Symphony of Clouds by Margaret Larlham

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This Play is the copyright of the Author and must not be Performed or Copied without the Author’s prior consent


    PRELUDE

          (A skyscape of clouds. A statue of
          Mozart on a pedestal.)

          (The opening 16 bars of Symphony #40. K 550 Adagio Movement plays as
      the house lights fade. Stage light reveals a “sculpture” of MOZART on
      a pedestal and CONSTANZA looking up to it.)

      CONSTANZA
          (Sings the opening melodic theme of
          Symphony #40.)
      There once was a boy who would spend all his time writing songs of the
      earth…writing songs of the sky…
          (Narrates over music, as fragment of Symphony #40. K 550 Adagio
      Movement repeats.)
      This is the story of a boy who spun the invisible threads of his life
      into shimmering, acoustic clouds of music.
          (MOZART statue “comes to life.” He conducts the music. Enter CLOUD
      DANCERS. As MOZART gestures they form group shapes suggesting
      delicately changing cloud formations. DANCERS lift MOZART off the
      pedestal. He joins in with their dance.)
      Set free into the blue sky the clouds blew far! Melodies, songs,
      symphonies encircled the earth! Song clouds dissolved and poured into
      the hearts and minds of people all over the world, revealing over and
      over again the radiant music and mysterious secrets of the life and
      times of the boy—Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
          (The music fades and CLOUD DANCERS return MOZART to pedestal as
      statue. CLOUD DANCERS Exit. CONSTANZA references the frozen statue of
      MOZART)
      Born 1756 in Salzburg. Famous at the age of five, a musical prodigy!
      His tempestuous life was short. He died in Vienna in 1791—all alone!
      I should have been there. I, Constanza, was Mozart’s wife, you know! I
      knew all his secrets. Some I will share with you! Some you will
      discover when you listen to the music. Let’s see…! It is 1760 when
      our story begins!
          (Piano music)
      Listen! Wake up Wolfie—it’s time for you to start this play and go
      back to Salzburg and live your life as a boy again.

                MOZART
          (MOZART “statue” wakes. Sneezes.)
      Constanza, I was having a wonderful dream! Will you not let me rest?

                CONSTANZA
      I bring you another dream! Give me your hand. I will put a little
      infinity in your palm. Hold it tight! Today you are going back in time
      to when you were a boy of four.

                MOZART
          (Delighted)
      To be four again! The time of the silver smoke and water-drops!
      Crystal clear memories! I am four again!

                CONSTANZA
      Hurry into the house. It is time for your sister’s music lesson.

                MOZART
      I will! The music is calling me back! Auf Wiedersehen, my Constanza!
      See you later!

          (Exits)

                CONSTANZA
      I’ll be waiting, always and everywhere!

                ACT 1

                SCENE 1: The Mozart Family. Salzburg. 1760-1762

          (Mozart’s house. A fine clavichord stands in the drawing room.)

      MUSIC:  Minuet in F Major, K 2 plays intermittently through piano
      lesson, mimed by NANNERL or MOZART.

          (LEOPOLD is teaching the talented NANNERL to play the clavier.
      MOZART (WOLFIE) is sitting under the keyboard. Note: Mozart born in
      1756 would be 4-6 years old in this scene.)

                LEOPOLD
      Good Nannerl!
          (Nods approvingly to NANNERL, as she plays the clavichord.)

                NANNERL
      Thank you Papa. It is a pretty piece! Composed by…
          (Teasing)
      Leopold Mozart—my own father!

          (Enter ANNA MARIA pursuing fleeing chicken.)

                ANNA MARIA
      Stop! Catch that chicken Wolfie! Ja—ja—catch it!

          (MOZART exits pursuing chicken.)

                LEOPOLD
      Anna Maria, liebchen, please! Not in the music room!

                ANNA MARIA
      Of course my dear Kappelmeister!

                (MOZART returns holding chicken.)

      But someone has to think of Sunday dinner tomorrow!

                MOZART
      Dinner? Chicken…! Mama!
          (MOZART devastated, releases chicken. Chicken exits. MOZART weeps.)

                ANNA MARIA
      Ag Wolfie!
          (Hugs MOZART)
      Don’t be sad! Let Mama worry about the chicken! Go back to your Papa
      now and Nannerl’s beautiful playing! Mama knows—you too will become
      a musician like your father!
          (Calls chicken as she exits.)
      Coop—coop!

                LEOPOLD
      Again, Nannerl, my daughter! If you keep practicing this way, you will
      soon be ready to perform in public—perhaps even for the Archbishop
      Schrattenbach!

                NANNERL
      Really Papa! Really! The Archbishop would listen to me play?

                MOZART
          (Imitating NANNERL.)
      Really…really…really!

                LEOPOLD
      Hush Wolfie! Back to work Nannerl. Let me hear the last four bars
      again.

                MOZART
      Let me do it! Let me play!

                LEOPOLD
      Wait Wolferl—you are only four! Too young! Patience!

                MOZART
      Four—two—four—four—four—some more! Cheep cheep cheep!

                LEOPOLD
      Hush! Play quietly on your own now! That way you will grow up faster!
      Hush! Nannerl is busy with her lesson!

