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The Standard Operaglass - Detailed Plots of One Hundred and Fifty-one Celebrated Operas
by Charles Annesley
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In the next act Peter, a youth of marvellous stupidity and cousin of the bailiff, presents himself in a woful plight, to which he has been reduced by some soldiers at the same wedding festivities, and shortly after Gustav, the real son appears on the scene. He is a manly fellow, full of tender {113} thoughts for his home. Great is therefore his surprise at finding himself repulsed by his own father, who not recognizing him, believes him to be an impostor. All the young man's protestations are of no avail, for in his knapsack are found the papers of a certain Wilhelm Stark, for whom he is now mistaken.—When silly Peter perceives him, he believes him to be the Grenadier, who had so ill-treated him at the wedding, though in reality it was Schwarzbart. Gustav is shut up in a large garden-house of his father's; the small town lacking a prison.

In the third act the Magistrate has found out that Wilhelm's papers prove him to be the bailiff's son, being the offspring of his first love ——, who had been with a clergyman, and who, after the death of the bailiff's wife is vainly sought for by his father. Of course this changes everything for the prisoner, who is suddenly accosted graciously by his gruff guardian Barsch, and does not know what to make of his mysterious hints.

Meanwhile Caroline's heart has spoken for the stranger, who had addressed her so courteously and chivalrously; she feels that, far from being an impostor, he is a loyal and true-hearted young fellow and therefore decides to liberate him. At the same time enter Wilhelm with Schwarzbart, seeking Suschen; Peter slips in for the same reason, seeking her, for Suschen is to be his bride. Gustav, (the prisoner) hearing footsteps, blows out the candle, in order to save Caroline from being recognized {114} and so they all run about in the dark, playing hide and seek in an infinitely droll manner. At last the bailiff, having heard that his son has been found, comes up with the inn-keeper.—The whole mystery is cleared up, and both sons embrace their respective fathers and their brides.



HAMLET.

Grand Opera in five acts by AMBROISE THOMAS.

Text taken from SHAKESPEARE by MICHEL CARRE and JULES BARBIER.

Hamlet was first reproduced in Paris in 1868, a year after the representation of Mignon, but it never reached the latter's popularity. This is not due to the music, which is very fine, and even nobler than in Mignon, but to the horrid mutilation of Shakespeare's glorious tragedy, which almost turns into ridicule the most sublime thoughts.

The text is soon explained. We find the Shakespearean name with their thoughts and deeds turned into operatic jargon.

The first act shows Hamlet's disgust and pain at his mother's early wedding with Claudius, King of Denmark, only two months after her first husband's death. Ophelia vainly tries to divert his somber thoughts, he finds her love very sweet however, and when her brother Laertes, before starting on a long journey commends her to his friends' protection, Hamlet swears to be true to her unto death.

In the interview at midnight with his father's ghost, Hamlet experiences great revulsion of feeling, when he discovers that his mother's second {115} husband, is his father's murderer. The ghost urges Hamlet, to avenge his parent, which he swears to do.

In the second act we find Hamlet quite changed. He not only avoids his father and mother, but also shuns Ophelia, who vainly tries to understand his strange behaviour. Determined to find out the truth about Claudius' guilt, Hamlet has paid some actor, to play the old tragedy of Gonzaga's murder. When the actor pours the poison into the sleeping King's mouth Claudius sinks back half fainting, and Hamlet, keenly observant, loudly accuses him of his father's death. But he is unable to act and after the King's escape he seeks his mother's room to ponder on his wrongs. Hidden behind a pillar he overhears from Claudius' own lips that Ophelia's father, old Polonius is the King's accomplice. This destroys the last spark of his belief in humanity. Thrusting the weeping Ophelia from him, he advises her to shut herself into convent and to bid farewell to all earthly joys. Left alone with his mother he wildly reproaches her, and at last so far forgets himself, that he is about to kill her, had not his father's ghost appeared once more, exhorting him to take vengeance but to spare his mother.

This scene is very powerful, the music of strange and weird beauty.—

In the fourth act poor demented Ophelia takes part in the plays of the village-maidens. The Swedish song she sings to them is full of sweet pathos. When her playmates leave her, she hides {116} among the willows, enticed into the water by the "Neck" (Swedish for Sirens), whose own song she has sung. Slowly floating out on the waves her voice dies away softly. With her death the interest in the opera ends; however a fifth act takes us to her grave, where the whole funeral procession arrives. The ghost once more appeals to Hamlet for vengeance, until he rouses himself and runs his sword through Claudius, after which the ghost disappears, while Hamlet is elected King of Denmark on the spot.

The audience in German theatres is spared this last piece of absurdity and the play is brought to a more appropriate close by Hamlet's stabbing himself on his bride's bier.



HANSEL AND GRETEL.

A Fairytale in three pictures by ADELHEID WETTE.

Music by ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK.

After a long period of "Sturm und Drang" we have an opera so fresh and simple, that any child will delight in it! It not only captivates children and people of simple tastes; but, the most blases must acknowledge its charms. No thrilling drama, but a simple fairytale, known in every nursery has achieved this wonder. It is a revelation. True music finds its way to the hearts, and how wonderfully refreshing are these simple nursery songs, recalling days of sweet childhood, how droll and truly realistic are these children in {117} their natural and naive sauciness! Here is no display of human passions; simply and clearly the old fairytale goes on, embellished by the masterly way in which the musician handles the modern orchestra.

The first act represents the miserable little hut of a broom-maker. Hansel is occupied in binding brooms, Gretel is knitting and singing old nursery-songs, such as "Susy, dear Susy, what rattles in the straw." Both children are very hungry, and wait impatiently for the arrival of their parents. Hansel is particularly bad-tempered, but the merry and practical Gretel finding some milk in a pot, soon soothes his ruffled feelings by the promise of a nice rice-pap in the evening. Forgetting work and hunger, they begin to dance and frolic, until they roll on the ground together. At this moment their mother enters, and seeing the children idle, her wrath is kindled, and she rushes at them with the intention of giving them a sound whipping. Alas instead of Hansel she strikes the pot and upsets the milk. The mother's vexation cools and only sorrow remains, but she quickly puts a little basket into Gretel's hands, and drives the children away, bidding them look for strawberries in the woods. Then sinking on a chair utterly exhausted, she falls asleep. She is awakened by her husband, who comes in singing and very gay. She sees that he has had a drop too much and is about to reproach him, but the words die on her lips, when she sees him unfold his treasures, consisting of eggs, bread, butter and coffee. He tells her that he has {118} been very fortunate at the church-ale (Kirmes), and bids her prepare supper at once. Alas, the pot is broken, and the mother relates, that finding the children idle, anger got the better of her, and the pot was smashed to pieces. He goodnaturedly laughs at her discomfiture, but his merriment is changed to grief, when he hears that their children are still in the forest, perhaps even near the Ilsenstein, where the wicked fairy lives, who entices children in order to bake and devour them. This thought so alarms the parents that they rush off, to seek the children in the forest.

The second act is laid near the ill-famed Ilsenstein. Hansel has filled his basket with strawberries, and Gretel is winding a garland of red hips, with which Hansel crowns her. He presents her also with a bunch of wild flowers and playfully does homage to this queen of the woods. Gretel enjoying the play, pops one berry after another into her brother's mouth; then they both eat, while listening to the cuckoo. Before they are aware of it, they have eaten the whole contents of the basket and observe with terror, that it has grown too dark, either to look for a fresh supply, or to find their way home. Gretel begins to weep and to call for her parents, but Hansel, rallying his courage, takes her in his arms and soothes her, until they both grow sleepy. The dustman comes, throwing his dust into their eyes, but before their lids close, they say their evening-prayer; then they fall asleep and the fourteen guardian-angels, whose {119} protection they invoked, are seen stepping down the heavenly ladder to guard their sleep.

In the third act the morning dawns. Crystal drops are showered on the children by the angel of the dew, Gretel opens her eyes first and wakes her brother with a song. They are still entranced by the beautiful angel-dream they have had, when suddenly their attention is aroused by the sight of a little house, made entirely of cake and sugar. Approaching it on tiptoe, they begin to break off little bits, but a voice within calls out "Tip tap, tip tap, who raps at my house?" "The wind, the wind, the heavenly child" they answer continuing to eat and to laugh nothing daunted. But the door opens softly and out glides the witch, who quickly throws a rope around Hansel's throat. Urging the children to enter her house, she tells her name, Rosina sweet-tooth. The frightened children try to escape, but the fairy raises her staff and by a magic charm keeps them spellbound. She imprisons Hansel in a small stable with a lattice-door, and gives him almonds and currants to eat, then turning to Gretel, who has stood rooted to the spot, she breaks the charm with a juniper bough, and compels her to enter the house and make herself useful.

Believing Hansel to be asleep, she turns to the oven, and kindles the fire, then breaking into wild glee she seizes a broom and rides on it round the house singing, Gretel all the while observing her keenly. Tired with her exertions the witch awakes {120} Hansel and bids him show his finger, at which command Hansel stretches out a small piece of wood. Seeing him so thin, the witch calls for more food and while she turns her back, Gretel quickly takes up the juniper bough, and speaking the formula, disenchants her brother. Meanwhile the witch turning to the oven, tells Gretel, to creep into it, in order to see, if the honey-cakes are ready, but the little girl, affecting stupidity begs her, to show, how she is to get in. The witch impatiently bends forward and at the same moment Gretel assisted by Hansel, who has escaped from his prison pushes her into the hot oven and slams the iron door.—The wicked witch burns to ashes, while the oven cracks and roars and finally falls to pieces. With astonishment the brother and sister see a long row of children, from whom the honey-crust has fallen off, standing stiff and stark. Gretel tenderly caresses one of them, who opens his eyes and smiles. She now touches them all, and Hansel, seizing the juniper bough works the charm and recalls them to new life. The cake-children thank them warmly, and they all proceed to inspect the treasures of the house, when Hansel hears their parents calling them. Great is the joy of father and mother at finding their beloved-ones safe and in the possession of a sweet little house. The old sorceress is drawn out of the ruins of the oven in form of an immense honey-cake, whereupon they all thank Heaven for having so visibly helped and protected them.



