Skip to main content

Queen of the Cold Land - The Prix Italia 2018 winner in Radio Music category

Säveltäjä Riikka talvitie radio-ooppera Kylmän maan kuningattarena
Säveltäjä Riikka talvitie radio-ooppera Kylmän maan kuningattarena Picture by: Yleisradio Riikka Talvitie

The Queen of the Cold Land is available again on streaming for limited time starting at 26.10.2018.

Libretto in English

1
QUEEN OF THE COLD LAND
— A radio opera in two acts

Characters:
MISTRESS OF THE NORTH, DAUGHTER, MAIDEN, DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
ISLANDER, BLACKSMITH, OLD MAN

ACT I:
PROLOGUE
1. WOMEN’S SAUNA
2. TRADING
3. THE MAIDEN’S TALE
4. THE BLACKSMITH’S FORGE

ACT II:
5. CHURCH YARD
6. THE WEDDING
7. THE MISTRESS’S LAMENT
8. WAR AND BIRTH
EPILOGUE

ACT I
PROLOGUE
The women hear how the national spirit wakes up again. The Mistress of the North tries to tear
it up.

DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Where are we?
MISTRESS
A strange buzz.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Is this a room or a space?
MAIDEN
There is just sound and emptiness here.
DAUGHTER
Goddammit.
MAIDEN
What?
DAUGHTER
Are we in an opera now?
MAIDEN
As in listeners?
MISTRESS
No, in it. As characters.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Not me. I cannot sing.
DAUGHTER
What’s that?
MAIDEN
What?
DAUGHTER
The pretty one. Wait. There it was again.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Could it be an oboe?
MISTRESS
No, it’s Mauretania. Became independent in 1960.
DAUGHTER
Nice.
MISTRESS
This is Liberia. Declared independence as early as in 1847.
MAIDEN
Here’s the national spirit again.

MISTRESS
Don’t wake up, you national spirit. I will tear you up!
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW (humming)

The Mistress tears up the national spirit.

1. WOMEN’S SAUNA
The women are bathing and dreaming of what kind of poems Elias Lönnrot could have collected
for the Finnish national epic “Kalevala”.

DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Everyone up on the benches!
MISTRESS
A bridal sauna.
DAUGHTER
Whose?
MISTRESS
Depends on whose stories are told. Is it just Lönnrot’s?
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Snap, he cut out all women’s songs; he kept the adventure poems.
MISTRESS
And there are ones that were never published.
MAIDEN
Such as?
MISTRESS
Throw some water on the stove and we’ll sing.
WOMEN
With her pussy proudly on display
on the castle window she lay,
white socks on her feet.
Saw a cock walk by,
started chasing it.
The cock plunged into a spruce.
MISTRESS
Elias did not want that one. Too juicy.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
There are some nice ones too.
DAUGHTER
Such as?
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
He was afraid of depressed women. Snap, snap – cut them out as boring. Put them in a
different book.
WOMEN
A book!
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Fancy some?
MISTRESS
Sure.

DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
This is a men’s tale.
MISTRESS
All long stories are men’s.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
We just have the moments between deaths.
DAUGHTER
What if the epic was here?
MAIDEN
In peace among people.
DAUGHTER
In a moment for which nobody needs any words.
MAIDEN
The moment between deaths.

DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
What if we collect the stories again?
DAUGHTER
From different places than before.
MISTRESS
What would they be about?
WOMEN
The warm touch of family caregivers… the comforting nursery-school teacher… when blowing
a child’s pain away… a child’s suicide… the mother’s grief… when someone has a child… with
no father… the nurse’s question… would you rather lie down for the blood test… a teacher’s
whisper… how is the student really doing… does the child have any friends… is it really a girl
or a boy…
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Different songs need different voices.
DAUGHTER
A voice of one’s own.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW (searching for her own voice)

2. TRADING
The Old Man woos the Mistress of the North’s daughter for a wife to the Blacksmith, whose
sexual orientation has raised questions in the village. In return, the Mistress is promised Sampo,
a machine with which she could be present everywhere in the world and find happiness.

MISTRESS
Hello?
OLD MAN
Well, it is me.
You know who,
in a story like this.
I am calling you to find out
the terms of trade in the North.
MISTRESS
Never give anything for free, but always demand a fee. Wrath you can have for free, to seal the
deal. It is known by women who play in the men’s world. It is the price of coping.
The feedback is blunt and anonymous. Sprayed on the door: “Face like a predator’s ass,
painted with shit, go home.”

