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Title: The Complete Opera Book - The Stories of the Operas, together with 400 of the Leading - Airs and Motives in Musical Notation
Author: Kobbé, Gustav, 1857-1918
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Complete Opera Book - The Stories of the Operas, together with 400 of the Leading - Airs and Motives in Musical Notation" ***

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[Transcriber's Note: _The Complete Opera Book_ has been an important
opera reference work since its first publication in 1919. It has been
revised and updated a number of times, most famously by George
Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood, and most recently in 1997.

This e-book was prepared from the 1919 first edition. Gustav Kobbé was
killed in a sailing accident in 1918 and apparently did not have the
opportunity to make corrections before the book was published. There
are consequently numerous typographical, spelling, and formatting
errors and inconsistencies in the first edition, the most obvious of
which have been corrected without note in this e-book. Ambiguous
errors are noted in a [Transcriber's Note] where they appear. The
author's deliberate interchanges of foreign words or names and their
equivalents in English or other languages have been preserved as they
appear in the original. Misplaced Table of Contents and index entries
have been moved to their proper places.

Photograph illustrations have been moved so as not to break up the
flow of the text.

Italic text is marked with _underscores_, and bold text with =equal
signs=.]



The Complete Opera Book

The Stories of the Operas, together with 400 of the Leading Airs and
Motives in Musical Notation


By

Gustav Kobbé

Author of "Wagner's Music-Dramas Analysed," "All-of-a-Sudden Carmen,"
etc.


_Illustrated with One Hundred Portraits in Costume and Scenes from
Opera_


  G.P. Putnam's Sons
  New York and London
  =The Knickerbocker Press=
  1919

  COPYRIGHT, 1919
  BY
  GUSTAV KOBBÉ

=The Knickerbocker Press, New York=



_By Gustav Kobbé_

  All-of-a-Sudden Carmen
  The Complete Opera Book



[Illustration: Copyright photo by Mishkin

Mary Garden as Sapho]

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Pirie MacDonald

GUSTAV KOBBÉ]



FOREWORD


Through the thoughtfulness of William J. Henderson I was asked to
supply material for _The Complete Opera Book_, which was missing at
the time of Mr. Kobbé's death.

In performing my share of the work it has been my endeavor to confine
myself to facts, rather than to intrude with personal opinions upon a
work which should stand as a monument to Mr. Kobbé's musical knowledge
and convictions.

KATHARINE WRIGHT.

NEW YORK, 1919.



Contents


                                                                  PAGE

  Schools of Opera                                                   1

  Opera before Gluck                                                 4

  Christoph Willibald Gluck, 1714-1787                               8
    Orpheus and Eurydice
    Armide
    Iphigenia in Tauris

  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1756-1791                                21
    Marriage of Figaro
    Don Giovanni
    Magic Flute

  Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827                                   54
    Fidelio

  Carl Maria von Weber, 1786-1826                                   63
    Freischütz
    Euryanthe
    Oberon

  Why Some Operas are rarely given                                  77

  From Weber to Wagner                                              79

  Richard Wagner, 1813-1883                                         81
    Rienzi
    Flying Dutchman
    Tannhäuser
    Lohengrin
    Ring of the Nibelung
      Rheingold--Walküre--Siegfried--Götterdämmerung
    Tristan and Isolde
    Meistersinger
    Parsifal

  Gioachino Antonio Rossini, 1792-1868                             293
    Barber of Seville
    Semiramide
    William Tell

  Vincenzo Bellini, 1802-1835                                      318
    Sonnambula
    Norma
    Puritani

  Gaetano Donizetti, 1797-1848                                     334
    Elisire d'Amore
    Lucrezia Borgia
    Lucia di Lammermoor
    Daughter of the Regiment
    Favorita
    Linda di Chamounix
    Don Pasquale

  Giuseppe Verdi, 1813-1901                                        376
    Ernani
    Rigoletto
    Trovatore
    Traviata
    Ballo in Maschera

  Before and After "Ballo in Maschera"                             433
    Luisa Miller
    Sicilian Vespers
    Force of Destiny
    Don Carlos
    Aïda
    Othello
    Falstaff

  Arrigo Boïto, 1842-                                              474
    Mephistopheles
    Nero

  Amilcare Ponchielli, 1834-1886                                   481
    Gioconda

  French Opera                                                     493

  Méhul to Meyerbeer                                               495

  Étienne Nicholas Méhul, 1763-1817                                495
    Joseph

  François Adrien Boieldieu, 1775-1834                             495
    Caliph of Bagdad
    Jean de Paris
    Dame Blanche

  Daniel François Esprit Auber, 1782-1871                          496
    Masaniello
    Fra Diavolo

  Louis J.F. Hérold, 1791-1833                                     497
    Zampa

  Adolphe Charles Adam, 1802-1856                                  497
    Postilion of Longumeau

  Jacques François Fromental Élie Halévy, 1799-1862                498
    Juive

  Giacomo Meyerbeer, 1791-1864                                     499
    Robert le Diable
    Huguenots
    Prophet
    L'Africaine
    Star of the North
    Dinorah

  Hector Berlioz, 1803-1869                                        535
    Benvenuto Cellini
    Beatrice and Benedict
    Trojans
    Damnation of Faust

  Friedrich von Flotow, 1812-1883                                  546
    Martha

  Charles François Gounod, 1818-1893                               561
    Faust
    Romeo and Juliet

  Ambroise Thomas, 1811-1896                                       580
    Mignon
    Hamlet

  Georges Bizet                                                    586
    Carmen
    Pearl Fishers
    Djamileh

  Italian Opera Since Verdi                                        607

  Pietro Mascagni, 1863-                                           610
    Cavalleria Rusticana
    Maschere
    Friend Fritz
    Iris
    Lodoletta
    Isabeau

  Ruggiero Leoncavallo, 1858-                                      627
    Pagliacci

  Giacomo Puccini, 1858-                                           638
    Villi
    Manon Lescaut
    Bohème
    Tosca
    Madam Butterfly
    Girl of the Golden West
    Rondine
    Sister Angelica
    Tabarro
    Gianni Schicchi

  Riccardo Zandonai                                                680
    Francesca da Rimini

  Franco Leoni, 1864-                                              686
    L'Oracolo
    Rip Van Winkle
    Raggio di Luna
    Ib and Little Christina

  Italo Montemezzi, 1875-                                          690
    Love of Three Kings
    Giovanni Gallurese
    Hélléra

  Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, 1876-                                      698
    Jewels of the Madonna
    Donne Curiose
    Secret of Suzanne
    Doctor Cupid

  Umberto Giordano, 1867-                                          707
    Madame Sans-Gêne
    André Chénier
    Fedora
    Siberia

  Modern Italian Opera                                             715

  Luigi Mancinelli                                                 715
    Ero e Leandro

  Riccardo Zandonai                                                716
    Conchita

  Alberto Franchetti                                               717
    Cristoforo Colombo

  Luigi and Federico Ricci                                         718
    Crispino e la Comare

  Alfred Catalani                                                  719
    Loreley

  Umberto Giordano                                                 720
    Fedora

  Alberto Franchetti                                               721
    Germania

  Modern French Opera                                              723

  Jacques Offenbach                                                723
    Tales of Hoffmann

  Delibes                                                          724
    Lakmé

  Saint-Saëns                                                      725
    Samson et Dalila

  Lalo                                                             727
    Roi d'Ys

  Massenet                                                         727
    Grisélidis
    Thaïs
    Manon
    Le Cid
    Don Quichotte
    Cinderella
    Navarraise
    Jongleur de Nôtre Dame
    Werther
    Hérodiade
    Sapho
    Cléopâtre

  Gustave Charpentier                                              750
    Louise

  Reyer                                                            752
    Salammbô

  Debussy                                                          752
    Pelléas and Mélisande

  Pierre Louÿs                                                     756
    Aphrodite

  Alfred Bruneau                                                   758
    Attack on the Mill

  Paul Dukas                                                       759
    Ariadne and Blue-Beard

  Henri Février                                                    761
    Monna Vanna
    Gismonda

  Henri Rabaud                                                     763
    Marouf

  Sylvio Lazzari                                                   764
    Grasshopper

  Xavier Leroux                                                    765
    Queen Fiammette
    Wayfarer

  Raoul Gunsbourg                                                  767
    Old Eagle

  Modern German and Bohemian Opera                                 769
    St. Elizabeth

  Peter Cornelius                                                  770
    Barber of Bagdad

  Herman Goetz                                                     772
    Taming of the Shrew

  Karl Goldmark                                                    773
    Queen of Sheba
    Cricket on the Hearth

  Engelbert Humperdinck                                            776
    Königskinder
    Hänsel and Gretel

  Brüll                                                            779
    Golden Cross

  Blech                                                            781
    Sealed In

  Viktor E. Nessler                                                784
    Trumpeter of Säkkingen

  Wilhelm Kienzl                                                   787
    Evangelist
    Kuhreigen

  Ludwig Thuille                                                   791
    Lobetanz

  Hugo Wolf                                                        792
    Magistrate

  Richard Strauss, 1864-                                           796
    Fire Famine
    Guntram
    Salome
    Elektra
    Rosenkavalier
    Ariadne on Naxos

  Friedrich Smetana                                                815
    Bartered Bride

  Russian Opera                                                    818

  Michael Ivanovich Glinka                                         818
    Russlan and Ludmilla

  Borodin                                                          819
    Prince Igor

  Moussorgsky                                                      822
    Boris Godounoff

  Peter Ilitsch Tschaikowsky                                       825
    Eugen Onegin
    Pique-Dame

  Rimsky-Korsakoff                                                 828
    Coq d'Or

  Ignace Jan Paderewski                                            830
    Manru

  American Opera                                                   832

  Frederick Shepherd Converse                                      832
    Sacrifice
    Pipe of Desire

  Charles Wakefield Cadman                                         834
    Shanewis

  John Adams Hugo                                                  834
    Temple Dancer

  Joseph Breil                                                     836
    Legend

  Victor Herbert                                                   837
    Natomah

  Horatio Parker                                                   840
    Mona

  Walter Damrosch                                                  841
    Cyrano

  Reginald de Koven                                                843
    Canterbury Pilgrims

  Spanish Opera                                                    849

  Enrique Granados, 1867-1916                                      849
    Goyescas

  Index                                                            851



ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                                  PAGE

  Mary Garden as Sapho                                  _Frontispiece_

  Louise Homer as Orpheus in "Orpheus and Eurydice"                 10

  Hempel (_Susanna_), Matzenauer (_The Countess_), and
  Farrar (_Cherubino_) in "Le Nozze di Figaro"                      26

  Scotti as _Don Giovanni_                                          34

  Sembrich as _Zerlina_ in "Don Giovanni"                           35

  Scotti as _Don Giovanni_                                          42

  Alten and Goritz as _Papagena_ and _Papageno_ in "The
  Magic Flute"                                                      43

  Matzenauer as _Fidelio_                                           56

  Farrar as _Elizabeth_ in "Tannhäuser"                            108

  "Tannhäuser," Finale, Act II. _Tannhäuser_ (Maclennan),
  _Elizabeth_ (Fornia), _Wolfram_ (Dean), _The
  Landgrave_ (Cranston)                                            109

  Sembach as _Lohengrin_                                           122

  Schumann-Heink as _Ortrud_ in "Lohengrin"                        123

  Emma Eames as _Elsa_ in "Lohengrin"                              128

  Louise Homer as _Fricka_ in "The Ring of the Nibelung"           129

  Lilli Lehmann as _Brünnhilde_ in "Die Walküre"                   166

  "The Valkyr" Act I. _Hunding_ (Parker), _Sieglinde_
  (Rennyson), and _Siegmund_ (Maclennan)                           167

  Fremstad as _Brünnhilde_ in "Die Walküre"                        172

  Fremstad as _Sieglinde_ in "Die Walküre"                         173

  Weil as _Wotan_ in "Die Walküre"                                 178

  "Die Walküre" Act III. _Brünnhilde_ (Margaret
  Crawford)                                                        179

  Édouard de Reszke as _Hagen_ in "Götterdämmerung"                210

  Jean de Reszke as _Siegfried_ in "Götterdämmerung"               211

  Nordica as _Isolde_                                              228

  Lilli Lehmann as _Isolde_                                        236

  Jean de Reszke as _Tristan_                                      237

  Gadski as _Isolde_                                               242

  Ternina as _Isolde_                                              243

  Emil Fischer as _Hans Sachs_ in "Die Meistersinger"              248

  Weil and Goritz as _Hans Sachs_ and _Beckmesser_ in "Die
  Meistersinger"                                                   249

  The Grail-Bearer                                                 272

  Winckelmann and Materna as _Parsifal_ and _Kundry_               273

  Scaria as _Gurnemanz_                                            273

  Sammarco as _Figaro_ in "The Barber of Seville"                  298

  Galli-Curci as _Rosina_ in "The Barber of Seville"               302

  Sembrich as _Rosina_ in "The Barber of Seville"                  303

  Hempel (_Adina_) and Caruso (_Nemorino_) in "L'Elisir
  d'Amore"                                                         336

  Caruso as _Edgardo_ in "Lucia di Lammermoor"                     348

  Galli-Curci as _Lucia_ in "Lucia di Lammermoor"                  349

  Galli-Curci as _Gilda_ in "Rigoletto"                            392

  Caruso as the Duke in "Rigoletto"                                393

  The Quartet in "Rigoletto." _The Duke_ (Sheehan),
  _Maddalena_ (Albright), _Gilda_ (Easton), _Rigoletto_
  (Goff)                                                           400

  Riccardo Martin as _Manrico_ in "Il Trovatore"                   401

  Schumann-Heink as _Azucena_ in "Il Trovatore"                    410

  Galli-Curci as _Violetta_ in "La Traviata"                       411

  Farrar as _Violetta_ in "La Traviata"                            420

  Scotti as _Germont_ in "La Traviata"                             421

  Emma Eames as _Aïda_                                             442

  Saléza as _Rhadames_ in "Aïda"                                   443

  Louise Homer as _Amneris_ in "Aïda"                              448

  Rosina Galli in the Ballet of "Aïda"                             449

  Alda as _Desdemona_ in "Otello"                                  460

  Amato as _Barnaba_ in "La Gioconda"                              461

  Caruso as _Enzo_ in "La Gioconda"                                488

  Louise Homer as _Laura_ in "La Gioconda"                         489

  Plançon as _Saint Bris_ in "The Huguenots"                       508

  Jean de Reszke as _Raoul_ in "The Huguenots"                     509

  Ober and De Luca; Caruso and Hempel in "Martha"                  548

  Plançon as _Méphistophélès_ in "Faust"                           549

  Galli-Curci as _Juliette_ in "Roméo et Juliette"                 578

  Calvé as _Carmen_ with Sparkes as _Frasquita_, and Braslau
  as _Mercedes_                                                    579

  Caruso as _Don José_ in "Carmen"                                 590

  Caruso as _Don José_ in "Carmen"                                 591

  Calvé as _Carmen_                                                594

  Amato as _Escamillo_ in "Carmen"                                 595

  Gadski as _Santuzza_ in "Cavalleria Rusticana"                   614

  Bori as _Iris_                                                   615

  Caruso as _Canio_ in "I Pagliacci"                               630

  Farrar as _Nedda_ in "I Pagliacci"                               631

  Farrar as _Mimi_ in "La Bohème"                                  644

  Café Momus Scene, "La Bohème." Act II. _Mimi_
  (Rennyson), _Musette_ (Joel), _Rudolph_ (Sheehan)                645

  Cavalieri as _Tosca_                                             656

  Scotti as _Scarpia_                                              657

  Emma Eames as _Tosca_                                            660

  Caruso as _Mario_ in "Tosca"                                     661

  Farrar as _Tosca_                                                664

  "Madama Butterfly." Act I. (Francis Maclennan,
  Renée Vivienne, and Thomas Richards)                             665

  Farrar as _Cio-Cio-San_ in "Madama Butterfly"                    668

  Destinn as _Minnie_, Caruso as _Johnson_, and Amato as
  _Jack Rance_ in "The Girl of the Golden West"                    669

  Alda as _Francesca_, and Martinelli as _Paolo_ in "Francesca
  da Rimini"                                                       682

  Bori and Ferrari-Fontana in "The Love of Three
  Kings"                                                           683

  Farrar as Catherine in "Mme. Sans-Gêne"                          710

  Galli-Curci as _Lakmé_                                           711

  Caruso as _Samson_ in "Samson and Dalila"                        726

  Mary Garden as _Grisélidis_                                      727

  Mary Garden as _Thaïs_                                           730

  Farrar and Amato as _Thaïs_ and _Athanaël_                       731

  Farrar as _Thaïs_                                                734

  Farrar and Amato as _Thaïs_ and _Athanaël_                       735

  Caruso as _Des Grieux_ in "Manon"                                738

  Mary Garden in "Le Jongleur de Nôtre Dame"                       739

  Mary Garden as _Louise_                                          750

  Lucienne Bréval as _Salammbô_                                    751

  Mary Garden as _Mélisande_ in "Pelléas and Mélisande"            754

  Farrar as the _Goose Girl_ in "Königskinder"                     776

  Van Dyck and Mattfeld as _Hänsel_ and _Gretel_                   777

  Mary Garden as _Salome_                                          802

  Hempel as the _Princess_ and Ober as _Octavian_ in "Der
  Rosenkavalier"                                                   803

  Scene from the Ballet in "Prince Igor" (with Rosina
  Galli)                                                           820

  Anna Case as _Feodor_, Didur as _Boris_, and Sparkes as
  _Xenia_ in "Boris Godounoff"                                     821



The Complete Opera Book



Schools of Opera


There are three great schools of opera,--Italian, French, and German.
None other has developed sufficiently to require comment in this brief
chapter.

Of the three standard schools, the Italian is the most frankly
melodious. When at its best, Italian vocal melody ravishes the senses.
When not at its best, it merely tickles the ear and offends common
sense. "Aïda" was a turning point in Italian music. Before Verdi
composed "Aïda," Italian opera, despite its many beauties, was largely
a thing of temperament, inspirationally, but often also carelessly set
forth. Now, Italian opera composers no longer accept any libretto
thrust at them. They think out their scores more carefully; they
produce works in which due attention is paid to both vocal and
orchestral effect. The older composers still represented in the
repertoire are Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi. The last-named,
however, also reaches well over into the modern school of Italian
opera, whose foremost living exponent is Puccini.

Although Rameau (1683-1764), whose "Castor and Pollux" held the stage
until supplanted by Gluck's works, was a native of France, French
opera had for its founder the Italian, Lully; and one of its chief
exponents was the German, Meyerbeer. Two foreigners, therefore, have
had a large share in developing the school. It boasts, however, many
distinguished natives--Halévy, Auber, Gounod, Bizet, Massenet.

In the French school of opera the instrumental support of the voice is
far richer and the combination of vocal and instrumental effect more
discriminating than in the old school of Italian opera. A first cousin
of Italian opera, the French, nevertheless, is more carefully thought
out, sometimes even too calculated; but, in general, less florid, and
never indifferent to the librettist and the significance of the lines
he has written and the situations he has evoked. Massenet is, in the
truest sense, the most recent representative of the school of
Meyerbeer and Gounod, for Bizet's "Carmen" is unique, and Débussy's
"Pelléas et Mélisande" a wholly separate manifestation of French art
for the lyric stage.

The German school of opera is distinguished by a seriousness of
purpose that discards all effort at vocal display for itself alone,
and strives, in a score, well-balanced as between voice and orchestra,
to express more forcibly than could the spoken work, the drama that
has been set to music.

An opera house like the Metropolitan, which practically has three
companies, presents Italian, French, and German operas in the language
in which they were written, or at least usually does so. Any speaker
before an English-speaking audience can always elicit prolonged
applause by maintaining that in English-speaking countries opera
should be sung in English. But, in point of fact, and even
disregarding the atrocities that masquerade as translations of opera
into English, opera should be sung in the language in which it is
written. For language unconsciously affects, I might even say
determines, the structure of the melody.

Far more important than language, however, is it that opera be sung by
great artists. For these assimilate music and give it forth in all
its essence of truth and beauty. Were great artists to sing opera in
Choctaw, it would still be welcome as compared with opera rendered by
inferior interpreters, no matter in what language.



Opera Before Gluck


Gluck's "Orfeo ed Euridice" (Orpheus and Eurydice), produced in 1762,
is the oldest opera in the repertoire of the modern opera house. But
when you are told that the Grand Opéra, Paris, was founded by Lully,
an Italian composer, in 1672; that Italians were writing operas nearly
a century earlier; that a German, Reinhard Keiser (1679-1739), is
known to have composed at least 116 operas; and that another German,
Johann Adolph Hasse, composed among his operas, numbering at least a
hundred, one entitled "Artaxerxes," two airs from which were sung by
Carlo Broschi every evening for ten years to soothe King Philip V. of
Spain;--you will realize that opera existed, and even flourished
before Gluck produced his "Orpheus and Eurydice."

Opera originated in Florence toward the close of the sixteenth
century. A band of composers, enthusiastic, intellectual, aimed at
reproducing the musical declamation which they believed to have been
characteristic of the representation of Greek tragedy. Their scores
were not melodious, but composed in a style of declamatory recitative
highly dramatic for its day. What usually is classed as the first
opera, Jacopo Peri's "Dafne," was privately performed in the Palazzo
Corsi, Florence, in 1597. So great was its success that Peri was
commissioned, in 1600, to write a similar work for the festivities
incidental to the marriage of Henry IV. of France with Maria de
Medici, and composed "Euridice," said to have been the first opera
ever produced in public.

The new art form received great stimulus from Claudio Monteverdi, the
Duke of Mantua's director of music, who composed "Arianna" (Ariadne)
in honor of the marriage of Francesco Gonzaga with Margherita, Infanta
of Savoy. The scene in which _Ariadne_ bewails her desertion by her
lover was so dramatically written (from the standpoint of the day, of
course) that it produced a sensation. The permanency of opera was
assured, when Monteverdi brought out, with even greater success, his
opera "Orfeo," which showed a further advance in dramatic expression,
as well as in the treatment of the instrumental score. This composer
invented the tremolo for strings--marvellous then, commonplace now,
and even reprehensible, unless employed with great skill.

Monteverdi's scores contained, besides recitative, suggestions of
melody. The Venetian composer, Cavalli, introduced melody more
conspicuously into the vocal score in order to relieve the monotonous
effect of a continuous recitative, that was interrupted only by brief
melodious phrases. In his airs for voice he foreshadowed the aria
form, which was destined to be freely developed by Alessandro
Scarlatti (1659-1725). Scarlatti was the first to introduce into an
opera score the _ritornello_--the instrumental introduction,
interlude, or postlude to a composition for voice. Indeed, Scarlatti
is regarded as the founder of what we call Italian opera, the chief
characteristic of which is melody for the voice with a comparatively
simple accompaniment.

By developing vocal melody to a point at which it ceased to be
dramatically expressive, but degenerated into mere voice pyrotechnics,
composers who followed Scarlatti laid themselves open to the charge of
being too subservient to the singers, and of sacrificing dramatic
truth and depth of expression to the vanity of those upon the stage.
Opera became too much a series of show-pieces for its interpreters.
The first practical and effective protest against this came from
Lully, who already has been mentioned. He banished all meaningless
embellishment from his scores. But in the many years that intervened
between Lully's career and Gluck's, the abuse set in again. Then
Gluck, from copying the florid Italian style of operatic composition
early in his career, changed his entire method as late as 1762, when
he was nearly fifty years old, and produced "Orfeo ed Euridice." From
that time on he became the champion for the restoration of opera to
its proper function as a well-balanced score, in which the voice,
while pre-eminent, does not "run away with the whole show."

Indeed, throughout the history of opera, there have been recurring
periods, when it has become necessary for composers with the true
interest of the lyric stage at heart, to restore the proper balance
between the creator of a work and its interpreters, in other words to
prevent opera from degenerating from a musical drama of truly dramatic
significance to a mere framework for the display of vocal
pyrotechnics. Such a reformer was Wagner. Verdi, born the same year as
Wagner (1813), but outliving him nearly twenty years, exemplified both
the faults and virtues of opera. In his earlier works, many of which
have completely disappeared from the stage, he catered almost entirely
to his singers. But in "Aïda" he produced a masterpiece full of melody
which, while offering every opportunity for beautiful singing, never
degenerates into mere vocal display. What is here said of Verdi could
have been said of Gluck. His earlier operas were in the florid style.
Not until he composed "Orpheus and Eurydice" did he approach opera
from the point of view of a reformer. "Orpheus" was his "Aïda."

Regarding opera Gluck wrote that "the true mission of music is to
second the poetry, by strengthening the expression of the sentiments
and increasing the interest of the situations, without interrupting
and weakening the action by superfluous ornaments in order to tickle
the ear and display the agility of fine voices."

These words might have been written by Richard Wagner, they express so
well what he accomplished in the century following that in which Gluck
lived. They might also have been penned by Verdi, had he chosen to
write an introduction to his "Aïda," "Otello," or "Falstaff"; and they
are followed by every successful composer of grand opera
today--Mascagni, Leoncavallo, Puccini, Massenet, Strauss.

In fact, however much the public may be carried away temporarily by
astonishing vocal display introduced without reason save to be
astonishing, the fate of every work for the lyric stage eventually has
been decided on the principle enunciated above. Without being aware of
it, the public has applied it. For no matter how sensationally popular
a work may have been at any time, it has not survived unless,
consciously or unconsciously, the composer has been guided by the
cardinal principle of true dramatic expression.

Finally, I must not be misunderstood as condemning, at wholesale,
vocal numbers in opera that require extraordinary technique. Scenes in
opera frequently offer legitimate occasion for brilliant vocal
display. Witness the arias of the _Queen of the Night_ in "The Magic
Flute," "Una voce poco fa" in "The Barber of Seville," "Ah! non
giunge" in "Sonnambula," the mad scene in "Lucia," "Caro nome" in
"Rigoletto," the "Jewel Song" in "Faust," and even _Brünnhilde's_
valkyr shout in "Die Walküre"--works for the lyric stage that have
escorted thousands of operatic scores to the grave, with Gluck's
gospel on the true mission of opera for a funeral service.



Christoph Willibald Gluck

(1714-1787)


Gluck is the earliest opera composer represented in the repertoire of
the modern opera house. In this country three of his works survive.
These are, in the order of their production, "Orfeo ed Euridice"
(Orpheus and Eurydice), "Armide," and "Iphigénie en Tauride"
(Iphigenia in Tauris). "Orpheus and Eurydice," produced in 1762, is
the oldest work of its kind on the stage. It is the great-great-grandfather
of operas.

Its composer was a musical reformer and "Orpheus" was the first
product of his musical reform. He had been a composer of operas in the
florid vocal style, which sacrificed the dramatic verities to the
whims, fancies, and ambitions of the singers, who sought only to show
off their voices. Gluck began, with his "Orpheus," to pay due regard
to true dramatic expression. His great merit is that he accomplished
this without ignoring the beauty and importance of the voice, but by
striking a correct balance between the vocal and instrumental portions
of the score.

Simple as his operas appear to us today, they aroused a strife
comparable only with that which convulsed musical circles during the
progress of Wagner's career. The opposition to his reforms reached its
height in Paris, whither he went in 1772. His opponents invited Nicola
Piccini, at that time famous as a composer of operas in the florid
Italian style, to compete with him. So fierce was the war between
Gluckists and Piccinists, that duels were fought and lives sacrificed
over the respective merits of the two composers. Finally each produced
an opera on the subject of "Iphigenia in Tauris." Gluck's triumphed,
Piccini's failed.

Completely victorious, Gluck retired to Vienna, where he died,
November 25, 1787.


ORFEO ED EURIDICE

ORPHEUS AND EURYDICE

     Opera in three acts. Music by Christoph Willibald Gluck;
     book by Raniero di Calzabigi. Productions and revivals.
     Vienna, October 5, 1762; Paris, as "Orphée et Eurydice,"
     1774; London, Covent Garden, June 26, 1860; New York,
     Metropolitan Opera House, 1885 (in German); Academy of
     Music, American Opera Company, in English, under Theodore
     Thomas, January 8, 1886, with Helene Hastreiter, Emma Juch,
     and Minnie Dilthey; Metropolitan Opera House, 1910 (with
     Homer, Gadski, and Alma Gluck).

     CHARACTERS

     ORPHEUS                                     _Contralto_
     EURYDICE                                      _Soprano_
     AMOR, God of Love                             _Soprano_
     A HAPPY SHADE                                 _Soprano_

     Shepherds and Shepherdesses, Furies and Demons, Heroes and
     Heroines in Hades.

     _Time_--Antiquity.

     _Place_--Greece and the Nether Regions.

Following a brief and solemn prelude, the curtain rises on Act I,
showing a grotto with the tomb of _Eurydice_. The beautiful bride of
_Orpheus_ has died. Her husband and friends are mourning at her tomb.
During an affecting aria and chorus ("Thou whom I loved") funeral
honours are paid to the dead bride. A second orchestra, behind the
scenes, echoes, with charming effect, the distracted husband's
evocations to his bride and the mournful measures of the chorus,
until, in answer to the piercing cries of _Orpheus_ and the
exclamatory recitative, "Gods, cruel gods," _Amor_ appears. He tells
the bereaved husband that Zeus has taken pity on him. He shall have
permission to go down into Hades and endeavour to propitiate Pluto and
his minions solely through the power of his music. But, should he
rescue _Eurydice_, he must on no account look back at her until he has
crossed the Styx.

Upon that condition, so difficult to fulfil, because of the love of
_Orpheus_ for his bride, turns the whole story. For should he, in
answer to her pleading, look back, or explain to her why he cannot do
so, she will immediately die. But _Orpheus_, confident in his power of
song and in his ability to stand the test imposed by Zeus and bring
his beloved _Eurydice_ back to earth, receives the message with great
joy.

"Fulfil with joy the will of the gods," sings _Amor_, and _Orpheus_,
having implored the aid of the deities, departs for the Nether World.

[Illustration: Copyright Photo by Dupont

Louise Homer as Orpheus in "Orpheus and Eurydice"]

Act I. Entrance to Hades. When _Orpheus_ appears, he is greeted with
threats by the _Furies_. The scene, beginning with the chorus, "Who is
this mortal?" is still considered a masterpiece of dramatic music. The
_Furies_ call upon Cerberus, the triple-headed dog monster that guards
the entrance to the Nether World, to tear in pieces the mortal who so
daringly approaches. The bark of the monster is reproduced in the
score. This effect, however, while interesting, is but a minor
incident. What lifts the scene to its thrilling climax is the
infuriated "No!" which is hurled at _Orpheus_ by the dwellers at the
entrance to Hades, when, having recourse to song, he tells of his love
for _Eurydice_ and his grief over her death and begs to be allowed to
seek her. He voices his plea in the air, "A thousand griefs,
threatening shades." The sweetness of his music wins the sympathy of
the _Furies_. They allow him to enter the Valley of the Blest, a
beautiful spot where the good spirits in Hades find rest. (Song for
_Eurydice_ and her companions, "In this tranquil and lovely abode
of the blest.") _Orpheus_ comes seeking _Eurydice_. His recitative,
"What pure light!" is answered by a chorus of happy shades, "Sweet
singer, you are welcome." To him they bring the lovely _Eurydice_.
_Orpheus_, beside himself with joy, but remembering the warning of
_Amor_, takes his bride by the hand and, with averted gaze, leads her
from the vale.

She cannot understand his action. He seeks to soothe her injured
feelings. (Duet: "On my faith relying.") But his efforts are vain; nor
can he offer her any explanation, for he has also been forbidden to
make known to her the reason for his apparent indifference.

Act III. A wood. _Orpheus_, still under the prohibition imposed by the
gods, has released the hand of his bride and is hurrying on in advance
of her urging her to follow. She, still not comprehending why he does
not even cast a glance upon her, protests that without his love she
prefers to die.

_Orpheus_, no longer able to resist the appeal of his beloved bride,
forgets the warning of _Amor_. He turns and passionately clasps
_Eurydice_ in his arms. Immediately she dies.

It is then that _Orpheus_ intones the lament, "Che farò senza
Euridice" (I have lost my _Eurydice_), that air in the score which has
truly become immortal and by which Gluck, when the opera as a whole
shall have disappeared from the stage, will still be remembered.

[Music]

"All forms of language have been exhausted to praise the stupor of
grief, the passion, the despair expressed in this sublime number,"
says a writer in the Clément and Larousse _Dictionnaire des Opéras_.
It is equalled only by the lines of Virgil:

           Vox ipsa et frigida lingua,
     "Ah! miseram Eurydicen," anima fugiente, vocabat;
     "Eurydicen;" toto referabant flumine ripae.

     [E'en then his trembling tongue invok'd his bride;
     With his last voice, "Eurydice," he cried,
     "Eurydice," the rocks and river banks replied.

     DRYDEN.]

In fact it is so beautiful that _Amor_, affected by the grief of
_Orpheus_ appears to him, touches _Eurydice_ and restores her to life
and to her husband's arms.

The legend of "Orpheus and Eurydice" as related in Virgil's
_Georgics_, from which are the lines just quoted is one of the
classics of antiquity. In "Orfeo ed Euridice" Gluck has preserved the
chaste classicism of the original. Orpheus was the son of Apollo and
the muse Calliope. He played so divinely that trees uprooted
themselves and rocks were loosened from their fastnesses in order to
follow him. His bride, Eurydice, was the daughter of a Thracian
shepherd.

The rôle of _Orpheus_ was written for the celebrated male contralto
Guadagni. For the Paris production the composer added three bars to
the most famous number of the score, the "Che farò senza Euridice,"
illustrated above. These presumably were the three last bars, the
concluding phrases of the peroration of the immortal air. He also was
obliged to transpose the part of _Orpheus_ for the tenor Legros, for
whom he introduced a vocal number not only entirely out of keeping
with the rôle, but not even of his own composition--a bravura aria
from "Tancred," an opera by the obscure Italian composer Fernandino
Bertoni. It is believed that the tenor importuned Gluck for something
that would show off his voice, whereupon the composer handed him the
Bertoni air. Legros introduced it at the end of the first act, where
to this day it remains in the printed score.

When the tenor Nourrit sang the rôle many years later, he substituted
the far more appropriate aria, "Ô transport, ô désordre extrême" (O
transport, O ecstasy extreme) from Gluck's own "Echo and Narcissus."

But that the opera, as it came from Gluck's pen, required nothing
more, appeared in the notable revival at the Théâtre Lyrique, Paris,
November, 1859, under Berlioz's direction, when that distinguished
composer restored the rôle of _Orpheus_ to its original form and for a
hundred and fifty nights the celebrated contralto, Pauline
Viardot-Garcia, sang it to enthusiastic houses.

The best production of the work in this country was that of the
American Opera Company. It was suited, as no other opera was, to the
exact capacity of that ill-starred organization. The representation
was in four acts instead of three, the second act being divided into
two, a division to which it easily lends itself.