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HANS HEILING.

Romantic Opera in three acts with a prelude, by HEINRICH MARSCHNER.

Text by EDUARD DEVRIENT.

The text to this opera, which was written by the celebrated actor and sent to Marschner anonymously, so struck the composer by its beauty that he adapted music to it, music which ought to be heard much oftener on our stages, on account of its freshness and of its healthy dramatic action, which never flags, but continues to interest and move the hearer with ever-increasing effect till the end is reached.

The contents are as follows:

Hans Heiling, King of the gnomes, has fallen in love with a daughter of the earth; the charming Anna. This maiden, a poor country-girl in the first freshness of youth, has been induced by her mother to consent to a betrothal with the rich stranger, whom she esteems, but nothing more, her heart not yet having been touched by love.

In the prelude we are introduced into the depths of earth, where the gnomes work and toil incessantly carrying glittering stones, gold and silver and accumulating all the treasures, on which men's hearts are set.

Their King announces to them, that he will no longer be one of theirs; he loves, and therefore he resigns his crown. All the passionate entreatings of his mother and of the gnomes are of no avail. {122} At the Queen's bidding he takes with him a magic book, without which he should lose his power over the gnomes, and after giving to her beloved son a set of luminous diamonds mother and son part, Heiling with joy in his heart, the mother in tears and sorrow.

In the first act Heiling arises from the earth, for ever closing the entrance to the gnomes.

Anna greets him joyously and Gertrud, her mother, heartily seconds the welcome. Heiling gives to his bride a golden chain, and Anna adorning herself, thinks with pleasure, how much she will be looked at and envied by her companions. She fain would show herself at once and begs Heiling to visit a public festival with her. But Heiling by nature serious and almost taciturn, refuses her request. Anna pouts, but she soon forgets her grief, when she sees the curious signs of erudition in her lover's room. Looking over the magic book, the leaves begin to turn by themselves, quicker and quicker, the strange signs seem to grow, to threaten her, until stricken with horrible fear Anna cries out, and Heiling, turning to her, sees too late what she has done. Angry at her curiosity, he pushes her away, but she clings to him with fervent entreaties to destroy the dreadful book. His love conquers his reason; and he throws the last link which connects him with his past into the fire. A deep thunder-peal is heard. Anna thanks him heartily, but from this hour the seed of fear and distrust grows in her heart.

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Heiling, seeing her still uneasy, agrees to visit the festival with her upon condition that she refrains from dancing. She gladly promises, but as soon as they come to the festival, Anna is surrounded by the village-lads, who entreat her to dance. They dislike the stranger, who has won the fairest maiden of the village, and Conrad the hunter, who has long loved Anna, is particularly hard on his rival. He mocks him, feeling that Heiling is not what he seems, and tries to lure Anna away from his side. At last Heiling grows angry, forbidding Anna once more to dance. She is wounded by his words and telling him abruptly, that she is not married yet and that she never will be his slave, she leaves him.

In despair Heiling sees her go away with Conrad, dancing and frolicking.

In the second act we find Anna in the forest. She is in a deep reverie; her heart has spoken, but alas, not for her bridegroom, whom she now fears; it only beats for Conrad, who has owned his love to her. Darkness comes on and the gnomes appear with their Queen, who reveals to the frightened girl the origin of her bridegroom and entreats her to give back the son to his poor bereft mother. When the gnomes have disappeared, Conrad overtakes Anna, and she tells him all, asking his help against her mysterious bridegroom. Conrad, seeing that she returns his love, is happy. He has just obtained a good situation and will now be able to wed her.

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He accompanies her home, where Gertrud welcomes them joyously, having feared that Anna had met with an accident in the forest.

While the lovers are together, Heiling enters, bringing the bridal jewels. Mother Gertrud is dazzled, but Anna shrinks from her bridegroom. When he asks for an explanation, she tells him that she knows of his origin. Then all his hopes die within him, but determined that his rival shall not be happy at his cost, he hurls his dagger at Conrad and takes flight.

In the last act Heiling is alone in a ravine in the mountains. He has sacrificed everything and gained nothing. Sadly he decides to return to the gnomes. They appear at his bidding, but they make him feel that he no longer has any power over them, and by way of adding still further to his sorrows they tell him that his rival lives and is about to wed Anna. Then indeed all seems lost to the poor dethroned King. In despair and repentance he casts himself to the earth. But the gnomes, seeing that he really has abandoned all earthly hopes, swear fealty to him once more and return with him to their Queen, by whom he is received with open arms.

Meanwhile Conrad, who only received a slight wound from Heiling's dagger and has speedily recovered, has fixed his wedding-day and we see Anna, the happy bride in the midst of her companions, prepared to go to church with her lover. But when she looks about her, Heiling is at her {125} side, come to take revenge. Conrad would fain aid her, but his sword breaks before it touches Heiling, who invokes the help of his gnomes. They appear, but at the same moment the Queen is seen, exhorting her son to pardon and to forget. He willingly follows her away into his kingdom of night and darkness, never to see earth's surface again. The anxious peasants once more breathe freely and join in common thanks to God.



HENRY THE LION.

Opera in four acts by EDMUND KRETSCHMER.

This opera has not had the same success as "The Folkungs", which may be attributed in part to the subject, which is less attractive. Nevertheless it has great merit, and has found its way to the larger stages of Germany. The libretto is written by Kretschmer himself. The background is in this instance also historical.

The scene which takes us back to the middle of the 12th century is laid, in the first act, in Rome, in the second and fourth in Henry the Lion's castle and in the third act on the coast of Ancona.

In the first act Henry's praise is sung; he has gained the victory for his Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa, over the Italians. Frederick enters, thanking the Duke heartily for his fidelity and fortitude. A stranger, named Astoc, comes, prophesying an unhappy end to the Emperor, if he continues to seek his laurels in strange lands. To the anger {126} of everybody Henry seconds him, entreating his Master to return into his own country, where his presence is necessary. The Emperor rebukes him sternly, Henry grows hot, and is finally by order of Frederick fettered and led away.

The second act shows the park in Henry's castle. His lovely wife Clementina, whose veil he wears on his helmet as a talisman, receives the country-people, who come to congratulate her on the first anniversary of her wedding-day. Irmgard, sister-in-law of Duke Henry, sees with envy how much Clementina is loved by everyone; she had herself hoped to become Duchess of Saxony, and from the time when Henry brought home his lovely bride, Irmgard has hated her. Conrad von Wettin, Henry's friend, appears in pilgrim's garb, to announce to the lonely wife the sad news of her husband's captivity and she at once resolves to travel to Ancona in order to entreat the Emperor's pardon.

Irmgard, thinking she sees in the disguised pilgrim, whose gait she recognizes to be that of a knight, a lover of Clementina's, believes that already the day of revenge is dawning.

In the third act the Emperor mourns the loss of his bravest hero, who firmly refuses to retract his rash words. A German song is heard, and Conrad von Wettin presents a young minstrel to the homesick Prince. The former begs for the favor of celebrating the coming festival in a German song. This is permitted and the festival begins. {127} The Anconites, whom Frederick delivered from their captivity, appear, to thank him, then Henry the Lion is conducted to his presence and ordered to ask his forgiveness. But Henry repeats that he did nothing wrong in telling the truth. The Emperor decides to give him an hour for reflection, after which if Henry does not bend his will, he shall be banished.

When this hard sentence is heard, Clementina in minstrel's guise sings her song of the German's fidelity to his Prince and his country, and of his wife's faithfulness, and her highest glory.

The song so touches the Emperor, that he bids her ask a favor. She takes Henry the Lion's sword and buckler, which are lying near, and handing them to the captive, entreats the Emperor to give him his liberty and to pardon him. Her request is granted by Frederick; and Henry, shamed by his Prince's magnanimity, bends his knee, swearing eternal fidelity to him. From Henry the young minstrel only asks a piece of the veil fastened round his helmet, in memory of his deliverance.

The last act carries us back to Henry's castle, where the wife receives her husband full of joy. Clementina asks for the missing piece of veil, and Henry tells her how he gave it away. In the midst of this intercourse horns sound and the Emperor appears with his whole suite. He comes to recompense his hero, who has again won for him honor and glory, with the duchy of Bavaria. Henry presents his consort, as the best and most {128} faithful of wives, when Irmgard steps forth, accusing her sister-in law of faithlessness, and relating that she left the castle with a young knight in pilgrim's attire, and only returned when the news spread, that the Duke would come home victorious. Clementina is too proud, to defend herself and forbids even Conrad von Wettin to speak.

Everybody is convinced of her innocence, but her husband, always rash and violent, turns from her, when she refuses to say nay, and banishing her from his castle, casts his glove before Conrad von Wettin.

Clementina silently goes away, but soon reappears in her minstrel's garb; with the piece of veil in her hand she sings the song, which they heard in Ancona. Now she is at once recognized and the opera ends with a paean of praise to the faithfulness of German wives.



HERRAT.

Grand Opera in three acts by FELIX DRAESEKE.

The first representation of Herrat took place in Dresden on the 10th of March 1892. Its author is long known as one of the first living composers, but his music is so serious, so extremely difficult in its execution, that this is probably the cause, why his operas have been almost unknown hitherto. Like Wagner he did the libretto himself, like him he chose his subject from the old "Heldensaga", but here all likeness ends; there is no relation {129} between Draeseke and Wagner; each goes his own way, each is an original genius.

The Amelungenlied a translation of which has appeared from Simrock, bears great likeness to the Nibelungen; we even find in part the same persons. The subject is a bloody-one; love and heroism are the poles which move it. The music is grand, stern, sometimes sublime, but we look vainly for grace and sweetness. The libretto is rather poor, the rhymes unmelodious and uneven; nevertheless the musical effect is deep and lasting; the breath of a master-genius has brought it to life.