MISTRESS
Hello?
OLD MAN
I asked about the terms of trade in the North?
MISTRESS
Not for free.
OLD MAN
Is it too much to ask?
MISTRESS
Bring me the Sun and you can have the girl.
OLD MAN
The sun?
MISTRESS
Or the world pillar!
OLD MAN
A pillar!
MISTRESS
Bring me Sampo!
OLD MAN
What is Sampo?
MISTRESS
It is designed to make me happy ever after.
OLD MAN
You drive a hard bargain for a woman; do you have the guts to follow it through?

MISTRESS
Where did I come up with Sampo?
What did I mean with it?
Is it a machine or
a puzzling force of nature?
I want to move freely,
see elsewhere.
How could I be present
everywhere at the same time?
A machine to love with
A machine to hate with
across the world.
I was not born here and
no matter what I want,
I stand out from the crowd;
I do not speak like them,
no matter how I try.
I want to move freely,
see elsewhere.
Let Sampo be the answer.
Let Sampo be the answer.

MISTRESS
And who is calling us now?
OLD MAN
Talk into the receiver, Blacksmith, talk.
MISTRESS
Hello?
OLD MAN
I did not ask her for myself.
BLACKSMITH
Why then?
OLD MAN
For you.
BLACKSMITH
Why?
OLD MAN
For a bride.
MISTRESS
None of my business.
BLACKSMITH
Why?
OLD MAN
So you would have someone.
BLACKSMITH
Should I have?
ISLANDER
Everyone should.
OLD MAN
Or a man can’t be called a man.
ISLANDER
Everyone is talking.
BLACKSMITH
What are they saying?
ISLANDER
What’s wrong?
OLD MAN
Not interested?
BLACKSMITH
How do I stop the rumours?
OLD MAN
Forge a Sampo.
BLACKSMITH
I don’t know how.
OLD MAN
I will help you.
ISLANDER
Me too.
OLD MAN
Perhaps they were right?
ISLANDER
There is no man in him.
BLACKSMITH
Is that what they say?
OLD MAN
It is.
BLACKSMITH
I’ll show them Sampo. Goddammit.

MEN
Let’s forge Sampo to stop the rumours,
They will stop laughing.
Kick and blame him
and he will redeem his place.
Let us forge, brother!
Let us weld, brother!
Let us bang and pound
and standardize, brother!
ISLANDER
We’re done! What is it?
OLD MAN
The greatest achievement of engineers – a culture of uniformity.
BLACKSMITH
Will this end the gossiping?
OLD MAN
Yes, it will.
ISLANDER
How?
OLD MAN
Let’s take this to the women and we’ll get him a bride.

3. THE MAIDEN’S TALE
Outside the sauna it is discovered that the Maiden has gotten pregnant through artificial
insemination. The other women doubt her decision. When the Old Man condemns the Maiden’s
plan, the other women begin to defend her.

MAIDEN
The wind blew into her womb,
the sea made her swell.
MISTRESS
If she’s not expecting, I’m a lamb. Are you coming to the sauna?
MAIDEN
No.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Well, are you going to tell us?
DAUGHTER
Who pounded you pregnant?
MAIDEN
I’ve been outdoors. Nobody there.
DAUGHTER
Then it must’ve been a bear.
MAIDEN
It doesn’t matter who the father is.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
So, no father?
MAIDEN
None at all. I ate a lingonberry in the moor.
WOMEN
And here we are.
MAIDEN
Isn’t it enough to have a mother?
MISTRESS
They’ll be alone in this world.

MAIDEN
I left everything when I heard the lingonberry beckoning. I forgot men – and myself. The
lingonberry’s surface was slippery and pretty. The forest full of berries smells of heather and
moss. Nobody noticed; beard moss in the hair. The lingering taste of lingonberry made my
mouth laugh.
(Old man appears at the sauna)
MAIDEN
What are you doing here?
OLD MAN
I warned you.
MAIDEN
Don’t touch me.
OLD MAN
This is how they breed the Northern race. First you go to a clinic to tick boxes and select
genes. Do you want a musical child? Or a sporty seed?
MISTRESS
Do you think this is the first fatherless child? Even in all religions the most important child is
born without a man’s touch.
WOMEN
Are you going to slaughter all the fatherless in the North?
OLD MAN
Shut up.

