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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 libretto is equally happy. It particularly inspired Mozart because given him by the Emperor Joseph II at a time, when he (Mozart), a happy bridegroom, was about to conduct into his home his beloved Constanze. The contents are as follows:

Constanza, the betrothed bride of Belmonte is with her maid Bionda (Blondchen) and Pedrillo, Belmonte's servant, captured by pirates. All three are sold as slaves to Selim Pasha, who keeps the ladies in his harem, taking Constanza for himself {306} and giving Bionda to his overseer Osmin. Pedrillo has found means to inform his master of their misfortune, and Belmonte comes seeking entrance to the Pasha's villa in the guise of an artist. Osmin, who is much in love with Bionda, though she treats him haughtily, distrusts the artist and tries to interfere. But Pedrillo, who is gardener in the Pasha's service, frustrates Osmin's purpose and Belmonte is engaged. The worthy Pasha is quite infatuated with Constanza and tries hard to gain her affections. But Constanza has sworn to be faithful till death to Belmonte and great is her rapture, when Bionda brings the news that her lover is near.

With the help of Pedrillo, who manages to intoxicate Osmin, they try to escape, but Osmin overtakes them and brings them back to the Pasha, who at once orders that they be brought before him.—Constanza, advancing with noble courage, explains that the pretended artist is her lover, and that she will rather die with him than leave him. Selim Pasha, overwhelmed by this discovery, retires to think about what he shall do and his prisoners prepare for death, Belmonte and Constanza with renewed tender protestations of love, Pedrillo and Bionda without either fear or trembling.

Great is their happiness and Osmin's wrath, when the noble Pasha, touched by their constancy, sets them free, and asks for their friendship, bidding them remember him kindly after their return into their own country.

{307}

SIEGFRIED.

Second day of the Nibelungen Ring by WAGNER.

Musical Drama in three acts.

The first act represents a part of the forest, where Fafner guards the Rhinegold and where Sieglinda has found refuge. We find her son Siegfried,—to whom when she was dying, she gave birth—in the rocky cave of Mime the Nibelung, (brother of Alberich), who has brought up the child as his own, knowing that he is destined to slay Fafner and to gain the ring, which he covets for himself. Siegfried, the brave and innocent boy, instinctively shrinks from this father, who is so ugly, so mean and vulgar, while he has a deep longing for his dead mother, whom he never knew. He gives vent to these feelings in impatient questions about her. The dwarf answers unwillingly and gives him the broken pieces of the old sword Nothung (needful), which his mother left as the only precious remembrance of Siegfried's father.

Siegfried asks Mime to forge the fragments afresh, while he rushes away into the woods.

During his absence Wotan comes to Mime in the guise of a wanderer. Mime, though he knows him not, fears him and would fain drive him away. Finally he puts three questions to his guest. The first is the name of the race, which lives in earth's deepest depths, the second the name of those, who live on earth's back and the third, that of those, who live above the clouds. Of course Wotan answers them all, {308} redeeming his head and shelter thereby; but now it is his turn to put three questions. He first asks what race it is, that Wotan loves most, though he dealt hardly with them, and Mime answers rightly, that they are the Waelsungs, whose son Siegfried is; then Wotan asks after the sword, which is to make Siegfried victorious. Mime joyously names "Nothung", but when Wotan asks him, who is to unite the pieces, he is in great embarrassment, for he remembers his task and perceives too late, what question he ought to have asked. Wotan leaves him, telling him that only that man can forge it, who never knew fear. Siegfried, finding the sword still in fragments when he returns, melts these in fire, and easily forges them together, to Mime's great awe, for he sees now that this boy is the one, whom the stranger has meant.

In the second scene we see the opening of Fafner's cavern, where Alberich keeps watch for the dragon's slayer, so long predicted.

Wotan approaching, warns him that Alberich's brother Mime has brought up the boy, who is to slay Fafner, in the hope of gaining Alberich's ring, the wondrous qualities of which are unknown to Siegfried.

Wotan awakes Fafner, the dragon, telling him that his slayer is coming.

Mime, who has led Siegfried to this part of the forest under the pretext of teaching him fear, approaches now, and Siegfried, eager for combat, kills the dreadful worm. Accidentally tasting the {309} blood, he all at once understands the language of the birds. They tell him to seek for the Tarnhelm and for the ring, which he finds in the cavern. Meanwhile the brothers, Alberich and Mime, quarrel over the treasure, which they hope to gain. When Siegfried returns with ring and helmet, he is again warned by the voice of a wood-bird, not to trust in Mime. Having tasted the dragon's blood, Siegfried is enabled to probe Mime's innermost thoughts, and so he learns that Mime means to poison him, in order to obtain the treasure. He then kills the traitor with a single stroke.—Stretching himself under the linden-tree to repose after that day's hard work, he again hears the voice of the wood-bird, which tells him of a glorious bride, sleeping on a rock surrounded by fire; and flying before him, the bird shows Siegfried the way to the spot.

In the third scene we find Wotan once more awakening Erda, to seek her counsel as to how best to avert the doom, which he sees coming, but she is less wise than he and so he decides to let fate have its course. When he sees Siegfried coming, he for the last time tries to oppose him by barring the way to Bruennhilde, but the sword Nothung splits the god's spear. Seeing that his power avails him nothing he retires to Walhalla, there to await the "Dusk of the Gods".

Siegfried plunges through the fire, awakes the Walkyrie and after a long resistance, wins the proud virgin.



{310}

SILVANA.

Romantic Opera in four acts by WEBER.

Text by ERNST PASQUE.

This opera was left unfinished by Weber. It has however recently been completed, the text by Ernest Pasque, and the music by Ferdinand Langer, who rearranged the manuscript with loving care, interweaving different compositions from Weber, as for instance his "Invitation a la valse", and his "Polonaise", which are dexterously introduced into the ballet of the second act.

The action is taken from an old German legend which comes to us from the land of the Rhine. There we may still find the ruins of the two castles Sternberg and Liebenstein.

Of these our legend says, that they belonged to two brothers, who hated each other, for the one, Boland, loved his brother's bride and was refused by her. By way of revenge he slew his brother and burnt down his castle. But in this fray the wife he coveted disappeared with her child and both were supposed to have perished in the flames.

Since then Boland has fallen into deep melancholy and the consequences of his dreadful deed have never ceased to torment him. His only son, who lost his mother in early childhood, has grown up solitary, knowing nothing of woman's sweetness, of peace and happiness. His only passion is the hunt. He has grown into manhood and his father {311} as well as his vassals wish him to marry, by [Transcriber's note: but?] never yet has he found a woman, who has touched his heart with love.

In the beginning of the first act we see him hunting in the forest. He has lost his way and his companions and finds himself in a spot, which he has never before seen. A beautiful maiden comes out of a small cottage and both fall in love at first sight. The returning collier would fain keep his only child, who has not yet seen anything of the world; but the nymph of the forest, Silvana's protectrice, beckons him away. When at length the Count's fellow-hunters find him, he presents Silvana to them as his bride. The unfortunate collier is made drunk with wine, and during his sleep they take his daughter away to the castle of the old Rhinegrave.

But Silvana is protected in the new world into which she enters, by the nymph, who follows her in the guise of a young minstrel. The old Count, hearing of his son's resolution, is quite willing to receive the bride and even consents to go to the peasant's festival, and look at the dancing and frolicking, given in honor of his son's bridal.

There we find Ratto, the collier, who seeks his daughter Silvana, telling everybody that robbers took her away from him, and beseeching help to discover her. Meanwhile Silvana arrives in rich and costly attire between Gerold, the young Count and the old Rhinegrave. The latter, attracted by her fairness and innocence has welcomed her as his {312} daughter without asking for antecedents. When the dances of the villagers have ended, the nymph enters in the guise of a minstrel, asking to be allowed to sing to the hearers, as was the custom on the banks of the Rhine.

She begins her ballad, the contents of which terrify the Rhinegrave, for it is his own awful deed, which he hears. Springing up, he draws his sword against the minstrel, but Silvana rises, protecting him with outstretched arms. All are stupefied; Gerold looks with suspicion on his bride, hanging on the breast of the stranger. He asks for an explanation, but Silvana is silent. It is part of her trial, not to betray the nymph. At the same moment Ratto, the collier, recognizes and claims Silvana as his daughter. Everybody now looks with contempt on the low-born maiden, and the Rhinegrave commands them to be put into prison; but Gerold believing in his bride's innocence though appearances are against her, entreats her once more to defend herself. Silvana only asserts her innocence and her love for Gerold, but will give no proofs. So the collier with his daughter and the minstrel are taken to prison. But when the keeper opens the door in the morning, the minstrel has disappeared.

The old Count, disgusted at the idea of his son's union with a collier's daughter accuses her of being a sorceress. He compels her to confess that she seduced his son by magic arts, and Silvana consents to say anything rather than injure {313} her lover.—She is conducted before a court and condemned to the funeral pile. Gerold, not once doubting her, is resolved to share her death, when in the last critical moment the minstrel once more raises his voice and finishes the ballad, which the Rhinegrave had interrupted so violently. He tells the astonished hearers, that the wife and daughter of the Count, who was slain by his brother, were not burnt in the castle, but escaped to the forest, finding kindly refuge in a poor collier's hut where the mother died, leaving her child, Silvana, under his protection.

The Rhinegrave, full of remorse, embraces Silvana, beseeching her forgiveness, and the lovers are united.



LA SOMNAMBULA.

Opera in two acts by VINCENZO BELLINI.

Text by FELICE ROMANI.

This opera is decidedly of the best of Bellini's muse. Though it does not reach the standard of Norma, its songs are so rich and melodious, that they seem to woo the ear and cannot be heard without pleasure.

Add to these advantages a really fine as well as touching libretto, and it may be easily understood, why the opera has not yet disappeared from the stage repertory, though composed more than fifty years ago.