The opera has been the object of unstinted praise. Of the second act
the same French authority quoted above says that from the first note
to the last, it is "a complete masterpiece and one of the most
astonishing productions of the human mind. The chorus of demons, 'What
mortal dares,' in turn questions, becomes wrathful, bursts into a
turmoil of threats, gradually becomes tranquil and is hushed, as if
subdued and conquered by the music of _Orpheus's_ lyre. What is more
moving than the phrase 'Laissez-vous toucher par mes pleurs'? (A
thousand griefs, threatening shades.) Seeing a large audience
captivated by this mythological subject; an audience mixed, frivolous
and unthinking, transported and swayed by this scene, one recognizes
the real power of music. The composer conquered his hearers as his
_Orpheus_ succeeded in subduing the _Furies_. Nowhere, in no work, is
the effect more gripping. The scene in the Elysian fields also has
its beauties. The air of _Eurydice_, the chorus of happy shades, have
the breath of inalterable calm, peace and serenity."

Gaetano Guadagni, who created the rôle of _Orpheus_, was one of the
most famous male contralti of the eighteenth century. Händel assigned
to him contralto parts in the "Messiah" and "Samson," and it was Gluck
himself who procured his engagement at Vienna. The French production
of the opera was preceded by an act of homage, which showed the
interest of the French in Gluck's work. For while it had its first
performance in Vienna, the score was first printed in Paris and at the
expense of Count Durazzo. The success of the Paris production was so
great that Gluck's former pupil, Marie Antoinette, granted him a
pension of 6,000 francs with an addition of the same sum for every
fresh work he should produce on the French stage.

The libretto of Calzabigi was, for its day, charged with a vast amount
of human interest, passion, and dramatic intensity. In these
particulars it was as novel as Gluck's score, and possibly had an
influence upon him in the direction of his operatic reforms.


ARMIDE

     Opera in five acts by Gluck; words by François Quinault,
     founded on Tasso's _Jerusalem Delivered_.

     Produced, Paris, 1777, at the Académie de Musique; New York,
     Metropolitan Opera House, November 14, 1910, with Fremstad,
     Caruso, Homer, Gluck, and Amato.

     CHARACTERS

     ARMIDE, a Sorceress, Niece of Hidraot         _Soprano_
     PHENICE }                                   { _Soprano_
     SIDONIE } her attendants                    { _Soprano_
     HATE, a Fury                                  _Soprano_
     LUCINDE }                                   { _Soprano_
     MÉLISSE } apparitions                       { _Soprano_
     RENAUD (RINALDO), a Knight of the Crusade
       under Godfrey of Bouillon                     _Tenor_
     ARTEMIDORE, Captive Knight Delivered by Renaud  _Tenor_
     THE DANISH KNIGHT } Crusaders                 { _Tenor_
     UBALDE            }                           {  _Bass_
     HIDRAOT, King of Damascus                        _Bass_
     ARONTES, leader of the Saracens                  _Bass_
     A Naiad, a Love                           _Apparitions_

     Populace, Apparitions and Furies.

     _Time_--First Crusade, 1098.

     _Place_--Damascus.

Act I. Hall of _Armide's_ palace at Damascus. _Phenice_ and _Sidonie_
are praising the beauty of _Armide_. But she is depressed at her
failure to vanquish the intrepid knight, _Renaud_, although all others
have been vanquished by her. _Hidraot_, entering, expresses a desire
to see _Armide_ married. The princess tells him that, should she ever
yield to love, only a hero shall inspire it. People of Damascus enter
to celebrate the victory won by _Armide's_ sorcery over the knights of
Godfrey. In the midst of the festivities _Arontes_, who has had charge
of the captive knights, appears and announces their rescue by a single
warrior, none other than _Renaud_, upon whom _Armide_ now vows
vengeance.

Act II. A desert spot. _Artemidore_, one of the Christian knights,
thanks _Renaud_ for his rescue. _Renaud_ has been banished from
Godfrey's camp for the misdeed of another, whom he will not betray.
_Artemidore_ warns him to beware the blandishments of _Armide_, then
departs. _Renaud_ falls asleep by the bank of a stream. _Hidraot_ and
_Armide_ come upon the scene. He urges her to employ her supernatural
powers to aid in the pursuit of _Renaud_. After the king has departed,
she discovers _Renaud_. At her behest apparitions, in the disguise of
charming nymphs, shepherds and shepherdesses, bind him with garlands
of flowers. _Armide_ now approaches to slay her sleeping enemy with a
dagger, but, in the act of striking him, she is overcome with love for
him, and bids the apparitions transport her and her hero to some
"farthest desert, where she may hide her weakness and her shame."

Act III. Wild and rugged landscape. _Armide_, alone, is deploring the
conquest of her heart by _Renaud_. _Phenice_ and _Sidonie_ come to her
and urge her to abandon herself to love. They assure her that _Renaud_
cannot fail to be enchanted by her beauty. _Armide_, reluctant to
yield, summons _Hate_, who is ready to do her bidding and expel love
from her bosom. But at the critical moment _Armide_ cries out to
desist, and _Hate_ retires with the threat never to return.

Act IV. From yawning chasms and caves wild beasts and monsters emerge
in order to frighten _Ubalde_ and a _Danish Knight_, who have come in
quest of _Renaud_. _Ubalde_ carries a magic shield and sceptre, to
counteract the enchantments of _Armide_, and to deliver _Renaud_. The
knights attack and vanquish the monsters. The desert changes into a
beautiful garden. An apparition, disguised as _Lucinde_, a girl
beloved by the _Danish Knight_, is here, accompanied by apparitions in
various pleasing disguises. _Lucinde_ tries to detain the knight from
continuing upon his errand, but upon _Ubalde_ touching her with the
golden sceptre, she vanishes. The two then resume their journey to the
rescue of _Renaud_.

Act V. Another part of the enchanted garden. _Renaud_, bedecked with
garlands, endeavours to detain _Armide_, who, haunted by dark
presentiment, wishes to consult with the powers of Hades. She leaves
_Renaud_ to be entertained by a company of happy _Lovers_. They,
however, fail to divert the lovelorn warrior, and are dismissed by
him. _Ubalde_ and the _Danish Knight_ appear. By holding the magic
shield before _Renaud's_ eyes, they counteract the passion that has
swayed him. He is following the two knights, when _Armide_ returns and
vainly tries to detain him. Proof against her blandishments, he leaves
her to seek glory. _Armide_ deserted, summons _Hate_ to slay him. But
_Hate_, once driven away, refuses to return. _Armide_ then bids the
_Furies_ destroy the enchanted palace. They obey. She perishes in the
ruins. (Or, according to the libretto, "departs in a flying car"--an
early instance of aviation in opera!)

There are more than fifty operas on the subject of _Armide_. Gluck's
has survived them all. Nearly a century before his opera was produced
at the Académie, Paris, that institution was the scene of the first
performance of "Armide et Renaud," composed by Lully to the same
libretto used by Gluck, Quinault having been Lully's librettist in
ordinary.

"Armide" is not a work of such strong human appeal as "Orpheus"; but
for its day it was a highly dramatic production; and it still admits
of elaborate spectacle. The air for _Renaud_ in the second act, "Plus
j'observe ces lieux, et plus je les admire!" (The more I view this
spot the more charmed I am); the shepherd's song almost immediately
following; _Armide's_ air at the opening of the third act, "Ah! si la
liberté me doit être ravie" (Ah! if liberty is lost to me); the
exquisite solo and chorus in the enchanted garden, "Les plaisirs ont
choisi pour asile" (Pleasure has chosen for its retreat) are classics.
Several of the ballet numbers long were popular.

In assigning to a singer of unusual merit the ungrateful rôle of the
_Danish Knight_, Gluck said: "A single stanza will compensate you, I
hope, for so courteously consenting to take the part." It was the
stanza, "Nôtre général vous rappelle" (Our commander summons you),
with which the knight in Act V recalls _Renaud_ to his duty. "Never,"
says the relater of the anecdote, "was a prediction more completely
fulfilled. The stanza in question produced a sensation."


IPHIGÉNIE EN TAURIDE

IPHIGENIA IN TAURIS

     Opera in four acts by Gluck, words by François Guillard.

     Produced at the Académie de Musique, Paris, May 18, 1779;
     Metropolitan Opera House, New York, November 25, 1916, with
     Kurt, Weil, Sembach, Braun, and Rappold.

     CHARACTERS

     IPHIGÉNIE, Priestess of Diana                 _Soprano_
     ORESTES, her Brother                         _Baritone_
     PYLADES, his Friend                             _Tenor_
     THOAS, King of Scythia                           _Bass_
     DIANA                                         _Soprano_

     SCYTHIANS, Priestesses of Diana.

     _Time_--Antiquity, after the Trojan War.

     _Place_--Tauris.

_Iphigénie_ is the daughter of Agamemnon, King of Mycenae. Agamemnon
was slain by his wife, Clytemnestra, who, in turn, was killed by her
son, _Orestes_. _Iphigénie_ is ignorant of these happenings. She has
been a priestess of Diana and has not seen _Orestes_ for many years.

Act I. Before the atrium of the temple of Diana. To priestesses and
Greek maidens, _Iphigénie_ tells of her dream that misfortune has come
to her family in the distant country of her birth. _Thoas_, entering,
calls for a human sacrifice to ward off danger that has been foretold
to him. Some of his people, hastily coming upon the scene, bring with
them as captives _Orestes_ and _Pylades_, Greek youths who have landed
upon the coast. They report that _Orestes_ constantly speaks of having
committed a crime and of being pursued by Furies.

Act II. Temple of Diana. _Orestes_ bewails his fate. _Pylades_ sings
of his undying friendship for him. _Pylades_ is separated from
_Orestes_, who temporarily loses his mind. _Iphigénie_ questions him.
_Orestes_, under her influence, becomes calmer, but refrains from
disclosing his identity. He tells her, however, that he is from
Mycenae, that Agamemnon (their father) has been slain by his wife,
that Clytemnestra's son, _Orestes_, has slain her in revenge, and is
himself dead. Of the once great family only a daughter, Electra,
remains.

Act III. _Iphigénie_ is struck with the resemblance of the stranger to
her brother and, in order to save him from the sacrifice demanded by
_Thoas_, charges him to deliver a letter to Electra. He declines to
leave _Pylades_; nor until _Orestes_ affirms that he will commit
suicide, rather than accept freedom at the price of his friend's life,
does _Pylades_ agree to take the letter, and then only because he
hopes to bring succour to _Orestes_.

Act IV. All is ready for the sacrifice. _Iphigénie_ has the knife
poised for the fatal thrust, when, through an exclamation uttered by
_Orestes_, she recognizes him as her brother. The priestesses offer
him obeisance as King. _Thoas_, however, enters and demands the
sacrifice. _Iphigénie_ declares that she will die with her brother. At
that moment _Pylades_ at the head of a rescue party enters the temple.
A combat ensues in which _Thoas_ is killed. _Diana_ herself appears,
pardons _Orestes_ and returns to the Greeks her likeness which the
Scythians had stolen and over which they had built the temple.

Gluck was sixty-five, when he brought out "Iphigénie en Tauride." A
contemporary remarked that there were many fine passages in the opera.
"There is only one," said the Abbé Arnaud. "Which?"--"The entire
work."

The mad scene for _Orestes_, in the second act, has been called
Gluck's greatest single achievement. Mention should also be made of
the dream of _Iphigénie_, the dances of the Scythians, the air of
_Thoas_, "De noirs pressentiments mon âme intimidée" (My spirit is
depressed by dark forebodings); the air of _Pylades_, "Unis dès la
plus tendre enfance" (United since our earliest infancy);
_Iphigénie's_ "Ô malheureuse (unhappy) Iphigénie," and "Je t'implore
et je tremble" (I pray you and I tremble); and the hymn to Diana,
"Chaste fille de Latone" (Chaste daughter of the crescent moon).

Here may be related an incident at the rehearsal of the work, which
proves the dramatic significance Gluck sought to impart to his music.
In the second act, while _Orestes_ is singing, "Le calme rentre dans
mon coeur," (Once more my heart is calm), the orchestral
accompaniment continues to express the agitation of his thoughts.
During the rehearsal the members of the orchestra, not understanding
the passage, came to a stop. "Go on all the same," cried Gluck. "He
lies. He has killed his mother!"

Gluck's enemies prevailed upon his rival, Piccini, to write an
"Iphigénie en Tauride" in opposition. It was produced in January,
1781, met with failure, and put a definite stop to Piccini's rivalry
with Gluck. At the performance the prima donna was intoxicated. This
caused a spectator to shout:

"'Iphigénie en Tauride!' allons donc, c'est 'Iphigénie en Champagne!'"
(Iphigenia in Tauris! Do tell! Shouldn't it be Iphigenia in
Champagne?)

The laugh that followed sealed the doom of the work.

The Metropolitan production employs the version of the work made by
Richard Strauss, which involves changes in the finales of the first
and last acts. Ballet music from "Orfeo" and "Armide" also is
introduced.



Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

(1756-1791)


The operas of Gluck supplanted those of Lully and Rameau. Those of
Mozart, while they did not supplant Gluck's, wrested from them the
sceptre of supremacy. In a general way it may be said that, before
Mozart's time, composers of grand opera reached back to antiquity and
mythology, or to the early Christian era, for their subjects. Their
works moved with a certain restricted grandeur. Their characters were
remote.

Mozart's subjects were more modern, even contemporary. Moreover, he
was one of the brightest stars in the musical firmament. His was a
complete and easy mastery of all forms of music. "In his music
breathes the warm-hearted, laughter-loving artist," writes Theodore
Baker. That is a correct characterization. "The Marriage of Figaro" is
still regarded as a model of what a comic grand opera, if so I may
call it, should be. "Don Giovanni," despite its tragic _dénouement_,
sparkles with humour, and _Don Giovanni_ himself, despite the evil he
does, is a jovial character. "The Magic Flute" is full of amusing
incidents and, if its relationship to the rites of freemasonry has
been correctly interpreted, was a contemporary subject of strong human
interest, notwithstanding its story being laid in ancient Egypt. In
fact it may be said that, in the evolution of opera, Mozart was the
first to impart to it a strong human interest with humour playing
about it like sunlight.

The libretto of "The Marriage of Figaro" was derived from a
contemporary French comedy; "Don Giovanni," though its plot is taken
from an old Spanish story, has in its principal character a type of
libertine, whose reckless daring inspires loyalty not only in his
servant, but even in at least one of his victims--a type as familiar
to Mozart's contemporaries as it is to us; the probable contemporary
significance of "The Magic Flute" I have already mentioned, and the
point is further considered under the head of that opera.

For the most part as free from unnecessary vocal embellishments as are
the operas of Gluck, Mozart, being the more gifted composer, attained
an even higher degree of dramatic expression than his predecessor. May
I say that he even gave to the voice a human clang it hitherto had
lacked, and in this respect also advanced the art of opera? By this I
mean that, full of dramatic significance as his voice parts are, they
have, too, an ingratiating human quality which the music of his
predecessor lacks. In plasticity of orchestration his operas also mark
a great advance.

Excepting a few works by Gluck, every opera before Mozart and the
operas of every composer contemporary with him, and for a considerable
period after him, have disappeared from the repertoire. The next two
operas to hold the stage, Beethoven's "Fidelio" (in its final form)
and Rossini's "Barber of Seville" were not produced until 1814 and
1816--respectively twenty-three and twenty-five years after Mozart's
death.

That Mozart was a genius by the grace of God will appear from the
simple statement that his career came to an end at the age of
thirty-five. Compare this with the long careers of the three other
composers, whose influence upon opera was supreme--Gluck, Wagner, and
Verdi. Gluck died in his seventy-third year, Wagner in his
seventieth, and Verdi in his eighty-eighth. Yet the composer who laid
down his pen and went to a pauper's grave at thirty-five, contributed
as much as any of these to the evolution of the art of opera.


LE NOZZE DI FIGARO

THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO

     Opera in four acts by Mozart; words by Lorenzo da Ponte,
     after Beaumarchais. Produced at the National Theatre,
     Vienna, May 1, 1786, Mozart conducting. Académie de Musique,
     Paris, as "Le Mariage de Figaro" (with Beaumarchais's
     dialogue), 1793; as "Les Noces de Figaro" (words by Barbier
     and Carré), 1858. London, in Italian, King's Theatre, June
     18, 1812. New York, 1823, with T. Phillips, of Dublin, as
     _Figaro_; May 10, 1824, with Pearman as _Figaro_ and Mrs.
     Holman, as _Susanna_; January 18, 1828, with Elizabeth
     Alston, as _Susanna_; all these were in English and at the
     Park Theatre. (See concluding paragraph of this article.)
     Notable revivals in Italian, at the Metropolitan Opera
     House: 1902, with Sembrich, Eames, Fritzi Scheff, de Reszke,
     and Campanari; 1909, Sembrich, Eames, Farrar, and Scotti;
     1916, Hempel, Matzenauer, Farrar, and Scotti.

     CHARACTERS

     COUNT ALMAVIVA                               _Baritone_
     FIGARO, his valet                            _Baritone_
     DOCTOR BARTOLO, a Physician                      _Bass_
     DON BASILIO, a music-master                     _Tenor_
     CHERUBINO, a page                             _Soprano_
     ANTONIO, a gardener                              _Bass_
     DON CURZIO, counsellor at law                   _Tenor_
     COUNTESS ALMAVIVA                             _Soprano_
     SUSANNA, her personal maid, affianced
       to FIGARO                                   _Soprano_
     MARCELLINA, a duenna                          _Soprano_
     BARBARINA, ANTONIO's daughter                 _Soprano_

     _Time_--17th Century.

     _Place_--The Count's château of Aguas Frescas, near Seville.

"Le Nozze di Figaro" was composed by Mozart by command of Emperor
Joseph II., of Austria. After congratulating the composer at the end
of the first performance, the Emperor said to him: "You must admit,
however, my dear Mozart, that there are a great many notes in your
score." "Not one too many, Sire," was Mozart's reply.

(The anecdote, it should be noted, also, is told of the first
performance of Mozart's "Così Fan Tutte.")

No opera composed before "Le Nozze di Figaro" can be compared with it
for development of ensemble, charm and novelty of melody, richness and
variety of orchestration. Yet Mozart composed this score in a month.
The finale to the second act occupied him but two days. In the music
the sparkle of high comedy alternates with the deeper sentiment of the
affections.

Michael Kelly, the English tenor, who was the _Basilio_ and _Curzio_
in the original production, tells in his memoirs of the splendid
sonority with which Benucci, the _Figaro_, sang the martial "Non più
andrai" at the first orchestral rehearsal. Mozart, who was on the
stage in a crimson pelisse and cocked hat trimmed with gold lace, kept
repeating _sotto voce_, "Bravo, bravo, Benucci!" At the conclusion the
orchestra and all on the stage burst into applause and vociferous
acclaim of Mozart:

"Bravo, bravo, Maestro! Viva, viva, grande Mozart!"

Further, the _Reminiscences_ of Kelly inform us of the enthusiastic
reception of "Le Nozze di Figaro" upon its production, almost
everything being encored, so that the time required for its
performance was nearly doubled. Notwithstanding this success, it was
withdrawn after comparatively few representations, owing to Italian
intrigue at the court and opera, led by Mozart's rival, the composer
Salieri--now heard of only because of that rivalry. In Prague, where
the opera was produced in January, 1787, its success was so great that
Bondini, the manager of the company, was able to persuade Mozart to
compose an opera for first performance in Prague. The result was "Don
Giovanni."

The story of "Le Nozze di Figaro" is a sequel to that of "The Barber
of Seville," which Rossini set to music. Both are derived from
"Figaro" comedies by Beaumarchais. In Rossini's opera it is _Figaro_,
at the time a barber in Seville, who plays the go-between for _Count
Almaviva_ and his beloved _Rosina_, _Dr. Bartolo's_ pretty ward.
_Rosina_ is now the wife of the _Count_, who unfortunately, is
promiscuous in his attentions to women, including _Susanna_, the
_Countess's_ vivacious maid, who is affianced to _Figaro_. The latter
and the music-master _Basilio_ who, in their time helped to hoodwink
_Bartolo_, are in the service of the _Count_, _Figaro_ having been
rewarded with the position of valet and majordomo. _Bartolo_, for
whom, as formerly, _Marcellina_ is keeping house, still is _Figaro's_
enemy, because of the latter's interference with his plans to marry
_Rosina_ and so secure her fortune to himself. The other characters in
the opera also belong to the personnel of the _Count's_ household.

Aside from the difference between Rossini's and Mozart's scores, which
are alike only in that each opera is a masterpiece of the comic
sentiment, there is at least one difference between the stories. In
Rossini's "Barber" _Figaro_, a man, is the mainspring of the action.
In Mozart's opera it is _Susanna_, a woman; and a clever woman may
possess in the rôle of protagonist in comedy a chicness and sparkle
quite impossible to a man. The whole plot of "Le Nozze di Figaro"
plays around _Susanna's_ efforts to nip in the bud the intrigue in
which the _Count_ wishes to engage her. She is aided by the _Countess_
and by _Figaro_; but she still must appear to encourage while evading
the _Count's_ advances, and do so without offending him, lest both she
and her affianced be made to suffer through his disfavour. In the
libretto there is much that is _risqué_, suggestive. But as the
average opera-goer does not understand the subtleties of the Italian
language, and the average English translation is too clumsy to
preserve them, it is quite possible--especially in this advanced
age--to attend a performance of "Le Nozze di Figaro" without
imperilling one's morals.

There is a romping overture. Then, in Act I, we learn that _Figaro_,
_Count Almaviva's_ valet, wants to get married. _Susanna_, the
_Countess's_ maid, is the chosen one. The _Count_ has assigned to them
a room near his, ostensibly because his valet will be able to respond
quickly to his summons. The room is the scene of this Act. _Susanna_
tells her lover that the true reason for the _Count's_ choice of their
room is the fact that their noble master is running after her. Now
_Figaro_ is willing enough to "play up" for the little _Count_, if he
should take it into his head "to venture on a little dance" once too
often. ("Se vuol ballare, Signor Contino!")

[Music]

Unfortunately, however, _Figaro_ himself is in a fix. He has borrowed
money from _Marcellina_, _Bartolo's_ housekeeper, and he has promised
to marry her in case of his inability to repay her. She now appears,
to demand of _Figaro_ the fulfilment of his promise. _Bartolo_
encourages her in this, both out of spite against _Figaro_ and because
he wants to be rid of the old woman, who has been his mistress and
even borne him a son, who, however, was kidnapped soon after his
birth. There is a vengeance aria for _Bartolo_, and a spiteful duet
for _Marcellina_ and _Susanna_, beginning: "Via resti servita, madama
brillante" (Go first, I entreat you, Miss, model of beauty!).

[Illustration: Photo by White

Hempel (Susanna), Matzenauer (the Countess), and Farrar (Cherubino) in
"Le Nozze di Figaro"]

The next scene opens between the page, _Cherubino_, a boy in love
with every petticoat, and _Susanna_. He begs _Susanna_ to intercede
for him with the _Count_, who has dismissed him. _Cherubino_ desires
to stay around the _Countess_, for whom he has conceived one of his
grand passions. "Non so più cosa son, cosa faccio"--(Ah, what feelings
now possess me!). The _Count's_ step is heard. _Cherubino_ hides
himself behind a chair, from where he hears the _Count_ paying court
to _Susanna_. The voice of the music-master then is heard from
without. The _Count_ moves toward the door. _Cherubino_, taking
advantage of this, slips out from behind the chair and conceals
himself in it under a dress that has been thrown over it. The _Count_,
however, instead of going out, hides behind the chair, in the same
place where _Cherubino_ has been. _Basilio_, who has entered, now
makes all kinds of malicious remarks and insinuations about the
flirtations of _Cherubino_ with _Susanna_ and also with the
_Countess_. The _Count_, enraged at the free use of his wife's name,
emerges from behind the chair. Only the day before, he says, he has
caught that rascal, _Cherubino_, with the gardener's daughter
_Barbarina_ (with whom the _Count_ also is flirting). _Cherubino_, he
continues, was hidden under a coverlet, "just as if under this dress
here." Then, suiting the action to the words, by way of demonstration,
he lifts the gown from the chair, and lo! there is _Cherubino_. The
_Count_ is furious. But as the page has overheard him making love to
_Susanna_, and as _Figaro_ and others have come in to beg that he be
forgiven, the _Count_, while no longer permitting him to remain in the
castle, grants him an officer's commission in his own regiment. It is
here that _Figaro_ addresses _Cherubino_ in the dashing martial air,
"Non più andrai, farfallone amoroso" (Play no more, the part of a
lover).

Act II. Still, the _Count_, for whom the claims of _Marcellina_ upon
_Figaro_ have come in very opportunely, has not given consent for his
valet's wedding. He wishes to carry his own intrigue with _Susanna_,
the genuineness of whose love for _Figaro_ he underestimates, to a
successful issue. _Susanna_ and _Figaro_ meet in the _Countess's_
room. The _Countess_ has been soliloquizing upon love, of whose
fickleness the _Count_ has but provided too many examples.--"Porgi
amor, qualche ristoro" (Love, thou holy, purest passion.) _Figaro_ has
contrived a plan to gain the consent of the _Count_ to his wedding
with _Susanna_. The valet's scheme is to make the _Count_ ashamed of
his own flirtations. _Figaro_ has sent a letter to the _Count_, which
divulges a supposed rendezvous of the _Countess_ in the garden. At the
same time _Susanna_ is to make an appointment to meet the _Count_ in
the same spot. But, in place of _Susanna_, _Cherubino_, dressed in
_Susanna's_ clothes, will meet the _Count_. Both will be caught by the
_Countess_ and the _Count_ thus be confounded.

_Cherubino_ is then brought in to try on _Susanna's_ clothes. He sings
to the _Countess_ an air of sentiment, one of the famous vocal numbers
of the opera, the exquisite: "Voi che sapete, che cosa è amor" (What
is this feeling makes me so sad).

[Music]

The _Countess_, examining his officer's commission, finds that the
seal to it has been forgotten. While in the midst of these proceedings
someone knocks. It is the _Count_. Consternation. _Cherubino_ flees
into the _Countess's_ room and _Susanna_ hides behind a curtain. The
evident embarrassment of his wife arouses the suspicions of her
husband, who, gay himself, is very jealous of her. He tries the door
_Cherubino_ has bolted from the inside, then goes off to get tools to
break it down with. He takes his wife with him. While he is away,
_Cherubino_ slips out and leaps out of a window into the garden. In
his place, _Susanna_ bolts herself in the room, so that, when the
_Count_ breaks open the door, it is only to discover that _Susanna_ is
in his wife's room. All would be well, but unfortunately _Antonio_,
the gardener, enters. A man, he says, has jumped out of the
_Countess's_ window and broken a flowerpot. _Figaro_, who has come in,
and who senses that something has gone wrong, says that it was he who
was with _Susanna_ and jumped out of the window. But the gardener has
found a paper. He shows it. It is _Cherubino's_ commission. How did
_Figaro_ come by it? The _Countess_ whispers something to _Figaro_.
Ah, yes; _Cherubino_ handed it to him in order that he should obtain
the missing seal.

Everything appears to be cleared up when _Marcellina_, accompanied by
_Bartolo_, comes to lodge formal complaint against _Figaro_ for breach
of promise, which for the _Count_ is a much desired pretext to refuse
again his consent to _Figaro's_ wedding with _Susanna_. These, the
culminating episodes of this act, form a finale which is justly
admired, a finale so gradually developed and so skilfully evolved
that, although only the principals participate in it, it is as
effective as if it employed a full ensemble of soloists, chorus, and
orchestra worked up in the most elaborate fashion. Indeed, for
effectiveness produced by simple means, the operas of Mozart are
models.

But to return to the story. At the trial in Act III, between
_Marcellina_ and _Figaro_, it develops that _Figaro_ is her long-lost
natural son. _Susanna_ pays the costs of the trial and nothing now
seems to stand in the way of her union with _Figaro_. The _Count_,
however, is not yet entirely cured of his fickle fancies. So the
_Countess_ and _Susanna_ hit upon still another scheme in this play of
complications. During the wedding festivities _Susanna_ is to contrive
to send secretly to the _Count_ a note, in which she invites him to
meet her. Then the _Countess_, dressed in _Susanna's_ clothes, is to
meet him at the place named. _Figaro_ knows nothing of this plan.
Chancing to find out about the note, he too becomes jealous--another,
though minor, contribution to the mix-up of emotions. In this act the
concoction of the letter by the _Countess_ and _Susanna_ is the basis
of the most beautiful vocal number in the opera, the "letter duet" or
Canzonetta sull'aria (the "Canzonetta of the Zephyr")--"Che soave
zeffiretto" (Hither gentle zephyr); an exquisite melody, in which the
lady dictates, the maid writes down, and the voices of both blend in
comment.

[Music]

The final Act brings about the desired result after a series of
amusing _contretemps_ in the garden. The _Count_ sinks on his knees
before his _Countess_ and, as the curtain falls, there is reason to
hope that he is prepared to mend his ways.

Regarding the early performances of "Figaro" in this country, these
early performances were given "with Mozart's music, but adapted by
Henry Rowley Bishop." When I was a boy, a humorous way of commenting
upon an artistic sacrilege was to exclaim: "Ah! Mozart improved by
Bishop!" I presume the phrase came down from these early
representations of "The Marriage of Figaro." Bishop was the composer
of "Home, Sweet Home." In 1839 his wife eloped with Bochsa, the harp
virtuoso, afterwards settled in New York, and for many years sang in
concert and taught under the name of Mme. Anna Bishop.


DON GIOVANNI

     Opera in two acts by Mozart; text by Lorenzo da Ponte.
     Productions, Prague, Oct. 29, 1787; Vienna, May 17, 1788;
     London, April 12, 1817; New York, Park Theatre, May 23,
     1826.

     Original title: "Il Dissoluto Punito, ossia il Don Giovanni"
     (The Reprobate Punished, or Don Giovanni). The work was
     originally characterized as an _opera buffa_, or _dramma
     giocoso_, but Mozart's noble setting lifted it out of that
     category.

     CHARACTERS

     DON PEDRO, the Commandant                        _Bass_
     DONNA ANNA, his daughter                      _Soprano_
     DON OTTAVIO, her betrothed                      _Tenor_
     DON GIOVANNI                                 _Baritone_
     LEPORELLO, his servant                           _Bass_
     DONNA ELVIRA                                  _Soprano_
     ZERLINA                                       _Soprano_
     MASETTO, betrothed to ZERLINA                   _Tenor_
     [Transcriber's Note: should be 'Baritone']

"Don Giovanni" was presented for the first time in Prague, because
Mozart, satisfied with the manner in which Bondini's troupe had sung
his "Marriage of Figaro" a little more than a year before, had agreed
to write another work for the same house.

The story on which da Ponte based his libretto--the statue of a
murdered man accepting an insolent invitation to banquet with his
murderer, appearing at the feast and dragging him down to hell--is
very old. It goes back to the Middle Ages, probably further. A French
authority considers that da Ponte derived his libretto from "Le Festin
de Pierre," Molière's version of the old tale. Da Ponte, however, made
free use of "Il Convitato di Pietra" (The Stone-Guest), a libretto
written by the Italian theatrical poet Bertati for the composer
Giuseppe Gazzaniga. Whoever desires to follow up this interesting
phase of the subject will find the entire libretto of Bertati's
"Convitato" reprinted, with a learned commentary by Chrysander, in
volume iv of the _Vierteljahrheft für Musikwissenschaft_ (Music
Science Quarterly), a copy of which is in the New York Public Library.

Mozart agreed to hand over the finished score in time for the autumn
season of 1787, for the sum of one hundred ducats ($240). Richard
Strauss receives for a new opera a guarantee of ten performances at a
thousand dollars--$10,000 in all--and, of course, his royalties
thereafter. There is quite a distinction in these matters between the
eighteenth century and the present. And what a lot of good a few
thousand dollars would have done the impecunious composer of the
immortal "Don Giovanni!" Also, one is tempted to ask oneself if any
modern ten thousand dollar opera will live as long as the two hundred
and forty dollar one which already is 130 years old.

Bondini's company, for which Mozart wrote his masterpiece of dramatic
music, furnished the following cast: _Don Giovanni_, Signor Bassi,
twenty-two years old, a fine baritone, an excellent singer and actor;
_Donna Anna_, Signora Teresa Saporiti; _Donna Elvira_, Signora
Catarina Micelli, who had great talent for dramatic expression;
_Zerlina_, Signora Teresa Bondini, wife of the manager; _Don Ottavio_,
Signor Antonio Baglioni, with a sweet, flexible tenor voice;
_Leporello_, Signor Felice Ponziani, an excellent basso comico; _Don
Pedro_ (the Commandant), and _Masetto_, Signor Giuseppe Lolli.

Mozart directed the rehearsals, had the singers come to his house to
study, gave them advice how some of the difficult passages should be
executed, explained the characters they represented, and exacted
finish, detail, and accuracy. Sometimes he even chided the artists for
an Italian impetuosity, which might be out of keeping with the charm
of his melodies. At the first rehearsal, however, not being satisfied
with the way in which Signora Bondini gave _Zerlina's_ cry of terror
from behind the scenes, when the _Don_ is supposed to attempt her
ruin, Mozart left the orchestra and went upon the stage. Ordering the
first act finale to be repeated from the minuet on, he concealed
himself in the wings. There, in the peasant dress of _Zerlina_, with
its short skirt, stood Signora Bondini, waiting for her cue. When it
came, Mozart quickly reached out a hand from his place of concealment
and pinched her leg. She gave a piercing shriek. "There! That is how I
want it," he said, emerging from the wings, while the Bondini, not
knowing whether to laugh or blush, did both.

One of the most striking features of the score, the warning words
which the statue of the _Commandant_, in the plaza before the
cathedral of Seville, utters within the hearing of _Don Giovanni_ and
_Leporello_, was originally accompanied by the trombones only. At
rehearsal in Prague, Mozart, not satisfied with the way the passage
was played, stepped over toward the desks at which the trombonists
sat.

One of them spoke up: "It can't be played any better. Even you
couldn't teach us how."

Mozart smiled. "Heaven forbid," he said, "that I should attempt to
teach you how to play the trombone. But let me have the parts."

Looking them over he immediately made up his mind what to do. With a
few quick strokes of the pen, he added the wood-wind instruments as
they are now found in the score.

It is well known that the overture of "Don Giovanni" was written
almost on the eve of the first performance. Mozart passed a gay
evening with some friends. One of them said to him: "Tomorrow the
first performance of 'Don Giovanni' will take place, and you have not
yet composed the overture!" Mozart pretended to get nervous about it
and withdrew to his room, where he found music-paper, pens, and ink.
He began to compose about midnight. Whenever he grew sleepy, his wife,
who was by his side, entertained him with stories to keep him awake.
It is said that it took him but three hours to produce this overture.

The next evening, a little before the curtain rose, the copyists
finished transcribing the parts for the orchestra. Hardly had they
brought the sheets, still wet, to the theatre, when Mozart, greeted by
enthusiastic applause, entered the orchestra and took his seat at the
piano. Although the musicians had not had time to rehearse the
overture, they played it with such precision that the audience broke
out into fresh applause. As the curtain rose and _Leporello_ came
forward to sing his solo, Mozart laughingly whispered to the musicians
near him: "Some notes fell under the stands. But it went well."

The overture consists of an introduction which reproduces the scene of
the banquet at which the statue appears. It is followed by an allegro
which characterizes the impetuous, pleasure-seeking _Don_, oblivious
to consequences. It reproduces the dominant character of the opera.

