The Lost Dauphin
line of music

An opera in 3 acts, based on the legend of the "Lost Dauphin," Eleazer Williams

Libretto and music by F.Gordon Parmentier

Reproduced by permission of the author, resident of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

 

Introduction to the Legend of the "Lost Dauphin"

In the early 1820s a certain Eleazer Williams, Episcopal Missionary, led a tribe of Oneida Indians from New York state to Green Bay, Wisconsin. On a reservation ceded to them by the U.S. government and now called Oneida, a mission and school were established. A few years later, an article appeared in Harpers Magazine about the ingenious escape from the Temple Prison in Paris of the little French Dauphin, Louis XVII, son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. The article explained how the child was removed in a clothes hamper from the prison, smuggled out of France by royalists and brought to a Thomas Williams at St. Regis, New York, where he was raised. This all was based on a deposition of a death-bed confession of a certain monsieur Bellinger from New Orleans, former servant and aide to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

Reaction to the article gathered momentum around the nation and eventually reached France. The person in question was now called Eleazer Williams, or Lazar as the Indians called him. Louis Philippe, now King of France, sent his son the Prince de Joinville, to investigate. Lazar himself was startled by this news--it at least cleared up some of the mystery of his early childhood, a period which he could remember nothing about.

Lazar's ambitions and his behavior toward his followers caused dissension and hatred. His plan to move the tribe westward and join other tribes into an empire, making himself Emperor, was thwarted by the Oneidas and the U.S. government. He was finally driven out of the mission and returned to New York a broken man.

The mystery of his true heritage remains unsolved. However, there is much evidence to make possible the fact that he might have been the "Lost Dauphin." In any event, the story is fascinating and forms the basis of the libretto of the opera The Lost Dauphin. [Note that the libretto for an earlier version of this opera called Lazar previously appeared on this web site]

Act 1, Scene 1

Father Thomas Williams...Bass Baritone

Monsieur Bellanger....Tenor

A house in the forest at St. Regis, N.Y. - circa 1795 belonging to Thomas Williams. A stranger slowly approaches leading a young boy. Williams is waiting in front of the house.

Father

What would you have me do, how would you have me care for one such as him? He does not seem to understand, be does not speak.

Stranger

These agreements have been made in secret by our agents in the city that he shall be entrusted to your care. All payments for this and for his schooling shall be sent to you. You must remember you have agreed that all of this be kept a secret--on your holy sacramental oath--for the safety of this child depends on his remaining hidden from his enemies and the world.

Father

To that I have agreed and sworn by my holy oath. You can be sure that no one shall ever know he's not my own. But how shall I apeak to him, to make him understand? All the things a child should know...

 

Stranger

You have been chosen for your wisdom and your goodness. It is by love and the beauty of this place that he shall be saved. For it is the healing he must have from the forest and the birds and by the purity of your nature here. All far removed from the horrors and the sadness he has known in the past.

Father

My simple mind will never comprehend why I was chosen by your council, for the task shall not be easy--yet I accept it as God'a will and do the very best I can. My wife agrees to raise him as her own child. My children will accept him as their brother.

Stranger

I must leave you now. I must return. All news to you in the future will come by messenger. As to his welfare and his progress, you must always keep us posted. Remember your holy oath--your sacramental oath.

Father

Peace be with you, and for your bravery and devotion to this child. May God protect you, may he also forgive all those who have brought such misery to this child.

Stranger

Adieu, kind friend, adieu. May God grant you wisdom and courage to save this child.

{END}

Act 1, Scene 2

Characters: Chorus of Indian children--Indian Mother, Contralto--Lazar (boy or woman soprano) - Father (bass Baritone). Same locale one year later. The Indian children (Chorus) are engaged in play near the river. They are singing and dancing while trying to teach Lazar Indian words. They try to coax him into the water. Lazar is always mute.

Chorus

Oni-oni-onaki-oiata tokenti-onenta-onehta-ohneka onekanos -ononwaka -okonsa-okenkwara-oskenonton.

Come Lazar and swim with us. The blue water is cool from the mountains. Running swiftly through the forest, singing and dancing on the way. Come Lazar, we shall race you to the high rock. Come Lazar, and like the beaver, through the rapids, we will swim into the water

{Orchestral Interlude} The children leave with Lazar who is always mute. The musical interlude suggests flight and disaster. They return carrying Lazar who has fallen from the high rocks into the water. He is unconscious. The Indian mother comes excitedly and tries to revive him.

