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ClassicsOnline Home » RUBINSTEIN: Demon (The)
 The setting is
Prince Gudal's castle in Georgia.
 The commanding
figure of the Demon appears. Choruses representing the three levels of
universal order - the spirits of hell, earth and heaven -are fused together in
a dramatic musical picture. The chorus sing excitedly: "Above the earth
again, Demon is flying" [Nad zyernloyu snova Dyernon prolyetayet].
 The Demon
expresses his complete disillusionment: " Accursed world! Despicable
world! Wretched, hateful world!" [Proklyatyi mir! Prezryennyi mir! Nyeschastnyi,
nyenavistnyi rnnye mir!]. Human life is weak and insignificant, he finds no
opposition to his power, and he even sows evil with no sense of pleasure.
 An Angel
appears and reminds the Demon that love can restore him to heaven: "Do
not curse, but love!" [Nye klyani, a lyubi!]
 The Demon
rejects any such notion: "What is the radiance of eternal power to me,
what is divine paradise? I desire my freedom, I desire
wild passions and not repose. You praise his creation - you are all slaves! I
want to live, I desire agitation, I desire struggles!" [Shto
mnye siyan'ye vyechnoi vlasti, shto rai svyatoi!]
 The Angel
retorts angrily: "Your knowledge is negation, your love is hatred"
[Tvoi poznan'ya- otritsan'ya, i nyenavist' - lyubov' tvoya] and she warns
the Demon not to touch anything which is dear to heaven. In his turn, the Demon
warns the Angel that he loves a struggle, and that heaven too should watch out.
ACT I scene 2
It is evening on
the shores of the river Aragva.
 Girls are
filling their pitchers with water: "We go down to the bright Aragva
each evening" [Khodirn my k Aragvye svyetloi kazhdyi vecher za vodoi].
daughter Tamara appears accompanied by her Nanny, and joins her friends.
 At this moment
the Demon appears, sees her and she hears his voice: "What do I see? I
am confounded by long-forgotten dreams. Her heavenly features shine with angelic
beauty" [Shto vizhu ya? Menya smushchayet davno zabytye myechty]. Tamara
is confused and grows pensive, feeling that some strange danger is oppressing
 To dispel her
anxieties, her Nanny sings of her bridegroom: "That's enough now,
enough! You listen to what I am going to tel you. A bridegroom is gallopjng
on horseback to his bride" [Polno, polno! Ty slushai, vot shto rasskazhu
tyebye. Skachet k nyevyestye zhenikh na konye]. Tamara drifts into day-dreaming
of the forthcoming wedding and of the blissful life she will lead when she
marries the Prince.
 Tamara is
about to rejoin her friends when she hears the Demon's voice: "Child, in
your embraces I shall be resurrected into a new life. Tamara love me! I shall
not let another have you! A free son of the ether, I shall take you into
the starry regions, and you shall be mistress of the world, my eternal companion"
[Ditya, v ob'yatiyakh tvoikh voskresnu k novoi zhizni ya].
 She sees for
the first time the Demon and is struck motionless. Alarmed by Tamara's wild and
agitated look, her Nanny comes up to her and the Demon disappears. "He
was standing there, shining in heavenly light... and he sang to me such
wonderful songs; he spoke passionate words to me and promised me wondrous
joys" [Tarn, na skalye on stoyla, svyetom nyebyesnym siyal].
 Unable to
understand who Tamara means, her Nanny and the maidens decide it is time to
return home to the castle. As they go, Tamara glances back, reminiscing on the
words: " And you shall be mistress of the world, my eternal companion"
[I budyesh'ty tsaritsei mira, podruga vyechnaya moya!].
ACT I Scene 3
A wild place in
the mountains with a solitary chapel in the distance.
 An orchestral
interlude pictures the scene as a caravan approaches.
Sinodal's Old Servant shouts to his companions: “Halt, brothers, halt” [Stoi!
Brattsy, stoi!] as they prepare to spend the night in this desolate place.
 The Prince
enters and orders a messenger to be sent ahead to Tamara to say that he will be
at Gudal's castle at midday the following day: “Fit out a messenger to send
to the Princess” [Snaryadi gontsa k nyevyeste].
The advance of the
caravan has suddenly been held up by an avalanche and the Prince's servants and
horses are exhausted. In his imagination Prince Sinodal transforms himself into
a falcon and flies to his beloved: “My heart beats anxiously, our caravan
has been held up, and in vain does Prince Gudal await us today...” “Transformed
into a falcon, I would fly to you, my timid turtle-dove, I would soar into the
air” [Serdtse b'yotsia nyespokoino ...Obernuvshish' sokolom, i k tyebye, moya
gorlitsa puglivaya, polyetyel by ya].
