Opera in Three Acts
by Donald C. Dilworth
Act 1 Scene 1. A
clearing in the mountains; A procession of
Inca Indians enters, bringing a young girl on a litter.
idols, gold utensils, a native priest. It is the year 1537,
Some Indians sing; others dance.
Chorus: Viracocha!! Oh Viracocha!
Creator, etc. Oh conquering Viracocha! Ever present
Viracocha! You who are in the ends of the Earth without
equal! You who gave life and valor to men, saying, Let this
man, let this be a woman! You who made them and gave them
being! Watch over them that they may live in health and
peace. You who are in the high heavens, among the clouds of
tempest, grant this with long life, and accept this sacrifice, Oh
(The girl is ceremoniously
dressed in beautiful garments, kissed by
all attending, while an elder holds a knotted string, tying more knots
and running his fingers along the strands. The girl again
the litter, and the procession exits.
A group of Spanish
conquistadores enters; Friar Vincente de
Valverde; Bishop Luque; Pedro Pizarro, who is a young lad; and
soldiers. The Bishop is running his fingers along the strands
Bishop: It’s too high. I can hardly
breathe, and they
say it’s because we’re up so high. The
used to it. But I’m not!
Pedro: Doesn’t bother me! I feel
at those peaks! I never saw anything like them. All
in Spain are hills, next to these. What a wonderful
I could be happy here forever. These Indians are really lucky
have such a nice place all for themselves.
Bishop: You mean “had”. This
belongs to Spain
now. And to God.
Soldier: What’s that? (points
Friar: It’s one of those quipus! Seize
(Soldiers arrest the elder and
seize the string. The Bishop
keeps fingering his Rosary, exactly as the Elder had done.)
Elder: Why do you take it? Go away, go
away! Leave us
Friar: We come in the name of the Lord, to save your souls.
Elder: You give us nothing but death, nothing but death!
Friar: I could give you a thousand blessings. I
you a place in Paradise. I could give you a thousand
blessings! But you must forget this Viracocha. My
are almost as good as the Pope’s! My Rosary was
the Pope himself! By the Pope himself!
(Soldiers converse with the
Bishop: Over there. And keep it out of the
a shady spot. (To the
sleep where we’ll be roasted, do we? (To
By that stone circle, try there.
Friar: It’s a chapel!
Pedro: With statues! Oh, look!
beautiful! And you said that they were primitive
Wow! I couldn’t make anything as nice as
those. Can I
take one back to Spain?
(Friar sees the Inca idols
inside a small chapel.)
Friar: (To soldiers)
bring those here! We
them everywhere! Smash them all!
(Soldiers smash the idols.)
Elder: Your god! Your god has commanded –
Viracocha is more powerful. Viracocha requires that we
him as we do. Take your Bible away. We have no use
it. It is false.
Friar: Blasphemy! That is a sin! You have sinned;
sinned! And that sin is unforgivable!
Bishop: (to Friar) True,
that is in Mark, but in First
John we learn that all sins are forgivable. We must forgive;
must forgive them.
(A small party of Indians
enters. They look at the Spanish,
but say nothing. A young girl is among them. She
Pedro, and cannot take her eyes away.)
Friar: (to Elder) We
follow the Commandments of
We have destroyed your idols because God has commanded. They
an affront to God, an affront to God!
Bishop: “Cursed be the man who maketh any graven
page enters, carrying an icon of the Virgin,
which he places on the stage.)
Pedro: But they were so lovely! Don’t you
were beautiful? It’s a shame to destroy
them. If we
find any more, will you let me, let me keep one.
Friar: It’s what they stand for. This is
faith, and don’t get too attached to it. Do you
these people do?
Pedro: Sure. They raise crops, I see lots of
running around, and they sing. Just like us. And
just like us. We have some beautiful statues in Spain. I have
seen them in Madrid. We should put them next to these Inca
idols. They would look wonderful together.
Bishop: We do not honor heathens!
Friar: Do you know what they do? This
you know what these heathens are doing here?
Pedro: Well, a worship service. I guess.
I liked the
Friar: That girl you saw, in the litter. They
here, the priest blesses her … and then they take her up to
mountaintop and bury her!
Bishop: Child sacrifice! Thank God we have come to
people. We must save their souls, and their lives.
savages are so convinced by their priests, taught from the time they
are small children. We must save their souls, and their
lives! The natives have been taught to believe, buy their
priests, taught from the time that they are small children.
are so convinced; they are so foolish; they are so sure that it is all
correct, that they don’t even protest when they are sent up
to die! Imagine a girl believing this nonsense!
because her mother told her to, because her priest says so.
have no sense! Not like in Europe.
Friar: Thank God we have come. They can still be
(Francisco Pizarro enters; they
Francisco: (To a
soldier) The perimeter is
Check for a breach on that hill, and tell the men to assemble by the
bridge. Resistance has been light, and it worries
get a message to Hernando. Tell him to wait on the outskirts
until we get word from the interior.
Friar: Your campaign is going well. You have only
men. I have to defeat ideas.
Pizarro: Men are easy to kill. It’s a
ideas do not die with them.
Bishop: We will see that they do.
Friar: What is your plan? Do you wish to address
Pizarro: You do it. That’s your
Tell the Indians that we serve the most powerful Prince on the
Earth. Make them understand that we have come to save
Save them from that darkness of the mind in which they have doomed
their souls to perdition. Tell them that we will give them
knowledge of the true and only God, Jesus Christ, and eternal salvation
through Him. Tell them! And be sure they understand.
Friar: I have told them many times, but they will not
(The Inca priest returns, and
looks at the shattered idols in
soldiers) Seize him! I
orders that all Inca priests are to be killed.
Bishop: Hold your anger, Governor. “He
any man shall surely be put to death”. We must show
mercy, as our Savior would.
