Joan of Arc

An Opera in Three Acts

Libretto and Music by Steven L. Jobe
Composed 1993, revised 2009

I.i. Village of Domremy; a brief thunderstorm, then sunlight 

Prelude

Schism Dance

Visions I

St. Michael:

Hail great mystery!
Listen this heralding anthem of bells
At the rainswell thundering wash the world away
Daughter at the anthem of bells so it shall be
Hail epiphany!
Waken at heralding anthem of bells
At the sunspell wandering wing the world away
Daughter at the anthem of bells so it shall be

Joan:

Gold flames I see
At the bellsong gold flames I see
So it shall be
Sing larks in the faery tree
Bring hart swiftness in me
Fountain of bells fountain of bells
At the miracle oracle silver at the ring of it
O this I've waited for
Whither I go this I hear

Visions II

St.Catherine:

Sweet France thorn crowned
Cross stretched agony from Brittany to Aquitaine
Flags founder on this chessboard
Where you are queen unseen 'til now
The world stops at your goodly gambit
At your white sacrifice

St.Margaret:

At this crossroads mirror the man
Take up his armor, take up his steel
Square the knight's move
Curve the bishop's angle
Tool your name on the rook's fortress
Yours is the strategy of divinity

St.Catherine:

Will be king of will be France again
Your state of grace will break his stalemate
Will be king, the Dauphin
You have only to see him there
At your white sacrifice
Yours is the strategy of divinity

Both Saints:

Listen his heralding
You dream not this dreaming
Mortal life immortally revealing

Joan:

O this I've waited for
Whither I go this I hear
Sweet France,
In this season of mystery
I am resurrected with you
No mother, no father
Mother this day, I know you not
Father of clay, I am forgot
Departure

Father:

A delicate child...

Joan:

I am forgot

Father:

Daughter of strange strength...

Joan:

I am forgot

Father:

I cannot forget
Since infancy she has
Danced 'round the faery tree
Face to face with grace
I cannot forget
Shepherdess tenderness
She is led by angel hands
Face to face with grace
I cannot forget
A rose arisen now
She is sister of destiny
Not forgotten, not forgotten

I.ii. French Court at Chinon

Courtly Intro

Mother of God

Minister I:

Mother of God, show us your face
Clay and vine gone dry in the sun
Bitter wine we drink as one
The day goes down with no trace
Mother of God, show us your face

Minister II:

France's splendor all undone
England's victories all been won
The stars go round loose in space
Mother of God, show us your face

Both:

Blessed virgin, heaven spun
Grant us a vision where there is none
God be with us by your grace
Mother of God, show us your face

Minister I:

Yes, even now a maid (or so she says) comes from Lorraine
Who claims guidance from above
She, forswearing the customs and accoutrements of refined femininity
And bearing sword and mail,
Claims a mission informed by divine love
I say, if her love is such, let her divine!

Minister II:

If she is chosen, let her choose!
Let her see amongst us the one who will be king...

Minister I:

Let her find the dauphin, the one who will be king!

Recognition

Joan:

In the writ of birds the litany of skies
In the psalm of bells the modus of the seas
In the writ of birds the sequence of the wind
In the psalm of bells the cantus of the tides
I can see:
the mystery of stars spark wandering
the mystery of seas dark circling
arching on the breeze, the lark
This omen canticle
the epiphany of suns spark wandering
epiphany of moons dark circling
sleeping in the runes, then hark!
This omen canticle
Hey ho, one two three, him I know
Rainbow, I can see, him I know
High and low, meant to be, him I know
Hey ho, one two three, him I know
Legitimate son of the legitimate house of France
You are divined!

Angel of France

Dauphin:

Mother of God and the triumphant triumvirate!
We will have winepride in celebration of your passion
Angel of France
Revealed
turn in the dance
Angel of France
tarot of chance
not concealed
Angel of France
Revealed
unicorn lance
Angel of France
the divine romance
is sealed
Angel of France
Revealed
Yes, I am Charles, the Dauphin.
And you Maid, where go you now?
Speak to us of the angel gambit

Joan:

Voices speak of Orleans, to raise the siege of Orleans

Dauphin:

Orleans! Go, and take the vanguard, take the oriflamme
Sons of France and the oriflamme!

All:

To Orleans, Orleans, Orleans!

I.iii. Battlefield outside Orleans

Maid with a Sword

Soldier I:

At dawn we rode rampant down the valley
Favored by winds fashioned by the Maid
We prevailed ourselves all the way to Orleans
Where we await the word to war
And watch in wonder of the Maid
A shepherd girl gone mad for the angels
She keeps sheep, she reeks of divine
When the flags unfurl it goes bad for the Angles
She drinks deep of the Lord's own wine

All:

O a maid with a sword can't be ignored
A maid with a lance can only advance
To the walls to the walls they'll fall right down
To the walls to the walls it'll be our town
And we'll own we'll own Orleans

Soldier II:

A virgin pure she looks like a man
She talks like a paysan, rides like a Hun
And I'm quite sure that the English won't stand
When they lay eyes on a warrior nun

Visions III

Saints:

To the walls
it's meant to be
to the walls
Orleans' key

Joan:

Gold flames I see
upon the walls
And Orleans is free
it's one in three
the heralds' call
Gold flames I see
voices decree
the fate of Gaul
And Orleans is free
it's meant to be
the towers fall
Gold flames I see
now it's in me
where strength is all
And Orleans is free
a mystery
beyond recall
Gold flames I see
enter in always unto
there forward forward always
there into the fray!