The first scene is laid in Etzel's (Attila's) castle Gran. The King of the Hun's best vassal, Dietrich of Bern has been severely wounded, and sent by his Sire to Gran, that he might be tended by Queen Heike, Etzel's wife. Instead of taking care of the hero, she leaves him to her maid Herlinde, who has nought but water at her disposition, while the Queen nurses her kinsman Dietrich der Reusse, a prisoner of war. The consequence of this is, that Etzel coming home finds his friend sicker than before, while his enemy is well and strong. Full of wrath he orders the Queen to keep Dietrich den Reussen prisoner, without leaving her any guards; should he escape, she is to be beheaded.

After Etzel's departure to the army Dietrich der Reusse escapes notwithstanding the Queen's entreaties.—In her distress Heike turns to the sore wounded Dietrich von Bern, who, though {130} bitterly cursing her ingratitude rises from his sick-bed in order to pursue the fugitive.

In the second act Dietrich of Reuss arrives on foot at Saben's castle in Esthonia. (Saben is a usurper, who has dispossessed King Nentwin and taken possession of his castle and his daughter Herrat.) Dietrich's steed is dead, but hearing his pursuer close upon his heels he takes refuge in an adjacent wood. Herrat standing on a balcony, has recognized him. She sees him vanish with regret, because a prediction told her, that a Dietrich would be her deliverer, but when another hero comes up, she directs him to the wood, to which Dietrich has flown. She hears the combat going on between the two, and soon the pursuer comes back, telling her that his enemy is dead and begging for rest and shelter. When he tells her his name, she starts back, well knowing that Saben, who has slain Dietrich's relatives, will not receive him graciously. She however accompanies him to a room, and determined to protect him against Saben's wiles, she binds up his wounds and nurses him tenderly. Saben entering recognizes the Berner by his celebrated helmet; he leaves the room telling Herrat to look well after such a famous guest. But Herrat's mind misgives her, she tries to rouse the hero, who has sunk into the sleep of exhaustion, and not succeeding, places his arms well within his reach. When she is about to withdraw, she sees Saben return with a band of assassins. Their murmurs rouse Dietrich, who defends himself bravely, {131} slaying one after another. But his strength is failing, when suddenly a disguised youth rushes to his assistance with eight well-armed companions. Saben's men are slain, Saben himself falls a victim to Dietrich's sword. When the youth unmasks Dietrich recognizes in his deliverer Herrat his sweet nurse, whose likeness to his own dead wife Gotlinde has moved him from the first. She offers him her father's kingdom, which he though full of love and gratitude, is loth to accept, as he only claims her heart and hand. But ambition urges him to accept her offer, and so he not only obtains her hand but is proclaimed King of Esthonia.

The third act presents the camp of the Huns, pitched southwards of Gran near the Danube. Etzel has already twice granted respite to the Queen, but as there is no trace of the two Dietrichs, Heike is now to be executed. Old Hildebrand, one of the Berner's followers is particularly inimical to her, because he believes her to be the cause of his beloved master's death.

Suddenly everybody's attention is attracted to a ship approaching the camp. Hildebrand, perceiving on it a hero in disguise, wearing Dietrich's helmet, with Waldemar and Ilias, Etzel's enemies on his side, calls the people to arms. But when the foreign knight disembarks and unmasking shows the face of Dietrich von Bern, everybody is full of joy. He brings the two hostile Kings as prisoners to Etzel and lays the two crowns of Esthonia and of the Wiking country at his feet.

{132} Etzel's brow however remains somber; he sternly asks after Dietrich von Reuss. The Berner unwilling to sing his own praise, is silent, when his wife Herrat steps forth, relating how her hero killed his antagonist in Saben's woods. Now at last Etzel relents; he draws his wife to his breast in forgiveness, and all sing hail to Etzel and Dietrich and to their Queens.



HOCHZEITSMORGEN.

(WEDDING'S MORNING.)

Opera in one act by KARL VON KASKEL.

Text by FRANZ KOPPEL-ELLFELD.

This opera, which was represented for the first time at the Royal Opera in Dresden on April 29th, 1893, is the first attempt of its young composer, and as such shows considerable talent, even genius.

Indeed it sins rather in too much than in too little invention; it would seem that Kaskel's brain, overflowing with musical ideas, wanted to put them all into this one first child of his muse. This promises well for the future, but it explains, why it lacks the great attraction of Cavalleria with which it has some relation, without imitating it in the least. The hearer's attention is tired by too much and divided by lack of unity. Nevertheless the composer has understood how to make the most of a somewhat weak libretto, and the manner in which the musical interest increases from scene to scene is admirable in a beginner.

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The scene is laid in an Italian Frontier Fortress near Mentone at the foot of Col di Tenda. It may be added here, that the national colouring is particularly well hit.

Giovanna, the daughter of Regina Negri an inn-keeper is betrothed to Pietro Montalto, Captain of the Bersaglieri; and the wedding is fixed for the following morning. Before her betrothal Giovanna has carried on a flirtation with Paolo Tosta, a wild fellow, who unfortunately took the girl's play seriously, and seeing the friend of his childhood estranged from him, has turned smuggler and head of a band of Anarchists. Giovanna is afraid of him, and trembles for her bridegroom, whom she loves truly.

However, when she sees Paolo taken captive and sentenced to death by her own lover, she implores the latter to deal mercifully with the miscreant. She has neglected to tell him of her early friendship for the captive, and so Pietro, who does not understand her softness for the ruffian refuses, his soldierly honour being at stake. But at last love conquers and Giovanna extracts a promise from him, to let the prisoner escape during the night.

Left alone, Pietro's keen sense of duty reawakes and he leaves the place without freeing the captive.

However Toto, a dealer in tobacco, Paolo's friend and helpmate in smuggling arrives and releases him. Instead of escaping Paolo seeks Giovanna, and when she turns from him with loathing, he swears, either to possess her, or to destroy her bridegroom.

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On the following morning Pietro hears from Bastiano, the Bersaglieri Sergeant, that the keys of the prison have been stolen, and the prisoner has escaped. Pietro rejoices, that this happened without his own intervention and turns full of happiness to his bride, who stands ready for the wedding. The wedding-procession is slowly moving towards church, when it is suddenly arrested by Paolo, who throws himself between the lovers. "Mine she was, before she knew you," he cries out, "to me she swore eternal faith, which she has now falsely broken." Giovanna, struck dumb by terror, is unable to defend herself.—Pietro orders his men to recapture the ruffian, but quick as thought Paolo has deprived the soldier nearest to him of his sabre and with the words "Thou shalt die first," has thrust it towards Pietro. Alas, it is Giovanna's breast, he pierces; she has shielded her lover with her own body.—With a sweet smile she turns to Pietro, who implores her to speak. "Pardon me," she sighs faintly, "he was long a stranger to my heart; thee alone I loved, to thee I was faithful unto death." With those loving words she sinks back expiring.



LES HUGUENOTS.

Grand Opera in five acts by GIACOMO MEYERBEER.

Text by SCRIBE.

This is the best opera of this fertile composer, and one with which only his "Robert le diable" can compare. The music is not only interesting, but highly {135} dramatic; the "mise en scene", the brilliant orchestration, the ballet, everything is combined to fascinate the hearer. We find such an abundance of musical ideas, that we feel Berlioz but spoke the truth, when he said that it would do for twenty others of its kind.

The scene is laid in France, at the time of the bloody persecutions of the Protestants or Huguenots by the Catholics. The Duke of Medicis has apparently made peace with Admiral Coligny, the greatest and most famous of the Huguenots, and we are introduced into the castle of Count Nevers, where the catholic noblemen receive Raoul de Nangis, a protestant, who has lately been promoted to the rank of captain. During their meal they speak of love and its pleasures, and everybody is called on to give the name of his sweetheart. Raoul begins, by telling them, that once when taking a walk, he surprised a band of students, molesting a lady in a litter. He rescued her and as she graciously thanked him for his gallant service, he thought her more beautiful than any maiden he had ever before seen. His heart burnt with love for her, though he did not know her name. While Raoul drinks with the noblemen, Marcel, his old servant warns him of the danger of doing so.

Marcel is a strict old protestant and sings a ballad of the Huguenots to the young people, a song wild and fanatic. They laugh at his impotent wrath, when a lady is announced to Count Nevers, in whom Raoul recognizes the lady of his dreams.

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Of course he believes her false and bad, while as a matter of fact she only comes to beseech Nevers, her destined bridegroom, to set her free. Nevers does so, though not without pain. When he returns to his companions, he conceals the result of the interview, and presently Urbain, a page, enters with a little note for Raoul de Nangis, in which he is ordered to attend a lady, unknown to him. The others recognize the seal of Queen Margarita of Valois, and finding him so worthy, at once seek to gain his friendship.

In the second act we find Raoul with the beautiful Queen, who is trying to reconcile the Catholics with the Protestants. To this end the Queen has resolved to unite Raoul with Valentine, her lady of honor, and daughter of the Count of St. Bris, a staunch catholic. Valentine tells her heart's secret to her mistress, for to her it was that Raoul brought assistance, and she loves him. The noble Raoul, seeing Margarita's beauty and kindness, vows himself her knight, when suddenly the whole court enters to render her homage. Recognizing her at last to be the Queen, Raoul is all the more willing to fulfil her wishes and offers his hand in reconciliation to the proud St. Bris, promising to wed his daughter. But when he perceives in her the unknown lady, whom he believes to be so unworthy, he takes back his word. All are surprised, and the offended father vows bloody vengeance.

In the third act Marcel brings a challenge to {137} St. Bris, which the latter accepts, but Maurevert, a fanatical catholic nobleman, tells him of other ways in which to annihilate his foe. Valentine though deadly offended with her lover, resolves to save him. Seeing Marcel, she bids him tell his master not to meet his enemy alone. Meanwhile Raoul is already on the spot, and so is St. Bris with four witnesses. While they fight, a quarrel arises between the catholic and the protestant citizens, which is stopped by Queen Margarita. The enemies accuse each other, and when the Queen is in doubt as to whom she shall believe, Valentine appears to bear witness. Then Raoul hears that her interview with Nevers had been but a farewell, sought for but to loosen forever the ties which her father had formed for her against her will; but the knowledge of his error comes too late, for St. Bris has once more promised his daughter to Nevers, who at this moment arrives with many guests, invited for the wedding. The presence of the Queen preserves peace between the different parties, but Raoul leaves the spot with death in his heart.