Friar: True, Leviticus says that … but in Exodus
that God ordered the people to slaughter their own relatives
their own relatives! – because they rejected Moses’
religion. So the priest must die. So the priest
die. It is God’s will. (The
(All leave except Pedro and the
girl. They heard little of
what has been said.)
Girl: Are you going to kill me too?
Pedro: I’m not a soldier. I’m
Governor’s nephew, and I only came along to serve
I’m supposed to write a history of eveything that happens
here. What is your name?
Girl: Song-of-the-Moon. I am not from here; I am
Cuzco; it’s a long way from here…
Pedro: I know Cuzco! We were there early in the
campaign. Splendid temples. Gold everywhere.
Girl: But why have you come?
Pedro: Father de Valverde has already told you.
Some of the
others are only after gold though. Especially the
If it’s not gold, they aren’t interested.
book? (shows his
Girl: What is it? I have never seen such a
what are those marks? Did you make them?
Pedro: We call them letters. You can put the sounds
man speaking on these pages. My book will tell a great story,
even when I am dead. It means a great deal. It has
story of our conquest. But I want to know about your
stories. How much do you know? I want to get it all
Girl: Such strange markings! I don’t know
things. All our history is told in the quipus. (Pedro
looks puzzled) Those
strings, knotted, they tell a great story, but I cannot read
them. You have to find the elder, who knows the
they have taken him away! All of the elders are gone, and no
can read them now! And they are burning all of the quipus!
(The Bishop enters, and
Why did they kill the priest? Why do you destroy our quipus?
Bishop: Because they are full of blasphemy! Believe
want to save you. We are gentle people. But before
save you, every trace of your heathen faith must be
And your ceremonies!
Girl: But then we would die! How would we get the
protection of God? He demands a sacrifice, and all of our
prosper and the people are happy because we understand Him and answer
Bishop: It is forbidden. “Thou shalt not
do so before
the Lord thy God”.
(Points to his Bible)
In the Book of Deuteronomy. The Scriptures is very clear:
sacrifice is forbidden, and we are not going to permit it. No
sacrifices! How can you do such a horrible thing?
To die on
the mountain! All Christians are horrified!
Girl: It’s a great honor for the chosen
one! She will
live with God forever. You do not understand our
you no sacrifices in your country?
Bishop: Of course. (Holds
up Bible) It is
written: “The firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give
me.” And Jephthah vowed unto the Lord to deliver
person to greet him at his house, as a burnt offering. It was
daughter, and he did as he promised. But you must not do it;
Verily, I say unto you: Our God is a God of love. Take Him to
(Soldiers enter, and gather up
a few remaining gold utensils
overlooked previously. The King’s accountant Don
enters, with his wife Millie, along with aides.)
Millie: It looks just like all the others. Except
it’s hotter here. Why do they make everything out
Don Diego: They are savages.
Millie: I hope the Governor finds a cooler village to attack
next. And all the hills!
(Soldiers gather the plunder
and show it to the accountant. He
enters data in his ledger book. Millie spots a piece of
that she likes, and grabs it when the others are not looking.)
Don Diego: One fifth for the King. He will expect
share. Pizarro will deliver what he promised.
Girl: Who is your king? Who is your king?
Don Diego: Charles the Fifth. The greatest Prince
world! Cortez returned to Spain. He carried wealth
belief! Treasure from Moctezuma. The King grew
more, made Francisco the governor, and sent him here. He will
pleased. Already we have secured more than Cortez, and
we’re not done yet. All the temples in Cuzco have
Girl: You take our land! You destroy our
make our people slaves! We pray and offer sacrifices to God
you will leave us alone. That is why we do it. We
you will all go away and leave us in peace! Our Viracocha is
God of Peace.
Don Diego: The Governor loves your land more than you do.
Friar: But truly, ours is a God of Peace. It is
“Peace I leave with you, and my peace I give unto
Bishop: True, that is in John, but in Matthew we learn that
“I came not to send peace, but a sword.”
End of Scene 1
Act 1 Scene 2. The
Spanish encampment. Pizarro,
soldiers, Priest, Bishop, Don Diego, Millie, on one side of the stage;
Pedro, Girl, and an old Indian woman on the other. The two
ignore each other. In the conversations below, the two sides
independent, each not hearing the other.
Pizarro: These natives have such wealth! And they
don’t even know what their gold is worth! To them
mere decoration! Ha!
Don Diego: They have no money. They use no
They don’t even know the value of money. And they
writing, so they cannot record the value of anything.
Millie: But we can. (looks
carefully at the loot)
But we can.
Friar: But they did account for things. Those
recorded their population, the size of their crop, and the number
selected for the army. I’m told that they could
stories and beliefs.
Bishop: More reason to destroy them.
Millie: And they get so upset! Over pieces of
Pizarro: They value them as we do money.
Millie: Very stupid. What do you know about these
Friar: One of them told me about a vision a king was supposed
Bishop: A message from God! Did it tell him of our
coming? Was it the figure of the Child?
Friar: It was something about an eagle; it was chased by
birds. And then it died. That’s all I
Bishop: If it wasn’t the Child, then it was not a
Friar: They are a bloody people!
Bishop: Given to the foulest sort of violence. They
fond of sports. They play a game with a ball, hitting it with
their bodies but not their hands. I don’t know the
rules. But sometimes the members of the losing team would all
put to death! Can you imagine such cruelty?
Pedro: (to Girl)
Tell me about your people. I want
to get it all down.
Girl: First, tell me about yours! No one has told
anything except what they have seen themselves. Have you gone
other countries too?
Pedro: Well, when Cortez conquered Mexico, he converted all
the Indians to his religion, and smashed all of their idols.
he took their gold back to Spain.
Girl: Did he burn their quipus too?
