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The Standard Operaglass - Detailed Plots of One Hundred and Fifty-one Celebrated Operas
by Charles Annesley
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The following act introduces us to Reinhardt's studio in a German residence. A year has gone by since he wooed and won his bride; alas, he is already tired of her. The siren Maria countess of Matran, with whom he was enamoured years ago and whose portrait he has just finished, has again completely bewitched him.

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In vain Lorle adorns herself in her bridal attire at the anniversary of their wedding; the infatuated husband has no eye for her loveliness, and roughly pushes her from him. Left alone the poor young wife gives vent to her feelings in an exquisite sigh of longing for her native country. "Haett' ich verlassen nie dich, meine Haiden." (Would I had never left thee, o my heath.)

A visit from her dear Baerbele somewhat consoles her and delights Walter, the faithful house-friend. Balder, Lorle's old play mate, still recruit, also comes in and gladdens her by a bunch of heath-flowers. But hardly have they enjoyed their meeting, when the prince is announced, who desires to have a look at the countess' portrait. The rustic pair are hastily hidden behind the easel, and Lorle receives his Royal Highness with artless gracefullness, presenting him with the flowers she has just received. Her husband is on thorns, but the prince affably accepts the gift and invites her to a festival, which is to take place in the evening. Then he looks at the picture, expressing some disappointment about its execution, which so vexes the sensitive artist that he roughly pushes the picture from the easel thereby revealing the two innocents behind it. Great is his wrath at his wife's imprudence, while the prince exits with the countess, unable to repress a smile at the unexpected event.

There now ensues a very piquant musical intermezzo, well making up for the missing overture. The rising curtain reveals a brilliant court {180} festival. Reinhardt has chosen the countess for his shepherdess, while Lorle, standing a moment alone and heart-sore, is suddenly chosen by the Prince as queen of the fete. After a charming gavotte the guests disperse in the various rooms. Only the countess stays behind with Reinhardt and so enthralls him, that he forgets honor and wife, and falls at her feet, stammering words of love and passion. Unfortunately Lorle witnesses the scene; she staggers forward, charging her husband with treason. The guests rush to her aid, but this last stroke is too much for the poor young heart, she sinks down in a dead faint.

The closing act takes place a year later. Walter and Baerbele are married, and only Lorle's sad fate mars their happiness. Lorle has returned to her father's home broken-hearted, and this grief for his only child has changed the old man sadly.

Again it is midsummernight, and the father is directing his tottering steps to the old oak, when he is arrested by a solitary wanderer, whom sorrow and remorse have also aged considerably. With disgust and loathing he recognizes his child's faithless husband, who comes to crave pardon from the wife he so deeply wronged. Alas, he only comes, to see her die.

Lorle's feeble steps are also guided by her friends to the old oak, her favorite resting-place. There she finds her last wish granted; it is to see Reinhardt once more, before she dies and to pardon him. The luckless husband rushes to her feet {181} and tries vainly to restrain the fast-ebbing life. With the grateful sigh "he loves me", she sinks dead into his arms, while a sweet and solemn choir in praise of St. John's night concludes the tragedy.



LOVE'S BATTLE.

(DER LIEBESKAMPF.)

Opera in two acts.

Music and Text by ERIK MEYER-HELMUND.

This young composer, whose first opera was brought on the stage in Dresden in the spring of 1892, has been known for several years to the musical world by his most charming and effective songs. That he has talent, even genius is a fact which this opera again demonstrates, but the "making" is somewhat too easy not to say negligent, and it reminds us of Mascagni, whose laurels are an inducement to all our young genius' to "go and do likewise". Even the plot with its Corsican scenery has a strong resemblance to Cavalleria Rusticana. Its brevity, both acts last but fifty minutes, is a decided advantage, for the easy-flowing melodies, which come quite naturally to the composer cannot fail to attract the public, without being able to tire them.—One of the most delightful, a really exquisite piece of music is the duet between Giulietta and Giovanni.

The text, which is likewise written by the musician himself, has a very simple plot.—

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Pietro, a sailor returns from a long voyage, only to find his promised bride Maritana the wife of another.—

After having waited three years for his return, she fell into dire distress, which was still augmented by the report, that Pietro's ship "Elena" had been wrecked and her lover drowned. An innkeeper Arrigo came to her aid, and not only rescued her from misery, but also adopted her child, the offspring of Maritana's love for Pietro, after which she promised him her hand in gratitude.

Not long after their marriage the "Elena" returns with Pietro, who never doubts his sweetheart's constancy. Great is his dismay, when he hears from Arrigo and his father, that Maritana is lost to him. Pietro endeavours to persuade Maritana to fly with him, but the young wife, although conscious of her affections for him, denies that she ever loved him.

The second act begins with the wedding festival of Giovanni and Giulietta, Arrigo's niece. After the charming love-duet above mentioned, Pietro once more offers his love to Maritana, but in vain.

In the midst of the turmoil of frolic, in which Pietro seems one of the wildest and gayest, Arrigo takes him aside, whispering: "There is no room here for both of us, unless you leave Maritana in peace. Quit this place; there are more girls in the world to suit you."—Pietro promises, and in his passion he at once turns to the bride Giulietta, whom he embraces.—Of course her bridegroom {183} Giovanni is not willing to put up with this piece of folly; a violent quarrel ensues, in which the men rush upon Pietro with daggers drawn.

Maritana, willing to sacrifice herself in a quarrel, for which she feels herself alone responsible, rushes between the combatants. Then Pietro, fully awake to her love, but seeing that she is lost to him, quickly ascends a rock and calling out "O Sea eternal, I am thine, farewell Maritana, we shall meet in Heaven" he precipitates himself into the waves, while Maritana falls back in a faint.



LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR.

Tragic Opera in three acts by GAETANO DONIZETTI.

Text from Scott's romance by SALVATORE CAMMERANO.

This opera is Donizetti's master-piece and except his "Figlia del reggimento" and "Lucrezia Borgia" is the only one of his fifty operas, which is still given on all stages abroad. The chief parts, those of Lucia and Edgardo, offer plenty of scope for the display of brilliant talent and Lucia in particular is a tragic heroine of the first rank.

In the libretto there is not much left of Scott's fine romance. Edgardo, the noble lover is most sentimental, and generally English characteristics have had to give place to Italian coloring.

Henry Ashton, Lord of Lammermoor has discovered that his sister Lucia loves his mortal enemy, Sir Edgardo of Ravenswood. He confides {184} to Lucia's tutor, Raymond, that he is lost, if Lucia does not marry another suitor of his (her brother's) choice.

Lucia and Edgardo meet in the park. Edgardo tells her, that he is about to leave Scotland for France in the service of his country. He wishes to be reconciled to his enemy, Lord Ashton, for though the latter has done him all kinds of evil, though he has slain his father and burnt his castle, Edgardo is willing to sacrifice his oath of vengeance to his love for Lucia. But the lady, full of evil forebodings, entreats him to wait and swears eternal fidelity to him. After having bound himself by a solemn oath, he leaves her half-distracted with grief.

In the second act Lord Ashton shows a forged letter to his sister, which goes to prove that her lover is false. Her brother now presses her more and more to wed his friend Arthur, Lord Bucklaw, declaring, that he and his party are lost and that Arthur alone can save him from the executioner's axe. At last when even her tutor Raymond beseeches her to forget Edgardo and, like the others, believes him to be faithless, Lucia consents to the sacrifice. The wedding takes place in great haste, but just as Lucia has finished signing the marriage-contract, Edgardo enters to claim her as his own.

With grief and unbounded passion he now sees in his bride a traitress, and tearing his ring of betrothal from her finger, he throws it at her feet.

Henry, Arthur and Raymond order the raving {185} lover to leave the castle and the act closes in the midst of confusion and despair.

The third act opens with Raymond's announcement that Lucia has lost her reason and has killed her husband in the bridal room. Lucia herself enters to confirm his awful news; she is still in bridal attire and in her demented condition believes that Arthur will presently appear for the nuptial ceremony. Everybody is full of pity for her, and her brother repents his harshness, too late, alas!—Lucia is fast dying and Eliza leads her away amid the lamentations of all present.

Edgardo, hearing of these things, while wandering amid the tombs of his ancestors, resolves to see Lucia once more. When dying she asks for him, but he comes too late. The funeral-bells toll, and he stabs himself, praying to be united to his bride in heaven.



LUCREZIA BORGIA.

A tragic Opera in three acts by DONIZETTI.

Text by FELICE ROMANI after Victor Hugo's drama.

Donizetti's Lucrezia was one of the first tragic operas to command great success, notwithstanding its dreadful theme and its light music, which is half French, half Italian. It is in some respects the predecessor of Verdi's operas, Rigoletto, Trovatore etc., which have till now held their own in many theatres because the subject is interesting and the music may well entertain us for an evening, {186} though its value often lies only in the striking harmonies. The libretto cannot inspire us with feelings of particular pleasure, the heroine, whose part is by far the best and most interesting, being the celebrated murderess and poisoner Lucrezia Borgia. At the same time she gives evidence in her dealings with her son Gennaro of possessing a very tender and motherly heart, and the songs, in which she pours out her love for him are really fine as well as touching.

Lucrezia, wife of Don Alfonso, Duke of Ferrara, goes to Venice in disguise, to see the son of her first marriage, Gennaro. In his earliest youth he was given to a fisherman, who brought him up as his own son.—Gennaro feels himself attracted towards the strange and beautiful woman, who visits him, but hearing from his companions, who recognize and charge her with all sorts of crimes, that she is Lucrezia Borgia, he abhors her. Don Alfonso, not knowing the existence of this son of an early marriage, is jealous, and when Gennaro comes to Ferrara and in order to prove his hatred of the Borgias, tears off Lucrezia's name and scutcheon from the palace-gates, Rustighello, the Duke's confidant is ordered to imprison him. Lucrezia, hearing from her servant Gubella of the outrage to her name and honor complains to the Duke, who promises immediate punishment of the malefactor.

