The Opera Maria and Draco is an event in Final Fantasy VI and the collective name of a set of four tracks, written by Nobuo Uematsu and Yoshinori Kitase, featured in the original soundtrack, later released as a single track in multiple album compilations. It is sometimes referred to as The Dream Oath, though this title is never used in the game or in any of the compilations.
The four tracks that play during the sequence are "Opening," "Aria di Mezzo Carattere," "The Wedding," and "Grand Finale?".
In the original Japanese version the music is closely aligned with the lyrics, although because of technical limitations the "voices" are created on the SPC700 sound format.
The "Aria di Mezzo Carattere," one of the Final Fantasy series' most famous musical themes, is performed within the opera.
The development team had an idea to include an opera scene and Yoshinori Kitase wrote lyrics for it, while Uematsu composed the music. Translator Ted Woolsey found the opera scene unique and interesting and thus spent plenty of time on that scene; the scene had multiple files that combined to provide the experience: battle texts, the opera text displayed during the different cinematics, and the usual screen text all had to work in concert.
To establish contact with Setzer, the owner of the only functional airship in the World of Balance—the Blackjack—Celes impersonates the opera singer Maria, with whom Setzer is in love. Although Celes successfully poses as Maria for the majority of the opera, Locke discovers during the performance that Ultros is planning on dropping a weight on Celes from the rafters.
The attempt to stop him ends with Locke, his allies and Ultros plummeting to the stage, knocking the actors playing Ralse and Draco unconscious. Locke thus attempts (and somewhat succeeds) to improvise this into the opera, and after battling Ultros, Setzer kidnaps Celes as per the original plan.
The opera also features a small game element. Three times during the opera the player has to pick the correct line for Celes to sing. Failing to do so will stop the opera, and the player must do a new attempt; it is easy to guess which line is the correct one, however. Although if one "overthinks" the line to be chosen, the game will automatically select the highlighted line after a couple of seconds. The lines to be chosen are the first, then the second, and then the first one again. Then Draco appears on the scene and turns into a flower bouquet. The player has to pick it up and walk upstairs to throw the bouquet off the terrace to finish the mini-game. Doing it too slow will also get the party kicked out of the Opera House. Failing the opera four times in total will be resulted as a game over.
The armies of the East are battling the forces of the west. The hero of the western army is Draco, who is in love with the western princess, Maria. When the west loses the war and Draco is presumed lost, Maria is forced to marry the eastern Prince, Ralse.
During a ball, the survivors of the west, led by Draco, launch a surprise attack. A duel ensues between Draco and Ralse, in which the latter is defeated and Maria and Draco go on to live happily ever after.
The opera has been arranged and performed live in its entirety numerous times, both in English and Japanese. Its lyrical content has varied accordingly, although it is possible to determine five different versions of it:
The Japanese and the English versions of the SNES release.
The Japanese and the English versions of the GBA and smartphone releases.
"Darkness and Starlight" is a rock arrangement of Maria and Draco included in the Black Mages' third studio album The Black Mages III: Darkness and Starlight. Because the opera scene in the game ends abruptly with Celes's kidnapping just before Draco and Ralse's duel, the rest of the lyrical content was unknown until this release. The album features the complete opera scene in a rock rearrangement which, while slightly deviating from the original version, was made to be as faithful to the original opera as it may.
The recording for the Black Mages' third studio album had already started when the idea of adding Maria and Draco came to Uematsu, and he decided to add it because he wanted to try something new with the album. He has stated that nothing had really changed from when he was composing Final Fantasy VI; he always wants the challenge of something new.
Seigun to tougun no tatakai wa
himashi ni hageshiku natte ita.
Seigun no Garuu-jou no senshi
Draco wa gekisen no senchi de
bokoku ni nokoshite kita
Maria no koto o omou...
Watashi no koe ga todoite iru ka
Omae no moto e
Seigun wa yabure, Maria no shiro wa
Tougun no shihaika ni okareta.
Tougun no ouji Ralse no kekkon o
Shiirareta Maria wa
Draco e no omoi o sutekirezu
Maiban yozora o mite wa
Koibito o omou...
Itoshi no anata wa tooi tokoro e?
Iro asenu, towa no ai, chikatta bakari ni
Kanashii toki ni mo, tsurai toki ni mo,
Sora ni furu, ano hoshi o anata to omoi.
Nozomanu chigiri o kawasu no desu ka?
Dou sureba? Nee anata? Kotoba o matsu.
Ikinokotta wazuka bakari no seigun heishi ga
Saigo no chikara o furishibori
Garuu-jou ni semeitta.
Sono sentou ni tachi otakebi morotomo
Tougun heishi o nagitaoshite iku
Kizu darake no hitori no yuusha.
Senshi Draco ga kaette kita no da!
Kono hi wo shinjiteta.
Maria wa kono watashi no
Kisaki ni naru beki hito da.
Inochi tsukihateyou tomo
Hanashi wa shinai.
Maria no tame ni inochi o kakeru
Ai no ookisa naraba dare ni mo makenu
Omae ni totte no Maria to wa?
Dore hodo daiji da?
Kisama ni iwareru made mo naku
Tottemo daiji da
Yahari tatakau shika nai ka
Draco and Ralse
Watashi no mono da
Make wa shinai!
Ryousha ippo taritomo ushiro ni wa nokanu
hageshii tatakai de atta.
Shikashi shoubu wa toki no un de aru.
Fukade o otta Draco no hanatta saigo no hitotsuki ga
The Opera spans three tracks in the OverClocked ReMix album: "The Nightmare Oath", an original track that borrows many motifs from "Overture"; "The Impresario", a reinterpretation of the Opera itself; and "Till We Meet Again", a reinterpretation of "Aria di Mezzo Carattere". All three tracks feature original lyrics that tell a different story from the original sequence of events as told in the game.