 The Old
Servant consoles him with the thought that he will soon be with his bride: “Don't
fret, don't be downcast' [Nye pyechal'sya, nye kruchin'sya, dorogoi moi knyaz'].
 The servants
pour out wine and approach the Prince to congratulate him on his approaching
wedding: “For the health of the Prince, hurrah!” [Za zdorov'ye knyazya, ura!]
 The Old
Servant upbraids them for shouting in such an evil place: “What are you
shouting for? Calm down and be silent. This is no place for shouting in.
This is an evil place: look, there on the roadside stands a chapel. A
saint lies there slain from vengeance by a cunning hand” [Chevo vy krichitye?].
He begs the Prince to go to the chapel and pray before retiring. Those who have
offered up an ardent prayer at the chapel have always been protected from the
 The Prince
says that he will pray there the next morning before setting off on his
journey: "Tomo"ow with first light, as we set off on our journey,
I shall go to the chapel to pray, but now go and lie down all of you! You too,
old fellow!" [Zavtra, v put'idya s zaryoyu, voidu v chasnovnyu ya s mol'boyu]
 He tells all
his retinue to retire: the image of Tamara will protect him against all
misfortune: "In the darkness of the night, the obedient winds seem to
fly to your chamber, my darling. Everything that I say to you, how I love her,
sing to my darling at her bedside" [Nochen'koi tyomnoyu, vyetry poslushnye].
The Prince lies down and talking in his sleep dreams of Tamara.
 The Demon
appears and it is he who has lulled the Prince to sleep with sweet dreams of
his beloved: "During his prayer I lulled him to sleep with sweet
dreams. In the darkness of the night he kissed his bride's lips in his
dreams. sleep, sleep, you shall not see Tamara! Time flies. The darkness of the
night is full of woe, and your enemy - here he is!" [Yevo ya vo
vremya molitvy myechtoyu sladkoi usyplyal].
 The menacing
forms of Tartars creep forward and fall on the sleeping men: "Softer,
softer, creep up" [Tishe, tishe podpolzaitye].
 The Old
Servant runs in and tells him to protect his caravan: "Where are my
servants... Have they run away or do they lie bravely on the ground?" [Gdye
zhe slugi moi]. The Prince and the Old Servant pursue the attackers, but a shot
suddenly rings out. Supported by the Old Servant, the Prince reappears wounded.
Examining the wound, the Old Servant is forced to admit that it is fatal.
Learning that he will not live to see the dawn, the Prince jumps up with the
intention of riding to his bride's nuptial feast without delay. The Old Servant
tries to calm him. The Demon appears, and with Tamara's name on his lips, the
ACT 2 Scene 4
A hall in Gudal's
castle in readiness for the arrival of the bridegroom.
 A long
prologue leads to the entrance of the guests who sing praise of Prince Gudal
for this important day: "Hey! We have gathered together on this festive
day" [V den' vese1'ya my sobralis'].
 A Messenger
arrives with the news that Prince Sinodal has been delayed, but will come with
his caravan at midday. Prince Gudal orders wine to be poured for all the guests
and tells them to drink the health of the Prince and Princess. The guests
respond: "Wine brings jollity and love" [Vino, vino, dayot ono
vese1'ye i lyubov'].
off-stage cries presage bad tidings. Prince Gudal and his retinue go out and
then some of the men return with anxious faces. The dead Prince's body is
brought in. The Old Servant follows behind. Tamara falls on the corpse with
cries of despair: "Oh God, God! What a terrible dread sight. My Prince,
wake up, wake up for a moment" [O Bozhe, Bozhe. Strashnyi uzhasnyi vid].
 The Old
Servant tells how Prince Sinodal was killed. The Messenger, Prince Gudal, the
Old Servant, Nanny and Guests join together to deplore the news: "Our
dear Prince, our beloved Prince, a sad lot has befallen you! At the height of
your strength and your desires death has mown you down to the cold earth" [Knyaz'
dorogoi nash, knyaz'nash lyubimyi]. In vain, Tamara implores the corpse to come
to life, but seeing that her words do not touch him, she tears off her wedding
veil. Her father tries to console her, but for her, only the tomb can unite her
once again with her betrothed.
 As Tamara lies
sobbing she hears the Demon's voice: "Do not weep, child, do not weep
in vain, your tear will not fall like living dew onto a silent corpse" [Nye
plach', ditya, nye plach' naprasno].