Gennaro enters, and terror-stricken Lucrezia recognizes her son. Vainly does she implore the {187} Duke to spare the youth. With exquisite cruelty he forces her to hand the poisoned golden cup to the culprit herself, and, departing, bids her accompany her prisoner to the door. This order gives her an opportunity to administer an antidote by which she saves Gennaro's life, and she implores him to fly. But Gennaro does not immediately follow her advice, being induced by his friend Orsini to assist at a grand festival at Prince Negroni's.

Unhappily all those young men, who formerly reproached and offended Lucrezia so mortally in presence of her son, are assembled there by Lucrezia's orders. She has mixed their wine with poison, and herself appears to announce their death. Horror-stricken she sees Gennaro, who was not invited, among them. He has partaken of the wine like the others, but on her offering him an antidote, he refuses to take it; its quantity is insufficient for his friends, and he threatens to kill the murderess. Then she reveals the secret of his birth to him, but he only turns from this mother, for whom he had vainly longed his whole life, and dies. The Duke coming up to witness his wife's horrible victory, finds all either dead or dying and Lucrezia herself expires, stricken down by deadly remorse and pain.



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THE MACCABEES.

Opera in three acts by ANTON RUBINSTEIN.

Text by MOSENTHAL, taken from Otto Ludwig's drama of the same name.

This opera when it appeared, created a great sensation in the musical world. In it the eminent pianist and composer has achieved a splendid success. The music belongs to the noblest and best and is in most masterly fashion adapted to the Jewish character. Ludwig and Mosenthal, both names of renown in Germany, have given a libretto worthy of the music.

The hero is the famous warrior of the Old Testament. The scene takes place 160 years before Christ, partly at Modin, a city in the mountains of Judah and partly in Jerusalem and its environs.

The first act shows Leah with three of her sons, Eleazar, Joarim and Benjamin. Eleazar is envious of Judah, the eldest son, whose courage and strength are on everybody's lips, but his mother consoles him by a prophesy, that Eleazar shall one day be High-priest and King of the Jews.

The fete of the sheep-shearing is being celebrated, and Noemi, Judah's wife, approaches Leah with garlands of flowers, asking for her benediction. But she is repulsed by her mother-in-law, who is too proud to recognize the low-born maid as her equal, and slights her son Judah for his love. She tries to incite him into rebellion against the Syrians, when Jojakim, a priest appears. He {189} announces the death of Osias, High-priest of Zion and calls one of Leah's sons to the important office.—As Judah feels no vocation for such a burden, Eleazar, his mother's favorite is chosen, and so Leah sees her dream already fulfilled. They are about to depart, when the approaching army of the Syrians is announced. Terror seizes the people, as Gorgias, the leader of the enemy marches up with his soldiers and loudly proclaims, that the Jews are to erect an altar to Pallas Athene, to whom they must pray henceforth. Leah seeks to inflame Eleazar's spirit, but his courage fails him. The altar is soon erected, and as Gorgias sternly orders that sacrifices are to be offered to the goddess, Boas, Noemi's father is found willing to bow to the enemy's commands. But the measure is full, Judah steps forth and striking Boas, the traitor to their faith, dead, loudly praises Jehova. He calls his people to arms, and repulses the Syrians and Leah, recognizing her son's greatness, gives him her benediction.

The second act represents a deep ravine near Emaus; the enemy is beaten and Judah is resolved to drive him from Zion's walls, but Jojakim warns him not to profane the coming Sabbath.

Judah tries to overrule the priests and to excite the people, but he is not heard, and the enemy is able to kill the psalm-singing soldiers like lambs.

The next scene shows us Eleazar with Cleopatra, daughter of King Antiochus of Syria.

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They love each other, and Eleazar consents to forsake his religion for her, while she promises to make him King of Jerusalem.

In the next scene Leah in the city of Modin is greeted with acclamations of joy, when Simei, a relative of the slain Boas appears to bewail Judah's defeat: Other fugitives coming up, confirm his narrative of the massacre.—Leah hears that Judah fled and that Antiochus approaches conducted by her own son Eleazar. She curses the apostate.—She has still two younger sons, but the Israelites take them from her to give as hostages to the King Antiochus. Leah is bound to a cypress-tree by her own people, who attribute their misfortunes to her and to her sons. Only Noemi, the despised daughter-in-law remains to liberate the miserable mother, and together they resolve to ask the tyrant's pardon for the sons.

In the third act we find Judah, alone and unrecognized in the deserted streets of Jerusalem. Hearing the prayers of the people that Judah may be sent to them, he steps forth and tells them who he is, and all sink at his feet, swearing to fight with him to the death. While Judah prays to God for a sign of grace, Noemi comes with the dreadful news of the events at Modin, which still further rouses the anger and courage of the Israelites. Meanwhile Leah has succeeded in penetrating into Antiochus' presence to beg the lives of her children from him. Eleazar, Gorgias and Cleopatra join their prayers to those of the poor mother, and at last {191} Antiochus consents, and the two boys are led into the room.

But the King only grants their liberty on condition that they renounce their faith. They are to be burnt alive, should they abide by their heresy. The mother's heart is full of agony, but the children's noble courage prevails. They are prepared to die for their God, but the unhappy mother is not even allowed to share their death. When Eleazar sees his brother's firmness, his conscience awakens, and notwithstanding Cleopatra's entreaties he joins them on their way to death. The hymns of the youthful martyrs are heard, but with the sound of their voices there suddenly mingles that of a growing tumult. Antiochus falls, shot through the heart, and the Israelites rush in, headed by Judah, putting the Syrians to flight. Leah sees her people's victory, but the trial has been too great, she sinks back lifeless. Judah is proclaimed King of Zion, but he humbly bends his head, giving all glory to the Almighty God.



THE MAGIC FLUTE.

(DIE ZAUBERFLOeTE.)

Opera in two acts by MOZART.

Text by SCHIKANEDER.

This last opera of Mozart's, written only a few months before his death, approaches so near to perfection, that one almost feels in it the motion of the spirit-wings which were so soon alas! to bear {192} away Mozart's genius from earth, too early by far, for he died at the age of 35, having accomplished in this short space of time more than other great composers in a long life.

The Magic Flute is one of the most remarkable operas known on the stage. It is half fictitious, half allegorical.—The text, done by the old stage-director Schikaneder was long mistaken for a fiction without any common sense, but Mozart saw deeper, else he would not have adapted his wonderful music to it.—It is true that the tales of old Egypt are mixed up in a curious manner with modern freemasonry, but nobody, except a superficial observer, could fail to catch a deep moral sense in the naive rhymes.

The contents of the opera are the following: Prince Tamino, a youth as valiant as he is noble and virtuous, is implored by the Queen of Night, to save her daughter, whom the old and sage High-priest Sarastro has taken from her by force. The bereaved mother pours forth her woe in heart-melting sounds and promises everything to the rescuer of her child. Tamino is filled with ardent desire to serve her.—On his way he meets the gay Papageno, who at once agrees to share the Prince's adventures. Papageno is the gay element in the opera; always cheerful and in high spirits, his ever-ready tongue plays him many a funny trick. So we see him once with a lock on his mouth by way of punishment for his idle prating. As he promises never to tell a lie any more, the lock is taken {193} away by the three Ladies of the Queen of Night. Those Ladies present Tamino with a golden flute, giving at the same time an instrument made with little silver bells to Papageno, both of which are to help them in times of danger. The Queen of Night even sends with them three boy-angels. These are to point out to them the ways and means by which they may attain their purpose.

Now the young and beautiful Princess Pamina is pursued by declarations of love from a negro-servant of Sarastro. Papageno comes to her rescue, frightening the negro Monostatos with his feathery dress. Papageno, on the other hand fears the negro on account of his blackness, believing him to be the devil in person. Papageno escapes with Pamina, but the negro overtakes him with his servants. Then Papageno shakes his bells, and lo, all forgetting their wrath forthwith begin to dance.

Meanwhile Tamino reaches 'Sarastro's castle, and at once asks for the High-priest, poor Pamina's bitter enemy. The Under-priests do not allow him to enter, but explain that their Master Sarastro is as good as he is sage, and that he always acts for the best. They assure Tamino, that the Princess lives and is in no danger. Full of thanks, the Prince begins to play on his flute; and just then he hears Papageno's bells. At this juncture Sarastro appears, the wise Master, before whom they al bow. He punishes the wicked negro; but Tamino and his Pamina are not to be united without first having given ample proof of their love and constancy. {194} Tamino determines to undergo whatever trials may await him, but the Queen of Night, knowing all, sends her three Ladies, to deter Tamino and his comrade from their purpose. But all temptation is gallantly set aside; they have given a promise to Sarastro which they will keep.

Even the Queen of Night herself is unable to weaken their strength of purpose; temptations of every kind overtake them, but Tamino remains firm. He is finally initiated into the mysteries of the goddess Isis.

In the interval Pamina deems Tamino faithless. She would fain die, but the three celestial youths console her, by assuring her that Tamino's love is true, and that he passes through the most severe trials solely on her behalf.

On hearing this Pamina at once asks to share in the trials, and so they walk together through fire and water, protected by the golden flute, as well as by their courage and constancy. They come out purified and happy.

Papageno, having lost his companion, has grown quite melancholy and longs for the little wife, that was promised to him and shown to him only for a few moments. He resolves at last to end his life by hanging himself, when the celestial youths appear, reminding him of his bells. He begins to shake them, and Papagena appears in feathery dress, the very counter-part of himself. All might now be well, were it not that the Queen of Night, a somewhat unreasonable lady, broods vengeance. {195} She accepts the negro Monostatos as her avenger, and promises to give him her daughter. But already Sarastro has done his work; Tamino is united to his Pamina, and before the sunny light of truth everything else vanishes and sinks back into night.



THE MAIDENS OF SCHILDA.

Comic Opera in three acts by ALBAN FORSTER.

Text by RUDOLF BUNGE.

The first work of this composer was produced on the stage of the Royal Dresden theatre on the twelfth of October 1889 and was received with great applause. This surprising success is due firstly to the great popularity, which Forster enjoyed as former Director of the renowned "Liedertafel" (Society for vocal music) and as teacher, and then to the numerous pretty melodies intermixed with national airs, in which particularly the old "Dessauer march" is skilfully interwoven, then the wellknown student air "Was kommt dort von der Hoeh'", which of course gladdens the heart of every student old or young.

