A romantic opera in three acts, in the Italian language (translated into English).
Version : 1. Created : 24 April 1998 Author : Ross N. Williams Email : firstname.lastname@example.org URL : http://www.ross.net/ OperaURL : http://www.ross.net/fun/stevedores.html Copyright : Copyright (c) Ross N. Williams, 1998. All rights reserved. However, permission is granted to copy and disseminate this work verbatim provided that these notices are preserved. Performance rights reserved. Libretto : Ross N. Williams (email@example.com) Music : Not yet written Scene : Australia Year : 1998 Note : This page is also available as a pure text file.
Scene 1: The Docks (Morning)
The opera opens with a chorus of stevedores who sing of the pride and of the joy they take in their work:
We are the stevedores of the Australian waterfront Moving shipping containers is our mission But we are a modest and retiring group So we take great pains to hide our work The cat burglar's tread is not so slow As a shipping container on our crane We take great offence if you can see That a container is moving at all
The chorus breaks into a solo as Disputo, a newly qualified stevedore, sings of the proud stevedoring tradition of his family. He sings of how his great grandfather used to earn an average Australian wage, how his grandfather earned twice that, his father three times the average wage, and how he hopes to continue the tradition. But his best mate Chook, also a stevedore, breaks in and reminds them all of the hard life of the stevedore, the demanding physical work of operating crane levers, and of how they must work ten, twenty, sometimes even thirty hours per week.
Suddenly there is a commotion in the docks. The shipping magnate Lorenzo, accompanied by his beautiful daughter Desperina, arrives to inspect the new watertight shipping containers. Disputo sees Desperina and immediately falls in love with her. He takes her aside and declares his love for her and they sing a duet. Desperina declares her love for him but cautions that their love is doomed if her father finds out. They agree to meet in secret at the docks at midnight. Lorenzo and Desperina depart.
Disputo then has a duet with a chorus of stevedores in which
the delicately intertwined nature of spiritual and carnal
love is unravelled. Disputo sings of his oceanic joy at his
discovery of Desperina, and the redemptive power of the pure
love he feels for her, while the stevedores sing of
Desperina's enormous knockers and her legendary sexual
Scene 2: The Docks (Afternoon)
All is tranquil and quiet on the docks as the stevedores work at maximum capacity. Suddenly the menacing figure of Lorenzo appears before them once again:
I know that moving containers is a chore But they move them faster in sunny Singapore All my life I have waited for the day Of extra productivity for even lesser pay So I wish you all to leave and not come back You see, I'm giving everyone the sack
The stevedores are outraged and mill around angrily. Lorenzo continues:
The three-toed sloth of sleepy jungles can seem Speedy next to stevedores working at full steam The massive bulk of hefty shipping containers Is microscopic compared to your retainers Recalcitro always tells us to get on our bikes He thinks he can ask for anything he likes I know you will die fighting for your cause To up your salary; I upped mine; up yours.
Lorenzo departs. The stevedores are reaching flashpoint, but Recalcitro keeps a cool head and calms them down. He sings:
What solid bedrock transmutes to shifting sand! Lorenzo's drastic course surely will not stand We will defend our salaries and our rorts To see him finally vanquished in the courts But to the pub for now; we are of similar minds We return at dawn to man the picket lines!
The stevedores cheer and head down to the pub, except for Disputo who lingers behind to end the scene with:
The battle plans are layed; my mind is never keener But my thoughts return to my sweet Desperina
Scene 1: The Docks At Night
Fog. A huge open shipping container dominates the set. A lone night watchman in a trench coat walks slowly among the shipping containers holding a lamp aloft to find his way. A bell tolls through the mist. He sings
Now is the blackest tunnel of the night Made blacker by the looming battle's pall The deserted docks portentious silence Echos the coming of tommorow's ghosts How heavily the mantle of these docks Rests on my stooped and weary shoulders Even the moist fog hangs heavy of lead Truly it is time for me to be in bed My watch ends at six and it is nearly one So it's clear that here my work is done
He leaves. Desperina and Disputo enter from either side of the stage. They see each other. They run to each other's arms. They kiss. They sing of the fiery urgency of their love. Desperina sings:
My love life, so far one of freely giving Is flummoxed by you who moves boxes for a living I have the inclination and the time So please come quickly and help move mine
Disputo answers with:
Now our love affair is just about to start Never was container moved as you have moved my heart Your voluptuous form has set my hormones honking So let us go and commence the frenzied bonking
They are about to depart when suddenly a chorus of jackbooted scabs enter, led by Lorenzo. They goosestep around the stage singing:
Oh we are the fascist jackbooted scabs We care not for ancient union traditions Each worker writes a contract of his own And together we swarm like worker ants What we lack in ideological supremacy We make up for in manic productivity Wherever you find some economic rationalists Not far behind will be we socialist nationalists
Disputo and Desperina hide in the shipping container. The
jackbooted scabs man the cranes and start working on the
docks, moving containers. They notice the open container
(with Disputo and Desperina in it) and seal it up to keep
the night fog out.
