Ballata No 1 in sol minore op. 23

By Will Seefried


It starts in a concert hall. A piano on a stage. A big vase of fake flowers next to it. People sit in the audience in elaborate Victorian dress.

A young man enters. Walks to the piano. Bows. They clap. The women wave their lace fans even faster. He is dressed like a boy out of a nameless past time…a tunic of sorts, loose fabric pants that come below the knee, bare feet, messy hair, covered in dirt. He sits down at the massive piano and begins to play.

The plants in the vase begin to grow bigger and bigger, spreading over the piano and onto the floor, leaves appear. The plants spread up to the ceiling and through the course of the music they take over the room creating a canopy of life, with trees, thick roots, surrounding the room… A canopy of lilacs, petals fall, light shines thorough… a romantic, fantasy, renaissance utopia.  The ground is thick with dirt and leaves and plants and moss and insects and life.  The audience members are pulled, thrown, pushed from their seats with the force of life invading the room and taking over their world. Their chairs are gone too. The audience members, in their fancy clothes, have been imprisoned in the trees around the room, roots wrapping around their wrists and ankles unwilling to free them. Their struggle is in vain. The piano boy keeps playing, unaffected though his piano has been transformed into a forest/jungle plateau, covered in plants, its legs turning into roots, growing and spreading down into the ground, the wood turning old. This transformation is to feel magical and effortless. a transformation into another time, place, world, through the music.

Three young people are left in the center. Two young men and a young woman with long red/gold hair. they seem to realize what they must do. They begin to undress themselves standing in almost a triangle. this is an intricate process. They undress carefully. Slowly. the audience members tied up in the trees look on with horror. Once they are all finally nude, they turn to each other. The two boys look each other in the eyes, as though much anticipation is about to be relieved, and the girl looks on blissfully, with total joy as they kiss and sink to the ground. They pull her into their passion, her golden red strawberry blonde hair pulled down and cascading across the floor. They dance through a lovemaking sequence. One of the boys remembers they are being watched and begins to walk around to the audience, begging them to forget, to look away. As his desperation and terror grow, so does the passion of the boy and girl who remain center, but instead of moving faster in their passion, they get slower and slower…cherishing every single movement. Soon the boy on the outside is running in circles around the scene until the moment ends and something quickly shifts…

The audience members who were tied up in the trees have turned to dead bodies, limp. Their dresses are now heavy, not buoyant, their skin pale. The trees have died, and all is grey and brown. The canopy turns grey…the season shifts taking us to a new place of death, grey, brown, and cold surrounding the boy and girl who are now alone, center. still lush, but lush with shadows and lost life as opposed to the rich garden of before. They are the only color we see, their flesh. The boy and girl dance for some time: a relationship, taking its course. life. time. experience. The room gets windy. Too windy…the boy turns to fight the wind. a gorgeous naked battle against the elements. it is pure. heartful. When he turns back She is gone from where she had been laying on the ground, her body turned to rose petals, red, pink, and yellow that blow away in the wind. The last sign of color. He mourns.

Suddenly the roots and branches one by one from all sides reach out and grab him. They hold him center, trapping him in the center of the room, grabbing by the ankles, wrists, neck. He is suspended in the air. Water falls from above, isolated onto him, and slowly his body begins to grow soil…flowers grow from him, moss and leaves and plans cover him so he is a man of life, an explosion of color, passion, fertility, knowledge and hope in the center of this barren forest of death. Butterflies land on him. dew drips from his earthly flesh. he struggles to escape but cannot. he gives up, tries again. alas. he is trapped. Finally he stops fighting it, and the branches pull away leaving him, still, calm…and so alive. a perfect manifestation of life in the middle of death.


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