4. THE BLACKSMITH’S FORGE
The Smith and the Daughter-in-law confide in each other. The Smith tells the Daughter-in-law
about his lonely but happy life at his work. The Daughter-in-law tells the Smith about her exman,
Islander, who left because he could not stand the Daughter-in-law’s independence. The
Smith decides to show all doubters and get married.

BLACKSMITH AND WOMEN
With her pussy proudly on display
on the castle window she lay,
white socks on her feet.
Started off from here:
the priest raised his hat,
the king his helmet,
the peasants went on their knees.
Saw a cock walk by,
started chasing it.
The cock plunged into a spruce.
The pussy looked from a tree stump,
then said these words:
“Come into my throats, dear!”
The cock replied in anger:
“Let fire arrows
hit your crooked throat
and evil enter your gums.
I remember what you once did:
made my hair fall off,
brought tears into my eyes,
slapped me on the ear!”

BLACKSMITH
They wondered what was wrong with the man, since he can’t find a woman. Or is he not
interested?
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW (searching for her own voice)
BLACKSMITH
I don’t need anyone. The forge is enough; I can find the pliers, the hammers and
sledgehammers with my eyes closed. I know the metal temperatures by the colour. I look at
the red, orange and white glow and laugh. No need to share it with anyone.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
I wanted to share.
BLACKSMITH
With a man? What kind?
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
He wanted to take care,
be strong, support me
and worship me
three times a day.
I was free to go to night clubs
with my girlfriends.
We lived side by side.
Not in front or behind,
but side by side.
BLACKSMITH
What happened then?
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
He left.
BLACKSMITH
Was it Islander?
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
He’s the one.
BLACKSMITH
Well, he wanted to reach everything, everyone,
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
carry his name,
BLACKSMITH
build monuments.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
I found work, he stayed home.
BLACKSMITH
They say that everyone has the same memory of the past, the same image of the cold and the
feeling of the warm lake in his hand. Each man knows his place in line without asking, without
questioning.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Perhaps the villagers were right.
BLACKSMITH
There is no man in me,
but I will send regards.
Regards to my mother,
the only woman
who thought I was good enough.
Who settled for this.
Regards to my mother:
I have a woman now.
I don’t know what she is like,
but mother can start knitting.
Socks for the baby.

ACT II
5. CHURCH YARD
The Daughter of the North is waiting in the church yard for her wedding to begin. Islander
comes to comfort her.

DAUGHTER
The Mistress has a name. The Mistress has the power
to send me to the other side of the world.
How many is she selling me to?
An arm to this one, hair to that one, legs to a third one.
And tits, together or separately?
Two for one?
ISLANDER
Who are you?
DAUGHTER
You have a name, Islander, I don’t.
Daughter, mother, sister!
ISLANDER
Won’t they give you one of your own?
DAUGHTER
You’re not paying attention to yours.
ISLANDER
I’m a prisoner of the name.
DAUGHTER
And I’m a prisoner of namelessness.
I will disappear without characteristics.
ISLANDER
I will be remembered for what I was not.

ISLANDER
But I have to go now.
DAUGHTER
Where to?
ISLANDER
A wedding.
DAUGHTER
Whose?
MISTRESS
Yours.
DAUGHTER
Is Sampo ready?
OLD MAN
It is.

6. THE WEDDING
The wedding begins. At the altar the Mistress discovers that Sampo is not what she had hoped
for. The men take the Daughter of the North with them.

MISTRESS
They are already waiting at the altar.
DAUGHTER
We have the aisle to walk together.
MISTRESS
They brought Sampo again.
You have to go.
That is the deal, so it is what we’ll do.
It is how this story goes.
DAUGHTER
They brought Sampo again.
I have to go.
That is the deal, so it is what we’ll do.
It is how this story goes.
MISTRESS
You got yourself a good man. Right?
Do not talk about dreams,
about love.
DAUGHTER
Do you believe that?
MISTRESS
I’m holding myself together,
I do not think.
DAUGHTER
I won’t agree to such a life.
MISTRESS
You must. I did not think they could make Sampo.
DAUGHTER
Yes.
MISTRESS
Mother did not intend to shoo away her little bird.
I made a mistake.
DAUGHTER
I know.
MISTRESS
We’re here.