Pedro: The Aztec did not use them. They had real
– not like ours – but they could write on a kind of
paper. They made thousands of books – and Cortez
Girl: All of them!
Pedro: No. One he took back to Spain for the
course no one can read it.
Bishop: They hold nothing sacred! If a man was
treason against the king, he was executed – and his bones
made into flutes, to be played in scorn by the priests.
Girl: Do you kill people in your own country too? I
seen so many killed by your soldiers.
Pedro: Killing is forbidden! Our Bible says
“Thou shalt not kill.” Except for
course. They call it an auto-da-fé.
when they tie heretics to a pole and burn them alive.
Girl: How awful! Do they still do it? Who
heretics? I hope you are not from that tribe!
Pedro: Don’t worry. A heretic is someone
that the faith that he was taught as a child is not correct.
I’m sure that it is. They still do it sometimes.
Friar: I have heard that after one of their battles
enemy was a tribe of cannibals – they killed 20,000 and threw
them into a lake. The “Lake of Blood”
they called it.
Girl: How did you defeat our King, the Sapa Inca
His army would cover all the hills, and you are so few.
Pedro: Pizarro, with 180 men, camped in the shelter around
plaza at Caxamarca. They pretended to be friendly, and since
their force was so small, the King did not fear them. He
them the next day in friendship, bringing thousands of citizens to pay
Bishop: These Inca are a bloody race.
Pedro: On a signal from the Governor, his troops fired a
and all his men leapt on the Indians. Of course, we had
and the Indians were unarmed. So Pizarro’s men
7,000 of them – many more had their arms cut off –
they captured Atahualpa.
Girl: What did they do to him?
Friar: We must convert them to the True Faith!
Pedro: They made him collect all of the gold and silver in
kingdom, and bring it for ransom. When they had filled a room
with it, they voted to burn him alive.
Bishop: The Inca are a cruel race!
Girl: The poor King!
Pedro: But then the Friar urged them to have mercy.
He is a
very kind man. He made an offer to the King: Convert to
and you will not be burned alive. So the King agreed to be
converted, and he was strangled instead.
Friar: They are cruel and sinful! I have learned
Inca sleep naked! What an outrage against God!
Millie: What an outrage! What an outrage!
Pedro: I was shocked when I heard about it, but that happens
war. Don’t your people make war? I have
Girl: Some of the kings did. I’m glad
I’m not a
boy. I’d have to serve in the army. Then
I would have
to kill people, and I could never do that. What a
Why can’t everyone be good to each other?
Why? Do you
Pedro: There are many things I don’t
it were up to me, we could be friends. I would like to be
friend. Then we could go to Spain. Would you like
to Spain with me? There are cathedrals that would make your
sing! And the soft plains of Andalusia! You would
them forever. And the music! And the
music! There is
a tribe called Gypsies, and they dance while somebody plays
guitar. And the singing! I know you would love
I’m going to ask my uncle to let me take you back.
that’s only if your parents don’t object.
that you would be …
Girl: Stop! Don’t say any more.
My parents were
Pedro: I’m sorry.
Bishop: There was a war between rival kings, and they killed
envoy. They made his skin into drumheads!
Dum, dum, dum, dum … while the bone flutes are
Music of the Devil!
Friar: Did you know that, after that war, the victorious
not being of the royal line on both sides, forced his mother to marry
the dead body – the dead body – of the old king, so
would be legitimate by marriage! Horrible!
Bishop: In their palace, they had whole trees made of solid
gold. And in the temple – the temple! –
women chosen for their beauty, chosen for their beauty, to serve as
concubines, concubines for lucky officials! Sinful!
Girl: I heard that when Cuzco fell, the Spanish soldiers
the nuns from the temple and raped them all.
Pedro: According to the Bishop, that was okay. You
have to believe it. Some things cannot be understood by
people like you and me. But trust the Bishop. It
Millie: Our people would never keep concubines.
citizens do not use women like that. It would be a sin.
Bishop: Only in Spain. When Spanish soldiers used
women in Cuzco, it was not a sin at all! Many women were
the soldiers; it was not a sin at all. Even some of the
some of the clergy used them for their pleasure.
customary in warfare and permitted by Scripture.
Friar: Correct. The Children of Israel were
slay all of the Midianite men and boys, and all of the women except
those who were virgins. Those they were told to use as they
pleased. So we have followed the will of God. So
soldiers and I have committed no sin.
Millie: Certainly! If the Bible says, then it was
correct thing to do. … Sleeping naked!
seen such evil people.
Bishop: And in Cuzco, before the victory over Atahualpa, our
forces held a Mass to gain the blessing of God. It was
that blessing that we won. Glory to God!
Millie: Glory to God!
Girl: How much of our country have you seen? If you
higher in the mountain, and wait until evening, you can see how the
light plays on the cliffs. It depends on the
season. In the
summer they turn all colors of blue and violet, with green things here
and there. And in winter, it’s more black-and-white
but you can see the depth much better. Sometimes I stay there
hours. Have you seen our mountains?
Pedro: Not yet. We came up from the valley this
morning. Could you show it to me? I would not want
here without seeing it with you.
Friar: Did you know that when a boy was raised in the Inca
by an older relative, and when he became of age, she had the duty to
teach him about sex? Sex! By example! She
and the boy
sinned together! It was part of his education! An
Millie: An outrage!
Pedro: Now tell me something about yourself. How
come to this mountain? We are far from Cuzco.
Friar: And listen to this:
Girl: Please! ….
Friar: In order to be a true Inca King, he had to be of pure
blood. So they always married their sister, so their son
qualify! That is incest!
Millie: That is incest!
Girl: Please! Don’t ask me about
that! When I
think about it I am very sad. Don’t ask me to say
Bishop: But no! Incest is not a sin. Did
Lot’s two daughters lie with him? Got him drunk and
children by him. And Lot was declared
Millie: Yes! You are right. It is not a
is just and righteous.