Without pause, Mozart links up the overture with the song of
_Leporello_. The four principal personages of the opera appear early
in the proceedings. The tragedy which brings them together so soon and
starts the action, gives an effective touch of fore-ordained
retribution to the misdeeds upon which _Don Giovanni_ so gaily enters.
This early part of the opera divides itself into four episodes.
Wrapped in his cloak and seated in the garden of a house in Seville,
Spain, which _Don Giovanni_, on amorous adventure bent, has
entered secretly during the night--it is the residence of the
_Commandant_--_Leporello_ is complaining of the fate which makes him a
servant to such a restless and dangerous master. "Notte e giorno
faticar" (Never rest by day or night), runs his song.

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Scotti as Don Giovanni]

_Don Giovanni_ hurriedly issues from the house, pursued by _Donna
Anna_. There follows a trio in which the wrath of the insulted woman,
the annoyance of the libertine, and the cowardice of _Leporello_ are
expressed simultaneously and in turn in manner most admirable. _The
Commandant_, attracted by the disturbance, arrives, draws his sword,
and a duel ensues. In the unequal combat between the aged
_Commandant_ and the agile _Don_, the _Commandant_ receives a fatal
wound. The trio which follows between _Don Giovanni_, the dying
_Commandant_, and _Leporello_ is a unique passage in the history of
musical art. The genius of Mozart, tender, profound, pathetic,
religious, is revealed in its entirety. Written in a solemn rhythm and
in the key of F minor, so appropriate to dispose the mind to a gentle
sadness, this trio, which fills only eighteen measures, contains in a
restricted outline, but in master-strokes, the fundamental idea of
this mysterious drama of crime and retribution. While the _Commandant_
is breathing his last, emitting notes broken by long pauses, _Donna
Anna_, who, during the duel between her father and _Don Giovanni_, has
hurried off for help, returns accompanied by her servants and by _Don
Ottavio_, her affianced. She utters a cry of terror at seeing the dead
body of her father. The recitative which expresses her despair is
intensely dramatic. The duet which she sings with _Don Ottavio_ is
both impassioned and solicitous, impetuous on her part, solicitous on
his; for the rôle of _Don Ottavio_ is stamped with the delicacy of
sentiment, the respectful reserve of a well-born youth who is
consoling the woman who is to be his wife. The passage, "Lascia, O
cara, la rimembranza amara!" (Through love's devotion, dear one) is of
peculiar beauty in musical expression.

After _Donna Anna_ and _Don Ottavio_ have left, there enters _Donna
Elvira_. The air she sings expresses a complicated nuance of passion.
_Donna Elvira_ is another of _Don Giovanni's_ deserted ones. There are
in the tears of this woman not only the grief of one who has been
loved and now implores heaven for comfort, but also the indignation of
one who has been deserted and betrayed. When she cries with emotion:
"Ah! chi mi dice mai quel barbaro dov'è?" (In memory still lingers his
love's delusive sway) one feels that, in spite of her outbursts of
anger, she is ready to forgive, if only a regretful smile shall
recall to her the man who was able to charm her.

_Don Giovanni_ hears from afar the voice of a woman in tears. He
approaches, saying: "Cerchiam di consolare il suo tormento" (I must
seek to console her sorrow). "Ah! yes," murmurs _Leporello_, under his
breath: "Così ne consolò mille e otto cento" (He has consoled fully
eighteen hundred). _Leporello_ is charged by _Don Giovanni_, who,
recognizing _Donna Elvira_, hurries away, to explain to her the
reasons why he deserted her. The servant fulfils his mission as a
complaisant valet. For it is here that he sings the "Madamina" air,
which is so famous, and in which he relates with the skill of a
historian the numerous amours of his master in the different parts of
the world.

The "Air of Madamina," "Madamina! il catalogo"--(Dear lady, the
catalogue) is a perfect passage of its kind; an exquisite mixture of
grace and finish, of irony and sentiment, of comic declamation and
melody, the whole enhanced by the poetry and skill of the accessories.
There is nothing too much, nothing too little; no excess of detail to
mar the whole. Every word is illustrated by the composer's imagination
without his many brilliant sallies injuring the general effect.
According to _Leporello's_ catalogue his master's adventures in love
have numbered 2065. To these Italy has contributed 245 [Transcriber's
Note: should be '640'], Germany 231, France 100, Turkey 91, and Spain,
his native land, 1003. The recital enrages _Donna Elvira_. She vows
vengeance upon her betrayer.

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Sembrich as Zerlina in "Don Giovanni"]

The scene changes to the countryside of _Don Giovanni's_ palace near
Seville. A troop of gay peasants is seen arriving. The young and
pretty _Zerlina_ with _Masetto_, her affianced, and their friends are
singing and dancing in honour of their approaching marriage. _Don
Giovanni_ and _Leporello_ join this gathering of light-hearted and
simple young people. Having cast covetous eyes upon _Zerlina_, and
having aroused her vanity and her spirit of coquetry by polished words
of gallantry, the _Don_ orders _Leporello_ to get rid of the jealous
_Masetto_ by taking the entire gathering--excepting, of course,
_Zerlina_--to his château. _Leporello_ grumbles, but carries out his
master's order. The latter, left alone with _Zerlina_, sings a duet
with her which is one of the gems, not alone of this opera, but of
opera in general: "Là ci darem la mano!" (Your hand in mine, my
dearest). _Donna Elvira_ appears and by her denunciation of _Don
Giovanni_, "Ah! fuggi il traditore," makes clear to _Zerlina_ the
character of her fascinating admirer. _Donna Anna_ and _Don Ottavio_
come upon the stage and sing a quartette which begins: "Non ti fidar,
o misera, di quel ribaldo cor" (Place not thy trust, O mourning one,
in this polluted soul), at the end of which _Donna Anna_, as _Don
Giovanni_ departs, recognizes in his accents the voice of her father's
assassin. Her narrative of the events of that terrible night is a
declamatory recitative "in style as bold and as tragic as the finest
recitatives of Gluck."

_Don Giovanni_ orders preparations for the festival in his palace. He
gives his commands to _Leporello_ in the "Champagne aria," "Finch' han
dal vino" (Wine, flow a fountain), which is almost breathless with
exuberance of anticipated revel. Then there is the ingratiating air of
_Zerlina_ begging _Masetto's_ forgiveness for having flirted with the
_Don_, "Batti, batti, o bel Masetto" (Chide me, chide me, dear
Masetto), a number of enchanting grace, followed by a brilliantly
triumphant allegro, "Pace, pace o vita mia" (Love, I see you're now
relenting).

[Music]

The finale to the first act of "Don Giovanni" rightly passes for one
of the masterpieces of dramatic music. _Leporello_, having opened a
window to let the fresh evening air enter the palace hall, the violins
of a small orchestra within are heard in the first measures of the
graceful minuet. _Leporello_ sees three maskers, two women and a man,
outside. In accordance with custom they are bidden to enter. _Don
Giovanni_ does not know that they are _Donna Anna_, _Donna Elvira_,
and _Don Ottavio_, bent upon seeking the murderer of the _Commandant_
and bringing him to justice. But even had he been aware of their
purpose it probably would have made no difference, for courage this
dissolute character certainly had.

After a moment of hesitation, after having taken council together, and
repressing a movement of horror which they feel at the sight of the
man whose crimes have darkened their lives, _Donna Elvira_, _Donna
Anna_, and _Don Ottavio_ decide to carry out their undertaking at all
cost and to whatever end. Before entering the château, they pause on
the threshold and, their souls moved by a holy fear, they address
Heaven in one of the most touching prayers written by the hand of man.
It is the number known throughout the world of music as the "Trio of
the Masks," "Protegga, il giusto cielo"--(Just Heaven, now defend
us)--one of those rare passages which, by its clearness of form, its
elegance of musical diction, and its profundity of sentiment, moves
the layman and charms the connoisseur.

[Music:

     D ANNA
     Protegga il giusto cielo

     D ELVIRA
     Vendichi

     D OTTAV
     Protegga il giusto cielo]

The festivities begin with the familiar minuet. Its graceful rhythm is
prolonged indefinitely as a fundamental idea, while in succession,
two small orchestras on the stage, take up, one a rustic quadrille in
double time, the other a waltz. Notwithstanding the differences in
rhythm, the three dances are combined with a skill that piques the ear
and excites admiration. The scene would be even more natural and
entertaining than it usually is, if the orchestras on the stage always
followed the direction _accordano_ (tune up) which occurs in the score
eight bars before each begins to play its dance, and if the dances
themselves were carried out according to directions. Only the ladies
and gentlemen should engage in the minuet, the peasants in the
quadrille; and before _Don Giovanni_ leads off _Zerlina_ into an
adjoining room he should have taken part with her in this dance, while
_Leporello_ seeks to divert the jealous _Masetto's_ attention by
seizing him in an apparent exuberance of spirits and insisting on
dancing the waltz with him. _Masetto's_ suspicions, however, are not
to be allayed. He breaks away from _Leporello_. The latter hurries to
warn his master. But just as he has passed through the door,
_Zerlina's_ piercing shriek for help is heard from within. _Don
Giovanni_ rushes out, sword in hand, dragging out with him none other
than poor _Leporello_, whom he has opportunely seized in the entrance,
and whom, under pretence that he is the guilty party, he threatens to
kill in order to turn upon him the suspicion that rests upon himself.
But this ruse fails to deceive any one. _Donna Anna_, _Donna Elvira_,
and _Don Ottavio_ unmask and accuse _Don Giovanni_ of the murder of
the _Commandant_, "Tutto già si sà" (Everything is known and you are
recognized). Taken aback, at first, _Don Giovanni_ soon recovers
himself. Turning, at bay, he defies the enraged crowd. A storm is
rising without. A storm sweeps over the orchestra. Thunder growls in
the basses, lightning plays on the fiddles. _Don Giovanni_, cool,
intrepid, cuts a passage through the crowd upon which, at the same
time, he hurls his contempt. (In a performance at the Academy of
Music, New York, about 1872, I saw _Don Giovanni_ stand off the crowd
with a pistol.)

The second act opens with a brief duet between _Don Giovanni_ and
_Leporello_. The trio which follows: "Ah! taci, ingiusto core" (Ah,
silence, heart rebellious), for _Donna Elvira_, _Leporello_, and _Don
Giovanni_, is an exquisite passage. _Donna Elvira_, leaning sadly on a
balcony, allows her melancholy regrets to wander in the pale moonlight
which envelops her figure in a semi-transparent gloom. In spite of the
scene which she has recently witnessed, in spite of wrongs she herself
has endured, she cannot hate _Don Giovanni_ or efface his image from
her heart. Her reward is that her recreant lover in the darkness
below, changes costume with his servant and while _Leporello_,
disguised as the _Don_, attracts _Donna Elvira_ into the garden, the
cavalier himself addresses to _Zerlina_, who has been taken under
_Donna Elvira's_ protection, the charming serenade: "Deh! vieni alla
finestra" (Appear, love at thy window), which he accompanies on the
mandolin, or should so accompany, for usually the accompaniment is
played pizzicato by the orchestra.

As the result of complications, which I shall not attempt to follow,
_Masetto_, who is seeking to administer physical chastisement to _Don
Giovanni_, receives instead a drubbing from the latter.

_Zerlina_, while by no means indifferent to the attentions of the
dashing _Don_, is at heart faithful to _Masetto_ and, while I fancy
she is by no means obtuse to the humorous aspect of his chastisement
by _Don Giovanni_, she comes trippingly out of the house and consoles
the poor fellow with the graceful measures of "Vedrai carino, se sei
buonino" (List, and I'll find love, if you are kind love).

Shortly after this episode comes _Don Ottavio's_ famous air, the solo
number which makes the rôle worth while, "Il mio tesoro intanto" (Fly
then, my love, entreating). Upon this air praise has been exhausted.
It has been called the "pietra di paragone" of tenors--the touchstone,
the supreme test of classic song.

[Music]

Retribution upon _Don Giovanni_ is not to be too long deferred. After
the escapade of the serenade and the drubbing of _Masetto_, the _Don_,
who has made off, chances to meet in the churchyard (or in the public
square) with _Leporello_, who meanwhile has gotten rid of _Donna
Elvira_. It is about two in the morning. They see the newly erected
statue to the murdered _Commandant_. _Don Giovanni_ bids it, through
_Leporello_, to supper with him in his palace. Will it accept? The
statue answers, "Yea!" _Leporello_ is terrified. And _Don Giovanni_?

"In truth the scene is bizarre. The old boy comes to supper. Now
hasten and bestir yourself to spread a royal feast."

Such is the sole reflection that the fateful miracle, to which he has
just been a witness, draws from this miscreant, who, whatever else he
may be, is brave.

Back in his palace, _Don Giovanni_ seats himself at table and sings of
the pleasures of life. An orchestra on the stage plays airs from
Vincente Martino's "Una Cosa Rara" (A Rare Thing); Sarti's "Fra Due
Litiganti" (Between Two Litigants), and Mozart's own "Nozze di
Figaro," _Leporello_ announcing the selections. The "Figaro" air is
"Non più andrai" (Play no more, boy, the part of a lover).

_Donna Elvira_ enters. On her knees she begs the man who has betrayed
her to mend his ways. Her plea falls on deaf ears. She leaves. Her
shriek is heard from the corridor. She re-enters and flees the palace
by another door.

"Va a veder che cos'è stato" (Go, and see what it is) _Don Giovanni_
commands _Leporello_.

The latter returns trembling with fright. He has seen in the corridor
"l'uom di sasso, l'uomo bianco"--the man of stone, the big white man.

Seizing a candle, drawing his sword, _Don Giovanni_ boldly goes into
the corridor. A few moments later he backs into the room, receding
before the statue of the _Commandant_. The lights go out. All is dark
save for the flame of the candle in _Don Giovanni's_ hand. Slowly,
with heavy footsteps that re-echo, the statue enters. It speaks.

"Don Giovanni, you have invited me to sit at table with you. Lo! I am
here."

Well knowing the fate in store for him, yet, with unebbing courage,
_Don Giovanni_ nonchalantly commands _Leporello_ to serve supper.

"Desist!" exclaims the statue. "He who has sat at a heavenly banquet,
does not break the bread of mortals.... Don Giovanni, will you come to
sup with me?"

"I will," fearlessly answers the _Don_.

"Give me your hand in gage thereof."

"Here it is."

_Don Giovanni_ extends his hand. The statue's huge hand of stone
closes upon it.

"Huh! what an icy grasp!"--"Repent! Change your course at your last
hour."--"No, far from me such a thought."--"Repent, O miscreant!"--"No,
you old fool."--"Repent!"--"No!"

Nothing daunts him. A fiery pit opens. Demons seize him--unrepentant
to the end--and drag him down.

The music of the scene is gripping, yet accomplished without an
addition to the ordinary orchestra of Mozart's day, without straining
after effect, without any means save those commonly to his hand.

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Scotti as Don Giovanni]

In the modern opera house the final curtain falls upon this scene.
In the work, however, there is another scene in which the other
characters moralize upon _Don Giovanni's_ end. There is one
accusation, however, none can urge against him. He was not a coward.
Therein lies the appeal of the character. His is a brilliant,
impetuous figure, with a dash of philosophy, which is that, sometime,
somewhere, in the course of his amours, he will discover the perfect
woman from whose lips he will be able to draw the sweetness of all
women. Moreover he is a villain with a keen sense of humour.
Inexcusable in real life, he is a debonair, fascinating figure on the
stage, whereas _Donna Anna_, _Donna Elvira_, and _Don Ottavio_ are
mere hinges in the drama and as creations purely musical. _Zerlina_,
on the other hand, is one of Mozart's most delectable characters.
_Leporello_, too, is clearly drawn, dramatically and musically; a
coward, yet loyal to the master who appeals to a strain of the
humorous in him and whose courage he admires.

For the Vienna production Mozart wrote three new vocal numbers, which
are printed in the score as additions. Caterina Cavalieri, the
_Elvira_, had complained to Mozart, that the Viennese public did not
appreciate her as did audiences of other cities and begged him for
something that would give her voice full scope. The result was the
fine aria: "Mi tradì quell'alma ingrata." The _Ottavio_, Signor
Morello, was considered unequal to "Il mio tesoro," so Mozart wrote
the less exacting "Dalla sua pace," for him. To amuse the public he
inserted a comic duet, "Per queste tue manine," for _Zerlina_ and
_Leporello_. This usually is omitted. The other two inserts were
interpolated in the second act of the opera before the finale. In the
Metropolitan Opera House version, however, _Donna Elvira_ sings "Mi
tradì" to express her rage after the "Madamina" of Leporello; and _Don
Ottavio_ sings "Dalla sua pace" before the scene in _Don Giovanni's_
château.

The first performance of "Don Giovanni" in America took place in the
Park Theatre, New York, on Tuesday evening, May 23, 1826. I have
verified the date in the file of the New York _Evening Post_. "This
evening for the first time in America, the semi-serious opera of 'Il
Don Giovanni,'" reads the advertisement of that date. Then follows the
cast. Manuel Garcia played the title rôle; Manuel Garcia, Jr.,
afterwards inventor of the laryngoscope, who reached the age of 101,
dying in London in 1906, was _Leporello_; Mme. Barbieri, _Donna Anna_;
Mme. Garcia, _Donna Elvira_; Signorina Maria Garcia (afterwards famous
under her married name of Malibran), _Zerlina_; Milon, whom Mr.
Krehbiel identifies as a violoncellist later with the Philharmonic
Society, _Don Ottavio_; and Carlo Angrisani, _Masetto_, a rôle he had
sung at the first London performance of the work.

Da Ponte, the librettist of the work, who had become Professor of
Italian at Columbia College, had induced Garcia to put on the opera.
At the first performance during the finale of the first act everything
went at sixes and sevens, in spite of the efforts of Garcia, in the
title rôle, to keep things together. Finally, sword in hand, he
stepped to the front of the stage, ordered the performance stopped,
and, exhorting the singers not to commit the crime of ruining a
masterwork, started the finale over again, which now went all right.

It is related by da Ponte that "my 'Don Giovanni,'" as he called it,
made such a success that a friend of his who always fell asleep at
operatic performances, not only remained awake during the whole of
"Don Giovanni," but told him he couldn't sleep a wink the rest of the
night for excitement.

Pauline Viardot-Garcia, sister of Signorina Garcia (afterwards Mme.
Malibran), the _Zerlina_ of the first New York performance, owned the
original autograph score of "Don Giovanni." She bequeathed it to the
Paris Conservatoire.

The opera has engaged the services of famous artists. Faure and Maurel
were great _Don Giovannis_, Jean de Reszke sang the rôle, while he was
still a baritone; Scotti made his _début_ at the Metropolitan Opera
House, December 27, 1899, in the rôle, with Nordica as _Donna Anna_,
Suzanne Adams, as _Donna Elvira_, Sembrich as _Zerlina_, and Édouard
de Reszke as _Leporello_. Renaud appeared as _Don Giovanni_ at the
Manhattan Opera House. Lablache was accounted the greatest of
_Leporellos_. The rôle of _Don Ottavio_ has been sung by Rubini and
Mario. At the Mozart Festival, Salzburg, 1914, the opera was given
with Lilli Lehmann, Farrar, and McCormack in the cast.

A curious aside in the history of the work was an "adaptation,"
produced by Kalkbrenner in Paris, 1805. How greatly this differed from
the original may be judged from the fact that the trio of the masks
was sung, not by _Donna Anna_, _Donna Elvira_, and _Don Ottavio_, but
by three policemen!

[Illustration: Photo by White

Alten and Goritz as Papagena and Papageno in "The Magic Flute"]


THE MAGIC FLUTE

DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE

     Opera in two acts by Mozart; words by Emanuel Schikaneder
     and Gieseke. Produced, September 30, 1791, in Vienna, in the
     Theatre auf der Wieden; Paris, 1801, as "Les Mystères
     d'Isis"; London, King's Theatre, June 6, 1811 (Italian);
     Covent Garden, May 27, 1833 (German); Drury Lane, March 10,
     1838 (English); New York, Park Theatre, April 17, 1833
     (English). The rôle of _Astrofiammante, Queen of the Night_,
     has been sung here by Carlotta Patti, Ilma di Murska,
     Gerster, Sembrich, and Hempel.

     CHARACTERS

     SARASTRO, High Priest of Isis                    _Bass_
     TAMINO, an Egyptian Prince                      _Tenor_
     PAPAGENO, a bird-catcher                     _Baritone_
     ASTROFIAMMANTE, Queen of the Night            _Soprano_
     PAMINA, her daughter                          _Soprano_
     MONOSTATOS, a Moor, chief slave of
       the Temple                                 _Baritone_
     PAPAGENA                                      _Soprano_

     Three Ladies-in-Waiting to the Queen; Three Youths of the
     Temple; Priests, Priestesses, Slaves, etc.

     _Time_--Egypt, about the reign of Rameses I.

     _Place_--Near and at the Temple of Isis, Memphis.

The libretto to "The Magic Flute" is considered such a jumble of
nonsense that it is as well to endeavour to extract some sense from
it.

Emanuel Johann Schikaneder, who wrote it with the aid of a chorister
named Gieseke, was a friend of Mozart and a member of the same Masonic
Lodge. He also was the manager of a theatrical company and had
persuaded Mozart to compose the music to a puppet show for him. He had
selected for this show the story of "Lulu" by Liebeskind, which had
appeared in a volume of Oriental tales brought out by Wieland under
the title of "Dschinnistan." In the original tale a wicked sorcerer
has stolen the daughter of the Queen of Night, who is restored by a
Prince by means of magic. While Schikaneder was busy on his libretto,
a fairy story by Perinet, music by Wenzel Müller, and treating of the
same subject, was given at another Viennese theatre. Its great success
interfered with Schikaneder's original plan.

At that time, however, freemasonry was a much discussed subject. It
had been interdicted by Maria Theresa and armed forces were employed
to break up the lodges. As a practical man Schikaneder saw his chance
to exploit the interdicted rites on the stage. Out of the wicked
sorcerer he made _Sarastro_, the sage priest of Isis. The ordeals of
_Tamino_ and _Pamina_ became copies of the ceremonials of freemasonry.
He also laid the scene of the opera in Egypt, where freemasonry
believes its rites to have originated. In addition to all this
Mozart's beautiful music ennobled the libretto even in its dull and
unpoetical passages, and lent to the whole a touch of the mysterious
and sacred. "The muse of Mozart lightly bears her century of
existence," writes a French authority, of this score.

Because of its supposed relation to freemasonry, commentators have
identified the vengeful _Queen of the Night_ with Maria Theresa, and
_Tamino_ with the Emperor. _Pamina_, _Papageno_, and _Papagena_ are
set down as types of the people, and _Monostatos_ as the fugleman of
monasticism.

Mozart wrote on "The Magic Flute" from March until July and in
September, 1791. September 30, two months before his death, the first
performance was given.

In the overture to "The Magic Flute" the heavy reiterated chords
represent, it has been suggested, the knocking at the door of the
lodge room, especially as they are heard again in the temple scene,
when the novitiate of _Tamino_ is about to begin. The brilliancy of
the fugued allegro often has been commented on as well as the
resemblance of its theme to that of Clementi's sonata in B-flat.

The story of "The Magic Flute" opens Act I, with _Tamino_ endeavouring
to escape from a huge snake. He trips in running and falls
unconscious. Hearing his cries for help, three black-garbed
_Ladies-in-Waiting_ of the _Queen of the Night_ appear and kill the
snake with their spears. Quite unwillingly they leave the handsome
youth, who, on recovering consciousness, sees dancing toward him an
odd-looking man entirely covered with feathers. It is _Papageno_, a
bird-catcher. He tells the astonished _Tamino_ that this is the realm
of the _Queen of the Night_. Nor, seeing that the snake is dead, does
he hesitate to boast that it was he who killed the monster. For this
lie he is immediately punished. The three _Ladies-in-Waiting_ reappear
and place a padlock on his mouth. Then they show _Tamino_ the
miniature of a maiden, whose magical beauty at once fills his heart
with ardent love. Enter the _Queen of the Night_. She tells _Tamino_
the portrait is that of her daughter, _Pamina_, who has been taken
from her by a wicked sorcerer, _Sarastro_. She has chosen _Tamino_ to
deliver the maiden and as a reward he will receive her hand in
marriage. The _Queen_ then disappears and the three _Ladies-in-Waiting_
come back. They take the padlock from _Papageno's_ mouth, give him a
set of chimes and _Tamino_ a golden flute. By the aid of these magical
instruments they will be able to escape the perils of their journey,
on which they will be accompanied by three youths or genii.

Change of scene. A richly furnished apartment in _Sarastro's_ palace
is disclosed. A brutal Moor, _Monostatos_, is pursuing _Pamina_ with
unwelcome attentions. The appearance of _Papageno_ puts him to flight.
The bird-catcher recognizes _Pamina_ as the daughter of the _Queen of
the Night_, and assures her that she will soon be rescued. In the
meantime the _Three Youths_ guide _Tamino_ to a grove where three
temples stand. He is driven away from the doors of two, but at the
third there appears a priest who informs him that _Sarastro_ is no
tyrant, no wicked sorcerer as the _Queen_ had warned him, but a man of
wisdom and of noble character.

The sound of _Papageno's_ voice arouses _Tamino_ from the meditations
inspired by the words of the priest. He hastens forth and seeks to
call his companion by playing on his flute. _Papageno_ is not alone.
He is trying to escape with _Pamina_, but is prevented by the
appearance of _Monostatos_ and some slaves, who endeavour to seize
them. But _Papageno_ sets the Moor and his slaves dancing by playing
on his magic chimes.

Trumpet blasts announce the coming of _Sarastro_. _Pamina_ falls at
the feet of the High Priest and explains that she was trying to escape
the unwelcome attentions of the Moor. The latter now drags _Tamino_
in, but instead of the reward he expects, receives a sound flogging.
By the command of _Sarastro_, _Tamino_ and _Pamina_ are brought into
the Temple of Ordeals, where they must prove that they are worthy of
the higher happiness.

Act II. In the Palm Grove. _Sarastro_ informs the priests of the plans
which he has laid. The gods have decided that _Pamina_ shall become
the wife of the noble youth _Tamino_. _Tamino_, however, must prove,
by his own power, that he is worthy of admission to the Temple.
Therefore _Sarastro_ has taken under his protection _Pamina_, daughter
of the _Queen of the Night_, to whom is due all darkness and
superstition. But the couple must go through severe ordeals in order
to be worthy of entering the Temple of Light, and thus of thwarting
the sinister machinations of the _Queen_.

In the succeeding scenes we see these fabulous ordeals, which
_Tamino_, with the assistance of his magic flute and his own purity of
purpose, finally overcomes in company with _Pamina_. Darkness is
banished and the young couple enter into the light of the Temple of
the Sun. _Papageno_ also fares well, for he receives _Papagena_ for
wife.

There is much nonsense and even buffoonery in "The Magic Flute"; and,
in spite of real nobility in the rôle and music of _Sarastro_, Mr.
Krehbiel's comment that the piece should be regarded as somewhat in
the same category as a Christmas pantomime is by no means far-fetched.
It lends itself to elaborate production, and spectacular performances
of it have been given at the Metropolitan Opera House.

Its representation requires for the rôle of _Astrofiammante, Queen of
the Night_, a soprano of extraordinarily high range and agility of
voice, as each of the two great airs of this vengeful lady extend to
high F and are so brilliant in style that one associates with them
almost anything but the dire outpouring of threats their text is
intended to convey. They were composed because Mozart's
sister-in-law, Josepha Weber (Mme. Hofer) was in the cast of the first
performance and her voice was such as has been described above. The
_Queen_ has an air in Act I and another in Act II. A quotation from
the second, the so-called "Vengeance aria," will show the range and
brilliancy of voice required of a singer in the rôle of
_Astrofiammante_.

[Music]

One is surprised to learn that this _tour de force_ of brilliant
vocalization is set to words beginning: "Vengeance of hell is boiling
in my bosom"; for by no means does it boil with a vengeance.

_Papageno_ in his dress of feathers is an amusing character. His first
song, "A fowler bold in me you see," with interludes on his pipes, is
jovial; and after his mouth has been padlocked his inarticulate and
oft-repeated "Hm!" can always be made provocative of laughter. With
_Pamina_ he has a charming duet "The manly heart that love desires."
The chimes with which he causes _Monostatos_ and his slaves to dance,
willy-nilly, are delightful and so is his duet with _Papagena_, near
the end of the opera. _Tamino_, with the magic flute, charms the wild
beasts. They come forth from their lairs and lie at his feet. "Thy
magic tones shall speak for me," is his principal air. The concerted
number for _Pamina_ and trio of female voices (the _Three Youths_ or
genii) is of exceeding grace. The two _Men in Armour_, who in one of
the scenes of the ordeals guard the portal to a subterranean cavern
and announce to _Tamino_ the awards that await him, do so to the vocal
strains of an old German sacred melody with much admired counterpoint
in the orchestra.

Next, however, in significance to the music for _Astrofiammante_ and,
indeed, of far nobler character than the airs for the _Queen of the
Night_, are the invocation of Isis by _Sarastro_, "O, Isis and
Osiris," with its interluding chant of the priests, and his air,
"Within this hallowed dwelling." Not only the solemnity of the vocal
score but the beauty of the orchestral accompaniment, so rich, yet so
restrained, justly cause these two numbers to rank with Mozart's
finest achievements.

"Die Zauberflöte" (The Magic Flute) was its composer's swan-song in
opera and perhaps his greatest popular success. Yet he is said to have
made little or nothing out of it, having reserved as his compensation
the right to dispose of copies of the score to other theatres. Copies,
however, were procured surreptitiously; his last illness set in; and,
poor business man that he was, others reaped the rewards of his
genius.

In 1801, ten years after Mozart's death, there was produced in Paris
an extraordinary version of "The Magic Flute," entitled "Les Mystères
d'Isis" (The Mysteries of Isis). Underlying this was a considerable
portion of "The Magic Flute" score, but also introduced in it were
fragments from other works of the composer ("Don Giovanni," "Figaro,"
"Clemenza di Tito") and even bits from Haydn symphonies. Yet this
hodge-podge not only had great success--owing to the magic of Mozart's
music--it actually was revived more than a quarter of a century later,
and the real "Zauberflöte" was not given in Paris until 1829.

Besides the operas discussed, Mozart produced (1781) "Idomeneo" and
(1791) "La Clemenza di Tito." In 1768, when he was twelve years old, a
one-act "Singspiel" or musical comedy, "Bastien and Bastienne," based
on a French vaudeville by Mme. Favart, was privately played in Vienna.
With text rearranged by Max Kalbeck, the graceful little piece has
been revived with success. The story is of the simplest. Two lovers,
_Bastien_ (tenor) and _Bastienne_ (soprano), have quarrelled. Without
the slightest complication in the plot, they are brought together by
the third character, an old shepherd named _Colas_ (bass). "Der
Schauspieldirektor" (The Impresario), another little comedy opera,
produced 1786, introduces that clever rogue, Schikaneder, at whose
entreaty "The Magic Flute" was composed. The other characters include
Mozart himself, and Mme. Hofer, his sister-in-law, who was the _Queen
of the Night_ in the original cast of "The Magic Flute." The story
deals with the troubles of an impresario due to the jealousy of prima
donnas. "Before they are engaged, opera singers are very engaging,
except when they are engaged in singing." This line is from H.E.
Krehbiel's translation of the libretto, produced, with "Bastien and
Bastienne" (translated by Alice Matullah, as a "lyric pastoral"), at
the Empire Theatre, New York, October 26, 1916. These charming
productions were made by the Society of American Singers with a
company including David Bispham (Schikaneder and Colas), Albert Reiss
(Mozart and Bastien), Mabel Garrison, and Lucy Gates; the direction
that of Mr. Reiss.

There remain to be mentioned two other operatic comedies by Mozart:
"The Elopement from the Serail" (Belmonte und Constanze), 1782, in
three acts; and "Così fan Tutte" (They All Do It), 1790, in two. The
music of "Così fan Tutte" is so sparkling that various attempts have
been made to relieve it of the handicap imposed by the banality of the
original libretto by da Ponte. Herman Levi's version has proven the
most successful of the various rearrangements. The characters are two
Andalusian sisters, _Fiordiligi_ (soprano), _Dorabella_ (soprano); two
officers, their fiancés, _Ferrando_ (tenor), and _Guglielmo_
(baritone); _Alfonso_ (bass); and _Despina_ (soprano), maid to the two
sisters.

_Alfonso_ lays a wager with the officers that, like all women, their
fiancées will prove unfaithful, if opportunity were offered. The men
pretend their regiment has been ordered to Havana, then return in
disguise and lay siege to the young ladies. In various ways, including
a threat of suicide, the women's sympathies are played upon. In the
original they are moved to pledge their hearts and hands to the
supposed new-comers. A reconciliation follows their simple
pronouncement that "they all do it."

In the revised version, they become cognizant of the intrigue, play
their parts in it knowingly, at the right moment disclose their
knowledge, shame their lovers, and forgive them. An actual wager laid
in Vienna is said to have furnished the basis for da Ponte's
libretto.



Ludwig van Beethoven


FIDELIO

    "Fidelio," opera in two acts, by Ludwig van Beethoven.
     Produced in three acts, as "Fidelio, oder, die eheliche
     Liebe" (Fidelio, or Conjugal Love), at the Theatre on the
     Wien [Transcriber's Note: should be 'Theater auf der Wieden,
     Vienna'], November 20, 1805. Revised and given at the
     Imperial Private Theatre, March 29, 1806, but withdrawn after
     a few performances. Again revised and successfully brought
     out May 23, 1814, at the Kärnthnerthor Theatre (Theatre at
     the Carinthian Gate), Vienna. Paris, Théâtre Lyrique, May 5,
     1860. London, King's Theatre, May 18, 1832; Covent Garden,
     June 12, 1835, with Malibran; May 20, 1851, in Italian, with
     recitatives by Balfe. New York, Park Theatre, September 9,
     1839. (See last paragraph of this article.) The libretto was
     by Sonnleithner after Bouilly; first revision by Breuning;
     second by Treitschke. Four overtures, "Leonore," Nos. 1, 2,
     and 3; and "Fidelio."

     CHARACTERS

     FLORESTAN, a Spanish Nobleman                   _Tenor_
     LEONORE, his wife, in male attire as FIDELIO  _Soprano_
     DON FERNANDO, Prime Minister of Spain            _Bass_
     PIZARRO, Governor of the prison and enemy
       to FLORESTAN                                   _Bass_
     ROCCO, chief jailer                              _Bass_
     MARCELLINA, daughter of ROCCO                 _Soprano_
     JACQUINO, assistant to ROCCO                    _Tenor_

     Soldiers, prisoners, people.

     _Time_--18th Century.

     _Place_--A fortress, near Seville, Spain, used as a prison
     for political offenders.

Ludwig van Beethoven, composer of "Fidelio," was born at Bonn,
December 16, 1770. He died at Vienna, March 26, 1827. As he composed
but this one opera, and as his fame rests chiefly on his great
achievements outside the domain of the stage--symphonies, sonatas,
etc.--it is possible, as Storck suggests in his _Opernbuch_, to
dispense with biographical data and confine ourselves to facts
relating to "Fidelio."

