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The Standard Operaglass - Detailed Plots of One Hundred and Fifty-one Celebrated Operas
by Charles Annesley
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LE DOMINO NOIR.

Comic Opera in three acts by AUBER.

Text by SCRIBE.

This is one of the most charming comic operas, which were ever written by this master. Graceful archness and elegance of style are its characteristics, and these lose nothing from the presence of a gay and easy temper which makes itself felt throughout. The same may be said of the libretto.

The plot is well worked out and entertaining. The scene is laid in Madrid in our century.

The Queen of Spain gives a masqued ball, at which our heroine Angela is present, accompanied by her companion Brigitta. There she is seen by Horatio di Massarena, a young nobleman, who had met her a year before at one of these balls and fell in love with, without knowing her.

This time he detains her, but is again unable to discover her real name, and confessing his love for her, he receives the answer, that she can be no more than a friend to him. Massarena detains her so long that the clock strikes the midnight-hour as Angela prepares to seek her companion. Massarena confesses to having removed Brigitta under some pretext, and Angela in despair cries out, that she is lost. She is in reality member of a convent, and destined to be Lady-Abbess, though she has not yet taken the vows. She is very highly connected, and has secretly helped Massarena to advance in his career as a {53} diplomatist.—Great is her anxiety to return in her convent after midnight, but she declines all escort, and walking alone through the streets, she comes by chance into the house of Count Juliano, a gentleman of somewhat uncertain character, and Massarena's friend. Juliano is just giving a supper to his gay friends and Angela bribes his housekeeper Claudia, to keep her for the night. She appears before the guests disguised as an Arragonian waiting-maid, and charms them all, and particularly Massarena with her grace and coquetry. But as the young gentlemen begin to be insolent, she disappears, feeling herself in danger of being recognized. Massarena, discovering in her the charming black domino, is very unhappy to see her in such company.—Meanwhile Angela succeeds in getting the keys of the convent from Gil-Perez, the porter, who had also left his post, seduced by his love of gormandizing and had come to pay court to Claudia. Angela troubles his conscience and frightens him with her black mask, and flies. When she has gone, the house-keeper confesses that her pretended Arragonian was a stranger, by all appearance a noble lady, who sought refuge in Juliano's house.

In the third act Angela reaches the convent, but not without having had some more adventures. Through Brigitta's cleverness her absence has not been discovered. At length the day has come when she is to be made Lady-Abbess and she is arrayed in the attire suited to her future high office, when Massarena is announced to her.—He comes to {54} ask to be relieved from a marriage with Ursula, Lord Elfort's daughter, who is destined for him, and who is also an inmate of the convent, but whom he cannot love. Notwithstanding her disguise he recognizes his beloved domino, who, happily for both is released by the Queen from her high mission and permitted to choose a husband.—Of course it is no other, than the happy Massarena; while Ursula is consoled by being made Lady-Abbess, a position which well suits her ambitious temper.



DON CARLOS.

Opera in four acts by VERDI.

Text by MERY and CAMILLA DU LOCLE.

This opera is one of the first of Verdi's. It was half forgotten, when being suddenly recalled to the stage it met with considerable success. The music is fine and highly dramatic in many parts.

The scene of action lies in Spain. Don Carlos, Crown-prince of Spain comes to the convent of St. Just, where his grand-father, the Emperor Charles the Fifth has just been buried. Carlos bewails his separation from his step-mother, Elizabeth of Valois, whom he loves with a sinful passion. His friend, the Marquis Posa reminds him of his duty and induces him to leave Spain for Flanders, where an unhappy nation sighs under the cruel rule of King Philip's governors.—Carlos has an interview with the Queen, but beside himself with grief he again declares his love, though having resolved only to ask for her intervention with the King, on {55} behalf of his mission to Flanders. Elizabeth asks him to think of duty and dismisses him. Just then her jealous husband enters, and finding her lady of honor, Countess Aremberg, absent, banishes the latter from Spain. King Philip favors Posa with his particular confidence, though the latter is secretly the friend of Carlos, who is ever at variance with his wicked father. Posa uses his influence with the King for the best of the people, and Philip, putting entire confidence in him, orders him to watch his wife.

The second act represents a fete in the royal gardens at Madrid, where Carlos mistakes the Princess Eboli for the Queen and betrays his unhappy love. The Princess, loving Carlos herself, and having nurtured hopes of her love being responded to, takes vengeance. She possesses herself of a casket in which the Queen keeps Carlos' portrait, a love-token from her maiden-years, and surrenders it to Philip. The King, though conscious of his wife's innocence, is more than ever jealous of his son, and seeks for an occasion to put him out of the way. It is soon found, when Carlos defies him at an autodafe of heretics. Posa himself is obliged to deprive Carlos of his sword, and the latter is imprisoned. The King has an interview with the Grand-Inquisitor, who demands the death of Don Carlos, asserting him to be a traitor to his country. As Philip demurs, the priest asks Posa's life as the more dangerous of the two. The King, who never loved a human being except Posa, the {56} pure-hearted Knight, yields to the power of the church.

In the following scene Elizabeth, searching for her casket, is accused of infidelity by her husband. The Princess Eboli, seeing the trouble her mischievous jealousy has brought upon her innocent mistress, penitently confesses her fault and is banished from court. In the last scene of the third act Carlos is visited by Posa, who explains to him, that he has only imprisoned him in order to save him, and that he has announced to the King, that it was himself, Posa, who excited rebellion in Flanders. While they speak, Posa is shot by an arquebusier of the royal guard; Philip enters the cell to present his sword to Carlos, but the son turns from his father with loathing and explains his friend's pious fraud. While Philip bewails the loss of the best man in Spain, loud acclamations are heard from the people, who hearing that their prince is in danger desire to see him.

In the last act the Queen, who promised Posa to watch over Carlos, meets him once more in the convent of St. Just. They are surprised by the King, who approaches, accompanied by the Grand-Inquisitor, and into his hands the unhappy Carlos is at last delivered.

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DON JUAN.

Opera in two acts by MOZART.

Text by DA PONTE.

Don Juan is Mozart's most beautiful opera; we may even say, that it is the greatest work of this kind, which was ever written by a German musician. The text too, written by Mozart's friend, is far above the level of ordinary opera-texts.

The hero, spoilt by fortune and blase, is ever growing more reckless. He even dares to attack the virtue of Donna Anna, one of the first ladies of a city in Spain, of which her father, an old Spanish Grandee, as noble and as strict in virtue as Don Juan is oversatiated and frivolous, is governor. The old father coming forward to help his beloved daughter, with drawn dagger attacks Don Juan, who compelled to defend himself, has the misfortune to stab his assailant.

Donna Anna, a lady not only noble and virtuous, but proud and high-spirited, vows to avenge her father's death. Though betrothed to a nobleman, named Octavio, she will never know any peace until her father, of whose death she feels herself the innocent cause, is avenged. Her only hope is death, and in that she offers the liveliest contrast to her betrothed, who shows himself a gentleman of good temper and qualities, but of a mind too weak for his lady's high-flown courage and truly tragic character. Though Octavio wants to avenge Donna Anna's father, he would do it only to please {58} her. His one aim is marriage with her. Her passionate feelings he does not understand.

Don Juan, pursued not only by Donna Anna, but also by his own neglected bride, Donna Elvira, tries to forget himself in debauches and extravagances. His servant Leporello, in every manner the real counterpart of his master, is his aider and abettor. A more witty, a more amusing figure does not exist. His fine sarcasm brings Don Juan's character into bold relief; they complement and explain each-other.

But Don Juan, passing from one extravagance to another, sinks deeper; everything he tries begins to fail him, and his doom approaches.—He begins to amuse himself with Zerlina, the young bride of a peasant, named Masetto, but each time, when he seems all but successful in his aim of seducing the little coquette, his enemies, who have united themselves against him, interfere and present a new foe in the person of the bridegroom, the plump and rustic Masetto. At last Don Juan is obliged to take refuge from the hatred of his pursuers. His flight brings him to the grave of the dead governor, in whose memory a life-size statue has been erected in his own park. Excited to the highest pitch and almost beside himself, Don Juan even mocks the dead; he invites him to a supper. The statue moves its head in acceptance of the dreadful invitation of the murderer.

Towards evening Donna Elvira comes to see him, willing to pardon everything, if only her lover {59} will repent. She fears for him and for his fate, she does not ask for his love, but only for the repentance of his follies, but all is in vain. The half-drunken Don Juan laughs at her, and so she leaves him alone. Then the ghostly guest, the statue of the governor enters. He too tries to move his host's conscience; he fain would save him in the last hour. Don Juan remains deaf to those warnings of a better self, and so he incurs his doom. The statue vanishes, the earth opens and the demons of hell devour Don Juan and his splendid palace.



DON PASQUALE.

Comic Opera in three acts by DONIZETTI.

Text done after SER MARCANTONIO by SALVATORE GAMMERANO.

This opera, one of Donizetti's last compositions is a little jewel of the modern Italian kinds. Its music is sparkling with wit and grace and may rank among the best comic operas, of which we have not too many. The reason, why it does not occupy the place on the German stage, which is due to its undoubted merit, is the somewhat deficient German translation of the textbook, and the very small frame, in which it plays, without any of the dramatic pomp and decoration the people are wont to see in our times, and finally it does not occupy a whole evening and must needs have a ballet to fill it up. The four persons acting in the play, have excellent parts for good singers, as Donizetti thoroughly knew how to treat the human voice.