MISTRESS
Which one of you is the groom?
OLD MAN
He is. Say hello to your wife.
BLACKSMITH
Hello.
DAUGHTER
I won’t do it.
MISTRESS
I’m sorry.
DAUGHTER
I have a name and a voice of my own.
ISLANDER
Observe local customs!
OLD MAN
Or leave the country!
DAUGHTER
Where would I go? I was born here.
MISTRESS
Please forgive me.
OLD MAN
This is it. What say you?
BLACKSMITH
Thank you.
OLD MAN
Here is Sampo.
MISTRESS
What does it do this time?
ISLANDER
It is a machine that keeps everything the same.
MISTRESS
It is not what I want.
MEN
You got it without asking and without questions.
We want what was asked for.

7. THE MISTRESS’S LAMENT
The Mistress of the North grieves at the rapids where her daughter drowned herself. The
Mistress decides to avenge her daughter’s death and declare war.

MISTRESS
Poor me, I wish I was
never born,
into these evil times,
into these dull days.
Better if I had never been
born and raised,
never known this time,
never seen these days.
If I had died at six,
disappeared at eight nights’ old.
I would not have asked for much,
a tiny edge of earth,
an ell of holy land,
some tears of sorrow.
She went to the rapids. It is not a pretty end. She swallows water, tries to reach the surface but
fails. Pounds against the rocks, hits her head against the banks, crashes to the bottom. Tries to
catch her breath one more time, but water fills her lungs. In the middle of the rapids surges a
bloody stream, coming from the back of her head.
Many years,
for many a lifetime,
I have been quiet.
Now I have to speak, since I have a voice.
They took her, the bloody crows.
The men. They took the girl
and turned her into
what she was not. They killed the girl!
I will peck their eyes out. I will take what is mine. I will not bend down again. WAR!

8. WAR AND BIRTH
In the turmoils of war the Maiden gives birth to a new child who is named Queen of the Cold
land.

MAIDEN
What is happening there?
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
We are in war. This has been told so many times.
MISTRESS
According to legend we are fighting over the machine.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
But nobody gets it in the end.
MISTRESS
It is your time now.
MAIDEN
Mine?
MISTRESS
Time to give birth.
(war)
WOMEN
A heavy load in her womb, a hard weight in her stomach,
she carried for nine months, and it won’t be born,
the stubborn creation.
(war)
BLACKSMITH
I won’t go to war over this.
OLD MAN
Why not?
BLACKSMITH
It was not the mother’s fault.
OLD MAN
It was a legal trade, your wife. This is your decision.
BLACKSMITH
Will there be others?
OLD MAN
Everyone.
BLACKSMITH
Even the recently newborn?

WOMEN
Come here, maiden of the air, carrier of all air.
Release the maiden from her misery, the wife from her stomach pain.
The national spirit wakes up again.

EPILOGUE

DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
What happened?
MAIDEN
Did the child survive?
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Yes, went to war.
MAIDEN
Did the child get a name?
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Yes, she was called Queen of the Cold land.
MAIDEN
Queen! Was it a girl?
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Yes. She has curly hair.
MAIDEN
The lingonberry had a different taste to it.
MISTRESS
Queen of the Cold land.
MAIDEN
An impressive name.
MISTRESS
I guess I lost my crown.


“An Opera, so skilfully crafted for radio, composed by Riikka Talvitie, scripted by Riikka Talvitie and Tommi Kinnunen and performed by the Radio Symphonic Orchestra of Finland. The jury in particular greatly appreciated the innovative humour with which the script addresses the national myths of Finland with a contemporary perspective. This is a highly original modern-day « opera buffa », to be praised for its seductive universal approach. The Prix Italia jury had no hesitation in awarding the top prize to this truly witty, fast-paced, fresh and indeed elegant gem.”

MAIDEN
Here’s the national spirit again.
MISTRESS
Don’t wake up, you national spirit. I will tear you up!

The Queen of the Cold Land is a story in which everyone wants their voice to be heard. It is built from dozens of national hymns, myths from the Finnish epic Kalevala, different norms and attempts to become liberated from them. The story spirals through various episodes and constantly changing times and places.

