The city of Venus, with no place for a single woman? You really are quite mad.
LUDWIG Venus is the god of love and
desire. Each night she comes to life within me and mischievous Eros shoots me
with his arrows. To tell you the truth there is more Hippolytus in me than
Venus. It’s been a long time since I
swore allegiance to Diana. Lately I settle for watching. I am the contemplative
and toothless king. I am tired. A moon king who once dreamt of killing the
dragon. Yes. I too was Siegfried, I too thought I could speak the language of
the birds and read men’s minds.
But my back was my weakness, and my downfall the hungry monsters that surround
me. Waiting for the perfect moment to deal the mortal blow and seize my people
and all they have. Poor Bavaria. Just like old Siegfried and his birdsong,
while I delighted in your music, they were preparing to strip me of my power.
You’ve been a good king. They
never understood you.
LUDWIG Neither did you. I was gold mine
for you. Much like the ring. You squeezed me and milked me for every drop. And
I let you because I . . .
Because you believed in my music. And you still believe. We are ephemeral. But
music . . .
LUDWIG Yes. But I also believed you were
my friend. But a king doesn’t have
friends. That lesson I learned too late. You left me all alone.
They took me away from you and you allowed it to happen.
LUDWIG A bon vivant who took advantage
of his Majesty. A fake who harvested the public coffers. You never were very
Neither were you.
LUDWIG Leave me. I’m
tired. It’s all hopeless now. You
lie rotting in your grave and soon I’ll
be . . . They want me gone, you know. I’m
not even any good to them as a ghost.
Do not fear them. They are nothing. The world will remember you . . .
LUDWIG Because I sponsored you and
financed your precious opera house? My palaces are a place of pilgrimage. Yet
underneath it all they’re just a
pile of stones . . . Let us talk no more about such things. Tell me about
Cosima. You have no idea how much I understand you now. The older I get the
greater my weakness for young flesh. And yet she and I never did get on.
She’s fond of you.
LUDWIG No, not fond of me. Fond of my
money. Even more than you are. But I must confess, I do envy you. A beautiful
and intelligent woman, yours body and soul. For you and your work, a muse to
rest in during your final years. Your rock and your fortress, complete with
obliging husband and consenting father. You’ve
done it all. And they forgave you for all of it. In the end, you’re
the genius and I’m the
madman. You had her and so many others while I . . .
They say you can have anyone you desire. They say you . . .
LUDWIG (Lets out a guffaw) Let
them talk. I have almost everything I could ever desire, but I never found my
Cosima. Perhaps I never looked for her. Perhaps I actually wanted to be Cosima
myself, but had to settle for being Ludwig instead.
LUDWIG The vultures circling above me,
my so-called my ministers, say I lost my mind a long time ago. They want me to
abdicate. I’m no good to them any
more. Any day now they will make me disappear, just like they may have made my
father disappear. They’ll put
Otto in my place, and he truly is the sick one. Between two sick men they prefer
the one that doesn’t fuel
the rumour mill. Quiet, with no hint of scandal. My uncle Leopold conspires
behind my back with Baron von Lutz and it’s
always Prussia pulling the strings. I’ve
given them everything. What more do they want?