It is a simple village-peasant story, which we have to relate. The scene of action is a village in {314} Switzerland, where the rich farmer Elvino has married a poor orphan, Amina. The ceremony has taken place at the magistrate's, and Elvino is about to obtain the sanction of the church to his union, when the owner of the castle, Count Rudolph, who fled from home in his boyhood, returns most unexpectedly and, at once making love to Amina, excites the bridegroom's jealousy. Lisa, the young owner of a little inn, who wants Elvino for herself and disdains the devotion of Alexis, a simple peasant, tries to avenge herself on her happy rival. Lisa is a coquette and flirts with the Count, whom the judge recognizes. While she yet prates with him, the door opens and Amina enters, walking in her sleep and calling for Elvino. Lisa conceals herself, but forgets her handkerchief. The Count, seeing Amina's condition and awed by her purity quits the room, where Amina lies down, always in deep sleep. Just then the people, having heard of the Count's arrival, come to greet him and find Amina instead. At the same moment Elvino summoned by Lisa rushes in, and finding his bride in the Count's room, turns away from her in disdain, snatching his wedding-ring from her finger in his wrath, and utterly disbelieving Amina's protestations of innocence and the Count's assurances. Lisa succeeds in attracting Elvino's notice and he promises to marry her.

The Count once more tries to persuade the angry bridegroom of his bride's innocence, but without result, when Teresa, Amina's foster-mother, {315} shows Lisa's handkerchief, which was found in the Count's room. Lisa reddens, and Elvino knows not whom he shall believe, when all of a sudden Amina is seen, emerging from a window of the mill, walking in a trance, and calling for her bridegroom in most touching accents.

All are convinced of her innocence, when they see her in this state of somnambulism, in which she crosses a very narrow bridge without falling.

Elvino himself replaces the wedding-ring on her finger, and she awakes from her trance in his arms. Everybody is happy at the turn which things have taken; Elvino asks Amina's forgiveness and leaves Lisa to her own bitter reflections.



THE TAMING OF THE SHREW.

Comic Opera in four acts by HERMANN GOETZ.

Text done after Shakespeare's comedy by J. V. WIDMANN.

This beautiful opera is the only one, which the gifted young composer left complete, for he died of consumption in his early manhood. His death is all the more to be lamented, as this composition shows a talent, capable of performances far above the average. Its melodies are very fresh and winning, and above all original.

As the subject of the libretto is so generally known, it is not necessary to do more than shortly epitomise here. Of the libretto itself however it may be remarked in passing, that it is uncommonly well done; it is in rhymes which are harmonious and well turned. The translation is quite free and {316} independent, but the sense and the course of action are the same, though somewhat shortened and modified, so that we only find the chief of the persons, we so well know.

Kate is the same headstrong young lady, though she does not appear in a very bad light, her wilfulness being the result of maidenly pride, which is ashamed to appear weak before the stronger sex. She finds her master in Petrucchio however and after a hard and bitter fight with her feelings, she at last avows herself conquered, less by her husband's indomitable will, than by her love for him, which acknowledges him as her best friend and protector.

Then her trials are at an end, and when her sister Bianca with her young husband Lucentio and her father Baptista, visit her, they are witnesses of the perfect harmony and peace which reign in Kate's home.



TANNHAeUSER.

Romantic Opera in three acts by RICHARD WAGNER.

With this opera begins a new era in the history of the German theatre. Tannhaeuser is more a drama than an opera, every expression in it is highly dramatic; the management of the orchestra too is quite different from anything hitherto experienced, it dominates everywhere, the voice of the performer being often only an accompaniment to it. Tannhaeuser is the first opera, or as Wagner {317} himself called it, drama of this kind, and written after this one, all Wagner's works bear the same stamp.

Wagner took his subject from an old legend, which tells of a minstrel, called Tannhaeuser (probably identical with Heinrich von Ofterdingen), who won all prizes by his beautiful songs and all hearts by his noble bearing. So the palm is allotted to him at the yearly "Tournament of Minstrels" on the Wartburg, and his reward is to be the hand of Elizabeth, niece of the Landgrave of Thuringia, whom he loves. But instead of behaving sensibly, this erring knight suddenly disappears nobody knows where, leaving his bride in sorrow and anguish. He falls into the hands of Venus, who holds court in the Hoerselberg near Eisenach, and Tannhaeuser, at the opening of the first scene, has already passed a whole year with her. At length he has grown tired of sensual love and pleasure, and notwithstanding Venus' allurements he leaves her, vowing never to return to the goddess, but to expiate his sins by a holy life. He returns to the charming vale behind the Wartburg, he hears again the singing of the birds, the shepherds playing on the flute, the pious songs of the pilgrims on their way to Rome. Full of repentance he kneels down and prays, when suddenly the Landgrave appears with some minstrels, amongst them Wolfram von Eschinbach, Tannhaeuser's best friend. They greet their long-lost companion, who however cannot tell where he has been all the {318} time, and as Wolfram reminds him of Elizabeth, Tannhaeuser returns with the party to the Wartburg.

It is just the anniversary of the Tournament of Minstrels, and in the second act we find Elizabeth with Tannhaeuser, who craves her pardon and is warmly welcomed by her. The high prize for the best song is again to be Elizabeth's hand, and Tannhaeuser resolves to win her once more. The Landgrave chooses "love" as the subject, whose nature is to be explained by the minstrels. Everyone is called by name, and Wolfram von Eschinbach begins, praising love as a well, deep and pure, a source of the highest and most sacred feeling. Others follow; Walther von der Vogelweide praises the virtue of love, every minstrel celebrates spiritual love alone.

But Tannhaeuser, who has been in Venus' fetters, sings of another love, warmer and more passionate, but sensual. And when the others remonstrate, he loudly praises Venus, the goddess of heathen love. All stand aghast, they recognize now, where he has been so long, he is about to be put to death, when Elizabeth prays for him. She loves him dearly and hopes to save his soul from eternal perdition. Tannhaeuser is to join a party of pilgrims on their way to Rome, there to crave for the Pope's pardon.

In the third act we see the pilgrims return from their journey. Elizabeth anxiously expects her lover, but he is not among them.—Fervently she prays to the Holy Virgin: but not {319} that a faithful lover may be given back to her, no, rather that he may be pardoned and his immortal soul saved. Wolfram is beside her, he loves the maiden, but he has no thought for himself, he only feels for her, whose life he sees ebbing swiftly away, and for his unhappy friend.

Presently when Elizabeth is gone, Tannhaeuser comes up in pilgrim's garb. He has passed a hard journey, full of sacrifices and castigation, and all for nought, for the Pope has rejected him. He has been told in hard words, that he is for ever damned, and will as little get deliverance from his grievous sin, as the stick in his hand will ever bear green leaves afresh.

Full of despair Tannhaeuser is returning to seek Venus, whose Siren songs already fall alluringly on his ear. Wolfram entreats him to fly, and when Tannhaeuser fails to listen, he utters Elizabeth's name. At this moment a procession descends from the Wartburg, chanting a funeral song over an open bier. Elizabeth lies on it dead, and Tannhaeuser sinks on his knee beside her, crying: "Holy Elizabeth, pray for me". Then Venus disappears, and all at once the withered stick begins to bud and blossom, and Tannhaeuser, pardoned, expires at the side of his beloved.

Tannhaeuser was represented on the Dresden Theatre in June 1890 according to Wagner's changes of arrangement, done by him in Paris 1861 for the Grand Opera by order of Napoleon III., {320} this arrangement the composer acknowledges as the only correct one.

These alterations are limited to the first scene in the mysterious abode of Venus and his motives for the changes become clearly apparent, when it is remembered, that the simple form of Tannhaeuser was composed in the years 1843 and 45 in and near Dresden, at a time, when there were neither means nor taste in Germany for such scenes, as those, which excited Wagner's brain. Afterwards success has rendered Wagner bolder and more pretentious and so he endowed the person of Frau Venus with more dramatic power, and thereby threw a vivid light on the great attraction, she exercises on Tannhaeuser. The decorations are by far richer and a ballet of Sirens and Fauns was added, a concession, which Wagner had to make to the Parisian taste. Venus's part, now sung by the first primadonnas, has considerably gained by the alterations, and the first scene is far more interesting than before, but it is to be regretted that the Tournament of Minstrels has been shortened and particularly the fine song of Walter von der Vogelweide omitted by Wagner. All else is as of old, as indeed Elizabeth's part needed nothing to add to her purity and loveliness, which stands out now in even bolder relief against the beautiful but sensual part of Venus.

{321}

GUGLIELMO TELL.

Grand Opera in three acts by ROSSINI.

This last opera of Rossini's is his most perfect work and it is deeply to be regretted that when it appeared, he left the dramatic world, to live in comfortable retirement for 39 years. How much he could still have done, if he had chosen! In Tell his genius attains its full depth, here alone we find the highly dramatic element united to the infinite richness of melody, which we have learned to associate with his name and work.

The text is founded on the well-known story of Tell, who delivered his Fatherland from one of its most cruel despots, the Austrian governor Gessler.

The first act opens with a charming introductory chorus by peasants, who are celebrating a nuptial fete.

Tell joins in their pleasure, though he cannot help giving utterance to the pain which the Austrian tyranny causes him. Arnold von Melchthal, son of an old Swiss, has conceived an unhappy passion for Mathilda, Princess of Habsburg, whose life he once saved; but he is Swiss and resolved to be true to his country. He promises Tell to join in his efforts to liberate it. Meanwhile Leuthold, a Swiss peasant, comes up. He is a fugitive, having killed an Austrian soldier, to revenge an intended abduction of his daughter. His only safety lies in crossing the lake, but no fisherman dares to row {322} out in the face of the coming storm. Tell steps forth, and seizing the oars, brings Leuthold safely to the opposite shore. When Rudolf von Harras appears with his soldiers, his prey has escaped and, nobody being willing to betray the deliverer, old father Melchthal is imprisoned.