 Tamara gets up
in confusion. She does not know who spoke those words: "What did he
say? You heard, he called me" [Shto on skazal?].
 Prince Gudal
orders the corpse to be removed immediately, and the Nanny orders the women to
move away from Tamara, believing that the Lord has sent her a vision which will
calm her. "Take the Prince's body away quickly" [Unesitye poskoryeyetyelo
knyazya ot nyeyo]
 Once again the
Demon appears to Tamara: "On the ocean of the air, without rudder or
sail, the harmonious constellations of heavenly bodies sail quietly past in the
mist; amid the immeasurable fields fibrous herds of intangible clouds pass by
in the heavens without trace. For them the hour of parting, the hour of meeting
is neither joy nor sorrow; they express no wish for the future, nor regret for
the past. Remember them on a weary day of misfortune, be impartial to earthly
things and unconcerned like them" [Na vozdushnorn okeanye, bez rulya i
 The Demon tells
her that as soon as night shrouds the mountain tops with its veil he will come
to her, waft golden dreams on her silky eyelids and stay until dawn: " As
soon as night shrouds the mountain tops of the Caucasus with its veil, as soon
as the world, charmed by the magical word, falls silent, as soon as the golden
moon rises silently from behind the hill, looking at you with a smile, I shall
fly to you" [Lish' tol'ko noch' svoim pokrovorn verkhi Kavkaza osenit].
 At this
moment Gudal and the men return. Tamara starts, as if waking from a dream,
calling out: "Where is he? Stooping down to my head, he was looking at
me so sadly and with such earnest love, as if he were sorry for me" [Gdye
zh on. ..? Sklonyasya k izgolov'yu, on grustno na menya smotryel].
 Prince Gudal
believes she has lost her reason. Tamara begs to be allowed to retire to a holy
convent where the Lord will protect her: "Father , father , my
soul is suffering. Father, take pity on me, send your foolhardy daughter to a
holy convent!" [Otets, otets, dusha moya stradayet].
 In his old
age Gudal will not give up his only comfort in life and at first will not
listen to the entreaties of Tamara and the others. Eventually he agrees
reluctantly: "Let her go to the holy convent, let her rest there" [Otpusti
yeyo v obitel']. The Old Servant, the Nanny and Chorus join with Prince Gudal
who casts a final glance at Tamara as she goes out.
ACT 3 Scene 5
Part of the
convent enclosure in which the window of Tamara's cell can be seen.
 It is night
and the Old Servant, striking an instrument declares: "The Christian
world sleeps; before the sign of the cross and the power of prayer a/1 impure
things fa/1 as dust" [Spit khristianskii mir]
 As he leaves
the Demon approaches the convent enclosure. He gazes at the illuminated window
of Tamara's cell, but fears to enter the enclosure: "The holy convent
sleeps, only her window is still illuminated. She is waiting, she has long
waited, and I am here! But I fear to enter the convent, and at the bottom of my
old wound my sadness has begun to writhe like a snake. I could even weep!"
[Obite1' spit, yeyo okno eshcho ozareno]
 He declares
that the moment he saw Tamara he began to loathe his immortality and even began
to envy the imperfect joys of earthly life: "Yes, I love her , I
shall find renewal! Why delay? My soul is open to goodness and I shall
enter" [Da, ya yeyo lyublyu].
 An Angel
appears to bar his way: "Agitated and depraved spirit, what are you
doing here at the midnight hour? You will not find your disciples here" [Dukh
bespokoinyi, dukh porochnyi]. The Demon replies that Tamara is already his, but
the angel warns him not to touch that which is dear to heaven. The Demon
disregards the angel and angrily enters the enclosure.
ACT 3 Scene 6
illuminated by a candle.
 Tamara cannot
sleep and is constantly troubled by a dream about a stranger and wonders who it
might be: "The night is warm, the night is calm, I cannot sleep" [Noch'
tepla, noch' tikha, nye rnogu ya usnut']. The Demon enters and Tamara and the
Demon gaze intently at one another.
 Outside the
cell the Old Servant repeats his incantation: "The Christian world
sleeps; before the sign of the cross and the power of prayer all impure things
fall as dust" [Spit khristianskii mir]
 Tamara asks
the stranger who he is and the Demon replies: "I am the one to whom you
listened in the silence of the midnight hour, whose thoughts whispered
to your soul, whose sorrows you vaguely guessed. I am the one whose look
destroys hope - hope will scarcely even blossom; I am the one whom no one
loves, and whom all living beings curse; I am the scourge of my earthly slaves,
I am the king of knowledge and freedom; I am the enemy of heaven, I am the evil
aspect of nature, and you, I am at your feet! I have brought you
in tender emotion the pure prayer of love - the first earthly torments, and my
first tears!" [Ya tot, kotorornu vnimala ty v polunochnoi tishinye].
