The scene is Rome, 935 A.D. Thirty-year-old Tristan, dressed as a pilgrim, overhears a conversation between Basil, the Grand Chamberlain, and Il Gobbo, his assistant. After the two have left, Tristan continues to observe the revelry on the Eve of St. John. Suddenly a chariot containing a beautiful woman stops before him. They exchange words. He kisses her hand. Then she moves on, leaving him to ponder her beauty as he returns to the inn where he is staying. That night he has an enchanting and haunting dream of him together with another woman. Morning makes more sense of the dream. He was in love with Hellayne, who sent him away to Rome so that he could do penance for the sin of love. This explains why he is now in Rome. The next morning, as he walks into the heart of Rome, what he observes is a city torn between the debauchery of a fallen classical greatness and the promise of a new Christian awakening. This is the backdrop against which a city struggles to realize its greatness and a man struggles to realize his love for woman and for God. (Bill Boerst)
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