In the fourth act the dreadful night of St. Bartholomew is already beginning.

We find Valentine in her room despairing. Raoul comes to take a last farewell, but almost immediately St. Bris enters with a party of Catholics and Raoul is obliged to hide in the adjoining room. There he hears the whole conspiracy for the destruction of the Protestants, beginning with their leader, Admiral Coligny. The Catholics all assent {138} to this diabolical plot; Nevers alone refuses to soil his honor, and swears only to fight in open battle. The others, fearing treason, decide to bind and keep him prisoner until the next morning. Raoul prepares to save his brethren or die with them. Vain are Valentine's entreaties; though she confesses to her love for him, he yet leaves her, though with a great effort, to follow the path of duty.

In the last act Raoul rushes pale and bloody into the hall, where Queen Margarita sits with her husband, Henry of Navarre, surrounded by the court; He tells them of the terrific events, which are going on outside, and beseeches their help. It is too late however, Coligny has already fallen, and with him most of the Huguenots.

Raoul meets Valentine once more; she promises to save him, if he will go over to her faith. But Marcel reminds him of his oath, and Valentine, seeing that nothing can move her lover's fortitude and firmness, decides to remain with him. She accepts his creed and so they meet death together, Valentine falling by the side of her deadly wounded lover, both praising God with their last breath.



IDLE HANS.

(DER FAULE HANS.)

Opera in one act by A. RITTER.

Text after a poetic tale by FELIX DAHN.

The composer of this hitherto unknown opera is no young man. He is over sixty, and his well deserved fame reaches him but tardily. Alexander {139} Ritter, a relation and a true friend of Wagner's, was one of the few, who gave his help to the latter when he fled to Switzerland poor and abandoned. Though a warm admirer of Wagner's music, Ritter is not his echo. His music, saturated with the modern spirit is absolutely independant and original. His compositions are not numerous; two operas and a few songs are almost all he did for immortality, but they all wear the stamp of a remarkable talent. "Idle Hans" is a dramatic fairy-tale of poetical conception. Its strength lies in the orchestra, which is wonderfully in tune with the different situations. After having been represented in Weimar ten years ago, the opera fell in oblivion, from which it has now come forth, and was given on the Dresden stage on Nov. 9th 1892. It has met with unanimous approval from all those, who understand fine and spiritual music.

The plot is soon told.

Count Hartung has seven sons, all grown up after his own heart except the youngest, Hans, called the Idle, who prefers basking in the sunshine and dreaming away his life to hunting and fighting. He is a philosopher, and a true type of the German, patient, quiet and phlegmatic, who does not deem it worth his while to move a finger for all the shallow doings of the world in general, and his brothers in particular. The son's idleness so exasperates his father, that he orders him to be chained like a criminal to a huge oaken post standing in the courtyard, forbidding anybody under {140} heavy penalty, to speak to him. His brothers pity him, but they obey their father.

Left alone, Hans sighs after his dead mother, who so well understood him, and who had opened his eyes and heart to an ideal world, with all that is good and noble. Far from loathing his father, he only bewails the hardness of him, for whose love he craves in vain. At last he falls asleep. Seeing this the maid servants come to mock him (by the bye a delightful piece of music is this chatter-chorus). When Hans has driven away the impudent hussies, his brother Ralph the Singer approaches to assure him of his unvarying love.—He is the only-one who believes in Hans' worth, and now tries hard to rouse him into activity, for he has heard, that the Queen is greatly oppressed by her enemies, the Danes. But Hans remains unmoved, telling him quietly to win his laurels without him. In the midst of their colloquy the Herald's voice announces that the battle is lost, and that the Queen is coming to the castle, a fugitive. The old Count descends from his tower to assemble, his sons and his vassals. Hardly are they ready, when the Queen rides up to ask for protection. The gate closes behind her and the old Count does homage, while Hans, still lying idle on his straw, stares at her beauty with new awakened interest. But the enemy is coming nearer; all the Count's well-trained soldiers are defeated, and already Harald, the Danish King peremptorily orders them to surrender. Now Hans {141} awakes. His effort to break his chain excites the Queen's attention, who asks the old Count, for what crime the beautiful youth is punished so severely. The father disowns his son but at this moment the gate gives way and in rushes Harald, who is met by old Hartung. Alas the Count's sword breaks in pieces. With the cry, "Now it is worth while acting" Hans breaks his fetters and brandishing the oaken post to which he was chained, he fells Harald to the ground with one mighty stroke. Konrad the valet fetters the giant, and Hans slays every one, who tries to enter; then rushing out, delivers his brothers and puts the whole army to flight. Then he returns to the Queen who has witnessed his deeds with a heart full of deep admiration and swears allegiance. Heartily thanking him, she only now hears, that the young hero is Hartung's son, and full of gratitude she offers him one half of her kingdom. But Hans the Idler does not care for a crown; it is her own sweet self he wants, and boldly he claims her hand. Persuaded to have found in him a companion for life as true and loyal as ever lived, she grants him her heart and kingdom.



IDOMENEUS.

Opera in three acts by W. A. MOZART.

Text by ABBATE GIANBATTISTA VARESCO.

This opera, which Mozart composed in his twenty-fifth year for the Opera-seria in Munich, was represented in the year 1781, and won brilliant success.

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It is the most remarkable composition of Mozart's youthful age, and though he wrote it under Gluck's influence, there is many a spark of his own original genius, and often he breaks the bonds of conventional form and rises to heights hitherto unanticipated. The public in general does not estimate the opera very highly, in consequence Idomeneus was only represented in Dresden, after the long interval of 21 years, to find the house empty and the applause lukewarm. But the true connoisseur of music ought not to be influenced by public opinion, for though the action does not warm the hearer, the music is at once divinely sweet and harmonious; no wild excitement, no ecstatic feelings, but music pure and simple, filling the soul with sweet content.

The scene takes place in Cydonia, on the isle of Crete soon after the end of the Trojan war.—

In the first act Ilia, daughter of Priam, bewails her unhappy fate, but won by the magnanimity of Idamantes, son of Idomeneus, King of Crete, who relieves the captive Trojans from their fetters, she begins to love him, much against her own will. Electra, daughter of Agamemnon, who also loves Idamantes perceives with fury his predilection for the captive princess and endeavours to regain his heart.

Arbaces, the High-Priest enters, to announce that Idomeneus has perished at sea in a tempest. All bewail this misfortune and hasten to the strand to pray to the gods for safety.

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But Idomeneus is not dead. Poseidon, whose help he invoked in his direst need, has saved him, Idomeneus vowing to sacrifice to the God the first mortal whom he should encounter on landing.—Unfortunately it is his own son, who comes to the strand to mourn for his beloved father.—Idomeneus, having been absent during the siege of Troy for ten years, at first fails to recognize his son. But when the truth dawns on both, the son's joy is as great as the father's misery. Terrified the latter turns from the aggrieved and bewildered Idamantes. Meanwhile the King's escort has also safely landed and all thank Poseidon for their delivery.

In the second act Idomeneus takes counsel with Arbaces, and resolves to send his son away, in order to save him from the impending evil. The King speaks to Ilia, whose love for Idamantes he soon divines. This only adds to his poignant distress.—Electra, hearing that she is to accompany Idamantes to Argos is radiant, hoping that her former lover may then forget Ilia. They take a tender farewell from Idomeneus, but just when they are about to embark, a dreadful tempest arises, and a monster emerges from the waves, filling all present with awe and terror.

In the third act Idamantes seeks Ilia to bid her farewell. Not anticipating the reason of his father's grief, which he takes for hate, he is resolved to die for his country, by either vanquishing the dreadful monster, sent by Poseidon's wrath, or by perishing in the combat.

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Ilia, unable to conceal her love for him any longer, bids him live, live for her. In his new-found happiness Idamantes forgets his grief, and when his father surprises the lovers, he implores him to calm his wrath, and rushes away, firmly resolved to destroy the monster.—

With terrible misgivings Idomeneus sees Arbaces approach, who announces that the people are in open rebellion against him. The King hastens to the temple, where he is received with remonstrances by the High-Priest, who shows him the horrid ravages, which Poseidon's wrath has achieved through the monster; he entreats him to name the victim for the sacrifice and to satisfy the wishes of the God. Rent by remorse and pain Idomeneus finally names his son.

All are horror-stricken, and falling on their knees, they crave Poseidon's pardon.—While they yet kneel, loud songs of triumph are heard, and Idamantes returns victorious from his fight with the monster.

With noble courage he throws himself at his father's feet, imploring his benediction and—his death. For having heard of his father's unhappy vow, he now comprehends his sorrow, and endeavours to lessen his grief.

Idomeneus, torn by conflicting feelings at last is about to grant his son's wish, but when he lifts his sword, Ilia throws herself between, imploring him to let her be the victim. A touching scene ensues between the lovers, but Ilia gains her point. {145} Just when she is about to receive her death-stroke, Poseidon's pity is at last aroused. In thunder and lightning he decrees, that Idomeneus is to renounce his throne in favor of Idamantes, for whose spouse he chooses Ilia.

In a concluding scene we see Electra tormented by the furies of hate and jealousy. Idomeneus fulfils Poseidon's request, and all invoke the God's benediction on the happy Royal house of Crete.



JEAN DE PARIS.

Comic Opera in three acts by ADRIEN BOIELDIEU.

Text by St. JUST.

After a lapse of many years this spirited little opera has again been put upon the stage and its success has shown, that true music never grows old.

Next to the "Dame blanche" Jean de Paris is decidedly the best of Boieldieu's works; the music is very graceful, fresh and lively, and the plot, though simple and harmless is full of chivalric honor and very winning.