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The wealthy old bachelor Don Pasquale, desires to marry his only nephew to a rich and noble lady, but, finding a hindrance in Ernesto's love for another, decides to punish his headstrong nephew by entering himself into marriage and thus disinheriting Ernesto.

His physician Malatesta, Ernesto's friend, pretends to have discovered a suitable partner for him in the person of his (Malatesta's) sister, an "Ingenue", educated in a convent and utterly ignorant of the ways of the world.

Don Pasquale maliciously communicates his intentions to the young widow Norina telling her to distrust Malatesta. The latter however has been beforehand with him, and easily persuades Norina to play the part of his (Malatesta's) sister, and to endeavour, by the beauty of her person and the modesty of her demeanour, to gain the old man's affections. Should she succeed in doing so, Don Pasquale and Norina are to go through a mock form of marriage,—a notary, in the person of a cousin named Carlo has already been gained for the purpose,—after which Norina, by her obstinacy, extravagance, capriciousness and coquetry is to make the old man repent of his infatuation and ready to comply with their wishes.

Urged on by her love for Ernesto, Norina consents to play the part assigned to her and the charming simplicity of her manners, her modesty and loveliness so captivate the old man, that he falls into the trap and makes her an offer of his {61} hand. The marriage takes place, and one witness failing to appear, Ernesto, who happens to be near, and who is aware of the plot, is requested to take his place.—Besides appointing Norina heiress of half his wealth, Don Pasquale at once makes her absolute mistress of his fortune. Having succeeded in attaining her aim, Norina throws aside her mask, and by her self-willedness, prodigality and waywardness drives her would-be husband to despair. She squanders his money, visits the theatre on the very day of their marriage ignoring the presence of her husband in such a manner, that he wishes himself in his grave, or rid of the termagant, who has destroyed the peace of his life.—The climax is reached on his discovery among the accounts, all giving proof of his wife's reckless extravagance, a billet-doux, pleading for a clandestine meeting in his own garden. Malatesta is summoned and cannot help feeling remorse on beholding the wan and haggard appearance of his friend. He recommends prudence, advises Don Pasquale to assist, himself unseen, at the proposed interview, and then to drive the guilty wife from the house. The jealous husband, though frankly confessing the folly he had committed in taking so young a wife, at first refuses to listen to Malatesta's counsel, and determines to surprise the lovers and have them brought before the judge. Finally however he suffers himself to be dissuaded and leaves the matter in Malatesta's hands.—

In the last scene the lovers meet, but Ernesto escapes on his uncle's approach, who is sorely {62} disappointed at having to listen to the bitter reproaches of his supposed wife, instead of being able to turn her out of doors.—

Meanwhile Malatesta arrives, summons Ernesto and in his uncle's name gives his (Don Pasquale's) consent to Ernesto's marriage with Norina, promising her a splendid dowry.

Don Pasquale's wife, true to the part she has undertaken to play, of course opposes this arrangement, and Don Pasquale, too happy to be able to thwart his wife, hastens to give his consent, telling Ernesto to fetch his bride. His dismay on discovering that his own wife, whom he has only known under the name of Sophronia and his nephew's bride are one and the same person may be easily imagined.—His rage and disappointment are however somewhat diminished by the reflection, that he will no longer have to suffer from the whims of the young wife, who had inveigled him into the ill-assorted marriage, and he at length consents, giving the happy couple his blessing.—



LES DRAGONS DE VILLARS.

(THE BELL OF THE HERMIT.)

Comic Opera in three acts by LOUIS AIME MAILLART.

Text after the French by G. ERNST.

Maillart, who studied under Halevy in Paris and received the Roman prize (prix de Rome) in the year 1841, composed six operas, all of which are now almost forgotten with the single exception {63} of "Les Dragons de Villars" (in 1856), which found favor in Germany by virtue of its wit and grace.

The music sparkles with French charm and gaiety of the most exquisite kind and these are the merits by which this unpretentious opera has kept its place by the side of its grander and more pompous sisters.

The tale is clever and amusing.

The scene is laid in a French mountain-village near the frontier of Savoy towards the close of the war in the Cevennes in 1704.

In the first act peasant women in the service of Thibaut, a rich country Squire, are collecting fruit. Georgette, Thibaut's young wife, controls their work. In compliance with a general request she treats them to a favorite provencal song, in which a young girl, forgetting her first vows made to a young soldier, gives her hand to another suitor. She is interrupted by the sound of trumpets. Thibaut hurrying up in great distress asks the women to hide themselves at once, because soldiers are marching into the village. He conceals his own wife in the pigeon-house. A detachment of dragoons arrive, and Belamy, their corporal, asks for food and wine at Thibaut's house. He learns, that there is nothing to be had and in particular, that all the women have fled, fearing the unprincipled soldiers of King Louis XIV., sent to persecute the poor Huguenots or Camisards, who are hiding in the mountains,—further that the "Dragons de {64} Villars" are said to be an especially wild and dissolute set.

Belamy is greatly disgusted and after having had his dinner and a sleep in Thibaut's own bed, decides to march on. The Squire gladly offers to accompany the soldiers to St. Gratien's grotto near the hermitage, where they have orders to search for the Huguenot refugees.

While Belamy is sleeping, Thibaut calls his servant Silvain and scolds him because, though his best servant, he has now repeatedly been absent over-long on his errands; finally orders him to saddle the mules.

Stammering Silvain owns, that they have gone astray in the mountains, but that he is sure of their being found in due time. While Thibaut expresses his fear that they may be stolen by the fugitives, Rose Friquet, an orphan-girl, brings the mules, riding on the back of one of them. Thibaut loads her with reproaches, but Silvain thanks her warmly, and though she mockingly repudiates his thanks, he discovers that she has taken the mules in order not to let the provost into Silvain's secret. The fact is that Silvain carries food every day to the refugees, and Rose Friquet, the poor goat-keeper, who is despised and supposed to be wicked and malicious, protects him in her poor way, because he once intercepted a stone, which was meant for her head.

While the soldiers are dining, Belamy, who has found Georgette's bonnet, demands an explanation. {65} Thibaut, confused, finds a pretext for going out, but Rose betrays to Belamy first the wine-cellar and then Georgette's hiding-place. The young wife cries for help and Rose runs in to fetch Thibaut. Belamy is delighted with the pretty Georgette, but she tells him rather anxiously, that all the wives of the village must needs remain entirely true to their husbands, for the hermit of St. Gratien, though dead for two hundred years, is keeping rigid watch, and betrays every case of infidelity by ringing a little bell, which is heard far and wide.

Belamy is somewhat desirous to try the experiment with Georgette and asks her to accompany him to the hermitage instead of her husband.

After having found the other women in the village, the soldiers, to Thibaut's great vexation, decide to stay and amuse themselves. Silvain rejoices and after a secret sign from Rose resolves to warn the refugees in the evening.

In the second act Rose and Silvain meet near St. Gratien. Rose, after telling him that all the paths are occupied by sentries, promises to show him a way for the refugees, which she and her goat alone know. Silvain, thanking her warmly, endeavours to induce her to care more for her outward appearance, praising her pretty features. Rose is delighted to hear for the first time that she is pretty, and the duet ensuing is one of the most charming things in the opera. Silvain promises to be her friend henceforth and then leaves, in order to seek the Camisards. After this Thibaut {66} appears, seeking his wife, whom he has seen going away with Belamy. Finding Rose he imagines he has mistaken her for his wife, but she laughingly corrects him and he proceeds to search for Georgette. Belamy now comes and courts Thibaut's wife. But Rose, seeing them, resolves to free the path for the others.—No sooner has Belamy tried to snatch a kiss from his companion, than Rose draws the rope of the hermit's bell, and she repeats the proceeding, until Georgette takes flight, while Thibaut rushes up at the sound of the bell. Belamy reassures him, intimating that the bell may have rung for Rose (though it never rings for girls) and accompanies him to the village. But he soon returns to look for the supposed hermit, who has played him this trick and finds Rose instead, who does not perceive him.—To his great surprise Silvain comes up with the whole troop of refugees, leading the aged clergyman, who had been a father to him in his childhood. Silvain presents Rose to them as their deliverer and vows to make her his wife.—Rose leads them to the secret path, while Silvain returns to the village, leaving Belamy triumphant at his discovery.

In the third act we find the people on the following morning speaking of nothing but Silvain's wedding with Rose and of the hermit's bell. Nobody knows who has been the culprit, but Thibaut slily calculates that the hermit has rung before-hand, when Rose the bride kissed the dragoon. Having learned that the soldiers had been commanded to {67} saddle their horses in the midst of the dancing the night before, and that Belamy, sure of his prey, has come back, he believes that Rose has betrayed the poor Camisards in order to win the price set on their heads and this opinion he now communicates to Silvain.

To keep Belamy away from Georgette, the sly Squire has conducted him to the wine-cellar, and the officier [Transcriber's note: officer?], now half-drunk admits having had a rendez-vous with Rose.—When Thibaut has retired, Belamy again kisses Georgette, and lo, the bell does not ring this time!