          (NANNERL resumes playing. MOZART clucks like a chicken.)

                NANNERL
          (Petulantly)
      Papa, Wolfie is annoying me!

                LEOPOLD
          (Sternly)
      Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart! I am losing patience! Your sister needs to
      practice.
          (Softening)
      You know that your sister Nannerl has a great gift! We love to listen
      to her play—don’t we?

                MOZART
      Yes, papa!

                LEOPOLD
      Well then!

          (NANNERL resumes playing. MOZART recovers his happy disposition and
      dances happily imitating flying fingers. 3 MUSIC SPRITES enter and
      play dance/game of hide and seek with MOZART. They are unseen by
      anyone but MOZART. NANNERL concludes playing. MUSIC SPRITES hide.)

                LEOPOLD
      Very good! Bravo!

                MOZART
      Papa—Papa! My turn now! I waited! I’m grown. Let me try!

                LEOPOLD
          (Laughing)
      Very well young man! Come Nannerl! That is enough for today. Let us
      see what Wolfgang Amadeus can do! Will he follow after his famous
      father and talented sister—I wonder!

                MOZART
          (Seating himself at the piano.)
      Mmm wait…!

          (He strikes a few notes and appears to be listening. LEOPOLD and
      NANNERL exchange amused glances. With supreme concentration, and
      secret encouragement from the SPRITES, MOZART plays a fragment of the
      music he has just heard.)

                NANNERL
      Papa! He’s playing my piece!
          (Calls)
      Mama!

                LEOPOLD
      Mama! Come quickly!

          (ANNA MARIA enters holding plucked chicken.)

                ANNA MARIA
      What is so important that I had to leave off cooking? What’s all the
      fuss about?
          (Sees MOZART at the clavier.)
      Wolfgang! How on earth?

          (MOZART breaks off playing and skips about nonchalantly.)

                NANNERL
      Wolfie—when did you learn this?

                MOZART
      Why—just now when you played it of course!

                NANNERL
      Well that’s amazing!

                LEOPOLD
      How is this possible? Wolfgang, tell the truth now! Who taught you?

                MOZART
      I just know, that’s all! I copied the cloud shadows of the music that
      dance in the air. It’s simple!

                NANNERL
      What do you mean…shadows?

                MOZART
      Clouds—or—smoke…like watery smoke! Like me! They call and I
      follow them…!
          (Runs back to the keyboard.)
      Look! Little silver and gold water-drop sprites playing!
          (MOZART returns to clavier. Three dancing CLOUD SHADOW SPRITES
      holding fine golden strings emerge as though “from” the clavier. They
      dance jauntily as MOZART begins to play #27 Piano Concerto.)

      RECORDED MUSIC:      Piano Concerto #27 excerpt

          (As the dance is established MOZART leaves the keyboard and joins the
      SPRITES in a dance as the musical theme repeats itself. LEOPOLD, ANNA
      MARIA and NANNERL are suspended in a dream—not physically aware of
      the SPRITES yet attentive to the rhythm of the music. At the
      conclusion of the excerpt MOZART whirls around with NANNERL. CLOUD
      SHADOW SPRITES disappear as MOZART drops to the floor, suddenly
      depleted of energy. NANNERL rocks the sleeping MOZART in her arms as
      LEOPOLD and ANNA MARIA converse.)

                ANNA MARIA
      Look! He is exhausted! Leopold, I don’t think this is good for him.
      I worry! It’s too much…madness! I could not bear it if he were taken
      from me like my other five babies! He should play outside more! He’s
      not like other boys at all!

                LEOPOLD
      Wife, he is not and I thank Jove for it! Do not worry—he is strong.
      He is exceptional—I see it now! Our children are angels sent to us
      from heaven! Just think how people will
      sit up and notice the Mozart Family now…

                ANNA MARIA
      Well…I suppose! Ja…imagine what the elector would say if he saw
      them!

                LEOPOLD
      Elector and Archbishop—even the Empress!

                NANNERL
      Wolfie’s really sleepy now mama!

          (LEOPOLD and ANNA MARIA attend the children.)

                ANNA MARIA
      My poor baby! He’s exhausted!

                LEOPOLD
      Yes, but we all know how he bounces back.
          (Rousing MOZART.)
      Like a scherzo—a musical surprise, you always bounce back, don’t
      you, my boy! Come on, Wolferl, before we go to bed—sing your little
      song.

                MOZART
          (Instantly recovered, springs to his feet.)
      Yes Papa!

                LEOPOLD
          (Sings)
      Goodnight!
      May angels light—your w-a-y
      And keep you safe for another day!
          (The family has a way of singing this prayer incorporating playful
      and familial gesture. See score for “Goodnight Song.”)

          (MOZART joins LEOPOLD singing.)
      Goodnight!
      May angels light—your w-a-y
      And keep you safe for another day

          (ANNA MARIA and NANNERL join with LEOPOLD and   MOZART.)
      Though time divide us
      We’ll always pray
      To be together at end of day!
      Goodnight!
      May angels light—your w-a-y
      And keep you safe for another day!

[end of extract]

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