Gilgamesh

Gilgamesh

Gilgamesh
COMPOSED BY
Paola Prestini
CONDUCTED BY
Julian Wachner

Dream Scene

Ming, the son of Madame White Snake and the mortal, Xu Xian, is half man, half god. He dreams of Gilgamesh, two thirds man, one third god. Gilgamesh is on a rampage in search of his godlike birthright – immortal life. He finds Utnapishtim, the man chosen by the goddess Ea to build an ark and save all animal species from the flood. Utapishtim was rewarded with eternal life. Utnapishtim tell Gilgmesh to retrieve the plant of eternal life from the ocean floor and eat it. Gilgamesh dives into the water, snatches the plant and returns to shore. As he sleeps, a white snake, the Ningizzida, steals the plant and eats it. The snake sheds her skin and is renewed.

Act 1

SCENE 1 THIRTY YEARS AFTER THE FLOOD AT MING’S HOUSE

Ku, Ming’s wife, stand before the pomegranate tree in their garden giving thanks for her pregnancy. She has waited ten years to have a child. Suddenly, Ku spots Xiao Qing in the bushes. She has a phobia of snakes, having been bitten badly by one as a child. She screams and runs into the house, shouting for Ming to kill the snake. As Ming approaches the snake, Xiao Qing tells him that she has been sent by his mother. She asks him to meet her later that night so she can take him to her.

Act 2

SCENE 1 AT THE GOLDEN MOUNTAIN MONASTERY

Ming wanders in the darkness of the Golden Mountain Monastery. He hears a voice call his name and sees a beautiful woman dressed in white in an alms bowl. She tells him she’s his mother. Ming is furious with her for abandoning him, for all the years he believed she was dead. Madame White explains that she gave birth to him during her epic battle with the Abbot. Xiao Qing spirited him away to his adoptive father’s shop for safety. She was defeated and imprisoned in the Abbot's alms bowl. She tells him of his birthright – to control the wind and the waters - and urges him to use his powers to defeat the Abbot.

Ming leaves the Monastery. He stands on a cliff and tests his powers. At his command, storm clouds appear, winds rise and waters crest. When the Abbot approaches, Ming demands his mother's freedom. The Abbot merely laughs and tells him to go back into the Monastery. When Ming enters, he sees an iridescent white snake in the alms bowl. With great consternation, he tells the Abbot that his wife is expecting their first child. Ming now understands what he must do. As he leaves the fearful Abbot, he vows to return for his mother.

Act 3

SCENE 1 LATER THAT EVENING AT MING’S HOME

Ming arrives home to find Xiao Qing desperately waiting for him. Ku is about to give birth. Ku asks where he has been. Ming tells her he went to fetch the midwife. Xiao Qing makes tea, the same special tea made by Madame White. She tells Ming to give it to his wife to help her forget. Kissing Ku three times, Ming tries to persuade her to drink the tea. Ku takes a sip, then dashes the cup to the floor. She knows that Ming has lied to her and understands that she will never see her child again. She is determined to remember the pain for that will be all that she will have left of her child. When the baby is born, Xiao Qing spirits her away as Ku screams with grief.

Epilogue

AT THE GOLDEN MOUNTAIN MONASTERY

Ming enters the darkened Monastery. He searches for his mother and finds only an empty alms bowl and the Abbot’s cloak. He dons the cloak, picks up the alms bowl and leaves.

GILGAMESH is commissioned by Friends of Madame White Snake

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Gilgamesh