(The Friar nods.)
Pedro: Did you come alone?
Girl: Please! I asked you not to talk about
it. I was
brought here by an old woman. She has died. Ask no
(The Accountant leaves, with
some soldiers and most of the
loot. A messenger enters, with letters for Pizarro and the
Accountant. Millie takes the Accountant’s letter
messenger reads to Pizarro.)
Millie: For Don Diego? I’ll give it to
Pizarro: There have been losses in the mountains.
Hernando to move the reinforcements from Tumbez and get up there right
away. (The messenger
End of Act 1
Act 2 Scene 1.
Soldiers gathered in the camp. As the
chorus sings, soldiers pantomime the action.
To the front! To the front!
We will charge the Inca, …
To a man, to a man, we
Spent the night fearfully, …
On the hill …
Enemy campments …
On the hill were the Inca, Inca, Inca.
How many thousands? …
Forty thousand …
Trusting in God we took our position, took …
Waiting, waiting …
Waiting for the signal, …
Boom went the cannon, …
Charge the enemy, …
To the Inca, …
Sabers flashing, …
Screams! Bugles, …
Cut off their heads,
Cut off their arms!
Blow the bugle,
Blow the bugle!
To the King!
Sabers flashing, get the bearers!
Get the bearers! Cut! Slash!
Charge, horses to his litter, …
Cut off their arms,
Cut off their heads!
Arms on the ground!
Heads on the ground,
We have the King!
Glory to God!
(The Friar enters and is
shocked at their drunkenness. They
kneel and he blesses them. They depart, and the Friar sees a
glass still full of booze. When they are not looking, he
End of Scene 1
Act 2 Scene 2.
Evening, outside the camp, Pedro and the girl
are sitting alone, holding hands.
Pedro: It is lovely here. This is lovely.
Girl: It is often like this in the evening. My
to take us into the mountains near Cuzco. She said it was as
close to Heaven as we could get an still be alive. I remember
Pedro: And think: There were days like this before we were
and there will be many others, after we are gone. And then we
will never see them again. Think of how lucky we are to enjoy this
place, right now, when nobody else is here to see it. It can
very beautiful, even if nobody is watching. Imagine a
spot with nobody watching. Is it still beautiful?
mountains don’t know how beautiful they are. If
no people around, in what sense are they beautiful?
Girl: Oh, look! How the sun catches the clouds! You
can’t see them from the village.
Pedro: And only on one side of the mountain. It
them from the fields over there. Look! They are
nothing grows there. I’m glad there is no mountain
Girl: There is.
Pedro: Oh, no! Look. The mountain
separates the two
fields, but between us is just a few inches.
Girl: Yes, there is. The Friar!
Pedro: The Friar? The Friar? Yes, he is
mountain, strong, majestic.
Girl: He is cold like a stone! He is hard like a
stone! Just like a mountain, and nothing grows in his shadow.
Your uncle; is he a great man in Spain too?
Pedro: Actually, he isn’t. Not yet, at
He grew up tending swine, his parents were not married to each other;
he cannot read or write, they taught him little, only religion.
Girl: Pedro! Look at those people over
villagers, not one of them is looking up! Why are we looking
not them? Are we different? Why don’t
they come up
here and see it too? Why are we the only ones?
They’re just sitting there!
Pedro: They don’t remember when they were
Maybe when we get older we won’t enjoy it anymore.
Something must happen to them. Will we be like that someday
Girl: I think we’re just different.
them, I mean. We are alike in some ways, don’t you
Pedro: Yes. Lots of ways. But you know
what the Friar
will say. There’s a big difference! He
about God. He thinks he knows more than your
priest. As if
somehow it mattered. Is it so important that you say
should you say the same prayers? You are as faithful, just as
Girl: You have only one?
Pedro: One what?
Girl: One god?
Pedro: Yes, and what do they teach you? How many?
Girl: We have several, but the Sun God, the Moon God, and
Viracocha are most powerful. So there are three, I
The others are less important.
Pedro: Just like us! The Trinity. Three.
Girl: Oh, look! They are bringing the
from pasture. Oh, look! Look at the
babies! I love it
when they bring them in! The mothers are fed, but the babies
still hungry. Oh look! Oh, look! They try
but the mother won’t hold still. Isn’t it
funny! Don’t you think so?
Isn’t it funny?
Pedro: Have you learned how to care for the
animals? I was
raised in the city, so I don’t know much about it.
you stand it when you have to kill them? I know they are used
Girl: You talk of killing. And the soldiers
the Friar said your god commands them to kill. How can that
be? How can it be? Is it true?
Pedro: The Bishop will explain it. It’s
all in here (holds
up his Bible).
Someday, when you hear the stories,
you’ll be convinced too. They are very beautiful.
Girl: We have some beautiful stories too.
Pedro: Oh, tell me one!
Girl: A young man was called into the army. Left
and young son at home. She was very sad. As if to
her, a white butterfly entered the house, and she felt better for his
visit. It returned the next day, and every day
One day her son asked, “Mother, what is this white
“It is my lover.”
The time came when her husband was finished with his army duty and
returned home. The boy met him, and told him that his mother
working in the fields. The father then asked the boy if they
missed him, and what they had done each day. The child told
about their time at home, and then he said “And every day
mother’s lover came to see her.”
The father was filled with anger, and when the woman returned, he
killed her. Later that day, as the boy and he were sitting
together sadly, the butterfly came again. “Look,
father”, cried the boy. “Here is
here to see her again.”
And you Spaniards, do you ever kill your wives?
Pedro: Never! And if you were my wife you would
reason to fear. I would protect you even against the Governor
Girl: Would you protect me from the Friar?