The scene takes us back to the 17th century and we find ourselves in an inn of the Pyrenees.

The young and beautiful Princess of Navarre being widowed and her year of mourning having passed, is induced by her brother, the King of Navarre, to marry again. The French Crown-Prince has been selected by the two courts as her future husband, but both parties are of a somewhat romantic turn of mind and desire to know each other, before being united for life.

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For this purpose the Prince undertakes a journey to the Pyrenees, where he knows the Princess to be.

In the first scene we see preparations being made for the reception of the Princess, whose arrival has been announced by her Seneshal. In the midst of the bustle there enters a simple Page to demand rooms for his master. As he is on foot the host treats him spitefully, but his daughter Lorezza, pleased with his good looks, promises him a good dinner. While they are still debating, the numerous suite of the Prince comes up and without further ado takes possession of the house and stables, which have been prepared for the Princess and her people. The host begins to feel more favorably inclined towards the strange Seigneur, though he does not understand, how a simple citizen of Paris (this is the Prince's incognito), can afford such luxury.

By the time "Monsieur Jean de Paris" arrives the host's demeanour has entirely changed and seeing two large purses with gold, he abandons the whole house to the strange guest, hoping that he shall have prosecuted his journey before the arrival of the Princess. But he has been mistaken, for no sooner are Jean de Paris' people quartered in the house, than the Seneshal, a pompous Spanish Grandee arrives, to announce the coming of the Princess. The host is hopelessly embarrassed and the Seneshal rages at the impudence of the citizen, but Jean de Paris quietly intimates, that the house {147} and everything in it are hired by him, and courteously declares, that he will play the host and invite the Princess to his house and dinner.

While the Seneshal is still stupefied by such unheard-of impudence, the Princess arrives, and at once takes everybody captive by her grace and loveliness. Jean de Paris is fascinated and the Princess who instantly recognizes in him her future bridegroom, is equally pleased by his appearance, but resolves to profit and to amuse herself by her discovery.

To the Seneshal's unbounded surprise she graciously accepts Jean's invitation.

In the second act the preparations for the dinner of the honored guests have been made. Olivier the Page shows pretty Lorezza the minuets of the ladies at court, and she dances in her simple country-fashion, until Olivier seizes her and they dance and sing together.

Jean de Paris stepping in, sings an air in praise of God, beauty and chivalry and when the Princess appears, he leads her to dinner, to the unutterable horror of the Seneshal. Dinner, service, plate, silver, all is splendid and all belongs to Jean de Paris, who sings a tender minstrel's-song to the Princess; she sweetly answers him, and telling him, that she has already chosen her knight, who is true, honest and of her own rank, makes him stand on thorns for a while, lest he be too late,—until he perceives that she only teazes in order to punish him for his own comedy. Finally they are {148} enchanted with each other, and when the people come up, the Prince, revealing his true name, presents the Princess as his bride, bidding his suite render homage to their mistress. The Seneshal humbly asks forgiveness, and all unite in a chorus in praise of the beautiful pair.



JESSONDA.

Opera in three acts by LOUIS SPOHR.

Text by HENRY GEHE.

Spohr wrote this opera by way of inauguration to his charge as master of the court-chapel at Cassel, and with it he added to the fame, which he had long before established as master of the violin and first-rate composer. His music is sublime, and sheds a wealth of glory on the somewhat imperfect text.

The story introduces us to Goa on the coast of Malabar at the beginning of the 16th century.

A Rajah has just died and is bewailed by his people, and Jessonda, his widow, who was married to the old man against her will, is doomed to be burnt with him, according to the country's laws. Nadori, a young priest of the God Brahma is to announce her fate to the beautiful young widow. But Nadori is not a Brahmin by his own choice; he is young and passionate, and though it is forbidden to him to look at women, he at once falls in love with Jessonda's sister Amazili, whom he meets when on his sad errand. He promises to help her in saving her beloved sister from a terrible death.

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Jessonda meanwhile hopes vainly for the arrival of the Portuguese General, Tristan d'Acunha, to whom she pledged her faith long ago, when a cruel fate separated her from him. She knows that the Portuguese are at this moment besieging Goa, which formerly belonged to them. Jessonda is accompanied by her women through the Portuguese camp, to wash away in the floods of the Ganges the last traces of earthliness. She sacrifices a rose to her early love.

Turning back into the town, she is recognized by Tristan, but alas, a truce forbids him to make an assault on the town in order to deliver his bride. Jessonda is led back in triumph by the High-priest Daudon, to die an untimely death.

In the third act Nadori visits Tristan in secret, to bring the welcome news that Daudon himself broke the truce, by sending two spies into the enemy's camp to burn their ships. This act of treachery frees Tristan from his oath. Nadori conducts him and his soldiers through subterranean passages into the temple, where he arrives just in time to save Jessonda from the High-priest's sword. She gives him hand and heart, and Nadori is united to her sister Amazili.



INGRID.

Opera in two acts by KARL GRAMANN.

Text by T. KERSTEN.

Ingrid is a musical composition of considerable interest, the local tone and colouring being so well {150} hit. It is a Norwegian picture with many pretty and original customs, to which the music is well adapted and effective, without being heart-stirring.

The scene is laid in Varoe in Norway. Helga the rich Norwegian peasant Wandrup's daughter is to wed Godila Swestorp, her cousin, and the most desirable young man in the village. She entertains but friendly feelings for him while her heart belongs to a young German traveller, and Godila, feeling that she is different from what she was, keeps jealous watch over her, and swears to destroy his rival.

In the second scene Ingrid, a young girl (coach-maid), whose business it is to direct the carioles from station to station, drives up with the German Erhard, who meeting with a severe accident in the mountains, is saved by her courage. Full of tenderness she dresses his wounds; he thanks her warmly, and presents her with a miniature portrait of his mother. She mistakes her gratitude for love, and it fills her with happiness, which is instantly destroyed, when Helga appears and sinks on the breast of her lover. Ingrid, a poor orphan, who never knew father or mother, is deeply disappointed and bitterly reproaches heaven for her hard fate. The scene is witnessed by old father Wandrup, in whose heart it arouses long buried memories and he tries to console Ingrid. But when she claims the right to hear more of her parents he only says, that she was found a babe at his threshold {151} twenty-five years ago, and that nothing was ever heard of her father and mother.

The second act opens with a pretty national festival, in which the youths and maidens, adorned with wild carnations wend their way in couples to Ljora (love's-bridge in the people's mouth), from whence they drop their flowers into the foaming water. If they chance to be carried out to sea together, the lovers will be united, if not, woe to them, for love and friendship will die an untimely death.—Godila tries to offer his carnations to Helga, but she dextrously avoids him, and succeeds in having a short interview with Erhard, with whom she is to take flight on a ship, whose arrival is just announced. Erhard goes off to prepare everything, and a few minutes afterwards Helga comes out of the house in a travelling dress. But Godila, who has promised Wandrup to watch over his daughter, detains her.

Wild with love and jealousy he strains her to his breast and drags her towards the Ljora-bridge. Helga vainly struggles against the madman, but Ingrid, who has witnessed the whole occurence, waves her white kerchief in the direction of the ship, and calls back Erhard, who is just in time to spring on the bridge, when its railing gives way, and Godila, who has let Helga fall at the approach of his enemy, is precipitated into the waves. Erhard tries to save him, but is prevented by Ingrid, who intimates that all efforts would be useless. Helga in a swoon is carried to the House, when Wandrup, {152} seeing his child wounded and apparently lifeless, calls Godila, and hears with horror that his body has been found dashed to pieces on the rocks. Now the father's wrath turns against Erhard, in whom he sees Godila's murderer, but Ingrid, stepping forth, relates how the catastrophe happened, and how Godila seemed to be punished by heaven for his attack on Helga. Everybody is touched by poor despised Ingrid's unselfishness, she even pleads for Helga's union with Erhard, nobly renouncing her own claims on his love and gratitude. Wandrup relents and the happy lovers go on the Ljora-bridge, whence their carnations float out to sea side by side. The ship's departure is signalled, and all accompany the lovers on board. Only Ingrid remains. Her strength of mind has forsaken her; a prey to wild despair she resolves to destroy herself. Taking a last look at Erhard's gift, the little medallion-picture, she is surprised by Wandrup, who recognizes in it his own dead love. "She is thy mother too Ingrid", he cries out. "My mother, she, and Erhard my brother!"—This is too much for Ingrid; with an incoherent cry she rushes on the bridge intending to throw herself over. But Wandrup beseechingly stretches out his arms, crying "Ingrid, stay, live for thy father". At first the unhappy girl shrinks back, but seeing the old man's yearning love she sinks on her knees, then slowly rising, she returns to her father, who folds her in loving embrace.



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IPHIGENIA IN AULIS.

Grand Opera in three acts by GLUCK.

Text of the original rearranged by R. WAGNER.

This opera, though it does not stand from the point of view of the artist on the same level with Iphigenia in Tauris, deserves nevertheless to be represented on every good stage. It may be called the first part of the tragedy, and Iphigenia in Tauris very beautifully completes it. The music is sure to be highly relished by a cultivated hearer, characterized as it is by a simplicity which often rises into grandeur and nobility of utterance.

The first scene represents Agamemnon rent by a conflict between his duty and his fatherly love; the former of which demands the sacrifice of his daughter, for only then will a favorable wind conduct the Greeks safely to Ilion. Kalchas, the High-priest of Artemis, appears to announce her dreadful sentence. Alone with the King, Kalchas vainly tries to induce the unhappy father to consent to the sacrifice.

Meanwhile Iphigenia, who has not received Agamemnon's message, which ought to have prevented her undertaking the fatal journey, arrives with her mother Klytemnestra. They are received with joy by the people. Agamemnon secretly informs his spouse, that Achilles, Iphigenia's betrothed, has proved unworthy of her, and that she is to return to Argos at once.—Iphigenia gives way to her feelings. Achilles appears, the lovers are soon reconciled and prepare to celebrate their nuptials.