Nevertheless it might be called an Operette rather than an Opera. The text at least does not range any higher, it is often almost silly, the rhymes bad and unequal.

Nevertheless those who like to be amused by a light and agreeable flow of music may pass a merry evening, listening to the droll exploits of the two Schilda maidens.—Schilda and {196} Schildburghers are in Germany synonymous with narrow mindedness, which is indeed strongly marked in the inhabitants of this out-of-the way town.

The scene is laid in the last century.

In the first act an order of the Prince of Dessau calls all the youngsters of Schilda to arms.—The chief magistrate with the characteristic name of Ruepelmei (Ruepel=Clown), who has already given to the town so many wise laws, as for instance the one, which decrees that the Schilda maidens under thirty are not allowed to marry—now demonstrates to his two nieces, Lenchen and Hedwig, the benefit of his legislation, in as much as they might otherwise be obliged to take leave of their husbands. He wants to marry one of them himself, but they have already given their hearts to two students and only laugh at their vain uncle. This tyrant now orders all the maidens to be locked up in a place of safety every evening, in order to guard them from outsiders; further the worthy Schildaers resolve to build a wall, which is to shut them out from the depraved world.

While Ruepelmei is still reflecting upon these ingenious ideas, a French Courier, the Marquis de Maltracy enters, imploring the Burgomaster to hide him from the Prussian pursuers, who are on his track. He promises a cross of honor to the ambitious Ruepelmei, who at once hides him in the Town-hall.—Meanwhile a chorus of students approaches, who have left Halle to avoid being enlisted in the army. Lenchen and Hedchen, recognizing {197} their sweet-hearts among them, greet them joyfully, and when Ruepelmei appears, they propitiate him by flattery.

A lively scene of student-life ensues, in which the maidens join, after their old night-guardian Schlump has been intoxicated.

Ruepelmei returning and seeing this spectacle, orders the police to seize the students, but instead of doing so, they thrust him into the very same barrel, which he has invented for the punishment of male citizens, and so he is obliged to be as impotent spectator of their merry-making.

In the second act he has been liberated by his faithful citizens; the students have escaped and the maidens are waiting to be locked up in their place of refuge.—But in the shades of evening the two students, Berndt and Walter return and are hidden by their sweet-hearts, Lenchen and Hedchen among the other maidens, after having put on female garments.—They all have hardly disappeared in the Town-hall, when the Prince of Dessau arrives with his Grenadiers to seize the students, of whose flight to Schilda he has been informed.—Ruepelmei tells him, that he has captured and killed many of them, but the Prince, disbelieving him, orders his soldiers to search the houses beginning with the Town-hall. Ruepelmei, remembering the Marquis, implores him to desist from his resolution, the Town-hall being the nightly asylum for Schilda's daughters, but in vain. Schlump, the snoring guardian is awakened and ordered to open {198} the door to the room, where the maidens are singing and frolicking with their guests.—The Marquis de Maltracy has also introduced himself, but perceiving that he is a spy, they all turn from him in disdain; when the Prussian Grenadiers are heard, they quickly hide him in a large trunk.

The Prince, finding all those pretty girls, is quite affable, and a general dancing and merry-making ensues, during which the students vainly try to escape, when suddenly two of the Grenadiers perceive that their respective beauties have beards.—The students are discovered and at once ordered to be put into the uniform, while Ruepelmei is arrested and handcuffed notwithstanding his protestations.

When the third act opens, drilling is going on in the town, and Walter and Berndt are among the recruits.

Lenchen and Hedwig arrive with the other girls to free the students.—They flatter the drill-sergeant, and soon the drilling is forgotten—and they are dancing merrily, when the Prince of Dessau arrives in the midst of the fun and threatens to have the officer shot for neglect of duty and the students as deserters. While the maidens are entreating him to be merciful, Berndt suddenly remembers the French Courier. He quickly relates to the Prince, that they have captured a French Marquis, who has a most important document in his possession, the plan of war. The Prince promising to let them free, if that proves to be true, the Marquis is conducted before the {199} Prince, and the latter discovers that he is a messenger to the King of France, and that his letter is to show how the French army might attack the Prussians unawares. By this discovery the Germans are saved, for Dessau has time to send an officer to Saxony with orders to occupy Dresden before the arrival of the enemy.

Of course, the students are set free, and each of them obtains an office and the hand of his maiden besides. The luckless Ruepelmei is also liberated, being too much of a fool, to deserve even the Prince's scorn, who further decrees that the foolish town may keep their Burgomaster, as best suited to their narrow-mindedness.



MARGA.

Opera in one act by GEORG PITTRICH.

Text by ARNO SPIESS.

The first performance of this highly interesting little opera took place in Dresden in February 1894 and awakened the interest of every music lover in the hitherto quite unknown composer. Scenery and Music are of the colouring now common to modern composers, for whom unfortunately Mascagni is still the God, at whose shrine they worship.

The scene is laid in a Bulgarian village at the foot of the Schipka-Pass. Marga the heroine, a Roumanian peasant-girl has had a sister Petrissa, who, suffering cruel wrong at the hands of Vasil Kiselow, has cursed her seducer and sought death {200} in the waves. Marga, who had vowed to avenge her sister, is wandering through the world in vain search of Vasil. When the curtain opens she has just reached the village, where Vasil occupies the most auspicious position of Judge. Thoroughly exhausted she sinks down at the foot of a cross and falls asleep.

Vasil's son Manal, finding her thus, detects a wonderful likeness between the sleeping beauty and a picture, which he had found some time ago in the miraculous Sabor Cave, and which for him is the ideal of love and beauty.—This picture, a likeness of Petrissa had been hung there by Vasil in order to exorcise the curse of the unhappy virgin, but Manal has no knowledge of his father's misdeed.

When Marga awakes, the young people of course fall in love with each other, and Marga discovers too late, that Manal is the son of her sister's destroyer. Hesitating between love and her vow of vengeance she wildly reproaches Vasil who falls at her feet in deep contrition beseeching her forgiveness, which she grants at last.—Full of penitence he relinquishes his property to the young people, and exhorting Manal to be a just and clement Judge, he betakes himself to the mountains, resolved to join in the war against the Turks.

{201}

MARGUERITE (OR FAUST).

Opera in five acts by CHARLES GOUNOD.

The subject of this piece is taken from the first part of Goethe's greatest drama—"Faust".

Faust, a celebrated old Doctor, is consumed by an insatiable thirst for knowledge, but, having already lived through a long life devoted to the acquirement of learning and to hard work as a scholar, without having his soul-hunger appreciably relieved, is dissatisfied and in his disappointment wishes to be released from this life, which has grown to be a burden to him. At this moment Mephistopheles, the incarnation of the Evil One, appears and persuades him to try life in a new shape. The old and learned Doctor has only known it in theory, Mephisto will now show it to him in practice and in all the splendor of youth and freshness. Faust agrees, and Mephisto endows him with youth and beauty. In this guise he sees earth anew. It is Easter-time, when all is budding and aglow with freshness and young life and on such a bright spring-day he first sees Margaretha and at once offers her his arm.

But this lovely maiden, pure and innocent, and well guarded by a jealous brother, named Valentin, refuses his company somewhat sharply.—Nevertheless she cannot help seeing the grace and good bearing of the fine cavalier, and the simple village-maiden is inwardly pleased with his flattery. A bad fate wills it, that her brother Valentin, who is {202} a soldier, has to leave on active service and after giving many good advices and warnings for his beautiful sister's wellfare he goes and so Mephisto is able to introduce Faust to the unprotected girl by means of a message, which he is supposed to have received for an old aunt of Margaretha's "Frau Marthe Schwertlein". This old gossip, hearing from Mephisto that her husband has been killed in battle, lends a willing ear to the flatteries of the cunning Devil; and Margaretha is left to Faust, who wins her by his love and easy manners. She is only a simple maiden, knowing nothing of the world's ways and wiles, and she accepts her lover's precious gifts with childish delight.

By and bye, her brother Valentin returns victorious from the war, but alas! too late! He challenges his sister's seducer; Mephisto however directs Faust's sword, and the faithful brother is much against Faust's own will slain, cursing his sister with his last breath.

Now Margaretha awakes to the awful reality of her situation and she shrinks from her brother's murderer. Everybody shuns her, and she finds herself alone and forsaken. In despair she seeks refuge in church, but her own conscience is not silenced; it accuses her more loudly than all the pious songs and prayers. Persecuted by evil spirits, forsaken and forlorn, Margaretha's reason gives way, and she drowns her new-born child.

Meanwhile Mephisto has done everything to stifle in Faust the pangs of conscience. Faust never {203} wills the evil, he loves Margaretha sincerely, but the bad spirit urges him onward. He shows him all the joys and splendors of earth, and antiquity in its most perfect form in the person of Helena, but in the midst of all his orgies Faust sees Margaretha. He beholds her, pale, unlike her former self, in the white dress of the condemned, with a blood-red circle round the delicate neck. Then he knows no rest, he feels that she is in danger, and he bids Mephisto save her.

Margaretha has actually been thrown into prison for her deed of madness and now the executioner's axe awaits her. She sits on the damp straw, rocking a bundle, which she takes for her baby, and across her poor wrecked brain there flit once more pictures of all the scenes of her short-lived happiness. Then Faust enters with Mephisto, and tries to persuade her to escape with them. But she instinctively shrinks from her lover, loudly imploring God's and the Saint's pardon. God has mercy on her, for, just as the bells are tolling for her execution; she expires, and her soul is carried to Heaven by angels, there to pray for her erring lover. Mephisto disappears into the earth.



MARTHA

Comic Opera in four acts by FLOTOW.

Text by W. FRIEDRICH.

This charming opera finally established the renown of its composer, who had first found his way to public favor through "Stradella".—It {204} ranks high among our comic operas, and has become as much liked as those of Lortzing and Nicolai.

Not the least of its merits lies in the text, which Friedrich worked out dexterously, and which is amusing and interesting throughout.