In the second act we find the Princess Mathilda returning from a hunt. She meets Arnold, and they betray their mutual passion. Arnold does not yet know his father's fate, but presently Tell enters with Walter Fuerst, who informs Arnold that his father has fallen a victim to the Austrian tyranny. Arnold, cruelly roused from his love-dream, awakes to duty, and the three men vow bloody vengeance. This is the famous oath taken on the Ruetli. The deputies of the three Cantons arrive, one after the other, and Tell makes them swear solemnly to establish Switzerland's independence. Excited by Arnold's dreadful account of his father's murder, they all unite in the fierce cry: "To arms!" which is to be their signal of combat.

In the third act Gessler arrives at the marketplace of Altdorf, where he has placed his hat on a pole, to be greeted instead of himself by the Swiss who pass by.

They grumble at this new proof of arrogance, but dare not disobey the order, till Tell, passing by with his son Gemmy, disregards it. Refusing to salute the hat, he is instantly taken and commanded by Gessler to shoot an apple off his little boy's head. After a dreadful inward struggle Tell {323} submits. Fervently praying to God and embracing his fearless son, he shoots with steady hand, hitting the apple right in the centre. But Gessler has seen a second arrow, which Tell has hidden in his breast, and he asks its purpose. Tell freely confesses, that he would have shot the tyrant, had he missed his aim. Tell is fettered, Mathilda vainly appealing for mercy. But Gessler's time has come. The Swiss begin to revolt. Mathilda herself begs to be admitted into their alliance of free citizens and offers her hand to Arnold. The fortresses of the oppressors fall, Tell enters free and victorious, having himself killed Gessler, and in a chorus at once majestic and grand the Swiss celebrate the day of their liberation.



THE TEMPLAR AND THE JEWESS.

Opera in three acts by HENRY MARSCHNER.

Text by W. A. WOHLBRUeCK.

The subject of this opera is the well-known romance of Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. The poet understood pretty well how to make an effective picture with his somewhat too extensive and imposing material.

Its chief defect lies in the conclusion, which is lacking in poetic justice and cannot be considered satisfactory, for the heroine Rebecca who loves her knightly succourer Ivanhoe, is only pitied by him, and so the difficulty of the situation is not solved to our liking. Apart from this defect, the opera {324} is most interesting and we are won by its beautiful music, which may be called essentially chivalrous and therefore particularly adapted to the romantic text.

In the opening scene we are introduced to the Knight-Templar, Brian de Bois Guilbert, who has fallen in love with the beautiful Jewess Rebecca, and has succeeded in capturing and detaining her in his castle. At the same time Sir Cedric of Rotherwood, a Saxon knight, (father of Ivanhoe, whom he has disinherited), has been taken captive with his ward, the Lady Rowena, by their enemies, the Normans.—Rebecca refuses to hear the Templar's protestations of love, and threatens to precipitate herself from the parapet, if he dares to touch her. Her wild energy conquers; and when he leaves her, Ivanhoe, the wounded knight to whom Rebecca is assigned as nurse, tells her that friends have come to deliver them all.

The outlaws, commanded by Richard Coeur de Lion, under the guise of the Black Knight, assault the castle, burn it and deliver the captives. Poor Rebecca alone falls into the hands of the Templar, who does not cease to press his love-suit. Brian's deed soon becomes known, and his brother-Templars, believing Brian to be innocent, but seduced by a sorceress, condemn Rebecca to the stake. She makes use of her right to ask for a champion, and is allowed till sunset to find one. Brian himself tries all he can to save her, but she rejects his aid, for she loves Ivanhoe, though she is well aware {325} that at this noble knight loves his beautiful cousin Rowena.

The day has nearly passed, the funeral pile awaits its victim, and no champion appears. The trumpets sound for the last time, when Ivanhoe presents himself in the lists to fight Brian, whom the Templars have appointed as his adversary. Ivanhoe is victorious; Brian falls lifeless, even before the enemy's sword touches him. All recognize the judgment of God and Rebecca is given back to her desolate father. At the last moment King Richard, who has long been absent on a crusade to Jerusalem, appears on the scene. He announces that henceforth he alone will govern the land and punish all injustice. Ivanhoe and Rowena are united by consent of Sir Cedric, who is now wholly reconciled to his valorous son.



LA TRAVIATA (OR VIOLETTA).

Opera in three acts by VERDI.

Text taken from the French by PIAVE.

The original of the libretto is Dumas' celebrated novel "La dame aux camelias."

The opera is like all of Verdi's works full of melody and there are numberless special beauties in it. The prelude which opens the opera instead of an overture, is in particular an elegy of a noble and interesting kind. But as the text is frivolous and sensual, of course the music cannot be expected to be wholly free from these characteristics.

{326}

The scene is laid in and near Paris. Alfred Germont is passionately in love with Violetta Valery, one of the most frivolous beauties in Paris. She is pleased with his sincere passion, anything like which she has never hitherto known, and openly telling him, who she is, she warns him herself; but he loves her all the more, and as she returns his passion, she abandons her gay life and follows him into the country, where they live very happily for some months.

Annina, Violetta's maid dropping a hint to Alfred that her mistress is about to sell her house and carriage in town in order to avoid expenses, he departs for the Capital to prevent this.

During his absence Violetta receives a visit from Alfred's father, who tries to show her that she has destroyed not only his family's but his son's happiness by suffering Alfred to unite himself to one so dishonored as herself. He succeeds in convincing her, and, broken-hearted, she determines to sacrifice herself and leave Alfred secretly. Ignoring the possible reason for this inexplicable action, Alfred is full of wrath and resolves to take vengeance. He finds Violetta in the house of a former friend, Flora Bervoix, who is in a position similar to that of Violetta.—The latter, having no other resources and feeling herself at death's door a state of health suggested in the first act by an attack of suffocation, has returned to her former life.

Alfred insults her publicly. The result is a {327} duel between her present adorer, Baron Dauphal and Alfred.

From this time on Violetta declines rapidly, and in the last act, which takes place in her sleeping-room, we find her dying. Hearing that Alfred has been victorious in the duel, and receiving a letter from his father, who is now willing to pardon and to accept her as his daughter-in-law, she revives to some extent and Alfred, who at last hears of her sacrifice, returns to her, but only to afford a last glimpse of happiness to the unfortunate woman, who expires, a modern Magdalen, full of repentance, and striving tenderly to console her lover and his now equally desolate father.



TRISTAN AND ISOLDA.

Lyric Drama in three acts by RICHARD WAGNER.

The music to this drama is deemed by connoisseurs the most perfect ever written by Wagner, but it needs a fine and highly cultivated understanding of music to take in all its beauty and greatness. There is little action in it, and very often the orchestra has the principal part, so that the voice seems little more than an accompaniment, it has musical measures too, which cannot be digested by an uneducated hearer; but nevertheless many parts of it will interest every-one.

Isolda's love-song for instance is the noblest hymn, ever sung in praise of this passion.

The first act represents the deck of a ship, {328} where we find the two principal persons, Tristan and Isolda together,—Tristan, a Cornish hero, has gone over to Ireland, to woo the Princess for his old uncle, King Marke. Isolda however loves Tristan and has loved him from the time when he was cast sick and dying on the coast of Ireland and was rescued and nursed by her, though he was her enemy. But Tristan, having sworn faith to his uncle, never looks at her, and she full of wrath that he wooes her for another instead of for himself, attempts to poison herself and him by a potion. But Brangaena, her faithful attendant secretly changes the poisoned draught for a love-potion, so that they are inevitably joined in passionate love. Only when the ship gets ashore, its deck already covered with knights and sailors, who come to greet their King's bride, does Brangaena confess her fraud, and Isolda, hearing, that she is to live, faints in her attendant's arms.

In the second act Isolda has been wedded to Marke, but the love-potion has worked well, and she has secret interviews at night with Tristan, whose sense of honor is deadened by the fatal draught. Brangaena keeps watch for the lovers, but King Marke's jealous friend Melot betrays them, and they are found out by the good old King, who returns earlier than he had intended from a hunt.

Tristan is profoundly touched by the grief of the King, whose sadness at losing faith in his most noble warrior is greater than his wrath against {329} the betrayer of honor. Tristan, unable to defend himself, turns to Isolda, asking her to follow him into the desert, but Melot opposes him, and they fight, Tristan falling back deadly wounded into his faithful servant Kurvenal's arms.

The third act represents Tristan's home in Brittany, whither Kurvenal has carried his wounded master in order to nurse him. Isolda, so skilled in the art of healing wounds, has been sent for, but they look in vain for the ship, which is to bring her.

When at last it comes into sight, Tristan, who awakes from a long swoon, sends Kurvenal away, to receive his mistress, and as they both delay their coming, his impatient longing gets the better of him. Forgetting his wound, he rises from his couch, tearing away the bandages, and so Isolda is only just in time to catch him in her arms, where he expires with her name on his lips. While she bewails her loss, another ship is announced by the shepherd's horn. King Marke arrives, prepared to pardon all and to unite the lovers. Kurvenal, seeing Melot advance, mistakes them for foes and running his sword through Melot's breast, sinks, himself deadly wounded, at his master's feet. King Marke, to whom Brangaena has confessed her part in the whole matter, vainly laments his friend Tristan, while Isolda, waking from her swoon and seeing her lover dead, pours forth rapturous words of greeting, and, broken-hearted, sinks down dead at his side.



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IL TROVATORE.

Opera in four acts by GIUSEPPE VERDI.

Text by SALVATORE COMMERANO.

Though Verdi is far beneath his celebrated predecessors Rossini and Bellini, he is highly appreciated in his own country and the Trovatore counts many admirers not only in Italy but also abroad. This is easily accounted for by the number of simple and catching melodies contained in his operas, and which have become so quickly popular, that we hear them on every street-organ. Manrico's romance for example, is a good specimen of the work for which he is admired.

The text of Il Trovatore is very gloomy and distressing.

Two men of entirely different station and character woo Leonore, Countess of Sergaste. The one is Count Luna, the other a minstrel, named Manrico, who is believed to be the son of Azucena, a gipsy.