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In the second act Iphigenia is adorned for her wedding and Achilles comes to lead her to the altar, when Arkas, Agamemnon's messenger, informs them that death awaits Iphigenia.

Klytemnestra in despair appeals to Achilles and the bridegroom swears to protect Iphigenia. She alone is resigned in the belief, that it is her father's will that she should face this dreadful duty. Achilles reproaches Agamemnon wildly and leaves the unhappy father a prey to mental torture. At last he decides to send Arkas at once to Mykene with mother and daughter and to hide them there, until the wrath of the goddess be appeased. But it is too late.

In the third act the people assemble before the Royal tent and with much shouting and noise demand the sacrifice. Achilles in vain implores Iphigenia to follow him. She is ready to be sacrificed, while he determines to kill anyone, who dares touch his bride. Klytemnestra then tries everything in her power to save her. She offers herself in her daughter's stead and finding it of no avail at last sinks down in a swoon. The daughter, having bade her an eternal farewell, with quiet dignity allows herself to be led to the altar. When her mother awakes, she rages in impotent fury; then she hears the people's hymn to the goddess, and rushes out to die with her child.—The scene changes.—The High-priest at the altar of Artemis is ready to pierce the innocent victim. A great tumult arises, Achilles with his native Thessalians makes his way through {155} the crowd, in order to save Iphigenia, who loudly invokes the help of the goddess. But at this moment a loud thunder-peal arrests the contending parties, and when the mist, which has blinded all, has passed, Artemis herself is seen in a cloud with Iphigenia kneeling before her.

The goddess announces that it is Iphigenia's high mind, which she demands and not her blood, she wishes to take her into a foreign land, where she may be her priestess and atone for the sins of the blood of Atreus.

A wind favorable to the fleet has risen, and the people filled with gratitude and admiration behold the vanishing cloud and praise the goddess.



IPHIGENIA IN TAURIS.

Opera in four acts by GLUCK.

Text by GUILLARD.

Gluck's Iphigenia stands highest among his dramatic compositions. It is eminently classic and so harmoniously finished, that Herder called its music sacred.

The libretto is excellent. It follows pretty exactly the Greek original.

Iphigenia, King Agamemnon's daughter, who has been saved by the goddess Diana (or Artemis) from death at the altar of Aulis, has been carried in a cloud to Tauris, where she is compelled to be High-priestess in the temple of the barbarous Scythians. There we find her, after having performed her cruel service for fifteen years.—Human {156} sacrifices are required, but more than once she has saved a poor stranger from this awful lot.

Iphigenia is much troubled by a dream, in which she saw her father deadly wounded by her mother and herself about to kill her brother Orestes. She bewails her fate, in having at the behest of Thoas, King of the Scythians, to sacrifice two strangers, who have been thrown on his shores. Orestes and his friend Pylades, for these are the strangers, are led to death, loaded with chains.

Iphigenia, hearing that they are her countrymen, resolves to save at least one of them, in order to send him home to her sister Electra. She does not know her brother Orestes, who having slain his mother, has fled, pursued by the furies, but an inner voice makes her choose him as a messenger to Greece. A lively dispute arises between the two friends; at last Orestes prevails upon Iphigenia to spare his friend, by threatening to destroy himself with his own hands, his life being a burden to him. Iphigenia reluctantly complies with his request, giving the message for her sister to Pylades.

In the third act Iphigenia vainly tries to steel her heart against her victim. At last she seizes the knife, but Orestes' cry: "So you also were pierced by the sacrificial steel, O my sister Iphigenia!" arrests her; the knife falls from her hands, and there ensues a touching scene of recognition.

Meanwhile Thoas, who has heard that one of the strangers was about to depart, enters the temple with his body-guard, and though Iphigenia tells {157} him, that Orestes is her brother and entreats him so spare Agamemnon's son, Thoas determines to sacrifice him and his sister Iphigenia as well. But his evil designs are frustrated by Pylades, who, returning with several of his countrymen, stabs the King of Tauris. The goddess Diana herself appears and helping the Greeks in their fight, gains for them the victory. Diana declares herself appeased by Orestes' repentance and allows him to return to Mykene with his sister, his friend and all his followers.



JOSEPH IN EGYPT.

Opera in three acts by ETIENNE HENRY MEHUL.

Text after ALEXANDER DUVAL.

This opera, which has almost disappeared from the French stage, is still esteemed in Germany and always will be so, because, though clad in the simplest garb, and almost without any external outfit, its music is grand, noble and classic; it equals the operas of Gluck, whose influence may be traced, but it is free from all imitation. Here we have true music, and the deep strain of patriarchal piety so touching in the Biblical recital finds grand expression.

Joseph, the son of Jacob, who was sold by his brothers, has by his wisdom saved Egypt from threatening famine; he resides as governor in Memphis under the name of Cleophas. But though much honored by the King and all the people, he never ceases to long for his old father, whose favorite child he was.

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Driven from Palestine by this same famine, Jacob's sons are sent to Egypt to ask for food and hospitality. They are tormented by pangs of conscience, which Simeon is hardly able to conceal, when they are received by the governor, who at once recognized them. Seeing their sorrow and repentance, he pities them, and promises to receive them all hospitably. He does not reveal himself but goes to meet his youngest brother Benjamin and his blind father, whose mourning for his lost son has not been diminished by the long years. Joseph induces his father and brother to partake in the honors, which the people render to him. The whole family is received in the governor's palace, where Simeon consumed by grief and conscience-stricken at last confesses to his father the selling of Joseph. Full of horror Jacob curses and disowns his ten sons. But Joseph intervenes. Making himself known, he grants full pardon and entreats his father to do the same.

The old man yields, and together they praise God's providence and omnipotence.



IRRLICHT.

(WILL-O'-THE WISP.)

Opera in one act by KARL GRAMANN.

Text by KURT GEUCKE.

With "Irrlicht" the composer takes a step towards verisme; both, subject and music are terribly realistic, though without the last shade of triviality. The music is often of brilliant dramatic effect, {159} and the fantastic text, well matching the music, is as rich in thrilling facts as any modern Italian opera. Indeed this seems to be by far the best opera, which the highly gifted composer has written.

The scene is laid on a pilot's station on the coast of Normandy. A pilot-boat has been built and is to be baptized with the usual ceremonies. Tournaud, an old ship-captain expects his daughter Gervaise back from a stay in Paris. He worships her, and when she arrives, he is almost beside himself with joy and pride. But Gervaise is pale and sad, and hardly listens to gay Marion, who tells her of the coming festival.—Meanwhile all the fisher-people from far and near assemble to participate in the baptism, and Andre, who is to be captain of the boat, is about to choose a god-mother amongst the fair maidens around, when he sees Gervaise coming out of the house, where she has exchanged her travelling garb for a national-dress. Forgotten are all the village-lasses, and Andre chooses Gervaise, who reluctantly consents to baptize the boat, and is consequently received very ungraciously by the maidens and their elders. She blesses the boat which sails off among the cheers of the crowd with the simple words: "God bless thee". Andre, who loves Gervaise with strong and everlasting affection turns to her full of hope. He is gently but firmly rebuked, and sadly leaves her, while Gervaise is left to her own sad memories, which carry her back to the short happy time, when she was loved and won and alas {160} forsaken by a stranger of high position. Marion, who loves Andre hopelessly, vainly tries to brighten up her companion. They are all frightened by the news of a ship being in danger at sea. A violent storm has arisen, and when Maire Grisard, the builder of the yacht pronounces her name "Irrlicht," Gervaise starts with a wild cry. The ship is seen battling with the waves, while Andre rushes in to bring Gervaise a telegraphic dispatch from Paris. It tells her, that her child is at death's door. Tournaud, catching the paper, in a moment guesses the whole tragedy of his daughter's life. In his shame and wrath he curses her, but all her thoughts are centered on the ship, on which the count, her child's father is struggling against death. She implores Andre to save him, but he is deaf to her entreaties. Then she rushes off to ring the alarm-bell, but nobody dares to risk his life in the storm. At last, seeing all her efforts vain, she looses a boat, and drives out alone into night and perdition. As soon as Andre perceives her danger, he follows her. At this moment a flash of lightning which is followed by a deafening crash shows the Yacht rising out of the waves for the last time, and then plunging down into a watery grave forever.—The whole assembly sink on their knees in fervent prayer, which is so far granted, that Andre brings back Gervaise unhurt. She is but in a deep swoon, and her father, deeply touched, pardons her. When she opens her eyes, and shudderingly understands that her sacrifice was fruitless, she takes a little {161} flask of poison from her bosom and slowly empties it. Then, taking a last farewell of the home of her childhood and of her early love, she recommends Marion to Andre's care. By this time the poison has begun to take effect and the poor girl, thinking that in the waving willow branches she sees the form of her lover, beckoning to her, sighs "I come beloved" and sinks back dead.



LA JUIVE (THE JEWESS).

Grand Opera in five acts by HALEVY.

Text by EUGENE SCRIBE.

This opera created a great sensation when it first appeared on the stage of the Grand Opera at Paris in the year 1835, and it has never lost its attraction. It was one of the first grand operas to which brilliant mise en scene, gorgeous decorations etc., added success.

Halevy's great talent lies in orchestration, which is here rich and effective; his style, half French, half Italian, is full of beautiful effects of a high order.

The libretto is one of the best which was ever written by the dexterous and fertile Scribe.

The scene of action is laid in Constance, in the year 1414 during the Council.

In the first act the opening of the Council is celebrated with great pomp.