Mother

Poor child, poor child. What has happened to you? Why must you be hurt some more? You cannot speak to tell me what has happened. Poor little child of sorrow and pain. You have seen so much. I have seen it in your eyes..no child should know. How will your lips speak out? What is buried there so deep? Poor child of sorrow, what will happen to you?

Lazar

Ciel bleu -- les montagnes --the sky is bleu and there's the mountain. Mother, I can speak. My eyes do see, my ears do hear. Mother, I'm alive!

Mother

Child, oh child, by what miracle have you passed? The fall from the rocks has been God's gift of life. Kavonkwa, call your father..Tell him to come quickly. Call your father, call him, son.

Duet, Lazar and Mother

Oh, call my father -- God is good -- Oh, I've awakened -- I've found my tongue..

Lazar's awakened, he's found his tongue. God is good!

Chorus

Call our father --Kavonkwa -- Lazar's awakened. He's found his tongue.

Father

Holy Father, is it possible that young Lazar has come to his senses? Is this God's miracle? Dieu te bénisse!

Lazar

Dear father, kind father, something has awakened me.. I know not from where these sounds come and what I see I do not understand. Father, please help me understand.

Father

Dieu te bénisse. Oh, miracle of miracles -- because of love, God has reopened your world. You have been in a long sleep. We must begin to teach you and lead you from this world of darkness. Mr. Ely at Long Meadows has long been waiting to teach you the word of God. When you are stronger we shall proceed to school.

Lazar

Oh, yes, father, I want to learn the ways of God.

Chorus

A spirited song dance follows. The children swarm around Lazar excitedly trying to teach him Iroquois words: onoyi, head; onokwis, hair; Jesa Karote, mouth; okdra, eye; oniosa, nose; ohota, ear; awenesso, tongue; onetsha, arm.

Le ciel est bleu. Lazar's a new Onoyi onokwis ..Jesa Karote. Okdra, Oniosa, ohota Awenesso, Onetsha, Oskenonton.

{END}

Act 1 Scene 3

The Vision.

Later that night. Lazar's bedroom. He is asleep. Two women appear as if in a dream. They are beautifully dressed in the high fashion of the late 18th century. [Full chorus in background unsighted].

Characters: First woman (Soprano) Second woman (Alto) Lazar (Soprano) Chorus

1st woman

Dans le jardin de Lythère auprès de toi cette nuit -- sous un ormeau solitaire, un songe ma voix conduit.

2nd woman

Dieu quel charme et quelle ivresse.

Lazar

Dès l'âge de six ans je soutins par les règles de logique.

1st woman

Je te croyais dans mes bras --tu partageais ma tendresse.

2nd woman

Dieu quel charme et quelle ivresse.

Chorus

Rose mystique ayez pitié de nous.

Lazar

While clothing yourself say "I am now covering my body with these garments --oh, my mother, oh my father, oh, my Lord, God, clothe my soul with all the graces of thy holy spirit.

Duet 2nd woman and first woman

Tour de David, ayez pitié de nous

Lazar

Oh, my mothers -- stay by me evermore --do not leave me as my father did.

1st woman

Tour d'Ivoire, ayez pitié de nous, Maison dorée, pitié de nous, porte de ciel, nous de nous --pitié de nous. Maison Dorée, de ciel, de Dieu miséricorde amen.

Lazar

Oh my mothers.

1st woman

Do not forget your God who tries you so -- pitié de nous.

2nd woman

Do not forget God your who tries you so -- pitié de nous.

Chorus

Do not forget God who tries you so -- pitié de nous.

Lazar

Do not leave me as my father did.

Lazar

You must not leave me as my father did.

1st woman

Never forget your God and your duties.

2nd woman

Do not forget your mothers and your duties.

Chorus

Etoile du matin, ayez pitié de nous.

Lazar

Then we kissed and parted forever amen. Oh, my father, oh my mother, it is done, it is passed.