Battle of Orleans
Seven Tears

Joan:

The stained glass angels of my heart dance of hearts
The rainbow hymn of my love perfect love
The rainbow fire of my love perfect love
Brings all, all in all, all and all in you
The bell rung angels of my prayer whispered prayer
The sunlit hymn of my bliss perfect bliss
The sunlit fire of my bliss perfect bliss
Brings all, all in all, all and all in you
I've got seven tears raining silver blue
Lachrymosa lavender all and all in you

City of the Maid

People of Orleans:

City of the Maid, the city of the Maid, of the Maid
Maid of Orleans, the Maid of Orleans

Triple Ballade

Joan:

I've got seven tears raining silver blue
Lachrimosa lavender all and all in you

Soldiers:

Virgin pure she looks like a man
She talks like a paysan, rides like a Hun
And quite sure the English won't stand
When they lay eyes on a warrior nun
A maid with a sword can't be ignored
A maid with a lance can only advance
To the walls to the walls
They will fall right down

People of Orleans:

City of the Maid, the city of the Maid, of the Maid
Maid of Orleans, the Maid of Orleans, of Orleans

END OF ACT I

II.i. French Court at Rheims, Coronation of the Dauphin

Processional

Angel of France Revealed

Dauphin:

I.

Come hither, within hearing, all you citizens of Gaul
Courtly lords and ladies, stand and be bespelled
by your bold inheritance; behold the echo of history:
Clovis stopped the Huns,
they malice thundering all the way from the edge of the world
mighty Clovis stopped them, the Huns at the gates of Gaul
Genevieve vexed the Vikings,
they axe wielding all the way on the waves of the world
sainted Genevieve stood fast, the Vikings in reach of Paris
Sing silver this carol at the gates of Gaul
Sing silver this carol in reach of Paris
Sing silver this carol at the gates of Gaul
Charles Martel turned back the Saracens,
they fell raging all the way from the edge of the world
The Hammer Charles Martel bent back their swords
bent back their swords the Saracens
And Charlemagne chagrined the foes of sweet Europa,
they in epic manner all the way from the edge of the world
Charlemagne and his herald Roland
the song of his horn
the song of his horn his herald Roland
Sing silver this carol at the gates of Gaul
Sing silver this carol in reach of Paris
Sing silver this carol at the gates of Gaul
I stand at the arch angle and the vista reads victory
as I clasp hands and seize fate with the Angel of France revealed

II.

Moonlit cantilena,
soft fallen steps of stars reach the tower of night
The minstrel and the one adored in silken tryst
enchanted still at the arch of dawn,
the book of hours rose embellished
Sing silver this carol etched in tapestry
of Tristan and Iseult, heartsong of hearts
Sing silver this carol steeped in chivalry
of Parsifal and the Fisherking,
With anvil speech and Atlas reach
of Hugh Capet and William the Norman
In epic manner with bardic bravura
of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard the Lionheart
In consort with seas, in consort with skies
of St. Louis, Philip Augustus and Philip the Fair
At the edge of the world, on the waves of the world
I stand at the arch angle and the vista reads victory
as I clasp hands and seize fate with the Angel of France revealed

Coronation

Whispers

Minister I:

Joan of Arc, Joan of Arc,
This constant, constant Jeanne d'Arc,
It's all the talk here:
She has raised the seige of Orleans,
The Dauphin is crowned, she has his ear,
The hearts of the people, the advice of angels.
All of Europe watches.

Minister II:

Soon she is Empress of France, or will be if she succeeds.
It's a question of whether Charles or the Maid will rule.
With her voices, the palace becomes a nunnery.

Minister I:

Let us use our influence, pehaps to temper the edge of her victories.

Minister II:

Fewer soldiers, a bit less gold...

Minister I:

We'll see how strong her visions be...

II.ii. On the field of battle; in separate settings, Joan and a soldier

Capture

Soldier:

I stand and speak heart filled of her
knowing that I love her not as woman or beloved
but as the worthy one, the goodly vessel
the grail of greatness in her with grave translucence,
she is the arc of visions, the arc of visions
I stand and speak heart filled of her
at the knell of bells it sends her dreaming
and through her spectral discourse,
the sun informs our frozen chessboard
she with her balanced mysteries
comes wandering and takes up the unicorn lance
she is the arc of visions, the arc of visions
in consort with voices
she brings springtide

Joan:

Advance advance to Paris!
And the people there will rise up, rise up
Advance!
Forward from here
we shall depart
And I have no fear
advance from the rear
with the warrior's art
Forward from here
the voices I hear
sing the archer's dart
And I have no fear
Paris is near
and we must start
Forward from here
Paris is dear
here is our part
And I have no fear
advance with tears
to the burning heart
Forward from here
And I have no fear

