Resurrection: Act 2 Scene 2, “Katusha, you are free”

Resurrection captures an unusual love story between Prince Nekhlyudov (Scott Hendricks) and the serving girl Maslova (Joyce DiDonato). Though divided by class, their fates become intertwined when the Prince sits on the jury that unjustly condemns the young woman to prison. Despite a merciless justice system that does not allow for second chances, an amazing story of courage and redemption emerges.

Act 2 Scene 2, “Katusha, you are free”

In the prison camp, Nekhlyudov has won Maslova’s pardon and brings the document to her. He notices the tension in the room. Suddenly, several guards drag Simonson out for a flogging; Nekhlyudov follows. He can’t believe what he has seen. When Simonson is returned to the room, Maslova begins to dress his wounds. Nekhlyudov asks the prisoners how this awful system can be changed. They reply that revolution is the only way–the rulers must be overthrown and treated just as badly. Simonson, in agony, says there is another way: Maslova’s way, transforming people with kindness, one person to another.

Simonson asks to speak to Nekhlyudov in private. He wants to marry Maslova, but she will not agree unless Nekhlyudov approves. Nekhlyudov now believes he loves Maslova. He tells her about the pardon and the two men ask her to choose between them. Maslova, now no longer a prisoner, decides to stay with Simonson, much to Nekhlyudov’s despair. Nekhlyudov now pleads with her, but although she loves him, she knows he can never really love her as before.

Libretto

There is a terrible tension and quiet in the political’s room. No one speaks. One man carves a piece of wood, another mends a pair of shoes, someone plays and instrument, just a phrase or two. Gradually we realize the Simonson is seated apart, and that every prisoner is almost holding their breath. Maslova is tender with him. One by one people approach Simonson with various little offerings, some have a bit of vodka, some merely touch him and pass by. Maslova is one of the few who continues with her chores. She is trying to distract herself from the horror that is to come.

Nekhlyudov arrives and stops at the doorway, Maslova’s pardon in his hands. He enters joyously and is stopped in his tracks by the atmosphere in the room.

NEKHLYUDOV                      (intense, joyful) Maslova, I’ve come.

(She doesn’t look around. He stops, sensing the tension in the room)

What’s the matter? What is it?

Guards enter, seize Simonson and take him outside. We hear the flogging but do not see it.

All the prisoners can hear the flogging. Maslova tries to go on with her chores, but every once in a while stops in sheer anguish. The guards drag Simonson back into the room and throw him onto the floor. Maslova immediately goes to him and begins to tend his flayed back.

Nekhlyudov enters as the guards exit.

NEKHLYUDOV                      (shaken) As long as I live I will never forget what I’ve just seen. How can they do this?

PRISONER 3                           (mocking) How can they do this?

NEKHLYUDOV                      It’s inhuman!

PRISONER 3                           It’s done every day. They’ll heal back up a bit, then they’ll do it again.

NEKHLYUDOV                      What can we do? We’ve got to do something!

PRISONER 2                           Do something?

NEKHLYUDOV                      Yes!

PRISONER 1                           We’ll do something. We will take over and do the same to them.

NEKHLYUDOV                      So you want to flog them?

PRISONER 3                           Yes!

NEKHLYUDOV                      And so it goes on. Violence begets violence.

PRISONER 2                           So what?

NEKHLYUDOV                      So what’s the difference between you and them?

PRISONER 3                           You’re a prince. What do you know about our lives?

NEKHLYUDOV                      I know that we cannot, must not, degrade our fellow men.

PRISONER 2                           (mocking) Must not degrade them?!? They’re already worse than rats!

PRISONER 1                           You’ll never change them. We must rule over them, as brutally as they rule over us. It’s the only thing they understand.

NEKHYLUDOV                      I can’t believe…

PRISONER 1                           Can’t believe what? That we can destroy the oppressors? What do you think we are all working towards? Risking our lives for? Only then will…

NEKHLYUDOV                      You will destroy all of Russia in the process…

PRISONER 2                           Perhaps. But perhaps we’ll create a new world.

NEKHLYUDOV                      There must be another way.

ARIA “SHE KNOWS”

PETER SIMONSON

There is.

I know it now.

Look at her.

She knows.

You change the world one man to another.

She’s been changing us through kindness since she came here.

One human being to another.

That’s all.

We change one by one.

Everyone can do it.

It’s in all of us.

NEKHLYUDOV                      That can’t be enough

PETER

Look at me.

I’ve tried everything.

I’ve tried every way to make things change.

It may sound simple.

It may look simple

But it’s hard, it’s hard.

And it’s the only way, the only way that works.

You change the world one man to another.

She had been changing us through kindness since she came here.

She knows.

We change one by one.

She knows.

We change the world one man to another.

She knows.

NEKHLYUDOV                      Katusha?

MASLOVA                              I don’t know what you’re talking about.

I have done nothing… nothing…

PETER                                    One man or woman can teach another how to be good.

MASLOVA                              Please…

PETER                                    (to Nekhlyudov) May I speak with you?

NEKHLYUDOV                      Yes, of course. What is it?

PETER                                    (to Maslova) Could you leave us alone?

Reluctantly, she goes to another part of the room.

Nekhlyudov awkwardly at first, and then with more ease, picks up where Maslova left off spreading salve and bandaging Simonson’s back.

PETER                                    Knowing of your relationship to Katerina Maslova, I feel it right to tell you…

NEKHLYUDOV                      Yes…?

PETER                                    I want to marry her.

NEKHLYUDOV                      (surprised) What?!

PETER                                    She won’t make a decision without you.

NEKHLYUDOV                      Have you asked her?

PETER                                    She knows how I feel.

NEKHLYUDOV                      I’ve promised to take care of her. I’ve promised to marry her.

PETER                                    She won’t accept your sacrifice.

NEKHLYUDOV                      (strongly) It’s no sacrifice.

PETER                                    That is how she feels.

NEKHLYUDOV                      (angry) Then why are you asking me?

PETER                                    I’m sure she wants your blessing.

NEKHLYUDOV                      All I will say is that I am committed, but she is free.

PETER                                    Don’t make her accept your proposal, let her accept mine.

If only she’ll have me… (too full of emotion to continue)

NEKHLYUDOV                      What do you want me to say?

PETER                                    I know you care for her and wish her happiness.

Will you bless our marriage?

NEKHLYUDOV                      If she wants you, how am I to object?

PETER                                    I only hope her suffering soul might find peace, might find peace.

She must choose between us.

He shly gestures for Nekhlyudov to bend down, and kisses him. Nekhlyudov remembers that he has the pardon in his pocket.

NEKHLYUDOV                      Yes, she must choose…

(He pulls the pardon from his pocket, turns to Maslova)

Katusha… I have your pardon. It’s what I’ve come to tell you.

(silence)

Katusha, you are free.

MASLOVA                              (takes the pardon, amazed, disbelieving)

Free…

PETER                                    (internal) My God, to lose her like this…

MASLOVA                              (internal) Free… Free to marry the one I love.

Free to leave this terrible place,

Free at last to rest.

Maslova a princess…

(A silence)

MASLOVA                              (turning to Simonson) I will not leave you!

PETER                                    You must go.

You must take your freedom in both your hands.

I release you.

NEKHLYUDOV                      (pulling Maslova aside)

Do you hear him? We can leave now…

MASLOVA                              Where Peter Simonson goes I will follow.

 

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