Azucena has in accordance with gipsy-law vowed bloody revenge on Count Luna, because his father, believing her mother to be a sorceress and to have bewitched one of his children, had the old woman burnt. To punish the father for this cruelty Azucena took away his other child, which was vainly sought for. This story is told in the first scene, where we find the Count's servants waiting for him, while he stands sighing beneath his sweetheart's window. But Leonore's heart is {331} already captivated by Manrico's sweet songs and his valour in tournament. She suddenly hears his voice, and in the darkness mistakes the Count for her lover, who however comes up just in time to claim her. The Count is full of rage, and there follows a duel in which Manrico is wounded, but though it is in his power to kill his enemy, he spares his life, without however being able to account for the impulse.

In the second act Azucena, nursing Manrico, tells him of her mother's dreadful fate and her last cry for revenge, and confesses to having robbed the old Count's son, with the intention of burning him. But in her despair and confusion, she says, she threw her own child into the flames, and the Count's son lived. Manrico is terrified, but Azucena retracts her words and regains his confidence, so that he believes her tale to have been but an outburst of remorse and folly.

Meanwhile he hears that Leonore, to whom he was reported as dead, is about to take the veil, and he rushes away to save her. Count Luna arrives before the convent with the same purpose. But just as he seizes his prey, Manrico comes up, and liberates her with the aid of his companions, while the Count curses them.

Leonore becomes Manrico's wife, but her happiness is shortlived.

In the third act the Count's soldiers succeed in capturing Azucena, in whom they recognize the burnt gipsy's daughter. She denies all knowledge {332} of the Count's lost brother, and as the Count hears that his successful rival is her son, she is sentenced to be burnt. Ruiz, Manrico's friend, brings the news to him. Manrico tries to rescue her, but is seized too, and condemned to die by the axe.

In the fourth act Leonore offers herself to the Count as the price of freedom for the captives, but determined to be true to her lover, she takes poison. She hastens to him, announcing his deliverance. Too late he sees how dearly she has paid for it, when after sweet assurance of love and fidelity she sinks dead at his feet.

The Count, coming up and seeing himself deceived, orders Manrico to be put to death instantly.

He is led away, and only after the execution does Azucena inform the Count, that his murdered rival was Luna's own long-sought brother.



DER TROMPETER VON SAeKKINGEN.

(THE TRUMPETER OF SAEKKINGEN.)

Opera in three acts with a prelude by VICTOR NESSLER.

Text by RUDOLF BUNGE after SCHEFFEL'S poem.

Seldom in our days is an opera such a complete success in all German theatres, as this composition of Nessler's has proved to be. To tell the truth, it owes its popularity in great degree to the libretto, which has taken so many fine songs and ideas from its universally known and adored original. Nessler's Trompeter is however in every way inferior to Scheffel's celebrated poem.

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Nevertheless the music, though not very profound is pleasing, and there are several airs in it, which have already become popular.

The prelude opens at Heidelberg, where a chorus of students make a great noise after one of their drinking-bouts. They presently serenade the Princess-Electress, and a law-student, named Werner, a foundling and the adopted son of a professor, distinguishes himself by a solo on the trumpet. He is heard by the trumpeter of the Imperial recruiting officers, who tries to win him, but without success, when suddenly the Rector Magnificus appears, to assist the major-domo, and announces to the astounded disturbers of peace, that they are dismissed from the university.

Werner, taking a sudden resolution, accepts the press-money from Konradin the trumpeter, marches away with the soldiers, and the prelude is closed.

The first act represents a scene at Sakkingen on the Rhine. There is a festival in honor of St. Fridolin, at which young Baroness Maria assists. She is insulted by the peasants and Werner protects her from them. She is much pleased by the noble bearing of the trumpeter, and so is her aunt, the Countess of Wildenstein, who detects a great resemblance between him and her son, who was stolen by gipsies in his childhood.—The second scene takes us into the Baron's room, where we find the gouty old gentleman in rather a bad humor. He is restored to good temper by a letter {334} from his friend, the Count of Wildenstein, who lives separated from his first wife, the above mentioned Countess, and who proposes his son, born in second wedlock, as Maria's husband.

The Baron receives Maria kindly, when she relates her adventure and begs him to engage Werner as trumpeter in the castle. At this moment the latter is heard blowing his instrument and the Baron, who has a great predilection for it, bids Werner present himself and at once engages him.

In the second act Werner gives lessons on the trumpet to the lovely Maria; of course the young people fall in love with each other, but the Countess watches them, until friend Konradin for once succeeds in drawing her aside, when there follows a glowing declaration of love on both sides. Unhappily it is interrupted by the Countess, who announces her discovery to the Baron. Meanwhile the destined bridegroom has arrived with his father. Damian, that is the young man's name, is a simpleton, and Maria declares at once that she never will be his. But in the presence of the whole company, assembled for a festival, the Baron proclaims Maria Count Damian's bride; to the over-bold Werner he forbids the castle.

The last act opens with a siege of the castle by the rebellious peasants. Damian shows himself a coward. In the last extremity they are relieved by Werner, who drives the peasants back with his soldiers. He is wounded in the fray, and while the wound is being dressed, a mole detected on his {335} arm proclaims him the stolen child of Countess Wildenstein. All now ends in joy and happiness; the Baron is willing enough to give his daughter to the brave young nobleman and very glad to be rid of the cowardly Damian.



UNDINE.

Romantic Opera in four acts by ALBERT LORTZING.

Text after FOUQUE'S tale.

With this opera Lortzing for the first time tried his genius in another field. Until then he had only composed comic operas, which had met with a very fair measure of success, but in this opera he left the comic for the romantic and was peculiarly happy both in his ideas and choice of subject which, as it happened, had previously had the honor of being taken up by Weber. The first representation of Undine at Hamburg in the year 1845 was one of the few luminous moments in Lortzing's dark life.

His melodies are wonderfully captivating and lovely and the whole charm of German romance lies in them.

The contents of the libretto are:

The gallant Knight, Hugo von Ringstetten has been ordered by the Duke's daughter, Berthalda, to go in search of adventures, accompanied by his attendant Veit. Being detained for three months in a little village cut off from communication with the outer world by an inundation, he sees Undine, the adopted daughter of an old fisherman, named {336} Tobias, and falling in love with her he asks for her hand. In the first act we see the priest uniting the young couple. The Knight recognizes in the old man a traveller, whom he once saved from robbers, and is glad to see him. Undine behaves most childishly and finally says that she has no soul. She is herself grieved, and the others do not believe her. Hugo now tells them of the proud and beautiful Berthalda, whose scarf he received in a tournament, and who sent him away on this adventure. He then returns to the Capital with his young wife, in order to present her at the Ducal court. Meanwhile Veit has met Kuehleborn, the mighty King of the water-fairies, and is asked by him, whether his master has quite forgotten Berthalda. The valet gives as his opinion that the poor fisher-maiden is deceived, and will soon be abandoned by her husband. This excites Kuehleborn's wrath, for Undine is his daughter, and he forthwith resolves to protect her.

In the second act Undine confesses to her husband, that she is a water-fairy, one of those, whom men call "Undinas". They have no soul, but if they are loved faithfully by man, they are able to gain a soul and through it immortality. Though he shudders inwardly, Undine's purity and loveliness conquer Hugo's fright, and he once more swears to be eternally true to her.

The proud Berthalda, who loves Hugo, has heard with feelings of mingled anger and despair of the knight's marriage. She determines to honor {337} the King of Naples with her hand; but before her wedding takes place, a sealed document has to be opened, which says that Berthalda, instead of being a Duke's daughter, is a poor foundling. Kuehleborn, who is present, declares that she is the real child of Undine's fosterparents. Berthalda is now obliged to leave the palace. She loathes her fate and curses her low-born parents. Then Kuehleborn derides her and the attendants are about to seize him, in order to turn him out-of-doors, when the statue of the water-god breaks into fragments, while Kuehleborn stands in its place, the waters pouring down upon him. All take flight, but Undine raises the prostrate Berthalda, promising her protection in her husband's castle.

In the third act Berthalda succeeds in again drawing Hugo into her nets. Though warned by the waterfairies not to perjure himself, he neglects their advice and Undine finds him in the arms of her rival. He repels his wife, and Kuehleborn takes her back into his watery kingdom. But Undine has lost her peace of mind for ever, she cannot forget her husband.

In the fourth act Hugo has given orders to close the well with stones, to prevent all possible communication with the waterfairies. Undine's pale face pursues him everywhere, he continually fancies to hear her soft voice and touching entreaties and to stifle his remorse he appoints the day of his wedding with Berthalda.

His attendant Veit, however, unable to forget {338} his sweet mistress, removes the stones, which cover the well. Undine rises from it and appears at midnight at the wedding. Hugo, forgetting Berthalda, and drawn towards his lovely wife against his will, falls into her arms and dies at her feet. The castle comes crashing down, floods penetrate everywhere, and carry Hugo and Undine into Kuehleborn's crystal palace.

Undine obtains pardon for Hugo, and his only punishment is that he must forever stay with his wife in her fairy domains.



URVASI.

Opera in three acts by WILHELM KIENZL.

Text after the Indian legend of KALIDASA.

This opera is so brilliantly supplemented by decorations and poetic enchantment of every kind, that it would be worth while to see those triumphs of modern machinery alone. But not only on account of external effect is Urvasi admired, the music is in itself well worth hearing, though it contains many reminiscences of other well-known composers. It is pleasing and graceful, and the orchestration is so brilliant, that it may even deceive the hearer as to the poverty of invention.

The subject, arranged by Kienzl himself, is highly romantic.

The Apsares, (virgins of heaven), who are sometimes allowed to visit earth and its inhabitants, have just made use of this permission.

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Urvasi, their Princess, isolates herself from their dances and is with two sisters caught by the wild Prince of the Asures, their enemy. They cry for help, when the King of Persia, hunting in those grounds, appears with his suite and saves Urvasi.

