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The Firmiana Rain   SYNOPSIS

Scene 1: Declaration of Love

Emperor Ming Huang is ruling a very stable and prosperous court. His attentions have turned toward culture and romance. He is drawn to a particular consort in his harem: Yang Yu-huan. His passion for her is such that they make complimentary vows of ever lasting love.

Interlude 1: Barbarian Dance

An Lu-shan, a frontier general charged with making a major tactical mistake during a battle against a tribe Tartar warriors. This mistake cost many lives, and as a result the emperor decreed An Lu-shan must forfeit his own life. But An Lu-shan’s charms hold great affect throughout the court with his grotesque swirl dance. He gains forgiveness from Emperor , and is adopted as a son by Lady Yang.

Interlude 2: The Bath

Lady Yang has come to bathe in the warm water of a serene, spring fed pool.

Scene 2: The Music

While sleeping, Lady Yang is summoned by the Moon Goddess, Chang E, to come learn a transcendent and ethereal piece of music and dance. In a past life Lady Yang was a goddess and familiar with the territory of the moon. Now that she is the number one consort, her soul is carried way to learn a composition written by the gods: Rainbow Garment. The learning of the dance marks the beginning of her spiritual journey. Throughout the scene, even though Lady Yang’s body travels with her, she remains in a state of sleep while the heavenly music is played into her and becomes part of her person.

Scene 3: Night of Grief , Vows

Lady Yang is in a state of torment and drinking because the Emperor transferred his affections (temporally) to his old lover, the Plum Consort. Feeling lonely, and feeling that her position is usurped, Lady Yang goes to confront the Emperor. Late in the evening she travels to the Emerald Pavilion to cast her hurt upon his infidelity. She breaks through the gate of the pavilion and startles the couple. She is met by Gao Li-shi. He makes spurious statements in order to quell Lady Yang’s anger. His stories are of no avail since she finds a hairpin as evidence that the Plum Consort was indeed with the emperor. At last the Emperor appears from elsewhere in his quarters (having sent the Plum Consort on her way), and immediately is rejoined by Lady Yang’s accusations. The deep pain caused by his deception makes the Emperor restate his love for her. Through battered by his transgression, their commitment to each other is enhanced.

They take a ritualized vow of everlasting fealty in the Palace of Eternal Life with Stars as witnesses.

Scene 4: Banquet and Uproar

An Lu-shan is in revolt. Meanwhile the Emperor and Lady Yang are feasting. There is much wine, and Li Po recites commissioned poems. In one he talks of a prediction of tragedy due to the union of the protagonists. Lady Yang performs the same song.

The revelry goes on and news arrives stating the imperial army is defeated and the capital, Chang-an, is in jeopardy. Making hasty preparations, the stunned emperor orders they abandon the palace at day break and make for a safe haven at Sichuan. The next morning an entourage of relatives, important ministers and army on horseback begins to travel.

Scene 5: The Toppling

The Emperor and his forces have been routed by An Lu-shan. The army is on the verge of anarchy, and refuses to travel beyond Ma-wei Station. A group of Soldiers murder Lady Yang’s cousin because of his corrupt dealings as prime minister. They intent on having Lady Yang killed as well. The Emperor is enfeebled and relinquishes his power: the army achieves its goal. Moreover he even passively partakes in her death by giving her a length of silk with which to hang herself.  Lady Yang, blaming her fate, takes her life in a nearby temple. As she leaves the material world, and her pain is at its peak, she has an image of the dance and music that was transcribed to her through heaven.  She is then able to see her troubles as a series of tests; tests that prepared her for her eternity. With that revelation she claims space in heaven as a goddess. Once Lady Yang has left the earth, pear flowers cover the ground.

In the final phase of the scene Li Po is drunk and trying to escape from the revolt that has enveloped the kingdom. It is evening and the moon is full.  Seeing a reflection of the moon in a pool of water he tries to catch it, only to tumble and drown.

Scene 6: Bells/Mourning  Redemption/Reunion

The uprising of An Lu-shan is quelled and the emperor has returned to the capital. Surrounded by remorse because of the death of his consort, Emperor Ming Huang has abdicated, and handed power over to his son. In a moment of repose the emperor is taken by the sound of rain falling on bells. The quietude only intensifies his remorse as he interprets the rain to be the “blood-streaked tears of a melancholy man.” He recalls their vows and in so doing has an evanescent connection to his lover. Filled with regret, the emperor stares a statue made of her image. Upon viewing the statue the emperor is taken aback by its likeness.   In heaven Lady Yang is now a goddess. She is moved by the sincerity of his love for her, and so comes back to life through the statue.  By dancing the completed Rainbow Garment dance, she brings him to the same spiritual plain as herself.  They ascend together into heaven.  For one final time they re-affirm their vows, completing their desire for an eternal bond.

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