Marie Laveau’s Mardi Gras lecture
(from the Prologue)
“Centuries and centuries ago, my friends,
celebrations were celebrated to insure the
growing of the crops of Spring.
Sacrifices were made for the earth’s fecundity;
and sometimes couples, coupled in the fields,
(Wink to audience)
to help Nature get the point.
(An even bigger, amiable, smile)
Later, Mardi Gras became a day of blood when those being admitted to the priesthood had their testicles cut off as sacrifice; and testicles and blood were spattered on the altars. Still later, the carnival known as the Lupercalia in Rome, gave the citizens free
reign to let themselves go.
And behind the masks of concealment, all laws were abandoned so that men could, in one great orgy, sweat the evil from their pores. That was the carnival day when crimes of vengeance and rape and murder were done—as well as public executions. So you see; Sex, murder, vengeance and religion have been the antecedents of all carnivals
whose aim —as now — has always been to force the corruption out, before the next corrupt cycle begins again.”
It is 1900, on the eve of Mardi Gras. In her New Orleans Parlour the legendary Marie Laveau is in crisis; her once-sacred powers have degenerated to “mere
theatrics” and, tonight, she has discovered that she’s been cursed.
In order to prove to the gods that she can still play God and fight off the curse, Marie Laveau manipulates the two desperate people who came to her for help that night —and turns one against the other. But the entangled web Marie attempts to weave for her own ends, unravels, and each character’s painful confrontations entangle Marie as well.
Mixing Nineteenth Century revenge operatic conventions and voodoo rhythms, playwright Gagliano counterpoints the larger-than-life theatricality with lyricism, humor and compassion, and shapes the heightened, lurid Language into unsung spoken arias; mixing, finally, sexual encounters with voodoo ritual and propelling each character toward a climax of redemption — and murder.