Pedro: What? The Friar? He is a man of
Friar is a man of God. He has never hurt anyone! (The
Girl looks away.)
(The Bishop and Millie enter,
ignoring the others. Again, the
conversations are independent.)
Millie: (to the
Bishop) It was so
boring. I was
listening to them, but it was so boring! They
me, so I just walked out. A stupid story about a white
butterfly. You really have to speak to Pedro. He is
fond of the little savage.
Bishop: What was in the letter to your husband?
Millie: For Don Diego? It was from
Diego’s brother has been killed. I
couldn’t let him
see it! He’s better off if he doesn’t
I burned the letter. So I burned it. He is so lucky
am looking out for him!
Bishop: How did he die?
Millie: In the battle at Vilcabamba. I wish Manuel
there! He’s our family physician. He
could have bled
him; he could have saved him. He would have been
could have bled him, and he would have been saved!
Tell the doctors! Whenever our soldiers are wounded, just
them! It always works. I don’t know why
they are so
stupid. Just bleed them! It always works!
Am I the
only person here who understands these things?
And the Governor! Tell him to part his hair in the
He looks terrible the way he wears it. And you!
is too long. (Adjusts
the Bishop’s cap.)
one has good taste anymore.
Pedro: I’m sorry about your parents. How
Girl: I don’t want to talk about it.
Pedro: Okay, I won’t. Well then I
Do you work in the gardens with the other girls?
Girl: Sometimes. But lately I’ve been
learning how to
weave. They say I’m doing very well, and sometimes
me make up my own patterns. Do you like it?
(She shows her
Pedro: Very nice! That gives me some
ideas! If I draw
a pattern in my notebook, could you weave it?
Girl: Sure! It would be fun.
Let’s try it.
Bishop: Did you see the Inca treasure that our soldiers are
bringing in? Exquisite workmanship!
Millie: If you see any nice combs in the gold stuff, I need
one. No point in melting it down with the rest.
Bishop: Haven’t seen one. But there is a
goblet! Embossed, the pattern is superb. Shall I
Millie: Oh, melt it! Who cares about a bunch of
Pedro: What was it like in Cuzco, before the Spanish
What was it like, being a girl there?
Girl: It depends. When young, girls would gather
flowers and herbs used for medicine and to dye the cloth.
the older ones were taken to be the Virgins of the Sun, to serve in the
Pedro: So they could never marry?
Girl: Oh, it was an honor to be sent to one of the nobles, to
a secondary wife. Their life was wonderful. And at
temple, there would be ceremonies, with girls dancing, and jugglers.
(As she talks, a ballet
appears, dancing for about five minutes.)
It is the same honor that we feel when we are selected for sacrifice on
the mountain. Then we can help our people. Our
very proud. Every girl hopes that she will be chosen.
Pedro: Do you hope to be chosen? To die on the
Girl: I don’t know. I want to help my
many are killed by the soldiers anyway. But it is not up to
the priests decide who will go. God tells them whom to
select. Isn’t it better to live with God forever
than to be
a slave to the Spanish? Yes! I would be happy to go!
Pedro: I was hoping we could go to Spain. I thought
wanted to go to Spain with me. Now you say you want to go;
you say ….
Girl: Well, yes and no. It depends on what the
Pedro: Some god! Demanding a virgin!
Girl: I told you about the three main Gods; on feast days we
would carry images of them in our processions. They were
to us, as were some of the rocks, springs, caves, tombs, and of course
the mummies. The mummies of the dead kings would be paraded
too. And sometimes they sacrificed animals.
Pedro: They dug up the mummies, and paraded them?
paraded the mummies?
Girl: Of course! And in their tombs they even had
harem. They were treated almost like the Gods, for we believe
that they are descended from God. There were other Gods too;
Earth, Venus, the sea ….
Pedro: Imagine! A mummy with his own
harem. Were they
Girl: Of course! And they were faithful to
then we received a prophesy from Viracocha. It said that
foreigners would destroy us.
Pedro: What happened?
Girl: There were earthquakes, tidal waves, a green
The moon had three rings, one of them the color of blood.
were more comets, and lightning struck the royal palace. Then
saw an eagle attacked by smaller birds. It fell into the
square. They fed it, but it died. Then we knew the
would end. What will happen now to our people?
there any way you can help us?
Bishop: (to Millie)
How is your family? And your
son? Is he doing well in school? Art school,
Millie: He’s studying to be a priest. I
want to see
him in Heaven when I get there – and priests always go to
Heaven. So I wouldn’t let him study at the academy,
wanted. I have saved his soul! I have saved
it! So I
stopped him. I would not let him go there. At the
school they sometimes have a naked woman in the same room as the
men! He’s lucky to have me looking out for
I’ll see that he becomes a good Christian.
Pedro: Maybe I can ask my uncle to give you and your family
Girl: I have no family.
Pedro: I would treat you very well.
Bishop: Have you tried some of the native dishes?
tasty! Very tasty, potatoes, they call them.
Girl: But what about all the others?
Millie: I certainly don’t care! I never
things. He who enjoys pleasure has sinned! I want
pleasure from my food.
Girl: But what about all the others?
Millie: And you! You know, you’re really
(They walk offstage.)
Pedro: What can I do? The Governor makes all the
but I’ll speak to him. Maybe he’ll
There is mercy, too.
Girl: He is taking slaves! Can you imagine what
like, being a slave?
Pedro: But our people were slaves! The Israelites
captured. And then God freed them. He sent plagues
the Egyptians, and killed many of their children. Many women,
many children. So you see, God is kind. He freed
Girl: But he killed the children! That was not
(The Bishop and Millie return.)
Pedro: No, no, it was. But you have to ask the
explain it. You just have to believe these things.
there he is now. I don’t understand it.
