Marsh King's Daughter
The Marsh King's Daughter
is loosely based on the story of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen and is
set to music by Mozart, arranged and orchestrated by Bernard J. Taylor.
The story opens with a Pharaoh lying listlessly on his bed, unable to find the
energy or the will to do anything. The examining physician says the only hope
for him is a plant that exists only in the Marshlands of Scandinavia, ruled by
the dreaded Marsh King and his even more dreaded mother, The Queen of the Night.
Adding to the dangers is the uncertainty of the kind of reception they might get
from the war-happy Vikings who control the lands outside the marshes.
In spite of her mother's fears of the dangers of such an undertaking, the
Pharaoh's daughter Ahmose (whose name means "The Moon is Born") is determined to
find the plant and bring it back to Egypt. She enlists the help of two swans,
who teach her how to fly.
On arrival in Scandinavia, Ahmose and the two swans meet Mama and Papa Stork,
who also warn Ahmose of the dangers of entering the marshes and encountering the
Marsh King and his mother. Papa Stork hands out his business cards, offering to
help in any way he can if his services are ever needed.
Ahmose and the swans soon find the plant they are looking for - a very large and
very fashion-conscious Sunflower, who longs to escape the marshes and "strut his
stuff in Cannes". But just as they are about to leave, the Marsh King and his
mother appear, attended by some very gnarled and menacing trees.
The Queen of the Night, who trades in human souls, is all for feeding Ahmose and
her entourage to the marshes. But the Marsh King offers to let the Swans and
Sunflower return to Egypt and save her father if Ahmose agrees to be his wife.
Ahmose has no option but to agree.
A year later the storks get an urgent message from Ahmose. She wants them to
find suitable and loving foster parents for the baby she has given birth to. She
tells the storks that she has grown to care for the Marsh King, who has never
known love before and whose mother had always told him he was unlovable. She
tells the storks that she hates to give up the baby, but it is the only way to
keep her safe from the powerful Queen of the Night, who resents the fact that
her son has found love with Ahmose. The Marsh King, she tells them, is unable to
escape the marshes because there is a curse on him that will cause him to perish
if ever he ventures outside the marshes. And so ends the first act.
The second act begins 20 years later. Ahmose's daughter has been adopted by the
kindly Viking Hilda and her warrior husband Sigurd. Named Helga, the beautiful
daughter longs to join her father in battle and boasts that she is a match for
any man when it comes to hunting and killing.
But there is a curse upon Helga that causes her to turn into a morose frog at
nights. When her adoptive mother meets the storks again, they reluctantly
confess that Helga is the daughter of the Marsh King and that it is probably the
Queen of The Night, her grandmother, who has made her so warlike and who has put
the frog curse on her.
When Helga's adoptive father Sigurd returns from his latest rounds of pillaging
the villages of Anglia and Ireland, Helga is given the job of guarding the
prisoner they have brought back with them from Ireland - a gentle but resolute
pacifist named Simon.
Helga's first desire is to kill Simon, but then she falls in love with him - and
he with her - and suddenly the curse on her is lifted. At the same time the
Queen of the Night, who feeds on other people's despair, is mortified that her
hold on Helga has been broken by the love she has found with Simon.
The Queen of the Night's death also frees the Marsh King to leave the marshes,
and he and Ahmose decide to return to Egypt. The Pharaoh is now cured of his
ailment and Ahmose is reunited with her family, as well as Sunflower , the
storks and the swans.
The show ends with the marriage of Helga and Simon, who naturally live happily