Maria

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Maria

Lyrics By Oscar Hammerstein II  Music By Richard Rodgers 

Maria is young and thinks she wants to be a nun. She is full of life and curiosity, so it remains to be seen whether her destiny lies in the solemn, quiet life of the sisterhood. When Maria is seen running past Mother Abbess and her cohorts, late for evening prayers, the Sisters and Abbess question whether the young woman is fit for the reserved life of a nun.

Since the show is based on the memoirs of Maria Kutschera, much of the character comes from real life: Maria arrived at Nonnberg Abbey in 1925, certain after receiving a divine epiphany in the hills of Vienna that God’s calling for her was to become a nun. However, toward the end of Maria’s novitiate, Mother Abbess was unsure Maria had the disposition necessary for the quiet life of a nun. She really did whistle and sing in the abbey. “She’s always late for chapel,” Sister Berthe points out before Sister Sophia reminds her, “but her penitence is real.” The opposing perspectives in this clever song beg the hummable conundrum, “How do you solve a problem like Maria?”

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“Maria” LYRICS

Sister Berthe: She climbs a tree
And scrapes her knee
Her dress has got a tear

Sister Sophia: She waltzes on her way to mass
And whistles on the stair

Sister Berthe: And underneath her wimple
She has curlers in her hair!

Sister Sophia: I even heard her singing in the abbey

Sister Berthe: She’s always late for chapel

Sister Margaretta: But her penitence is real

Sister Berthe: She’s always late for everything
Except for every meal

Mother Abbess: I hate to have to say it
But I very firmly feel

Sister Bertha and Sister Sophia: Maria’s not an asset to the abbey!

Sister Margaretta: I’d like to say a word in her behalf
Maria makes me laugh!

Sister Sophia: How do you solve a problem like Maria?

Mother Abbess: How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?

Sister Margaretta: How do you find a word that means Maria?

Sister Berthe: A flibbertigibbet!

Sister Sophia: A will-o’-the-wisp!

Sister Margaretta: A clown!

Mother Abbess: Many a thing you know you’d like to tell her
Many a thing she ought to understand

Sister Margaretta: But how do you make her stay
And listen to all you say

Mother Abbess: How do you keep a wave upon the sand?

Sister Margaretta: Oh, how do you solve a problem like Maria?

Mother Abbess: How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

Sister Margaretta: When I’m with her I’m confused
Out of focus and bemused
And I never know exactly where I am

Sister Sophia: Unpredictable as weather
She’s as flighty as a feather

Sister Margaretta: She’s a darling

Sister Berthe: She’s a demon

Sister Margaretta: She’s a lamb

Sister Sophia: She’d out-pester any pest
Drive a hornet from its nest

Sister Berthe: She can throw a whirling dervish out of whirl

Sister Margaretta: She is gentle
She is wild

Sister Sophia:
She’s a riddle

Sister Margaretta: She’s a child

Sister Berthe: She’s a headache!

Sister Margaretta: She’s an angel!

Mother Abbess: She’s a girl.

All:
How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Maria?
A flibbertigibbet?
A will-o’-the-wisp?
A clown

Many a thing you know you’d like to tell her
Many a thing she ought to understand
But how do you make her stay
And listen to all you say?
How do you keep a wave upon the sand?
Oh, how do you solve a problem like Maria?

How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?