The Catholics, having gained a victory over the Hussites, Huss is to be burnt, and the Jews, equally disliked, are oppressed and put down still {162} more than before. All the shops are closed, only Eleazar, a rich Jewish jeweller has kept his open, and is therefore about to be imprisoned and put to death, when Cardinal de Brogni intervenes, and saves the Jew and his daughter Recha from the people's fury. The Cardinal has a secret liking for Eleazar, though he once banished him from Rome. He hopes to gain news from him of his daughter, who was lost in early childhood. But Eleazar hates the Cardinal bitterly. When the mob is dispersed, Prince Leopold, the Imperial Commander-in-Chief, approaches Recha. Under the assumed name of Samuel he has gained her affections, and she begs him to be present at a religious feast, which is to take place that evening at her father's house. The act closes with a splendid procession of the Emperor and all his dignitaries. Ruggiero, the chief judge in Constance seeing the hated Jew and his daughter amongst the spectators, is about to seize them once more, when Prince Leopold steps between and delivers them, to Recha's great astonishment.

In the second act we are introduced to a great assembly of Jews, men and women, assisting at a religious ceremony. Samuel is there with them. The holy act is however interrupted by the Emperor's niece, Princess Eudora, who comes to purchase a golden chain, which once belonged to the Emperor Constantin, and which she destines for her bride-groom, Prince Leopold. Eleazar is to bring it himself on the following day. Samuel overhearing {163} this is full of trouble. When the assembly is broken up and all have gone, he returns once more to Recha, and finding her alone, confesses that he is a Christian. Love prevails over Recha's filial devotion, and she consents to fly with her lover, but they are surprised by Eleazar. Hearing of Samuel's falseness, he first swears vengeance, but, mollified by his daughter's entreaties, he only bids him marry Recha. Samuel refuses and has to leave, the father cursing him, Recha bewailing her lover's falseness.

In the third act we assist at the Imperial banquet. Eleazar brings the chain, and is accompanied by Recha, who at once recognizes in Eudora's bridegroom, her lover, Samuel. She denounces the traitor, accusing him of living in unlawful wedlock with a Jewess, a crime, which is punishable by death.

Leopold (alias Samuel) is outlawed, the Cardinal Brogni pronounces the anathema upon all three, and they are put into prison.

In the fourth act Eudora visits Recha in prison, and by her prayers not only overcomes Recha's hate, but persuades her to save Leopold by declaring him innocent. Recha, in her noblemindedness, pardons Leopold and Eudora, and resolves to die, alone.

Meanwhile the Cardinal has an interview with Eleazar, who tells him that he knows the Jew, who once saved the Cardinal's little daughter from the flames. Brogni vainly entreats him to reveal {164} the name. He promises to save Recha, should Eleazar be willing to abjure his faith, but the latter remains firm, fully prepared to die.

In the fifth act we hear the clamors of the people who furiously demand the Jew's death.

Ruggiero announces to father and daughter the verdict of death by fire. Leopold is set free through Recha's testimony. When in view of the funeral pile, Eleazar asks Recha, if she would prefer to live in joy and splendor and to accept the Christian faith, but she firmly answers in the negative. Then she is led on to death, and she is just plunged into the glowing furnace, when Eleazar, pointing to her, informs the Cardinal, that the poor victim is his long-lost daughter; then Eleazar follows Recha into the flames, while Brogni falls back senseless.



JUNKER HEINZ (SIR HARRY).

Opera in three acts by KARL VON PERFALL.

Text after Hertz's poem: Henri of Suabia by FRANZ GRANDOUR.

This opera composed recently by the Superintendent of the Royal Opera in Munich, has made its way to the most renowned stages in Germany, which proves that the composition is not a common one.

Indeed, though it is not composed in the large style to which we are now accustomed from hearing so much of Wagner, the music is interesting, particularly so, because it is entirely original and free from reminiscenses.—There are some little {165} masterpieces in it, which deserve to become popular on account of their freshness; wit and humor however are not the composer's "forte" and so the first act, in which the vagabonds present themselves, is by far the least interesting.

The libretto is very well done; it has made free use of Hertz's pretty poem.

The scene is laid in the beginning of the 11th century. The first act lands us near Esslingen in Suabia, the two following near Speier.

Three swindlers concoct a plot to acquire wealth by robbing the Emperor's daughter. To this end, one of them, Marudas, a former clerk, has forged a document, in which the Emperor of Byzantium asks for the hand of Agnes, daughter of Conrad, Emperor of Germany, who just approaching with his wife Gisela, is received with acclamation by the citizens of Esslingen. Soon after, the three vagabonds appear in decent clothes, crying for help; they pretend to have been attacked and robbed by brigands. Boccanera, the most insolent of them wears a bloody bandage round his head. The document is presented to the Emperor, who turns gladly to his wife and tells her of the flattering offer of the Greek Prince. After he has ordered that the ambassador be taken good care of, the Emperor is left alone with his wife. She tenderly asks him why he always seems so sorrowful and gloomy, and after a first evasive answer, he confides to his faithful wife what oppresses him.

Twenty years ago he gave orders to kill a {166} little infant, the son of his deadliest enemy, Count of Calw, his astronomer Crusius having prophesied, that this child would wed the Emperor's daughter and reign after him. The remembrance of this cruelty now torments him, but Gisela consoles her husband, hoping and praying that God will pardon the repentant sinner. During this intercourse, a young man comes up, entreating the Emperor to read a document, which was given to the youth by his dying uncle and destined for the Emperor. As Conrad reads it, he learns that this youth is the child, he would have had killed years ago and who was carried to the forester-house and brought up there. The Emperor and his wife thank Heaven that they have been spared so dreadful a sin, but Conrad, afraid of the prophesy, determines to send the young man, who is called Junker Heinz, away. He gives him a document, in which he orders Count Gerold, governor of Speier, to give his daughter to the three ambassadors of the Emperor of Byzantium.

In the second act we see Agnes, the Emperor's daughter, working and singing with her damsels. She is well guarded by old Hiltrudis, but the worthy lady is obliged to leave for some days and departs with many exhortations. Hardly has she gone, than all the working-material disappears, and the maidens begin to sing and frolic. The appearance of Junker Heinz frightens them away. Heinz, who has ridden long, thinks to take a little rest, now that he sees the towers of Speier before {167} him. He stretches himself on a mossy bank and is soon asleep.—Shortly afterwards the Princess Agnes peeps about with her companion Bertha. She is highly pleased with the appearance of the strange hunter, and seeing him asleep, she gazes at him, until she insensibly falls in love with him. Observing the document which the stranger has in his keeping, she takes and reads it, and disgusted with its contents throws it into the fountain, quickly fetching another parchment which was once given to her by her father, and which contains both permission to wish for something and her father's promise to grant her wish.

When Heinz awakes, and finds the loveliest of the maidens beside him, he falls as deeply in love as the young lady, but their tender interview is soon interrupted by the blowing of hunter's horns.

In the third act Count Gerold, who has come with a suite, to accompany the Princess on a hunt, is presented with the Emperor's document by Heinz, who cannot read and who is wholly ignorant of the change which Agnes has made. Though greatly astonished at the Emperor's command to wed Agnes to the bringer of his letter, Count Gerold is accustomed to obey, and Heinz, who first refuses compliance with the strange command, at once acquiesces, when he sees that his lady-love and the Princess are one and the same person. About to go to church, they are detained by the Emperor, who scornfully charges Heinz with fraud.

But when Count Gerold presents the document, {168} his scorn turns on Agnes and he orders her to a convent. Heinz fervently entreats the Emperor to pardon Agnes, and takes a tender farewell of her. On the point of departing for ever, he sees the three ambassadors, whom he recognizes and loudly denounces as robbers and swindlers. Boccanera is obliged to own that his wound came from Junker Heinz, who caught him stealing sheep. They are led to prison, while the Emperor, grateful to Heinz for his daughter's delivery from robbers, gives her to him and makes Heinz Duke of Suabia, persuaded that it is useless to fight against that which the stars have prophesied.



A KING AGAINST HIS WILL.

(DER KONIG WIDER WILLEN.)

Comic Opera in three acts by EMANUEL CHABRIER.

Text after a comedy written by ANCELOT, from EMILE DE NAJAC and PAUL BURANI.

The composer has recently become known in Germany by his opera Gwendoline, performed at Leipsic a short time ago. His latest opera, "A King against his will", was represented on the Royal Opera in Dresden, April 26th 1890, and through its wit, grace and originality won great applause.—Indeed, though not quite free from "raffinement", its melodies are exquisitely interesting and lovely. Minka's Bohemian song, her duet with De Nangis, her lover, as well as the duet between the King and Alexina are master-pieces, and the {169} national coloring in the song of the Polish bodyguard is characteristic enough.

The libretto is most amusing, though the plot is complicated. The scene is laid at Cracow in the year 1574.—Its subject is derived from a historical fact. Henry de Valois has been elected King of Poland, through the machinations of his ambitious mother, Catarina di Medici, to whom it has been prophesied, that all her sons should be crowned.

The gay Frenchman most reluctantly accepts the honor, but the delight of his new Polish subjects at having him, is not greater than his own enchantment with his new Kingdom.

The first act shows the new King surrounded by French noblemen, gay and thoughtless like himself; but watching all his movements by orders of his mother, who fears his escape. By chance the King hears from a young bondwoman Minka, who loves De Nangis, his friend, and wishes to save him a price, that a plot had been formed by the Polish noblemen, who do not yet know him personally, and he at once decides to join the conspiracy against his own person.—Knowing his secretary, Fritelli to be one of the conspirators, he declares that he is acquainted with their proceedings and threatens him with death, should he not silently submit to all his orders.—The frightened Italian promises to lead him into the house of Lasky, the principal conspirator, where he intends to appear as De Nangis. But before this, in order to prevent discovery he {170} assembles his guard and suite, and in their presence accuses his favorite De Nangis with treachery, and has him safely locked up in apparent deep disgrace.