Lady Harriet Durham, tired of the pleasures and splendours of Court, determines to seek elsewhere for a pastime, and hoping to find it in a sphere different from her own, disguises herself and her confidant Nancy as peasant-girls, in which garb they visit the Fair at Richmond, accompanied by Lord Tristan, who is hopelessly enamoured of Lady Harriet and unwillingly complies with her wish to escort them to the adventure in the attire of a peasant.—They join the servant-girls, who are there to seek employment, and are hired by a tenant Plumkett and his foster-brother Lionel, a youth of somewhat extraordinary behaviour, his air being noble and melancholy and much too refined for a country-squire, while the other, though somewhat rough, is frank and jolly in his manner.

The disguised ladies take the handsel from them, without knowing that they are bound by it, until the sheriff arrives to confirm the bargain. Now the joke becomes reality and they hear that they are actually hired as servants for a whole year.

Notwithstanding Lord Tristan's protestations, the ladies are carried off by their masters, who know them under the names of Martha and Julia.

In the second act we find the ladies in the company of the tenants, who set them instantly to {205} work. Of course they are totally ignorant of household-work, and as their wheels will not go round, Plumkett shows them how to spin. In his rough but kind way he always commands and turns to Nancy, with whom he falls in love, but Lionel only asks softly when he wishes anything done. He has lost his heart to Lady Harriet and declares his love to her. Though she is pleased by his gentle behaviour, she is by no means willing to accept a country-squire and wounds him by her mockery. Meanwhile Plumkett has sought Nancy for the same purpose, but she hides herself and at last the girls are sent to bed very anxious and perplexed at the turn their adventure has taken. But Lord Tristan comes to their rescue in a coach and they take flight, vainly pursued by the tenants.—Plumkett swears to catch and punish them, but Lionel sinks into deep melancholy, from which nothing can arouse him.

In the third act we meet them at a Court-hunt, where they recognize their hired servants in two of the lady-hunters. They assert their right, but the Ladies disown them haughtily, and when Lionel, whose reason almost gives way under the burden of grief and shame, which overwhelms him at thinking himself deceived by Martha, tells the whole story to the astonished Court, the Ladies pronounce him insane and Lord Tristan sends him to prison for his insolence, notwithstanding Lady Harriet and Nancy's prayer for his pardon.

Lionel gives a ring to Plumkett, asking him {206} to show it to the Queen, his dying father having told him that it would protect him from every danger.

In the fourth act Lady Harriet feels remorse for the sad consequences of her haughtiness. She visits the prisoner to crave his pardon. She tells him that she has herself carried his ring to the Queen and that he has been recognized by it as Lord Derby's son, once banished from Court, but whose innocence is now proved.

Then the proud Lady offers hand and heart to Lionel, but he rejects her, believing himself duped. Lady Harriet, however who loves Lionel, resolves to win him against his will. She disappears, and dressing herself and Nancy in the former peasant's attire, she goes once more to the Fair at Richmond, where Lionel is also brought by his friend Plumkett. He sees his beloved Martha advance towards him, promising to renounce all splendors and live only for him; then his melancholy vanishes; and he weds her, his name and possessions being restored to him, while Plumkett obtains the hand of pretty Nancy, alias Julia.



THE MASTER-SINGERS OF NUeREMBERG.

Opera in three acts by WAGNER.

This opera carries us back to the middle of the 16th century and the persons whom we meet are all historical.

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Amongst the tradesmen, whose rhyme-making has made them famous, Hans Sachs, the shoemaker is the most conspicuous.

The music is highly original, though not precisely melodious and is beautifully adapted to its characteristically national subject.

In the first act we see St. Catharine's church in Nueremberg, where Divine Service is being celebrated, in preparation for St. John's Day. Eva, the lovely daughter of Master Pogner the jeweller, sees the young knight Walter Stolzing, who has fallen in love with Eva, and who has sold his castle in Franconia to become a citizen of Nueremberg. She tells him that her hand is promised to the winner of the prize for a master-song, to be sung on the following morning.

We are now called to witness one of those ancient customs still sometimes practiced in old German towns. The master-singers appear, and the apprentices prepare everything needful for them. Walter asks one of them, called David, an apprentice of Sachs, what he will have to do in order to compete for the prize. He has not learnt poetry as a profession like those worthy workmen, and David vainly tries to initiate him into their old-fashioned rhyming. Walter leaves him, determined to win the prize after his own fashion.

Pogner appears with Beckmesser the clerk, whom he wishes to have as son-in-law. Beckmesser is so infatuated that he does not doubt of his success. Meanwhile Walter comes up to them, {208} entreating them to admit him into their corporation as a master-singer.

Pogner consents, but Beckmesser grumbles, not at all liking to have a nobleman among them.—When all are assembled, Pogner declares his intention of giving his daughter to the winner of the master-song on the day of St John's festival, and all applaud his resolution. Eva herself may refuse him, but never is she to wed another than a crowned master-singer. Sachs, who loves Eva as his own child, seeks to change her father's resolution, at the same time proposing to let the people choose in the matter of the prize, but he is silenced by his colleagues. They now want to know where Walter has learnt the art of poetry and song, and as he designates Walter von der Vogelweide and the birds of the forest, they shrug their shoulders.

He begins at once to give a proof of his art, praising Spring in a song thrilling with melody. Beckmesser interrupts him; he has marked the rhymes on the black tablet, but they are new and unintelligible to this dry verse-maker, and he will not let them pass. The others share his opinion; only Hans Sachs differs from them, remarking that Walter's song, though new and not after the old use and wont rules of Nueremberg, is justified all the same, and so Walter is allowed to finish it, which he does with a bold mockery of the vain poets, comparing them to crows, oversounding a singing-bird. Sachs alone feels that Walter is a true poet.

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In the second act David the apprentice tells Magdalene, Eva's nurse, that the new singer did not succeed, at which she is honestly grieved, preferring the gallant younker for her mistress, to the old and ridiculous clerk. The old maid loves David; she provides him with food and sweets and many are the railleries which he has to suffer from his companions in consequence.

The evening coming on we see Sachs in his open work-shop; Eva, his darling, is in confidential talk with him. She is anxious about to-morrow, and rather than wed Beckmesser she would marry Sachs, whom she loves and honors as a father. Sachs is a widower, but he rightly sees through her schemes and resolves to help the lovers.

It has now grown quite dark, and Walter comes to see Eva, but they have not sat long together, when the sounds of a lute are heard.

It is Beckmesser trying to serenade Eva, but Sachs interrupts him by singing himself and thus excites Beckmesser's wrath and despair. At last a window opens, and Beckmesser, taking Magdalene for Eva addresses her in louder and louder tones, Sachs all the time beating the measure on a shoe. The neighboring windows open, there is a general alarm, and David, seeing Magdalene at the window apparently listening to Beckmesser, steals behind this unfortunate minstrel and begins to slap him. In the uproar which now follows, Walter vainly tries to escape from his refuge under the lime-tree, but Sachs comes to his rescue, and takes him into {210} his own work-shop, while he pushes Eva unseen into her father's house, the door of which has just been opened by Pogner.

In the third act we find Sachs in his room. Walter enters, thanking him heartily for the night's shelter. Sachs kindly shows him the rules of poetry, encouraging him to try his luck once more. Walter begins and quite charms Sachs with his love-song. After they have left the room, Beckmesser enters, and reading the poetry, which Sachs wrote down, violently charges the shoemaker with wooing Eva himself. Sachs denies it and allows Beckmesser to keep the paper. The latter who has vainly ransacked his brains for a new song, is full of joy, hoping to win the prize with it.

When he is gone, Eva slips in to fetch her shoes, and she sees Walter stepping out of his dormitory in brilliant armor. He has found a third stanza to his song; which he at once produces.—They all proceed to the place where the festival is to be held and Beckmesser in the first to try his fortunes, which he does by singing the stolen song. He sadly muddles both melody and words, and being laughed at, he charges Sachs with treachery, but Sachs quietly denies the authorship, pushing forward Walter, who now sings his stanzas, inspired by love and poetry. No need to say that he wins the hearer's hearts as he has won those of Eva and Sachs, and that Pogner does not deny him his beloved daughter's hand.

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THE MASTER-THIEF.

A German Legend in three parts by EUGEN LINDNER.

After Fitger's poem by GUSTAV KASTROPP and the composer.

The young composer has hitherto been little heard of by the public, though he has a good name in the musical world, as he had already written an opera called "Ramiro", which was put on the stage in Leipsic and excited considerable controversy among his admirers and his opponents. Lindner then left Leipsic for Weimar, where he studied zealously and composed the above-mentioned opera which was at once accepted on the small but celebrated stage of this town and has now appeared on the greater one of Dresden. This opera is half romantic half lyric, neither does it lack the humorous elements. It abounds in melody, a great rarity in our times, and the romance (Lied) is its best part.

Though the music is not precisely overpowering, it is very sweet and pleasing; one sees that a great talent has been at work, if not a genius.

The libretto is very nice on the whole, in some parts even charmingly poetical and melodious.

The scene is laid in an Earldom on the Rhine.

The master-thief Wallfried, a young nobleman, who ten years before had been put into a convent as younger son, has fled from it, and has since then been the companion of roving minstrels and Bohemians. Having heard of his elder brother's death, he comes home to claim his rights. There he sees Waldmuthe, the only daughter of Count {212} Berengar, the Seigneur of the Earldom. As her features are as sweet as her voice, and as the father guards his treasures better than his daughter, Wallfried falls in love with her, and after artfully robbing her of her necklace, he even steals a kiss from her rosy lips. At first she reproaches him, but at last willingly leaves her ornament in his hands, which he keeps as a token of seeing her again.

At a fair, where Wallfried for the last time makes merry with his companions and sings to them the song of the pretty Aennchen,—by the bye a pearl of elegance and delicacy,—he sees Count Berengar and his daughter, and at once reclaims his own name and castle as Heir von Sterneck from the Seigneur.—But Waldmuthe's companion, Hertha sees her mistress's chain on Wallfried's neck and as our hero will not tell how he came by it, he is considered a thief. His friend Marquard now pleads for him, intimating that he took the chain only to show his adroitness as a master-thief. Count Berengar hearing this, orders him to give three proofs of his skill. First he is to rob the Count of his dearest treasure, which is guarded by his soldiers and which then will be his own, secondly he is to steal the Count himself from his palace, and finally he must rob the Count of his own personality. Should he fail in one of these efforts, he is to be hanged.

