Libretto by Aiden K. Feltkamp 
Music by Rosśa Crean 
Inspired by the writings of Marie-Madeleine (Gertrud Günter) and Ronald K. Siegel, PhD All new translations from the original German by the librettist 

Commissioned by the International Museum of Surgical Science for their exhibit “Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race” 

 

I. The Awakening 

Forensic science is the art of resurrection, 
recreating history through the magic of DNA and fingerprints and handwritten secrets decoded from the particular curves in “dear” and “do not leave me.” 

See here, the ink-fossil of Baroness Gertude Günter von Puttkamer-- the Jewish lesbian erotic poet, Marie-Madeleine, 
who taunted the Nazis with her bright red hardcovers 
and incendiary turns of phrase. 

That’s me. 

The Nazis tried to burn me, 
to bury my words, all memory of my existence, in war-ridden soil. 
They tried, 
but they failed. 

 

II. In Salvation and In Sin 

(Adaptation and translation of “Ich träumte von dir” from Auf Kypros) 

I dreamt of you. -- One summer night, pale blue and trembling at the riverside in all your golden-curled splendor, 
you wanted my burning mouth. 

I've known no fever, no hellfire burning so hot as the sickness in my heart. 
Your wicked eyes shone, 
two abysses like cliffs at the waters’ edge - - my soul sank into them. 

The madness-making moonlight with its sickly pallor 
splayed death over your face 
as I pressed you to me. 

With my yielding, lecherous mouth 
I drank dry your heart's blood 
in the summer night, in the midnight hour when the seacrests sing and surge. 

-- I dreamt only this. 

 

III. Morphine 

The Papaver somniferum,the opium poppy, evolved to defend itself. 
Producing a thick, white milk, 
it deters predators, 

and those foolish enough to bite 
kneel to its bitter, sleep-inducing chemicals. Humans harvested the power of the poppy and named it after the Greek god of dreams. 

I first tangled with that seductive god 
when the male doctors decided 
I was too distraught at my husband’s deathbed. I was too hysterical. 
They shot me up 
without my consent. 

The cool calm crawled under my skin. 

 

IV. Tumbling 

(inspired by “Das Fieber,” “Kokaïn,” and “Der letzte Rausch”)

In darkness, in this terrible place 

completely removed from the world, 
he approached without a sound, without warning... this monster, my uninvited guest... 

My tired heart drags hotter 
until the dream-clouds about me are violent red. Shine, ever effervescent, 
fill me with a marrow-deep delight! 

More! More! 
Burn me inside 
until wings sprout on my savage soul and I fall 
headlong 
into the beckoning bottomless pit. 

I am always -- still! -- so long! -- stuck in this cursed place, 
this city so heavily damned 
that it will never rise again. 

I can only groan with desire -- take me down, Thanatos! 

I can’t breathe in these streets, I can’t find a living body, they’ve all forgotten---- 

My lips, worn down by fever, cradle my last screech: 
I need to get out! 
I’m penned in all around-- these walls will outlast me. 

I have nothing left but you: 
my most beloved, my very last ecstasy! 

 

V. The Harvest Song 

Poppies are monocarpic-- 
they die after flowering. 
Their showy petals are crumpled in the bud; as blooming finishes, the petals lie flat before falling away. 

But I am polycarpic, 
flowering again and again, 
blooming ever brighter 
until I’m corporal again, 
sinew and fingertips and bone again. 

The Nazis are real and they are here. They will try to drive us 
once more into the dirt. 
But my soul persists, 

triumphant, 
after all my tormentors are dead. 

 

VI. The Flower of Oblivion 

(Adaptation and translation of “Die Blume des Vergessens”) 

The sky was a poppy-- 
bleeding, torn to shreds, and falling-- and as the sunset fled like a soft dream, the night tumbled onto the world. 

Braided up into the night’s wings, 
I sobbed out my heartache. 
Only the wild beasts who die in howling torment sink beside me to this loneliness so primeval. 

You sunset, you fire, watch 
the bleeding poppy embroiled in that seething mass of clouds-- I need oblivion’s shimmering bloom-- 
I rip it down from Heaven! 

I’ll wind purple wreaths 
around my heart to stop its weeping. 
I’ll find the deepest dark 
within that dream where we’re united forever.