Meanwhile Rose comes down the hill, neatly clad and glowing with joy and pride and Georgette disregarding Thibaut's reproofs offers her the wedding-garland. The whole village is assembled to see the wedding, but Silvain appears with dark brow and when Rose radiantly greets him, he pushes her back fiercely, believing that she betrayed the refugees, who are, as he has heard, caught. Rose is too proud to defend herself, but when Georgette tries to console her, she silently draws from her bosom a paper, containing the information that the refugees have safely crossed the frontier.—Great is Silvain's shame and heartfelt his repentance.—Suddenly Belamy enters, beside himself with rage, for his prey has escaped and he has lost his patent as lieutenant together with the remuneration of 200 pistoles, and he at once orders Silvain to be shot. But Rose bravely defends her lover, threatening to reveal the dragoon's neglect of duty. {68} When therefore Belamy's superior appears to hear the important news of which the messenger told him, his corporal is only able to stammer out that nothing in particular has happened, and so after all, Georgette is saved from discovery and Rose becomes Silvain's happy bride.



THE DUSK OF THE GODS.

Third day of the Nibelungen Ring by WAGNER.

This is the end of the great and beautiful tragedy and really it may be called both a sublime and grand conclusion, which unites once again all the dramatic and musical elements of the whole and presents to us a picture the more interesting and touching, as it is now purely human. The Gods who, though filled with passions and faults like mortals, never can be for us living persons, fall into the background, and human beings, full of high aspirations, take their places. The long and terrible conflict between the power of gold and that of love is at last fought out and love conquers.

In the Dusk of the Gods we see again the curse, which lies on gold, and the sacred benediction of true love. Can there be anything more noble, more touching, than Bruennhilde's mourning for Siegfried and the grand sacrifice of herself in expiation of her error?

The third day opens with a prelude, in which we see three Norns, weaving world's fate. When the cord breaks, they fly; the dawn of another world is upon them.

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In the first act Siegfried bids Bruennhilde fare well. His active soul thirsts for deeds, and Bruennhilde having taught him all she knows does not detain him. He gives her the fatal ring in token of remembrance, confiding her to the care of Loge. Then we are transported to the Gibichung's hall on the Rhine. Gunther and his sister Gutrune sit there, together with their gloomy half-brother Hagen. The latter advises his brother to marry, telling him of the beautiful woman, guarded by the flames. When he has sufficiently excited Gunther's longing, he suggests that, as Siegfried is the only one able to gain Bruennhilde, Gunther should attach him to his person by giving him Gutrune as wife. This is to be achieved by a draught, which has the power of causing oblivion. Whoever drinks it forgets that ever a woman has existed beside the one, who has tended the potion. Hagen well knows of Siegfried's union with Bruennhilde, but Gunther and Gutrune are both ignorant of it.

Siegfried arrives and is heartily welcomed. All turns out as Hagen has foretold. By the fatal potion Siegfried falls passionately in love with Gutrune, so that he completely forgets Bruennhilde. He swears blood-brothership to Gunther, and promises to win Bruennhilde for him. Then the two depart on their errand.

Meanwhile the Walkyrie Waltraute comes to Bruennhilde and beseeches her to render Siegfried's ring to the Rhine-daughters, in order to save the Gods from destruction. Bruennhilde refuses to part {70} with the token of her husband's love, and hardly has Waltraute departed, than fate overtakes her in the person of Siegfried, who ventures through the flames in Gunther's shape. She vainly struggles against him, he snatches the ring from her, and so she is conquered. Siegfried holds vigil through the night, his sword separating him and the woman he wooed, and in the early dawn he leads her away to her bridegroom, who takes Siegfried's place unawares.

In the second act Alberich appears to Hagen. He tells his son of the story of the ring and bids him kill Siegfried and recover the stolen treasure for its owner.—Siegfried appears, announcing Gunther's and Bruennhilde's arrival. The bridal pair is received by all their men, but the joy is soon damped by Bruennhilde recognizing in the bridegroom of Gutrune her own husband. Siegfried does not know her, but she discovers her ring on his hand, and asserting that Gunther won it from her, this hero is obliged to acknowledge the shameful role he played.—Though Siegfried swears that his sword Nothung guarded him from any contact with Gunther's bride, Bruennhilde responds in a most startling manner, and both swear on Hagen's spear that it may pierce them, should their words prove false. All this makes a dreadful impression on the weak mind of Gunther.

When Siegfried has withdrawn in high spirits with his bride Gutrune, Hagen hoping to gain the ring offers to avenge Bruennhilde on the faithless {71} Siegfried. Bruennhilde in her deadly wrath betrays to him the only vulnerable spot beneath Siegfried's shoulder. Gunther consents reluctantly to their schemes.

The third act opens with a scene on the Rhine. The Rhine-daughters try to persuade Siegfried to render them the ring. He is about to throw it into the water, when they warn him of the evil which will befall him, should he refuse their request. This awakens his pride, and laughing he turns from them, he, the fearless hero. His fellow-hunters overtake him, and while he relates to them the story of his life, Hagen mixes a herb with his wine, which enables him to remember all he has forgotten. Hagen then treacherously drives his spear into Siegfried's back, killing him. He dies with Bruennhilde's praise on his lips. The funeral-march which here follows is one of the most beautiful ever written. When the dead hero is brought to the Giebichung's hall, Gutrune bewails him loudly. A dispute arises between Hagen and Gunther about the ring, which ends by Hagen slaying Gunther. But lo, when Hagen tries to strip the ring off the dead hand, the fingers close themselves, and the hand raises itself, bearing testimony against the murderer. Bruennhilde appears, to mourn for the dead; she drives away Gutrune, who sees too late that under the influence of the fatal draught, Siegfried forgot his lawful wife, whom she now recognizes in Bruennhilde. The latter, taking a long farewell of her dead husband, orders a funeral pile {72} to be erected. As soon as Siegfried's body is placed on it, she lights it with a firebrand, and when it is in full blaze, she mounts her faithful steed, leaping with it into the flames.

When the fire sinks, the Rhine-daughters are seen to snatch the ring, which is now purified from its curse by Bruennhilde's death.

Hagen, trying to wrench it from them, is drawn into the waves and so dies.

A dusky light, like that of a new dawn spreads over heaven, and through a mist, Walhalla, with all the Gods sleeping peacefully, may be perceived.



EURYANTHE.

Grand romantic Opera by C. M. VON WEBER.

Text by HELMINA VON CHEZY.

This opera has not had the success of Oberon or Freischuetz, a fact to be attributed to the weakness of its libretto, and not to its music, which is so grand and noble, that it cannot but fill the hearer with admiration and pleasure.

The overture is one of the finest pieces ever written, and the choruses and solos are equally worthy of admiration.

The plot is as follows:

Adolar, Count of Nevers and Rethel, is betrothed to Euryanthe of Savoy, and the wedding is to take place, when one day, in the King's presence Lysiart, Count of Forest and Beaujolais, suggests that all women are accessible to seduction. He provokes Adolar so much, that he succeeds {73} in making him stake his lands and everything he possesses on his bride's fidelity. Lysiart on the other hand promises to bring a token of Euryanthe's favor.

In the following scene we find Euryanthe in the company of Eglantine de Puiset. This lady is a prisoner, who has taken refuge in the castle of Nevers, and has ingratiated herself so much with Euryanthe, that the latter tenderly befriends the false woman. Asking Euryanthe, why she always chooses for her recreation the dreary spot of the park, where Adolar's sister Emma lies buried, she is told by her in confidence, that she prays for Emma, who poisoned herself after her lover's death in battle. Her soul could find no rest, until the ring, which contained the venom should be wet with the tears of a faithful and innocent maid, shed in her extreme need. No sooner has Euryanthe betrayed her bridegroom's secret that she repents doing so, foreboding ill to come. Lysiart enters to escort her to the marriage festival, but he vainly tries to ensnare her innocence, when Eglantine comes to his rescue. She loves Adolar, and her passion not being returned, she has sworn vengeance. Stealing the fatal ring from the sepulchre, she gives it to Lysiart as a token of Euryanthe's faithlessness, and Lysiart, after having brought Euryanthe to Adolar, shows the ring in presence of the whole court, pretending to have received it from Euryanthe. The poor maiden denies it, but as Lysiart reveals the mystery of the grave, she cannot deny that she has broken her promise of never telling the secret.

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Adolar full of despair surrenders everything to his rival, leading Euryanthe, whom he believes to be false, into the wilderness to kill her. A serpent is about to sting him, when his bride throws herself between. He kills the reptile, but after her sacrifice he is unable to raise his arm against her and so leaves her to her fate.

She is found by the King and his hunters, and to them she relates the whole story of her error of confiding in the false Eglantine. The King promises to inform Adolar and takes her back with him. Meanwhile Adolar returning once more to his grounds, is seen by his people. One of them, Bertha, tells him that Euryanthe is innocent, and that Eglantine, who is about to marry Lysiart and to reign as supreme mistress over the country, has been the culprit.