{END - ACT 1}

ACT II, Scene 1

 

Circa 1820 Lazar who is now an Episcopal minister and missionary has been sent to Green Bay, Wisconsin.In actuality,he was instrumental in leading the Oneidas from New York state, promising them new lands and riches. His intent was to be their leader, pushing farther westward, establishing a new empire composed of all twelve tribes. The scene is in the schoolroom at Oneida. Lazar is teaching the Indian children their catechism. Madelaine Jourdain, a Menominee, is spotlighted seated in front row. At first she appears old. She is reading from her diary her diary.

 

Madelaine (Soprano) Lazar (Baritone) Constance (daughter) (Soprano) their mother (Alto) First Gentleman (Bass) Second Gentleman (Tenor) Prince de Joinville (Tenor) Chorus

Madelaine

Oh how the years fly .. May of 1876.. I set my goose .. my chicks all hatched. I sowed the peas. The white cow calfed .. tra la la la la la. Oh how the years do fly. My how the years do fly

   

Children's chorus

She set her goose, her chicks are hatched she sowed the peas, the white cow calfed, la la la la oh how the years roll by.

Madelaine

Mister Anton Phillips died on the 22nd of September -- Mrs. Ellen Massee left her husband's bed and board for another so I heard, helas. On April 24, 1866, George Darucha called on us--Nanny moved out to the sugar camp--July 4 in 1858 Mr. LeFave brought his children here to visit us--that was the year of the big comet--October of 1822, I first met Mr. Williams - oh yes, I do remember it well. He was our priest and teacher. I was just thirteen. Oh yes, I do remember it well. (SPOTLIGHT SHIFTS TO CHILDREN IN CLASSROOM. MADELAINE JOINS THEM. LAZAR (BARITONE) IS TEACHING THEM.)

Lazar

The seasons of the year in quick succession fly, then winter and spring now disappear and summer passes by - soon summer must be gone and autumn take its place -- so fly the lovely seasons by, each with a smiling face.

Chorus

Soon summer must be gone and autumn take its place--so fly the lovely seasons by - each with a smiling face.

Lazar

While seasons pass away and time is on the wing, then let us our daily duties pay and glorify our king.

Chorus

While seasons pass away and time is on the wing --Let us our daily duties pay and glorify our king. (SPOT SHIFTS TO MADELAINE)

Madelaine

In April of 1823 Mr. Williams asked my hand in marriage here by the river.. I was fourteen then.

Lazar

This is the wealth you bring me..the flower of your heart..in the day the sun--at night a rising star.

Duet

We'll live here by the river.. as seasons pass us by.. my love for you --shall be here till we die-- shall be here by the river you and I

Lazar

Madelaine, you have given me great courage with your love-together we will make, with the help of all your people, a vast and powerful

Indian nation. The entire west shall be our empire. I shall be their king and you their queen. Never speak of this to anyone.

Madelaine

Oh, my husband, Mr. Williams, you bring such fear to my heart with your great words. I know nothing of your empire. I am a single woman. Of your past I know nothing at all. People say you've had a strange life. Can't you tell me won't you tell me? Of your childhood I know nothing. Tell me, won't you tell me?

Lazar

Lost -- lost--all is lost. I remember nothing at all. All is blotted out -- until I was thirteen -- all is gone. I was like an idiot, destitute and frightened, without memory. It was like that until the accident at Lake George. Then they began, all those visions they were always dressed white..there were always two women, sometimes a man. They always spoke in parables or in riddles that I don't understand, but I know one of the riddles by heart, "Dès 1'âge de six ans, je soutins par les règles de logiqe".

Madelaine

Mr. Williams, do not excite yourself--it is but a dream--just a dream.. but of these women..who are they?

Lazar

They say not, but somewhere I have seen them . She is beautiful and lovely.. just a vision..from the past. Somewhere I have seen her.

Madelaine

What does she speak to you about?

Lazar

I do not remember--it is all too unhappy. (FADEOUT SPOTLIGHT ON MADELAINE)

Madelaine

October 1841 -- a very important happening -- Mr. Williams had a startling bit of news - there was the greatest ball that Green Bay ever had -- my husband was the subject of a very important meeting -- the King of France did send his son to meet my husband. (SCENE OPENS AT THE ASTOR HOTEL IN GREEN BAY. THE BALL GIVEN IN HONOR OF THE PRINCE DE JOINVILLE, SON OF LOUIS PHILIPPE.