These tests seem to be very difficult, but Wallfried promises to fulfill his task on the very same day.

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In the second act Wallfried arrives with two friends at the Count's castle. All three are in pilgrim's garb and bring a beautiful wassail-horn to the Count in token of friendship from the Sire of Rodenstein. The sentry and the Count consider these pious guests harmless, and the Count, being a great amateur of good wine, drinks and sings with them and soon gets drunk. The roundelays are full of wit and humor and particularly Wallfried's song, with the charming imitation of the spinning-wheel in the orchestra, is of great effect.—At last one of the pilgrims intimates, that though the wine be good, they have drunk a far better at the clergyman's in the village. This seems incredible to the Count and he is willing to put it to the test. He goes with his guests out of his castle and so the second of his orders, to steal his own person, is already accomplished.

Wallfried however stays behind to rob the Count of his most valuable treasure, which he deems to be the young Countess herself. While the soldiers carefully guard the jewels and diamonds in the tower, Waldmuthe steps on her balcony and confides her love to the moon.—Wallfried, hearing her confession, easily persuades her to follow him, as she hopes thereby to save his life and so the first condition is likewise fulfilled.

In the third act the Bohemians (Wallfried's companions) have carried the Count into the forest, and having robbed him of his clothes, dress him in the clergyman's cassock. The Count, awaking {214} from his inebriety, is quite confused. His misery after the debauch is most funnily and expressively depicted in the orchestration. His confusion increases, when the Bohemians, dressed as peasants, greet him as "Seigneur Pastor", and when even Benno, the warden of Sterneck calls him by this name,—for everybody is in the plot,—he storms and rages, but grows the more troubled. At last Wallfried makes his appearance in the mask of Count Berengar, speaking of his presumed daughter and of her love. Then the mists of the wine gather thicker around the Count's tortured brain, he repeats Wallfried's words and when alone says aloud "There goes Count Berengar, now I believe myself to be the pastor."—Thus too the third order is fulfilled; he is robbed of himself.

Waldmuthe, stealing up to him, roguishly laughing repeats the tests and now the Count at once becomes sober.—Of course he is in wrath at first and most unwilling to give his only child to one, who has passed part of his life with Bohemians. But Waldmuthe reminds him of his own youth, how audaciously he had won his wife, her mother, and how he had promised her to care for their daughter's happiness. The tender father cannot resist her touching and insinuating appeal, but resolves to try Wallfried's sincerity. When the latter reminds him, that he has only executed the Count's own orders, though in a somewhat different sense, Berengar willingly grants him the tide and domains of Sterneck, but refuses his {215} daughter, telling him to choose instead his finest jewels. Wallfried haughtily turns from him to join his old comrades, and refuses name and heritage, which would be worthless to him without his bride. But the maiden is as noble as her lover; she rushes up to him, ready to brave her father's scorn as well as the world's dangers. Then the Count, persuaded of the young fellow's noble heart, folds him in his embrace and readily gives his benediction to the union.



DER MAURER.

(THE MASON.)

Opera in three acts by AUBER.

Text by SCRIBE.

This charming little work is one of the best semi-comic operas ever composed, from the time of its first representation in Paris until now it has never lacked success.

The libretto is founded on a true anecdote, and is admirably suited to the music.

The scene is laid in Paris in the year 1788.

The first act represents the merry wedding of Roger, a mason, with Henrietta, sister of Baptiste, a locksmith. A jealous old hag, Mistress Bertrand, who would fain have married the nice young man, is wondering, whence the poor mason has the money for his wedding, when suddenly a young nobleman, Leon de Merinville, appears, greeting Roger warmly. He relates to the astonished hearers, that Roger saved his life, but would not {216} take any reward, nor tell his name. Roger explains that the nobleman put so much money into his pocket, that it enabled him to marry his charming Henrietta, but Merinville is determined to do more for him. Meanwhile Roger tries to withdraw from the ball with his young wife; but Henrietta is called back by her relations according to custom.—Roger, being left alone, is accosted by two unknown men, who, veiling his eyes, force him to follow them to a spot unknown to him, in order to do some mason-work for them. It is to the house of Abdallah, the Turkish ambassador, that he is led. The latter has heard that his mistress Irma, a young Greek maiden, is about to take flight with a French officer, who is no other than de Merinville.

The lovers are warned by a slave, named Rica, but it is too late; Abdallah's people overtake and bind them. They are brought into a cavern, the entrance to which Roger is ordered to mure up. There, before him, he finds his friend and brother-in-law, Baptiste, who was likewise caught and is now forced to help him.

Recognizing in the officer his benefactor, Roger revives hope in him by singing a song, which Leon heard him sing at the time he saved his life.

Meanwhile Henrietta has passed a dreadful night, not being able to account for her husband's absence. In the morning Mistress Bertrand succeeds in exciting the young wife's sorrow and jealousy to a shocking degree, so that when Roger {217} at last appears, she receives him with a volley of reproaches and questions.

Roger, unhappy about Merinville's fate and ignorant of where he has been in the night, scarcely listens to his wife's complaints, until Henrietta remarks that she well knows where he has been, Mistress Bertrand having recognized the carriage of the Turkish ambassador, in which he was wheeled away.

This brings light into Roger's brain and without more ado he rushes to the police, with whose help the poor prisoners are delivered. Roger returns with him to his wife's house, where things are cleared up in the most satisfactory manner.



MELUSINE.

Romantic Opera in three acts by CARL GRAMMANN.

Text after C. CAMP'S poem of the same name.

Tableaux and mise en scene after SCHWIND'S composition.

The composer of this opera is known in the musical world as the author of many other fine works. He has given us several operas worthy of mention, "St. Andrew's Night", and "Thusnelda" among others, which were brought on the stage in Dresden some years ago.—

Melusine was first represented in Wiesbaden in 1874 with but small success.—Since then the opera has been rewritten and in part completely changed by the author, and in this new garb has found its first representation in the Dresden Opera-house, on the 23rd of May 1891.

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Neither music nor libretto are strikingly original; both remind vividly of Wagner.—Nevertheless the opera met with warm applause, the principal part being splendidly rendered by Teresa Malten, and the mise en scene justifying the highest expectations. The beauty of the music lies principally in its coloring which is often very fine. Its best parts are the tender songs of the nymphs, those parts which lead into the realm of dream and of fairy-land.—Once only it soars to a higher dramatic style; it is in the second act (the one which has undergone an entire revision), when Bertram, the natural son, bewails his father.—

On the whole the weak libretto forbids every deeper impression. It is neither natural nor dramatic, and leaves our innermost feelings as cold as the watery element, from which it springs.

The scene is laid in a French Department on the Upper Rhine, where a Duchy of Lusignan can never have existed, about the time of the first Crusade.—The first act shows a forest, peopled by water-nymphs and fairies, who enjoy their dances in the light of the full-moon.—Melusine, their princess emerges from her grotto. While they sing and dance, a hunter's bugle is heard and Count Raymond of Lusignan appears with Bertram, his half-brother, seeking anxiously for their father.—Both search on opposite sides; Bertram disappears, while Raymond, hearing a loud outcry for help, rushes into the bushes whence it comes, not heeding Melusine's warning, who watches the {219} proceedings half hidden in her grotto. The nymphs, foreseeing what is going to happen, break out into lamentations, while Melusine sings an old tale of the bloody strife of two brothers. She is already in love with Raymond, whose misfortune she bewails. When he hurries back in wild despair at having slain his father, whose life he tried to save from the tusks of a wild boar,—his sword piercing the old man instead of the beast, (a deed decreed by fate,)—he finds the lovely nymph ready to console him. She presents him with a draught from the magic well, which instantly brings him forgetfulness of the past (compare Nibelung's-ring).—The Count drinks it, and immediately glowing with love for the beautiful maiden wooes her as his wife. Melusine consents to the union under the condition that he pledges himself by a solemn oath, never to blame her, nor to spy her out, should she leave him in the full-moon nights. Raymond promises, and the sun having risen, the hunters find him in his bride's company. He presents their future mistress to them, and all render homage; only Bertram, struck to the heart by Melusine's loveliness, which is not for him, stands scornfully aside.

The first scene of the second act represents the sepulchral crypt of the Lusignan family. The old Duke has been found dead in the forest, and a choir of monks sings the Requiem. Bertram's mournful song and the lament of the women are of surpassing beauty; also the contrasting sounds {220} from merry music of Raymond's wedding procession, now and then heard, cause an excellent musical effect. A hermit, Peter von Amiens, now entering comforts the widowed Duchess and warns them all of Melusine. He relates the legend of the water-fairy, who with sweet voice and mien entices and seduces human beings. The poor mother implores Heaven to save her son, while Bertram invokes Hell to avenge his father on the murderer.

The scene changes into the park belonging to Raymond's palace. Raymond and Melusine enjoy their nuptial bliss, until the rising of the full-moon awakes in Melusine the irresistible longing for her native element. Notwithstanding her husband's entreaties, she tears herself from him, and Raymond, mindful of his oath, retires. But Melusine's steps are interrupted by Bertram, who has tracked her and now declares his love. She scornfully rejects him, and he, enraged and jealous, threatens to betray Raymond, whose bloody sword he has found at the spot, where their father was murdered. But Melusine escapes to the gray temple in the garden and she prophesies, that Raymond will be happy as long as he keeps her faith, and then vanishes into the interior. Bertram remains motionless and stunned, until he hears Raymond's voice, who is waiting for his wife.—Spurred by every evil feeling of hate and envy he peremptorily asks Raymond to surrender all his possessions, his wife Melusine, even his life, deeming that his brother has forfeited every right through the murder.—But {221} Raymond oblivious of the deed through the effect of the magic draught, draws his sword, when his mother interferes. The Duchess repeats to her son the suspicion expressed by the hermit in regard to Melusine and Raymond anxiously calls for her to refuse the accusation.—But instead of his wife, sweet songs are heard from the temple, he forgets his oath, spies into its interior through a cleft and perceives the place of the nixies, with Melusine in their midst. Recognizing his fate, Raymond sinks back with a despairing cry.