They fall in love with each other, though Brahma has prophesied to the King, that he will die poor and unknown, if he does not wed the last Princess of the Persian kingdom, Ausinari, to whom he is already betrothed.

Urvasi tells him, that not being a daughter of earth, she can only be allowed to see him from time to time. The King swears eternal faith to her; and she in return promises to be his in heaven. But should he prove false, nothing can save them both from fearful punishment.

Then she bids him farewell, promising to send a rose every time she is allowed to descend from heaven.

In the second act Ausinari, walking in the moonshine, mourns for the King's love which she has lost. Mandava, priest of the moon, consoles her, designing [Transcriber's note: designating?] the present night, that of the full-moon, as the one, in which the King's heart shall again turn to her.

After his departure Ausinari first prays to the good and mild god of the moon, but afterwards invokes Ahriman, the Spirit of Night, lest the moon-god should prove too weak. When she has left the park, the King walks in dreamily. His whole soul is filled by Urvasi; he fervently calls for her, {340} and a rose, her love-token, falls at his feet. But he waits in vain for her, she does not come and as the priests of the moon appear, to celebrate the festival of their god, he retires disappointed into a bower.

Now follows a sort of ballet. All the maidens and their lovers, who desire to be united, sacrifice to the god; the young men throw a blooming rose into the flame, the girls a palm-branch.

Ausinari appears and is greeted, with joyous acclamations, while Manava enters the bower to conduct the King to the sacrifice. He vainly strives against Ausinari and the priests, who urgently demand the sacrifice of the red rose, which he still carries in his hand. After a long resistance he abandons himself to despair and throws the rose into the blaze, thinking himself forsaken by Urvasi. But hardly has he done so, than Urvasi's form rises from the flame, solemnly reminding him of the oath which he has broken. She has only been testing his firmness and finding him weak, she is obliged to disappear forever as Urvasi and to live in another form, while only deepest contrition and ardent love can ever help him to find her again. Urvasi vanishes, and the King leaves Ausinari, his throne, and his land, to seek as a poor pilgrim for his beloved.

In the last act we find Urvasi's friend, the Apsare Tschitralekha, watering a rose-bush, into which her Princess has been transformed.

The King enters in the garb of an Indian {341} penitent. His strength is nearly exhausted, he has sought his bride all over the earth, and he now demands her from the spirit of the rock and from that of the cataract, but all tell him, that she is only to find where glowing life grows. Tired to death, he draws his sword to end his life, when Tschitralekha laying her hand on his arm, points out the rose-bush. The King kisses it, and falling on his knee beside the virgin who joins in his devotions, fervently prays to Indra, that at last his love may be given to him again. Slowly Urvasi rises from the rose-bush. A long and exalted love-duet follows, then the Indian heaven opens and the King dies at Urvasi's feet, struck by a ray from the celestial sun.



THE VAMPIRE.

Romantic Opera in two acts by HEINRICH MARSCHNER.

Text by W. A. WOHLBRUeCK.

This opera had long fallen into oblivion, when Hofrath Schuch of Dresden was struck with the happy idea of resuscitating it. And indeed its music well deserves to be heard. It is both beautiful and characteristic and particularly the drinking-scenes in the second act, the soft and graceful airs sung by Emma and Edgar Aubry belong to the best of Marschner's work. He is, it is true, not quite original and often reminds one of Weber, but that cannot well be called a fault, almost every genius having greater prototype. This opera was so long neglected on account of its libretto, the {342} subject of which is not only unusual, but far too romantic and ghastly for modern taste. It is taken from Lord Byron's tale of the same name and written by Marschner's own brother-in-law. The scene is laid in Scotland in the seventeenth century and illustrates the old Scottish legend of the Vampire, a phantom-monster which can only exist by sucking the heart-blood of sleeping mortals.

Lord Ruthven is such a Vampire. He victimizes young maidens in particular. His soul is sold to Satan, but the demons have granted him a respite of a year, on condition of his bringing them three brides young and pure. His first victim is Janthe, daughter of Sir John Berkley. She loves the monster and together they disappear into a cavern. Her father assembles followers and goes in search of her. They hear dreadful waitings, followed by mocking laughter proceeding from the ill-fated Vampire, and entering they find Janthe lifeless. The despairing father stabs Ruthven, who wounded to death knows that he cannot survive but by drawing life from the rays of the moon, which shines on the mountains. Unable to move, he is saved by Edgar Aubry, a relative to the Laird of Davenant, who accidentally comes to the spot.

Lord Ruthven, after having received a promise of secrecy from Aubry, tells him who he is and implores him to carry him to the hills as the last favor to a dying man.

Aubry complies with the Vampire's request and then hastily flies from the spot. Ruthven {343} revives and follows him, in order to win the love of Malwina, daughter of the Laird of Davenant and Aubry's betrothed.

His respite now waxing short, he tries at the same time to gain the affections of John Perth's the steward's daughter Emma.

Malwina meanwhile greets her beloved Aubry, who has returned after a long absence. Both are full of joy, when Malwina's father enters to announce to his daughter her future husband, whom he has chosen in the person of the Earl of Marsden. Great is Malwina's sorrow, and she now for the first time dares to tell her father, that her heart has already spoken and to present Aubry to him. The Laird's pride however does not allow him to retract his word, and when the Earl of Marsden arrives, he presents him to his daughter. In the supposed Earl, Aubry at once recognizes Lord Ruthven, but the villain stoutly denies his identity, giving Lord Ruthven out as a brother, who has been travelling for a long time. Aubry however recognizes the Vampire by a scar on his hand, but he is bound to secrecy by his oath, and so Ruthven triumphs, having the Laird of Davenant's promise that he will be betrothed before midnight to Malwina, as he declares that he is bound to depart for Madrid the following morning as Ambassador.

In the second act all are drinking and frolicking on the green, where the bridal is to take place.

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Emma awaits her lover George Dibdin, who is in Davenant's service. While she sings the ghastly romance of the Vampire, Lord Ruthven approaches, and by his sweet flattery and promise to help the lovers, he easily causes the simple maiden to grant him a kiss in token of her gratitude. In giving this kiss she is forfeited to the Evil One. George, who has seen all, is very jealous, though Emma tells him that the future son-in-law of the Laird of Davenant will make him his steward.

Meanwhile Aubry vainly tries to make Ruthven renounce Malwina. Ruthven threatens that Aubry himself will be condemned to be a Vampire, if he breaks his oath, and depicts in glowing colors the torments of a spirit so cursed. While Aubry hesitates as to what he shall do, Ruthven once more approaches Emma and succeeds in winning her consent to follow him to his den, where he murders her.

In the last scene Malwina, unable any longer to resist her father's will, has consented to the hateful marriage. Ruthven has kept away rather long and comes very late to his wedding. Aubry implores them to wait for the coming day, but in vain. Then he forgets his own danger and only sees that of his beloved, and when Ruthven is leading the bride to the altar, he loudly proclaims Ruthven to be a Vampire. At this moment a thunder-peal is heard and a flash of lightning destroys Ruthven, whose time of respite has ended at midnight. The old Laird, witnessing Heaven's {345} punishment, repents his error and gladly gives Malwina to her lover, while all praise the Almighty, who has turned evil into good.



THE WALKYRIE.

First day of the Nibelungen Ring by WAGNER.

In the first scene we are introduced into the dwelling of a mighty warrior, Hunding, in whose house Siegmund, a son of Wotan and of a mortal woman, has sought refuge, without knowing that it is the abode of an enemy. Sieglinda, Hunding's wife, who, standing alone and abandoned in the world, was forced into this union against her will, attracts the guest's interest and wins his love.

When Hunding comes home from the fight, he learns to his disgust, that his guest is the same warrior, who killed his kinsmen and whom they vainly pursued. The laws of hospitality forbid him to attack Siegmund under his own roof, but he warns him that he shall only await the morrow to fight him.

Sieglinda, having fallen in love with her guest mixes a powder with her husband's potion, which sends him into profound sleep. Then she returns to Siegmund, to whom she shows the hilt of the sword, thrust deep into the mighty ash-tree's stem, which fills the middle space of the hut. It has been put there by an unknown one-eyed wanderer, (Wotan, who once sacrificed one of his eyes to Erda, wishing to gain more knowledge for the sake of mankind). No hero has succeeded {346} until now in loosening the wondrous steel. Siegmund reveals to Sieglinda, that he is a son of the "Waelsung" and they recognize that they are twin brother and sister. Then Sieglinda knows that the sword is destined for Siegmund by his father, and Siegmund, with one mighty effort draws it out of the ash-tree. Sieglinda elopes with him and the early morning finds them in a rocky pass, evading Hunding's wrath.

In the second scene we see Wotan, giving directions to the Walkyrie Bruennhilde, who is to shield Siegmund in his battle with Hunding. Bruennhilde is Wotan's and Erda's child and her father's favorite. But Fricka comes up, remonstrating violently against this breach of all moral and matrimonial laws; she is the protector of marriages and most jealous of her somewhat fickle husband, and she forces Wotan to withdraw his protection from Siegmund and to remove the power of Siegmund's sword.

Wotan recalls Bruennhilde, changing his orders with heavy heart and sending her forth to tell Siegmund his doom. She obeys, but Siegmund scorns all her fine promises of Walhalla. Though he is to find his father there, and everything besides that he could wish, he prefers foregoing all this happiness, when he hears that Sieglinda, who has been rendered inanimate by grief and terror, cannot follow him, but must go down to "Hel" after her death, where the shadows lead a sad and gloomy existence.—He wins Bruennhilde by his {347} love and noble courage, and she for the first time resolves to disobey Wotan's orders given so unwillingly, and to help Siegmund against his foe.

Now ensues the combat with Hunding, Bruennhilde standing on Siegmund's side. But Wotan interferes, breaking Siegmund's sword; he falls, and Wotan kills Hunding too by one wrathful glance.

Then he turns his anger against the Walkyrie, who dared to disobey his commands and Bruennhilde flies before him, taking Sieglinda on her swift horse Grane, which bears both through the clouds.