The libretto, which appealed to the composer by reason of its pure and
idealistic motive, was not written for Beethoven. It was a French book
by Bouilly and had been used by three composers: Pierre Gabeaux
(1798); Simon Mayr, Donizetti's teacher at Bergamo and the composer of
more than seventy operas (1805); and Paër, whose "Leonora, ossia
l'Amore Conjugale" (Leonora, or Conjugal Love) was brought out at
Dresden in December, 1804.

It was Schikaneder, the librettist and producer of Mozart's "Magic
Flute," who commissioned Beethoven to compose an opera. But it was
finally executed for Baron von Braun, who had succeeded to the
management of the Theatre on the Wien.

Beethoven's heart was bound up in the work. Conscientious to the last
detail in everything he did, this noble man, inspired by a noble
theme, appears to have put even more labour into his opera than into
any other one work. There are no less than sixteen sketches for the
opening of _Florestan's_ first air and 346 pages of sketches for the
opera. Nor did his labour in it cease when the opera was completed and
performed.

Bouilly's libretto was translated and made over for Beethoven by
Schubert's friend Joseph Sonnleithner. The opera was brought out
November 20th and repeated November 21 and 22, 1805. It was a failure.
The French were in occupation of Vienna, which the Emperor of Austria
and the court had abandoned, and conditions generally were upset. But
even Beethoven's friends did not blame the non-success of the opera
upon these untoward circumstances. It had inherent defects, as was
apparent even a century later, when at the "Fidelio" centennial
celebration in Berlin, the original version was restored and
performed.

To remedy these, Beethoven's friend, Stephan von Breuning, condensed
the three acts to two and the composer made changes in the score. This
second version was brought forward April 29, 1806, with better
success, but a quarrel with von Braun led Beethoven to withdraw it. It
seems to have required seven years for the _entente cordiale_ between
composer and manager to become re-established. Then Baron von Braun
had the book taken in hand by a practical librettist, Georg Friedrich
Treitschke. Upon receiving the revision, which greatly pleased him,
Beethoven in his turn re-revised the score. In this form "Fidelio" was
brought out May 23, 1814, in the Theatre am Kärnthnerthor. There was
no question of failure this time. The opera took its place in the
repertoire and when, eight years later, Mme. Schröder-Devrient sang
the title rôle, her success in it was sensational.

There are four overtures to the work, three entitled "Leonore" (Nos.
1, 2, and 3) and one "Fidelio." The "Leonore" overtures are
incorrectly numbered. The No. 2 was given at the original performance
and is, therefore, No. 1. The greatest and justly the most famous, the
No. 3, is really No. 2. The so-called No. 1 was composed for a
projected performance at Prague, which never came off. The score and
parts, in a copyist's hand, but with corrections by Beethoven, were
discovered after the composer's death. When it was recognized as an
overture to the opera, the conclusion that it was the earliest one,
which he probably had laid aside, was not unnaturally arrived at. The
"Fidelio" overture was intended for the second revision, but was not
ready in time. The overture to "The Ruins of Athens" was substituted.
The overture to "Fidelio" usually is played before the opera and the
"Leonore," No. 3, between the acts.

[Illustration: Photo by White

Matzenauer as Fidelio]

Of the "Leonore," No. 3, I think it is within bounds to say that it is
the first great overture that sums up in its thematic material and in
its general scope, construction, and working out, the story of the
opera which it precedes. Even the trumpet call is brought in with
stirring dramatic effect. It may be said that from this time on the
melodies of their operas were drawn on more and more by composers for
the thematic material of their overtures, which thus became
music-dramas in miniature. The overture "Leonore," No. 3, also is an
established work in the classical concert repertoire, as is also
_Leonore's_ recitative and air in the first act.

In the story of the opera, _Florestan_, a noble Spaniard, has aroused
the enmity of _Pizarro_, governor of a gloomy mediæval fortress, used
as a place of confinement for political prisoners. _Pizarro_ has been
enabled secretly to seize _Florestan_ and cast him into the darkest
dungeon of the fortress, at the same time spreading a report of his
death. Indeed, _Pizarro_ actually plans to do away with _Florestan_ by
slow starvation; or, if necessary, by means more swift.

One person, however, suspects the truth--_Leonore_, the wife of
_Florestan_. Her faithfulness, the risks she takes, the danger she
runs, in order to save her husband, and the final triumph of conjugal
love over the sinister machinations of _Pizarro_, form the motive of
the story of "Fidelio," a title derived from the name assumed by
_Leonore_, when, disguised as a man, she obtains employment as
assistant to _Rocco_, the chief jailer of the prison. _Fidelio_ has
been at work and has become a great favourite with _Rocco_, as well as
with _Marcellina_, the jailer's daughter. The latter, in fact, much
prefers the gentle, comely youth, _Fidelio_, to _Jacquino_, the
turnkey, who, before _Fidelio's_ appearance upon the scene, believed
himself to be her accepted lover. _Leonore_ cannot make her sex known
to the girl. It would ruin her plans to save her husband. Such is the
situation when the curtain rises on the first act, which is laid in
the courtyard of the prison.

Act I. The opera opens with a brisk duet between _Jacquino_ and
_Marcellina_, in which he urges her definitely to accept him and she
cleverly puts him off. Left alone she expresses her regret for
_Jacquino_, but wishes she were united with _Fidelio_. ("O wär' ich
schon mit dir vereint"--O, were I but with you united.)

Afterward she is joined by her father. Then _Leonore_ (as _Fidelio_)
enters the courtyard. She has a basket of provisions and also is
carrying some fetters which she has taken to be repaired.
_Marcellina_, seeing how weary _Leonore_ is, hastens to relieve the
supposed youth of his burden. _Rocco_ hints not only tolerantly but
even encouragingly at what he believes to be the fancy _Fidelio_ and
_Marcellina_ have taken to each other. This leads up to the quartet in
canon form, one of the notable vocal numbers of the opera, "Mir ist so
wunderbar" (How wondrous the emotion). Being a canon, the theme
enunciated by each of the four characters is the same, but if the
difference in the sentiments of each character is indicated by subtle
nuance of expression on the part of the singers, and the intonation be
correct, the beauty of this quartet becomes plain even at a first
hearing. The participants are _Leonore_, _Marcellina_, _Rocco_, and
_Jacquino_, who appears toward the close. "After this canon," say the
stage directions, so clearly is the form of the quartet recognized,
"_Jacquino_ goes back to his lodge."

[Music]

_Rocco_ then voices a song in praise of money and the need of it for
young people about to marry. ("Wenn sich Nichts mit Nichts
verbindet"--When you nothing add to nothing.) The situation is
awkward for _Leonore_, but the rescue of her husband demands that she
continue to masquerade as a man. Moreover there is an excuse in the
palpable fact that before she entered _Rocco's_ service, _Jacquino_
was in high favour with _Marcellina_ and probably will have no
difficulty in re-establishing himself therein, when the comely youth
_Fidelio_, turns out to be _Leonore_, the faithful wife of
_Florestan_.

Through a description which _Rocco_ gives of the prisoners, _Leonore_
now learns what she had not been sure of before. Her husband is
confined in this fortress and in its deepest dungeon.

A short march, with a pronounced and characteristic rhythm, announces
the approach of _Pizarro_. He looks over his despatches. One of them
warns him that _Fernando_, the Minister of State, is about to inspect
the fortress, accusations having been made to him that _Pizarro_ has
used his power as governor to wreak vengeance upon his private
enemies. A man of quick decision, _Pizarro_ determines to do away with
_Florestan_ at once. His aria, "Ha! welch' ein Augenblick!" (Ah! the
great moment!) is one of the most difficult solos in the dramatic
repertoire for bass voice. When really mastered, however, it also is
one of the most effective.

_Pizarro_ posts a trumpeter on the ramparts with a sentry to watch the
road from Seville. As soon as a state equipage with outriders is
sighted, the trumpeter is to blow a signal. Having thus made sure of
being warned of the approach of the _Minister_, he tosses a
well-filled purse to _Rocco_, and bids him "for the safety of the
State," to make away with the most dangerous of the prisoners--meaning
_Florestan_. _Rocco_ declines to commit murder, but when _Pizarro_
takes it upon himself to do the deed, _Rocco_ consents to dig a grave
in an old cistern in the vaults, so that all traces of the crime will
be hidden from the expected visitor.

_Leonore_, who has overheard the plot, now gives vent to her feelings
in the highly dramatic recitative: "Abscheulicher! wo eilst du hin!"
("Accursed one! Where hasten'st thou!"); followed by the beautiful
air, "Komm Hoffnung" (Come, hope!), a deeply moving expression of
confidence that her love and faith will enable her, with the aid of
Providence, to save her husband's life. Soon afterwards she learns
that, as _Rocco's_ assistant, she is to help him in digging the grave.
She will be near her husband and either able to aid him or at least
die with him.

The prisoners from the upper tiers are now, on _Leonore's_
intercession, permitted a brief opportunity to breathe the open air.
The cells are unlocked and they are allowed to stroll in the garden of
the fortress, until _Pizarro_, hearing of this, angrily puts an end to
it. The chorus of the prisoners, subdued like the half-suppressed joy
of fearsome beings, is one of the significant passages of the score.

Act II. The scene is in the dungeon where _Florestan_ is in heavy
chains. To one side is the old cistern covered with rubbish. Musically
the act opens with _Florestan's_ recitative and air, a fit companion
piece to _Leonore's_ "Komm Hoffnung" in Act I. The whispered duet
between _Leonore_ and _Rocco_ as they dig the grave and the orchestral
accompaniment impress one with the gruesome significance of the scene.

_Pizarro_ enters the vault, exultantly makes himself known to his
enemy, and draws his dagger for the fatal thrust. _Leonore_ throws
herself in his way. Pushed aside, she again interposes herself between
the would-be murderer and his victim, and, pointing at him a loaded
pistol, which she has had concealed about her person, cries out:
"First slay his wife!"

At this moment, in itself so tense, a trumpet call rings out from the
direction of the fortress wall. _Jacquino_ appears at the head of the
stone stairway leading down into the dungeon. The _Minister of State_
is at hand. His vanguard is at the gate. _Florestan_ is saved. There
is a rapturous duet, "O, namenlose Freude" (Joy inexpressible) for him
and the devoted wife to whom he owes his life.

In _Florestan_ the _Minister of State_ recognizes his friend, whom he
believed to have died, according to the reports set afloat by
_Pizarro_, who himself is now apprehended. To _Leonore_ is assigned
the joyful task of unlocking and loosening her husband's fetters and
freeing him from his chains. A chorus of rejoicing: "Wer ein solches
Weib errungen" (He, whom such a wife has cherished) brings the opera
to a close.

It is well said in George P. Upton's book, _The Standard Operas_, that
"as a drama and as an opera, 'Fidelio' stands almost alone in its
perfect purity, in the moral grandeur of its subject, and in the
resplendent ideality of its music." Even those who do not appreciate
the beauty of such a work, and, unfortunately their number is
considerable, cannot fail to agree with me that the trumpet call,
which brings the prison scene to a climax, is one of the most dramatic
moments in opera. I was a boy when, more than forty years ago, I first
heard "Fidelio" in Wiesbaden. But I still remember the thrill, when
that trumpet call split the air with the message that the _Minister of
State_ was in sight and that _Leonore_ had saved her husband.

[Music]

When "Fidelio" had its first American performance (New York, Park
Theatre, September 9, 1839) the opera did not fill the entire evening.
The entertainment, as a whole, was a curiosity from present-day
standards. First came Beethoven's opera, with Mrs. Martyn as
_Leonore_. Then a _pas seul_ was danced by Mme. Araline; the whole
concluding with "The Deep, Deep Sea," in which Mr. Placide appeared as
_The Great American Sea Serpent_. This seems incredible. But I have
searched for and found the advertisement in the New York _Evening
Post_, and the facts are stated.

Under Dr. Leopold Damrosch, "Fidelio" was performed at the
Metropolitan Opera House in the season of 1884-85; under Anton Seidl,
during the season of 1886-87, with Brandt and Niemann as well as with
Lehmann and Niemann as _Leonore_ and _Florestan_.

The 1886-87 representations of "Fidelio," by great artists under a
great conductor, are among the most vivid memories of opera-goers so
fortunate as to have heard them.



Weber and his Operas


Carl Maria von Weber, born at Eutin, Oldenberg, December 18, 1786,
died in London, June 5, 1826, is the composer of "Der Freischütz;"
"Euryanthe," and "Oberon."

"Der Freischütz" was first heard in Berlin, June 18, 1821. "Euryanthe"
was produced in Vienna, October 25, 1823. "Oberon" had its first
performance at Covent Garden, London, April 12, 1826. Eight weeks
later Weber died. A sufferer from consumption, his malady was
aggravated by over-exertion in finishing the score of "Oberon,"
rehearsing and conducting the opera, and attending the social
functions arranged in his honour.


DER FREISCHÜTZ

     The first American performance of this opera, which is in
     three acts, was in English. The event took place in the Park
     Theatre, New York, March 2, 1825. This was only four years
     later than the production in Berlin. It was not heard here
     in German until a performance at the old Broadway Theatre.
     This occurred in 1856 under the direction of Carl Bergmann.
     London heard it, in English, July 23, 1824; in German, at
     the King's Theatre, May 9, 1832; in Italian, as "Il Franco
     Arciero," at Covent Garden, March 16, 1825. For this
     performance Costa wrote recitatives to replace the dialogue.
     Berlioz did the same for the production at the Grand Opéra,
     Paris, as "Le Franc Archer," June 7, 1841. "Freischütz"
     means "free-shooter"--someone who shoots with magic bullets.

     CHARACTERS

     PRINCE OTTOKAR                               _Baritone_
     CUNO, head ranger                                _Bass_
     MAX, a forester                                 _Tenor_
     KASPAR, a forester                               _Bass_
     KILIAN, a peasant                               _Tenor_
     A HERMIT                                         _Bass_
     ZAMIEL, the wild huntsman               _Speaking Part_
     AGATHE, Cuno's daughter                       _Soprano_
     AENNCHEN (ANNETTE), her cousin                _Soprano_

     _Time_--Middle of 18th Century.

     _Place_--Bohemia.

Act I. At the target range. _Kilian_, the peasant, has defeated _Max_,
the forester, at a prize shooting, a Schützenfest, maybe. _Max_, of
course, should have won. Being a forester, accustomed to the use of
fire-arms, it is disgraceful for him to have been defeated by a mere
peasant.

_Kilian_ "rubs it in" by mocking him in song and the men and girls of
the village join in the mocking chorus--a clever bit of teasing in
music and establishing at the very start the originality in melody,
style, and character of the opera.

The hereditary forester, _Cuno_, is worried over the poor showing
_Max_ has made not only on that day, but for some time past. There is
to be a "shoot" on the morrow before _Prince Ottokar_. In order to win
the hand in marriage of _Agathe_, _Cuno's_ daughter, and the eventual
succession as hereditary forester, _Max_ must carry off the honours in
the competition now so near at hand. He himself is in despair. Life
will be worthless to him without _Agathe_. Yet he seems to have lost
all his cunning as a shot.

It is now, when the others have gone, that another forester, _Kaspar_,
a man of dark visage and of morose and forbidding character,
approaches him. He hands him his gun, points to an eagle circling far
on high, and tells him to fire at it. _Max_ shoots. From its dizzy
height the bird falls dead at his feet. It is a wonderful shot.
_Kaspar_ explains to him that he has shot with a "free," or charmed
bullet; that such bullets always hit what the marksman wills them to;
and that if _Max_ will meet him in the Wolf's Glen at midnight, they
will mould bullets with one of which, on the morrow, he easily can win
_Agathe's_ hand and the hereditary office of forester. _Max_, to whom
victory means all that is dear to him, consents.

Act II. _Agathe's_ room in the head ranger's house. The girl has
gloomy forebodings. Even her sprightly relative, _Aennchen_, is unable
to cheer her up. At last _Max_, whom she has been awaiting, comes.
Very soon, however, he says he is obliged to leave, because he has
shot a deer in the Wolf's Glen and must go after it. In vain the girls
warn him against the locality, which is said to be haunted.

The scene changes to the Wolf's Glen, the haunt of _Zamiel_ the wild
huntsman (otherwise the devil) to whom _Kaspar_ has sold himself, and
to whom now he plans to turn over _Max_ as a victim, in order to gain
for himself a brief respite on earth, his time to _Zamiel_ being up.
The younger forester joins him in the Wolf's Glen and together they
mould seven magic bullets, six of which go true to the mark. The
seventh goes whither _Zamiel_ wills it.

Act III. The first scene again plays in the forester's house. _Agathe_
still is filled with forebodings. She is attired for the test shooting
which also will make her _Max's_ bride, if he is successful. Faith
dispels her gloom. The bridesmaids enter and wind the bridal garland.

The time arrives for the test shooting. But only the seventh bullet,
the one which _Zamiel_ speeds whither he wishes, remains to _Max_. His
others he has used up on the hunt in order to show off before the
_Prince_. _Kaspar_ climbs a tree to watch the proceedings from a safe
place of concealment. He expects _Max_ to be _Zamiel's_ victim. Before
the whole village and the _Prince_ the test shot is to be made. The
Prince points to a flying dove. At that moment _Agathe_ appears
accompanied by a _Hermit_, a holy man. She calls out to _Max_ not to
shoot, that she is the dove. But _Max_ already has pulled the trigger.
The shot resounds. _Agathe_ falls--but only in a swoon. It is _Kaspar_
who tumbles from the tree and rolls, fatally wounded, on the turf.
_Zamiel_ has had no power over _Max_, for the young forester had not
come to the Wolf's Glen of his own free will, but only after being
tempted by _Kaspar_. Therefore _Kaspar_ himself had to be the victim
of the seventh bullet. Upon the _Hermit's_ intercession, _Max_, who
has confessed everything, is forgiven by _Prince Ottokar_, the test
shot is abolished and a year's probation substituted for it.

Many people are familiar with music from "Der Freischütz" without
being aware that it is from that opera. Several melodies from it have
been adapted as hymn tunes, and are often sung in church. In Act I,
are _Kilian's_ song and the chorus in which the men and women, young
and old, rally _Max_ upon his bad luck. There is an expressive trio
for _Max_, _Kaspar_, and _Cuno_, with chorus "O diese Sonne!" (O
fateful morrow.) There is a short waltz. _Max's_ solo, "Durch die
Wälder, durch die Auen" (Through the forest and o'er the meadows) is a
melody of great beauty, and this also can be said of his other solo in
the same scene, "Jetzt ist wohl ihr Fenster offen" (Now mayhap her
window opens), while the scene comes to a close with gloomy,
despairing accents, as _Zamiel_, unseen of course by _Max_, hovers, a
threatening shadow, in the background. There follows _Kaspar's_
drinking song, forced in its hilariousness and ending in grotesque
laughter, _Kaspar_ being the familiar of _Zamiel_, the wild huntsman.
His air ("Triumph! Triumph! Vengeance will succeed") is wholly in
keeping with his sinister character.

Act II opens with a delightful duet for _Agathe_ and _Aennchen_ and a
charmingly coquettish little air for the latter (Comes a comely youth
a-wooing). Then comes _Agathe's_ principal scene. She opens the window
and, as the moonlight floods the room, intones the prayer so simple,
so exquisite, so expressive: "Leise, leise, fromme Weise" (Softly
sighing, day is dying).

[Music]

This is followed, after a recitative, by a rapturous, descending
passage leading into an ecstatic melody: "Alle meine Pulse schlagen"
(All my pulses now are beating) as she sees her lover approaching.

[Music]

The music of the Wolf's Glen scene long has been considered the most
expressive rendering of the gruesome that is to be found in a musical
score. The stage apparatus that goes with it is such that it makes the
young sit up and take notice, while their elders, because of its
naïveté, are entertained. The ghost of _Max's_ mother appears to him
and strives to warn him away. Cadaverous, spooky-looking animals crawl
out from caves in the rocks and spit flames and sparks. Wagner got
more than one hint from the scene. But in the crucible of his genius
the glen became the lofty Valkyr rock, and the backdrop with the wild
hunt the superb "Ride of the Valkyries," while other details are
transfigured in that sublime episode, "The Magic Fire Scene."

After a brief introduction, with suggestions of the hunting chorus
later in the action, the third act opens with _Agathe's_ lovely
cavatina, "And though a cloud the sun obscure." There are a couple of
solos for _Aennchen_, and then comes the enchanting chorus of
bridesmaids. This is the piece which Richard Wagner, then seven years
old, was playing in a room, adjoining which his stepfather, Ludwig
Geyer, lay in his last illness. Geyer had shown much interest in the
boy and in what might become of him. As he listened to him playing the
bridesmaids' chorus from "Der Freischütz" he turned to his wife,
Wagner's mother, and said: "What if he should have a talent for
music?"

In the next scene are the spirited hunting chorus and the brilliant
finale, in which recurs the jubilant melody from _Agathe's_ second act
scene.

The overture to "Der Freischütz" is the first in which an operatic
composer unreservedly has made use of melodies from the opera itself.
Beethoven, in the third "Leonore" overture, utilizes the theme of
_Florestan's_ air and the trumpet call. Weber has used not merely
thematic material but complete melodies. Following the beautiful
passage for horns at the beginning of the overture (a passage which,
like _Agathe's_ prayer, has been taken up into the Protestant hymnal)
is the music of _Max's_ outcry when, in the opera, he senses rather
than sees the passage of _Zamiel_ across the stage, after which comes
the sombre music of _Max's_ air: "Hatt denn der Himmel mich
verlassen?" (Am I then by heaven forsaken?). This leads up to the
music of _Agathe's_ outburst of joy when she sees her lover
approaching; and this is given complete.

The structure of this overture is much like that of the overture to
"Tannhäuser" by Richard Wagner. There also is a resemblance in contour
between the music of _Agathe's_ jubilation and that of _Tannhäuser's_
hymn to Venus. Wagner worshipped Weber. Without a suggestion of
plagiarism, the contour of Wagner's melodic idiom is that of Weber's.
The resemblance to Weber in the general structure of the finales to
the first acts of "Tannhäuser" and "Lohengrin" is obvious. Even in
some of the leading motives of the Wagner music-dramas, the student
will find the melodic contour of Weber still persisting. What could be
more in the spirit of Weber than the ringing _Parsifal_ motive, one of
the last things from the pen of Richard Wagner?

Indeed the importance of Weber in the logical development of music and
specifically of opera, lies in the fact that he is the founder of the
romantic school in music;--a school of which Wagner is the
culmination. Weber is as truly the forerunner of Wagner as Haydn is of
Mozart, and Mozart of Beethoven. From the "Freischütz" Wagner derived
his early predilection for legendary subjects, as witness the "Flying
Dutchman," "Tannhäuser," and "Lohengrin," from which it was but a step
to the mythological subject of the "Ring" dramas.

"Der Freischütz" is heard far too rarely in this country. But Weber's
importance as the founder of the romantic school and as the inspired
forerunner of Wagner long has been recognized. Without this
recognition there would be missing an important link in the evolution
of music and, specifically, of opera.


EURYANTHE

     Opera in three acts by Weber. Book, by Helmine von Chezy,
     adapted from "L'Histoire de Gérard de Nevers et de la belle
     et vertueuse Euryanthe, sa mie." Produced, Vienna,
     Kärnthnerthor Theatre (Theatre at the Carinthian Gate),
     October 25, 1823. New York, by Carl Anschütz, at Wallack's
     Theatre, Broadway and Broome Street, 1863; Metropolitan
     Opera House, December 23, 1887, with Lehmann, Brandt,
     Alvary, and Fischer, Anton Seidl conducting.

     CHARACTERS

     EURYANTHE DE SAVOIE                           _Soprano_
     EGLANTINE DE PUISET                     _Mezzo-Soprano_
     LYSIART DE FORÊT                             _Baritone_
     ADOLAR DE NEVERS                                _Tenor_
     LOUIS VI                                         _Bass_

     _Time_--Beginning of the Twelfth Century.

     _Place_--France.

Act I. Palace of the King. Count _Adolar_ chants the beauty and virtue
of his betrothed, _Euryanthe._ Count _Lysiart_ sneers and boasts that
he can lead her astray. The two noblemen stake their possessions upon
the result.

Garden of the Palace of Nevers. _Euryanthe_ sings of her longing for
_Adolar_. _Eglantine_, the daughter of a rebellious subject who, made
a prisoner, has, on _Euryanthe's_ plea, been allowed the freedom of
the domain, is in love with _Adolar._ She has sensed that _Euryanthe_
and her lover guard a secret. Hoping to estrange _Adolar_ from her,
she seeks to gain _Euryanthe's_ confidence and only too successfully.
For _Euryanthe_ confides to her that _Adolar's_ dead sister, who lies
in the lonely tomb in the garden, has appeared to _Adolar_ and herself
and confessed that, her lover having been slain in battle, she has
killed herself by drinking poison from her ring; nor can her soul find
rest until someone, innocently accused, shall wet the ring with tears.
To hold this secret inviolate has been imposed upon _Euryanthe_ by
_Adolar_ as a sacred duty. Too late she repents of having communicated
it to _Eglantine_ who, on her part, is filled with malicious glee.
_Lysiart_ arrives to conduct _Adolar's_ betrothed to the royal palace.

Act II. _Lysiart_ despairs of accomplishing his fell purpose when
_Eglantine_ emerges from the tomb with the ring and reveals to him its
secret. In the royal palace, before a brilliant assembly, _Lysiart_
claims to have won his wager, and, in proof, produces the ring, the
secret of which he claims _Euryanthe_ has communicated to him. She
protests her innocence, but in vain. _Adolar_ renounces his rank and
estates with which _Lysiart_ is forthwith invested and endowed, and,
dragging _Euryanthe_ after him, rushes into the forest where he
intends to kill her and then himself.

Act III. In a rocky mountain gorge _Adolar_ draws his sword and is
about to slay _Euryanthe_, who in vain protests her innocence. At that
moment a huge serpent appears. _Euryanthe_ throws herself between it
and _Adolar_ in order to save him. He fights the serpent and kills it;
then, although _Euryanthe_ vows she would rather he slew her than not
love her, he goes his way leaving her to heaven's protection. She is
discovered by the _King_, who credits her story and promises to
vindicate her, when she tells him that it was through _Eglantine_, to
whom she disclosed the secret of the tomb, that _Lysiart_ obtained
possession of the ring.

Gardens of Nevers, where preparations are making for the wedding of
_Lysiart_ and _Eglantine_. _Adolar_ enters in black armour with visor
down. _Eglantine_, still madly in love with him and dreading her union
with _Lysiart_, is so affected by the significance of the complete
silence with which the assembled villagers and others watch her pass,
that, half out of her mind, she raves about the unjust degradation she
has brought upon _Euryanthe_.

_Adolar_, disclosing his identity, challenges _Lysiart_ to combat. But
before they can draw, the _King_ appears. In order to punish _Adolar_
for his lack of faith in _Euryanthe_, he tells him that she is dead.
Savagely triumphant over her rival's end, _Eglantine_ now makes known
the entire plot and is slain by _Lysiart_. At that moment _Euryanthe_
rushes into _Adolar's_ arms. _Lysiart_ is led off a captive.
_Adolar's_ sister finds eternal rest in her tomb because the ring has
been bedewed by the tears wept by the innocent _Euryanthe_.

The libretto of "Euryanthe" is accounted extremely stupid, even for an
opera, and the work is rarely given. The opera, however, is important
historically as another stepping-stone in the direction of Wagner.
Several Wagnerian commentators regard the tomb motive as having
conveyed to the Bayreuth master more than a suggestion of the
Leitmotif system which he developed so fully in his music-drama.
_Adolar_, in black armour, is believed to have suggested _Parsifal's_
appearance in sable harness and accoutrements in the last act of
"Parsifal." In any event, Wagner was a close student of Weber and
there is more than one phrase in "Euryanthe" that finds its echo in
"Lohengrin," although of plagiarism in the ordinary sense there is
none.

While "Euryanthe" has never been popular, some of its music is very
fine. The overture may be said to consist of two vigorous, stirringly
dramatic sections separated by the weird tomb motive. The opening
chorus in the _King's_ palace is sonorous and effective. There is a
very beautiful romanza for _Adolar_ ("'Neath almond trees in
blossom"). In the challenge of the knights to the test of Euryanthe's
virtue occurs the vigorous phrase with which the overture opens.
_Euryanthe_ has an exquisite cavatina ("Chimes in the valley"). There
is an effective duet for _Euryanthe_ and _Eglantine_ ("Threatful
gather clouds about me"). A scene for _Eglantine_ is followed by the
finale--a chorus with solo for _Euryanthe_.

_Lysiart's_ recitations and aria ("Where seek to hide?"), expressive
of hatred and defiance--a powerfully dramatic number--opens the second
act. There is a darkly premonitory duet for _Lysiart_ and _Eglantine_.
_Adolar_ has a tranquil aria ("When zephyrs waft me peace"); and a
duet full of abandon with _Euryanthe_ ("To you my soul I give"). The
finale is a quartette with chorus. The hunting chorus in the last act,
previous to the _King's_ discovery of _Euryanthe_, has been called
Weber's finest inspiration.

Something should be done by means of a new libretto or by re-editing
to give "Euryanthe" the position it deserves in the modern operatic
repertoire. An attempt at a new libretto was made in Paris in 1857, at
the Théâtre Lyrique. It failed. Having read a synopsis of that
libretto, I can readily understand why. It is, if possible, more
absurd than the original. Shakespeare's "Cymbeline" is derived from
the same source as "Euryanthe," which shows that, after all, something
could be made of the story.


OBERON,

OR THE ELF-KING'S OATH

     Opera in three acts, by Weber. Words by James Robinson
     Planché.

     CHARACTERS

     OBERON                                          _Tenor_
     TITANIA                                _Mute Character_
     PUCK                                        _Contralto_
     DROLL                                       _Contralto_
     HUON DE BORDEAUX                                _Tenor_
     SCHERASMIN, his esquire                      _Baritone_
     HAROUN EL RASCHID                            _Baritone_
     REZIA, his daughter                           _Soprano_
     FATIMA, her slave                             _Soprano_
     PRINCE BABEKAN                                  _Tenor_
     EMIR ALMANSOR                                _Baritone_
     ROSCHANA, his wife                          _Contralto_
     ABDALLAH, a pirate                               _Bass_
     CHARLEMAGNE                                      _Bass_

In a tribute to Weber, the librettist of "Oberon" wrote a sketch of
the action and also gave as the origin of the story the tale of "Huon
de Bordeaux," from the old collection of romances known as "La
Bibliothèque Bleue." Wieland's poem "Oberon," is based upon the old
romance and Sotheby's translation furnished Planché with the
groundwork for the text.

According to Planché's description of the action, _Oberon_, the Elfin
King, having quarrelled with his fairy partner, _Titania_, vows never
to be reconciled to her till he shall find two lovers constant through
peril and temptation. To seek such a pair his "tricksy spirit,"
_Puck_, has ranged in vain through the world. _Puck_, however, hears
sentence passed on _Sir Huon_, of Bordeaux, a young knight, who,
having been insulted by the son of _Charlemagne_, kills him in single
combat, and is for this condemned by the monarch to proceed to Bagdad,
slay him who sits on the _Caliph's_ left hand, and claim the
_Caliph's_ daughter as his bride. _Oberon_ instantly resolves to make
this pair the instruments of his reunion with his queen, and for this
purpose he brings up _Huon_ and _Scherasmin_ asleep before him,
enamours the knight by showing him _Rezia_, daughter of the _Caliph_,
in a vision, transports him at his waking to Bagdad, and having given
him a magic horn, by the blasts of which he is always to summon the
assistance of _Oberon_, and a cup that fills at pleasure, disappears.
_Sir Huon_ rescues a man from a lion, who proves afterwards to be
_Prince Babekan_, who is betrothed to _Rezia_. One of the properties
of the cup is to detect misconduct. He offers it to _Babekan_. On
raising it to his lips the wine turns to flame, and thus proves him a
villain. He attempts to assassinate _Huon_, but is put to flight. The
knight then learns from an old woman that the princess is to be
married next day, but that _Rezia_ has been influenced, like her
lover, by a vision, and is resolved to be his alone. She believes that
fate will protect her from her nuptials with _Babekan_, which are to
be solemnized on the next day. _Huon_ enters, fights with and
vanquishes _Babekan_, and having spellbound the rest by a blast of the
magic horn, he and _Scherasmin_ carry off _Rezia_ and _Fatima_. They
are soon shipwrecked. _Rezia_ is captured by pirates on a desert
island and brought to Tunis, where she is sold to the _Emir_ and
exposed to every temptation, but she remains constant. _Sir Huon_, by
the order of _Oberon_, is also conveyed thither. He undergoes similar
trials from _Roschana_, the jealous wife of the _Emir_, but proving
invulnerable she accuses him to her husband, and he is condemned to be
burned on the same pyre with _Rezia_. They are rescued by
_Scherasmin_, who has the magic horn, and sets all those who would
harm _Sir Huon_ and _Rezia_ dancing. _Oberon_ appears with his queen,
whom he has regained by the constancy of the lovers, and the opera
concludes with _Charlemagne's_ pardon of _Huon_.

The chief musical numbers are, in the first act, _Huon's_ grand scene,
beginning with a description of the glories to be won in battle: in
the second act, an attractive quartette, "Over the dark blue waters,"
_Puck's_ invocation of the spirits and their response, the great scene
for _Rezia_, "Ocean, thou mighty monster, that liest like a green
serpent coiled around the world," and the charming mermaid's song;
and, in the third act, the finale.

As is the case with "Euryanthe," the puerilities of the libretto to
"Oberon" appear to have been too much even for Weber's beautiful
music. Either that, or else Weber is suffering the fate of all obvious
forerunners: which is that their genius finds its full and lasting
fruition in those whose greater genius it has caused to germinate and
ripen. Thus the full fruition of Weber's genius is found in the Wagner
operas and music-dramas. Even the fine overtures, "Freischütz,"
"Euryanthe," and "Oberon," in former years so often found in the
classical concert repertoire, are played less and less frequently. The
"Tannhäuser" overture has supplanted them. The "Oberon" overture, like
that to "Freischütz" and "Euryanthe," is composed of material from the
opera--the horn solo from _Sir Huon's_ scena, portions of the fairies,
chorus and the third-act finale, the climax of _Rezia's_ scene in the
second act, and _Puck's_ invocation.

In his youth Weber composed, to words by Heimer, an amusing little
musical comedy entitled "Abu Hassan." It was produced in Dresden under
the composer's direction. The text is derived from a well-known tale
in the _Arabian Nights_. Another youthful opera by Weber, "Silvana,"
was produced at Frankfort-on-Main in 1810. The text, based upon an
old Rhine legend of a feud between two brothers, has been rearranged
by Ernst Pasqué, the score by Ferdinand Lange, who, in the ballet in
the second act, has introduced Weber's "Invitation à la Valse" and his
"Polonaise," besides utilizing other music by the composer. The
fragment of another work, a comic opera, "The Three Pintos," text by
Theodor Hell, was taken in hand and completed, the music by Gustav
Mahler, the libretto by Weber's grandson, Carl von Weber.