Soldier:

I stand and speak heart filled of her
as the pendulum swings in the madcap wind
the archer's dart she sings wings back cryptic
and gives wound to her own blessed clay
Paris still stands with the English
Paris stands impenetrable to the imponderable Maid
she is the arc of visions, the arc of visions
in consort with voices
she brings springtide

Joan:

In obeisance, obeisance
though I am shaken, captured
in obeisance
still enraptured
Soldier:
I stand and speak heart lost with her
with foolscap fate this weaver of miracles lost the thread
and she is taken, captured at the enemy's gate
now in this world that admits Adam and angels
Rome and ruins, Calvary and crosses
Doom's diary overfills
and the shepherd girl is gone in the wolf wind
she is the arc of visions, the arc of visions
in consort with voices
she brings springtide

END OF ACT II

III.i. In English Occupied Rouen

Trial

Judge I:

Mark well the inevitable words:
We gather here for the purpose of putting on trial
the woman Jeanne d'Arc, or Jeanne the Pucelle
the so called Maid of Orleans
We thus and therefore come before this assemblage
and before the true triune of Father, Son and Holy Ghost
All of whom will witness our words

Judge II:

You are Jeanne d'Arc?

Joan:

I am...

Judge II:

Also known as Jeanne the Pucelle or the Maid of Orleans?

Joan:

I am...

Judge I:

You are charged with charges of witchcraft, heresy,
at least seven deadly sins,
as well as miscellaneous lesser sins,
all of which may prove deadly...
How do you plead?

Joan:

I am forgot

Judge II:

That is not an answer!
Let me be more specific...
Witnesses have testified that you as a child
ran pagan circling druidic
around an allegedly enchanted tree
and played a game invoking the unholy name of faery
and now you stand before me, tell me how do you plead?

Joan:

I am forgot...

Judge I:

Whispers tell us that you hear voices
This is truth?

Joan:

I am forgot...

Judge II:

Michael the Archangel?
St. Margaret, St Catherine?

Joan:

I am forgot...

Judge I:

Witnesses have testified that all this saintliness is a pose
Virginity alleged indeed!
In fact you have harlotry in you
You inspire the soldiers mostly at night...

Joan:

I am forgot...

Judge II:

And lest we forget,
The clothes you wear,
the vestments of a man, a soldier
This hardly becomes a maid
unless the maid be made by the devil himself
unless you've been carnal with the incarnate evil
unless you listen to the voices of angels
of the fallen variety...
This garb links you to Hell's legions!

Triple Rondeau

Joan:

The voices speak
In chimes of bells
so if I seek
The voices speak
but I am meek
and know no spells
The voices speak
In chimes of bells
My saints appear
In rhymes of light
so if I fear
My saints appear
and with me near
all through the night
My saints appear
In rhymes of light
The clothes I bear
Are their command
and so I wear
The clothes I bear
if I forbear
then I am damned
The clothes I bear
Are their command

Judge I:

You'll be damned!
it will be
you will see
at our command
You'll be damned!

Judge II:

Burned!
fire
higher
concerned?
Burned!

Judge I:

Your one chance is to repent, recant, forswear
and above all to forsake those clothes!
You must change your ways and your clothes...

Judge II:

Now get thee back to the prison cell
and consider our considered words...
Attire yourself in femininity and we'll let you languish
If not if not if not, well...

Witch Rondeau

Judges I&II:

A witch in the clothes
Of a knight
we see through the pose
A witch in the clothes
we can only suppose
we are right
A witch in the clothes
Of a knight

Estampie d'Enfer

III.ii. In the prison tower, Joan in meditation

Visions IV

St.Margaret:

In the goodly gambit yours is the illuminate strategy
In immaculate mystery your white sacrifice...

Joan:

Cannot I cannot Will not I will not

St.Catherine:

Wellspring of passion, wheelworks of wonder
We are with you always never sundered even unto...

Joan:

I am forgot, forgot...
With these words and wounds,
my goodly garb a shroud
and I am clay, yes, ashes...
Wheeling heartspan
This bird of me in me fears the soft crush
The quickening shiver of peace come too soon
This bird of me in me shocks against the cage
But soon to circle wider
Within the wheels of wilder wind
Wing borne salt sweet consumed

Judges I&II:

Eya! Eyaaaaa! A witch still!
Still attired as a knight
We'll bring fire to this night! Fire!

Joan:

Hey ho 1 2 3 yes I know
Rainbow I can see yes I know
High and low meant to be yes I know
Hey ho 1 2 3 yes I know

III.iii. Stake

Processional

Judge I:

Hear all ye here:
We stand ready to render our thunderstriking judgement
as to Jeanne d'Arc, the Pucelle, Maid of Orleans...
She is hereby convicted
that is to say guilty of various and sundry crimes
including witchcraft, heresy, etc...
And for having been catalyst of such a cataclysm
she is banished from the realm of the living by means of fire
That is to say she is to be burned at the stake until dead
May God have mercy on her soul

Priest:

in nomine in nomine
in nomine in nomine
in nomine in nomine

Consummation (Estampie d'Enfer)

Sans Motet

END OF ACT III