A fourth track, "Jidoorian Rhapsody", is remixed from "The Wedding", but is non-lyrical.
The lyrics of "The Nightmare Oath" follow a dialogue between Draco and Ralse that mirror their exchange during the original sequence's overture. The title refers to the Opera's apocryphal title The Dream Oath.
On far off shores, my words call to you
This distant war; my sword sings the truth
Bow to me, the East will overrun this wretched land; defeat has just begun
Spoils of war, your will no longer free; Draco is banished, Maria belongs to me
Though the stars fade in the sky, the light your love gives never dies
I will return, I swear on my life
Love conquers all; this is not the end
I will not rest, we will meet again
This nightmare oath will seal our fate forevermore;
My ambitions realized, now I will rule them all)
The lyrics of "The Impresario" tell a wholly different story from that of all other arrangements of Maria and Draco. The story is told in the form of a flashback, as Draco recollects how he arranged eloping with Maria but was caught when they attempted it; Maria is slain in the ensuing fight between Draco and the members of her family, and it is implied that she was accidentally killed by Draco himself and that, upon realizing this, he plans on committing suicide to join her in the afterlife.
Look into the sins of your past
Love as if today were your last
Better times have slipped away, I'm lost beneath the waves
Nothing left to save...
SAVAGE CRIME! IT WAS NOT YET HER TIME!
FOR WHOM THE TOWER PEALS ONE FINAL MOURNING CHIME!
FOR THE SURVIVORS.....
SCENE I (present time, evening):
Speak to me, before my fate is reckoned
Comfort me, they'll arrive at any second
Six o'clock, and I got no doubt the gang is out for
BLOOD IS ON YOUR HANDS!
OUR OWN, KILLED IN THE FIGHT!
YOU'LL DIE TONIGHT!
SCENE II (flashback to two days ago):
O, (THERE HE IS!)
Maria, (WHY IS HE ON OUR BLOCK?)
Morte mia (TRACK HIM DOWN, MAKE HIM BLEED! WE'LL TAKE HIM!)
I'll be waiting patiently (WE'LL BEAT HIM DOWN, TAKE HIM TO THE GROUND)
Come on out and dance with me, (THE DEVIL)
The night is young,
And so are we!
O Maria, cara mia,
And I know the deck's stacked against us,
Even though it feels so right...
Forbidden is our love,
Our families, divided from above.
Your brothers will see through the lie;
Tomorrow... they won't ask why...
SCENE III (yesterday):
Far away now...
Will I ever see your smile?
As night turns to day,
I beg you to stay,
I'm down, down on my knees here...
I'm the darkness, you're the starlight,
And I'm burnin' up in here, I (MY HEART WILL)
Die every day, when you hide away
I don't wanna fear... (THEIR RIVALRY)
So even though they may discover us,
I'm never givin' you up
And if they try to tell me what to do...
(I LOVE HER!)
I'll kill them! (I LOVE HER!)
I'll kill them! (LEAVE US ALONE!)
Down to the last!
O (COME GET ME)
Maria, (UPSET ME)
I need her, for my own (COME CAST A STONE)
[guitar/piano solo... commence headbanging]
SCENE IV (this morning):
LAUGHING AT THE TRUTH,
FOOLISH IN YOUTH, HA-HA-HA
AFTER ALL IS SAID AND DONE,
YOU'LL BOTH BE ON THE RUN,
AND WE'LL FIND YOU
JUST WHAT WAS YOUR PLAN?
YOU ARROGANT MAN!
TI AMMAZZO, TI AMMAZZO, TI AMMAZZO!
(HE WAS WITH THE WHORE!)
(SHOW HIM TO THE DOOR!)
FOLLOW HIM! CORNER HIM! MURDER HIM!
BEAT HIM DOWN! BEAT HIM UP!
SEND HIM TO HIS GRAVE!
WE WERE NEVER MEANT TO LIVE THIS LIE!
Then I will die
Sooner than see you gone
I'm gonna go down swingin',
Ears are ringin'.....
SCENE V (this afternoon):
But I'm alive!! (AH-AH-AH-AH-AH-AH! HE'S STILL BREATHING)
MAKE HIM DEAD!
(HIT HIM IN THE HEAD!)
TAKE HIS LIFE!
(SOMEONE GET A KNIFE!)
Suddenly, (GET HIM!)
In a flash, (KILL HIM!)
I was up,
On my feet (STAB HIM!)
With a knife (DRILL HIM!)
With a slash (PRESS HIM!)
In a split (GRILL HIM!)
Murderous (END HIM!)
Clarity, (SPILL HIM!)
I could see,
One by one, they stood before me!
Then, from the ground, came the most awful sound,
And I saw her then,
Maria lying there
Someone had stabbed her and
Her time was at an end,
And then I ran and ran and ran and RAN!
BLOOD ON THE STREET,
NOW YOUNG DRACO SHALL MEET WITH HIS FATE!!
ENDING (return to present time):
Now it's clear...
Broken through the pain and the fear
Before too long,
I'll be with... you.....
When Final Fantasy VI was first released key chains depicting the game's cast were available in Japanese vending machines. A Celes as Maria from the opera is one such key chain that was sold.
The Final Fantasy Cold Cast Collection is a limited edition collectible series featuring cold cast statues that display notable scenes from Final Fantasy series. Only 3,000 Celes and opera house cold casts were made, each coming with a card and card stand that had the statue's limited number and description. The series has been out of production since 1999.
Celes' performance of "Maria and Draco" was the focal point for the Challenge EventPrima Donna, where her Opera Star Wardrobe Record could be obtained. This alternate costume pays homage to the performance.