Eglantine, appearing in bridal attire, led by Lysiart, suddenly becomes a prey to fearful remorse, she sees Emma's ghost, and in her anxiety reveals the whole plot. Her bridegroom stabs her in his fury, but is at once seized by order of the King who just then comes upon the scene. Adolar, believing Euryanthe dead, demands a meeting with Lysiart. But the King declares, that the murderer must incur the penalty of the laws. He renders up to Adolar his possessions and his bride, who the more easily pardons her repentant bridegroom, that she has saved his sister's soul by the innocent tears of her misfortune.



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FALSTAFF.

A lyric Comedy in three acts by GIUSEPPE VERDI.

Text by ARRIGO BOITO.

Nobody who hears this opera would believe, that it has been written by a man in his eightieth year. So much freshness, wit and originality seem to be the privilege of youth alone. But the wonder has been achieved, and Verdi has won a complete success with an opera,—which runs in altogether different lines from his old-ones, another wonder of an abnormally strong and original mind.

Falstaff was first represented in Milan in February 1893; since then it has made its way to all theatres of renown, and it is now indisputable that we have in it a masterpiece of composition and orchestration. Those who only look for the easy-flowing melodies of the younger Verdi will be disappointed; art is predominant, besides an exuberant humour full of charm for every cultivated hearer. The numbers which attract most are the gossiping scene between the four women in the first act, Falstaffs air "Auand'ero paggio del Duca di Norfolk era sottile" in the second, and the fairy music in the last act.

The text is so well known to all readers of Shakespeare, that it may be recorded quite shortly. It is almost literally that of the Merry Wives of Windsor. The first scene is laid in the Garter Inn of that town. After a quarrel with the French Physician Dr. Cajus, who has been robbed while drunk by Falstaff's servants Bardolph and Pistol, {76} Falstaff orders them off with two love-letters for Mrs. Alice Ford and Mrs. Meg Page. The Knaves refusing indignantly to take the parts of go-betweens Falstaff sends them to the devil and gives the letters to the page Robin.

In the second act the two ladies having shown each other the love-letters, decide to avenge themselves on the old fat fool.

Meanwhile Falstaff's servants betray their master's intentions towards Mrs. Ford to her husband, who swears to guard his wife, and to keep a sharp eye on Sir John. Then ensues a love-scene between Fenton and Mr. Ford's daughter Anna, who is destined by her father to marry the rich Dr. Cajus, but who by far prefers her poor suitor Fenton.

After a while the merry Wives assemble again, in order to entice Falstaff into a trap. Mrs. Quickley brings him an invitation to Mrs. Ford's house in absence of the lady's husband, which Sir John accepts triumphantly.

Sir John is visited by Mr. Ford, who assumes the name of Mr. Born, and is nothing loth to drink the bottles of old Cypros-wine, which the latter has brought with him. Born also produces a purse filled with sovereigns, and entreats Falstaff to use it in order to get admittance to a certain Mrs. Ford, whose favour Born vainly sought. Falstaff gleefully reveals the rendez-vous, which he is to have with the lady and thereby leaves poor disguised Mr. Ford a prey to violent jealousy.

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The next scene contains Falstaff's well-known interview with mischievous Alice Ford, which is interrupted by Mrs. Meg's announcement of the husband.

Falstaff is packed into a washing-basket, while husband and neighbours search for him in vain. This scene, in which Falstaff, half suffocated, alternately sighs and begs to be let out, while the women tranquilly sit on the basket and enjoy their trick, is extremely comic. The basket with Falstaff, full wash and all is turned over into a canal, accompanied by the women's laughter.

In the third act Mrs. Quickley succeeds once more to entice the old fool. She orders him to another rendez-vous in the Park at midnight, and advises him to come in the disguise of Herne the black hunter. The others hear of the joke and all decide to punish him thoroughly for his fatuity. Ford, who has promised Dr. Cajus, to unite Anna to him the very night, tells him to wear a monk's garb, and also reveals to him, that Anna is to wear a white dress with roses. But his wife, overhearing this, frustrates his designs. She gives a black monk's garb to Fenton, while Anna chooses the costume of the Fairy-Queen Titania. When Falstaff appears in his disguise he is attacked on all sides by fairies, wasps, flies and mosquitos and they torment him so long, until he cries for mercy. Meanwhile Cajus, in a grey monk's garb looks for his bride everywhere until a tall veiled female in flowing white robes (Bardolph) falls into his arms; on {78} the other side Anna appears with Fenton. Both couples are wedded, and only when they unveil, the mistake is discovered. With bitter shame the men see how they have all been duped by some merry and clever women, but they have to make the best of a bad case, and so Ford grants his benediction to the happy lovers, and embraces his wife, only too glad to find her true and faithful.



FIDELIO.

Opera in two acts by L. van BEETHOVEN.

This opera, the only one by the greatest of German composers, is also one of the most exquisite we possess. The music is so grand and sublime, so passionate and deep, that it enters into the heart of the hearer. The libretto is also full of the highest and most beautiful feeling.

Florestan, a Spanish nobleman, has dared to blame Don Pizarro, the governor of the state-prison, a man as cruel as he is powerful. Pizarro has thus become Florestan's deadly foe, he has seized him secretly and thrown him into a dreadful dungeon, reporting his death to the Minister.

But this poor prisoner has a wife, Leonore, who is as courageous as she is faithful. She never believes in the false reports, but disguising herself in male attire, resolves not to rest until she has found her husband.

In this disguise we find her in the first act; she has contrived to get entrance into the fortress {79} where she supposes her husband imprisoned, and by her gentle and courteous behaviour, and readiness for service of all kinds has won not only the heart of Rocco, the jailer, but that of his daughter Marcelline, who falls in love with the gentle youth and neglects her former lover Jaquino. Fidelio persuades Rocco to let her help him in his office with the prisoners. Quivering with mingled hope and fear she opens the prison gates, to let the state prisoners out into the court, where they may for once have air and sunshine.

But seek as she may, she cannot find her husband and in silent despair she deems herself baffled.

Meanwhile Pizarro has received a letter from Sevilla, announcing the Minister's forthcoming visit to the fortress. Pizarro, frightened at the consequences of such a call, resolves to silence Florestan for ever. He orders the jailer to kill him, but the old man will not burden his soul with a murder and refuses firmly. Then Pizarro himself determines to kill Florestan, and summons Rocco to dig a grave in the dungeon, in order to hide all traces of the crime.

Rocco, already looking upon the gentle and diligent Fidelio as his future son-in-law, confides to him his dreadful secret, and with fearful forebodings she entreats him to accept her help in the heavy work. Pizarro gives his permission, Rocco being too old and feeble to do the work quickly enough if alone; Pizarro has been rendered furious by the {80} indulgence granted to the prisoners at Fidelio's entreaty, but a feeling of triumph overcomes every other, when he sees Rocco depart for the dungeon with his assistant.

Here we find poor Florestan chained to a stone; he is wasted to a skeleton as his food has been reduced in quantity week by week by the cruel orders of his tormentor. He is gradually losing his reason; he has visions and in each one beholds his beloved wife.

When Leonore recognizes him, she well-nigh faints, but with a supernatural effort of strength she rallies, and begins her work. She has a piece of bread with her, which she gives to the prisoner and with it the remainder of Rocco's wine. Rocco, mild at heart, pities his victim sincerely, but he dares not act against the orders of his superior, fearing to lose his position, or even his life.

While Leonore refreshes the sick man, Rocco gives a sign to Pizarro, that the work is done, and bids Fidelio leave; but she only hides herself behind a stone-pillar, waiting with deadly fear for the coming event and decided to save her husband or to die with him.

Pizarro enters, secretly resolved to kill not only his foe, but also both witnesses of his crime. He will not kill Florestan however without letting him know, who his assailant is. So he loudly shouts his own much-feared name, but while he raises his dagger, Leonore throws herself between him and Florestan, shielding the latter with her breast. {81} Pizarro, stupefied like Florestan, loses his presence of mind. Leonore profits by it and presents a pistol at him, with which she threatens his life, should he attempt another attack. At this critical moment the trumpets sound, announcing the arrival of the Minister, and Pizarro, in impotent wrath is compelled to retreat. They are all summoned before the Minister, who is shocked at seeing his old friend Florestan in this sad state, but not the less delighted with and full of reverence for the noble courage of Leonore.

Pizarro is conducted away in chains, and the faithful wife with her own hands removes the fetters, which still bind the husband for whom she has just won freedom and happiness.

Marcelline, feeling inclined to be ashamed of her mistake, returns to her simple and faithful lover Jaquino.



LA FIGLIA DEL REGGIMENTO.

Comic Opera in two acts by GAETANO DONIZETTI.

Text by ST. GEORGE and BAYARD.

This opera is one of the few of Donizetti's numerous works, which still retain their attraction for the theatre-visitor, the others are his Lucrezia Borgia and Lucia di Lammermoor.

The "Daughter of the Regiment" happily combines Italian richness of melody with French "esprit" and French sallies, and hence the continued charm of this almost international music.

The libretto can be accounted good.

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The scene in the first act is laid near Bologna in the year 1815, the second act in the castle of the Marchesa di Maggiorivoglio.

Mary, a vivandiere, has been found and educated by a French sergeant, named Sulpice, and therefore belongs in a sense to his regiment, which is on a campaign in Italy. She is called the "daughter" of the regiment, which has adopted her, and she has grown up, a bright and merry girl, full of pluck and spirit, the pet and delight of the whole regiment.

