Today I've put them down. And I wanted
To hear your opinion, but I see
You don't have time for me.

S a l i e r i

Oh, Mozart, Mozart!
I always have got time for you. Sit down;
I'm listening.

M o z a r t
(at the piano)

Imagine ... Whom shall I play?
Well, let's say, me - a little younger;
A loving man - not much, but just a bit -
With beauty, or a friend - or, say, with you,
I'm happy ... Suddenly: a deathly vision
Pitch darkness or a thng like that ...
Well, listen.
(He plays)

S a l i e r i

You were on your way to me
And stopped outside the pub
To listen to the blind violinist! God!
You, Mozart, are unworthy of yourself.

M o z a r t

Well, is it all right?

S a l i e r i

  Oh what a depth!

What courage and what harmony!
You're god, and and you are not aware it, Mozart; I know it, yes I do.

M o z a r t

Oh, really? Maybe ...
But my divinity is hungry.
S a l i e r i
Now listen: let's have lunch together
At Golden Lion Pub.

M o z a r t

Well, I don't mind;
I'm glad. But let me first go home
And tell my wife
Not to expect me for the lunch.
(Exit)

S a l i e r i

I'll wait. Be sure to come.
Oh no! I can't resist my fate:
I'm chosen to restrain and stop him
Or else we shall all die,
Yes all of us, clergyman, adherents of music,
And not just me with the deaf fame of mine...
What is the use, if Mozart is alive
And reaches a new height?
Will he raise music art ? Well, no;
It will collapse when he fades out:
And he won't leave an heir either.
So what's the use? Like a cherub,
He's brought us a few songs of Paradise,
So that, perturbing wingless wish in us,
Children of ashes, fly away!
So fly away! The sooner you will do the better.

Here is the poison, Izora's latest gift.
I've kept it for about eighteen years
And ever since my life appears
A godly wound to me, and I would often sit With a carefree friend of mine at table,
And I have never bowed
To whisper of temptation, though I am not
A coward, and I am quick to take offence,
And though I don't like life so much.
I lingered. Thirst for death tormented me
Why die? I fancied: life might bring
Some unexpected gifts, perchance.
And, joy, creative night and inspiration
Might possibly attend me, and, perhaps,
A Haydn might create an outstanding thing,
And I would take delight ...
I feasted with the hateful guest,
I thought that I might find, the worst of enemy, Perchance from up a haughty height
The worst offense might fall on me -
Then you, Izora's gift, would not get lost,
And I was right! I found in the end
My enemy, and new Haydn
Suprisingly intoxicated me with joy!
The time has come! You precious gift of love,
Turn into cup of friendship now.

SCENE 2

Special room in the pub; а piano.

Mozart and Saliery sitting at table

S a l i e r i

Why are you gloomy?

M o z a r t

Me? No!

S a l i e r i

You are upset to-day, aren't you, Mozart?
The food is good, the wine is fine,
And you look gloomy and keep silent.

M o z a r t

To tell the truth,
My Requiem worries me.

S a l i e r i

Oh!
You are composing Requiem? How long?

M o z a r t

Since long ago, three weeks or so
But, strangely... Did I tell you?

S a l i e r i

No.

M o z a r t

Now listen.
Three weeks or so ago I came home late.
They told me somebody had called on me,
I don't know why,
And I was thinking all night long:
Who was it? What did he need?
The following day he called again
But didn't find me in. And then one day
As was playing with my boy,
Somebody hailed me. I went out
A man in black bowed kindly to me
And ordered Requiem, and disappeared.
I started working right away - and ever since
The black man never came to me;
Well, I am glad: I would be sorry
To give it up. Although my Requiem
Is almost ready now. Meanwhile...

S a l i e r i

What?

M o z a r t

I am ashamed of telling you...

S a l i e r i

What is it?

M o z a r t

Day in day out my black man
Gives me no rest. Persuing me
Just like a shadow. Now
It seems to me he's sitting here
Next to us.

S a l i e r i

   Well, that's enough! Why fear like a child?

Dispel your empty thought. Beaumarchais
Once said to me: "Now listen , brother,
When a black thought enters your mind,
Uncork a bottle of champagne
Or read "The Marriage of Figaro" once again.

M o z a r t

Yes! Beaumarchais, he was a friend of yours;
You wrote the "Tarara" for him
Great piece of work. I has a tune...
I keep repeating it when I am happy...
La-la-la-la... Salieri, is it true
That Beaumarchais was poisoned?

S a l i e r i

I don't think so: he was too funny
For such a thing.

M o z a r t

He's a genius, isn't he?
Like you and I. While genius and villainy
Are incompatible, are they?

S a l i e r i

You think so?
(throws poison into Mozart's glass)
Now drink it, will you?

M o z a r t

To your good health.
My friend, and to sincere friendship,
Uniting Mozart and Salieri,
Two sons of harmony.
(drinks it)

S a l i e r i

Wait, wait,
Wait, have you drunk it... without me?

M o z a r t
(throws the serviette down on the table)

I've had enough
(goes up to the piano)
Listen, Salieri
To my Requiem
(he plays it)
Are you crying?

S a l i e r i

I'm shedding tears
For the first time: both nice and painful,
As if I'd done my heavy duty
As if a healing knife had cut
My suffering part! Mozart, my friend,
These tears...
Don't pay attention. Hurry up
Fill up my soul with sounds...

M o z a r t

If everyone could feel the power
Of harmony in such a way. No, no,
The world would not survive for nobody
Would think about the needs of earthly life;
And everybody would indulge in art.
We are not many, chosen idle
And happy men,
Neglecting the compemptible adavantage
The priests of one whole beauty
Is it not true? But now I'm not well,
I`m feeling bad, I'll have a sleep.
Farewell!

S a l i e r i

Good-bye.

(Alone)

You'll fall asleep
For a long time, Mozart! But is he really right
To say that I am not a genius?
Genius and villainy are incompatible.
It isn't true. And Bonarotti?
Or is it just a fairy tale of crazy stupid crowd,
And founder of Vatican was not a killer?

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