Bishop: (To Millie)
How was your voyage?
Millie: Too long! They should move the countries
together. Then we could travel back and forth more quickly.
Bishop: Yes. It’s a long way. Halfway
Pedro: (to Bishop) Father,
excuse me. We have lots
of questions (holds up his
could you give us a moment?
Bishop: Not right now; I’m busy.
Millie: If it’s about the Bible, I can tell you
about it. I have read it thirty-two times.
Bishop: Halfway around the world!
Millie: Excuse me! Around? Surely you
believe that nonsense about the “Round
It’s just a theory! The Earth is quite flat, as you
know if you read your Bible.
Bishop: But it doesn’t say….
Millie: Oh, yes it does! “Angels preside over the
corners.” It’s in the Bible.
exactly, are the “four corners” of your round
Huh? (The Bishop
Pedro: I will speak to the Governor, and see what I can do.
Bishop: Is there news of the conflict with England?
see any English ships on your way over?
Millie: England? England? Now, where,
England? (They stroll
End of Act 2
Act 3, Scene 1. The
Spanish camp. The Friar and Pedro
Friar: But they do not love them! And that is why
Pedro: How can that be right? That is a sin, or it should be.
Friar: You don’t understand.
too much time with that Inca girl. You must avoid her!
Pedro: But many of the soldiers have taken Inca women for
(Indians run across the stage,
Friar: Yes, but they do not love them!
difference. I can tell that she means a lot to you, and I
protect your soul. She is a heathen! The soldiers
the women when they are done with them, so their souls are in no
danger. But you have other ideas, I think. I will
Pedro: But what if, what if she converted. Would it
(Pizarro enters, with soldiers.)
Francisco: The Indians are gathering in the meadow.
squad and watch them.
Soldier: It must be something big.
going. I’ll alert the troops.
(Pizarro and the soldiers
exit. More Indians and soldiers run
Friar: Looks like an uprising. We’d
better get under
Pedro: But first, if she converted, what then? What
then? Would it be all right then?
Friar: I suppose … but you won’t get
Come on! We’d better leave quickly. These
insist on believing as they do, even in the face of facts.
call it “faith”! Nobody should keep to a
we have presented convincing reasons to discard it. But still
they do. I never could understand it.
We have to go. Come on! (starts
Pedro: I will convert her! Will you help?
The Bishop runs in.
Bishop: They’re not armed. We can stay
here and keep
Pedro: Will you help? Will you help?
Friar: Well … okay. It’s my
divine calling to
convert the heathen. But you must convince her to
I’m not sure that she ever will.
(A page runs in and whispers to
the Bishop, then leaves.)
Bishop: Oh! She certainly won’t
villagers are getting ready for another sacrifice. Everyone
there. Rumor has it that Song-of-the-Moon has been chosen.
The Girl rushes in, sees Pedro, and runs to him.
Girl: Pedro! Pedro! It’s
must listen! The priest of Wiñawayna has selected
an offering! I’m so excited! I can hardly
Friar: (To the Bishop)
We should just let them go ahead
with it. Then she will no longer be a problem. For
Pedro’s sake. Don’t interfere. (The
Pedro: Song-of-the-Moon! You can’t
won’t let them! You don’t know what
Friar: Pedro, this is very important to them. You
Pedro: But it’s pagan! Why
don’t you stop them?
Girl: It’s a great blessing! I will be
one of the
chosen ones! I’m happier than I have ever
demands it, and surely you don’t think that I would disobey,
Pedro: Yes! You must disobey! When your
god or priest
tells you nonsense, then you must disobey! Listen to me! If
do this to you then we will never be able to get….
Pizarro: It’s a large gathering.
I’ll give the
order to break it up. They’ll not try this again.
Friar: No, wait. Let them go ahead with
your troops back.
Pizarro: A heathen ceremony? Why should we permit
I’ll arrest the priest.
Friar: No, wait. We don’t want to offend
much. We must be merciful. Leave them
Don’t do anything.
Pizarro: (To a
soldier) recall the men to their
(Pizarro and soldiers exit.)
Pedro: You can’t do it!
Girl: I want to save my people!
Pedro: No! You can’t!
Please! I …
Song-of-the-Moon, I …
Bishop: Now, Pedro, this is not wise.
Pedro: Bishop Luque! We must convert her
Please! There is no time to lose!
(To the Girl) Please!
Listen to me! Let us teach you about our faith!
listen! You can decide later, but please, give us a chance to
save you, to save your life. Just listen!
Bishop: If she converts, then of course they cannot sacrifice
her, and you could even …. Very well, if I can
life and her soul at the same time, I must do it.
Pedro: Will you listen to what the Friar and the Bishop, will
hear what they have to say? Please, for my sake?
Girl: You have been very kind to me, and if your god is
more powerful than ours, perhaps I should know about him. All
right. I will listen. But preparations for the
are already underway. I have to get back right away.
Bishop: First, about God. There is only one, and he
God of love.
Girl: But Pedro told me about three. Does that make
Friar: No, no! There is only one.
Girl: But your god is cruel! He orders the killing
people! You’re killing my people!
Bishop: Here, in the Bible, it is written: (opens
Bible) God prohibits the killing
of the innocent.
Friar: True, that is in Exodus, but in First Samuel He does
the killing of innocent women and children.
Bishop: Yes, I had forgotten that. And in Psalms He
the children of the Daughters of Babylon to be dashed against the
Friar: But still, in Chronicles we learn “His mercy
endureth forever”, and …
Girl: Well which is it?
Pedro: Just listen. You will understand.
Girl: They kill us, and make us slaves!
Friar: You see, in Exodus, it says “Put every man
by his side, and slay every man his brother, companion, and
neighbor.” So you see, there is nothing wrong with
Pedro: But the Commandments given to Moses are very
“Thou shalt not kill; Thou shalt not kill.”