Tonio, a young Swiss, who has fallen in love with Mary, is believed by the grenadiers to be a spy, and is about to be hanged. But Mary, knowing that he has only come to see her, tells them that he lately saved her life, when she was in danger of falling over a precipice. This changes everything and on his expressing a desire to become one of them, the grenadiers suffer the Swiss to enlist into their company. After the soldiers' departure he confesses his love to Mary, who returns it heartily. The soldiers agree to give their consent, when the Marchesa di Maggiorivoglio appears, and by a letter once affixed to the foundling Mary, addressed to a Marchesa of the same name and carefully kept by Sulpice, it is proved that Mary is the Marchesa's niece. Of course this noble lady refuses her consent to a marriage with the low-born Swiss and claims Mary from her guardian. With tears and laments Mary takes leave of her regiment and her lover, who at once decides to follow her. But he {83} has enlisted as soldier and is forbidden to leave the ranks. Sulpice and his whole regiment curse the Marchesa, who thus carries away their joy.

In the second act Mary is in her aunt's castle. She has masters of every kind for her education in order to become a lady comme il faut, but she cannot forget her freedom, and her dear soldiers, and instead of singing solfeggios and cavatinas, she is caught warbling her "Rataplan", to the Marchesa's grief and sorrow. Nor can she cease to think of Tonio, and only after a great struggle has she been induced to promise her hand to a nobleman, when she suddenly hears the well-beloved sound of drums and trumpets. It is her own regiment with Tonio as their leader, for he has been made an officer on account of his courage and brave behaviour. Hoping that his altered position may turn the Marchesa's heart in his favor, he again asks for Mary, but his suit is once more rejected. Then he proposes flight, but the Marchesa detecting his plan, reveals to Mary that she is not her niece, but her own daughter, born in early wedlock with an officer far beneath her in rank, who soon after died in battle. This fact she has concealed from her family, but as it is now evident that she has closer ties with Mary, the poor girl dares not disobey her, and, though broken-hearted, consents to renounce Tonio.

The Marchesa invites a large company of guests to celebrate her daughter's betrothal to the son of a neighboring duchess. But Mary's faithful {84} grenadiers suddenly appear to rescue her from those hateful ties, and astonish the whole company by their recital of Mary's early history. The obedient maiden however, submissive to her fate, is about to sign the marriage contract, when at last the Marchesa, touched by her obedience and her sufferings, conquers her own pride and consents to the union of her daughter with Tonio. Sulpice and his soldiers burst out into loud shouts of approbation, and the highborn guests retire silently and disgusted.



DER FLIEGENDE HOLLAeNDER.

(THE FLYING DUTCHMAN.)

Romantic Opera in three acts by WAGNER.

This fine opera is Wagner's second work, which he composed in direst need, when living at Paris with his young wife. The songs, which so well imitate the hurricane and the howling of the ocean, he himself heard during an awful storm at sea. The whole opera is exceedingly characteristic and impressive. Wagner arranged the libretto himself, as he did for all his operas which succeeded this one. He found the substance of it in an old legend, which dates from the 16th century. The flying Dutchman is a sort of wandering Jew, condemned to sail forever on the seas, until he has found a woman, whose love to him is faithful unto death.

In the first act we find ourselves on the high seas. Daland, a Norwegian skipper, has met with {85} several misfortunes on his way home, and is compelled to anchor on a deserted shore. There he finds the flying Dutchman, who vainly roves from sea to sea to find death and with it peace. His only hope is dooms day. He has never found a maiden faithful to him, and he knows not how often and how long he has vainly tried to be released from his doom. Once, every seven years, he is allowed to go on shore, and take a wife. This time has now come again, and hearing from Daland, that he has a daughter, sweet and pure, he begins to hope once more, and offers all his wealth to the father for a shelter under the Norwegian's roof and for the hand of his daughter Senta.—Daland is only too glad to accept for his child, what to him seems an immense fortune and so they sail home together.

In the second act we find Senta in the spinning-room. The servants of the house are together spinning and singing. Senta is amongst them, but her wheel does not turn, she is dreamily regarding an old picture. It is that of the flying Dutchman, whose legend so deeply touches her, that she has grown to love its hero, without having in reality seen him.

Senta has a wooer already in the person of Erick the hunter, but she does not care much for him. With deep feeling she sings to the spinning maidens the ballad of the doomed man, as she has heard it from Mary, her nurse:

An old captain wanted to sail round the Cape {86} of Good Hope, and as the wind was against him, he swore a terrible oath, that he never would leave off trying. The devil heard him and doomed him to sail on to eternity, but God's angel had pity on him and showed him, how he could find deliverance through a wife, faithful unto the grave.

All the maidens pray to God, to let the maiden be found at last, when Senta ecstatically exclaims: "I will be his wife!" At this moment her father's ship is announced. Senta is about to run away to welcome him, but is detained by Erick, who tries to win her for himself. She answers evasively; then Daland enters and with him a dark and gloomy stranger. Senta stands spell-bound: she recognizes the hero of her picture. The Dutchman is not less impressed, seeing in her the angel of his dreams and as it were his deliverer, and so, meeting by the guidance of a superior power, they seem created for each other and Senta, accepting the offer of his hand, swears to him eternal fidelity.

In the third act we see the flying Dutchman's ship; everybody recognizes it by its black mast and its blood-red sail. The Norwegian sailors call loudly to the marines of the strange ship, but nothing stirs, everything seems dead and haunted. At last the unearthly inhabitants of the Dutch ship awake; they are old and gray and wrinkled, all doomed to the fate of their captain. They begin a wild and gloomy song, which sends a chill into the hearts of the stout Norwegians.

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Meanwhile Erick, beholding in Senta the betrothed of the Dutchman, is in despair. Imploring her to turn back, he calls up old memories and at last charges her with infidelity to him.

As soon as the Dutchman hears this accusation, he turns from Senta, feeling that he is again lost. But Senta will not break her faith. Seeing the Dutchman fly from her, ready to sail away, she swiftly runs after him and throws herself from the cliff into the waves.

By this sacrifice the spell is broken, the ghostly ship sinks for ever into the ocean, and an angel bears the poor wanderer to eternal rest, where he is re-united to the bride, who has proved faithful unto death.



THE FOLKUNGS.

Grand Opera in five acts by EDMUND KRETSCHMER.

Text by MOSENTHAL.

The composer of this opera evidently belongs to the most talented of our days, and it is no wonder that his two operas "Henry the Lion" and "The Folkungs", have rapidly found their way to every stage of importance. Particularly "The Folkungs" is such a happy combination of modern orchestration, abundance of fine melody, and northern characteristical coloring, that it charms the connoisseur as well as the unlearned.

The scene is laid in Sweden, in the 13th century.

The first act represents the convent Nydal on the snowy heights of the Kyoeles. Sten Patrik, the confidant and abettor of Bengt, Duke of Schoonen, {88} has allured Prince Magnus, second son of King Erick of Sweden, to follow him out of his convent, and has brought him hither by ruse and force. He now announces to the Prince, that he may choose between death and a nameless life in the convent Nydal, and Magnus, having no choice, swears on Sten's sword that he, Prince Magnus, will be forever dead to the world.

The monks receive him into their brotherhood, as he answers to the Abbot Ansgar's questions, that he is an orphan, homeless, abandoned, seeking peace only. The Abbot first subjects Magnus to a trial of his constancy, by letting him hold the night-vigil in storm and snow.—The monks retire, leaving the unhappy Prince outside the gates. While he sinks into deep reverie, Lars Olafson, the castellan of the King's castle of Bognaes, and son of the Prince's nurse, appears. He seeks his Prince, who so mysteriously disappeared from the world, and relates to Magnus, that King Erick is dead, as well as his eldest son, and that Prince Magnus is called to come and claim his throne and bride. Princess Maria, the only surviving Folkung, is already being wooed by their enemy, Duke Bengt of Schoonen, and now the listener understands the vile plot against himself. And as Lars calls him to defend his country and his Princess against the Duke and his confederates the Danes, Magnus considers it a sign from heaven that he is to die for his country, a course of action, which his oath does not prohibit.

When the Abbot calls his new guest, he has {89} disappeared, and Sten Patrik consoles himself with the thought that the fugitive must have perished in the raging snow-storm.

The second act shows us Princess Maria in her castle Bognaes on the lake of Maelar. She is the King's niece and successor to the throne. She takes a last farewell from her people, and Bengt appears to lead her to Upsala for the coronation.

The nurse Kariri and her son Olaf assure her of her folk's fidelity, and when she has departed, Lars calls the men together, and presenting the youth from Skoelen as their leader, makes them take oath of faith on their standard.—Karin recognizes the Prince in the stranger, but he firmly denies his identity, and with glowing words calls the people to rise against their common foe.

The next scene begins with the act of coronation.—The crowned Queen Maria is to announce her choice of a husband from the Mora-stone, when her words are arrested by a look from Magnus, in whom she recognizes the youth she loved.

But, though almost mad with longing and torment, Magnus, mindful of his oath, still denies himself, and the Duke with his friend Sten, who both believed themselves lost, impetuously demand the impostor's arrest. But the Queen asserts her right to judge him herself.