In the third act the fishermen and women assemble on the banks of the Rhine at day-break, preparing for their daily work. They also know the Count's wife to be a mer-maid, and they sing a ballad of the water-nymph. Suddenly Melusine appears and they take flight. Melusine, finding the gates of her husband's castle closed, vainly calls for him.—His mother answers in his stead, charging her with witchcraft and refusing to admit her. Melusine, sure of Raymond's love undauntedly answers that only Raymond's want of faith could undo her.—In the meantime a herald announces the arrival of Crusaders with Peter von Amiens.—The latter exhorts Count Raymond to join the holy army in order to expiate his father's murder. Raymond is willing to go, when Melusine entreats him not to leave her. All present press around to insult her, only Bertram steps forth as her protector, once more showing Raymond's bloody sword, an act, which she alone understands. She kneels {222} to him, in order to save her husband, but Raymond, misunderstanding her movements, accuses her of secret intercourse with Bertram and in a fit of jealousy disowns her. Scarcely have the luckless words escaped his lips, than a violent sound of thunder is heard. Melusine curses the palace, and throws her husband's ring at his feet. She disappears in the Rhine, Bertram leaping after her, the stream overflows its banks, and a flash of lightning destroys the castle. Gradually the scene changes to the one of sylvan solitude in the first act. Raymond appears in pilgrim's garb to seek for his lost love (see Tannhaeuser), Melusine once more emerges from her grotto to comfort him, but also to bring him death. Happy, he dies in her embrace, she buries him under water-lilies and returns to her watery domains.



MERLIN.

Opera in three acts by CHARLES GOLDMARK.

Text by SIEGFRIED LIPINER.

This latest creation of the talented composer at once proved itself a success, when produced for the first time in the Opera-House in Vienna. Since then it has quickly passed to all the larger stages.

Merlin surpasses the Queen of Sheba in dramatic value and is equal to it in glowing coloring and brilliant orchestration. Goldmark is quite the reverse of Wagner. Though equally master of modern instrumentation, he abounds in melodies. {223} Airs, duets and choruses meet us of surpassing beauty and sweetness. The text is highly fantastic, but interesting and poetical.

King Artus is attacked by the Saxons and almost succumbs.—In his need he sends Lancelot to Merlin, an enchanter and seer, but at the same time the King's best friend and a Knight of his table.

Merlin, offspring of the Prince of Hell and of a pure virgin, has power over the demons, whom however he only employs in the service of Heaven, his good mother's spirit protecting him. Merlin calls up a demon, whom he forces to blind the heathen Saxons, so that the Britons may be victorious. The demon obeys unwillingly and after Merlin's departure he calls up the fairy Morgana who knows all the secrets of the world. Morgana tells the demon, that if Merlin loves an earthly woman, his power will be gone and the demon resolves to tempt Merlin with the most beautiful woman on earth. He vanishes and the Britons return victorious, Merlin with prophetic insight recognizing the knight, who had betrayed his people to the Saxons. While he sings a passionate chant in honor of his King and his country, Vivien, a Duke's daughter, appears and they are at once attracted to each other. But Merlin vanquishes his love and refuses to accept the crown of oak-leaves, which his King offers him by the hand of Vivien. Then Artus takes his own crown and puts it on Merlin's curls.

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The second act begins with a conspiracy headed by Modred, Artus' nephew, against his uncle. Lancelot openly accuses him of treason, and the King sends to Merlin, for judgment. But alas, Merlin's love has already blinded his understanding; he fails to detect the culpable Modred, and declares that he is not able to find fault in him. King Artus and his knights depart to seek new laurels, leaving the country in Modred's hands. Merlin stays in his sanctum, to where the demon now leads Vivien who has lost her way. The doors of the temple open by themselves at Vivien's request, and she finds a rosy, glittering veil, which, thrown into the air, causes various charming apparitions to present themselves.—When Merlin comes, the whole charm vanishes into air. Vivien tells him of her delightful adventure, but Merlin, frightened, informs her that who ever is touched by the veil, will be in the power of demons, chained to a rock for ever. Love conquers, and the short hour succeeding is for both filled with earth's greatest bliss. The news of Modred's treachery to King Artus awakes Merlin from his dream. He tears himself from his love, vowing to shun her for ever and to return to the well of grace. But Vivien, finding all her prayers vain, throws the fatal veil over him to hinder his flight. The dreadful effect becomes instantly apparent; the rose-garden disappears, mighty rocks enclose the vale on all sides, and Merlin is held down by burning chains.

While Vivien is consumed by self-reproach and {225} pain, the fairy Morgana appears, telling her that love, which is stronger than death, can bring Merlin eternal grace. Vivien is led away by her maid, and Lancelot enters with the knights to seek Merlin's help against the treacherous Modred.

Seeing Merlin in this pitiful state, he sadly turns from him, but Merlin in despair promises his soul to the demon, if he but assist to deliver his King and his country. The demon breaks the chains and Merlin rushes with the knights into battle. During his absence Vivien prepares herself to receive her hero, but though she sees him return victorious he is wounded to death. The demon comes up to claim his victim, but Vivien, remembering Morgana's words, sacrifices herself piercing her heart at Merlin's feet. The demon disappears cursing heaven and earth, while Artus and his knights, though they sadly mourn for their hero, yet praise the victory of true love.



THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR.

Comic Opera in three acts by OTTO NICOLAI.

Text by MOSENTHAL.

This charming opera has achieved the fame of its composer, of whom very little is known, except that he is the author of this really admirable musical composition, which is valued not only in Germany but all over Europe. Its overture is played by almost every orchestra, and the choruses and songs are both delightful and original. As {226} may be gathered from the title, the whole amusing story is taken from Shakespeare's comedy.

Falstaff has written love-letters to the wives of two citizens of Windsor, Mrs. Fluth and Mrs. Reich. They discover his duplicity and decide to punish the infatuated old fool.

Meanwhile Mr. Fenton, a nice but poor young man asks for the hand of Miss Anna Reich. But her father has already chosen a richer suitor for his daughter in the person of silly Mr. Spaerlich.

In the following scene Sir John Falstaff is amiably received by Mrs. Fluth, when suddenly Mrs. Reich arrives, telling them that Mr. Fluth will be with them at once, having received notice of his wife's doings. Falstaff is packed into a washing-basket and carried away from under Mr. Fluth's nose by two men, who are bidden to put the contents in a canal near the Thames, and the jealous husband, finding nobody, receives sundry lectures from his offended wife.

In the second act Mr. Fluth, mistrusting his wife, makes Falstaff's acquaintance, under the assumed name of Bach, and is obliged to hear an account of the worthy Sire's gallant adventure with his wife and its disagreeable issue. Fluth persuades Falstaff to give him a rendezvous, swearing inwardly to punish the old coxcomb for his impudence.

In the evening Miss Anna meets her lover Fenton in the garden, and ridiculing her two suitors, Spaerlich and Dr. Caius, a Frenchman, she {227} promises to remain faithful to her love. The two others, who are hidden behind some trees, must perforce listen to their own dispraise.

When the time has come for Falstaff's next visit to Mrs. Fluth, who of course knows of her husband's renewed suspicion, Mr. Fluth surprises his wife and reproaches her violently with her conduct. During this controversy Falstaff is disguised as an old woman and when the neighbors come to help the husband in his search, they find only an old deaf cousin of Mrs. Fluth's who has come from the country to visit her. Nevertheless the hag gets a good thrashing from the duped and angry husband.

In the last act everybody is in the forest, preparing for the festival of Herne the hunter. All are masked, and Sir John Falstaff, being led on by the two merry wives is surprised by Herne (Fluth), who sends the whole chorus of wasps, flies and mosquitos on to his broad back. They torment and punish him, till he loudly cries for mercy. Fenton in the mask of Oberon has found his Anna in Queen Titania, while Dr. Caius and Spaerlich, mistaking their masks for Anna's, sink into each other's arms, much to their mutual discomfiture.

Mr. Fluth and Mr. Reich, seeing that their wives are innocent and that they only made fun of Falstaff, are quite happy and the whole scene ends with a general pardon.



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MIGNON.

Opera in three acts by AMBROISE THOMAS

Text by MICHEL CARRE and JULES BARBIER.

This opera is full of French grace and vivacity, and has been favorably received in Germany. The authors have used for their libretto Goethe's celebrated novel "Wilhelm Meister", with its typical figure Mignon as heroine, though very much altered. The two first acts take place in Germany.

Lothario, a half demented old man, poorly clad as a wandering minstrel, seeks his lost daughter Sperata. Mignon comes with a band of gipsies, who abuse her because she refuses to dance. Lothario advances to protect her, but Jarno, the chief of the troop, only scorns him, until a student, Wilhelm Meister steps forth and rescues her, a young actress named Philine compensating the gipsy for his loss by giving him all her loose cash. Mignon, grateful for the rescue, falls in love with Wilhelm and wants to follow and serve him, but the young man, though delighted with her loveliness and humility is not aware of her love. Nevertheless he takes her with him. He is of good family, but by a whim just now stays with a troop of comedians, to whom he takes his protegee. The coquette Philine loves Wilhelm and has completely enthralled him by her arts and graces. She awakes bitter jealousy in Mignon who tries to drown herself, but is hindered by the sweet strains of Lothario's harp which appeal to the nobler feelings of her nature. The latter always keeps near her, watching {229} over the lovely child. He instinctively feels himself attracted towards her; she recalls his lost daughter to him and he sees her as abandoned and lonely as himself. Mignon, hearing how celebrated Philine is, wishes that the palace within which Philine plays, might be struck by lightning, and Lothario at once executes her wish by setting the house on fire.

While the guests rush into the garden, Philine orders Mignon to fetch her nosegay, the same flowers, which the thoughtless youth offered to his mistress Philine. Mignon, reproaching herself for her sinful wish, at once flies into the burning house, and only afterwards does her friend Laertes perceive that the theatre has caught fire too. Everybody thinks Mignon lost, but Wilhelm, rushing into the flames, is happy enough to rescue her.—

The third act carries us to Italy, where the sick Mignon has been brought. Wilhelm, having discovered her love, which she reveals in her delirium, vows to live only for her. Lothario, no longer a minstrel, receives them as the owner of the palace, from which he had been absent since the loss of his daughter. While he shows Mignon the relics of the past, a scarf and a bracelet of corals are suddenly recognized by her. She begins to remember her infantine prayers, she recognizes the hall with the marble statues and her mother's picture on the wall.—With rapture Lothario embraces his long-lost Sperata. But Mignon's jealous {230} love has found out that Philine followed her, and she knows no peace until Wilhelm has proved to her satisfaction, that he loves her best.