In the third scene we find the Walkyries, arriving through the clouds on horseback one after the other. Every-one has a hero lying before her in the saddle. It is their office to carry these into Walhalla, while the faint-hearted, or those of mankind, not happy enough to fall in battle, are doomed to go to "Hel" after their death.

There are eight Walkyries without Bruennhilde, who comes last with Sieglinda in her saddle, instead of a hero. She implores her sisters to assist her and the unhappy woman. But they refuse, fearing Wotan's wrath. Then she resolves to save Sieglinda and to brave the results of her rash deed alone. She first summons back to the despairing woman courage and desire to live, by telling her, that she bears the token of Siegmund's love; then sends her eastward to the great forest with Grane, where Fafner the giant, changed into a dragon, guards the Rhinegold and the ill-fated ring, a spot which Wotan avoids.

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She gives to Sieglinda the broken pieces of Siegmund's sword, telling her to keep them for her son, whom she is to call Siegfried and who will be the greatest hero in the world.

Wotan arrives in thunder and lightning. Great is his wrath, and in spite of the intercession of the other Walkyries, he deprives Bruennhilde of her immortality changing her into a common mortal. He dooms her to a long magic sleep, out of which any man, who happens to pass that way may awaken her and claim her as his property.

Bruennhilde's entreaties, her beauty and noble bearing at last prevail upon him, so that he encircles her with a fiery wall, through which none but a hero may penetrate.

After a touching farewell the God, leading her to a rocky bed, closes her eyes with a kiss, and covers her with shield, spear and helmet. Then he calls up Loge, who at once surrounds the rock on which Bruennhilde sleeps, with glowing flames.



ZAMPA.

Opera in three acts by HEROLD.

Text by MELLESVILLE.

This opera has met with great success both in France and elsewhere; it is a favorite of the public, though not free from imitating other musicians, particularly Auber and Rossini. The style of the text is somewhat bombastic, and only calculated for effect. Notwithstanding these defects {349} the opera pleases; it has a brilliant introduction, as well as nice chorus-pieces and cavatinas.

In the first act Camilla, daughter of Count Lugano expects her bridegroom Alfonso di Monza, a Sicilian officer, for the wedding ceremony. Dandolo, her servant, who was to fetch the priest, comes back in a fright and with him the notorious Pirate-captain, Zampa, who has taken her father and her bridegroom captive. He tells Camilla who he is, and forces her to renounce Alfonso and consent to a marriage with himself, threatening to kill the prisoners, if she refuses compliance.—Then the pirates hold a drinking-bout in the Count's house, and Zampa goes so far in his insolence, as to put his bridal-ring on the finger of a marble statue, standing in the room. It represents Alice, formerly Zampa's bride; whose heart was broken by her lover's faithlessness; then the fingers of the statue close over the ring, while the left hand is upraised threateningly. Nevertheless Zampa is resolved to wed Camilla, though Alice appears once more, and even Alfonso, who interferes by revealing Zampa's real name and by imploring his bride to return to him, cannot change the brigand's plans. Zampa and his comrades have received the Viceroy's pardon, purposing to fight against the Turks, and so Camilla dares not provoke the pirate's wrath by retracting her promise. Vainly she implores Zampa to give her father his freedom and to let her enter a convent. Zampa, hoping that she only fears the pirate in him tells her, that he is Count of Monza, {350} and Alfonso, who had already drawn his sword, throws it away, terrified to recognize in the dreaded pirate his own brother, who has by his extravagances once already impoverished him.

Zampa sends Alfonso to prison and orders the statue to be thrown into the sea. Camilla once more begs for mercy, but seeing that it is likely to avail her nothing, she flies to the Madonna's altar, charging him loudly with Alice's death. With scorn and laughter he seizes Camilla, to tear her from the altar, but instead of the living hand of Camilla, he feels the icy hand of Alice, who draws him with her into the waves.

Camilla is saved and united to Alfonso, while her delivered father arrives in a boat, and the statue rises again from the waves, to bless the union.



THE APOTHECARY.

(LO SPEZIALE.)

Comic Opera by JOSEF HAYDN (1768).

After a sleep of 125 years in the dust of Prince Esterhazy's archives at Eisenstadt, Dr. Hirschfeld received permission from Prince Paul Esterhazy of Galantha to copy the original manuscript.

It is Dr. Hirschfeld's merit to have revived and rearranged this charming specimen of the old master's genius. And again it was Ernst Schuch, the highly gifted director of the Dresden opera who had it represented on this stage in 1895, and st the same time introduced it to the Viennese {351} admirers of old Haydn, by some of the best members of his company.

The music is truly Haydn'ish, simple, naive, fresh and clear as crystal, and it forms an oasis of repose and pure enjoyment to modern ears, accustomed to and tired of the astonishing oddities of modern orchestration.

The plot is simple but amusing. A young man, Mengino, has entered the service of the apothecary Sempronio, though he does not possess the slightest knowledge of chemistry. His love for Sempronio's ward Grilletta has induced him to take this step and in the first scene we see him mixing drugs, and making melancholy reflections on his lot, which has led him to a master, who buries himself in his newspapers instead of attending to his business, and letting his apprentices go on as best they may.

Sempronio entering relates that the plague is raging in Russia; and another piece of news, that an old cousin of his has married his young ward, is far more interesting to him than all his drugs and pills, as he intends to act likewise with Grilletta. This young lady has no fewer than three suitors, one of whom, a rich young coxcomb enters to order a drug. His real intention is to see Grilletta. He is not slow to see, that Mengino loves her too, so he sends him into the drug kitchen, in order to have Grilletta all to himself. But the pert young beauty only mocks him, and at Mengino's return Volpino is obliged to retire.

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Alone with Mengino, Grilletta encourages her timid lover, whom she likes very much, but just when he is about to take her hand Sempronio returns, furious to see them in such intimacy. He sends Mengino to his drugs and the young girl to her account books, while he buries himself once more in the study of his newspapers. Missing a map he is obliged to leave the room. The young people improve the occasion by making love, and when Sempronio, having lost his spectacles, goes to fetch them, Mengino grows bolder and kisses Grilletta. Alas, the old man returns at the supreme moment, and full of rage, sends each to his room.

Mengino's effrontery ripens the resolution in the guardian's breast to marry Grilletta at once, he is however detained by Volpino, who comes to bribe him by an offer from the Sultan to go into Turkey as apothecary at court, war having broken out in that country. The wily young man insinuates, that Sempronio will soon grow stone-rich, and offers to give him 10,000 ducats at once, if he will give him Grilletta for his wife. Sempronio is quite willing to accept the Sultan's proposal, but not to cede Grilletta. So he sends Mengino away, to fetch a notary, who is to marry him to his ward without delay. The maiden is quite sad, and vainly tortures her brain, how to rouse her timid lover into action. Sempronio, hearing her sing so sadly, suggests that she wants a husband and offers her his own worthy person. Grilletta accepts him, hoping to awaken Mengino's jealousy and to rouse him to action. {353} The notary comes, in whom Grilletta at once recognizes Volpino in disguise. He has hardly sat down, when a second notary enters, saying that he has been sent by Mengino and claiming his due. The latter is Mengino himself, and Sempronio, not recognizing the two, bids them sit down. He dictates the marriage contract, in which Grilletta is said to marry Sempronio by her own free will besides making over her whole fortune to him. This scene, in which the two false notaries distort every word of old Sempronio's, and put each his own name instead of the guardian's, is overwhelmingly comical. When the contract is written, Sempronio takes one copy, Grilletta the other and the whole fraud is discovered.—Volpino vanishes, but Mengone promises Grilletta to do his best in order to win her.

In the last scene Sempronio receives a letter from Volpino, telling him, that the Pasha is to come with a suite of Turks to buy all his medicines at a high price, and to appoint him solemnly as the Sultan's apothecary. Volpino indeed arrives, with his attendants, all disguised as Turks, but he is again recognized by Grilletta. He offers his gold, and seizes Grilletta's hand, to carry her off, but Sempronio interferes. Then the Turks begin to destroy all the pots and glasses and costly medicines, and when Sempronio resents this, the false Pasha draws his dagger, but Mengino interferes and at last induces the frightened old man, to promise Grilletta to him, if he succeeds in {354} saving him from the Turks. No sooner is the promise written and signed, than Grilletta tears off the Pasha's false beard and reveals Volpino, who retires baffled, while the false Turks drink the young couple's health at the cost of the two defeated suitors.



DJAMILEH.

A romantic Opera in one act by GEORGES BIZET.

Text by LOUIS GALLET.

German Translation by LUDWIG HARTMANN.

Djamileh was composed before Carmen, and was given in Paris in 1872. But after the years of war and bloodshed, its sweetness was out of place, and so it was forgotten, until it was revived again in Germany. Though the text is meagre, the opera had great success on the stages of Berlin, Leipsic, Vienna and Dresden, and so its Publisher, Paul Choudens in Paris was right, when he remarked years ago to a German critic: "l'Allemagne un jour comprendra les beautes de Djamileh."

There is no more exquisite music, than the romance of the boatsmen on the Nile, sung with closed lips at the opening of the first scene, and the ravishing dance of the Almee, an invention of Arabic origine is so original, so wild and melancholy and yet so sweet, that it enchants every musical ear. The plot is very simple and meagre.

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Harun, a rich young Turk has enjoyed life to its very dregs. He gives dinners, plays at dice, he keeps women, but his heart remains cold and empty, he disbelieves in love, and only cares for absolute freedom in all his actions, but withal his life seems shallow and devoid of interest. Every month he engages a new female slave, with whom he idles away his days, but at the end of this time she is discarded. His antipathy for love partly arises from the knowledge of his father's unhappy married life.