In the fourth act Magnus is brought to his mother's sleeping room. The charm of youthful remembrances surround him, and hearing an old ballad, which Karin sings, he forgets himself and so {90} proves his identity beyond any doubt to the hidden listeners. Maria rushes forward; he folds her to his breast in a transport of love, and only when Karin greets him as her King, he remembers that he has broken his oath, and without more reflection precipitates himself from the balcony into the sea. Maria sinks back in a swoon.

In the last act Sten Patrik comes, to remind Bengt of his promise to give him Schoonen. The Duke refuses to pay him, now that Sweden is in revolt and the Prince living. Sten threatens to reveal his treachery against Magnus. Bengt is about to kill the only accomplice in his deed, when Maria, who has heard all, arrests his arm, and accuses him of murder. Then she rushes to the balcony to call her people to vengeance. Bengt draws his sword to stab her, but the people throng in, seize and throw him into the sea. Now Maria hears with rapture that Magnus lives and has driven away the Danes. With him enter the monks, whose Abbot releases the Prince from his oath. Maria lovingly embracing him, places her crown on her bridegroom's head and all cry hail! to their King Magnus Ericson.



FRA DIAVOLO.

Comic Opera in three acts by AUBER.

Text by SCRIBE.

This nice little opera, though not equal in beauty and perfection to the "Muette de Portici" by the same author, is notwithstanding, a happy {91} invention of Auber's, particularly because the local tints are so well caught. The banditti are painted with bright and glowing colors, and the part of the heroine, Zerline is the most grateful ever written for a soubrelte. The text by Scribe abounds in happy sallies and lively details. It is laid at Terracina in Italy. Fra Diavolo is a celebrated and much feared chief of brigands. The Roman court of justice has set a price of 10,000 piastres on his head. In the first act we meet with the Roman soldiers who undertake to win the money. Their captain Lorenzo has a double aim in trying to catch the brigand. He is Zerline's lover, but having no money, Zerline's father Matteo, the owner of a hotel, threatens to give her to a rich farmer's son. Meanwhile Fra Diavolo has forced his society on a rich English lord, Cookburn by name, who is on his wedding-tour with his fair young wife Pamella. Lord Cookburn looks jealously at Fra Diavolo, though he does not recognize in him a brigand. The English are robbed by Diavolo's band. Disgusted with the insecurity of "la bella Italia" they reach the inn at Terracina, where the dragoons, hearing the account of this new robbery, believe that it was Fra Diavolo with his band, and at once decide to pursue him.

Shortly afterwards Fra Diavolo arrives at the inn, disguised as the Marquis of San Marco, under which name the English lord has already made his acquaintance. He is not enchanted by the arrival of this Marquis; he fears a new flirtation {92} with his own fair wife. Pamella wears most valuable diamonds, and these strike the eye of Fra Diavolo.

He sees that the English have been clever enough to conceal the greater part of their wealth and resolves to put himself speedily into possession of it.

He is flirting desperately with Pamella and looking tenderly at the pretty Zerline, when the soldiers return, having captured twenty of the brigands and retaken the greater part of Lord Cookburn's money and jewels. Lorenzo, the captain of dragoons is rewarded by the magnanimous Lord with 10,000 Lire, and may now hope to win Zerline's hand. But Fra Diavolo vows to avenge the death of his comrades on Lorenzo.

In the second act he conceals himself behind the curtains in Zerline's sleeping-room, and during the night he admits his two companions Beppo and Giacomo. Zerline enters and is about to retire to rest, after praying to the Holy Virgin for protection.—During her sleep Giacomo is to stab her, while the two others are to rob the English Milord.

But Zerline's prayer, and her innocence touch even the robbers, the deed is delayed, and this delay brings Lorenzo upon them. Fra Diavolo's two companions hide themselves, and the false Marquis alone is found in Zerline's room. He assures Lorenzo, that he had a rendez-vous with his bride, and at the same time whispers into Milord's ear, that he came by appointment with Milady, showing {93} her portrait, of which he had robbed her the day before, as proof. The consequence of these lies is a challenge from Lorenzo, and a meeting with Diavolo is fixed. The latter is full of triumphant glee; he has arranged a deep-laid plan with the surviving members of his band and hopes to ensnare not only Lorenzo but his whole company. Ordinarily Diavolo is a noble brigand; he never troubles women, and he loads poor people with gifts, taking the gold out of rich men's purses only, but now he is full of ire and his one thought is of vengeance.

Finally he is betrayed by the carelessness of his own helpmates. Beppo and Giacomo, seeing Zerline, recognize in her their fair prey of the evening before and betray themselves by repeating some of the words which she had given utterance to. Zerline, hearing them, is now able to comprehend the wicked plot, which was woven to destroy her happiness. The two banditta are captured and compelled to lure their captain into a trap. Diavolo appears, not in his disguise as a Marquis, but in his own well-known dress, with the red plume waving from his bonnet, and being assured by Beppo, that all is secure, is easily captured. Now all the false imputations are cleared up. Milord is reconciled to his wife and Lorenzo obtains the hand of the lovely Zerline.



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FRAUENLOB.

Opera in three acts by REINHOLD BECKER.

Text by FRANZ KOPPEL-ELLFELD.

Becker, the well-known Dresden composer, has long won name and fame by his beautiful songs, which may be heard all over the continent. He is a first-rate "Liedermeister", and great was the excitement, with which his friends looked forward to his first opera.

Their expectations were not deceived, for the opera was put on the stage in Dresden on Dec. 8th 1892, and was received with unanimous applause.

Becker is not one of those high-flown artists who elevate us to the skies; he rather lacks dramatic strength; the lyric element is his strong point. By the Lied he finds his way direct to the hearts of his hearers, and where ever this could be woven into the action of his opera, he has done it with subtle taste. Tilda's dancing-air in the first act, the evening-song, sung while the people are gliding down the Rhine in boats, whose lovely variations remind us of quaint old airs of bye-gone days,—the chorus of the stone-masons in the second act, and the love-duet in the third are brilliant gems in Becker's music.

The libretto rivals the best of its kind.

The scene is laid near and in Maintz in the year 1308; it takes place during the reign of Ludwig, Emperor of Bavaria.

Heinrich Frauenlob, the famous minstrel, who had won his name by his songs in women's praise, {95} is by birth a knight, Dietherr zur Meise. Years ago he slew the Truchsess of Maintz in self-defence, and having therefore become an outlaw, had entered the service of the Emperor. In the beginning of the opera we find him however near Maintz, where he stays as a guest at his friend's Wolf's castle. He takes part in the people's festival on Midsummer day, deeming himself unknown.

When the customary St. John's fire is lighted, no one dares leap over it for fear of an old gipsy's prophesy, which threatened with sudden death the first who should attempt it. Frauenlob, disregarding the prophesy, persuades Hildegund, Ottker von Scharfenstein's fair ward, to venture through the fire with him. Hildegund is the slain Truchsess' daughter, and has sworn, to wed the avenger of her father's death, but each lover is unconscious of the other's name. The gipsy Sizyga alone, who had been betrayed in her youth by Frauenlob's father, recognizes the young knight, and though he has only just saved the old hag from the people's fury, she wishes to avenge her wrongs on him. To this end she betrays the secret of Frauenlob's birth to Hildegund's suitor, Servazio di Bologna, who is highly jealous of this new rival, and determines to lay hands on him, as soon as he enters the gates of Maintz.—Frauenlob, though warned by Sizyga, enters Maintz attracted by Hildegund's sweet graces; he is determined to confess everything, and then to fly with her, should she be willing to follow him.

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The second act opens with a fine song of the warder of the tower. The city awakes, the stonemasons assemble, ready to greet the Emperor, whose arrival is expected. Tilda, Hildegund's friend, and daughter to Klas, chief of the stone-masons is going to church, but on her way she is accosted by the knight Wolf, who has lost his heart to her, and now, forgetting his plan to look for Frauenlob, follows the lovely damsel.—When Frauenlob comes up, and sees again the well-known places of his youth, he is deeply touched, but seeing his lady love step on the balcony and soon after come down to enter the dome, he waylays her, imploring her, to fly with him. At this moment Servazio, who has lain in wait, steps forth with officers, who capture Frauenlob. Servazio now reveals the singer's secret and Hildegund hears that her lover is her father's murderer. Though Frauenlob tells Hildegund, that he killed her father in self-defence, she turns from him shuddering. Feeling that all hopes of his future happiness are at an end, he wishes to atone for his deed by death, refusing the help of Wolf, who comes up with his men, to release him. But the stone-masons, having recognized the celebrated minstrel, with whose song they are about to greet the Emperor, decide to invoke the latter's clemency.