The Queen of the Cold Land, created by composer Riikka Talvitie and writer Tommi Kinnunen gives a new life to the artform of radio opera in Finland: the previous radio operas were made in Finland nearly 70 years ago.

DAUGHTER
I have a name and a voice of my own.
ISLANDER
Observe local customs!
OLD MAN
Or leave the country!
DAUGHTER
Where would I go? I was born here.

Queen of the Cold Land - a radio opera in two acts.

Libretto: Tommi Kinnunen ja Riikka Talvitie. Dramaturge: Juha-Pekka Hotinen. Composer: Riikka Talvitie. Director: Anni Klein. Sound Designer: Heidi Soidinsalo. Conductor: Ruut Kiiski. Sound Engineer: Pentti Männikkö. English translator: Jaana Wiik. Producer: Pekka Savolainen, Yle Drama / Radio Theatre.

Singers:
Daughter - Meeri Pulakka. Mistress of the North - Päivi Nisula. Daughter-in-law - Teppo Lampela. Islander - Petri Bäckström. Old man - Tuukka Haapaniemi. Blacksmith - Jussi Lehtipuu. Maiden - Aino Venna.
Musicians:
Sampo Lassila, Harri Kuusijärvi and Aleksi Trygg.
RSO -The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

OLD MAN
The greatest achievement of engineers – a culture of uniformity.

Libretto in English

1
QUEEN OF THE COLD LAND
— A radio opera in two acts

Characters:
MISTRESS OF THE NORTH, DAUGHTER, MAIDEN, DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
ISLANDER, BLACKSMITH, OLD MAN

ACT I:
PROLOGUE
1. WOMEN’S SAUNA
2. TRADING
3. THE MAIDEN’S TALE
4. THE BLACKSMITH’S FORGE

ACT II:
5. CHURCH YARD
6. THE WEDDING
7. THE MISTRESS’S LAMENT
8. WAR AND BIRTH
EPILOGUE

ACT I
PROLOGUE
The women hear how the national spirit wakes up again. The Mistress of the North tries to tear
it up.

DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Where are we?
MISTRESS
A strange buzz.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Is this a room or a space?
MAIDEN
There is just sound and emptiness here.
DAUGHTER
Goddammit.
MAIDEN
What?
DAUGHTER
Are we in an opera now?
MAIDEN
As in listeners?
MISTRESS
No, in it. As characters.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Not me. I cannot sing.
DAUGHTER
What’s that?
MAIDEN
What?
DAUGHTER
The pretty one. Wait. There it was again.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Could it be an oboe?
MISTRESS
No, it’s Mauretania. Became independent in 1960.
DAUGHTER
Nice.
MISTRESS
This is Liberia. Declared independence as early as in 1847.
MAIDEN
Here’s the national spirit again.

MISTRESS
Don’t wake up, you national spirit. I will tear you up!
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW (humming)

The Mistress tears up the national spirit.

1. WOMEN’S SAUNA
The women are bathing and dreaming of what kind of poems Elias Lönnrot could have collected
for the Finnish national epic “Kalevala”.

DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Everyone up on the benches!
MISTRESS
A bridal sauna.
DAUGHTER
Whose?
MISTRESS
Depends on whose stories are told. Is it just Lönnrot’s?
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Snap, he cut out all women’s songs; he kept the adventure poems.
MISTRESS
And there are ones that were never published.
MAIDEN
Such as?
MISTRESS
Throw some water on the stove and we’ll sing.
WOMEN
With her pussy proudly on display
on the castle window she lay,
white socks on her feet.
Saw a cock walk by,
started chasing it.
The cock plunged into a spruce.
MISTRESS
Elias did not want that one. Too juicy.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
There are some nice ones too.
DAUGHTER
Such as?
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
He was afraid of depressed women. Snap, snap – cut them out as boring. Put them in a
different book.
WOMEN
A book!
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Fancy some?
MISTRESS
Sure.

DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
This is a men’s tale.
MISTRESS
All long stories are men’s.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
We just have the moments between deaths.
DAUGHTER
What if the epic was here?
MAIDEN
In peace among people.
DAUGHTER
In a moment for which nobody needs any words.
MAIDEN
The moment between deaths.

DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
What if we collect the stories again?
DAUGHTER
From different places than before.
MISTRESS
What would they be about?
WOMEN
The warm touch of family caregivers… the comforting nursery-school teacher… when blowing
a child’s pain away… a child’s suicide… the mother’s grief… when someone has a child… with
no father… the nurse’s question… would you rather lie down for the blood test… a teacher’s
whisper… how is the student really doing… does the child have any friends… is it really a girl
or a boy…
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Different songs need different voices.
DAUGHTER
A voice of one’s own.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW (searching for her own voice)

2. TRADING
The Old Man woos the Mistress of the North’s daughter for a wife to the Blacksmith, whose
sexual orientation has raised questions in the village. In return, the Mistress is promised Sampo,
a machine with which she could be present everywhere in the world and find happiness.

MISTRESS
Hello?
OLD MAN
Well, it is me.
You know who,
in a story like this.
I am calling you to find out
the terms of trade in the North.
MISTRESS
Never give anything for free, but always demand a fee. Wrath you can have for free, to seal the
deal. It is known by women who play in the men’s world. It is the price of coping.
The feedback is blunt and anonymous. Sprayed on the door: “Face like a predator’s ass,
painted with shit, go home.”

MISTRESS
Hello?
OLD MAN
I asked about the terms of trade in the North?
MISTRESS
Not for free.
OLD MAN
Is it too much to ask?
MISTRESS
Bring me the Sun and you can have the girl.
OLD MAN
The sun?
MISTRESS
Or the world pillar!
OLD MAN
A pillar!
MISTRESS
Bring me Sampo!
OLD MAN
What is Sampo?
MISTRESS
It is designed to make me happy ever after.
OLD MAN
You drive a hard bargain for a woman; do you have the guts to follow it through?

MISTRESS
Where did I come up with Sampo?
What did I mean with it?
Is it a machine or
a puzzling force of nature?
I want to move freely,
see elsewhere.
How could I be present
everywhere at the same time?
A machine to love with
A machine to hate with
across the world.
I was not born here and
no matter what I want,
I stand out from the crowd;
I do not speak like them,
no matter how I try.
I want to move freely,
see elsewhere.
Let Sampo be the answer.
Let Sampo be the answer.

MISTRESS
And who is calling us now?
OLD MAN
Talk into the receiver, Blacksmith, talk.
MISTRESS
Hello?
OLD MAN
I did not ask her for myself.
BLACKSMITH
Why then?
OLD MAN
For you.
BLACKSMITH
Why?
OLD MAN
For a bride.
MISTRESS
None of my business.
BLACKSMITH
Why?
OLD MAN
So you would have someone.
BLACKSMITH
Should I have?
ISLANDER
Everyone should.
OLD MAN
Or a man can’t be called a man.
ISLANDER
Everyone is talking.
BLACKSMITH
What are they saying?
ISLANDER
What’s wrong?
OLD MAN
Not interested?
BLACKSMITH
How do I stop the rumours?
OLD MAN
Forge a Sampo.
BLACKSMITH
I don’t know how.
OLD MAN
I will help you.
ISLANDER
Me too.
OLD MAN
Perhaps they were right?
ISLANDER
There is no man in him.
BLACKSMITH
Is that what they say?
OLD MAN
It is.
BLACKSMITH
I’ll show them Sampo. Goddammit.

MEN
Let’s forge Sampo to stop the rumours,
They will stop laughing.
Kick and blame him
and he will redeem his place.
Let us forge, brother!
Let us weld, brother!
Let us bang and pound
and standardize, brother!
ISLANDER
We’re done! What is it?
OLD MAN
The greatest achievement of engineers – a culture of uniformity.
BLACKSMITH
Will this end the gossiping?
OLD MAN
Yes, it will.
ISLANDER
How?
OLD MAN
Let’s take this to the women and we’ll get him a bride.

3. THE MAIDEN’S TALE
Outside the sauna it is discovered that the Maiden has gotten pregnant through artificial
insemination. The other women doubt her decision. When the Old Man condemns the Maiden’s
plan, the other women begin to defend her.

MAIDEN
The wind blew into her womb,
the sea made her swell.
MISTRESS
If she’s not expecting, I’m a lamb. Are you coming to the sauna?
MAIDEN
No.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Well, are you going to tell us?
DAUGHTER
Who pounded you pregnant?
MAIDEN
I’ve been outdoors. Nobody there.
DAUGHTER
Then it must’ve been a bear.
MAIDEN
It doesn’t matter who the father is.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
So, no father?
MAIDEN
None at all. I ate a lingonberry in the moor.
WOMEN
And here we are.
MAIDEN
Isn’t it enough to have a mother?
MISTRESS
They’ll be alone in this world.