At last Philine graciously renounces Wilhelm and turns to Friedrich, one of her many adorers, whom to his own great surprise she designates as her future husband. Mignon at last openly avows her passion for Wilhelm. The people, hearing of the arrival of their master, the Marquis of Cypriani, alias Lothario, come to greet him with loud acclamations of joy, which grow still louder, when he presents to them his daughter Sperata and Wilhelm, her chosen husband.



LA MUETTE DE PORTICI.

Grand historical Opera in five acts by AUBER.

Text by SCRIBE.

This opera was first put on the stage in the Grand Opera-House at Paris in the year 1828, and achieved for its author universal celebrity; not only, because in it Auber rises to heights, which he never reached either before or after, but because it is purely historical. The "Muette" is like a picture, which attracts by its vivid reproduction of nature. In the local tone, the southern temper, Auber has succeeded in masterly fashion, and the text forms an admirable background to the music. Its subject is the revolution of Naples in the year 1647 and the rise and fall of Masaniello, the fisherman-King.

In the first act we witness the wedding of {231} Alfonso, son of the Viceroy of Naples, with the Spanish Princess Elvira. Alfonso, who has seduced Fenella, the Neapolitan Masaniello's dumb sister and abandoned her, is tormented by doubts and remorse, fearing that she has committed suicide. During the festival Fenella rushes in to seek protection from the Viceroy, who has kept her a prisoner for the past month. She has escaped from her prison and narrates the story of her seduction by gestures, showing a scarf which her lover gave her. Elvira promises to protect her and proceeds to the altar, Fenella vainly trying to follow. In the chapel Fenella recognizes her seducer in the bridegroom of the Princess. When the newly married couple come out of the church, Elvira presents Fenella to her husband and discovers from the dumb girl's gestures, that he was her faithless lover. Fenella flies, leaving Alfonso and Elvira in sorrow and despair.

In the second act the fishermen, who have been brooding in silence over the tyranny of their foes, begin to assemble. Pietro, Masaniello's friend, has sought for Fenella in vain, but at length she appears of her own accord and confesses her wrongs. Masaniello is infuriated and swears to have revenge, but Fenella, who still loves Alfonso, does not mention his name. Then Masaniello calls the fishermen to arms and they swear perdition to the enemy of their country.

In the third act we find ourselves in the marketplace in Naples, where the people go to and fro, selling and buying, all the while concealing their {232} purpose under a show of merriment and carelessness. Selva, the officer of the Viceroy's body-guard, from whom Fenella has escaped, discovers her and the attempt to rearrest her is the sign for a general revolt, in which the people are victorious.

In the fourth act Fenella comes to her brother's dwelling and describes the horrors, which are taking place in the town. The relation fills his noble soul with sorrow and disgust. When Fenella has retired to rest, Pietro enters with comrades and tries to excite Masaniello to further deeds, but he only wants liberty and shrinks from murder and cruelties.

They tell him that Alfonso has escaped and that they are resolved to overtake and kill him. Fenella, who hears all, decides to save her lover. At this moment Alfonso begs at her door for a hiding-place. He enters with Elvira, and Fenella, though at first disposed to avenge herself on her rival, pardons her for Alfonso's sake. Masaniello, reentering, assures the strangers of his protection and even when Pietro denounces Alfonso as the Viceroy's son, he holds his promise sacred. Pietro with his fellow-conspirators leaves him full of rage and hatred.

Meanwhile the magistrate of the city presents Masaniello with the Royal crown and he is proclaimed King of Naples.

In the fifth act we find Pietro with the other fishermen before the Viceroy's palace. He confides to Moreno, that he has administered poison to {233} Masaniello, in order to punish him for his treason, and that the King of one day will soon die. While he speaks, Borella rushes in to tell of a fresh troop of soldiers, marching against the people with Alfonso at their head. Knowing that Masaniello alone can save them, the fishermen entreat him to take the command of them once more and Masaniello, though deadly ill and half bereft of his reason, complies with their request. The combat takes place, while an eruption of Vesuvius is going on. Masaniello falls in the act of saving Elvira's life. On hearing these terrible tidings Fanella rushes to the terrace, from which she leaps into the abyss beneath, while the fugitive noblemen take again possession of the city.



NACHTLAGER VON GRANADA.

(A NIGHT'S REST AT GRANADA.)

Romantic Opera in two acts by CONRADIN KREUTZER.

Text taken from Kind's drama of the same name by Freiherr K. VON BRONN.

This little opera, which literally overflows with charming songs and true German melody, has never passed the bounds of the country which gave it birth, for notwithstanding, its beauties, which endear it to the German people, it lacks dramatic life and action. But in Germany its melodies have penetrated into the hearts of the people, and will never be taken thence.

The tale is very simple and treats of Spanish life in the middle of the 16th century.

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The Crown-prince of Spain has strayed from his train, and, disguised as a simple hunter, has found some shepherds, who grant him a night's rest in an old castle. He excites their jealousy however by kissing the pretty shepherdess Gabriela, and they resolve to kill and rob him. Gabriela has two suitors, the kind shepherd Gomez, whom she loves, and Vasco, a wild youngster, who calls her his bride against her wish and will. In her distress she turns to the hunter, who promises to apply to the Crown-Prince on her and her lover's behalf.

Gabriela, hearing of the plot against the hunter, becomes his guardian-angel, for just as the Prince is about to succumb to the ruffians, she brings on his followers, who have been found out by her lover Gomez. The robbers are punished, and Gabriela, being allowed to ask for a boon, begs to be united to Gomez. The Crown-Prince himself joins their hands, granting them rich presents, and takes leave of the peasants amid loud acclamations and benedictions.



NORMA.

Tragic Opera in two acts by BELLINI.

Text by ROMANI.

Few operas can boast of as good and effective a libretto as that, which Romani wrote for Bellini's Norma. He took his subject from a French tragedy and wrote it in beautiful Italian verse.

With this work Bellini won his fame and {235} crowned his successes. Again it is richness of melody in which Bellini excels; highly finished dramatic art and lofty style he does not possess, and it is this very richness of melody, which make him and specially his Norma such a favorite in all theatres. His music is also particularly well suited to the human voice, and Norma was always one of the most brilliant parts of our first dramatic singers.

The contents are as follows:

Norma, daughter of Orovist, chief of the Druids and High-priestess herself, has broken her vows and secretly married Pollio, the Roman Proconsul. They have two children. But Pollio's love has vanished. In the first act he confides to his companion Flavius, that he is enamoured of Adalgisa, a young priestess in the temple of Irminsul, the Druid's god.

Norma, whose secret nobody knows but her friend Clothilde, is worshipped by the people, being the only one able to interpret the oracles of their god. She prophesies Rome's fall, which she declares will be brought about, not by the prowess of Gallic warriors, but by its own weakness. She sends away the people to invoke alone the benediction of the god. When she also is gone, Adalgisa appears and is persuaded by Pollio to fly with him to Rome. But remorse and fear induce her to confess her sinful love to Norma, whom she like the others adores. Norma however, seeing the resemblance to her own fate, promises to {236} release her from her vows and give her back to the world and to happiness, but hearing from Adalgisa the name of her lover, who, as it happens, just then approaches, she of course reviles the traitor, telling the poor young maiden, that Pollio is her own spouse. The latter defies her, but she bids him leave. Though as he goes he begs Adalgisa to follow him, the young priestess turns from the faithless lover, and craves Norma's pardon for the offence she has unwittingly been guilty of.

In the second act Norma, full of despair at Pollio's treason, resolves to kill her sleeping boys. But they awake and the mother's heart shudders as she thinks of her purpose; then she calls for Clothilde, and bids her fetch Adalgisa.

When she appears, Norma entreats her to be a mother to her children, and to take them to their father Pollio, because she has determined to free herself from shame and sorrow by a voluntary death. But the noble-hearted Adalgisa will not hear of this sacrifice and promises to bring Pollio back to his first love. After a touching duet, in which they swear eternal friendship to each other, Norma takes courage again. Her hopes are vain however, for Clothilde enters to tell her that Adalgisa's prayers were of no avail.—Norma distrusting her rival, calls her people to arm against the Romans and gives orders to prepare the funeral pile for the sacrifice. The victim is to be Pollio, who was captured in the act of carrying Adalgisa off by force. Norma orders her father and the Gauls {237} away, that she may speak alone with Pollio, to whom she promises safety, if he will renounce Adalgisa and return to her and to her children. But Pollio, whose only thought is of Adalgisa, pleads for her and for his own death. Norma, denying it to him, calls the priests of the temple, to denounce as victim a priestess, who, forgetting her sacred vows, has entertained a sinful passion in her bosom and betrayed the gods. Then she firmly tells them that she herself is this faithless creature, but to her father alone does she reveal the existence of her children.

Pollio, recognizing the greatness of her character, which impels her to sacrifice her own life in order to save him and her rival, feels his love for Norma revive and stepping forth from the crowd of spectators he takes his place beside her on the funeral pile. Both commend their children to Norma's father Orovist, who finally pardons the poor victims.



LE NOZZE DI FIGARO.

Comic Opera in four acts by MOZART.

Text by LORENZO DA PONTE.

This opera may be said to be the continuation of Rossini's "Barbiere di Seviglia". The text too is taken from Beaumarchais' Figaroade, and the principal persons in it, we find to be old acquaintances. It is the same Count Almaviva, now married to Rosina; Figaro, the cunning barber, has entered the Count's service and is about to marry Rosina's {238} maid, Susanna. We meet among the others old Doctor Bartolo and Basilio. Even in the management of the subject, and in the music we find some resemblance. "Figaro's wedding" has the same character of gaiety; no storms, very few clouds; there prevails throughout an atmosphere of sunshine and brightness. After Don Juan, Figaro was Mozart's darling, and it shines radiantly in the crown of his fame. There is no triviality in it, as we find in most of the comic operas of Offenbach and others; it is always noble as well as characteristic in every part.