Constance

Maman, how should I address the Prince?

Mother

My dear -- you must say while you curtsey - Bonjour Monsieur Le Prince, enchantée de faire votre connaissance-- Bienvenue -- now say after me..Bonjour, Monsieur le Prince ,enchantée de faire votre connaissance.

Chorus

Bonjour, Monsieur Le Prince - enchantée de faire votre connaissance - la la la la …(THEY DANCE)

1st Gentleman

(father)

What a happy day for our little village - imagine, imagine, a real prince, all the way from Paris.

2nd Gentleman

People are saying his visit here is not by coincidence.

1st Gentleman

Yes, I've heard - stories get around. It seems our Priest Williams has become a very special person, perhaps a duke or a count..a marquis, or a king.. I don't know.. There's something.

Mother

Father, help your daughter to dance the waltz. She doesn't seem to understand the new steps, and if the Prince should ask her to dance, oh, what an exciting thought…la la la…imagine, royalty in our little town. (PRINCE ENTERS) (CHORUS OHS AND AHS)

Mother

Bonjour, monsieur le Prince. Soyez bienvenu. Je m'appelle Madame Casse-Pied. Je voudrais vous présenter ma fille Constance..dis bonjour à Monsieur le Prince.

Constance

Bonjour, monsieur le Prince -- enchantée de faire votre-votre--votre-

Mother

Connaissance

Prince

Enchanté, mademoiselle -- I am happy to know you -- but let us speak in English. I want to learn more English.

Mother

Oh, how very charming..how very French..how charming.

1st Gentleman

A toast, messieurs, also to la belle France..welcome Monsieur…welcome to our country.

Prince

Thank you -- thank you, kind people. You have a beautiful town. Now, ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to hear some American music.

Mother

Dear Prince, my daughter would like to dance with you, some new American music from New York. Would you play "Miss Rachel's Dance?"

1st Gentleman

Your Royal Highness - there is someone here I'm sure you'll want to meet (LAZAR COMES FORWARD)

Prince

But we have already met on a ship in Canada.

Lazar

Yes, it is true, we've met already…Bonjour, monsieur.

Prince

How nice to see you again. I'd like to continue our little talk if you will come to my private room. I have something important to show you, Mr. Williams. Will you not sit down, Mr. Williams? During our first meeting on board the ship our conversations were, shall I say, guardedly impersonal. That is the way I chose to know about you. What I have to say to you now is quite personal. Now, I must swear you to secrecy, never to reveal the real purpose of my journey here.

Lazar

You have my word.

Prince

I do not know to what extent you are aware -- your family--your birth -- many rumors have reached us in Paris--what I am trying to say--I'm sure you've heard the tragic story of the little French Dauphin -- many said he died in the Temple in Paris -- but we are not all so sure--some say he was smuggled to this country by the Royalists -it was his father's doing -- the arrangements had long been made by the King -- to be transported to America -- to St. Regis in New York -- to be raised by a Thomas Williams - Does this tell you something?

Lazar

Yes, I've heard--whether it's true--I know not--I've never known-- about my youth --I've heard these rumors all my life.

Prince

But is it true?

Lazar

Oh my God--what am I passing through this night --is it real or a dream -- like the others I have had since my youth --is it true I'm a descendant of a royal line --if my father was a king-- and I'm descended from his flesh--then who's this man and what's his motive?

Duet

If what this man suggests is true--then I'm a descendant of royalty.

Prince

Mr. Williams…I have some papers for you to sign -- from my father-

Lazar

-Royalty -- of royal birth- a son of Kings -- of royal--

Prince

Have--- For this

Lazar

From polite and accomplished courtiers--From one of the most enlightened

Prince

--you will be -- compensated well --- will you

Lazar

empires in the world---is it possible--- I am not who I think I am.

Prince

sign, Mr. Williams?

Lazar

-- I do not know -- I do not know

Prince

I strongly suggest that you sign this document now--you could never return.

Lazar

I could never leave here now

Prince

Why don't you take some time to think it over -- now I'll leave you

Lazar

--- I wouldn't leave my people now -- I cannot sacrifice my honor

Prince

for a minute or two -- to return for my answer.