Why Some Operas are Rarely Given


There is hardly a writer on music, no matter how advanced his views,
who will not agree with me in all I have said in praise of "Orpheus
and Eurydice," the principal Mozart operas, Beethoven's "Fidelio," and
Weber's "Freischütz" and "Euryanthe." The question therefore arises:
"Why are these works not performed with greater frequency?"

A general answer would be that the modern opera house is too large for
the refined and delicate music of Gluck and Mozart to be heard to best
effect. Moreover, these are the earliest works in the repertoire.

In Mozart's case there is the further reason that "Don Giovanni" and
"The Magic Flute" are very difficult to give. An adequate performance
of "Don Giovanni" calls for three prima donnas of the highest rank.
The demands of "The Magic Flute" upon the female personnel of an opera
company also are very great--that is if the work is to be given at all
adequately and effectively. Moreover, the _recitativo secco_ (dry
recitative) of the Mozart operas--a recitative which, at a performance
of "Don Giovanni" in the Academy of Music, New York, I have heard
accompanied by the conductor on an upright pianoforte--is tedious to
ears accustomed to have every phrase in modern opera sung to an
expressive orchestral accompaniment. As regards "Fidelio" it has
spoken dialogue; and if anything has been demonstrated over and over
again, it is that American audiences of today simply will not stand
for spoken dialogue in grand opera. That also, together with the
extreme naïveté of their librettos, is the great handicap of the Weber
operas. It is neither an easy nor an agreeable descent from the
vocalized to the spoken word. And so, works, admittedly great, are
permitted to lapse into unpardonable desuetude, because no genius,
willing or capable, has come forward to change the _recitativo secco_
of Mozart, or the dialogue that affronts the hearer in the other works
mentioned, into recitatives that will restore these operas to their
deserved place in the modern repertoire. Berlioz tried it with "Der
Freischütz" and appears to have failed; nor have the "Freischütz"
recitatives by Costa seemingly fared any better. This may have
deterred others from making further attempts of the kind. But it seems
as if a lesser genius than Berlioz, and a talent superior to Costa's,
might succeed where they failed.



From Weber to Wagner


In the evolution of opera from Weber to Wagner a gap was filled by
composers of but little reputation here, although their names are
known to every student of the lyric stage. Heinrich Marschner
(1795-1861) composed in "Hans Heiling," Berlin, 1833, an opera based
on legendary material. Its success may have confirmed Wagner's bent
toward dramatic sources of this kind already aroused by his admiration
for Weber. "Hans Heiling," "Der Vampyr" (The Vampire), and "Der
Templer und Die Judin" (Templar and Jewess, a version of _Ivanhoe_)
long held an important place in the operatic repertoire of their
composer's native land. On the other hand "Faust" (1818) and
"Jessonda" (1823), by Ludwig Spohr (1784-1859), have about completely
disappeared. Spohr, however, deserves mention as being one of the
first professional musicians of prominence to encourage Wagner.
Incapable of appreciating either Beethoven or Weber, yet, strange to
say, he at once recognized the merits of "The Flying Dutchman" and
"Tannhäuser," and even of "Lohengrin"--at the time sealed volumes to
most musicians and music lovers. As court conductor at Kassel, he
brought out the first two Wagner operas mentioned respectively in 1842
and 1853; and was eager to produce "Lohengrin," but was prevented by
opposition from the court.

Meyerbeer and his principal operas will be considered at length in the
chapters in this book devoted to French opera. There is no doubt,
however, that what may be called the "largeness" of Meyerbeer's style
and the effectiveness of his instrumentation had their influence on
Wagner.

Gasparo Spontini (1774-1851) was an Italian by birth, but I believe
can be said to have made absolutely no impression on the development
of Italian opera. His principal works, "La Vestale" (The Vestal
Virgin), and "Fernando Cortez," were brought out in Paris and later in
Berlin, where he was general music director, 1820-1841. His operas
were heavily scored, especially for brass. Much that is noisy in
"Rienzi" may be traced to Spontini, but later Wagner understood how to
utilize the brass in the most eloquent manner; for, like Shakespeare,
Wagner possessed the genius that converts the dross of others into
refined gold.

Mention may be here made of three composers of light opera, who
succeeded in evolving a refined and charming type of the art. We at
least know the delightful overture to "The Merry Wives of Windsor," by
Otto Nicolai (1810-1849); and the whole opera, produced in Berlin a
few months before Nicolai died, is equally frolicksome and graceful.
Conradin Kreutzer (1780-1849) brought out, in 1836, "Das Nachtlager in
Granada" (A Night's Camp in Granada), a melodious and sparkling score.

But the German light opera composer par excellence is Albert Lortzing
(1803-1851). His chief works are, "Czar und Zimmermann" (Czar and
Carpenter), 1834, with its beautiful baritone solo, "In childhood I
played with a sceptre and crown"; "Der Wildschütz" (The Poacher);
"Undine"; and "Der Waffenschmied" (The Armourer) which last also has a
deeply expressive solo for baritone, "Ich auch war einst Jüngling mit
lockigem Haar" (I too was a youth once with fair, curly hair).



Richard Wagner

(1813-1883)


Richard Wagner was born at Leipsic, May 22, 1813. His father was clerk
to the city police court and a man of good education. During the
French occupation of Leipsic he was, owing to his knowledge of French,
made chief of police. He was fond of poetry and had a special love for
the drama, often taking part in amateur theatricals.

Five months after Richard's birth his father died of an epidemic fever
brought on by the carnage during the battle of Leipsic, October 16,
18, and 19, 1813. In 1815 his widow, whom he had left in most
straitened circumstances, married Ludwig Geyer, an actor, a
playwright, and a portrait painter. By inheritance from his father, by
association with his stepfather, who was very fond of him, Wagner
readily acquired the dramatic faculty so pronounced in his operas and
music-dramas of which he is both author and composer.

At the time Wagner's mother married Geyer, he was a member of the
Court Theatre at Dresden. Thither the family removed. When the boy was
eight years old, he had learned to play on the pianoforte the chorus
of bridesmaids from "Der Freischütz," then quite new. The day before
Geyer's death, September 30, 1821, Richard was playing this piece in
an adjoining room and heard Geyer say to his mother: "Do you think he
might have a gift for music?" Coming out of the death room Wagner's
mother said to him: "Of you he wanted to make something." "From this
time on," writes Wagner in his early autobiographical sketch, "I
always had an idea that I was destined to amount to something in this
world."

At school Wagner made quite a little reputation as a writer of verses.
He was such an enthusiastic admirer of Shakespeare that at the age of
fourteen he began a grand tragedy, of which he himself says that it
was a jumble of _Hamlet_ and _Lear_. So many people died in the course
of it that their ghosts had to return in order to keep the fifth act
going.

In 1833, at the age of twenty, Wagner began his career as a
professional musician. His elder brother Albert was engaged as tenor,
actor, and stage manager at the Würzburg theatre. A position as chorus
master being offered to Richard, he accepted it, although his salary
was a pittance of ten florins a month. However, the experience was
valuable. He was able to profit by many useful hints from his brother,
the Musikverein performed several of his compositions, and his duties
were not so arduous but that he found time to write the words and
music of an opera in three acts entitled "The Fairies"--first
performed in June, 1888, five years after his death, at Munich. In the
autumn of 1834 he was called to the conductorship of the opera at
Magdeburg. There he wrote and produced an opera, "Das Liebesverbot"
(Love Veto), based on Shakespeare's _Measure for Measure_. The theatre
at Magdeburg was, however, on the ragged edge of bankruptcy, and
during the spring of 1836 matters became so bad that it was evident
the theatre must soon close. Finally only twelve days were left for
the rehearsing and the performance of his opera. The result was that
the production went completely to pieces, singers forgetting their
lines and music, and a repetition which was announced could not come
off because of a free fight behind the scenes between two of the
principal singers. Wagner describes this in the following amusing
passage in his autobiographical sketch:

"All at once the husband of my prima donna (the impersonator of
_Isabella_) pounced upon the second tenor, a very young and handsome
fellow (the singer of my _Claudio_), against whom the injured spouse
had long cherished a secret jealousy. It seemed that the prima donna's
husband, who had from behind the curtains inspected with me the
composition of the audience, considered that the time had now arrived
when, without damage to the prospects of the theatre, he could take
his revenge on his wife's lover. _Claudio_ was so pounded and
belaboured by him that the unhappy individual was compelled to retire
to the dressing-room with his face all bleeding. _Isabella_ was
informed of this, and, rushing desperately toward her furious lord,
received from him such a series of violent cuffs that she forthwith
went into spasms. The confusion among my personnel was now quite
boundless: everybody took sides with one party or the other, and
everything seemed on the point of a general fight. It seemed as if
this unhappy evening appeared to all of them precisely calculated for
a final settling up of all sorts of fancied insults. This much was
evident, that the couple who had suffered under the 'love veto'
(Liebesverbot) of _Isabella's_ husband, were certainly unable to
appear on this occasion."

Wagner was next engaged as orchestral conductor at Königsberg, where
he married the actress Wilhelmina, or Minna Planer. Later he received
notice of his appointment as conductor and of the engagement of his
wife and sister at the theatre at Riga, on the Russian side of the
Baltic.

In Riga he began the composition of his first great success,
"Rienzi." He completed the libretto during the summer of 1838, and
began the music in the autumn, and when his contract terminated in the
spring of 1839 the first two acts were finished. In July, accompanied
by his wife and a huge Newfoundland dog, he boarded a sailing vessel
for London, at the port of Pilau, his intention being to go from
London to Paris. "I shall never forget the voyage," he says. "It was
full of disaster. Three times we nearly suffered shipwreck, and once
were obliged to seek safety in a Norwegian harbour.... The legend of
the 'Flying Dutchman' was confirmed by the sailors, and the
circumstances gave it a distinct and characteristic colour in my
mind." No wonder the sea is depicted so graphically in his opera "The
Flying Dutchman."

He arrived in Paris in September, 1839, and remained until April 7,
1842, from his twenty-sixth to his twenty-ninth year. This Parisian
sojourn was one of the bitter experiences of his life. At times he
actually suffered from cold and hunger, and was obliged to do a vast
amount of most uncongenial kind of hack work.

November 19, 1840, he completed the score of "Rienzi," and in December
forwarded it to the director of the Royal Theatre at Dresden. While
awaiting a reply, he contributed to the newspapers and did all kinds
of musical drudgery for Schlesinger, the music publisher, even making
arrangements for the cornet à piston. Finally word came from Dresden.
"Rienzi" had aroused the enthusiasm of the chorus master, Fischer, and
of the tenor Tichatschek, who saw that the title rôle was exactly
suited to his robust, dramatic voice. Then there was Mme.
Schröder-Devrient for the part of _Adriano_. The opera was produced
October 20, 1842, the performance beginning at six and ending just
before midnight, to the enthusiastic plaudits of an immense audience.
So great was the excitement that in spite of the late hour people
remained awake to talk over the success. "We all ought to have gone
to bed," relates a witness, "but we did nothing of the kind." Early
the next morning Wagner appeared at the theatre in order to make
excisions from the score, which he thought its great length
necessitated. But when he returned in the afternoon to see if they had
been executed, the copyist excused himself by saying the singers had
protested against any cuts. Tichatschek said: "I will have no cuts; it
is too heavenly." After a while, owing to its length, the opera was
divided into two evenings.

The success of "Rienzi" led the Dresden management to put "The Flying
Dutchman" in rehearsal. It was brought out after somewhat hasty
preparations, January 2, 1843. The opera was so different from
"Rienzi," its sombre beauty contrasted so darkly with the glaring,
brilliant music and scenery of the latter, that the audience failed to
grasp it. In fact, after "Rienzi," it was a disappointment.

Before the end of January, 1843, not long after the success of
"Rienzi," Wagner was appointed one of the Royal conductors at Dresden.
He was installed February 2d. One of his first duties was to assist
Berlioz at the rehearsals of the latter's concerts. Wagner's work in
his new position was somewhat varied, consisting not only of
conducting operas, but also music between the acts at theatrical
performances and at church services. The principal operas which he
rehearsed and conducted were "Euryanthe," "Freischütz," "Don
Giovanni," "The Magic Flute," Gluck's "Armide," and "Iphigenia in
Aulis." The last-named was revised both as regards words and music by
him, and his changes are now generally accepted.

Meanwhile he worked arduously on "Tannhäuser," completing it April 13,
1844. It was produced at Dresden, October 19, 1845. At first the work
proved even a greater puzzle to the public than "The Flying Dutchman"
had, and evoked comments which nowadays, when the opera has actually
become a classic, seem ridiculous. Some people even suggested that the
plot of the opera should be changed so that _Tannhäuser_ should marry
_Elizabeth_.

The management of the Dresden theatre, which had witnessed the
brilliant success of "Rienzi" and had seen "The Flying Dutchman" and
"Tannhäuser" at least hold their own in spite of the most virulent
opposition, looked upon his next work, "Lohengrin," as altogether too
risky and put off its production indefinitely.

Thinking that political changes might put an end to the routine
stagnation in musical matters, Wagner joined in the revolutionary
agitation of '48 and '49. In May, 1849, the disturbances at Dresden
reached such an alarming point that the Saxon Court fled. Prussian
troops were dispatched to quell the riot and Wagner thought it
advisable to flee. He went to Weimar, where Liszt was busy rehearsing
"Tannhäuser." While attending a rehearsal of this work, May 19, news
was received that orders had been issued for his arrest as a
politically dangerous individual. Liszt at once procured a passport
and Wagner started for Paris. In June he went to Zurich, where he
found Dresden friends and where his wife joined him, being enabled to
do so through the zeal of Liszt, who raised the money to defray her
journey from Dresden.

Liszt brought out "Lohengrin" at Weimar, August 28, 1850. The
reception of "Lohengrin" did not at first differ much from that
accorded to "Tannhäuser." Yet the performance made a deep impression.
The fact that the weight of Liszt's influence had been cast in its
favour gave vast importance to the event, and it may be said that
through this performance Wagner's cause received its first great
stimulus. The so-called Wagner movement may be said to have dated from
this production of "Lohengrin."

He finished the librettos of the "Nibelung" dramas in 1853. By May,
1854, the music of "Das Rheingold" was composed. The following month
he began "Die Walküre" and finished all but the instrumentation during
the following winter and the full score in 1856. Previous to this, in
fact already in the autumn of 1854, he had sketched some of the music
of "Siegfried," and in the spring of 1857 the full score of the first
act and of the greater part of the second act was finished. Then,
recognizing the difficulties which he would encounter in securing a
performance of the "Ring," and appalled by the prospect of the battle
he would be obliged to wage, he was so disheartened that he abandoned
the composition of "Siegfried" at the _Waldweben_ scene and turned to
"Tristan." His idea at that time was that "Tristan" would be short and
comparatively easy to perform. Genius that he was, he believed that
because it was easy for him to write great music it would be easy for
others to interpret it. A very curious, not to say laughable, incident
occurred at this time. An agent of the Emperor of Brazil called and
asked if Wagner would compose an opera for an Italian troupe at Rio de
Janeiro, and would he conduct the work himself, all upon his own
terms. The composition of "Tristan" actually was begun with a view of
its being performed by Italians in Brazil!

The poem of "Tristan" was finished early in 1857, and in the winter of
the same year the full score of the first act was ready to be
forwarded to the engraver. The second act is dated Venice, March 2,
1859. The third is dated Lyons, August, 1859.

It is interesting to note in connection with "Tristan" that, while
Wagner wrote it because he thought it would be easy to secure its
performance, he subsequently found more difficulty in getting it
produced than any other of his works. In September, 1859, he again
went to Paris with the somewhat curious hope that he could there find
opportunity to produce "Tristan" with German artists. Through the
intercession of the Princess Metternich, the Emperor ordered the
production of "Tannhäuser" at the Opéra. Beginning March 13, 1861,
three performances were given, of which it is difficult to say whether
the performance was on the stage or in the auditorium, for the uproar
in the house often drowned the sounds from the stage. The members of
the Jockey Club, who objected to the absence of a ballet, armed
themselves with shrill whistles, on which they began to blow whenever
there was the slightest hint of applause, and the result was that
between the efforts of the singers to make themselves heard and of
Wagner's friends to applaud, and the shrill whistling from his
enemies, there was confusion worse confounded. But Wagner's friendship
with Princess Metternich bore good fruit. Through her mediation, it is
supposed, he received permission to return to all parts of Germany but
Saxony. It was not until March, 1862, thirteen years after his
banishment, that he was again allowed to enter the kingdom of his
birth and first success.

His first thought now was to secure the production of "Tristan," but
at Vienna, after fifty-seven rehearsals, it was put upon the shelf as
impossible.

In 1863, while working upon "Die Meistersinger," at Penzing, near
Vienna, he published his "Nibelung" dramas, expressing his hope that
through the bounty of one of the German rulers the completion and
performance of his "Ring of the Nibelung" would be made possible. But
in the spring of 1864, worn out by his struggle with poverty and
almost broken in spirit by his contest with public and critics, he
actually determined to give up his public career, and eagerly grasped
the opportunity to visit a private country seat in Switzerland. Just
at this very moment, when despair had settled upon him, the long
wished-for help came. King Ludwig II., of Bavaria, bade him come to
Munich, where he settled in 1864. "Tristan" was produced there June
10, 1865. June 21, 1868, a model performance of "Die Meistersinger,"
which he had finished in 1867, was given at Munich under the direction
of von Bülow, Richter acting as chorus master and Wagner supervising
all the details. Wagner also worked steadily at the unfinished portion
of the "Ring," completing the instrumentation of the third act of
"Siegfried" in 1869 and the introduction and first act of "The Dusk of
the Gods" in June, 1870.

August 25, 1870, his first wife having died January 25, 1866, after
five years' separation from him, he married the divorced wife of von
Bülow, Cosima Liszt. In 1869 and 1870, respectively "The Rhinegold"
and "The Valkyr" were performed at the Court Theatre in Munich.

Bayreuth having been determined upon as the place where a theatre for
the special production of his "Ring" should be built, Wagner settled
there in April, 1872. By November, 1874, "Dusk of the Gods" received
its finishing touches, and rehearsals had already been held at
Bayreuth. During the summer of 1875, under Wagner's supervision, Hans
Richter held full rehearsals there, and at last, twenty-eight years
after its first conception, on August 13th, 14th, 16th, and 17th,
again from August 20 to 23, and from August 27 to 30, 1876, "The Ring
of the Nibelung" was performed at Bayreuth with the following cast:
_Wotan_, Betz; _Loge_, Vogel; _Alberich_, Hill; _Mime_, Schlosser;
_Fricka_, Frau Grün; _Donner_ and _Gunther_, Gura; _Erda_ and
_Waltraute_, Frau Jaide; _Siegmund_, Niemann; _Sieglinde_, Frl.
Schefsky; _Brünnhilde_, Frau Materna; _Siegfried_, Unger; _Hagen_,
Siehr; _Gutrune_, Frl. Weckerin; _Rhinedaughters_, Lilli and Marie
Lehmann, and Frl. Lammert. First violin, Wilhelmj; conductor, Hans
Richter. The first _Rhinedaughter_ was the same Lilli Lehmann who, in
later years, at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, became one of
the greatest of prima donnas and, as regards the Wagnerian repertoire,
set a standard for all time. Materna appeared at that house in the
"Valkyr" production under Dr. Damrosch, in January, 1885, and Niemann
was heard there later.

To revert to Bayreuth, "Parsifal" was produced there in July, 1882. In
the autumn of that year, Wagner's health being in an unsatisfactory
state, though no alarming symptoms had shown themselves, he took up
his residence in Venice at the Palazzo Vendramini, on the Grand Canal.
He died February 13, 1883.

In manner incidental, that is, without attention formally being called
to the subject, Wagner's reform of the lyric stage is set forth in the
descriptive accounts of his music-dramas which follow, and in which
the leading motives are quoted in musical notation. But something
directly to the point must be said here.

Once again, like Gluck a century before, Wagner opposed the assumption
of superiority on the part of the interpreter--the singer--over the
composer. He opposed it in manner so thorough-going that he changed
the whole face of opera. A far greater tribute to Wagner's genius than
the lame attempts of some German composers at imitating him, is the
frank adoption of certain phases of his method by modern French and
Italian composers, beginning with Verdi in "Aïda." While by no means a
Wagnerian work, since it contains not a trace of the theory of the
leading motive, "Aïda," through the richness of its instrumentation,
the significant accompaniment of its recitative, the lack of mere
_bravura_ embellishment in its vocal score, and its sober reaching out
for true dramatic effect in the treatment of the voices, substituting
this for ostentatious brilliancy and ear-tickling fluency, plainly
shows the influence of Wagner upon the greatest of Italian composers.
And what is true of "Aïda," is equally applicable to the whole school
of Italian _verismo_ that came after Verdi--Mascagni, Leoncavallo,
Puccini.

Wagner's works are conceived and executed upon a gigantic scale. They
are Shakespearian in their dimensions and in their tragic power; or,
as in the "Meistersinger," in their comedy element. Each of his works
is highly individual. The "Ring" dramas and "Tristan" are unmistakably
Wagner. Yet how individually characteristic the music of each! That of
the "Ring" is of elemental power. The "Tristan" music is molten
passion. Equally characteristic and individual are his other scores.

The theory evolved by Wagner was that the lyric stage should present
not a series of melodies for voice upon a mere framework of plot and
versified story, but a serious work of dramatic art, the music to
which should, both vocally and instrumentally, express the ever
varying development of the drama. With this end in view he invented a
melodious recitative which only at certain great crises in the
progress of the action--such as the love-climax, the gathering at the
Valkyr Rock, the "Farewell," and the "Magic Fire" scenes in "The
Valkyr"; the meeting of _Siegfried_ and _Brünnhilde_ in "Siegfried";
the love duet and "Love-Death" in "Tristan"--swells into prolonged
melody. Note that I say prolonged melody. For besides these prolonged
melodies, there is almost constant melody, besides marvellous
orchestral colour, in the weft and woof of the recitative. This is
produced by the artistic use of leading motives, every leading motive
being a brief, but expressive, melody--so brief that, to one coming to
Wagner without previous study or experience, the melodious quality of
his recitative is not appreciated at first. After a while, however,
the hearer begins to recognize certain brief, but melodious and
musically eloquent phrases--leading motives--as belonging to certain
characters in the drama or to certain influences potent in its
development, such as hate, love, jealousy, the desire for revenge,
etc. Often to express a combination of circumstances, influences,
passions, or personal actions, these leading motives, these brief
melodious phrases, are combined with a skill that is unprecedented; or
the voice may express one, while the orchestra combines with it in
another.

To enable the orchestra to follow these constantly changing phases in
the evolution and development of the drama, and often to give
utterance to them separately, it was necessary for Wagner to have most
intimate knowledge of the individual tone quality and characteristics
of every instrument in the orchestra, and this mastery of what I may
call instrumental personality he possessed to a hitherto undreamed-of
degree. Nor has anyone since equalled him in it. The result is a
choice and variety of instrumentation which in itself is almost an
equivalent for dramatic action and enables the orchestra to adapt
itself with unerring accuracy to the varying phases of the drama.

Consider that, when Wagner first projected his theory of the
music-drama, singers were accustomed in opera to step into the
limelight and, standing there, deliver themselves of set melodies,
acknowledge applause and give as many encores as were called for, in
fact were "it," while the real creative thing, the opera, was but
secondary, and it is easy to comprehend the opposition which his works
aroused among the personnel of the lyric stage; for music-drama
demands a singer's absorption not only in the music but also in the
action. A Wagner music-drama requires great singers, but the singers
no longer absorb everything. They are part--a most important part, it
is true--of a performance, in which the drama itself, the orchestra,
and the stage pictures are also of great importance. A performance of
a Wagner music-drama, to be effective, must be a well-rounded,
eloquent whole. The drama must be well acted from a purely dramatic
point of view. It must be well sung from a purely vocal point of view.
It must be well interpreted from a purely orchestral point of view. It
must be well produced from a purely stage point of view. For all these
elements go hand in hand. It is, of course, well known that Wagner was
the author of his own librettos and showed himself a dramatist of the
highest order for the lyric stage.

While his music-dramas at first aroused great opposition among
operatic artists, growing familiarity with them caused these artists
to change their view. The interpretation of a Wagner character was
discovered to be a combined intellectual and emotional task which
slowly, but surely, appealed more and more to the great singers of the
lyric stage. They derived a new dignity and satisfaction from their
work, especially as audiences also began to realize that, instead of
mere entertainment, performances of Wagner music-dramas were
experiences that both stirred the emotions to their depths and
appealed to the intellect as well. To this day Lilli Lehmann is
regarded by all, who had the good fortune to hear her at the
Metropolitan Opera House, as the greatest prima donna and the most
dignified figure in the history of the lyric stage in this country;
for on the lyric stage the interpretation of the great characters in
Wagnerian music-drama already had come to be regarded as equal to the
interpretation of the great Shakespearian characters on the dramatic.

Wagner's genius was so supreme that, although he has been dead
thirty-four years, he is still without a successor. Through the force
of his own genius he appears destined to remain the sole exponent of
the art form of which he was the creator. But his influence is still
potent. This we discover not only in the enrichment of the orchestral
accompaniment in opera, but in the banishment of senseless vocal
embellishment, in the search for true dramatic expression and, in
general, in the greater seriousness with which opera is taken as an
art. Even the minor point of lowering the lights in the auditorium
during a performance, so as to concentrate attention upon the stage,
is due to him; and even the older Italian operas are now given with an
attention to detail, scenic setting, and an endeavour to bring out
their dramatic effects, quite unheard of before his day. He was,
indeed, a reformer of the lyric stage whose influence long will be
potent "all along the line."


RIENZI, DER LETZTE DER TRIBUNEN

RIENZI, THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES

     Opera in five acts. Words and music by Wagner. Produced,
     Dresden, October 20, 1842. London, Her Majesty's Theatre,
     April 16, 1869. New York, Academy of Music, 1878, with
     Charles R. Adams, as _Rienzi_, Pappenheim as _Adriano_;
     Metropolitan Opera House, February 5, 1886, with Sylva as
     _Rienzi_, Lehmann as _Irene_, Brandt as _Adriano_, Fischer
     as _Colonna_.

     CHARACTERS

     COLA RIENZI, Roman Tribune and Papal Notary     _Tenor_
     IRENE, his sister                             _Soprano_
     STEFFANO COLONNA                                 _Bass_
     ADRIANO, his son                        _Mezzo-Soprano_
     PAOLO ORSINO                                     _Bass_
     RAIMONDO, Papal Legate                           _Bass_
     BARONCELLO        }                           { _Tenor_
     CECCO DEL VECCHIO } Roman citizens            {  _Bass_
     MESSENGER OF PEACE                            _Soprano_

     Ambassadors, Nobles, Priests, Monks, Soldiers, Messengers,
     and Populace in General.

     _Time_--Middle of the Fourteenth Century.

     _Place_--Rome.

_Orsino_, a Roman patrician, attempts to abduct _Irene_, the sister of
_Rienzi_, a papal notary, but is opposed at the critical moment by
_Colonna_, another patrician. A fight ensues between the two factions,
in the midst of which _Adriano_, the son of _Colonna_, who is in love
with _Irene_, appears to defend her. A crowd is attracted by the
tumult, and among others _Rienzi_ comes upon the scene. Enraged at the
insult offered his sister, and stirred on by _Cardinal Raimondo_, he
urges the people to resist the outrages of the nobles. _Adriano_ is
impelled by his love for _Irene_ to cast his lot with her brother. The
nobles are overpowered, and appear at the capitol to swear allegiance
to _Rienzi_, but during the festal proceedings _Adriano_ warns him
that the nobles have plotted to kill him. An attempt which _Orsino_
makes upon him with a dagger is frustrated by a steel breastplate
which _Rienzi_ wears under his robe.

The nobles are seized and condemned to death, but on _Adriano's_
pleading they are spared. They, however, violate their oath of
submission, and the people again under _Rienzi's_ leadership rise and
exterminate them, _Adriano_ having pleaded in vain. In the end the
people prove fickle. The popular tide turns against _Rienzi_,
especially in consequence of the report that he is in league with the
German emperor, and intends to restore the Roman pontiff to power. As
a festive procession is escorting him to church, _Adriano_ rushes upon
him with a drawn dagger, being infuriated at the slaughter of his
family, but the blow is averted. Instead of the "Te Deum," however,
with which _Rienzi_ expected to be greeted on his entrance to the
church, he hears the malediction and sees the ecclesiastical
dignitaries placing the ban of excommunication against him upon the
doors. _Adriano_ hurries to _Irene_ to warn her of her brother's
danger, and urges her to seek safety with him in flight. She, however,
repels him, and seeks her brother, determined to die with him, if need
be. She finds him at prayer in the capitol, but rejects his counsel to
save herself with _Adriano_. _Rienzi_ appeals to the infuriated
populace which has gathered around the capitol, but they do not heed
him. They fire the capitol with their torches, and hurl stones at
_Rienzi_ and _Irene_. As _Adriano_ sees his beloved one and her
brother doomed to death in the flames, he throws away his sword,
rushes into the capitol, and perishes with them.

The overture of "Rienzi" gives a vivid idea of the action of the
opera. Soon after the beginning there is heard the broad and stately
melody of _Rienzi's_ prayer, and then the Rienzi Motive, a typical
phrase, which is used with great effect later in the opera. It is
followed in the overture by the lively melody heard in the concluding
portion of the finale of the second act. These are the three most
conspicuous portions of the overture, in which there are, however,
numerous tumultuous passages reflecting the dramatic excitement which
pervades many scenes.

The opening of the first act is full of animation, the orchestra
depicting the tumult which prevails during the struggle between the
nobles. _Rienzi's_ brief recitative is a masterpiece of declamatory
music, and his call to arms is spirited. It is followed by a trio
between _Irene_, _Rienzi_, and _Adriano_, and this in turn by a duet
for the two last-named which is full of fire. The finale opens with a
double chorus for the populace and the monks in the Lateran,
accompanied by the organ. Then there is a broad and energetic appeal
to the people from _Rienzi_, and amid the shouts of the populace and
the ringing tones of the trumpets the act closes.

The insurrection of the people against the nobles is successful, and
_Rienzi_, in the second act, awaits at the capitol the patricians who
are to pledge him their submission. The act opens with a broad and
stately march, to which the messengers of peace enter. They sing a
graceful chorus. This is followed by a chorus for the senators, and
the nobles then tender their submission. There is a terzetto, between
_Adriano_, _Colonna_, and _Orsino_, in which the nobles express their
contempt for the young patrician. The finale which then begins is
highly spectacular. There is a march for the ambassadors, and a grand
ballet, historical in character, and supposed to be symbolical of the
triumphs of ancient Rome. In the midst of this occurs the assault upon
_Rienzi_. _Rienzi's_ pardon of the nobles is conveyed in a broadly
beautiful melody, and this is succeeded by the animated passage heard
in the overture. With it are mingled the chants of the monks, the
shouts of the people who are opposed to the cardinal and nobles, and
the tolling of bells.

The third act opens tumultuously. The people have been aroused by
fresh outrages on the part of the nobles. _Rienzi's_ emissaries
disperse, after a furious chorus, to rouse the populace to vengeance.
After they have left, _Adriano_ has his great air, a number which can
never fail of effect when sung with all the expression of which it is
capable. The rest of the act is a grand accumulation of martial music
or noise, whichever one chooses to call it, and includes the
stupendous battle hymn, which is accompanied by the clashing of sword
and shields, the ringing of bells, and all the tumult incidental to a
riot. After _Adriano_ has pleaded in vain with _Rienzi_ for the
nobles, and the various bands of armed citizens have dispersed, there
is a duet between _Adriano_ and _Irene_, in which _Adriano_ takes
farewell of her. The victorious populace appears and the act closes
with their triumphant shouts. The fourth act is brief, and beyond the
description given in the synopsis of the plot, requires no further
comment.

The fifth act opens with the beautiful prayer of _Rienzi_, already
familiar from the overture. There is a tender duet between _Rienzi_
and _Irene_, an impassioned aria for _Rienzi_, a duet for _Irene_ and
_Adriano_, and then the finale, which is chiefly choral.


DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER

THE FLYING DUTCHMAN

     Opera in three acts, words and music by Richard Wagner.
     Produced, Royal Opera, Dresden, January 2, 1843. London,
     July 23, 1870, as "L'Olandese Dannato"; October 3, 1876, by
     Carl Rosa, in English. New York, Academy of Music, January
     26, 1877, in English, with Clara Louise Kellogg; March 12,
     1877, in German; in the spring of 1883, in Italian, with
     Albani, Galassi, and Ravelli.

     CHARACTERS

     DALAND, a Norwegian sea captain                  _Bass_
     SENTA, his daughter                           _Soprano_
     ERIC, a huntsman                                _Tenor_
     MARY, SENTA'S nurse                         _Contralto_
     DALAND'S Steersman                              _Tenor_
     THE DUTCHMAN                                 _Baritone_

     Sailors, Maidens, Hunters, etc.

     _Time_--Eighteenth Century.

     _Place_--A Norwegian Fishing Village.

From "Rienzi" Wagner took a great stride to "The Flying Dutchman."
This is the first milestone on the road from opera to music-drama. Of
his "Rienzi" the composer was in after years ashamed, writing to
Liszt: "I, as an artist and man, have not the heart for the
reconstruction of that, to my taste, superannuated work, which in
consequence of its immoderate dimensions, I have had to remodel more
than once. I have no longer the heart for it, and desire from all my
soul to do something new instead." He spoke of it as a youthful error,
but in "The Flying Dutchman" there is little, if anything, which could
have troubled his artistic conscience.

One can hardly imagine the legend more effective dramatically and
musically than it is in Wagner's libretto and score. It is a work of
wild and sombre beauty, relieved only occasionally by touches of light
and grace, and has all the interest attaching to a work in which for
the first time a genius feels himself conscious of his greatness. If
it is not as impressive as "Tannhäuser" or "Lohengrin," nor as
stupendous as the music-dramas, that is because the subject of the
work is lighter. As his genius developed, his choice of subjects and
his treatment of them passed through as complete an evolution as his
musical theory, so that when he finally abandoned the operatic form
and adopted his system of leading motives, he conceived, for the
dramatic bases of his scores, dramas which it would be difficult to
fancy set to any other music than that which is so characteristic in
his music-dramas.

Wagner's present libretto is based upon the weirdly picturesque legend
of "The Flying Dutchman"--the Wandering Jew of the ocean. A Dutch sea
captain, who, we are told, tried to double the Cape of Good Hope in
the teeth of a furious gale, swore that he would accomplish his
purpose even if he kept on sailing forever. The devil, hearing the
oath, condemned the captain to sail the sea until Judgment Day,
without hope of release, unless he should find a woman who would love
him faithfully unto death. Once in every seven years he is allowed to
go ashore in search of a woman who will redeem him through her
faithful love.