 Fearing the
Demon's words Tamara commands him to be silent: "Your words are
dangerous! Did hell or paradise send you to me?" [Rech' tvoya opasna! Tyebya
prislal rnnye ad il'rai?]
 The Demon
confesses that in Tamara he has found all he sought before he was cast out of
heaven, and implores her to understand his unacknowledged sorrow and suffering:
"Your image was impressed on my soul from the beginning
of the world: it was before me in the deserts of the eternal ether. Long
ago, disturbing my thought, the sweet name sounded to me; in the days of bliss
in heaven, it was you alone who were lacking! If you could only understand my
sorrow, my sufferings, the battle between aspirations and desires, - all that I
was forced to hide! What is the chronicle of painful deprivations, the labours
and the misfortunes of the human herd, of generations past and future, compared
with one moment of my unacknowledged sufferings! What are people? What is their
life and their labour? They have lived and they will die. ..They hope and they
await true judgement. He can forgive, though he will condemn them! My sorrow
is immutable now, and like me, it has no end - it will not slumber in
the grave! Now it caresses me like a serpent, now sears and flickers like a
flame, now crushes my breast like a stone -the indestructible mausoleum
of dashed hopes and passions" [V dushe rnoey s nachala mira tvoi obraz
 The Demon
rejects Tamara's fear of God and eternal damnation, for God is concerned with
heaven and not earth. Tamara feels compassion for the Demon's suffering, but
acknowledging her own female frailty, asks him to forswear evil. He replies
"I swear by the first day of creation, I swear by the last day, I
swear by the shame of crime and by the victory of eternal truth... I swear
by bliss and torment, I swear by my love - I have
renounced old vengeance, I have renounced proud thoughts. I want
reconciliation with heaven, I want to love, I want to pray, I
want to believe in goodness" [Klyanus' ya pervym dnyorn tvoren'ya].
 Dawn begins
to show and a chorus of nuns is heard in the distance: "Creating
everything eternally good" [Vsyo sozidayushchii, vechno blagoi].
 Tamara calls
upon the creator, and exhausted by her own spiritual struggle begs the Demon to
leave her: " Ah, creator, creator, I call upon you! I have
no strength, alas, no strength to pray" [Akh! tvorets, tvorets, tyebya,
 Once again
the Demon repeats his familiar refrain: "I shall dive to the bottom of
the sea. I shall fly above the clouds, I shall give you all
earthly things, all, all! Love me!" [Ya opushchus' na dno rnorskoye],
telling her what wondrous delights await her there.
continues to struggle with her emotions: she cannot love the Demon, she must
not. He could conjure her passion by the powers of hell, but desires her love.
The fate of the earth is in her hands, for it is in her power to end evil. Once
more she calls upon heaven, but she is unable to withstand the Demon's
entreaties: "I am in your hands... But take pity on me!" [Ya v
tvoikh rukakh... No poshchadi rnenya], and in it declares her love for the Demon
which she seals with a kiss.
 The angels
are stunned: "Tamara!"
 The Angel
appears to save Tamara's soul and conjures the Demon to be gone: "Be gone,
spirit at doubt!" [Ischezni, dukh sornnen'ya!]
 The Demon
responds: "I cannot give her back! She is mine!" [Yeyo otdat' ya
nye rnogu! Ona rnoya!]
 The Angel
declares: "No, she was not created for you! Be gone gloomy
spirit!" [Nyet! Nye sozdana dlya tyebya ona].
 Once more the
Demon has been abandoned and is alone and he curses heaven and earth: " Again
I am abandoned! Again alone! Ah! Accursed world! A curse on
everyone!" [Opyat' ya sir! Opyat' odin!].
 The voices of
angels ascending to heaven bearing Tamara are heard: "We bear the
sinful soul, the soul which loved and Buffered, ta heaven!" [My dushu greshnuyu,
dushu lyubivshuyu, dushu stradavshuyu k nyebu nesyorn].
It should be noted
that Rubinstein numbered the scenes in chronological order through the opera,
in addition to giving act numbers. In this performance in Act 2 (scene 4) which
follows track 2 of CD 2, the ballet, was omitted, and the conductor also made
several smaller cuts. The recording faithfully reproduces this Wexford Festival
Opera production in its entirety.
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RUBINSTEIN: Demon (The)