At the opening of the scene Harun lies on a couch smoking, too lazy to move a finger and lulled into dreams by the boatsmen's songs. At last he rouses himself from his lethargy, and tells his secretary and former tutor Splendiano of his visions. The latter is looking over his master's accounts, and now tells him dryly, that, if he continues his style of living, he will be ruined before the end of the year. This scarcely moves the young man, to whom a year seems a long way off; he also takes it cooly, when Splendiano remarks, that the latest favorite's month is up, and that Djamileh is to leave towards evening, to make room to another beauty. Harun carelessly charges his servant to look out for another slave. When Splendiano sees, that Djamileh's unusual beauty has failed to impress his master, he owns to a tender feeling for her himself, and asks for permission to win the girl. Harun readily grants this request; but when he sees Djamileh enter with sad and dejected looks, he {356} tenderly inquires, what ails her. She sings him a strange and melancholy "Ghasel" about a girl's love for a hero, and he easily guesses her secret. In order to console her, he presents her with a beautiful necklace, and grants her her freedom, at which she brightens visibly, but refuses it. Harun however has no idea of losing either heart or liberty, and when some friends visit him, he turns from her, to join them in a game, leaving her unveiled, and exposed to their insolent stares and admiration. Djamileh, covered with confusion, begins to weep, at which Splendiano interposes, trying to console her by the offer of his hand. Scornfully repulsed by her, he reveals to her the cruel play of his master, and her approaching dismissal, and drives her almost to despair. But she resolves to show her love to her master before she leaves him, and for this purpose entreats Splendiano to let her disguise herself and personate the new slave; promising to be his, if her plans should fail, but vowing to herself, to choose death rather than leave her beloved master. The evening approaches, and with it the slave-dealer with a whole bevey of beautiful young girls. Harun turns from them indifferently, ordering Splendiano to choose for him, but the slave-dealer insists upon showing up the pearl of his flock, a young Almee, who dances the most weird and passionate figures until she sinks back exhausted. She is selected, but Splendiano gives 200 zechines to the dealer, who consents to let her change clothes with Djamileh. When the latter {357} reenters Harun's room veiled, he is astonished to find her so shy and sad. In vain he tries to caress her, she escapes him, but suddenly unveiling herself, he recognizes her. With wild and passionate entreaty she begs him to let her be a slave again, as she prefers his presence to freedom and fortune. At first he hesitates, but true love conquers, and he takes her in his arms. He has found his heart at last, and owns that love is stronger and better than any other charm.



DONNA DIANA.

Comic Opera in three acts by E. VON REZNICEK.

Text after a free translation of MORETO'S comedy of the same name.

Many are the authors, who have dramatized this old, but ever young and fresh comedy, but yet none have so nearly reached the ideal, as this young composer. His manner of interweaving Spanish national airs is particularly successful, because they tinge the piece with peculiar local colouring.

The Spanish melodies are chosen with exquisite elegance and skill.

Reznicek's manner of composing is thoroughly modern; he has learnt much from Wagner and Liszt and not least from Verdi's "Falstaff"; nevertheless he is always original, fresh and so {358} amusing, so sparkling with wit and genius, that I am tempted to call Donna Diana the modern comic opera par excellence. Sometimes the orchestra is almost too rich for Moreto's playful subject, but this is also quite modern, and besides it offers coloristic surprises very rare in comic operas.

In the first act the waltz is particularly charming; in the second the ballet music and Floretta's song (im Volkston) are so beautiful that once heard they can never be forgotten. The bolero-rythme and the 3/8 measure are typical of the Spanish style, which flows through almost all the songs and recitations giving sparkling piquancy to the opera. In the last act, where love conquers intrigue and gaiety the music reaches its culminating point.

The scene is laid in Don Diego's palace at Barcelona at the time of Catalonia's independence, Don Cesar, Prince of Urgel is resting in Diego's Hall after having won the first prize in a tournament. He muses sadly on Donna Diana's coldness, which all his victories fail to overcome. Perrin the clown takes pity on him, and after having won his confidence, gives him the advice to return coldness for coldness. Don Cesar promises to try this cure, though it seems hard to hide his deep love.—Floretta, Donna Diana's foster-sister enters to announce the issue of the tournament. She fain would flirt with Perrin to whom she is sincerely attached, but he turns a cold shoulder to her and lets her depart in a rage, though he is over head and ears in love with the pretty damsel.—The next scene {359} opens on a brilliant crowd, all welcoming Count Sovereign of Barcelona and his daughter Donna Diana. The Count accosts them graciously, and making sign to the three gallant Princes, Don Cesar of Urgel, Don Louis of Bearne and Gaston Count de Foie, they advance to receive their laurels on bended knee from the fair hands of the Princess, who crowns Cesar with a golden wreath, while the two other princes each win a silver price.—When the ceremony is ended, Don Diego turns to his daughter, beseeching her to give an heir to the country by selecting a husband, but Diana declares, that though she is willing to bend to her father's will, love seems poison to her, and marriage death. Gaston and Louis, nothing daunted, determine to try their luck even against the fair lady's will, and while the father prays to God, to soften his daughter's heart, Cesar's courage sinks ever lower, though Perrin encourages him to begin the farce at once. Donna Diana alone is cool and calm, inwardly resolved to keep her hand and heart free, she is deeply envied by her two cousins Fenisa and Laura, who would gladly choose one of the gallant warriors.—Perrin now advises the Princes to try their wit and gallantry on the Princess, and Don Diego, consenting to his daughter's wish, that she need only suffer their courtship for a short time, she cooly accepts this proposal. Gaston begins to plead his cause, declaring, that he will not leave Barcelona without a bride and Louis follows his example; both are greatly admired and applauded by the {360} assistants, only Diana finds their compliments ridiculous and their wit shallow. Cesar without a word retires to the background, and when asked by the Princess, why he does not compete with his rivals, answers "Because I will not love, nor ever wish to be loved; I only woo you, to show you my regard." Greatly mortified Diana resolves to punish such pride, by subjugating him to her charms.

In the second act a fancy ball is going on in the Prince's gardens. Each of the ladies has a bunch of different coloured ribbons, and decides to get the man she loves for her own. Diana now explains, that each knight is to choose a colour, which entitles him to own the lady who wears the same colours as long as the masquerade lasts. Don Louis choosing green gets Donna Laura, Don Gaston wearing red is chosen by Fenisa; Perrin loudly asserting that, abhorring love he chooses the obscure colour black, wins Floretta, and Don Cesar choosing white, finds himself Donna Diana's champion. She takes his arm, and soon her beauty so inflames him, that forgetting good advice and prudence he thrown himself at her feet, confessing his love. Triumphant, but mockingly she turns from him, and thereby suddenly recalls his pride. In a bantering tone he asks her, if she really believed, that his love making, to which duty compelled him for the evening, was true? Hot with wrath and shame at being so easily duped she bids him leave her, and when alone resolves to have her revenge. She calls Perrin {361} to fetch her cousins, and charges him to let Cesar know, that he can hear her sing in the gardens. Then she is adorned with the most bewitching garments and surrounded by her attendants begins to play and sing most sweetly as soon as she hears Don Cesar's steps.—The latter would have succumbed to the temptation, if he had not been warned by Perrin, not to listen to the siren. So they philander in the grounds, admiring the plants, and to all appearance deaf to beauty and song. Impatiently Diana signs Floretta, to let Cesar know, that he is in the presence of his Princess, at which our hero like one awaking from a dream turns, and bowing to the Princess and excusing himself gravely, disappears, leaving Diana almost despairing.

In the third act Perrin gives vent to his happy feelings about his love for Floretta, and about the Princess, whose state of mind he guesses. He is delighted to see his scheme successful, and sings a merry air, which is heard by Diana. Behind the scene Don Louis is heard, bringing a serenade to Donna Laura, with whom he has fallen in love, and on the other side Don Gaston sings Fenisa's praise, so that poor Diana sinking back on a sopha is all at once surrounded by loving couples, who shamelessly carry on their courting before her very eyes, and then retire casting mischievous glances at their disgusted mistress. Diana who sees Cesar approaching, determines to try a last expedient, in order to humble his pride. Cooly she explains to him, that she has resolved to yield to her father's {362} wish, and to bestow her hand on Prince Louis. For a moment Cesar stands petrified, but his guardian angel in the guise of Perrin whispers from behind the screen, to hold out, and not to believe in women's wiles. So he controls himself once more, and congratulates her, wishing the same courtesy from the Princess, because, as he calmly adds, he has got betrothed to Donna Laura.

That is the last stroke for Diana, her pride is humbled to the dust. All her reserve vanishes, when her secret love for the hero, which she has not even owned to herself, is in danger. She altogether breaks down, and so she is found by her father, who enters, loudly acknowledging Don Louis as his son-in-law, and sanctioning Don Cesar's choice of Donna Laura. But Cesar begs to receive his bride from Diana's own hands, at which the latter rising slowly, asks her father, if he is still willing to leave to her alone the selection of a husband. Don Diego granting this, she answers: "Then I choose him who conquered pride through pride." "And who may this happy mortal be?" says Cesar. "You ask? It's you my tyrant," she replies, and with these words sinks into her lover's open arms.



{363}

THE SOLD BRIDE.

Comic Opera in three acts by FR. SMETANA.

Libretto by K. SABINA.

German text by MAX KALBECK.

Poor Smetana! Nature had put on his brow the stamp of genius, but he never lived to see his glory. After grief and sorrow and direst need he died in a madhouse, and now posterity heaps laurels on his grave. The Sold Bride has been represented in Prague over 300 times, and it begins to take possession of every noted stage in Europe.

The subject forms a simple village-idyll, without any strong contrasts, its ethical motive lies in its representation of quaint old customs and in the deep-rooted patriotic love; but the whole opera is literally steeped in euphony.

The overture has its equal only in Figaro, and a perfect stream of national airs flows through the whole.

The first chorus "See the buds open on the bush" is most original, the national dance in the second act is full of fire and the rope dancers' march is truly Slavonic in its quaintness.

