Champer opera in five parts.
Composed by Kevin Anthony, Libretto by Kira Jacobsen
Marta: When the Red Army spilled into Berlin,
the soldiers they grabbed the women.
Every age, any age.
Some chose suicide, others hiding.
I chose the darker side. I chose surviving,
And decided no man would touch me again; unless I let him.
It required an officer to protect and provide.
“Andre take care of me,” I said. “And I’ll take care of you.”
He agreed. This was my choice.
But soon enough my body grew numb.
Did our deal make him the devil, and me the whore?
Or is all fair in love and war?
And decided the major would be my deliverance.
But the Red Army has left.
And now it’s all gone!
Herr Eckhart: So the major and his friends are moving out.
Without these Ivan officers about, no more patrons for Fraulein Marta.
Our journalist gone courtesan.
The waters of this Russian flood will dry.
The bread and butter, wine and sugar.
The fruits of liason gone.
And this place.
A salon turned cemetery
For the starving.
That is us.
We will be starving.
Listen to me, I am your tenant.
Bless you for your charity, widow.
But I’m afraid it’s time.
The Widow: If not for Marta we would have starved.
Herr Eckhart: Now if she stays we will.
The Widow: Where will she go?
Herr Eckhart: Back from where she came.
The Widow: It is not safe. You know this Herr. I could not bear it.
Herr Eckhart: It is not safe here for us if she stays.
Gerd: They told me I’d find you here.
Marta: Gerd. Is it you?
Gerd: Yes it’s me.
Marta: You’re back.
Gerd: Yes I’m back. I’ve not come empty-handed.
Apples and bread.
Are you not glad to see me?
Marta: Gerd. I am glad to see you.
Gerd: Do you not want to know how I’ve been?
Marta: How have you been?
Gerd: After Germany surrendered,
We had to find some civilian clothes
Or else the Russians would have caught us and shot us.
My Marta, I had to kill to survive.
Marta: Our soldiers find their way back home,
Then tell us, the women, the troubles they’ve had.
Gerd: The perils we faced. The horrors we saw.
The nightmares I’ll have from the battles of war.
Marta: We’re just the comforting shoulder,
Unsoiled, or so they may think.
And if we broke our silence,
No man would ever touch us again.
I guess silence is for the dead.
Marta: I’ve kept this diary.
Written my story with pencil nub, by candle stub.
Don’t be surprised. I’m a journalist, aren’t I?
You may read for yourself how we’ve been;
Your famished Frauen of berlin.
Some chose suicide. Others hiding.
I chose the darker side. I chose surviving
And decided the Major would be my deliverance.
As for my poor fiancé,
He left two days later without a word.
Marta: Carry the water.
Clean and wash.
Find a doctor.
Sweep and mop.
Find more food.
Mend this dress.
Though my future is unknown,
And though I must face it alone;
I must continue this business of living!
With this business of living!
Annika Mauss, Stacia Purdie Rice, Matthew Christensen