The opera opens just as a term of seven years has elapsed. The
_Dutchman's_ ship comes to anchor in a bay of the coast of Norway, in
which the ship of _Daland_, a Norwegian sea captain, has sought
shelter from the storm. _Daland's_ home is not far from the bay, and
the _Dutchman_, learning he has a daughter, asks permission to woo
her, offering him in return all his treasures. _Daland_ readily
consents. His daughter, _Senta_, is a romantic maiden upon whom the
legend of "The Flying Dutchman" has made a deep impression. As
_Daland_ ushers the _Dutchman_ into his home _Senta_ is gazing
dreamily upon a picture representing the unhappy hero of the legend.
The resemblance of the stranger to the face in this picture is so
striking that the emotional girl is at once attracted to him, and
pledges him her faith, deeming it her mission to save him. Later on,
_Eric_, a young huntsman, who is in love with her, pleads his cause
with her, and the _Dutchman_, overhearing them, and thinking himself
again forsaken, rushes off to his vessel. _Senta_ cries out that she
is faithful to him, but is held back by _Eric_, _Daland_, and her
friends. The _Dutchman_, who really loves _Senta_, then proclaims who
he is, thinking to terrify her, and at once puts to sea. But she,
undismayed by his words, and truly faithful unto death, breaks away
from those who are holding her, and rushing to the edge of a cliff
casts herself into the ocean, with her arms outstretched toward him.
The phantom ship sinks, the sea rises high and falls back into a
seething whirlpool. In the sunset glow the forms of _Senta_ and the
_Dutchman_ are seen rising in each other's embrace from the sea and
floating upward.

In "The Flying Dutchman" Wagner employs several leading motives, not,
indeed, with the skill which he displays in his music-dramas, but with
considerably greater freedom of treatment than in "Rienzi." There we
had but one leading motive, which never varied in form. The overture,
which may be said to be an eloquent and beautiful musical narrative of
the whole opera, contains all these leading motives. It opens with a
stormy passage, out of which there bursts the strong but sombre Motive
of the Flying Dutchman himself, the dark hero of the legend. The
orchestra fairly seethes and rages like the sea roaring under the lash
of a terrific storm. And through all this furious orchestration there
is heard again and again the motive of the _Dutchman_, as if his
figure could be seen amid all the gloom and fury of the elements.
There he stands, hoping for death, yet indestructible. As the excited
music gradually dies away, there is heard a calm, somewhat undulating
phrase which occurs in the opera when the _Dutchman's_ vessel puts
into the quiet Norwegian harbour. Then, also, there occurs again the
motive of the _Dutchman_, but this time played softly, as if the
storm-driven wretch had at last found a moment's peace.

We at once recognize to whom it is due that he has found this moment
of repose, for we hear like prophetic measures the strains of the
beautiful ballad which is sung by _Senta_ in the second act of the
opera, in which she relates the legend of "The Flying Dutchman" and
tells of his unhappy fate. She is the one whom he is to meet when he
goes ashore. The entire ballad is not heard at this point, only the
opening of the second part, which may be taken as indicating in this
overture the simplicity and beauty of _Senta's_ character. In fact, it
would not be too much to call this opening phrase the Senta Motive. It
is followed by the phrase which indicates the coming to anchor of the
_Dutchman's_ vessel; then we hear the Motive of the Dutchman himself,
dying away with the faintest possible effect. With sudden energy the
orchestra dashes into the surging ocean music, introducing this time
the wild, pathetic plaint sung by the _Dutchman_ in the first act of
the opera. Again we hear his motive, and again the music seems to
represent the surging, swirling ocean when aroused by a furious
tempest. Even when we hear the measures of the sailors' chorus the
orchestra continues its furious pace, making it appear as if the
sailors were shouting above the storm.

Characteristic in this overture, and also throughout the opera,
especially in _Senta's_ ballad, is what may be called the Ocean
Motive, which most graphically depicts the wild and terrible aspect of
the ocean during a storm. It is varied from time to time, but never
loses its characteristic force and weirdness. The overture ends with
an impassioned burst of melody based upon a portion of the concluding
phrases of _Senta's_ ballad; phrases which we hear once more at the
end of the opera when she sacrifices herself in order to save her
lover.

A wild and stormy scene is disclosed when the curtain rises upon the
first act. The sea occupies the greater part of the scene, and
stretches itself out far toward the horizon. A storm is raging.
_Daland's_ ship has sought shelter in a little cove formed by the
cliffs. Sailors are employed in furling sails and coiling ropes.
_Daland_ is standing on a rock, looking about him to discover in what
place they are. The orchestra, chiefly with the wild ocean music heard
in the overture, depicts the raging of the storm, and above it are
heard the shouts of the sailors at work: "Ho-jo-he! Hal-lo-jo!"

_Daland_ discovers that they have missed their port by seven miles on
account of the storm, and deplores his bad luck that when so near his
home and his beloved child, he should have been driven out of his
course. As the storm seems to be abating the sailors descend into the
hold and _Daland_ goes down into the cabin to rest, leaving his
steersman in charge of the deck. The steersman walks the deck once or
twice and then sits down near the rudder, yawning, and then rousing
himself as if sleep were coming over him. As if to force himself to
remain awake he intones a sailor song, an exquisite little melody,
with a dash of the sea in its undulating measures. He intones the
second verse, but sleep overcomes him and the phrases become more and
more detached, until at last he falls asleep.

The storm begins to rage again and it grows darker. Suddenly the ship
of the _Flying Dutchman_, with blood-red sails and black mast, looms
up in the distance. She glides over the waves as if she did not feel
the storm at all, and quickly enters the harbour over against the ship
of the Norwegian; then silently and without the least noise the
spectral crew furl the sails. The _Dutchman_ goes on shore.

Here now occur the weird, dramatic recitative and aria: "The term is
passed, and once again are ended seven long years." As the _Dutchman_
leans in brooding silence against a rock in the foreground, _Daland_
comes out of the cabin and observes the ship. He rouses the steersman,
who begins singing again a phrase of his song, until _Daland_ points
out the strange vessel to him, when he springs up and hails her
through a speaking trumpet. _Daland_, however, perceives the
_Dutchman_ and going ashore questions him. It is then that the
_Dutchman_, after relating a mariner's story of ill luck and disaster,
asks _Daland_ to take him to his home and allow him to woo his
daughter, offering him his treasures. At this point we have a graceful
and pretty duet, _Daland_ readily consenting that the _Dutchman_
accompany him. The storm having subsided and the wind being fair, the
crews of the vessels hoist sail to leave port, _Daland's_ vessel
disappearing just as the _Dutchman_ goes on board his ship.

After an introduction in which we hear a portion of the steersman's
song, and also that phrase which denotes the appearance of the
_Dutchman's_ vessel in the harbour, the curtain rises upon a room in
_Daland's_ house. On the walls are pictures of vessels, charts, and on
the farther wall the portrait of a pale man with a dark beard.
_Senta_, leaning back in an armchair, is absorbed in dreamy
contemplation of the portrait. Her old nurse, _Mary_, and her young
friends are sitting in various parts of the room, spinning. Here we
have that charming musical number famous all the musical world over,
perhaps largely through Liszt's admirable piano arrangement of it, the
"Spinning Chorus." For graceful and engaging beauty it cannot be
surpassed, and may be cited as a striking instance of Wagner's gift of
melody, should anybody at this late day be foolish enough to require
proof of his genius in that respect. The girls tease _Senta_ for
gazing so dreamily at the portrait of the _Flying Dutchman_, and
finally ask her if she will not sing his ballad.

This ballad is a masterpiece of composition, vocally and
instrumentally, being melodious as well as descriptive. It begins with
the storm music familiar from the overture, and with the weird
measures of the Flying Dutchman's Motive, which sound like a voice
calling in distress across the sea.

[Music]

_Senta_ repeats the measures of this motive, and then we have the
simple phrases beginning: "A ship the restless ocean sweeps."
Throughout this portion of the ballad the orchestra depicts the
surging and heaving of the ocean, _Senta's_ voice ringing out
dramatically above the accompaniment. She then tells how he can be
delivered from his curse, this portion being set to the measures which
were heard in the overture, _Senta_ finally proclaiming, in the
broadly delivered, yet rapturous phrases with which the overture ends,

[Music]

that she is the woman who will save him by being faithful to him unto
death. The girls about her spring up in terror and _Eric_, who has
just entered the door and heard her outcry, hastens to her side. He
brings news of the arrival of _Daland's_ vessel, and _Mary_ and the
girls hasten forth to meet the sailors. _Senta_ wishes to follow, but
_Eric_ restrains her and pleads his love for her in melodious
measures. _Senta_, however, will not give him an answer at this time.
He then tells her of a dream he has had, in which he saw a weird
vessel from which two men, one her father, the other a ghastly-looking
stranger, made their way. Her he saw going to the stranger and
entreating him for his regard.

_Senta_, worked up to the highest pitch of excitement by _Eric's_
words, now exclaims: "He seeks for me and I for him," and _Eric_, full
of despair and horror, rushes away. _Senta_, after her outburst of
excitement, remains again sunk in contemplation of the picture, softly
repeating the measures of her romance. The door opens and the
_Dutchman_ and _Daland_ appear. The _Dutchman_ is the first to enter.
_Senta_ turns from the picture to him, and, uttering a loud cry of
wonder, remains standing as if transfixed without removing her eyes
from the _Dutchman_. _Daland_, seeing that she does not greet him,
comes up to her. She seizes his hand and after a hasty greeting asks
him who the stranger is. _Daland_ tells her of the stranger's request,
and leaves them alone. Then follows a duet for _Senta_ and the
_Dutchman_, with its broad, smoothly-flowing melody and its many
phrases of dramatic power, in which _Senta_ gives herself up
unreservedly to the hero of her romantic attachment, _Daland_ finally
entering and adding his congratulations to their betrothal. This scene
closes the act.

The music of it re-echoes through the introduction of the next act and
goes over into a vigorous sailors' chorus and dance. The scene shows a
bay with a rocky shore. _Daland's_ house is in the foreground on one
side, the background is occupied by his and the _Dutchman's_ ships,
which lie near one another. The Norwegian ship is lighted up, and all
the sailors are making merry on the deck. In strange contrast is the
_Flying Dutchman's_ vessel. An unnatural darkness hangs over it and
the stillness of death reigns aboard. The sailors and the girls in
their merry-making call loudly toward the Dutch ship to join them, but
no reply is heard from the weird vessel. Finally the sailors call
louder and louder and taunt the crew of the other ship. Then suddenly
the sea, which has been quite calm, begins to rise. The storm wind
whistles through the cordage of the strange vessel, and as dark bluish
flames flare up in the rigging, the weird crew show themselves, and
sing a wild chorus, which strikes terror into all the merrymakers. The
girls have fled, and the Norwegian sailors quit their deck, making the
sign of the cross. The crew of the Flying Dutchman observing this,
disappear with shrill laughter. Over their ship comes the stillness of
death. Thick darkness is spread over it and the air and the sea become
calm as before.

_Senta_ now comes with trembling steps out of the house. She is
followed by _Eric_. He pleads with her and entreats her to remember
his love for her, and speaks also of the encouragement which she once
gave him. The _Dutchman_ has entered unperceived and has been
listening. _Eric_ seeing him, at once recognizes the man of ghastly
mien whom he saw in his vision. When the _Flying Dutchman_ bids her
farewell, because he deems himself abandoned, and _Senta_ endeavours
to follow him, _Eric_ holds her and summons others to his aid. But, in
spite of all resistance, _Senta_ seeks to tear herself loose. Then it
is that the _Flying Dutchman_ proclaims who he is and puts to sea.
_Senta_, however, freeing herself, rushes to a cliff overhanging the
sea, and calling out,

     "Praise thou thine angel for what he saith;
     Here stand I faithful, yea, to death,"

casts herself into the sea. Then occurs the concluding tableau, the
work ending with the portion of the ballad which brought the overture
and spinning scene to a close.


TANNHÄUSER

UND DER SÄNGERKRIEG AUF DEM WARTBURG

(AND THE SONG CONTEST AT THE WARTBURG)

     Opera in three acts, words and music by Richard Wagner.
     Produced, Royal Opera, Dresden, October 19, 1845. Paris,
     Grand Opéra, March 13, 1861. London, Covent Garden, May 6,
     1876, in Italian; Her Majesty's Theatre, February 14, 1882,
     in English; Drury Lane, May 23, 1882, in German, under Hans
     Richter. New York, Stadt Theatre, April 4, 1859, and July,
     1861, conducted by Carl Bergmann; under Adolff Neuendorff's
     direction, 1870, and, Academy of Music, 1877; Metropolitan
     Opera House, opening night of German Opera, under Dr.
     Leopold Damrosch, November 17, 1884, with Seidl-Kraus as
     _Elizabeth_, Anna Slach as _Venus_, Schott as _Tannhäuser_,
     Adolf Robinson as _Wolfram_, Josef Kögel as the _Landgrave_.

     CHARACTERS

     HERMANN, Landgrave of Thuringia                  _Bass_
     TANNHÄUSER                }                     _Tenor_
     WOLFRAM VON ESCHENBACH    }                  _Baritone_
     WALTER VON DER VOGELWEIDE } Knights and         _Tenor_
     BITEROLF                  } Minnesinger          _Bass_
     HEINRICH DER SCHREIBER    }                     _Tenor_
     REINMAR VON ZWETER        }                      _Bass_
     ELIZABETH, niece of the Landgrave             _Soprano_
     VENUS                                         _Soprano_
     A YOUNG SHEPHERD                              _Soprano_
     FOUR NOBLE PAGES                     _Soprano and Alto_

     Nobles, Knights, Ladies, elder and younger Pilgrims, Sirens,
     Naiads, Nymphs, Bacchantes.

     _Time_--Early Thirteenth Century.

     _Place_--Near Eisenach.

The story of "Tannhäuser" is laid in and near the Wartburg, where,
during the thirteenth century, the Landgraves of the Thuringian Valley
held sway. They were lovers of art, especially of poetry and music,
and at the Wartburg many peaceful contests between the famous
minnesingers took place. Near this castle rises the Venusberg.
According to tradition the interior of this mountain was inhabited by
Holda, the Goddess of Spring, who, however, in time became identified
with the Goddess of Love. Her court was filled with nymphs and sirens,
and it was her greatest joy to entice into the mountain the knights of
the Wartburg and hold them captive to her beauty.

Among those whom she has thus lured into the rosy recesses of the
Venusberg is _Tannhäuser_.

In spite of her beauty, however, he is weary of her charms and longs
for a glimpse of the world. He seems to have heard the tolling of
bells and other earthly sounds, and these stimulate his yearning to be
set free from the magic charms of the goddess.

In vain she prophesies evil to him should he return to the world. With
the cry that his hope rests in the Virgin, he tears himself away from
her. In one of the swiftest and most effective of scenic changes the
court of _Venus_ disappears and in a moment we see _Tannhäuser_
prostrate before a cross in a valley upon which the Wartburg
peacefully looks down. _Pilgrims_ on their way to Rome pass him by and
_Tannhäuser_ thinks of joining them in order that at Rome he may
obtain forgiveness for his crime in allowing himself to be enticed
into the Venusberg. But at that moment the _Landgrave_ and a number of
minnesingers on their return from the chase come upon him and,
recognizing him, endeavour to persuade him to return to the Wartburg
with them. Their pleas, however, are vain, until one of them, _Wolfram
von Eschenbach_, tells him that since he has left the Wartburg a great
sadness has come over the niece of the _Landgrave_, _Elizabeth_. It is
evident that _Tannhäuser_ has been in love with her, and that it is
because of her beauty and virtue that he regrets so deeply having been
lured into the Venusberg. For _Wolfram's_ words stir him profoundly.
To the great joy of all, he agrees to return to the Wartburg, the
scene of his many triumphs as a minnesinger in the contests of song.

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Farrar as Elizabeth in "Tannhäuser"]

[Illustration: Photo by Hall

"Tannhäuser," Finale, Act II

Tannhäuser (Maclennan), Elizabeth (Fornia), Wolfram (Dean)

The Landgrave (Cranston)]

The _Landgrave_, feeling sure that _Tannhäuser_ will win the prize at
the contest of song soon to be held, offers the hand of his niece to
the winner. The minnesingers sing tamely of the beauty of virtuous
love, but _Tannhäuser_, suddenly remembering the seductive and magical
beauties of the Venusberg, cannot control himself, and bursts out
into a reckless hymn in praise of _Venus_. Horrified at his words, the
knights draw their swords and would slay him, but _Elizabeth_ throws
herself between him and them. Crushed and penitent, _Tannhäuser_
stands behind her, and the _Landgrave_, moved by her willingness to
sacrifice herself for her sinful lover, announces that he will be
allowed to join a second band of pilgrims who are going to Rome and to
plead with the Pope for forgiveness.

_Elizabeth_ prayerfully awaits his return; but, as she is kneeling by
the crucifix in front of the Wartburg, the _Pilgrims_ pass her by and
in the band she does not see her lover. Slowly and sadly she returns
to the castle to die. When the _Pilgrims'_ voices have died away, and
_Elizabeth_ has returned to the castle, leaving only _Wolfram_, who is
also deeply enamoured of her, upon the scene, _Tannhäuser_ appears,
weary and dejected. He has sought to obtain forgiveness in vain. The
Pope has cast him out forever, proclaiming that no more than that his
staff can put forth leaves can he expect forgiveness. He has come back
to re-enter the Venusberg. _Wolfram_ seeks to restrain him, but it is
not until he invokes the name of _Elizabeth_ that _Tannhäuser_ is
saved. A cortège approaches, and, as _Tannhäuser_ recognizes the form
of _Elizabeth_ on the bier, he sinks down on her coffin and dies. Just
then the second band of pilgrims arrive, bearing _Tannhäuser's_ staff,
which has put forth blossoms, thus showing that his sins have been
forgiven.

From "The Flying Dutchman" to "Tannhäuser," dramatically and
musically, is, if anything, a greater stride than from "Rienzi" to
"The Flying Dutchman." In each of his successive works Wagner
demonstrates greater and deeper powers as a dramatic poet and
composer. True it is that in nearly every one of them woman appears as
the redeeming angel of sinful man, but the circumstances differ so
that this beautiful tribute always interests us anew.

The overture of the opera has long been a favorite piece on concert
programs. Like that of "The Flying Dutchman" it is the story of the
whole opera told in music. It certainly is one of the most brilliant
and effective pieces of orchestral music and its popularity is easily
understood. It opens with the melody of the _Pilgrims'_ chorus,
beginning softly as if coming from a distance and gradually increasing
in power until it is heard in all its grandeur. At this point it is
joined by a violently agitated accompaniment on the violins. This
passage evoked great criticism when it was first produced and for many
years thereafter. It was thought to mar the beauty of the pilgrims'
chorus. But without doing so at all it conveys additional dramatic
meaning, for these agitated phrases depict the restlessness of the
world as compared with the grateful tranquillity of religious faith as
set forth in the melody of the _Pilgrims'_ chorus.

[Music]

Having reached a climax, this chorus gradually dies away, and
suddenly, and with intense dramatic contrast, we have all the
seductive spells of the Venusberg displayed before us--that is,
musically displayed; but then the music is so wonderfully vivid, it
depicts with such marvellous clearness the many-coloured alluring
scene at the court of the unholy goddess, it gives vent so freely to
the sinful excitement which pervades the Venusberg, that we actually
seem to see what we hear. This passes over in turn to the impassioned
burst of song in which _Tannhäuser_ hymns Venus's praise, and
immediately after we have the boisterous and vigorous music which
accompanies the threatening action of the _Landgrave_ and
minnesingers when they draw their swords upon _Tannhäuser_ in order to
take vengeance upon him for his crimes. Upon these three episodes of
the drama, which so characteristically give insight into its plot and
action, the overture is based, and it very naturally concludes with
the _Pilgrims'_ chorus which seems to voice the final forgiveness of
_Tannhäuser_.

The curtain rises, disclosing all the seductive spells of the
Venusberg. _Tannhäuser_ lies in the arms of _Venus_, who reclines upon
a flowery couch. Nymphs, sirens, and satyrs are dancing about them and
in the distance are grottoes alive with amorous figures. Various
mythological amours, such as that of Leda and the swan, are supposed
to be in progress, but fortunately at a mitigating distance.

[Music]

Much of the music familiar from the overture is heard during this
scene, but it gains in effect from the distant voices of the sirens
and, of course, from artistic scenery and grouping and well-executed
dances of the denizens of _Venus's_ court. Very dramatic, too, is the
scene between _Venus_ and _Tannhäuser_, when the latter sings his hymn
in her praise, but at the same time proclaims that he desires to
return to the world. In alluring strains she endeavours to tempt him
to remain with her, but when she discovers that he is bound upon
going, she vehemently warns him of the misfortunes which await him
upon earth and prophesies that he will some day return to her and
penitently ask to be taken back into her realm.

Dramatic and effective as this scene is in the original score, it has
gained immensely in power by the additions which Wagner made for the
production of the work in Paris, in 1861. The overture does not, in
this version, come to a formal close, but after the manner of Wagner's
later works, the transition is made directly from it to the scene of
the Venusberg. The dances have been elaborated and laid out upon a
more careful allegorical basis and the music of _Venus_ has been
greatly strengthened from a dramatic point of view, so that now the
scene in which she pleads with him to remain and afterwards warns him
against the sorrows to which he will be exposed, are among the finest
of Wagner's compositions, rivalling in dramatic power the ripest work
in his music-dramas.

Wagner's knowledge of the stage is shown in the wonderfully dramatic
effect in the change of scene from the Venusberg to the landscape in
the valley of the Wartburg. One moment we have the variegated allures
of the court of the Goddess of Love, with its dancing nymphs, sirens,
and satyrs, its beautiful grottoes and groups; the next all this has
disappeared and from the heated atmosphere of _Venus's_ unholy rites
we are suddenly transported to a peaceful scene whose influence upon
us is deepened by the crucifix in the foreground, before which
_Tannhäuser_ kneels in penitence. The peacefulness of the scene is
further enhanced by the appearance upon a rocky eminence to the left
of a young _Shepherd_ who pipes a pastoral strain, while in the
background are heard the tinkling of bells, as though his sheep were
there grazing upon some upland meadow. Before he has finished piping
his lay the voices of the _Pilgrims_ are heard in the distance, their
solemn measures being interrupted by little phrases piped by the
_Shepherd_. As the _Pilgrims_ approach, the chorus becomes louder,
and as they pass over the stage and bow before the crucifix, their
praise swells into an eloquent psalm of devotion.

_Tannhäuser_ is deeply affected and gives way to his feelings in a
lament, against which are heard the voices of the _Pilgrims_ as they
recede in the distance. This whole scene is one of marvellous beauty,
the contrast between it and the preceding episode being enhanced by
the religiously tranquil nature of what transpires and of the
accompanying music. Upon this peaceful scene the notes of
hunting-horns now break in, and gradually the _Landgrave_ and his
hunters gather about _Tannhäuser_. _Wolfram_ recognizes him and tells
the others who he is. They greet him in an expressive septette, and
_Wolfram_, finding he is bent upon following the _Pilgrims_ to Rome,
asks permission of the _Landgrave_ to inform him of the impression
which he seems to have made upon _Elizabeth_. This he does in a
melodious solo, and _Tannhäuser_, overcome by his love for
_Elizabeth_, consents to return to the halls which have missed him so
long. Exclamations of joy greet his decision, and the act closes with
an enthusiastic _ensemble_, which is a glorious piece of concerted
music, and never fails of brilliant effect when it is well executed,
especially if the representative of _Tannhäuser_ has a voice that can
soar above the others, which, unfortunately, is not always the case.
The accompanying scenic grouping should also be in keeping with the
composer's instructions. The _Landgrave's_ suite should gradually
arrive, bearing the game which has been slain, and horses and
hunting-hounds should be led on the stage. Finally, the _Landgrave_
and minnesingers mount their steeds and ride away toward the castle.

The scene of the second act is laid in the singers' hall of the
Wartburg. The introduction depicts _Elizabeth's_ joy at _Tannhäuser's_
return, and when the curtain rises she at once enters and joyfully
greets the scenes of _Tannhäuser's_ former triumphs in broadly
dramatic melodious phrases. _Wolfram_ then appears, conducting
_Tannhäuser_ to her. _Elizabeth_ seems overjoyed to see him, but then
checks herself, and her maidenly modesty, which veils her transport at
meeting him, again finds expression in a number of hesitating but
exceedingly beautiful phrases. She asks _Tannhäuser_ where he has
been, but he, of course, gives misleading answers. Finally, however,
he tells her she is the one who has attracted him back to the castle.
Their love finds expression in a swift and rapidly flowing dramatic
duet, which unfortunately is rarely given in its entirety, although as
a glorious outburst of emotional music it certainly deserves to be
heard in the exact form and length in which the composer wrote it.

There is then a scene of much tender feeling between the _Landgrave_
and _Elizabeth_, in which the former tells her that he will offer her
hand as prize to the singer whom she shall crown as winner. The first
strains of the grand march are then heard. This is one of Wagner's
most brilliant and effective orchestral and vocal pieces. Though in
perfect march rhythm, it is not intended that the guests who assembled
at the Wartburg shall enter like a company of soldiers. On the
contrary, they arrive in irregular detachments, stride across the
floor, and make their obeisance in a perfectly natural manner. After
an address by the _Landgrave_, which can hardly be called remarkably
interesting, the singers draw lots to decide who among them shall
begin. This prize singing is, unfortunately, not so great in musical
value as the rest of the score, and, unless a person understands the
words, it is decidedly long drawn out. What, however, redeems it is a
gradually growing dramatic excitement as _Tannhäuser_ voices his
contempt for what seem to him the tame tributes paid to love by the
minnesingers, an excitement which reaches its climax when, no longer
able to restrain himself, he bursts forth into his hymn in praise of
the unholy charms of _Venus_.

[Music]

The women cry out in horror and rush from the hall as if the very
atmosphere were tainted by his presence, and the men, drawing their
swords, rush upon him. This brings us to the great dramatic moment,
when, with a shriek, _Elizabeth_, in spite of his betrayal of her
love, throws herself protectingly before him, and thus appears a
second time as his saving angel. In short and excited phrases the men
pour forth their wrath at _Tannhäuser's_ crime in having sojourned
with _Venus_, and he, realizing its enormity, seems crushed with a
consciousness of his guilt. Of wondrous beauty is the septette, "An
angel has from heaven descended," which rises to a magnificent climax
and is one of the finest pieces of dramatic writing in Wagner's
scores, although often execrably sung and rarely receiving complete
justice. The voices of young _Pilgrims_ are heard in the valley. The
_Landgrave_ then announces the conditions upon which _Tannhäuser_ can
again obtain forgiveness, and _Tannhäuser_ joins the pilgrims on their
way to Rome.

The third act displays once more the valley of the Wartburg, the same
scene as that to which the Venusberg changed in the first act.
_Elizabeth_, arrayed in white, is kneeling, in deep prayer, before the
crucifix. At one side, and watching her tenderly, stands _Wolfram_.
After a sad recitative from _Wolfram_, the chorus of returning
_Pilgrims_ is heard in the distance. They sing the melody heard in the
overture and in the first act; and the same effect of gradual approach
is produced by a superb crescendo as they reach and cross the scene.
With almost piteous anxiety and grief _Elizabeth_ scans them closely
as they go by, to see if _Tannhäuser_ be among them, and when the
last one has passed and she realizes that he has not returned, she
sinks again upon her knees before the crucifix and sings the prayer,
"Almighty Virgin, hear my sorrow," music in which there is most
beautifully combined the expression of poignant grief with trust in
the will of the Almighty. As she rises and turns toward the castle,
_Wolfram_, by his gesture, seems to ask her if he cannot accompany
her, but she declines his offer and slowly goes her way up the
mountain.

Meanwhile night has fallen upon the scene and the evening star glows
softly above the castle. It is then that _Wolfram_, accompanying
himself on his lyre, intones the wondrously tender and beautiful "Song
to the Evening Star," confessing therein his love for the saintly
_Elizabeth_.

[Music]

Then _Tannhäuser_, dejected, footsore, and weary, appears, and in
broken accents asks _Wolfram_ to show him the way back to the
Venusberg. _Wolfram_ bids him stay his steps and persuades him to tell
him the story of his pilgrimage. In fierce, dramatic accents,
_Tannhäuser_ relates all that he has suffered on his way to Rome and
the terrible judgment pronounced upon him by the Pope. This is a
highly impressive episode, clearly foreshadowing Wagner's dramatic use
of musical recitative in his later music-dramas. Only a singer of the
highest rank can do justice to it.

_Tannhäuser_ proclaims that, having lost all chance of salvation, he
will once more give himself up to the delights of the Venusberg. A
roseate light illumines the recesses of the mountain and the unholy
company of the Venusberg again is seen, _Venus_ stretching out her
arms for _Tannhäuser_, to welcome him. But at last, when _Tannhäuser_
seems unable to resist _Venus'_ enticing voice any longer, _Wolfram_
conjures him by the memory of the sainted _Elizabeth_. Then _Venus_
knows that all is lost. The light dies away and the magic charms of
the Venusberg disappear. Amid tolling of bells and mournful voices a
funeral procession comes down the mountain. Recognizing the features
of _Elizabeth_, the dying _Tannhäuser_ falls upon her corpse. The
younger pilgrims arrive with the staff, which has again put forth
leaves, and amid the hallelujahs of the pilgrims the opera closes.

Besides the character of _Elizabeth_ that of _Wolfram_ stands out for
its tender, manly beauty. In love with _Elizabeth_, he is yet the
means of bringing back her lover to her, and in the end saves that
lover from perdition, so that they may be united in death.


LOHENGRIN

     Opera in three acts, by Richard Wagner. Produced, Weimar,
     Germany, August 28, 1850, under the direction of Franz
     Liszt; London, Covent Garden, May 8, 1875; New York, Stadt
     Theater, in German, April 3, 1871; Academy of Music, in
     Italian, March 23, 1874, with Nilsson, Cary, Campanini, and
     Del Puente; Metropolitan Opera House, in German, November
     23, 1885, with Seidl-Kraus, Brandt, Stritt, Robinson, and
     Fischer, American début of Anton Seidl as conductor.

     CHARACTERS

     HENRY THE FOWLER, King of Germany                _Bass_
     LOHENGRIN                                       _Tenor_
     ELSA OF BRABANT                               _Soprano_
     DUKE GODFREY, her brother                        _Mute_
     FREDERICK OF TELRAMUND, Count of Brabant     _Baritone_
     ORTRUD, his wife                        _Mezzo-Soprano_
     THE KING'S HERALD                                _Bass_

     Saxon, Thuringian, and Brabantian Counts and Nobles, Ladies
     of Honour, Pages, Attendants.

     _Time_--First half of the Tenth Century.

     _Scene_--Antwerp.

The circumstances attending the creation and first production of
"Lohengrin" are most interesting.

Prior to and for more than a decade after he wrote and composed the
work Wagner suffered many vicissitudes. In Paris, where he lived from
hand to mouth before "Rienzi" was accepted by the Royal Opera House at
Dresden, he was absolutely poverty-stricken and often at a loss how to
procure the next meal.

"Rienzi" was produced at the Dresden Opera in 1842. It was brilliantly
successful. "The Flying Dutchman," which followed, was less so, and
"Tannhäuser" seemed even less attractive to its early audiences.
Therefore it is no wonder that, although Wagner was royal conductor in
Dresden, he could not succeed in having "Lohengrin" accepted there for
performance. Today "Rienzi" hardly can be said to hold its own in the
repertoire outside of its composer's native country. The sombre beauty
of "The Flying Dutchman," though recognized by musicians and serious
music lovers, has prevented its becoming popular. But "Tannhäuser,"
looked at so askance at first, and "Lohengrin," absolutely rejected,
are standard operas and, when well given, among the most popular works
of the lyric stage. Especially is this true of "Lohengrin."

This opera, at the time of its composition so novel and so strange,
yet filled with beauties of orchestration and harmony that are now
quoted as leading examples in books on these subjects, was composed in
less than a year. The acts were finished almost, if not quite, in
reversed order. For Wagner wrote the third act first, beginning it in
September, 1846, and completing it March 5, 1847. The first act
occupied him from May 12th to June 8th, less than a month; the second
act from June 18th to August 2d. Fresh and beautiful as "Lohengrin"
still sounds today, it is, in fact, a classic.

Wagner's music, however, was so little understood at the time, that
even before "Lohengrin" was produced and not a note of it had been
heard, people made fun of it. A lithographer named Meser had issued
Wagner's previous three scores, but the enterprise had not been a
success. People said that before publishing "Rienzi," Meser had lived
on the first floor. "Rienzi" had driven him to the second; "The Flying
Dutchman" and "Tannhäuser" to the third; and now "Lohengrin" would
drive him to the garret--a prophecy that didn't come true, because he
refused to publish it.

In 1849, "Lohengrin" still not having been accepted by the Dresden
Opera, Wagner, as already has been stated, took part in the May
revolution, which, apparently successful for a very short time, was
quickly suppressed by the military. The composer of "Lohengrin" and
the future composer of the "Ring of the Nibelung," "Tristan und
Isolde," "Meistersinger," and "Parsifal," is said to have made his
escape from Dresden in the disguise of a coachman. Occasionally there
turns up in sales as a great rarity a copy of the warrant for Wagner's
arrest issued by the Dresden police. As it gives a description of him
at the time when he had but recently composed "Lohengrin," I will
quote it:

     "Wagner is thirty-seven to thirty-eight years of age, of
     medium stature, has brown hair, an open forehead; eyebrows,
     brown; eyes, greyish blue; nose and mouth, proportioned;
     chin, round, and wears spectacles. Special characteristics:
     rapid in movements and speech. Dress: coat of dark green
     buckskin, trousers of black cloth, velvet vest, silk
     neckerchief, ordinary felt hat and boots."

Much fun has been made of the expression "chin, round, and wears
spectacles." Wagner got out of Dresden on the pass of a Dr. Widmann,
whom he resembled. It has been suggested that he made the resemblance
still closer by discontinuing the habit of wearing spectacles on his
chin.

I saw Wagner several times in Bayreuth in the summer of 1882, when I
attended the first performance of "Parsifal," as correspondent by
cable and letter for one of the large New York dailies. Except that
his hair was grey (and that he no longer wore his spectacles on his
chin) the description in the warrant still held good, especially as
regards his rapidity of movement and speech, to which I may add a
marked vivacity of gesture. There, too, I saw the friend, who had
helped him over so many rough places in his early career, Franz Liszt,
his hair white with age, but framing a face as strong and keen as an
eagle's. I saw them seated at a banquet, and with them Cosima, Liszt's
daughter, who was Wagner's second wife, and their son, Siegfried
Wagner; Cosima the image of her father, and Siegfried a miniature
replica of the composer to whom we owe "Lohengrin" and the
music-dramas that followed it. The following summer one of the four
was missing. I have the "Parsifal" program with mourning border
signifying that the performances of the work were in memory of its
creator.

In April, 1850, Wagner, then an exile in Zurich, wrote to Liszt:
"Bring out my 'Lohengrin!' You are the only one to whom I would put
this request; to no one but you would I entrust the production of this
opera; but to you I surrender it with the fullest, most joyous
confidence."

Wagner himself describes the appeal and the result, by saying that at
a time when he was ill, unhappy, and in despair, his eye fell on the
score of "Lohengrin" which he had almost forgotten. "A pitiful feeling
overcame me that these tones would never resound from the deathly-pale
paper; two words I wrote to Liszt, the answer to which was nothing
else than the information that, as far as the resources of the Weimar
Opera permitted, the most elaborate preparations were being made for
the production of 'Lohengrin.'"