In the third act the citizens of Maintz hail the Emperor, after which Frauenlob's cause is brought before him. The whole population demands his pardon, and the monarch, who loves the singer, {97} would fain liberate him, had not Servazio roughly insisted on the culprit's punishment. Uncertain, what to do, the Emperor receives a long procession of ladies with Tilda at its head, who all beseech pardon for Frauenlob. At last the Emperor calls for Hildegund, leaving in her hands the destiny of the prisoner. Left alone with him the latter, prepared to die, only craves her pardon. After a hard struggle with her conscience, love conquers and she grants him pardon. When the Emperor reenters with his suite, to hear the sentence, they find the lovers in close embrace. To the joy of everybody the Monarch sanctions the union and orders the nuptials to be celebrated at once. Another pair, Wolf and Tilda are also made happy. But Servazio vows vengeance. Sizyga, having secretly slipped a powder into his hands, he pours it into a cup of wine, which he presents to Frauenlob as a drink of reconciliation. The Emperor handing the goblet to Hildegund, bids her drink to her lover. Testing it, she at once feels its deadly effect. Frauenlob, seeing his love stagger, snatches the cup from her emptying it at one draught. He dies, still praising the Emperor and women, breathing the name of his bride with his last breath. Servazio is captured, and while Hildegund's body is strewn with roses, the wailing women of Maintz carry their beloved minstrel to his grave.—



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DER FREISCHUeTZ.

Romantic Opera in three acts by C. M. VON WEBER.

Text by FRIEDRICH KIND.

This charming opera done at Dresden 1820, is the most favored of Weber's compositions. It is truly German, being both fantastic and poetic. The libretto is an old German legend and runs thus:

A young huntsman, Max, is in love with Agathe,' daughter of Cuno, the chief-ranger of Prince Ottocar of Bohemia. Max woos her, but their union depends on a master-shot, which he is to deliver on the following morning.

During a village-festival he has all day been unlucky in shooting, and we see him full of anger and sorrow, being mocked at by peasants, more lucky than he.

His comrade, Caspar, one of the ranger's older huntsmen is his evil genius. He has sold himself to the devil, is a gloomy, mysterious fellow, and hopes to save his soul by delivering some other victim to the demon. He wants to tempt Max to try enchanted bullets, to be obtained at the cross-road during the midnight-hour, by drawing a magic circle with a bloody sword and invoking the name of the mysterious huntsman. Father Cuno, hearing him, drives him away, begging Max to think of his bride and to pray to God for success.

But Max cannot forget the railleries of the peasants; he broods over his misfortunes and when {99} he is well-nigh despairing, Caspar, who meanwhile calls Samiel (the devil in person) to help, encourages him to take refuge in stimulants. He tries to intoxicate the unhappy lover by pouring drops from a phial into his wine. When Max has grown more and more excited, Caspar begins to tell him of nature's secret powers, which might help him. Max first struggles against the evil influence, but when Caspar, handing him his gun, lets him shoot an eagle, soaring high in the air, his huntman's heart is elated and he wishes to become possessed of such bullet. Caspar tells him that they are enchanted and persuades him to a meeting in the Wolf's-glen at midnight, where the bullets may be moulded.

In the second act Agathe is with her cousin Aennchen. Agathe is the true German maiden, serious and thoughtful almost to melancholy. She presents a marked contrast to her gay and light-hearted cousin, who tries to brighten Agathe with fun and frolic. They adorn themselves with roses, which Agathe received from a holy hermit, who blessed her, but warned her of impending evil. So Agathe is full of dread forebodings, and after Aennchen's departure she fervently prays to Heaven for her beloved. When she sees him come to her through the forest with flowers on his hat, her fears vanish, and she greets him joyously. But Max only answers hurriedly, that having killed a stag in the Wolf's-glen, he is obliged to return there. Agathe, filled with terror at the mention {100} of this ill-famed name wants to keep him back, but ere she can detain him, he has fled. With hurried steps Max approaches the Wolf's-glen, where Caspar is already occupied in forming circles of black stones, in the midst of which he places a skull, an eagle's wing, a crucible and a bullet-mould. Caspar then calls on Samiel, invoking him to allow him a few more years on earth. To-morrow is the day appointed for Satan to take his soul, but Caspar promises to surrender Max in exchange. Samiel, who appears through the cleft of a rock, agrees to let him have six of the fatal balls, reserving only the seventh for himself.

Caspar then proceeds to make the bullets, Max only looking on, stunned and remorseful at what he sees. His mother's spirit appears to him, but he is already under the influence of the charm, he cannot move. The proceeding goes forward amid hellish noise. A hurricane arises, flames and devilish forms flicker about, wild and horrible creatures rush by and others follow in hot pursuit. The noise grows worse, the earth seems to quake, until at length after Caspar's reiterated invocations Samiel shows himself at the word, "seven". Max and Caspar both make the sign of the cross, and fall on their knees more dead than alive.

In the third act we find Agathe, waiting for her bridesmaids. She is perturbed and sad, having had frightful dreams, and not knowing what has become of Max. Aennchen consoles her, diverting her with a merry song, until the bridesmaids {101} enter, bringing flowers and gifts. They then prepare to crown her with the bridal wreath, when lo, instead of the myrtle, there lies in the box a wreath of white roses, the ornament of the dead.

Meanwhile everybody is assembled on the lawn near Prince Ottocar's tent, to be present at the firing of the master-shot. The Prince points out to Max a white dove as an object at which to aim. At this critical moment Agathe appears, crying out: "Don't shoot Max, I am the white dove!" But it is too late; Max has fired, and Agathe sinks down at the same time as Caspar, who has been waiting behind a tree and who now falls heavily to the ground, while the dove flies away unhurt, Everybody believes that Max has shot his bride, but she is only in a swoon; the bullet has really killed the villain Caspar. It was the seventh, the direction of which Samiel reserved for himself, and Satan having no power over the pious maiden, directed it on Caspar, already forfeited to him. Max confesses his sin with deep remorse. The Prince scornfully bids him leave his dominions for ever. But Agathe prays for him, and at last the Prince follows the hermit's advice, giving the unhappy youth a year of probation, during which to prove his repentance, and grow worthy of his virtuous bride.



{102}

FRIEND FRITZ.

A lyric Comedy in three acts by PIETRO MASCAGNI

Text after ERCKMANN-CHATRIAN'S novel of the same name.

After the immense success of Cavalleria Rusticana, the first representation of Amico Fritz was awaited with feverish impatience by the whole musical world.

But the high-strung expectations were not fulfilled. Though many pretended that the music was nobler and more artistic than that of the author's first work, the success was by no means as great as Mascagni's friends anticipated. In Vienna and Berlin it was even received with partial coolness. But lo, the first representation in Dresden on June 2nd 1892 took place with a marked and decided success.

The artistically trained orchestra brought out to perfection all the finesses, all the delightful shades of the music, and since that day the opera has not failed to bring a full house.

The subject in itself is too simple for Mascagni's strong dramatic talent, hence the lack of interest, hence the disillusion of so many.

Granting this, we cannot but admire the genius, which can compose an opera so full of refined and noble sentiment, based on such a simple plot.

No music more charming than the march, taken as well as the Pastorale from a national Alsacian song, none more sweet and melodious, than the Intermezzo and the cherry-duet. The {103} finely depicted details in the orchestra are a delight for musical ears.

The simple text follows strictly the French original.

Fritz Kobus, a well to do landowner receives the felicitations of his friends on his fortieth birthday. At the same time his old friend Rabbi David, as consumate a match-maker, as Fritz is an inveterate bachelor receives from the latter a loan of 1200 francs which is to enable a poor girl to marry her lover. Fritz gives it very graciously, congratulating himself, that he is free from hymen's bonds.

He treats his friends to a hearty dinner, in which Susel, his tenant's daughter, who comes to present her landlord with a nosegay of violets, joins. Fritz makes her sit beside him, and for the first time remarks the growing loveliness of the young maiden. While they are feasting a gipsy, Seppel, plays a serenade in honor of the birthday, which makes a deep impression on fair Susel. When the latter has departed, the joviality of the company increases. Hanczo and Friedrich, two friends laughingly prophesy to the indignant Fritz, that he will soon be married, and David even makes a bet, which, should he prove right will make him owner of one of his friend's vineyards. At the end of the first act a procession of orphans hail the landlord as their benefactor.

In the second act we find our friend Fritz as guest in the house of his tenant. Susel is sedulously engaged in selecting flowers and cherries for her {104} landlord, who, coming down into the garden, is presented by her with flowers. Soon she mounts a ladder, and plucking cherries, throws them to Fritz, who is uncertain which are the sweeter, the maiden's red lips or the ripe cherries, which she offers him. In the midst of their enjoyment the sound of bells and cracking of whips is heard, Fritz's friends enter. He soon takes them off for a walk, only old David stays behind with Susel, pleading fatigue. Taking occasion of her presenting him with a drink of fresh water, he makes her tell him the old story of Isaac and Rebecca and is quite satisfied to guess at the state of her feelings by the manner in which she relates the simple story. On Fritz's return he archly communicates to him that he has found a suitable husband for Susel, and that he has her father's consent. The disgust and fright, which Fritz experiences at this news reveals to him something of his own feelings for the charming maiden. He decides to return home at once, and does not even take farewell of Susel, who weeps in bitter disappointment.

In the third act Fritz, at home again, can find no peace anywhere. When David tells him that Susel's marriage is a decided fact he breaks out, and in his passion downright forbids the marriage. At this moment Susel appears, bringing her landlord a basket of fruit. She looks pale and sad, and when Fritz sarcastically asks her whether she comes to invite him to her wedding, she bursts into tears. Then the real state of her heart is {105} revealed to him, and with passionate avowal of his own love, amico Fritz takes her to his heart. So David wins his wager, which however he settles on Susel as a dowry, promising at the same time to procure wives before long for the two friends standing by.—



GENOVEVA.