MAIDEN
I left everything when I heard the lingonberry beckoning. I forgot men – and myself. The
lingonberry’s surface was slippery and pretty. The forest full of berries smells of heather and
moss. Nobody noticed; beard moss in the hair. The lingering taste of lingonberry made my
mouth laugh.
(Old man appears at the sauna)
MAIDEN
What are you doing here?
OLD MAN
I warned you.
MAIDEN
Don’t touch me.
OLD MAN
This is how they breed the Northern race. First you go to a clinic to tick boxes and select
genes. Do you want a musical child? Or a sporty seed?
MISTRESS
Do you think this is the first fatherless child? Even in all religions the most important child is
born without a man’s touch.
WOMEN
Are you going to slaughter all the fatherless in the North?
OLD MAN
Shut up.

4. THE BLACKSMITH’S FORGE
The Smith and the Daughter-in-law confide in each other. The Smith tells the Daughter-in-law
about his lonely but happy life at his work. The Daughter-in-law tells the Smith about her exman,
Islander, who left because he could not stand the Daughter-in-law’s independence. The
Smith decides to show all doubters and get married.

BLACKSMITH AND WOMEN
With her pussy proudly on display
on the castle window she lay,
white socks on her feet.
Started off from here:
the priest raised his hat,
the king his helmet,
the peasants went on their knees.
Saw a cock walk by,
started chasing it.
The cock plunged into a spruce.
The pussy looked from a tree stump,
then said these words:
“Come into my throats, dear!”
The cock replied in anger:
“Let fire arrows
hit your crooked throat
and evil enter your gums.
I remember what you once did:
made my hair fall off,
brought tears into my eyes,
slapped me on the ear!”

BLACKSMITH
They wondered what was wrong with the man, since he can’t find a woman. Or is he not
interested?
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW (searching for her own voice)
BLACKSMITH
I don’t need anyone. The forge is enough; I can find the pliers, the hammers and
sledgehammers with my eyes closed. I know the metal temperatures by the colour. I look at
the red, orange and white glow and laugh. No need to share it with anyone.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
I wanted to share.
BLACKSMITH
With a man? What kind?
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
He wanted to take care,
be strong, support me
and worship me
three times a day.
I was free to go to night clubs
with my girlfriends.
We lived side by side.
Not in front or behind,
but side by side.
BLACKSMITH
What happened then?
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
He left.
BLACKSMITH
Was it Islander?
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
He’s the one.
BLACKSMITH
Well, he wanted to reach everything, everyone,
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
carry his name,
BLACKSMITH
build monuments.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
I found work, he stayed home.
BLACKSMITH
They say that everyone has the same memory of the past, the same image of the cold and the
feeling of the warm lake in his hand. Each man knows his place in line without asking, without
questioning.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Perhaps the villagers were right.
BLACKSMITH
There is no man in me,
but I will send regards.
Regards to my mother,
the only woman
who thought I was good enough.
Who settled for this.
Regards to my mother:
I have a woman now.
I don’t know what she is like,
but mother can start knitting.
Socks for the baby.

ACT II
5. CHURCH YARD
The Daughter of the North is waiting in the church yard for her wedding to begin. Islander
comes to comfort her.

DAUGHTER
The Mistress has a name. The Mistress has the power
to send me to the other side of the world.
How many is she selling me to?
An arm to this one, hair to that one, legs to a third one.
And tits, together or separately?
Two for one?
ISLANDER
Who are you?
DAUGHTER
You have a name, Islander, I don’t.
Daughter, mother, sister!
ISLANDER
Won’t they give you one of your own?
DAUGHTER
You’re not paying attention to yours.
ISLANDER
I’m a prisoner of the name.
DAUGHTER
And I’m a prisoner of namelessness.
I will disappear without characteristics.
ISLANDER
I will be remembered for what I was not.

ISLANDER
But I have to go now.
DAUGHTER
Where to?
ISLANDER
A wedding.
DAUGHTER
Whose?
MISTRESS
Yours.
DAUGHTER
Is Sampo ready?
OLD MAN
It is.

