Scene 1 Dream Music
(Enter the Goddess of the Moon with her fairy maid Cold Reed.) Moon Goddess sings to the tune of “Pacing in the Moon Palace” :
Alone I shed clear light
Over the lovely night,
Unsallied through ten thousand years.
Dew from my silvery spheres
Is spread in wind o’er the crystalline sky
With fairy music wafting on high.
“Elixir of life drunk, I left the world of woe,
I keep my face with beauty still aglow.
Seeing Celestial fragrance fall amid the cloud,
I lean against the laurel proud.”
I am Goddess of the Moon, queen of the night. It was said that I was wife of the Archer, but I have lived within the precious globe for thirty-six thousand years and spread my brilliant light over a thousand leagues. Here the jade hare and golden toad vie in rare splendor, there the white elm and red cassia bloom for all eternity. I have a divine melody called “Rainbow Skirt and Feathered Coat”, long kept in the palace of the moon and unknown to the human world. Now the emperor of the Tang empire below is fond of music and his favorite mistress Jade Ring Yang was a fairy maid on the fairy mountain, who used to visit me during her last life. Why don’t I summon her spirit to hear this melody again so that, awakened, she may transcribe it with pipes and strings and carry the divine music to illuminate the human world? Come, Cold Reed!
Cold Reed: Yes, my lady.
Moon Goddess: Go down to the Tang palace and bring Jade Ring Yang’s spirit to hear the divine music. You send her back when the performance is over.
Cold Reed: I will, my lady.
Moon Goddess: When in the fairy land her soul falls into a trance,
We shall secretly teach her our immortal dance. (Exit.)
Cold Reed: At my mistress’ command, I must leave the moon to go down to the Tang palace.
(Singing to the tune of “Prelude of Liangzhou”)
The Milky Way sprinkles
Star on star which twinkles.
I look down on the dusty world annoyed.
What I see is a fragrant misty void.
I’ve left the palace of jade with ease;
My pendants quiver in the breeze;
My gown reflects the rosy light
As I tread on clouds bright.
To teach a former palace maid our music divine,
I’ll lead her sleeping spirit to the moonshine.
Here I am in the Tang palace.
(Singing to the tune of “Congralations to the Bridegroom”)
You see within the locked door the curtained bed,
Where Lady Yang like cherry blossoms red
More beautiful she seems.
Let us awake her from her day-dreams.
(Calling) Wake up, Lady Yang!
Lady Yang (Whose spirit enters, sings to the tune of “Fishing Lantern”):
Just now coolness seemed to remain
In clouds and rain;
I slept so deep as to forget the flower
Used in my make-up and face powder.
Cold Reed: Your Ladyship!
Lady Yang: Who is calling from under the eaves of the inner palace?
How is it that no palace maids announce the guest?
Cold Reed: Come quickly, my lady.
Lady Yang (Yawning): Still drowsy after rest
I rise and slowly draw aside the screen.
(Seeing Cold Reed) Oh, it is a maid of honor.
Cold Reed: I’m not a palace maid attending the queen.
Lady Yang: If not a maid of honor, are you a beauty attending the emperor?
Cold Reed: Nor am I an attendant beauty.
Lady Yang: Who are you then?
Cold Reed: I am a fairy maid of the moon and my name is Cold Reed.
To serve the Goddess of the Moon is my duty.
Lady Yang (Startled): Ah! So you are a fairy from the moon. How did you come here?
Cold Reed: Just now my mistress ordered me to invite you To come to enjoy the laurel flowers’ splendid view.
Lady Yang: Can it be true?
Cold Reed: Don’t hesitate, my lady, but let me lead the way and come with me please.
(She leads her along.)
Together sing to the tune of “Decorated Fishing Lantern”
Pointing towards the azure sky,
We see beneath our feet clouds floating by;
Stepping into celestial spheres,
We hear soft breeze whisper into our ears.
We gaze at stars so near;
Within the reach of our hands they appear.
How splendid the Moon Palace’s found!
It is like a reflection in a mirror round.
Lady Yang: It is mid-summer now. How is it that I feel so cold!
Cold Reed: Here is the moon which people on earth call the Palace of Boundless Cold. Will you please enter now?
Lady Yang (Overjoyed): A mortal as I am, how fortunate I am to come to the moon!
(She enters and looks around, and sings to the tune of “Flowers on the Brocade”)
This blissful journey gives me sweet delight.
(Thinking) I seem to have visited the scene before.
The marble steps and emerald eaves in sight
Look so familiar to me.
How could the laurel tree bloom so early?
Cold Reed: The laurel tree in the moon blooms all the year around with fragrant flowers and leaves.
Lady Yang: It is indeed beautiful.
The longer I look at it, the happier I’ll be.
Its blossoms seem of gold,
Its leaves of emerald,
Its heavy fragrance perfume the dress in brocade
Of all within its shade.
(Music is heard offstage.)
Look! There is a group of fairies in white tunics and red skirts coming from under the laurel tree. How sweet is the music they are playing!
Cold Reed: This is the song of “Rainbow Skirt and Feathered Coat”.(Four, six or eight Fairies in white tunics and red skirts with cloudlike belts and pearled tassels come along, singing and playing music. Lady Yang and Cold Reed stand watching.)
Fairies sing to the tune of “Beats in the Brocade”:
We play celestial music among the flowers,
Our rainbow dresses touched with dew.
Far from the human world of dusty bowers,
Our music well expresses the moon’s splendid view.
Though our tongues sing and our hands play with grace,
We cannot waken mortals from their dream,
Nor halt celestial palace’s fleeting hours.
When the immortal music ends, we halt our pace,
And let the connoisseurs review the theme.
(The Fairies troop off.)
Lady Yang: How wonderful is the music, so clear and sweet as to move me heart and soul. It must be a melody of another world.(Singing to the tune of “Beats after the Brocade”)
These mist-veiled fairies seemed familiar to me.
Listening to their note on note
Which seem to float
In the air, I’m intoxicated
To mark each note which lingers
And follows the rhythm with my fingers,
And the beat
With the tip of each of my feet.
I blush to think of my dancing pride
With fairy songstresses by my side.
Tell me, fairy maid, may I see your mistress?
Cold Reed: It is not yet time for you to see her. The day will break.
Will Your Ladyship return to your palace?
(Singing to the tune of “Epilogue”):
You should remember this trip to the moon.
Lady Yang: I won’t forget the new tune.
Cold Reed: Sorry to have kept you.
Away from the emperor’s view. (Exit Lady Yang.)
Now Lady Yang has gone back to the Tang palace, and I’ll report to my mistress. (Exit.)
Epilogue of the Scene
From the emerald-tiled, plane-shaded palace divine
You are sent back in the beautiful moonshine.
Mortals may hear celestial music again,
But waterclock hastens you back to the world of men.