Scene 2: The Docks (Morning)
The stevedores arrive in the morning to man the picket line only to discover the scabs hard at work inside the shipping yard. They cry out angrily in chorus:
Scabs! Scabs! Working in the yard! Scabs! Scabs! Working very hard! Scabs! Scabs! Working for low pay! Scabs! Scabs! You will rue this day!
The chorus breaks into a solo by Chook who rouses the mob to action:
The noble stevedores have spoken The docks should be as still as a lotus But suspended over our heads is a container Moving faster than the humble garden snail It truly piques my professional pride To see a container moved with such gusto So let us, this fence, breach in righteous anger And drop the tainted container in the drink
At this, the stevedores break through the cyclone fence and attack the scab crane driver just as he is moving the shipping containing containing Disputo and Desperina onto the ship. Chook takes control of the crane and releases the shipping container. It falls into the water with a splash and slowly sinks to the bottom of the harbour. The stevedores let out a cheer of delight.
To the muddy harbour depths has sunk their cargo Now surely they will see the force of our embargo
Scene 1: Inside The Shipping Container
Inside the shipping contain at the bottom of the harbour, Disputo and Desperina lament their fate and sing of their love for each other. Disputo sings of his passion and of their certain doom:
If this ocean was made of the stuff of souls My passion for you would boil it away But this watery tomb is uncompromisingly wet And the Grim Reaper does not require an aqualung
Desperina responds more positively by reminding Disputo that they will spend their last moments together:
This harbour floor is the nadir of our destiny My millstone heart can sink no further So let us celebrate our brief remaining time With tempered joy for pleasures still at hand I have everything I need in my fading hours Just you, and five thousand Nintendo machines
Scene 2: The Docks (Afternoon)
On the docks, there is a standoff between the stevedores and the scabs. The two groups, led by Lorenzo and Recalcitro eye each other angrily. Exporto, who owns the sunken shipping container, arrives in his Mercedes and sings a touching song:
Ants suffer and die when elephants have a blue The stevedores worthy cause is like an Amazon butterfly The container now proudly treasured by Neptune Contains Nintendo machines bound for Bragwando Which of you has a conscience that can stand The thought of Bragwando children without Nintendo?
Despite their passionate loyalty to their cause, the stevedores are swayed by this argument, and so Chook boards the crane and lifts the sunken shipping container from the bottom of the harbour. The shipping container is opened and Disputo and Desperina emerge blinking in the sunlight. Lorenzo sees Disputo with his daughter and punches Recalcitro. The whole waterfront erupts in a brawl between the stevedores and the scab labour.
Suddenly there is a shout. Everyone turns around and looks, for there, framed within the U-shape of the huge crane is the towering stern majestic figure of the Australian Prime Minister, Howardo. He makes a speech with echoes in history:
I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble man; but I have the heart of a Prime Minister, and of a Prime Minister of Australia too; and I think foul scorn that the economic rationalists, or any academic theorist, should dare to threaten our Australian way of life.
then breaks into song, singing a touching solo in which he describes the transformation that has taken place in his heart:
My advisors led me astray; my heart was cast of stone The waterfront I seeked to transform and make efficient, But soon, a way of life, I realize I was destroying We must preserve our great Australian heritage So your jobs I am restoring at quintuple salary All my life has been but a prelude to this moment And now that I have fulfilled my destiny I will appoint Recalcitro as the next Prime Minister And retire to the Netherland Antilles to count my pension.
With tears in their eyes from the moving song, the stevedores and the scabs hug each other. Everyone cheers for joy and the whole cast rallies around to join in the final triumphal song:
Lift your hearts unto the sky Harmony has returned to the waterfront The happy stevedores joyfully sing as they work To create profits for the noble shipping company. From the four corners of the Earth Spirited over the shimmering sea Containers will arrive at this berth Moving slowly unto eternity.