THE SIEGE OF GOZO: Scenes 1-6

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Gozitans

Galaziano De Sesse – Governor of Gozo
Nicolli Casteletti – Bishop of Gozo
Don Lorenzo Apap – Parish Priest
Bartolomeo Bonavia – Augustine Friar
Paulo di Nas – Juror
Fredericus Mongebino
Ioanna Brunetto
Andreotto Brancato
Franciscus Frantino
Leonardus Bongibino
Angela Salibe
Barnardo D’Opua
Betta D’Opua
Sonia & Peruna D’Opua – Daughters

Peter Towneley – An English Knight

The Ottomans

Sultan Suleiman
The Grand Vizier
Sinan Pasha
Dragut
Salah Rais

The Knights of St John

Grandmaster D’Homedes
Francesco Lanfreducci
Jean Parisot de Valette
Claude de la Sengle



Scene 1: Qala

Fredericus approaches the window of his betrothed

Fredericus
Darling, dear darling, step outside
Your husband to be is there
To sing of your youthful beauty
Your qualities good & fair

I’d be a bird, fly to your bed
Watching curls & tresses comb
& with my wings would snuff the light
Give you kisses then fly home

Ioanna steps onto the balcony

Ioanna
Fredericus Mongebino!
Why come to my door tonight?

Fredericus
When moon is at its fullest beam
Beauty brightest in its light

Your face is like the fairest rose
Your fragrancies compel me
Were you stood in a flowerpot
Each morning I would smell thee

Ioanna
Tell me am I the only one
Or do you have maidens more
For I saw, passing through the street,
A woman stood at your door.

Fredericus
Be easy, my love, be easy,
People’s eyes see things untrue;
For noble Fredericus swears
She was selling rabbit stew

Tis you who fix an anchor fast
Inside my heart’s quick beating
Go get a knife, open it up
& see my love repeating

You are the only one for me
To fondle with embraces
Turn kisses into passageways
Plant flowers in love’s places

Ioanna
You are so lovely my true love
Who I long to marry so
But you must take me to the feasts
About the isle of Gozo

& we shall fill the carnivals
With dances, songs & laughter
When love shall bless our union
For now & everafter

Fredericus & Ioanna
For now & everafter, love,
Daily let our vows renew
Made sacred with our wedded kiss
I shall end my days with you


Scene 2: Topkapı Palace, Istanbul

Sultan Suleiman is holding court

Grand Vizier
Welcome, Pasha, to the sacred court
Of our majestic ruler, Suleiman
Whom loyal made Belgrade to the Sultan
Whom over Safavid successful fought
Who broke the Muhac hordes of Hungary
Who over swathes of Africa now reigns
Being our noblest lawgiver, ingrains
Our lives with perfect judgement, he shall see
Whatever you shall show him, & shall hear
Whate’er you wish to say, please speak it clear.

Sinan Pasha
Your majesty ! the Ottoman astounds
The world, as is the blessing of Allah,
But sire, whyso our European bounds
Stagnating in the swamps of Vienna
We must ascend a secondary front
Against the Holy League of Christendom
The Hospitalers pull a putrid stunt
Poisoning lips as we were kissing them
With spake words faking peace on leaving Rhodes
So much for Christus worship & its codes

Suleiman
Well spoken, Pasha, thy counsel’s reason
Enough to tilt the balance of my thoughts
Woe to the infernal Knights of Saint John
Who Malta turn’d a perfidious hive
Of galley hornets sallying with stings
Against the ships of golden Africa
Yes, it is settl’d, they must feel the force
Of Sultan Suleiman – Sinan Pasha
An expedition take in thy command
Drive vermin, drowning, from those lonely rocks

Sinan Pasha
You honour me, your majesty, & I
Accept with all the veins which flood my heart
With blood I hold for Allah, & for thee,
But Sultan, grant me one small wish, I plead,
Two Buccaneering warriors I’ll need;
Give me Dragut, the Drawn Sword of Islam,
An admiral at sea, a prince on land,
Give me Salah who fought Formentera
Whom all the ships of Spain could not withstand
Give me those men & triumph, sire, we must

Suleiman
Yes, of course, I shall summon both these men
To puff up your war party, but Pasha,
Remember well to please me when you weigh
Eventualities to decisions
When battle’s won I do not wish to hear
The names of those Grandmasters anymore
Nor bloody reports of losses at sea
Let palmleaf spikes from bare feet be removed
Let foolish flies be wash’d from blinking eyes –
To Arms ! To War! To Sea! To Victory !