Friar: Yes, but in Hosea we read “they shall fall
sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with
child shall be ripped up.”…
Bishop: Yes, but it says, in Leviticus, it says, ….
Pedro: Make up your minds!
(A group of Indians enters, in
ceremonial dress. They motion
to the Girl to come with them.)
Girl: Stop! I’m so confused.
Can’t I just
Friar: No! Please! Let us teach
you. You will
learn. Yes, we take slaves – but in the Bible, in
of Joel, it says “And I will sell your sons, and I will sell
daughters, into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell
them to the Sabeans, to a …
Bishop: Yes, but in Isaiah we read “Undo the heavy
let the oppressed go free; break every yoke.”
Friar: Yes, but in Leviticus it says “Moreover of
children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them ye shall
buy, and they shall be your possessions.” Your
Bishop: Undo the heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free.
Friar: Of them shall ye buy!
Girl: Stop! I have heard enough! Your god
you must take slaves, and you must not take slaves. How can
do both? How can you do both?…
Pedro: Yes! Make up your minds! Make up
minds! Are you saying two different things?
Bishop: Not at all! You see, they are both
see, they are both true. We must and we must not at the same
time. It is a mystery.
Friar: Correct! But let us talk about God
is pure spirit, and cannot be seen.
(The Indians become
impatient. Offstage, the chorus of Indians
sings their sacrificial chant.)
Bishop: Yes, that is in John, and also in Timothy –
Amos we read that He has in fact been seen! And in Psalms we
learn that God has arms and wings; Isaiah says He has a mouth, Genesis
says He has legs …
Friar: Let us talk about sin. Your ceremony is
sin. But God says that everyone sins, so you are not
You are not alone.
Bishop: True, that is in Romans, but in First John we read
no one born of God sins.
Friar: No! In Ecclesiastes it says that everyone
sins! And furthermore …
Girl: Stop! Stop! Stop. Must I listen to
this? (To Pedro) You
said that I would be
convinced. Well, I’m not. Please let me
(The Indians beckon her with
Friar: We are trying to save your soul!
Pedro: You must believe. Only the Pope can
questions. God only knows the answers, and He tells them to
Girl: Please let me go….
Bishop: That’s right. God knows
everything, the past
and the future. You have only to call, to call on him, and
Friar: But in Genesis it says that God asked Cain where his
brother was. So He didn’t know.
Bishop: But, in Jeremiah it says that God is
Nothing is hidden from His view.
Friar: Oh, but, in Genesis, the Lord says:
“I will go
down and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of
it, and if not, I will know.” So God did not know
Bishop: But, in the Book of Hebrew, it says that ….
(One of the Indians pulls the
Girl by the arm.)
Girl: That’s enough! I do not accept your
I never will. How can something be true and false at the same
time? At the same time? I think you worship a false
and I am going to give myself to the True One! To the True
God! (She runs
offstage, along with the Indians.)
Pedro: No! Come back! Come back,
Song-of-the-Moon. Song-of-the-Moon, I love you.
(Slowly, the Girl returns,
Friar: Please, sit down. Let us tell you about our
Savior. He was born of a virgin, and is a descendent of
the great Hebrew king.
(Some Indians return.)
Bishop: Well, that is not sure. His father, Joseph,
certainly was, but then Joseph is actually not the father, owing to the
virgin birth. Then Jesus is not a descendent at
Pedro: Well, which version do you believe?
Friar: It is a mystery. In Romans it says He was,
Luke it says He wasn’t…. Of course, I
of them. It is a mystery. The Bible is the inerrant Word of
and everything in it must be believed. No errors have ever
found in the Bible.
(The Indians pull on the
Girl: It’s all mixed up! How can anyone
Pedro: Yes! How can you believe it
yourself? It is
full of contradictions! What kind of faith is it anyway?
Bishop: It is a faith of kindness! You must believe
it. Take the example of Our Savior. On the road to
He healed two blind men. That was a miracle of …
Friar: But, in the Book of Mark, it says that He healed one
Pedro: Well, which is it, one, or two?
Girl: If he was so kind and could do miracles, why
he cure all of them? He must have been very cruel, not to
them when he had the power. (She
gets up and moves toward the
Bishop: No! He was certainly not cruel.
down! He was the Prince of Peace. He had good
reasons. They are both true. You have to
is a mystery. They are both true. He had reasons.
Pedro: Well, what were they?
Bishop: I don’t know – but you have to
He had them.
(Several Indians lay hold of
Girl: I don’t believe you! I think your
Bible is full
of superstition. How can you believe it yourself?
doesn’t make sense! Why do you believe it?
Friar: I have believed it since I was a boy.
Girl: Who taught you?
Friar: My mother.
Girl: But it is all lies!
Friar: You do not understand! In Proverbs it says
every word of God proves true.
Bishop: Yes, but in Second Timothy it says that God Himself
deceives people, and …
Pedro: If you cannot convince me, how are you going to
her? I think your Bible does say things that are not
There is no “mystery.” (The
Friar is horrified.)
It cannot be true. I don’t believe it!
Girl: Neither do I. I will listen to no
runs off again with her friends.)
Pedro: Song-of-the-Moon! Come back!
Friar: Forget her.
Bishop: Forget her. Let her go,
Friar: It is better to let her go. Our faith is too
for her anyway.
Pedro: Your faith is all lies! You say that things
true and false at the same time! You don’t
yourself! It doesn’t make sense!
the Friar’s Bible and throws it on
Bishop: Blasphemy! Heresy! Do you know
what you have
Friar: Blasphemy! Heresy! Do you know
what you have
Bishop: You are a heretic!
(Friar calls soldiers, who arrest
don’t know what you’re doing.