6. THE WEDDING
The wedding begins. At the altar the Mistress discovers that Sampo is not what she had hoped
for. The men take the Daughter of the North with them.

MISTRESS
They are already waiting at the altar.
DAUGHTER
We have the aisle to walk together.
MISTRESS
They brought Sampo again.
You have to go.
That is the deal, so it is what we’ll do.
It is how this story goes.
DAUGHTER
They brought Sampo again.
I have to go.
That is the deal, so it is what we’ll do.
It is how this story goes.
MISTRESS
You got yourself a good man. Right?
Do not talk about dreams,
about love.
DAUGHTER
Do you believe that?
MISTRESS
I’m holding myself together,
I do not think.
DAUGHTER
I won’t agree to such a life.
MISTRESS
You must. I did not think they could make Sampo.
DAUGHTER
Yes.
MISTRESS
Mother did not intend to shoo away her little bird.
I made a mistake.
DAUGHTER
I know.
MISTRESS
We’re here.

MISTRESS
Which one of you is the groom?
OLD MAN
He is. Say hello to your wife.
BLACKSMITH
Hello.
DAUGHTER
I won’t do it.
MISTRESS
I’m sorry.
DAUGHTER
I have a name and a voice of my own.
ISLANDER
Observe local customs!
OLD MAN
Or leave the country!
DAUGHTER
Where would I go? I was born here.
MISTRESS
Please forgive me.
OLD MAN
This is it. What say you?
BLACKSMITH
Thank you.
OLD MAN
Here is Sampo.
MISTRESS
What does it do this time?
ISLANDER
It is a machine that keeps everything the same.
MISTRESS
It is not what I want.
MEN
You got it without asking and without questions.
We want what was asked for.

7. THE MISTRESS’S LAMENT
The Mistress of the North grieves at the rapids where her daughter drowned herself. The
Mistress decides to avenge her daughter’s death and declare war.

MISTRESS
Poor me, I wish I was
never born,
into these evil times,
into these dull days.
Better if I had never been
born and raised,
never known this time,
never seen these days.
If I had died at six,
disappeared at eight nights’ old.
I would not have asked for much,
a tiny edge of earth,
an ell of holy land,
some tears of sorrow.
She went to the rapids. It is not a pretty end. She swallows water, tries to reach the surface but
fails. Pounds against the rocks, hits her head against the banks, crashes to the bottom. Tries to
catch her breath one more time, but water fills her lungs. In the middle of the rapids surges a
bloody stream, coming from the back of her head.
Many years,
for many a lifetime,
I have been quiet.
Now I have to speak, since I have a voice.
They took her, the bloody crows.
The men. They took the girl
and turned her into
what she was not. They killed the girl!
I will peck their eyes out. I will take what is mine. I will not bend down again. WAR!

8. WAR AND BIRTH
In the turmoils of war the Maiden gives birth to a new child who is named Queen of the Cold
land.

MAIDEN
What is happening there?
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
We are in war. This has been told so many times.
MISTRESS
According to legend we are fighting over the machine.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
But nobody gets it in the end.
MISTRESS
It is your time now.
MAIDEN
Mine?
MISTRESS
Time to give birth.
(war)
WOMEN
A heavy load in her womb, a hard weight in her stomach,
she carried for nine months, and it won’t be born,
the stubborn creation.
(war)
BLACKSMITH
I won’t go to war over this.
OLD MAN
Why not?
BLACKSMITH
It was not the mother’s fault.
OLD MAN
It was a legal trade, your wife. This is your decision.
BLACKSMITH
Will there be others?
OLD MAN
Everyone.
BLACKSMITH
Even the recently newborn?

WOMEN
Come here, maiden of the air, carrier of all air.
Release the maiden from her misery, the wife from her stomach pain.
The national spirit wakes up again.

EPILOGUE

DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
What happened?
MAIDEN
Did the child survive?
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Yes, went to war.
MAIDEN
Did the child get a name?
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Yes, she was called Queen of the Cold land.
MAIDEN
Queen! Was it a girl?
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Yes. She has curly hair.
MAIDEN
The lingonberry had a different taste to it.
MISTRESS
Queen of the Cold land.
MAIDEN
An impressive name.
MISTRESS
I guess I lost my crown.

Listen here:

Comments