Scene 3: Qala

After the wedding of Fredericus & Ioanna, the party emerge from the Sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception, under a Baldakkin, preceeded by an Id-Dudi band. Their singer is a daqqaq call’d Franciscus Frantino.

Franciscus
The bride & groom are married now
Wide opens the chapel door
Fine food & wine awaits us all
At the Feast of Evermore

Because she loves him he loves her
Then she his love returneth
All Gozo gossips of their love
Eternally that burneth

Her mother made her marry young
& is weeping over there
Since she was born she’d always known
She would spend her life elsewhere

But what a man she’s marrying
As clear as I play guitar
The young girls of this neighbourhood
Sing of how lucky you are

As the wedding party carry on to the square – Franciscus breaks ranks to court Angela Salibe

Angela
My beloved has a guitar
It bears his name & surname
They told me that he was a rake
But behaves he without blame

Franciscus
Your lovely tresses, Angela,
Toss’d streaming over shoulders
Wheree’er you travel in this world
I’ll follow them like soldiers

Angela
My beloved is a bandsman
What a fine figure has he
Whene’er he plays he smiles my way
He’s a bad habit, simply

Franciscus
My heart has entered in your heart
Like a bean into its shell
No new or old sweethearts I’ll seek
For you, darling, I’ll foretell

Angela
My sweetheart sings & plays guitar
How I love to watch his hands
& kiss those lips that ghana sing
When the look of love commands

Franciscus
You beauty travel’d far & wide
I could not believe it true
Then I came to Qala & saw
Now I’m mad in love with you

Angela
And I would fall into your arms
But you hold your instrument
Pray put it down & use those lips
Like a lover’s mouth is meant

Franciscus & Angela embrace


Scene 4: Qala, the central piazza

The wedding party arrive in the main square – a pole has been erected about which the Kumitiva is danced – at the end of the dance Franciscus & Angela burst into the festivities

Franciscus
Stop ! stop your dancing, come & see
A hundred warships flying
The Crescent banner, man your posts
Our coast needs fortifying


Scene 5 : Fort Saint Angelo, Birgu

Grandmaster D’Homedes is in discussion with Francesco Lanfreducci & Jean Parisot de Valette

Lanfreducci
Let us praise the Lord for this salvation
Grave dangers pass, Grandmaster D’Homedes
At least for us in bastion Birgu
Tho’ Turks ten thousand mass’d under bulwarks
Not a singular infidel dared test
The defences of Fort Saint Angelo
But now it seems they march on Mdina
Leaving a guarded fleet at Marsamxett
Such evil time has drawn an ugly veil
Of fear & dark aboding, devil-forged.

Grandmaster D’Homedes
More anguish must ensue, I sense, & soon
The dreadful happenstances of these days
Have always blown a promise to endure
Hindsight is only useful to the seers
We holy Knights were vastly unprepared
To blunt the Crescent scimitar fierce drawn
Against the Holy League of Christendom
With Salan Pasha, Salah & Dragut
Flung like a Cerebus from Inferno
De Valette, you have met the latter, yes?

De Valette
Dragut is the spawn of Barbarosa
In temprament, tenacity & guile
Who deady vendetta has sworn on us
For slaying his brother upon Gozo
cSome sev’ral years ago, he never shirks
From promises like these, full well I know
For I was kept a slave on his galley
When Rahman Kust Aly defeated me
In battle on the seas, a peaceless year
Until the Order barter’d my release

Enter Claude de la Sengle

Claude de la Sengle
Grandmaster, there is word from Mdina
Commander Villeganion muster’d
All able-bodied peasants from the farms
& in their souls assembl’d Christ invoked
To stage a stout defence of rampart walls
With them forty knights & arquebusers
Meanwhile the heathen pillage villages
Burning & raping, devouring all –
The shadow of the Crescent falls on Malta
& Gozo too, their galleys scout its shores.

Grandmaster D’Homodes
We can give to Gozo nothing, alas,
But they possess a fine citadella
That well-equipp’d a long siege should defy
Until the hours help comes from Sicily
But we shold not stand idle, as befits
The warriors of Christ, let us sally
Against their galleys in a night attack
Come brothers all, come & ardently pray
For heavenly success in endeavors
& for Mdina – ‘Ave Marias.’

The Knights pray in Latin


Scene 6 : Marsamxett Harbour

A Parata is performed. The two sides are comprised of Turkish sailors & the Knights of St John. At the end of the battle several galley slaves escape including Andreotto Brancato.

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