Lazar

----Even in my poverty, my exile and my sorrow -- never shall I sell my birthright (PRINCE EXITS * RETURNS TO BALLROOM)

Mother

Oh there you are you naughty… naughty man -- we've been looking all over for you--would you like to dance with me? My daughter would like to sing for you..a waltz from Vienna. (MUSIC STARTS)

Constance

What a lovely time we have together -- no worries or cares in these days of our youth -- By day I shall give you the sun and the light and at night the moon and a rising star -- here by the river I'll bring to you -- the flower of my heart in bloom--Here's my gift to you, dear friend. (PRINCE HAS LEFT AND RETURNED TO THE PRIVATE ROOM)

Prince

He is gone--why has he gone--such a strange man--why has he gone refused all that money--what a strange man - scornful of gold why did he leave--what is his goal?

{END ACT II}

Act III Scene 1

Lazar's church, Oneida, Wisconsin. The congregation (CHORUS) is assembled for Sunday service -- there is strong mumbling and dissension -- the chorus rises in protest directed against Lazar. He has not yet entered the main part of the church, but hears them from outside. His anxiety heightens.

Chorus

Betrayed--oh Ta -- wat -- Bitter, Bitter hate--the priest's to blame for our present fate--ay--he's to blame for our pain --and our childrens' shame-- Liar--Cheat. (LAZAR HAS ENTERED THE PULPIT. HE RAISES HIS ARMS FOR SILENCE)

Lazar

TFI-TUNN-HE-TIE-OH-NAHTION-KWENHEION-- In the midst of life we are in death--In consequence of the first Apostacy, man has become an enemy to God--no sooner had he defaced that perfect rectitude which was implanted in his heart--than he became rebellious to the love and the government of his creator--ever since, heaven and earth have been at war -- Oh, brethren--divided we fall--the ancients of America have found to their sad experience that this doctrine is true--they cannot deny this--in consequence of their disunion--they have been weakened--diminished -- and some whole nations destroyed -- yes, it was this disunion among the sages and councillors of our forefathers that has caused the 1oss of our posterity--Listen to me now --God has given me the power to unite the six great tribes into one big nation -- and I shall lead you further westward to the great plains--into the great western lands that rightfully belong to us--I shall lead you--we shall make one of the greatest empires in the world..Lazar looks around him strangely. Daniel Bread, Chief of the Oneidas rises.

Daniel Bread

Enough!!--Already you have moved us here--and for what!? The Menominees and the Winnebagos will never accept us--and I ask you what is left for us? Your proposal will lead us to war with the white man--Listen to me now!--let there be peace between us and the white man--I know their strength and power--I know their lodges--I have stood by the council fires--they are more in number than the sands of the desert--it is death to stand against them all--Hoi-ya-o-mia -- Hoi-ya-o-mia-o--ee--ya-hoi-ya -o--Oh let the great spirit -- who is the father of the red and white alike--send his peace upon you - that you may live like brothers in this land.

 

Chorus

Peace and love are Holy Writ--Jesus Savior tells us this. (RONDO) Oh no, we will not go with you -- oh no

Lazar

Who has been your friend and your brother? Was it me or the great white father in Washington? Who led you from darkness into light ? Who gave you the Bible in your language? Who brought you civilization?

Chorus

Se-wen-ni-ioh-tsi-iah-kionn-he-tsi-ion-kwenn-tent-he-i-ah-kionkwe-kion-kwe-hoi-ya-oi-ya-oi-ya-oi-ya (FUNERAL HYMN)

Head

You led us--yes you led us--through the mountains--and the forests--and the rivers--to these new lands--in Wisconsin--then you promised --many new lands--for our people--many lodges-many waters

Chorus

You have lied--you have broken your promise--you've broken your word--oh, where are our lodges--and where is our land--for our children--Liar..Blasphemer..Tyrant

Lazar

My brothers--my friends--how can I make you understand--how I have labored for your souls? Are you just pagans and children--worshippers of Tawats--the Hare God! --Madelaine, do you feel this way too?

Madelaine

Nothing at all-nothing at all--I feel nothing at all--nothing at all--nothing at all--you did not marry me for love--but for your profit--ah

Lazar

I didn't mean to hurt you. I thought it for the best. Ho den o sau ne.

