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No. 14: RECIT. & SONG (Ludwig) with CHORUS

"Your loyalty our Ducal heartstrings touches...
At the outset I may mention"

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Ludwig. (recit.)
Your loyalty our Ducal heartstrings touches:
Allow me to present your new Grand Duchess.
Should she offend, you’ll graciously excuse her –
And kindly recollect I didn’t choose her!

SONG

Ludwig.  

At the outset I may mention it’s my sovereign intention
To revive the classic memories of Athens at its best,
For the company possesses all the necessary dresses
And a course of quiet cramming will supply us with the rest.
We’ve a choir hyporchematic (that is, ballet-operatic)
Who respond to the choreutæ of that cultivated age,
And our clever chorus-master, all but captious criticaster
Would accept as the choregus of the early Attic stage.
This return to classic ages is considered in their wages,
Which are always calculated by the day or by the week –
And I’ll pay ’em (if they’ll back me) all in oboloi and drachmæ,
Which they’ll get (if they prefer it) at the Kalends that are Greek!

(Confidentially to audience.)

At this juncture I may mention
That this erudition sham
Is but classical pretension,
The result of steady “cram.”:
Periphrastic methods spurning,
To this audience discerning
I admit this show of learning
Is the fruit of steady “cram.”!

Rutland Barrington as Ludwig
Click on picture to enlarge

Chorus.
Periphrastic methods spurning,
To this audience discerning
I admit this show of learning
Is the fruit of steady “cram.”!

Ludwig.

In the period Socratic every dining-room was Attic
(Which suggests an architecture of a topsy-turvy kind),
There they’d satisfy their twist1 on a recherché cold áριστoν
Which is what they called their lunch – and so may you if you’re inclined
As they gradually got on, they’d τρέπεσθαι πρός τόν πότoν
(Which is Attic for a steady and a conscientious drink).
But they mixed their wine with water – which I’m sure they didn’t oughter –
And we modern Saxons know a trick worth two of that, I think!
Then came rather risky dances (under certain circumstances)
Which would shock that worthy gentleman, the Licenser of Plays,
Corybantian maniac kick – Dionysiac or Bacchic –
And the Dithyrambic revels of those undecorous days.

(Confidentially to audience.)

And perhaps I’d better mention,
Lest alarming you I am,
That it isn’t our intention
To perform a Dithyramb –
It displays a lot of stocking,
Which is always very shocking,
And of course I’m only mocking
At the prevalence of “cram.”!


Chorus.
It displays a lot of stocking,
Which is always very shocking,
And of course I’m only mocking
At the prevalence of “cram.”!

  Ludwig.
Rutland Barrington as Ludwig
Click on picture to enlarge

Yes, on reconsideration, there are customs of that nation
Which are not in strict accordance with the habits of our day,
And when I come to codify, their rules I mean to modify,
Or Mrs. Grundy, p’r’aps, may have a word or two to say.
For they hadn’t macintoshes or umbrellas or goloshes –
And a shower with their dresses must have played the very deuce,
And it must have been unpleasing when they caught a fit of sneezing,
For, it seems, of pocket-handkerchiefs they didn’t know the use.
They wore little underclothing – scarcely anything – or no­thing –
And their dress of Coan silk was quite transparent in design –
Well, in fact, in summer weather, something like the “altogether”
And it’s there, I rather fancy, I shall have to draw the line!

(Confidentially to audience.)

And again I wish to mention
That this erudition sham
Is but classical pretension,
The result of steady “cram.”
Yet my classic lore aggressive
(If you’ll pardon the possessive)
Is exceedingly impressive
When you’re passing an exam.


Chorus.

Yet his classic lore aggressive
(If you’ll pardon the possessive)
Is exceedingly impressive
When you’re passing an exam.

Wreaths of bay and ivy twine,
Eloia! Eloia!
Fill the bowl with Lesbian wine,
And to revelry incline –
Eloia!
Opoponax! Opoponax!
Opoponax! Eloia!
Opoponax! Opoponax!
Opoponax! Eloia!
Eloia! Eloia!

(Exeunt Chorus. Manent Ludwig, Julia, and Lisa.)


1. ^ The vocal score and published libretto have "thirst on". This version is to be found in The Bab Ballads with which are included Songs of a Savoyard, Macmillan, 1910. The Concise Oxford Dictionary gives one meaning of "twist" as "appetite."


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