Liszt's reply to which Wagner refers, and which gives some details
regarding "the elaborate preparations," while testifying to his full
comprehension of Wagner's genius and the importance of his new score
as a work of art, may well cause us to smile today at the small scale
on which things were done in 1850.

"Your 'Lohengrin,'" he wrote, "will be given under conditions that are
most unusual and most favourable for its success. The direction will
spend on this occasion almost 2000 thalers [about $1500]--a sum
unprecedented at Weimar within memory of man ... the bass clarinet has
been bought," etc. Ten times fifteen hundred dollars might well be
required today for a properly elaborate production of "Lohengrin," and
the opera orchestra that had to send out and buy a bass clarinet would
be a curiosity. But Weimar had what no other opera house could boast
of--Franz Liszt as conductor.

Under his brilliant direction "Lohengrin" had at Weimar its first
performance on any stage, August 28, 1850. This was the anniversary of
Goethe's birth, the date of the dedication of the Weimar monument to
the poet, Herder, and, by a coincidence that does not appear to have
struck either Wagner or Liszt, the third anniversary of the completion
of "Lohengrin." The work was performed without cuts and before an
audience which included some of the leading musical and literary men
of Germany. The performance made a deep impression. The circumstance
that Liszt added the charm of his personality to it and that the
weight of his influence had been thrown in its favour alone gave vast
importance to the event. Indeed, through Liszt's production of
Wagner's early operas Weimar became, as Henry T. Finck has said in
_Wagner and His Works_, a sort of preliminary Bayreuth. Occasionally
special opera trains were put on for the accommodation of visitors to
the Wagner performances. In January, 1853, Liszt writes to Wagner that
"the public interest in 'Lohengrin' is rapidly increasing. You are
already very popular at the various Weimar hotels, where it is not
easy to get a room on the days when your operas are given." The Liszt
production of "Lohengrin" was a turning point in his career, the
determining influence that led him to throw himself heart and soul
into the composition of the "Ring of the Nibelung."

On May 15, 1861, when, through the intervention of Princess
Metternich, he had been permitted to return to Germany, fourteen years
after he had finished "Lohengrin" and eleven years after its
production at Weimar, he himself heard it for the first time at
Vienna. A tragedy of fourteen years--to create a masterpiece of the
lyric stage, and be forced to wait that long to hear it!

Before proceeding to a complete descriptive account of the "Lohengrin"
story and music I will give a brief summary of the plot and a similar
characterization of the score.

Wagner appears to have become so saturated with the subject of his
dramas that he transported himself in mind and temperament to the very
time in which his scenes are laid. So vividly does he portray the
mythological occurrences told in "Lohengrin" that one can almost
imagine he had been an eye-witness of them. This capacity of artistic
reproduction of a remote period would alone entitle him to rank as a
great dramatist. But he has done much more; he has taken unpromising
material, which in the original is strung out over a period of years,
and, by condensing the action to two days, has converted it into a
swiftly moving drama.

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Mishkin

Sembach as Lohengrin]

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Schumann-Heink as Ortrud in "Lohengrin"]

The story of "Lohengrin" is briefly as follows: The Hungarians have
invaded Germany, and _King Henry I._ visits Antwerp for the purpose
of raising a force to combat them. He finds the country in a condition
of anarchy. The dukedom is claimed by _Frederick_, who has married
_Ortrud_, a daughter of the Prince of Friesland. The legitimate heir,
_Godfrey_, has mysteriously disappeared, and his sister, _Elsa_, is
charged by _Frederick_ and _Ortrud_ with having done away with him in
order that she might obtain the sovereignty. The _King_ summons her
before him so that the cause may be tried by the ordeal of single
combat between _Frederick_ and a champion who may be willing to appear
for _Elsa_. None of the knights will defend her cause. She then
describes a champion whose form has appeared to her in a vision, and
she proclaims that he shall be her champion. Her pretence is derided
by _Frederick_ and his followers, who think that she is out of her
mind; but after a triple summons by the _Herald_, there is seen in the
distance on the river, a boat drawn by a swan, and in it a knight clad
in silver armour. He comes to champion _Elsa's_ cause, and before the
combat betroths himself to her, but makes a strict condition that she
shall never question him as to his name or birthplace, for should she,
he would be obliged to depart. She assents to the conditions, and the
combat which ensues results in _Frederick's_ ignominious defeat.
Judgment of exile is pronounced on him.

Instead, however, of leaving the country he lingers in the
neighbourhood of Brabant, plotting with _Ortrud_ how they may compass
the ruin of _Lohengrin_ and _Elsa_. _Ortrud_ by her entreaties moves
_Elsa_ to pity, and persuades her to seek a reprieve for _Frederick_,
at the same time, however, using every opportunity to instil doubts in
_Elsa's_ mind regarding her champion, and rousing her to such a pitch
of nervous curiosity that she is on the point of asking him the
forbidden question. After the bridal ceremonies, and in the bridal
chamber, the distrust which _Ortrud_ and _Frederick_ have engendered
in _Elsa's_ mind so overcomes her faith that she vehemently puts the
forbidden question to her champion. Almost at the same moment
_Frederick_ and four of his followers force their way into the
apartment, intending to take the knight's life. A single blow of his
sword, however, stretches _Frederick_ lifeless, and his followers bear
his corpse away. Placing _Elsa_ in the charge of her ladies-in-waiting,
and ordering them to take her to the presence of the _King_, he
repairs thither himself.

The Brabantian hosts are gathering, and he is expected to lead them to
battle, but owing to _Elsa's_ question he is now obliged to disclose
who he is and to take his departure. He proclaims that he is
_Lohengrin_, son of Parsifal, Knight of the Holy Grail, and that he
can linger no longer in Brabant, but must return to the place of his
coming. The swan has once more appeared, drawing the boat down the
river, and bidding _Elsa_ farewell he steps into the little shell-like
craft. Then _Ortrud_, with malicious glee, declares that the swan is
none other than _Elsa's_ brother, whom she (_Ortrud_) bewitched into
this form, and that he would have been changed back again to his human
shape had it not been for _Elsa's_ rashness. But _Lohengrin_, through
his supernatural powers, is able to undo _Ortrud's_ work, and at a
word from him the swan disappears and _Godfrey_ stands in its place. A
dove now descends, and, hovering in front of the boat, draws it away
with _Lohengrin_, while _Elsa_ expires in her brother's arms.

Owing to the lyric character of the story upon which "Lohengrin" is
based, the opera, while not at all lacking in strong dramatic
situations is characterized by a subtler and more subdued
melodiousness than "Tannhäuser," is more exquisitely lyrical in fact
than any Wagnerian work except "Parsifal."

There are typical themes in the score, but they are hardly handled
with the varied effect that entitles them to be called leading
motives. On the other hand there are fascinating details of
orchestration. These are important because the composer has given
significant clang-tints to the music that is heard in connection with
the different characters in the story. He uses the brass chiefly to
accompany the _King_, and, of course, the martial choruses; the
plaintive, yet spiritual high wood-wind for _Elsa_; the English horn
and sombre bass clarinet--the instrument that had to be bought--for
_Ortrud_; the violins, especially in high harmonic positions, to
indicate the Grail and its representative, for _Lohengrin_ is a Knight
of the Holy Grail. Even the keys employed are distinctive. The
_Herald's_ trumpeters blow in C and greet the _King's_ arrival in that
bright key. F-sharp minor is the dark, threatful key that indicates
_Ortrud's_ appearance. The key of A, which is the purest for strings
and the most ethereal in effect, on account of the greater ease of
using "harmonics," announces the approach of _Lohengrin_ and the
subtle influence of the Grail.

Moreover Wagner was the first composer to discover that celestial
effects of tone colour are produced by the prolonged notes of the
combined violins and wood-wind in the highest positions more truly
than by the harp. It is the association of ideas with the Scriptures,
wherein the harp frequently is mentioned, because it was the most
perfected instrument of the period, that has led other composers to
employ it for celestial tone-painting. But while no one appreciated
the beauty of the harp more than Wagner, or has employed it with finer
effect than he, his celestial tone-pictures with high-violins and
wood-wind are distinctly more ecstatic than those of other composers.

The music clothes the drama most admirably. The Vorspiel or Prelude
immediately places the listener in the proper mood for the story which
is to unfold itself, and for the score, vocal and instrumental, whose
strains are to fall upon his ear.

The Prelude is based entirely upon one theme, a beautiful one and
expressive of the sanctity of the Grail, of which _Lohengrin_ is one
of the knights. Violins and flutes with long-drawn-out, ethereal
chords open the Prelude. Then is heard on the violins, so divided as
to heighten the delicacy of the effect, the Motive of the Grail, the
cup in which the Saviour's blood is supposed to have been caught as it
flowed from the wound in His side, while he was on the Cross. No
modern book on orchestration is considered complete unless it quotes
this passage from the score, which is at once the earliest and, after
seventy years, still the most perfect example of the effect of
celestial harmony produced on the high notes of the divided violin
choir. This interesting passage in the score is as follows:

[Music]

Although this is the only motive that occurs in the Prelude, the ear
never wearies of it. Its effectiveness is due to the wonderful skill
with which Wagner handles the theme, working it up through a superb
crescendo to a magnificent climax, with all the splendours of
Wagnerian orchestration, after which it dies away again to the
ethereal harmonies with which it first greeted the listener.

Act I. The curtain, on rising, discloses a scene of unwonted life on
the plain near the River Scheldt, where the stream winds toward
Antwerp. On an elevated seat under a huge oak sits _King Henry I._ On
either side are his Saxon and Thuringian nobles. Facing him with the
knights of Brabant are _Count Frederick of Telramund_ and his wife,
_Ortrud_, daughter of the Prince of Friesland, of dark, almost
forbidding beauty, and with a treacherous mingling of haughtiness and
humility in her carriage.

It is a strange tale the _King_ has just heard fall from _Frederick of
Telramund's_ lips. _Henry_ has assembled the Brabantians on the plain
by the Scheldt in order to summon them to join his army and aid in
checking the threatened invasion of Germany by the Hungarians. But he
has found the Brabantians themselves torn by factional strife, some
supporting, others opposing _Frederick_ in his claim to the ducal
succession of Brabant.

"Sire," says _Frederick_, when called upon by the _King_ to explain
the cause of the discord that has come upon the land, "the late Duke
of Brabant upon his death-bed confided to me, his kinsman, the care of
his two children, _Elsa_ and her young brother _Godfrey_, with the
right to claim the maid as my wife. But one day _Elsa_ led the boy
into the forest and returned alone. From her pale face and faltering
lips I judged only too well of what had happened, and I now publicly
accuse _Elsa_ of having made away with her brother that she might be
sole heir to Brabant and reject my right to her hand. Her hand!
Horrified, I shrank from her and took a wife whom I could truly love.
Now as nearest kinsman of the duke I claim this land as my own, my
wife, too, being of the race that once gave a line of princes to
Brabant."

So saying, he leads _Ortrud_ forward, and she, lowering her dark
visage, makes a deep obeisance to the _King_. To the latter but one
course is open. A terrible accusation has been uttered, and an appeal
must be made to the immediate judgment of God in trial by combat
between _Frederick_ and whoever may appear as champion for _Elsa_.
Solemnly the _King_ hangs his shield on the oak, the Saxons and
Thuringians thrust the points of their swords into the ground, while
the Brabantians lay theirs before them. The royal _Herald_ steps
forward. "Elsa, without delay appear!" he calls in a loud voice.

A sudden hush falls upon the scene, as a slender figure robed in
white slowly advances toward the _King_. It is _Elsa_. With her fair
brow, gentle mien, and timid footsteps it seems impossible that she
can be the object of _Frederick's_ dire charge. But there are dark
forces conspiring against her, of which none knows save her accuser
and the wife he has chosen from the remoter North. In Friesland the
weird rites of Odin and the ancient gods still had many secret
adherents, _Ortrud_ among them, and it is the hope of this heathenish
woman, through the undoing of _Elsa_, and the accession of _Frederick_
whom she has completely under her influence, to check the spread of
the Christian faith toward the North and restore the rites of Odin in
Brabant. To this end she is ready to bring all the black magic of
which she secretly is mistress into play. What wonder that _Elsa_, as
she encounters her malevolent gaze, lowers her eyes with a shudder!

Up to the moment of _Elsa's_ entrance, the music is harsh and
vigorous, reflecting _Frederick's_ excitement as, incited by _Ortrud_,
he brings forward his charge against _Elsa_. With her appearance a
change immediately comes over the music. It is soft, gentle, and
plaintive; not, however, entirely hopeless, as if the maiden, being
conscious of her innocence, does not despair of her fate.

"Elsa," gently asks the _King_, "whom name you as your champion?" She
answers as if in a trance; and it is at this point that the music of
"Elsa's Dream" is heard. In the course of this, violins whisper the
Grail Motive and in dreamy rapture _Elsa_ sings, "I see, in splendour
shining, a knight of glorious mien. His eyes rest upon me with
tranquil gaze. He stands amid clouds beside a house of gold, and
resting on his sword. Heaven has sent him to save me. He shall my
champion be!"

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Emma Eames as Elsa in "Lohengrin"]

The men regard each other in wonder. But a sneer curls around
_Ortrud's_ lips, and _Frederick_ again proclaims his readiness to
prove his accusation in trial by combat for life and death.

"_Elsa_," the _King_ asks once more, "whom have you chosen as your
champion?"

"Him whom Heaven shall send me; and to him, whatever he shall ask of
me, I freely will give, e'en though it be myself as bride!" Again
there is heard the lovely, broad and flowing melody of which I have
already spoken and which may be designated as the ELSA MOTIVE.

[Music]

The _Herald_ now stations his trumpeters at the corners of the plain
and bids them blow a blast toward the four points of the compass. When
the last echo has died away he calls aloud:

"He who in right of Heaven comes here to fight for _Elsa_ of Brabant,
let him step forth!"

The deep silence that follows is broken by _Frederick's_ voice. "No
one appears to repel my charge. 'Tis proven."

"My King," implores _Elsa_, whose growing agitation is watched by
_Ortrud_ with a malevolent smile, "my champion bides afar. He has not
yet heard the summons. I pray you let it go forth once more."

Again the trumpeters blow toward the four points of the compass, again
the _Herald_ cries his call, again there is the fateful silence. "The
Heavens are silent. She is doomed," murmured the men. Then _Elsa_
throws herself upon her knees and raises her eyes in prayer. Suddenly
there is a commotion among the men nearest the river bank.

"A wonder!" they cry. "A swan! A swan--drawing a boat by a golden
chain! In the boat stands a knight! See, it approaches! His armour is
so bright it blinds our eyes! A wonder! A wonder!"

There is a rush toward the bank and a great shout of acclaim, as the
swan with a graceful sweep rounds a bend in the river and brings the
shell-like boat, in which stands a knight in dazzling armour and of
noble mien, up to the shore. Not daring to trust her senses and turn
to behold the wondrous spectacle, _Elsa_ gazes in rapture heavenward,
while _Ortrud_ and _Telramund_, their fell intrigue suddenly halted by
a marvel that surpasses their comprehension, regard each other with
mingled amazement and alarm.

A strange feeling of awe overcomes the assembly, and the tumult with
which the advent of the knight has been hailed dies away to breathless
silence, as he extends his hand and in tender accents bids farewell to
the swan, which gently inclines its head and then glides away with the
boat, vanishing as it had come. There is a chorus, in which, in
half-hushed voices, the crowd gives expression to the mystery of the
scene. Then the men fall back and the Knight of the Swan, for a silver
swan surmounts his helmet and is blazoned upon his shield, having made
due obeisance to the _King_, advances to where _Elsa_ stands and,
resting his eyes upon her pure and radiant beauty, questions her.

"Elsa, if I become your champion and right the foul wrong that is
sought to be put upon you, will you confide your future to me; will
you become my bride?"

"My guardian, my defender!" she exclaims ecstatically. "All that I
have, all that I am, is yours!"

"Elsa," he says slowly, as if wishing her to weigh every word, "if I
champion your cause and take you to wife, there is one promise I must
exact: Never must you ask me whence I come or what my name."

"I promise," she answers, serenely meeting his warning look. He
repeats the warning and again she promises to observe it.

"Elsa, I love you!" he exclaims, as he clasps her in his arms. Then
addressing the _King_ he proclaims his readiness to defend her
innocence in trial by combat.

In this scene occurs one of the significant themes of the opera, the
MOTIVE OF WARNING--for it is Elsa's disregard of it and the breaking
of her promise that brings her happiness to an end.

[Music]

Three Saxons for the Knight and three Brabantians for _Frederick_
solemnly pace off the circle within which the combatants are to fight.
The _King_, drawing his sword, strikes three resounding blows with it
upon his shield. At the first stroke the Knight and _Frederick_ take
their positions. At the second they draw their swords. At the third
they advance to the encounter. _Frederick_ is no coward. His
willingness to meet the Knight whose coming had been so strange proves
that. But his blows are skilfully warded off until the Swan Knight,
finding an opening, fells him with a powerful stroke. _Frederick's_
life is forfeited, but his conqueror, perchance knowing that he has
been naught but a tool in the hands of a woman leagued with the powers
of evil, spares it and bids his fallen foe rise. The _King_ leads
_Elsa_ to the victor, while all hail him as her deliverer and
betrothed.

The scenes here described are most stirring. Before the combat begins,
the _King_ intones a prayer, in which first the principals and then
the chorus join with noble effect, while the music of rejoicing over
the Knight's victory has an irresistible onsweep.

Act II. That night in the fortress of Antwerp, the palace where abide
the knights is brilliantly illuminated and sounds of revelry issue
from it, and lights shine from the kemenate, where _Elsa's_
maids-in-waiting are preparing her for the bridal on the morrow. But
in the shadow of the walls sit two figures, a man and a woman; the
man, his head bowed in despair, the woman looking vindictively toward
the palace. They are _Frederick_ and _Ortrud_, who have been condemned
to banishment, he utterly dejected, she still trusting in the power of
her heathenish gods. To her the Swan Knight's chivalrous forbearance
in sparing _Frederick's_ life has seemed weak instead of noble, and
_Elsa_ she regards as an insipid dreamer and easy victim. Not knowing
that _Ortrud_ still darkly schemes to ruin _Elsa_ and restore him to
power, _Frederick_ denounces her in an outburst of rage and despair.

As another burst of revelry, another flash of light, causes
_Frederick_ to bow his head in deeper gloom, _Ortrud_ begins to unfold
her plot to him. How long will a woman like _Elsa_--as sweet as she is
beautiful, but also as weak--be able to restrain herself from asking
the forbidden question? Once her suspicion aroused that the Knight is
concealing from her something in his past life, growing jealousy will
impel her first to seek to coax from him, then to demand of him his
name and lineage. Let _Frederick_ conceal himself within the minster,
and when the bridal procession reaches the steps, come forth and,
accusing the Knight of treachery and deceit, demand that he be
compelled to disclose his name and origin. He will refuse, and thus,
even before _Elsa_ enters the minster, she will begin to be beset by
doubts. She herself meanwhile will seek to enter the kemenate and play
upon her credulousness. "She is for me; her champion is for you. Soon
the daughter of Odin will teach you all the joys of vengeance!" is
_Ortrud's_ sinister exclamation as she finishes.

Indeed it seems as if Fate were playing into her hand. For at that
very moment _Elsa_, all clad in white, comes out upon the balcony of
the kemenate and, sighing with happiness, breathes out upon the night
air her rapture at the thought of what bliss the coming day has in
store for her. As she lets her gaze rest on the calm night she hears a
piteous voice calling her name, and looking down sees _Ortrud_, her
hands raised in supplication to her. Moved by the spectacle of one but
a short time before so proud and now apparently in such utter
dejection, the guileless maid descends and, herself opening the door
of the kemenate, hastens to _Ortrud_, raises her to her feet, and
gently leads her in, while, hidden in the shadows, _Frederick of
Telramund_ bides his time for action. Thus within and without,
mischief is plotting for the unsuspecting _Elsa_.

These episodes, following the appearance of _Elsa_ upon the balcony,
are known as the "Balcony Scene." It opens with the exquisite melody
which _Elsa_ breathes upon the zephyrs of the night in gratitude to
heaven for the champion sent to her defence. Then, when in pity she
has hastened down to _Ortrud_, the latter pours doubts regarding her
champion into _Elsa's_ mind. Who is he? Whence came he? May he not as
unexpectedly depart? The whole closes with a beautiful duet, which is
repeated by the orchestra, as _Ortrud_ is conducted by _Elsa_ into the
apartment.

It is early morn. People begin to gather in the open place before the
minster and, by the time the sun is high, the space is crowded with
folk eager to view the bridal procession. They sing a fine and
spirited chorus.

At the appointed hour four pages come out upon the balcony of the
kemenate and cry out:

"Make way, our Lady Elsa comes!" Descending, they clear a path through
the crowd to the steps of the minster. A long train of richly clad
women emerges upon the balcony, slowly comes down the steps and,
proceeding past the palace, winds toward the minster. At that moment a
great shout, "Hail! Elsa of Brabant!" goes up, as the bride herself
appears followed by her ladies-in-waiting. For the moment _Ortrud's_
presence in the train is unnoticed, but as _Elsa_ approaches the
minster, _Frederick's_ wife suddenly throws herself in her path.

"Back, Elsa!" she cries. "I am not a menial, born to follow you!
Although your Knight has overthrown my husband, you cannot boast of
who he is--his very name, the place whence he came, are unknown.
Strong must be his motives to forbid you to question him. To what foul
disgrace would he be brought were he compelled to answer!"

Fortunately the _King_, the bridegroom, and the nobles approaching
from the palace, _Elsa_ shrinks from _Ortrud_ to her champion's side
and hides her face against his breast. At that moment _Frederick of
Telramund_, taking his cue from _Ortrud_, comes out upon the minster
steps and repeats his wife's accusation. Then, profiting by the
confusion, he slips away in the crowd. The insidious poison, however,
has already begun to take effect. For even as the _King_ taking the
Knight on his right and _Elsa_ on his left conducts them up the
minster steps, the trembling bride catches sight of _Ortrud_ whose
hand is raised in threat and warning; and it is clinging to her
champion, in love indeed but love mingled with doubt and fear, that
she passes through the portal, and into the edifice.

These are crucial scenes. The procession to the minster, often known
as the bridal procession, must not be confused with the "Bridal
Chorus." It is familiar music, however, because at weddings it often
is played softly as a musical background to the ceremony.

Act III. The wedding festivities are described in the brilliant
"Introduction to Act III." This is followed in the opera by the
"Bridal Chorus," which, wherever heard--on stage or in church--falls
with renewed freshness and significance upon the ear. In this scene
the Knight and _Elsa_ are conducted to the bridal chamber in the
castle. From the right enter _Elsa's_ ladies-in-waiting leading the
bride; from the left the _King_ and nobles leading the Knight.
Preceding both trains are pages bearing lights; and voices chant the
bridal chorus. The _King_ ceremoniously embraces the couple and then
the procession makes its way out, until, as the last strains of the
chorus die away, _Elsa_ and her champion are for the first time alone.

It should be a moment of supreme happiness for both, and indeed,
_Elsa_ exclaims as her bridegroom takes her to his arms, that words
cannot give expression to all its hidden sweetness. Yet, when he
tenderly breathes her name, it serves only to remind her that she
cannot respond by uttering his. "How sweetly sounds my name when
spoken by you, while I, alas, cannot reply with yours. Surely, some
day, you will tell me, all in secret, and I shall be able to whisper
it when none but you is near!"

In her words the Knight perceives but too clearly the seeds of the
fatal mistrust sown by _Ortrud_ and _Frederick_. Gently he leaves her
side and throwing open the casement, points to the moonlit landscape
where the river winds its course along the plain. The same subtle
magic that can conjure up this scene from the night has brought him to
her, made him love her, and give unshrinking credence to her vow never
to question his name or origin. Will she now wantonly destroy the
wondrous spell of moonlight and love?

But still _Elsa_ urges him. "Let me be flattered by your trust and
confidence. Your secret will be safe in my heart. No threats, not even
of death, shall tear it from my lips. Tell me who you are and whence
you come!"

"Elsa!" he cries, "come to my heart. Let me feel that happiness is
mine at last. Let your love and confidence compensate me for what I
have left behind me. Cast dark suspicion aside. For know, I came not
hither from night and grieving but from the abode of light and noble
pleasures."

But his words have the very opposite effect of what he had hoped for.
"Heaven help me!" exclaims _Elsa_. "What must I hear! Already you are
beginning to look back with longing to the joys you have given up for
me. Some day you will leave me to sorrow and regret. I have no magic
spells wherewith to hold you. Ah!"--and now she cries out like one
distracted and with eyes straining at distance--"See!--the
swan!--I see him floating on the waters yonder! You summon him,
embark!--Love--madness--whatever it may be--your name declare, your
lineage and your home!"

Hardly have these mad words been spoken by her when, as she stands
before her husband of a few hours, she sees something that with a
sudden shock brings her to her senses. Rushing to the divan where the
pages laid the Knight's sword, she seizes it and thrusts it into his
hand, and he, turning to discover what peril threatens, sees
_Frederick_, followed by four Brabantian nobles, burst into the room.
With one stroke he lays the leader lifeless, and the others, seeing
him fall, go down on their knees in token of submission. At a sign
from the Knight they arise and, lifting _Frederick's_ body, bear it
away. Then the Knight summons _Elsa's_ ladies-in-waiting and bids them
prepare her in her richest garments to meet him before the _King_.
"There I will make fitting answer to her questions, tell her my name,
my rank, and whence I come."

Sadly he watches her being led away, while she, no longer the happy
bride, but the picture of utter dejection, turns and raises her hands
to him in supplication as though she would still implore him to undo
the ruin her lack of faith in him has wrought.

Some of the most beautiful as well as some of the most dramatic music
of the score occurs in these scenes.

The love duet is exquisite--one of the sweetest and tenderest passages
of which the lyric stage can boast. A very beautiful musical episode
is that in which the Knight, pointing through the open casement to the
flowery close below, softly illumined by the moon, sings to an
accompaniment of what might be called musical moonbeams, "Say, dost
thou breathe the incense sweet of flowers?" But when, in spite of the
tender warning which he conveys to her, she begins questioning him, he
turns toward her and in a passionate musical phrase begs her to trust
him and abide with him in loving faith. Her dread that the memory of
the delightful place from which he has come will wean him from her;
the wild vision in which she imagines she sees the swan approaching to
bear him away from her, and when she puts to him the forbidden
questions, are details expressed with wonderful vividness in the
music.

After the attack by _Frederick_ and his death, there is a dramatic
silence during which _Elsa_ sinks on her husband's breast and faints.
When I say silence I do not mean that there is a total cessation of
sound, for silence can be more impressively expressed in music than by
actual silence itself. It is done by Wagner in this case by long
drawn-out chords followed by faint taps on the tympani. When the
Knight bends down to _Elsa_, raises her, and gently places her on a
couch, echoes of the love duet add to the mournfulness of the music.
The scene closes with the Motive of Warning, which resounds with dread
meaning.

A quick change of scene should be made at this point in the
performance of the opera, but as a rule the change takes so long that
the third act is virtually given in two acts.

It is on the banks of the Scheldt, the very spot where he had
disembarked, that the Knight elects to make reply to _Elsa's_
questions. There the _King_, the nobles, and the Brabantians, whom he
was to lead, are awaiting him to take command, and as their leader
they hail him when he appears. This scene, "Promise of Victory," is in
the form of a brilliant march and chorus, during which the Counts of
Brabant, followed by their vassals, enter on horseback from various
directions. In the average performance of the opera, however, much of
it is sacrificed in order to shorten the representation.

The Knight answers their hail by telling them that he has come to bid
them farewell, that _Elsa_ has been lured to break her vow and ask the
forbidden questions which he now is there to answer. From distant
lands he came, from Montsalvat, where stands the temple of the Holy
Grail, his father, Percival, its King, and he, _Lohengrin_, its
Knight. And now, his name and lineage known, he must return, for the
Grail gives strength to its knights to right wrong and protect the
innocent only so long as the secret of their power remains unrevealed.

Even while he speaks the swan is seen floating down the river. Sadly
_Lohengrin_ bids _Elsa_ farewell. Sadly all, save one, look on. For
_Ortrud_, who now pushes her way through the spectators, it is a
moment of triumph.

"Depart in all your glory," she calls out. "The swan that draws you
away is none other than Elsa's brother Godfrey, changed by my magic
into his present form. Had she kept her vow, had you been allowed to
tarry, you would have freed him from my spell. The ancient gods, whom
faithfully I serve, thus punish human faithlessness!"

By the river bank _Lohengrin_ falls upon his knees and prays in
silence. Suddenly a white dove descends over the boat. Rising,
_Lohengrin_ loosens the golden chain by which the swan is attached to
the boat; the swan vanishes; in its place _Godfrey_ stands upon the
bank, and _Lohengrin_, entering the boat, is drawn away by the dove.
At sight of the young Duke, _Ortrud_ falls with a shriek, while the
Brabantian nobles kneel before him as he advances and makes obeisance
to the _King_. _Elsa_ gazes on him in rapture until, mindful of her
own sorrow, as the boat in which _Lohengrin_ stands vanishes around
the upper bend of the river, she cries out, "My husband! My husband!"
and falls back in death in her brother's arms.

_Lohengrin's_ narrative of his origin is beautifully set to music
familiar from the Prelude; but when he proclaims his name we hear the
same measures which _Elsa_ sang in the second part of her dream in the
first act. Very beautiful and tender is the music which he sings when
he hands _Elsa_ his horn, his sword, and his ring to give to her
brother, should he return, and also his greeting to the swan when it
comes to bear him back. The work is brought to a close with a
repetition of the music of the second portion of _Elsa's_ dream,
followed by a superb climax with the Motive of the Grail.


DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN

THE RING OF THE NIBELUNG

     A stage-festival play for three days and a preliminary
     evening (Ein Bühnenfestspiel für drei Tage und einen
     Vorabend), words and music by Richard Wagner.

     The first performance of the entire cycle of four
     music-dramas took place at Bayreuth, August 13, 14, 16, and
     17, 1876. "Das Rheingold" had been given September 22, 1869,
     and "Die Walküre," June 26, 1870, at Munich.

     January 30, 1888, at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York,
     "Die Walküre" was given as the first performance of the
     "Ring" in America, with the omission, however, of "Das
     Rheingold," the cycle therefore being incomplete, consisting
     only of the three music-dramas--"Die Walküre," "Siegfried,"
     and "Götterdämmerung"; in other words the trilogy without
     the Vorabend, or preliminary evening.

     Beginning Monday, March 4, 1889, with "Das Rheingold," the
     complete cycle, "Der Ring des Nibelungen," was given for the
     first time in America; "Die Walküre" following Tuesday,
     March 5; "Siegfried," Friday, March 8; "Götterdämmerung,"
     Monday, March 11. The cycle was immediately repeated. Anton
     Seidl was the conductor. Among the principals were Lilli
     Lehmann, Max Alvary, and Emil Fischer.

     Seidl conducted the production of the "Ring" in London,
     under the direction of Angelo Neumann, at Her Majesty's
     Theatre, May 5-9, 1882.

     The "Ring" really is a tetralogy. Wagner, however, called it
     a trilogy, regarding "Das Rheingold" only as a Vorabend to
     the three longer music-dramas.

     In the repetitions of the "Ring" in this country many
     distinguished artists have appeared: Lehmann, Moran-Olden,
     Nordica, Ternina, Fremstad, Gadski, Kurt, as _Brünnhilde_;
     Lehmann, Nordica, Eames, Fremstad, as _Sieglinde_; Alvary
     and Jean de Reszke as _Siegfried_, both in "Siegfried" and
     "Götterdämmerung"; Niemann and Van Dyck, as _Siegmund_;
     Fischer and Van Rooy as _Wotan_; Schumann-Heink and Homer as
     _Waltraute_ and _Erda_.

[Illustration: Copyright A. Dupont, N.Y.

Louise Homer as Fricka in "The Ring of the Nibelung"]


INTRODUCTION

The "Ring of the Nibelung" consists of four music-dramas--"Das
Rheingold" (The Rhinegold), "Die Walküre" (The Valkyr), "Siegfried,"
and "Götterdämmerung" (Dusk of the Gods). The "books" of these were
written in inverse order. Wagner made a dramatic sketch of the
Nibelung myth as early as the autumn of 1848, and between then and the
autumn of 1850 he wrote the "Death of Siegfried." This subsequently
became the "Dusk of the Gods." Meanwhile Wagner's ideas as to the
proper treatment of the myth seem to have undergone a change.
"Siegfried's Death" ended with Brünnhilde leading Siegfried to
Valhalla,--dramatic, but without the deeper ethical significance of
the later version, when Wagner evidently conceived the purpose of
connecting the final catastrophe of his trilogy with the "Dusk of the
Gods," or end of all things, in Northern mythology, and of embodying a
profound truth in the action of the music-dramas. This metaphysical
significance of the work is believed to be sufficiently explained in
the brief synopsis of the plot of the trilogy and in the descriptive
musical and dramatic analyses below.

In the autumn of 1850 when Wagner was on the point of sketching out
the music of "Siegfried's Death," he recognized that he must lead up
to it with another drama, and "Young Siegfried," afterwards
"Siegfried," was the result. This in turn he found incomplete, and
finally decided to supplement it with the "Valkyr" and "Rhinegold."

"Das Rheingold" was produced in Munich, at the Court Theatre,
September 22, 1869; "Die Walküre," on the same stage, June 20, 1870.
"Siegfried" and "Dusk of the Gods" were not performed until 1876, when
they were produced at Bayreuth.

Of the principal characters in the "Ring of the Nibelung," _Alberich_,
the Nibelung, and _Wotan_, the chief of the gods, are symbolic of
greed for wealth and power. This lust leads _Alberich_ to renounce
love--the most sacred of emotions--in order that he may rob the
_Rhinedaughters_ of the Rhinegold and forge from it the ring which is
to make him all-powerful. _Wotan_ by strategy obtains the ring, but
instead of returning it to the _Rhinedaughters_, he gives it to the
giants, _Fafner_ and _Fasolt_, as ransom for _Freia_, the goddess of
youth and beauty, whom he had promised to the giants as a reward for
building Walhalla. _Alberich_ has cursed the ring and all into whose
possession it may come. The giants no sooner obtain it than they fall
to quarrelling over it. _Fafner_ slays _Fasolt_ and then retires to a
cave in the heart of a forest where, in the form of a dragon, he
guards the ring and the rest of the treasure which _Wotan_ wrested
from _Alberich_ and also gave to the giants as ransom for _Freia_.
This treasure includes the Tarnhelmet, a helmet made of Rhinegold, the
wearer of which can assume any guise.