The scene is laid in a village in Bohemia. It is Spring-Kirmess, and everybody is gay. Only Mary, the daughter of the rich peasant Kruschina carries a heavy heart within her, for the day has come, on which the unknown bridegroom, chosen by her parents will claim her hand. She loves Hans, known to her as a poor servant, who has come to her village lately, and who is in reality her bridegroom's {364} half brother. He consoles her, beseeching her to cheer up and be faithful to him, and then tells her, that he comes of wealthy people. Having lost his mother early, his father wedded a second wife, who estranged his heart from the poor boy so, that he had to gain his daily bread abroad. She deeply sympathizes with him, without guessing his real name.

Meanwhile Mary's parents approach with the matchmaker Kezul, a personage common in Bohemia, who has already won Kruschina's consent to his daughter's marriage with Wenzel, son of the rich farmer Micha by a second marriage. Mary's mother insisting that her child's will is to be consulted before all, the father consents to let her see the bridegroom, before she decides. Kezul, though angry at this unlooked for obstacle, excuses the bridegroom's absence volubly, and sings his praise loudly, at the same time touching upon the elder son's absence, and hinting, that he may probably be dead. When Mary steps in, Kezul wooes her in due form, but is at once repulsed by her. The young girl owns to having given her heart to the humble servant Hans, in whom nobody has yet recognized Micha's son. Father Kruschina angrily asserts his promise to Kezul, cursing Wenzel's timidity, which hindered him, from making his proposal in person. Kezul however resolves to talk Hans over to reason.

We find him in the second act, singing and highly praising the god of love. Afterwards the {364} would-be bridegroom Wenzel finds himself face to face with Mary, whom he does not know. When he tells her of his purpose, timidly and stammeringly, she asks him, if he is not ashamed to woo a girl, who loves another man, and who does not love him in the least. She at last so frightens the lad, that he promises to look out for another bride, if his mother permits it. Mary flirts with him, until he swears never to claim Kruschina's daughter.—Meanwhile Kezul does his best to convert Hans. He promises to provide for him another bride, much richer than Mary, but Hans refuses. He offers him money, first one, than two, than three hundred florins. Hans looking incredulous, asks "For whom are you wooing my bride?" "For Micha's son," the matchmaker replies. "Well," says Hans, "if you promise me, that Micha's son shall have her and no other, I will sign the contract, and I further stipulate, that Micha's father shall have no right to reclaim the money later; he is the one to bear the whole costs of the bargain." Kezul gladly consents and departs to fetch the witnesses, before whom Hans once more renounces his bride in favour of Micha's son. He cooly takes the money, at which they turn from him in disgust, and signs his name Hans Ehrentraut at the foot of the document.

The third act opens with a performance by tight-rope dancers. Wenzel, who has been quite despondent about his promised bride, is enraptured by their skill. He especially admires the Spanish {366} dancer Esmeralda, who bewitches him so entirely, that he wooes her. The director of the band being in want of a dancing-bear, is not loth to take advantage of the lad's foolishness. He engages him as a dancer, and easily overcomes Wenzel's scruples by promising him Esmeralda's hand. Just when they are putting him in bear's skin his parents appear on the scene with the marriage contract. To their great dismay he refuses to sign it and when pressed, runs away.—Meanwhile Mary has heard of her lover's fickleness, which she would fain disbelieve, but alas Kezul shows her the document by which Hans renounces her. Nevertheless she refuses to wed any other man than the one her heart has chosen. Wenzel approaching again and recognizing in Mary the bride he had renounced, is now quite sorry to give her up, and very willing to take her if she will only yield. Mary, praying to be left alone for a little while, abandons herself to her grief and is thus found by Hans, whom she bitterly reproaches for his faithlessness. But he only smiles, and recalls the whole chorus, cooly saying that it is his wish that Mary should wed Micha's son. That is too much for poor Mary's feelings. She declares that she is ready to do as they wish, but before she signs the contract, Hans steps forth in full view of his parents, who at last recognize in him their long lost eldest son. Though his stepmother Agnes is in a rage about his trick, he claims his rights as son and heir, and the bride of course is not loth to choose {367} between the two brothers. Kezul the matchmaker retires shamefaced, and when Wenzel shows himself in the last scene as a dancing-bear, and stammeringly assures the laughing public, that they need not be afraid of him, as he is "not a bear but only Wenzel", the final blow is dealt whereby he loses all favour in the eyes of Kruschina, who is now quite reconciled to give his daughter to Micha's elder son.



{368}

BALLO IN MASCHERA.

A Lyric Drama in five acts by VERDI.

Text by F. M. PIAVE.

Auber's success with the opera of the same name inspired Verdi to try his hand at it too. He ordered his friend Piave to write the libretto for him and in 1854 the opera was handed to the San Carlo theatre in Naples, but was refused on the ground, that the murder of a king must not be represented on the stage. Then Verdi laid the scene in Boston, and in this shape the opera was performed in Rome on Feb. 17th, 1859 and met with great success.

From this time it conquered the stages of Europe, all but one, Auber's widow having stipulated that no opera rival to that of her husband's was to be given in Paris. The Ballo in Maschera has been revived in Dresden in October 1897, after having lain buried for over 15 years; its success showed, that it is still full of vitality. The music is exceedingly fresh and characteristic; indeed it surpasses both Trovatore and Rigoletto in beauty and originality. Verdi has scarcely ever written anything finer than the Ensemble at the end of the second act, and the delightful quartette "Is it a jest or madness, that comes now from her lips."

The libretto may be explained shortly, as it is almost identical with Auber's "Masked Ball".

Count Richard, governor of Boston is adored by the people but hated by the noblemen, who resolve upon his death. He loves Amelia, the {369} wife of his secretary and best friend Rene, who in vain tries to warn him of the plots of his enemies, but who faithfully watches over his safety.

An old sorceress of negro blood Ulrica, is to be banished by the decree of the high Judge, but Richard's page Oscar speaks in her favour, and the count decides to see her himself and test her tricks. He invites his lords to accompany him to the sybil's dwelling, and orders Oscar to bring him a fisherman's disguise. His enemies Samuel and Tom follow him.

The second act shows Ulrica in her cottage seated at a table conjuring Satan. A crowd of people are around her, amongst them Richard in disguise. A sailor Sylvan advances first to hear his fate, and while Ulrica is prophesying that better days await him, Richard slips a roll of gold with a scroll into Sylvan's pocket and so makes the witch's words true. Sylvan searching in his pockets finds the gold and reads the inscription on the scroll: "Richard to his dear officer Sylvan", and all break out into loud praises of the clever sybil.

A short while after a servant announces Amelia, and the sorceress driving the crowd away ushers her in, while Richard conceals himself. He listens with delight to the confession of her sinful love to himself, against which she asks for a draught, which might enable her to banish it from her heart. Ulrica advises her to pluck a magic herb at midnight, which grows in the field where the criminals are executed. Amelia shudders but promises to do as she is bidden, while Richard secretly vows to {370} follow and protect her. Amelia departs and the people flock in again. Richard is the first to ask what is his fate. The sybil reluctantly tells him that his life is to be destroyed by the first person who shall touch his hand on this very day. Richard vainly offers his hand to the bystanders, they all recoil from him, when suddenly his friend Rene comes in, and heartily shakes Richard's outstretched hand. This seems to break the spell, for everybody knows Rene to be the count's dearest friend, and now believes the oracle to be false. Nevertheless Ulrica, who only now recognizes the count, warns him once more against his enemies, but he laughs at her, and shows the sorceress the verdict of her banishment, which however he has cancelled. Full of gratitude Ulrica joins in the universal song of praise, sung by the people to their faithful leader.

The third act opens on the ghostly field where Amelia is to look for the magic herb. She is frozen with horror believing that she sees a ghost rise before her; Richard now turns up, and breaks out into passionate words, entreating her to acknowledge her love for him. She does so, but implores him at the same time, not to approach her, and to remain true to his friend. While they speak Rene surprises them. He has followed Richard to save him from his enemies, who are waiting to kill him. Richard wraps himself in his friend's cloak, after having taken Rene's promise to lead the veiled lady to the gates of the town, without trying to look at her. Rene swears, but fate wills it otherwise, for {371} hardly has Richard departed, when the conspirators throng in, and enraged at finding only the friend, try to tear the veil off the lady's face. Rene guards her with his sword, but Amelia springing between the assailers lets fall her veil, and reveals her face to her husband and to the astonished men, thereby bringing shame and bitter mockery on them both. Rene, believing himself betrayed by wife and friend, asks the conspirators to meet him in his own house on the following morning, and swears to avenge the supposed treachery.

In the fourth act in his own house Rene bids his wife prepare herself for death. He disbelieves in her protest of innocence, but at last, touched by her misery he allows her to take a last farewell of her son. When she is gone, he resolves rather to kill the seducer than his poor weak wife. When the conspirators enter he astonishes them by his knowledge of their dark designs, but they wonder still more, when he offers to join them in their evil purpose. As they do not agree, who it shall be that is to kill Richard, Rene makes his wife draw the lot from a vase on the table. The chosen one is her own husband.—At this moment Oscar enters with an invitation to a masked ball from the court. Rene accepts, and the conspirators decide to seize the opportunity, to put their foe to death. They are to wear blue dominos with red ribbons; their pass word is "death."

The next scene shows a richly decorated ballroom. Rene vainly tries to find out the count's {372} disguise, until it is betrayed to him by the page who believes that Rene wants to have some fun with his master. Amelia waylaying Richard implores him, to fly, and when he disbelieves her warnings, shows him her face. When he recognizes her, he tenderly takes her hand, and tells her that he too has resolved to conquer his passion, and that he is sending her away to England with her husband. They are taking a last farewell, but alas, fate overtakes Richard in the shape of Rene, who runs his dagger through him. The crowd tries to arrest the murderer, but the dying count waves them back and with his last breath tells his unhappy friend, that his wife is innocent. Drawing forth a document and handing it to Rene the unfortunate man reads the count's order to send them to their native country. Richard pardons his misguided friend and dies with a blessing on his beloved country.

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