Lake of Sorrows

Scene i Dance

Rothbart exchanges his Reflection for Wealth and Power

(Rothbart preparing to go outside into the street, looks into a full length mirror to adjust his costume. He sees his Reflection that exactly mirrors all of his movements. When he is finished, Rothbart turns to go out and his Reflection pats him on the back signaling his approval of Rothbart's appearance. Rothbart smiles and opens the door and leaves with his reflection just behind him. Two women appear, one is a street vendor selling apples. Rothbart rubs his stomach signaling that he is hungry. Rothbart reaches into his pocket to purchase one, but finds he has no money. The woman, selling the fruit, talks to her friend looking away from her basket. Rothbart starts to reach into her basket to steal one, but his Reflection holds his forearm and Rothbart pulls his hand back. His Reflection then pats him on the back again, for not stealing the woman's produce. The women selling the apples move on. A strange looking character in a cape has been lounging upstage and approaches Rothbart. He indicates he knows that Rothbart is hungry and has no money, having watched the exchange with the vendor. He then shows him, in his magic kaleidoscope, how he could fill his pockets with money, and offers him his magic cloak if he can be given something in return. Rothbart eagerly agrees and asks what he wants. The Devil points to his Reflection. His Reflection is horrified and tries to stop Rothbart, but he cannot stop him from shaking hands, making the deal. Rothbart, having acquired the magic cape and magic glass, returns home dreaming of his future riches while the Devil takes his unwilling Reflection away.)


Scene ii DANCE

(Some time later, Rothbart has become very wealthy and powerful as a result of his bargain with the Devil. On his estate, two swans appear, "dancing" on the lake to pastoral themes from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.)

Scene iii

(The swans go off and Rothbart looks into the waters and is troubled. In the back of the stage his Reflection grieves that Rothbart has given him away.)


What is this? I look into the water
And see no insignia of a man.
No face, no cane, no hat, no cloak.
Have I been hit upon the head?
No, I have not suffered such.
Yet, though I clutch myself, I do not see
Me... my this lake,
Banished' from dancing in this loch.
How was it snatched away... and why?
And yet I know. I see! Cursed am I.
'Tis the devil's reckoning for the spells
He sells, so dearly purchased, once, by me.
So eager, then, was I to prosper.
The devil has stolen my reflection,
Blind am I to self in the creation.
I cannot see myself to know
Whether I am joyful, or am pained;
Whether I am hero, or am shamed;
Whether I am good, or I am bad;
Whether I am sane, or I am mad.
Like Polyphemous with blinded eye,
Blinded am I to self until I die.
Yet others, here, may see themselves,
When they pass by in leisure hours.
It grieves me to know that I, among
That merry company, do not belong.
From their association, long flung out.
But still, I would have beauty near,
That it might twice appear, once
In the air, but, also, in its watery image.
Of all the creatures on the earth
That from a shell or womb give birth,
Tis the swan that exceeds in beauty,
And I desire to have for company.
Though I cannot find my visage
In the dockage here, I shall fill
This liquid looking-glass with lovely swans.
And delight in their presence, absent mine.
I can imagine myself as one of them,
That none contemn, than who I am.