The text may be paraphrased thus:

Count Almaviva, though married to Rosina and loving her ardently, cannot bring himself to cease playing the role of a gallant cavalier; he likes pretty women wherever he finds them, and not withstanding his high moral principles, is carrying on a flirtation with Rosina's maid, the charming Susanna. This does not hinder him from being jealous of his wife, who is here represented as a character both sweet and passive. He suspects her of being overfond of her Page, Cherubino.—From the by-standers, Doctor Bartolo and Marcellina, we hear, that their old hearts have not yet ceased to glow at the touch of youth and love; Bartolo would fain give his affections to Susanna, while Marcellina pretends to have claims on Figaro.

These are the materials which are so dexterously woven into the complicated plot and which furnish to many funny qui-pro-quos.

{239}

In the second act we find Cherubino the Page in the rooms of the Countess, who, innocent and pure herself, sees in him only a child; but this youth has a passionate heart and he loves his mistress ardently. Mistress and maid have amused themselves with Cherubino, putting him into women's dresses. The Count, rendered suspicious by a letter, given to him by Basilio, bids his wife open her door. The women, afraid of his jealousy, detain him a while, and only open the door, when Cherubino has got safely through the window and away over the flower-beds. The Count, entering full of wrath, finds only Susanna with his wife. Ashamed of his suspicions, he asks her pardon and swears never to be jealous again. All blame in the matter of the letter is put on Figaro's shoulders, but this cunning fellow lies boldly, and the Count cannot get the clue to the mystery. Figaro and Susanna, profiting by the occasion, entreat the Count at last to consent to their wedding, which he has always put off. At this moment the gardener Antonio enters, complaining of the spoilt flower-beds. Figaro taking all upon himself, owns that he sprang out of the window, having had an interview with Susanna and fearing the Count's anger. All deem themselves saved, when Antonio presents a document, which the fugitive has lost. The Count, not quite convinced, asks Figaro to tell him the contents; but the latter, never at a loss and discovering that it is the Page's patent, says, that the document was given to him by the Page, the seal {240} having been forgotten. The Count is about to let him off, when Bartolo appears with Marcellina, who claims a matrimonial engagement with Figaro. Her claim is favored by the Count, who wishes to see Susanna unmarried. Out of this strait however they are delivered by finding that Figaro is the son of the old couple, the child of their early love; and all again promises well. But the Countess and Susanna have prepared a little punishment for the jealous husband as well as for the flighty lover.

They have both written letters, in which they ask the men to an interview in the garden. Susanna's letter goes to the Count, Rosina's to Figaro. Under the wings of night the two women meet, each, her own lover, but Susanna wears the Countess' dress, while Rosina has arrayed herself in Susanna's clothes.—

The Countess, not usually given to such tricks, is very anxious. While she awaits her husband, Cherubino approaches, and taking her for Susanna, he, like a little Don Juan as he is, makes love to her. Hearing the Count's steps, he disappears. Almaviva caresses the seeming Susanna, telling her nice things and giving her a ring, which she accepts. They are observed by the other couple and the sly Figaro, who has recognized Susanna, notwithstanding her disguise, denounces the Count to her, vows eternal love and generally makes his bride burn with wrath. In her anger she boxes his ears, upon which he confesses to having known {241} her from the first, and at once restores her good humor.

Seeing the Count approach, they continue to play their former roles, and the false Countess makes love to Figaro, till the Count accosts her as "traitress". For a while she lets him suffer all the tortures of jealousy, then the lights appear and the Count stands ashamed before his lovely wife, recognizing his mistake. The gentle Countess forgives him, and the repenting husband swears eternal fidelity. He speedily unites the lovers Figaro and Susanna and forgives even the little Page Cherubino.



THE NUREMBERG DOLL.

(DIE NUeRNBERGER PUPPE.)

Comic Opera in one act by A. ADAM.

Text by LEUVEN and BEAUPLAN, translated into German by ERNST PASQUE.

This Operette, though almost buried in oblivion, has been revived by merit of its true comic humor, which is so rare now-a-days. The music is very simple, but melodious and natural and in Bertha's part offers ample scope to a good songstress.

The scene takes place in a toy-shop at Nuremberg. Cornelius the owner, has an only son Benjamin, whom he dearly loves, notwithstanding his stupidity, while he is most unjust to his orphan nephew, Heinrich, whom he keeps like a servant, after having misappropriated the latter's inheritance.

The old miser wants to procure a wife for his {242} darling, a wife endowed with beauty and every virtue, and as he is persuaded, that such a paragon does not exist in life, he has constructed a splendid doll, which he hopes to endow with life by help of doctor Faust's magic book.

He only awaits a stormy night for executing his design. Meanwhile he enjoys life and when presented to us is just going with Benjamin to a masked ball, after sending at the same time his nephew supperless to bed.—When they have left Heinrich reappears in the garb of Mephistopheles and clapping his hands, his fiancee Bertha, a poor seamstress soon enters.

Sadly she tells her lover, that she is unable to go to the ball, having given all her money, which she had meant to spend on a dress, to a poor starving beggar-woman in the street.

Heinrich touched by his love's tender heart, goodhumoredly determines to lay aside his mask, in order to stay at home with Bertha, when suddenly a bright idea strikes him. Remembering the doll, which his uncle hides so carefully in his closet, which has however long been spied out by Heinrich, he shows it to Bertha, who delightedly slips into the doll's beautiful clothes which fit her admirably.—

Unfortunately Cornelius and his son are heard returning, while Bertha is still absent dressing. The night has grown stormy, and the old man deems it favorable for his design; so he at once proceeds to open Faust's book and to begin the charm.

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Heinrich, who has hardly had time to hide himself in the chimney, is driven out by his cousin's attempts to light a fire. He leaps down into the room and the terrified couple take him for no other than the Devil in person, Heinrich wearing his mask and being besides blackened by soot from the chimney. Perceiving his uncle's terror, he profits by it, and at once beginning a conjuration he summons the doll, that is to say Bertha in the doll's dress. Father and son are delighted by her performances, but when she opens her mouth and reveals a very wilful and wayward character, Cornelius is less charmed. The doll peremptorily asks for food, and Mephistopheles indicates, that it is to be found in the kitchen. While the worthy pair go to fetch it, Mephistopheles hastily exchanging words with his lady-love, vanishes into his sleeping room.

The doll now begins to lead a dance, which makes the toymaker's hair stand on end. She first throws the whole supper out of the window, following it with plate, crockery, toys etc. Then taking a drum, she begins to drill them, like a regular tambour-major, slapping their ears, mouths and cheeks as soon as they try to approach her.

At last, when they are quite worn out, she flies into the closet. But now the father's spirit is roused, he resolves to destroy his and the Devil's work; however he is hindered by Heinrich, who now makes his appearance, and seems greatly astonished at the uproar and disorder he finds in {244} the middle of the night. He only wants to gain time for Bertha to undress and then escape.—

Resolutely the old man walks into the closet to slay the doll. But he returns pale and trembling, having destroyed her while asleep, and believing to have seen her spirit escape through the window with fiendish laughter.—Yet awed by his deed, he sees Heinrich returning who confesses to his uncle, that he has found out his secret about the doll, and that, having accidently broken it, he has substituted a young girl. Cornelius, half dead with fright, sees himself already accused of murder; his only salvation seems to lie in his nephew's silence and instant flight. Heinrich is willing to leave the country, provided his uncle give him back his heritage, which consists of 10,000 Thalers. After some vain remonstrances, the old man gives him the gold. Heinrich having gained his ends, now introduces Bertha, and the wicked old fool and his son see too late, that they have been the dupes of the clever nephew.—



OBERON.

Romantic Opera in three acts by WEBER.

English text by PLANCHE translated by TH. HELL.

Oberon is Weber's last work. In the year 1824 he had the honor of being commissioned to compose this opera for the Covent-garden theatre. He began at once to study English, but, his health giving way, he progressed slowly. Notwithstanding his illness however, he worked on and finished {245} the opera in the year 1826. He had the happiness of seeing it crowned with success, when he travelled to London in February of that year, but he could not witness its triumphs in Germany, for he died in the following July.

The text is most fantastic without any strict order of succession either in the matter of time or locality. It is taken from Wieland's fairy-tale of the same name.

In the first act we find Oberon, the Elfin-king in deep melancholy, which no gaiety of his subjects, however charming, avails to remove. He has quarrelled with his wife Titania, and both have vowed never to be reconciled, until they find a pair of lovers, faithful to each other in all kinds of adversity. Both long for the reunion, but the constant lovers are not to be found.

Oberon's most devoted servant is little Puck, who has vainly roved over the world to find what his master needs. He has however heard of a valiant knight in Burgundy, Hueon, who has killed Carloman, the son of Charlemagne in a duel, having been insulted by him. Charlemagne, not willing to take his life for a deed of defence, orders him to go to Bagdad, to slay the favorite, sitting to the left of the Calif, and to wed the Calif's daughter Rezia. Puck resolves to make this pair suit his ends. He tells Oberon the above-mentioned story, and by means of his lily-sceptre shows Hueon and Rezia to him. At the same-time these two behold each other in a vision, so that when they awake both are deeply in love.

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Oberon wakes Hueon and his faithful shield-bearer Scherasmin, and promises his help in every time of need. He presents Hueon with a magic horn, which will summon him at any time; Scherasmin receives a cup, which fills with wine of itself. Then he immediately transports them to Bagdad.

There, we find Rezia with her Arabian maid Fatima. The Calif's daughter is to wed Babekan, a Persian Prince, but she has hated him ever since she saw Hueon in her vision. Fatima has discovered the arrival of Hueon. It is high time, for in the beginning of the second act we see the Calif with Babekan, who wants to celebrate the nuptials at once. Rezia enters, but at the same time Hueon advances, recognizing in Rezia the fair one of his dream. He fights, and stabs Babekan. The Turks attack him, but Scherasmin blows his magic horn and compels them to dance and laugh, until the fugitives have escaped.

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