The second act opens with a festival at Lasky's, under cover of which the King is to be arrested and sent over the frontier. Now the King, being a total stranger to the whole assembly, excepting Fritelli, presents himself as De Nangis and swears to dethrone his fickle friend, the King, this very night. But meanwhile De Nangis, who, warned by Minka's song, has escaped from his confinement through the window, comes up, and is at once presented by the pretended De Nangis as King Henry. The true De Nangis complying with the jest, at once issues his Kingly orders, threatening to punish his antagonists and proclaiming his intention to make the frightened Minka his Queen. He is again confined by the conspirators, who, finding him so dangerous, resolve to kill him. This is entirely against King Henry's will, and he at once revokes his oath, proclaiming himself to be the true King and offering himself, if need shall be as their victim. But he is not believed; the only person, who knows him, Fritelli, disowns him, and Alexina, the secretary's wife, a former sweetheart of the King in Venice, to whom he has just made love again under his assumed name, declares, that he is De Nangis.—Henry is even appointed by lot to inflict the death-stroke on the unfortunate King. Determined to destroy himself rather than let his friend suffer, he opens the door to De Nangis' {171} prison, but the bird has again flown. Minka, though despairing of ever belonging to one so highborn has found means to liberate him, and is now ready to suffer for her interference. She is however protected by Henry, who once more swears to force the King from the country.

The third act takes place in the environs of Crakow, where preparations are made for the King's entry. No one knows who is to be crowned, Henry de Valois or the Arch-Duke of Austria, the pretender supported by the Polish nobles, but Fritelli coming up assures the innkeeper, that it is to be the Arch-Duke. Meanwhile the King enters in hot haste asking for horses, in order to take himself away as quickly as possible. Unfortunately there is only one horse left and no driver, but the King orders this to be got ready, and declares that he will drive himself. During his absence Alexina and Minka, who have proceeded to the spot, are full of pity for the unfortunate King, as well as for his friend De Nangis. Alexina resolves to put on servant's clothes, in order to save the fugitive, and to drive herself. Of course Henry is enchanted when recognizing his fair driver and both set about to depart.

Minka, left alone, bewails her fate and wants to stab herself, whereupon De Nangis suddenly appears in search for the King. At the sight of him, Minka quickly dries her tears, being assured that her lover is true to her. Fritelli however, who at first had rejoiced to see his wife's admirer depart, {172} is greatly dismayed at hearing that his fair wife was the servant-driver. He madly rushes after them, to arrest the fugitives. But the faithful guard is already on the King's track, and together with his Cavaliers, brings them back in triumph.

Finding that, whether her will or no, he must abide by his lot, and hearing further, that the Arch-Duke has renounced his pretentions to the crown of Poland, the King at last submits. He unites the faithful lovers, De Nangis and Minka, sends Fritelli as Ambassador to Venice accompanied by his wife Alexina, and all hail Henry de Valois as King of Poland.



LOHENGRIN.

Romantic Opera in three acts by RICHARD WAGNER.

This is the most popular of all Wagner's operas. No need to say more about its music, which is so generally known and admired, that every child in Germany knows the graceful aria, where Lohengrin dismisses the swan, the superb bridal chorus etc.

Wagner again took his material from the old legend, which tells us of the mystical knight Lohengrin, (Veron of Percifal), Keeper of the "Holy Grail".

The scene is laid near Antwerp, where "Heinrich der Vogler," King of Germany, is just levying troops amongst his vassals of Brabant, to repulse the Hungarian invaders. The King finds the people {173} in a state of great commotion, for Count Frederick Telramund accuses Elsa of Brabant, of having killed her young brother Godfrey, heir to the Duke of Brabant, who died a short time ago, leaving his children to the care of Telramund. Elsa was to be Telramund's wife, but he wedded Ortrud of Friesland and now claims the deserted Duchy of Brabant.

As Elsa declares her innocence, not knowing what has become of her brother, who was taken from her during her sleep, the King resolves to decide by a tourney in which the whole matter shall be left to the judgment of God. Telramund, sure of his rights, is willing to fight with any champion, who may defend Elsa. All the noblemen of Brabant refuse to do so, and even the King, though struck by Elsa's innocent appearance, does not want to oppose his valiant and trustworthy warrior.

Elsa alone is calm, she trusts in the help of the heavenly knight, who has appeared to her in a dream, and publicly declares her intention of offering to her defender the crown and her hand. While she prays, there arrives a knight in silver armor; a swan draws his boat. He lands, Elsa recognizes the knight of her dream and he at once offers to fight for the accused maiden on two conditions, first that she shall become his wife, and second, that she never will ask for his name and his descent.

Elsa solemnly promises and the combat {174} begins. The strange knight is victorious, and Telramund, whose life the stranger spares is with his wife Ortrud outlawed.

The latter is a sorceress; she has deceived her husband, who really believes in the murder of Godfrey, while as a matter of fact she has abducted the child. In the second act we see her at the door of the Ducal palace, where preparations for the wedding are already being made. She plans vengeance. Her husband, full of remorse and feeling that his wife has led him on to a shameful deed, curses her as the cause of his dishonor. She derides him and rouses his pride by calling him a coward. Then she pacifies him with the assurance, that she will induce Elsa to break her promise and ask for the name of her husband, being sure, that then all the power of this mysterious champion will vanish.

When Elsa steps on the balcony to confide her happiness to the stars, she hears her name spoken in accents so sad, that her tender heart is moved. Ortrud bewails her lot, invoking Elsa's pity. The Princess opens her door, urging the false woman to share her palace and her fortune. Ortrud at once tries to sow distrust in Elsa's innocent heart.

As the morning dawns, a rich procession of men and women throng to the Muenster, where Elsa is to be united to her protector. Telramund tries vainly to accuse the stranger; he is pushed back and silenced. As Elsa is about to enter the church, Ortrud steps forward, claiming the right of {175} precedence. Elsa, frightened, repents too late having protected her. Ortrud upbraids her with not even having asked her husband's name and descent. All are taken aback, but Elsa defends her husband, winning everybody by her quiet dignity.

She turns to Lohengrin for protection, but, alas, the venom rankles in her heart.

When they are all returning from church, Telramund once more steps forth, accusing Lohengrin and demanding from the King to know the stranger's name. Lohengrin declares that his name may not be told, excepting his wife asks. Elsa is in great trouble, but once more her love conquers, and she does not put the fatal question.

But in the third act, when the two lovers are alone she knows no rest. Although her husband asks her to trust him, she fears that he may once leave her as mysteriously, as he came, and at last she cannot refrain from asking the luckless question. From this moment all happiness is lost to her. Telramund enters to slay his enemy, but Lohengrin, taking his sword, kills him with one stroke. Then he leads Elsa before the King and loudly announces his secret. He tells the astounded hearers, that he is the Keeper of the Holy-Grail. Sacred and invulnerable to the villain, a defender of right and virtue, he may stay with mankind as long as his name is unknown. But now he is obliged to reveal it. He is Lohengrin, son of Percival, King of the Grail, and is now compelled to leave his wife and return to his home. The swan appears, from whose neck {176} Lohengrin takes a golden ring, giving it to Elsa together with his sword and golden horn.

Just as Lohengrin is about to depart Ortrud appears, triumphantly declaring, that it was she, who changed young Godfrey into a swan, and that Lohengrin would have freed him too, had Elsa not mistrusted her husband.—Lohengrin, hearing this, sends a fervent prayer to Heaven and loosening the swan's golden chain, the animal dips under water and in his stead rises Godfrey, the lawful heir of Brabant. A white dove descends to draw the boat in which Lohengrin glides away and Elsa falls senseless in her brother's arm.



LORLE.

Opera in three acts by ALBAN FOERSTER.

Text by HANS HEINRICH SCHEFSKY.

With this opera its composer has made a lucky hit; it stands far higher than the "Maidens of Schilda", by dint of the charming subject, founded on Auerbach's wonderful village-story: Die Frau Professorin. This romance is so universally known and admired all over Germany, that it ensures the success of the opera. The music is exceedingly well adapted to the subject; its best parts are the "Lieder" (songs) which are often exquisitely sweet, harmonious and refined. They realize Foerster's prominent strength, and nowhere could they be better placed than in this sweet and touching story.

Though the libretto is not very carefully written, it is better than the average performances of this {177} kind, and with poetical intuition Schefsky has refrained from the temptation, to make it turn out well, as Charlotte Birch-Pfeiffer has done in her play of L'orle, which is a weak counterpart of Auerbach's village-tragedy.

The first representation of the opera took place in Dresden on June 18th of 1891; it won the success it truly deserves.

The first act which is laid in a village of the Black Forest, represents the square before the house of the wealthy Lindenhost. He wishes his only daughter Lorle to marry a well to do young peasant, named Balder, who loved her from her childhood. But Lorle rejects him, having lost her heart to a painter, who had stayed in her father's house, and who had taken her as a model for a picture of the Madonna, which adorns the altar of the village church. Lorle's friend Baerbele guesses her secret, and advises her to consult fate, by wreathing secretly a garland of blue-bells and reed grass. This wreath she is to throw into the branches of an oak calling aloud the name of her lover. If the garland is stopped by the boughs, her wishes are fulfilled, if it falls back into the girl's hands, she must give up hope for the year.

Both maidens resolve to try their fate on the very same night, which happens to be St. John's (midsummer-night) the true night for the working of the charm.

Meanwhile the Hussars arrive, to carry away the newly enlisted peasants. The sergeant willingly {178} permits a last dance, and all join in it heartily, but when the hour of parting comes the frightened Balder hides in an empty barrel. Unfortunately his officer happens to choose this one barrel for himself, deeming it filled with wine. When it is laid on the car, the missing recruit is promptly apprehended.

The scene changes now to one of sylvan solitude, through which two wanderers are sauntering. They are artists, and one of them, Reinhardt, is attracted to the spot by his longing for the sweet village-flower, whom he has not forgotten in the whirl of the great world. Already he sees the windows of his sweet-heart glimmer through the trees, when suddenly light footsteps cause the friends to hide behind a large oak-tree. The two maidens who appear are Lorle and Baerbele. The former prays fervently, then throwing her garland she shyly calls her lover's name Reinhardt. The latter stepping from behind the tree skillfully catches the wreath—and the maiden. This moment decides upon their fates; Reinhardt passionately declares his love, while Walter amuses himself with pretty Baerbele, whose naive coquetry pleases him mightily.

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