Friar: And the Inca don’t know what they are
virgin sacrifice! Ha! And the girl is not even a
Pedro: What are you saying? What do you
are you saying?
(Millie and Don Diego
enter. She curtsies before the
Friar. He makes the sign of the cross. She crosses
and exits, smiling. The Old Woman wanders in.)
Friar: When we took Cuzco, our men enjoyed many of the Inca
– and it says in the Bible that it’s
was a girl, about ten, I think. I took her with the others,
afterwards I left her in a swamp. I think the place was
Sagaduc, or something like that. That was about five years
ago. About right, I think. And she looks familiar.
Pedro: (to the old
woman) You there! Old
woman! Tell me, tell me, for God’s sake!
Song-of-the-Moon come to this village? Was she found in a
swamp? (The woman
nods.) What was its
Was it Sagaduc? (She
Pedro: Then she is saved! Now they cannot do it; I
tell them! But I have to go now! Let me
go! Let me
go! The procession is already starting! Starting up the
mountain! Let me go, for God’s sake!
it’s too late! I have to tell them! Let
Friar: You’re going nowhere. We know how
to deal with
soldiers tighten their grip.)
Bishop: Your soul is damned!
Pedro: (To the
woman, as the soldiers drag him away)
woman! Listen to me; listen to me! Run up the
quickly! Tell them that they cannot sacrifice
tell them, tell them that she is not a virgin! They cannot do
it! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!
(The old woman gets up and
hobbles very slowly across the entire
stage, leaning on a cane. She has still not reached the edge
the curtain comes down.)
End of Scene 1
Act 3, Scene 2. It is
the next morning. Burned wood and
ashes are seen, in a small pile. Soldiers are all
The Girl and the old woman slowly enter.
Woman: It’s not your fault.
Girl: I’m so ashamed. I wanted it
so. I have to
go away. To leave this place.
Woman: Where will you go?
Girl: I don’t know. Back to
Cuzco. To Cuzco
maybe. No one will know who I am.
Woman: You have done nothing wrong! Stay
here. We will look after you. You can be happy
a family, and …
Girl: I can’t! No one would have me
now. I have
to leave. I’m so ashamed. What can I do?
Woman: But think how happy Pedro will be to see you safe.
Girl: Pedro! Pedro! He was the only
Spaniard to treat
me with kindness. Find him! Go and find
him! Tell him
that I love him. Tell him I am waiting here. Go and
him. Tell him I am waiting here. Tell him
I’ll wait for him always.
(The old woman leaves)
Hurry! Hurry! Pedro. Pedro.
(Don Diego and Millie enter)
Millie: What an awful smell! They should only do it
the wind is from the East. Do they think that we are just
to put up with it? Take them to the next valley, and do it
there! Tell the Governor, Don Diego. Tell him!
Don Diego: That’s right, Millie. One
valley does not
a mountain make.
Millie: It makes my eyes all red, and I look awful.
really should be more considerate.
(The old woman returns.)
Woman: I don’t see him here. Come with
will look over there. (The
old woman and Girl leave.)
Millie: I’ll have to speak to them about
it. Do I
still look awful?
(Pizarro, the Friar, and the
Don Diego: No, dear. You look lovely.
(The Friar goes over to the ash
pile and makes the sign of the
Bishop: Well, that’s settled.
Pizarro: Yes. It’s a tragedy, but it had
to be done.
Bishop: Indeed. Everyone hated to do it.
But for the
good of the Inca people, and with regret, we had to give ten percent of
the spoils to Almagro. He was threatening to revolt.
Pizarro: What a tragedy! Very sad. After
made him governor of the land south of Cuzco, he learned that there are
no villages there of any importance, and not much gold. So we
to pacify him.
Bishop: It is rumored he plans to take Cuzco for himself.
Pizarro: If he does, he won’t hold it.
there, with adequate forces. We will be victorious, with the
(Girl runs in, dashes here and
there, looking for Pedro.)
Girl: Pedro! Pedro!
(She weeps.) I will
look until I find him! I have looked everywhere!
can’t find him. I will look in every village in the
world. I will find him. I will find him.
(She runs up to the Friar.)
Father Valverde, please! Where is Pedro? Where is
Pedro? I have looked everywhere, but I can’t find
him. Tell me where he is.
Friar: (looking at
her with scorn) You will find
enough. When your soul, your heathen soul enters that
to which you are destined, you will find him. Look for him
there! (The Friar
Girl: Pedro, Pedro, Pedro! I will look until I find
him! I will look everywhere!
(Girl continues to look
around. Then she stops in front of the
ashes. She freezes.)
Girl: I find him here.
(She sits and weeps.
The others leave.)
Pedro. Let me touch you. Let me touch you.
touches the ashes, then rubs them on her face.)
Pedro. I feel your body. You are touching
me. Can you
feel it too? (She
drops some ashes in the breeze.)
Can you feel the breeze? Do you remember the
are close to me.
Pedro. We are together
Pedro. You are mine. In you I felt the tenderness
young llama, suckling its mother for the first time.
Pedro. In your eyes I saw I know not what. Was it
love? Did I see it there?
Pedro. Did you say it? Did you say it?
me! You love me! And I did not answer.
Why did I not
answer? Why? Why? Why did I not
say to the
Friar “Yes, Yes?” Why did I not say to
“Yes, Yes?” “Yes, yes, yes, it
is all true, it
is all true” even when it isn't? “Yes,
Pedro. That’s what they want. Not love,
from you; not truth, which they do not know. Just
Pedro. Did you say you love me? I did not answer. I
Pedro! Do you believe in the Spanish heaven? Do you
in it now?
Pedro, Pedro! Can I believe in it too?
Pedro. If there really are angels, you are one of
they have feathers, please Pedro, please Pedro, Pedro. Please
fold your feathers around my heart.
End of the opera