D. Bread

No, no, you cannot lead us now--Hoy ya, hoy-ya o ho den o sau ne.

Madelaine

False, false, false--no, no--time it is to leave us, time to go..

Chorus

Tfi-tunn-he-tie-tfi-tunn-he-tie-o-o-nah-tion-o kwen-hei-on-o-hoy-hoy

Lazar

How long I laboured to make you men--better than all your brothers--better than Pagans and children--tawats--not men how do you repay me?--with hate and fury in your hearts--I have even tried to make you like the white man---in his speech--in his knowledge and his clothing--fit to become like him--like him--just like him.

Chorus

No, no, you cannot lead us now--out of our lives--out of our church--tyrant--you're not one of us--misery and pain you're to blame--out--out--out you are dead to us…… They push and shove him from the pulpit. He flees in terror from the church

Act III, Scene II

August, 1858 Lazar has returned to St. Regis, N.Y., rejected and banished by his own people. He he has come to an utter state of poverty and despair. As his condition weakens the voices come more frequently. He is attended by an old Indian Woman who has just returned in search of Lazar's physician. A storm rages. Lazar is in a chair near the bed. There is an eeriness in the atmosphere. (Characters: Lazar (Baritone) Indian Woman (Alto) First Woman (Soprano) Second Woman (Alto) Man (Tenor) Chorus.

Lazar

Will the doctor come?

Indian Woman

I could not make it to his house--the storm was raging so--I scarcely made it home

Lazar

It does not matter--I shall not need him now

Woman

It has been three weeks now that you have been in fever-you've not eaten--you've taken no herbs at all from me-with whom do you speak in the French language? She is someone that is not your wife?

Lazar

I haven't any wife at all--no one at all--no one

Woman

Then who do you speak with all the time? Are there spirits in this room? I feel them here.

Lazar

Old woman--it is only what you imagine in your head (aria) What man was I--who am I now? Is this how it is to be? What an inglorious end. It should have been better for me. What man am I in this faceless world? Rejected by all my fellow men. Oh, my God, do not abandon me. You know in my heart my love for you. I've given my life as you've asked of me. What man am I within this faceless world? Où? Où? Où? Ah, it's you again. This fear in me brings a snare to my mind--but he who puts his trust in the Lord will be saved

Chorus

Veritas--veritas…

Lazar

There's fear in me--like Israel. Through vanity, I have destroyed myself. There's fear in my heart. The summer is ended--the harvest is past--and we are not saved!

Chorus

Veritas--retas…

Duet 1st Woman

They did blot out all of the pain--of your childhood--God

2nd Woman

does not speak in such rigid parables as you might think. Have pity on our son--I thought you were in my arms--you were sharing the tenderest feelings I had in my heart.

2nd Woman

Oh dear God--what charm and madness we are all guilty of

Man

One is three as this to thee--Come, I'll show you how it's done. Three are one and one is three--you may not understand but soon you'll see

 

Lazar

Was it not you who taught me before?

Man

In thy sorrow thou hast cried out for thy Mother and Father. Thou hast cried out--like David--Madame and myself did take leave to come--oh--to you--to you

Lazar

I cannot hear you--I cannot see you at all--was it you who warned me? I_told them nothing--nothing at all..

1st Woman

Never forget God who tries you--come into my arms

Duet 1st Woman

Never forget God who tries you--come into my arms

2nd Woman

Oh My God--What madness in this world. Come into our arms. We are all guilty. What madness!

trio 1st woman

Give them what they want--come into my arms

2nd Woman

Oh what madness--we are all guilty

Man

One is three--as this to thee

Chorus

Vengeance--give us what we want--bastards! Call them by their name--vengeance--kill them all together..

Trio 1st Woman

Then we kissed and parted forever...

2nd Woman

Then we kissed and parted forever.... God have mercy on us. Lord have mercy on our souls.

Man

Then we kissed and parted forever... Tower of David, Ivory Tower, door of heaven golden palace. God my creator and constant companion. I lament and bewail my offenses. Mercy Oh Lord!

Chorus

It is ended--all is over--it was ordained--and so it was--all pre-ordained--in the stars--it was written-a million years ago, true.A million years from now.

{END}


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