Opera in four acts by ROBERT SCHUMANN.

Text after HEBBEL and TIECK.

The music of this opera is surpassingly delightful. Though Schumann's genius was not that of a dramatist of a very high order, this opera deserves to be known and esteemed universally. Nowhere can melodies be found finer or more poetical and touching than in this noble musical composition, the libretto of which may also be called interesting, though it is faulty in its want of action.

It is the old legend of Genoveva somewhat altered. Siegfried, Count of the Palatinate, is ordered by the Emperor Charles Martell to join him in the war with the infidels, who broke out of Spain under Abdurrhaman. The noble Count recommends his wife Genoveva and all he possesses, to the protection of his friend Golo, who is however secretly in love with his master's wife. After Siegfried has said farewell she falls into a swoon, which Golo takes advantage of to kiss her, thereby still further exciting his flaming passion. Genoveva finally awakes and goes away to mourn in silence for her husband.

{106}

Golo being alone, an old hag Margaretha, whom he takes for his nurse, comes to console him.

She is in reality his mother and has great schemes for her son's future happiness. She insinuates to him that Genoveva, being alone, needs consolation and will easily be led on to accept more tender attentions, and she promises him her assistance. The second act show Genoveva's room. She longs sadly for her husband and sees with pain and disgust the insolent behavior of the servants, whose wild songs penetrate into her silent chamber.

Golo enters to bring her the news of a great victory over Abdurrhaman, news, which fill her heart with joy.

She bids Golo sing and sweetly accompanies his song, which so fires his passion that he falls upon his knees and frightens her by glowing words. Vainly she bids him leave her; he only grows more excited, till she repulses him with the word "bastard". Now his love turns into hatred, and when Drago, the faithful steward comes to announce that the servants begin to be more and more insolent, daring even to insult the good name of the Countess, Golo asserts that they speak the truth about her. He persuades the incredulous Drago to hide himself in Genoveva's room, the latter having retired for the night's rest.

Margaretha, listening at the door, hears everything. She tells Golo that Count Siegfried lies wounded at Strassbourg; she has intercepted his {107} letter to the Countess and prepares to leave for that town, in order to nurse the Count and kill him slowly by some deadly poison. Then Golo calls quickly for the servants, who all assemble to penetrate into their mistress' room. She repulses them full of wounded pride, but at last she yields, and herself taking the candle to light the room proceeds to search, when Drago is found behind the curtains and at once silenced by Golo, who runs his dagger through his heart. Genoveva is led into the prison of the castle.

The third act takes place at Strassbourg, where Siegfried is being nursed by Margaretha. His strength defies her perfidy, and he is full of impatience to return to his loving wife, when Golo enters bringing him the news of her faithlessness.

Siegfried in despair bids Golo kill her with his own sword. He decides to fly into the wilderness, but before fulfilling his design, he goes once more to Margaretha, who has promised to show him all that passed at home during his absence. He sees Genoveva in a magic looking-glass, exchanging kindly words with Drago, but there is no appearance of guilt in their intercourse. The third image shows Genoveva sleeping on her couch, and Drago approaching her. With an imprecation Siegfried starts up, bidding Golo avenge him, but at the same instant the glass flies in pieces with a terrible crash, and Drago's ghost stands before Margaretha, commanding her to tell Siegfried the truth.

{108}

In the fourth act Genoveva is being led into the wilderness by two ruffians, who have orders to murder her. Before this is done, Golo approaches her once more, showing her Siegfried's ring and sword, with which he has been bidden kill her. He tries hard to win her, but she turns from him with scorn and loathing, preferring death to dishonor. At length relinquishing his attempts, he beckons to the murderers to do their work and hands them Count Siegfried's weapon. Genoveva in her extreme need seizes the cross of the Saviour, praying fervently, and detains the ruffians till at the last moment Siegfried appears, led by the repentant Margaretha. There ensues a touching scene of forgiveness, while Golo rushes away to meet his fate by falling over a precipice.



THE GOLDEN CROSS.

Opera in two acts by IGNAZ BRULL.

Text by MOSENTHAL.

Brull, born at Prossnitz in Moravia, Nov. 7th, 1846, received his musical education in Vienna and is well known as a good pianist. He has composed different operas, of which however the above-mentioned is the only popular one.

This charming little opera, which rendered its composer famous, has passed beyond the frontiers of Germany and is now translated into several languages.

The text is skillfully arranged, and so combined as to awaken our interest.

{109}

The scene is laid in a village near Melun in the years between 1812 and 15.

Nicolas (or Cola) Pariset, an innkeeper, is betrothed to his cousin Therese. Unfortunately just on his wedding-day a sergeant, named Bombardon, levies him for the army, which is to march against the Russians. Vainly does Therese plead for her betrothed, and equally in vain is it that she is joined in her pleading by Nicolas' sister Christine. The latter is passionately attached to her brother, who has hitherto been her only care. Finally Christine promises to marry any man who will go as substitute for her brother. Gontran de l'Ancry, a young nobleman, whose heart is touched by the maiden's tenderness and beauty, places himself at Bombardon's disposal and receives from him the golden cross, which Christine has placed in his hands, to be offered as a pledge of fidelity to her brother's deliverer. Christine does not get to know him, as Gontran departs immediately. The act closes with Cola's marriage.

The second act takes place two years later. Cola, who could not be detained from marching against the enemy, has been wounded, but saved from being killed by an officer, who received the bullet instead. Both return to Cola's house as invalids and are tended by the two women. The strange officer, who is no other than Gontran, loves Christine and she returns his passion, but deeming herself bound to another, she does not betray her feeling. Gontran is about to bid her farewell, but {110} when in the act of taking leave, he perceives her love and tells her that he is the officer, who was once substitute for her brother in the war.

Christine is full of happiness; Gontran when asked for the token of her promise, tells her, that the cross was taken from him, as he lay senseless on the field of battle. At this moment Bombardon, returning also as invalid, presents the cross to Christine, and she believing that Gontran has lied to her and that Bombardon is her brother's substitute, promises her hand to him, with a bleeding heart, but Bombardon relates that the true owner of the cross has fallen on the battle-field and that he took it from the dead body. Christine now resolves to enter in a convent, when suddenly Gontran's voice is heard. Bombardon recognizes his friend, whom he believed to be dead, everything is explained and the scene ends with the marriage of the good and true lovers.



THE TWO GRENADIERS.

Comic Opera in three acts by ALBERT LORTZING.

Text adapted from the French.

After a long interval of quiet Lortzing's charming music seems to be brought to honor again and no wonder.—The ears of the public grow overtired, or may we say over-taxed by Wagner's grand music, which his followers still surpass, though only in noise and external effects; they long for simplicity, for melody. Well, Lortzing's operas overflow with real, true, simple melody, and {111} generally in genuine good humour.—For many years only two of his operas have been performed, viz, "Undine" and "Czar and Zimmermann".—Now Hamburg has set the good example, by representing a whole cyclus (seven operas of Lortzing's), and Dresden has followed with the "Two Grenadiers."

The opera was composed in the year 1837 and is of French origin and though its music breathes German humour and naivete, the French influence may be felt clearly. The persons show life and movement, the music is light-hearted, graceful and truly comic.

The scene takes place in a little country-town, where we find Busch, a wealthy inn-keeper, making preparations for the arrival of his only son. The young man had entered a Grenadier regiment at the age of sixteen, ten years before, so the joyful event of his home-coming is looked forward to with pleasure by his father and sister Suschen, but with anxiety by a friend of hers, Caroline, to whom young Busch had been affianced before joining his regiment.

Enter two young Grenadiers from the regiment on leave, the younger of whom falls in love with Suschen at first sight. However as the elder Grenadier, Schwarzbart, dolefully remarks, they are both almost pennyless and he reflects how he can possibly help them in their need. His meditations are interrupted by the arrival of the landlord, who, seeing the two knapsacks, and recognizing one of them as that of his son, naturally supposes the owner to be his offspring, in which belief he is {112} confirmed by Schwarzbart, who is induced to practice this deceit, partly by the desire of getting a good dinner and the means of quenching his insatiable thirst, partly by the hope of something turning up in favour of his companion in arms, Wilhelm. As a matter of fact the knapsack does not belong to Wilhelm at all. On leaving the inn, at which the banquet following the wedding of one of their comrades, had been held, the knapsacks had inadvertently been exchanged much to Wilhelm's dismay, his own containing a lottery ticket which, as he has just learnt, had won a great prize. The supposed son is of course received with every demonstration of affection by his fond parent, but though submitting with a very good grace to the endearments of his supposed sister—the maiden, with whom he had fallen in love so suddenly—he resolutely declines being hugged and made much of by the old landlord, this double-part being entirely distasteful to his straightforward nature. Nor does his affianced bride, the daughter of the bailiff, fare any better, his affections being placed elsewhere, and their bewilderment is only somewhat appeased by Schwarzbart's explanation that his comrade suffers occasionally from weakness of the brain.

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