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Marie's Orchard


by Librettist Dylan F. Thomas



Wedding of Anthony and AngeliqueThe curtain opens on the Shabata farm where Frank and Marie's former housemaid, Angelique, and the farm's hired hand, Anthony, are getting married.

Once the ceremony is complete, the wedding party erupts into a country hoedown. Emil Bergson, Anthony's best friend, is asked to give a toast (Live each day). Emil, noticing that the orchard needs care, offers his help get the space cleaned up.

A month later, we find Emil in the orchard clearing weeds. Marie enters with Angelique. Emil and Marie have an awkward moment that is broken by the arrival of Frank and Anthony who are coming from the fields for lunch. The group prepares to eat a picnic that Marie and Angelique have brought, when Frank and Marie get into an argument, which causes all but Marie to depart, leaving Marie alone with her thoughts (But now I'm here with him).

Three months later, Frank and Anthony are building a cherry booth for Marie to sell her wares at the Catholic County Faire. Anthony leaves with Marie and Angelique to get pies and jams from the wagon, leaving Frank alone when Emil enters looking for Marie. Frank and Emil get into an argument, when Frank forbids Emil to see Marie. Frank and MarieFrank’s head begins to pound and he exits. Emil hears Marie singing (Come Softly Sweet Rain), and he hides from her. Emil then confronts Marie about her commitment to Frank. At first they argue, then Emil reveals his true feelings for her. Before they can kiss, the church bells ring and Emil leaves. Frank comes back looking for Marie and he sees her talking to Emil. Frank tells Marie that she can no longer talk to Emil and they argue. Frank raises his hand to strike Marie when church lets out and the parishioners begin the Faire. While the churchgoers sing about the county fair, Marie, Frank and Emil, who has since returned, stand in their own worlds and sing of their predicaments.

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Emil has secretly summoned Anthony and Angelique into the orchard. Before Emil arrives, the couple gets into a spat (You can't be a pig-headed boy). Emil arrives and asks them to deliver a letter to Marie requesting that she meet him in the orchard. Anthony and Angelique agree and go to make the delivery. Alone, Emil sings of his feelings for Marie (A simple yes from you). Having received the letter, Marie enters the orchard and Emil finally confesses his love for her. Marie admits that she also has feelings for him (Have you ever seen a clear night sky?), but when Emil tells her straight out that he loves her, she gets defensive of her marriage. Emil decides it would be best for him to leave the county, and they agree to write to each other (Will you write to me?).

Emil meets his friends at the local bar, where he finds a celebration in full steam. Anthony tells him that he and Angelique are expecting their first baby. When Anthony asks Emil to be the baby's godfather, Emil announces that he is leaving town in the morning. Frank enters the bar, already drunk, and seeing Emil, becomes infuriated. Marie enters looking for Frank. She tries to get him to go home with her, and tells him he's acting like a fool. Frank slaps her across the face, enraging Emil. The two men brawl until Anthony and Bill the bartender pull them apart. The men in the bar throw Frank out into the street.

Marie goes home to the Shabata farm alone and sings of her desire to be close to Emil (I wish to be). Emil enters and they are overcome by their passion for each other. They finally kiss, and Marie seductively leads Emil into the orchard. Frank comes home early, and finds Marie gone. Drunk and angry, he spouts off about his hardships and his desire for an obedient wife (I work my hands until they bleed). Suddenly, he finds Emil's hat on the porch, and realizes Marie and Emil are together. Having already grabbed his rifle from its rack, he works himself into more and more of a frenzy, and decides that he will finally take back his Marie.

The final scene finds Marie and Emil in the orchard, slowly undressing each other and finally beginning to make love. Frank quietly enters and, seeing them together, is frozen in silence for a moment. Suddenly, without thinking, Frank takes action.

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