_Wotan_ having witnessed the slaying of _Fasolt_, is filled with dread
lest the curse of _Alberich_ be visited upon the gods. To defend
_Walhalla_ against the assaults of _Alberich_ and the host of
Nibelungs, he begets in union with _Erda_, the goddess of wisdom, the
Valkyrs (chief among them _Brünnhilde_), wild maidens who course
through the air on superb chargers and bear the bodies of departed
heroes to Walhalla, where they revive and aid the gods in warding off
the attacks of the Nibelungs. But it is also necessary that the
curse-laden ring should be wrested from _Fafner_ and restored through
purely unselfish motives to the _Rhinedaughters_, and the curse thus
lifted from the race of the gods. None of the gods can do this because
their motive in doing so would not be unselfish. Hence _Wotan_, for a
time, casts off his divinity, and in human disguise as Wälse, begets
in union with a human woman the Wälsung twins, _Siegmund_ and
_Sieglinde_. _Siegmund_ he hopes will be the hero who will slay
_Fafner_ and restore the ring to the _Rhinedaughters_. To nerve him
for this task, _Wotan_ surrounds the Wälsungs with numerous hardships.
_Sieglinde_ is forced to become the wife of her robber, _Hunding_.
_Siegmund_, storm-driven, seeks shelter in _Hunding's_ hut, where he
and his sister, recognizing one another, flee together. _Hunding_
overtakes them and _Wotan_, as _Siegmund_ has been guilty of a crime
against the marriage vow, is obliged, at the request of his spouse
_Fricka_, the Juno of Northern mythology, to give victory to
_Hunding_. _Brünnhilde_, contrary to _Wotan's_ command, takes pity on
_Siegmund_, and seeks to shield him against _Hunding_. For this,
_Wotan_ causes her to fall into a profound slumber. The hero who will
penetrate the barrier of fire with which _Wotan_ has surrounded the
rock upon which she slumbers can claim her as his bride.

After _Siegmund's_ death _Sieglinde_ gives birth to _Siegfried_, a son
of their illicit union, who is reared by one of the Nibelungs, _Mime_,
in the forest where _Fafner_ guards the Nibelung treasure. _Mime_ is
seeking to weld the pieces of _Siegmund's_ sword (Nothung or Needful)
in order that _Siegfried_ may slay _Fafner_, _Mime_ hoping then to
kill the youth and to possess himself of the treasure. But he cannot
weld the sword. At last _Siegfried_, learning that it was his father's
weapon, welds the pieces and slays _Fafner_. His lips having come in
contact with his bloody fingers, he is, through the magic power of the
dragon's blood, enabled to understand the language of the birds, and a
little feathery songster warns him of _Mime's_ treachery. _Siegfried_
slays the Nibelung and is then guided to the fiery barrier around the
Valkyr rock. Penetrating this, he comes upon _Brünnhilde_, and
enraptured with her beauty, awakens her and claims her as his bride.
She, the virgin pride of the goddess, yielding to the love of the
woman, gives herself up to him. He plights his troth with the
curse-laden ring which he has wrested from _Fafner_.

_Siegfried_ goes forth in quest of adventure. On the Rhine lives the
Gibichung _Gunther_, his sister _Gutrune_ and their half-brother
_Hagen_, none other than the son of the Nibelung _Alberich_. _Hagen_,
knowing of _Siegfried's_ coming, plans his destruction in order to
regain the ring for the Nibelungs. Therefore, craftily concealing
_Brünnhilde's_ and _Siegfried's_ relations from _Gunther_, he incites
a longing in the latter to possess _Brünnhilde_ as his bride. Carrying
out a plot evolved by _Hagen_, _Gutrune_ on _Siegfried's_ arrival
presents to him a drinking-horn filled with a love-potion. _Siegfried_
drinks, is led through the effect of the potion to forget that
_Brünnhilde_ is his bride, and, becoming enamoured of _Gutrune_, asks
her in marriage of _Gunther_. The latter consents, provided
_Siegfried_ will disguise himself in the Tarnhelmet as _Gunther_ and
lead _Brünnhilde_ to him as bride. _Siegfried_ readily agrees, and in
the guise of _Gunther_ overcomes _Brünnhilde_ and delivers her to the
Gibichung. But _Brünnhilde_, recognizing on _Siegfried_ the ring,
which her conquerer had drawn from her finger, accuses him of
treachery in delivering her, his own bride, to _Gunther_. The latter,
unmasked and also suspicious of _Siegfried_, conspires with _Hagen_
and _Brünnhilde_, who, knowing naught of the love-potion, is roused to
a frenzy of hate and jealousy by _Siegfried's_ seeming treachery, to
compass the young hero's death. _Hagen_ slays _Siegfried_ during a
hunt, and then in a quarrel with _Gunther_ over the ring also kills
the Gibichung.

Meanwhile _Brünnhilde_ has learned through the _Rhinedaughters_ of the
treachery of which she and _Siegfried_ have been the victims. All her
jealous hatred of _Siegfried_ yields to her old love for him and a
passionate yearning to join him in death. She draws the ring from his
finger and places it on her own, then hurls a torch upon the pyre.
Mounting her steed, she plunges into the flames. One of the
_Rhinedaughters_, swimming in on the rising waters, seizes the
curse-laden ring. _Hagen_ rushes into the flooding Rhine hoping to
regain it, but the other _Rhinedaughters_ grasp him and draw him down
into the flood. Not only the flames of the pyre, but a glow which
pervades the whole horizon illumine the scene. It is Walhalla being
consumed by fire. Through love--the very emotion _Alberich_ renounced
in order to gain wealth and power--_Brünnhilde_ has caused the old
order of things to pass away and a human era to dawn in place of the
old mythological one of the gods.

The sum of all that has been written concerning the book of "The Ring
of the Nibelung" is probably larger than the sum of all that has been
written concerning the librettos used by all other composers. What can
be said of the ordinary opera libretto beyond Voltaire's remark that
"what is too stupid to be spoken is sung"? But "The Ring of the
Nibelung" produced vehement discussion. It was attacked and defended,
praised and ridiculed, extolled and condemned. And it survived all the
discussion it called forth. It is the outstanding fact in Wagner's
career that he always triumphed. He threw his lance into the midst of
his enemies and fought his way up to it. No matter how much opposition
his music-dramas excited, they gradually found their way into the
repertoire.

It was contended on many sides that a book like "The Ring of the
Nibelung" could not be set to music. Certainly it could not be after
the fashion of an ordinary opera. Perhaps people were so accustomed to
the books of nonsense which figured as opera librettos that they
thought "The Ring of the Nibelung" was so great a work that its action
and climaxes were beyond the scope of musical expression. For such,
Wagner has placed music on a higher level. He has shown that music
makes a great drama greater.

One of the most remarkable features of Wagner's works is the author's
complete absorption of the times of which he wrote. He seems to have
gone back to the very period in which the scenes of his music-dramas
are laid and to have himself lived through the events in his plots.
Hans Sachs could not have left a more faithful portrayal of life in
the Nuremberg of his day than Wagner has given us in "Die
Meistersinger." In "The Ring of the Nibelung" he has done more--he has
absorbed an imaginary epoch; lived over the days of gods and demigods;
infused life into mythological figures. "The Rhinegold," which is full
of varied interest from its first note to its last, deals entirely
with beings of mythology. They are presented true to life--if that
expression may be used in connection with beings that never
lived--that is to say, they are so vividly drawn that we forget such
beings never lived, and take as much interest in their doings and
saying as if they were lifelike reproductions of historical
characters. Was there ever a love scene more thrilling than that
between _Siegmund_ and _Sieglinde_? It represents the gradations of
the love of two souls from its first awakening to its rapturous
greeting in full self-consciousness. No one stops to think during that
impassioned scene that the close relationship between _Siegmund_ and
_Sieglinde_ would in these days have been a bar to their legal union.
For all we know, in those moments when the impassioned music of that
scene whirls us away in its resistless current, not a drop of related
blood courses through their veins. It has been said that we could not
be interested in mythological beings--that "The Ring of the Nibelung"
lacked human interest. In reply, I say that wonderful as is the first
act of "The Valkyr," there is nothing in it to compare in wild and
lofty beauty with the last act of that music-drama--especially the
scene between _Brünnhilde_ and _Wotan_.

That there are faults of dramatic construction in "The Ring of the
Nibelung" I admit. In what follows I have not hesitated to point them
out. But there are faults of construction in Shakespeare. What would
be the critical verdict if "Hamlet" were now to have its first
performance in the exact form in which Shakespeare left it? With all
its faults of dramatic construction "The Ring of the Nibelung" is a
remarkable drama, full of life and action and logically developed, the
events leading up to superb climaxes. Wagner was doubly inspired. He
was both a great dramatist and a great musician.

The chief faults of dramatic construction of which Wagner was guilty
in "The Ring of the Nibelung" are certain unduly prolonged scenes
which are merely episodical--that is, unnecessary to the development
of the plot so that they delay the action and weary the audience to a
point which endangers the success of the really sublime portions of
the score. In several of these scenes, there is a great amount of
narrative, the story of events with which we have become familiar
being retold in detail although some incidents which connect the plot
of the particular music-drama with that of the preceding one are also
related. But, as narrative on the stage makes little impression, and,
when it is sung perhaps none at all, because it cannot be well
understood, it would seem as if prefaces to the dramas could have
taken the place of these narratives. Certain it is that these long
drawn-out scenes did more to retard the popular recognition of
Wagner's genius than the activity of hostile critics and musicians.
Still, it should be remembered that these music-dramas were composed
for performance under the circumstances which prevail at Bayreuth,
where the performances begin in the afternoon and there are long waits
between the acts, during which you can refresh yourself by a stroll or
by the more mundane pleasures of the table. Then, after an hour's
relaxation of the mind and of the sense of hearing, you are ready to
hear another act. Under these agreeable conditions one remains
sufficiently fresh to enjoy the music even of the dramatically faulty
scenes.

One of the characters in "The Ring of the Nibelung," _Brünnhilde_, is
Wagner's noblest creation. She takes upon herself the sins of the gods
and by her expiation frees the world from the curse of lust for wealth
and power. She is a perfect dramatic incarnation of the profound and
beautiful metaphysical motive upon which the plot of "The Ring of the
Nibelung" is based.

There now follow descriptive accounts of the stories and music of the
four component parts of this work by Wagner--perhaps his greatest.


DAS RHEINGOLD

THE RHINEGOLD

     Prologue in four scenes to the trilogy of music-dramas, "The
     Ring of the Nibelung," by Richard Wagner. "Des Rheingold"
     was produced, Munich, September 22, 1869. "The Ring of the
     Nibelung" was given complete for the first time in the
     Wagner Theatre, Bayreuth, in August, 1876. In the first
     American performance of "Das Rheingold," Metropolitan Opera
     House, New York, January 4, 1889, Fischer was _Wotan_,
     Alvary _Loge_, Moran-Oldern _Fricka_, and Katti Bettaque
     _Freia_.

     CHARACTERS

     WOTAN  }                                _Baritone-Bass_
     DONNER } Gods                           _Baritone-Bass_
     FROH   }                                        _Tenor_
     LOGE   }                                        _Tenor_

     FASOLT } Giants                         _Baritone-Bass_
     FAFNER }                                         _Bass_

     ALBERICH } Nibelungs                    _Baritone-Bass_
     MIME     }                                      _Tenor_

     FRICKA }                                      _Soprano_
     FREIA  } Goddesses                            _Soprano_
     ERDA   }                                _Mezzo-Soprano_

     WOGLINDE   }                                  _Soprano_
     WELLGUNDE  } Rhinedaughters                   _Soprano_
     FLOSSHILDE }                            _Mezzo-Soprano_

     _Time_--Legendary.

     _Place_--The bed of the Rhine; a mountainous district near
     the Rhine; the subterranean caverns of Nibelheim.

In "The Rhinegold" we meet with supernatural beings of German
mythology--the Rhinedaughters _Woglinde_, _Wellgunde_, and
_Flosshilde_, whose duty it is to guard the precious Rhinegold;
_Wotan_, the chief of the gods; his spouse _Fricka_; _Loge_, the God
of Fire (the diplomat of Walhalla); _Freia_, the Goddess of Youth and
Beauty; her brothers _Donner_ and _Froh_; _Erda_, the all-wise woman;
the giants _Fafner_ and _Fasolt_; _Alberich_ and _Mime_ of the race
of Nibelungs, cunning, treacherous gnomes who dwell in the bowels of
the earth.

The first scene of "Rhinegold" is laid in the Rhine, at the bottom of
the river, where the _Rhinedaughters_ guard the Rhinegold.

The work opens with a wonderfully descriptive Prelude, which depicts
with marvellous art (marvellous because so simple) the transition from
the quietude of the water-depths to the wavy life of the
_Rhinedaughters_. The double basses intone E-flat. Only this note is
heard during four bars. Then three contra bassoons add a B-flat. The
chord, thus formed, sounds until the 136th bar. With the sixteenth bar
there flows over this seemingly immovable triad, as the current of a
river flows over its immovable bed, the =Motive of the Rhine=.

[Music]

A horn intones this motive. Then one horn after another takes it up
until its wave-like tones are heard on the eight horns. On the flowing
accompaniment of the 'cellos the motive is carried to the wood-wind.
It rises higher and higher, the other strings successively joining in
the accompaniment, which now flows on in gentle undulations until the
motive is heard on the high notes of the wood-wind, while the violins
have joined in the accompaniment. When the theme thus seems to have
stirred the waters from their depth to their surface the curtain
rises.

The scene shows the bed and flowing waters of the Rhine, the light of
day reaching the depths only as a greenish twilight. The current flows
on over rugged rocks and through dark chasms.

_Woglinde_ is circling gracefully around the central ridge of rock. To
an accompaniment as wavy as the waters through which she swims, she
sings:

     Weia! Waga! Woge, du Welle,
     Walle zur Wiege! Wagala weia!
     Wallala, Weiala weia!

They are sung to the =Motive of the Rhinedaughters=.

[Music: Weia Waga! Woge, du Welle, walle zur Wiege! Wagala weia!
wallala, weiala weia!]

In wavy sport the _Rhinedaughters_ dart from cliff to cliff. Meanwhile
_Alberich_ has clambered from the depths up to one of the cliffs, and
watches, while standing in its shadow, the gambols of the
_Rhinedaughters_. As he speaks to them there is a momentary harshness
in the music, whose flowing rhythm is broken. In futile endeavours to
clamber up to them, he inveighs against the "slippery slime" which
causes him to lose his foothold.

_Woglinde_, _Wellgunde_, and _Flosshilde_ in turn gambol almost within
his reach, only to dart away again. He curses his own weakness in the
=Motive of the Nibelungs' Servitude=.

[Music]

Swimming high above him the _Rhinedaughters_ incite him with gleeful
cries to chase them. _Alberich_ tries to ascend, but always slips and
falls down. Then his gaze is attracted and held by a glow which
suddenly pervades the waves above him and increases until from the
highest point of the central cliff a bright, golden ray shoots through
the water. Amid the shimmering accompaniment of the violins is heard
on the horn the =Rhinegold Motive=.

[Music]

With shouts of triumph the _Rhinedaughters_ swim around the rock.
Their cry "Rhinegold," is a characteristic motive. The =Rhinedaughters'
Shout of Triumph= and the accompaniment to it are as follows:

[Music: Rheingold!]

As the river glitters with golden light the Rhinegold Motive rings out
brilliantly on the trumpet. The Nibelung is fascinated by the sheen.
The _Rhinedaughters_ gossip with one another, and _Alberich_ thus
learns that the light is that of the Rhinegold, and that whoever shall
shape a ring from this gold will become invested with great power. We
hear =The Ring Motive=.

[Music]

_Flosshilde_ bids her sisters cease their prattle, lest some sinister
foe should overhear them. _Wellgunde_ and _Woglinde_ ridicule their
sister's anxiety, saying that no one would care to filch the gold,
because it would give power only to him who abjures or renounces love.
At this point is heard the darkly prophetic =Motive of the Renunciation
of Love=.

[Music]

_Alberich_ reflects on the words of the _Rhinedaughters_. The Ring
Motive occurs both in voice and orchestra in mysterious pianissimo
(like an echo of _Alberich's_ sinister thoughts), and is followed by
the Motive of Renunciation. Then is heard the sharp, decisive rhythm
of the Nibelung Motive. _Alberich_ fiercely springs over to the
central rock. The _Rhinedaughters_ scream and dart away in different
directions. _Alberich_ has reached the summit of the highest cliff.

"Hark, ye floods! Love I renounce forever!" he cries, and amid the
crash of the Rhinegold Motive he seizes the gold and disappears in the
depths. With screams of terror the _Rhinedaughters_ dive after the
robber through the darkened water, guided by _Alberich's_ shrill,
mocking laugh.

There is a transformation. Waters and rocks sink. As they disappear,
the billowy accompaniment sinks lower and lower in the orchestra.
Above it rises once more the Motive of Renunciation. The Ring Motive
is heard, and then, as the waves change into nebulous clouds, the
billowy accompaniment rises pianissimo until, with a repetition of the
Ring Motive, the action passes to the second scene. One crime has
already been committed--the theft of the Rhinegold by _Alberich_. How
that crime and the ring which he shapes from the gold inspire other
crimes is told in the course of the following scenes of "Rhinegold."
Hence the significance of the Ring Motive as a connecting link between
the first and second scenes.

Scene II. Dawn illumines a castle with glittering turrets on a rocky
height at the back. Through a deep valley between this and the
foreground flows the Rhine.

The =Walhalla Motive= now heard is a motive of superb beauty. It greets
us again and again in "Rhinegold" and frequently in the later
music-dramas of the cycle. Walhalla is the abode of gods and heroes.
Its motive is divinely, heroically beautiful. Though essentially broad
and stately, it often assumes a tender mood, like the chivalric
gentleness which every hero feels toward woman. Thus it is here. In
crescendo and decrescendo it rises and falls, as rises and falls with
each breath the bosom of the beautiful _Fricka_, who slumbers at
_Wotan's_ side.

[Music]

As _Fricka_ awakens, her eyes fall on the castle. In her surprise she
calls to her spouse. _Wotan_ dreams on, the Ring Motive, and later the
Walhalla Motive, being heard in the orchestra, for with the ring
_Wotan_ is planning to compensate the giants for building Walhalla,
instead of rewarding them by presenting _Freia_ to them as he has
promised. As he opens his eyes and sees the castle you hear the Spear
Motive, which is a characteristic variation of the Motive of Compact.
For _Wotan_ should enforce, if needful, the compacts of the gods with
his spear.

_Wotan_ sings of the glory of Walhalla. _Fricka_ reminds him of his
compact with the giants to deliver over to them for their work in
building Walhalla, _Freia_, the Goddess of Youth and Beauty. This
introduces on the 'cellos and double basses the =Motive of Compact=, a
theme expressive of the binding force of law and with the inherent
dignity and power of the sense of justice.

[Music]

In a domestic spat between _Wotan_ and _Fricka_, _Wotan_ charges that
she was as anxious as he to have Walhalla built. _Fricka_ answers that
she desired to have it erected in order to persuade him to lead a more
domestic life. At _Fricka's_ words,

  "Halls, bright and gleaming,"

the =Fricka Motive= is heard, a caressing motive of much grace and
beauty.

[Music]

It is also prominent in _Wotan's_ reply immediately following. _Wotan_
tells _Fricka_ that he never intended to really give up _Freia_ to the
giants. Chromatics, like little tongues of flame, appear in the
accompaniment. They are suggestive of the Loge Motive, for with the
aid of _Loge_ the God of Fire, _Wotan_ hopes to trick the giants and
save _Freia_.

"Then save her at once!" calls Fricka, as _Freia_ enters in hasty
flight. The =Motive of Flight= is as follows:

[Music]

The following is the =Freia Motive=:

[Music]

With _Freia's_ exclamations that the giants are pursuing her, the
first suggestion of the Giant Motive appears and as these "great,
hulking fellows" enter, the heavy, clumsy =Giant Motive= is heard in its
entirety:

[Music]

For the giants, _Fasolt_, and _Fafner_, have come to demand that
_Wotan_ deliver up to them _Freia_, according to his promise when they
agreed to build Walhalla for him. In the ensuing scene, in which
_Wotan_ parleys with the _Giants_, the Giant Motive, the Walhalla
Motive, the Motive of the Compact, and the first bar of the Freia
Motive figure until _Fasolt's_ threatening words,

  "Peace wane when you break your compact,"

when there is heard a version of the Motive of Compact characteristic
enough to be distinguished as the =Motive of Compact with the Giants=:

[Music]

The Walhalla, Giant, and Freia motives again are heard until _Fafner_
speaks of the golden apples which grow in _Freia's_ garden. These
golden apples are the fruit of which the gods partake in order to
enjoy eternal youth. The Motive of Eternal Youth, which now appears,
is one of the loveliest in the cycle. It seems as though age could not
wither it, nor custom stale its infinite variety. Its first bar is
reminiscent of the Ring Motive, for there is subtle relationship
between the Golden Apples of Freia and the Rhinegold. Here is the
=Motive of Eternal Youth=:

[Music]

It is finely combined with the Giant Motive at _Fafner's_ words:

  "Let her forthwith be torn from them all."

_Froh_ and _Donner_, _Freia's_ brothers, enter hastily to save their
sister. _Froh_ clasps her in his arms, while _Donner_ confronts the
giants, the Motive of Eternal Youth rings out triumphantly on the
horns and wood-wind. But _Freia's_ hope is short-lived. For though
_Wotan_ desires to keep _Freia_ in Walhalla, he dare not offend the
giants. At this critical moment, however, he sees his cunning
adviser, _Loge_, approaching. These are _Loge's_ characteristic
motives:

[Music]

_Wotan_ upbraids _Loge_ for not having discovered something which the
giants would be willing to accept as a substitute for _Freia_. _Loge_
says he has travelled the world over without finding aught that would
compensate man for the renunciation of a lovely woman. This leads to
_Loge's_ narrative of his wanderings. With great cunning he tells
_Wotan_ of the theft of the Rhinegold and of the wondrous worth of a
ring shaped from the gold. Thus he incites the listening giants to ask
for it as a compensation for giving up _Freia_. Hence Wagner, as
_Loge_ begins his narrative, has blended, with a marvellous sense of
musical beauty and dramatic fitness, two phrases: the Freia Motive and
the accompaniment to the _Rhinedaughters'_ Shout of Triumph in the
first scene. This music continues until _Loge_ says that he discovered
but one person (_Alberich_) who was willing to renounce love. Then the
Rhinegold Motive is sounded tristly in a minor key and immediately
afterward is heard the Motive of Renunciation.

_Loge_ next tells how _Alberich_ stole the gold. He has already
excited the curiosity of the giants, and when _Fafner_ asks him what
power _Alberich_ will gain through the possession of the gold, he
dwells upon the magical attributes of the ring shaped from Rhinegold.

_Loge's_ diplomacy is beginning to bear results. _Fafner_ tells
_Fasolt_ that he deems the possession of the gold more important than
_Freia_. Notice here how the Freia motive, so prominent when the
giants insisted on her as their compensation, is relegated to the bass
and how the Rhinegold Motive breaks in upon the Motive of Eternal
Youth, as _Fafner_ and _Fasolt_ again advance toward _Wotan_, and bid
him wrest the gold from _Alberich_ and give it to them as ransom for
_Freia_. _Wotan_ refuses, for he himself now lusts for the ring made
of Rhinegold. The giants having proclaimed that they will give _Wotan_
until evening to determine upon his course, seize _Freia_ and drag her
away. Pallor now settles upon the faces of the gods; they seem to have
grown older. They are affected by the absence of _Freia_, the Goddess
of Youth, whose motives are but palely reflected by the orchestra. At
last _Wotan_ proclaims that he will go with _Loge_ to Nibelung and
wrest the entire treasure of Rhinegold from _Alberich_ as ransom for
_Freia_.

_Loge_ disappears down a crevice in the side of the rock. From it a
sulphurous vapour at once issues. When _Wotan_ has followed _Loge_
into the cleft the vapour fills the stage and conceals the remaining
characters. The vapours thicken to a black cloud, continually rising
upward until rocky chasms are seen. These have an upward motion, so
that the stage appears to be sinking deeper and deeper. With a _molto
vivace_ the orchestra dashes into the Motive of Flight. From various
distant points ruddy gleams of light illumine the chasms, and when the
Flight Motive has died away, only the increasing clangour of the
smithies is heard from all directions. This is the typical =Nibelung
Motive=, characteristic of Alberich's Nibelungs toiling at the anvil
for him. Gradually the sounds grow fainter.

[Music]

Then as the Ring Motive resounds like a shout of malicious triumph
(expressive of _Alberich's_ malignant joy at his possession of power),
there is seen a subterranean cavern, apparently of illimitable depth,
from which narrow shafts lead in all directions.

Scene III. _Alberich_ enters from a side cleft dragging after him the
shrieking _Mime_. The latter lets fall a helmet which _Alberich_ at
once seizes. It is the Tarnhelmet, made of Rhinegold, the wearing of
which enables the wearer to become invisible or assume any shape. As
_Alberich_ closely examines the helmet the =Motive of the Tarnhelmet= is
heard.

[Music]

It is mysterious, uncanny. To test its power _Alberich_ puts it on and
changes into a column of vapour. He asks _Mime_ if he is visible, and
when _Mime_ answers in the negative _Alberich_ cries out shrilly,
"Then feel me instead," at the same time making poor _Mime_ writhe
under the blows of a visible scourge. _Alberich_ then departs--still
in the form of a vaporous column--to announce to the _Nibelungs_ that
they are henceforth his slavish subjects. _Mime_ cowers down with fear
and pain.

_Wotan_ and _Loge_ enter from one of the upper shafts. _Mime_ tells
them how _Alberich_ has become all-powerful through the ring and the
Tarnhelmet made of the Rhinegold. Then _Alberich_, who has taken off
the Tarnhelmet and hung it from his girdle, is seen in the distance,
driving a crowd of _Nibelungs_ before him from the caves below. They
are laden with gold and silver, which he forces them to pile up in one
place and so form a hoard. He suddenly perceives _Wotan_ and _Loge_.
After abusing _Mime_ for permitting strangers to enter Nibelheim, he
commands the _Nibelungs_ to descend again into the cavern in search of
new treasure for him. They hesitate. You hear the Ring Motive.
_Alberich_ draws the ring from his finger, stretches it threateningly
toward the _Nibelungs_, and commands them to obey their master.

They disperse in headlong flight, with _Mime_, into the cavernous
recesses. _Alberich_ looks with mistrust upon _Wotan_ and _Loge_.
_Wotan_ tells him they have heard report of his wealth and power and
have come to ascertain if it is true. The Nibelung points to the
hoard. He boasts that the whole world will come under his sway (Ring
Motive), that the gods who now laugh and love in the enjoyment of
youth and beauty will become subject to him (Freia Motive); for he has
abjured love (Motive of Renunciation). Hence, even the gods in
Walhalla shall dread him (Walhalla Motive) and he bids them beware of
the time when the night-begotten host of the Nibelungs shall rise from
Nibelheim into the realm of daylight. (Rhinegold Motive followed by
Walhalla Motive, for it is through the power gained by the Rhinegold
that _Alberich_ hopes to possess himself of Walhalla.) _Loge_
cunningly flatters _Alberich_, and when the latter tells him of the
Tarnhelmet, feigns disbelief of _Alberich's_ statements. _Alberich_,
to prove their truth, puts on the helmet and transforms himself into a
huge serpent. The Serpent Motive expresses the windings and writhings
of the monster. The serpent vanishes and _Alberich_ reappears. When
_Loge_ doubts if _Alberich_ can transform himself into something very
small, the Nibelung changes into a toad. Now is _Loge's_ chance. He
calls _Wotan_ to set his foot on the toad. As _Wotan_ does so, _Loge_
puts his hand to its head and seizes the Tarnhelmet. _Alberich_ is
seen writhing under _Wotan's_ foot. _Loge_ binds _Alberich_; both
seize him, drag him to the shaft from which they descended and
disappear ascending.

The scene changes in the reverse direction to that in which it changed
when _Wotan_ and _Loge_ were descending to Nibelheim. The orchestra
accompanies the change of scene. The Ring Motive dies away from
crashing fortissimo to piano, to be succeeded by the dark Motive of
Renunciation. Then is heard the clangour of the Nibelung smithies. The
Giant, Walhalla, Loge, and Servitude Motives follow the last with
crushing force as _Wotan_ and _Loge_ emerge from the cleft, dragging
the pinioned _Alberich_ with them. His lease of power was brief. He is
again in a condition of servitude.

Scene IV. A pale mist still veils the prospect as at the end of the
second scene. _Loge_ and _Wotan_ place _Alberich_ on the ground and
_Loge_ dances around the pinioned Nibelung, mockingly snapping his
fingers at the prisoner. _Wotan_ joins _Loge_ in his mockery of
_Alberich_. The Nibelung asks what he must give for his freedom. "Your
hoard and your glittering gold," is _Wotan's_ answer. _Alberich_
assents to the ransom and _Loge_ frees the gnome's right hand.
_Alberich_ raises the ring to his lips and murmurs a secret behest.
The _Nibelungs_ emerge from the cleft and heap up the hoard. Then, as
_Alberich_ stretches out the ring toward them, they rush in terror
toward the cleft, into which they disappear. _Alberich_ now asks for
his freedom, but _Loge_ throws the Tarnhelmet on to the heap. _Wotan_
demands that _Alberich_ also give up the ring. At these words dismay
and terror are depicted on the Nibelung's face. He had hoped to save
the ring, but in vain. _Wotan_ tears it from the gnome's finger. Then
_Alberich_, impelled by hate and rage, curses the ring. The =Motive of
the Curse=:

[Music]

To it should be added the syncopated measures expressive of the
ever-threatening and ever-active =Nibelung's Hate=:

[Music]

Amid heavy thuds of the Motive of Servitude _Alberich_ vanishes in the
cleft.

The mist begins to rise. It grows lighter. The Giant Motive and the
Motive of Eternal Youth are heard, for the giants are approaching with
_Freia_. _Donner_, _Froh_, and _Fricka_ hasten to greet _Wotan_.
_Fasolt_ and _Fafner_ enter with _Freia_. It has grown clear except
that the mist still hides the distant castle. _Freia's_ presence seems
to have restored youth to the gods. _Fasolt_ asks for the ransom for
_Freia_. _Wotan_ points to the hoard. With staves the giants measure
off a space of the height and width of _Freia_. That space must be
filled out with treasure.

_Loge_ and _Froh_ pile up the hoard, but the giants are not satisfied
even when the Tarnhelmet has been added. They wish also the ring to
fill out a crevice. _Wotan_ turns in anger away from them. A bluish
light glimmers in the rocky cleft to the right, and through it _Erda_
rises. She warns _Wotan_ against retaining possession of the ring. The
Erda Motive bears a strong resemblance to the Rhine Motive.

The syncopated notes of the Nibelung's Malevolence, so threateningly
indicative of the harm which _Alberich_ is plotting, are also heard in
_Erda's_ warning.

_Wotan_, heeding her words, throws the ring upon the hoard. The giants
release _Freia_, who rushes joyfully towards the gods. Here the Freia
Motive combined with the Flight Motive, now no longer agitated but
joyful, rings out gleefully. Soon, however, these motives are
interrupted by the Giant and Nibelung motives, and later the
Nibelung's Hate and Ring Motive. For _Alberich's_ curse already is
beginning its dread work. The giants dispute over the spoils, their
dispute waxes to strife, and at last _Fafner_ slays _Fasolt_ and
snatches the ring from the dying giant, while, as the gods gaze
horror-stricken upon the scene, the Curse Motive resounds with
crushing force.

_Loge_ congratulates _Wotan_ on having given up the curse-laden ring.
But even _Fricka's_ caresses, as she asks _Wotan_ to lead her into
Walhalla, cannot divert the god's mind from dark thoughts, and the
Curse Motive accompanies his gloomy reflections--for the ring has
passed through his hands. It was he who wrested it from
_Alberich_--and its curse rests on all who have touched it.

_Donner_ ascends to the top of a lofty rock. He gathers the mists
around him until he is enveloped by a black cloud. He swings his
hammer. There is a flash of lightning, a crash of thunder, and lo! the
cloud vanishes. A rainbow bridge spans the valley to Walhalla, which
is illumined by the setting sun.

_Wotan_ eloquently greets Walhalla, and then, taking _Fricka_ by the
hand, leads the procession of the gods into the castle.

The music of this scene is of wondrous eloquence and beauty. Six harps
are added to the ordinary orchestral instruments, and as the
variegated bridge is seen their arpeggios shimmer like the colours of
the rainbow around the broad, majestic =Rainbow Motive=:

[Music]

Then the stately Walhalla Motive resounds as the gods gaze, lost in
admiration, at the Walhalla. It gives way to the Ring Motive as
_Wotan_ speaks of the day's ills; and then as he is inspired by the
idea of begetting a race of demigods to conquer the Nibelungs, there
is heard for the first time the =Sword Motive=:

[Music]

The cries of the _Rhinedaughters_ greet _Wotan_. They beg him to
restore the ring to them. But _Wotan_ must remain deaf to their
entreaties. He gave the ring, which he should have restored to the
_Rhinedaughters_, to the giants, as ransom for _Freia_.

The Walhalla Motive swells to a majestic climax and the gods enter the
castle. Amid shimmering arpeggios the Rainbow Motive resounds. The
gods have attained the height of their glory--but the Nibelung's curse
is still potent, and it will bring woe upon all who have possessed or
will possess the ring until it is restored to the _Rhinedaughters_.
_Fasolt_ was only the first victim of _Alberich's_ curse.


DIE WALKÜRE

THE VALKYR

     Music-drama in three acts, words and music by Richard
     Wagner. Produced, Munich, June 25, 1870. New York, Academy
     of Music, April 2, 1877, an incomplete and inadequate
     performance with Pappenheim as _Brünnhilde_, Pauline Canissa
     _Sieglinde_, A. Bischoff _Siegmund_, Felix Preusser _Wotan_,
     A. Blum _Hunding_, Mme. Listner _Fricka_, Frida de Gebel,
     _Gerhilde_, Adolf Neuendorff, conductor. The real first
     performance in America was conducted by Dr. Leopold Damrosch
     at the Metropolitan Opera House, January 30, 1885, with
     Materna, the original Bayreuth _Brünnhilde_ in that rôle,
     Schott as _Siegmund_, Seidl-Kraus as _Sieglinde_, Marianne
     Brandt as _Fricka_, Staudigl as _Wotan_, and Kögel as
     _Hunding_.

     CHARACTERS

     SIEGMUND                                        _Tenor_
     HUNDING                                          _Bass_
     WOTAN                                   _Baritone-Bass_
     SIEGLINDE                                     _Soprano_
     BRÜNNHILDE                                    _Soprano_
     FRICKA                                  _Mezzo-Soprano_

     Valkyrs (Sopranos and Mezzo-Sopranos): Gerhilde, Ortlinde,
     Waltraute, Schwertleite, Helmwige, Siegrune, Grimgerde,
     Rossweisse.

     _Time_--Legendary.

     _Place_--Interior of Hunding's hut; a rocky height; the peak
     of a rocky mountain (the Brünnhilde-rock).

_Wotan's_ enjoyment of Walhalla was destined to be short-lived. Filled
with dismay by the death of _Fasolt_ in the combat of the giants for
the accursed ring, and impelled by a dread presentiment that the force
of the curse would be visited upon the gods, he descended from
Walhalla to the abode of the all-wise woman, _Erda_, who bore him nine
daughters. These were the Valkyrs, headed by _Brünnhilde_--the wild
horsewomen of the air, who on winged steeds bore the dead heroes to
Walhalla, the warriors' heaven. With the aid of the Valkyrs and the
heroes they gathered to Walhalla, _Wotan_ hoped to repel any assault
upon his castle by the enemies of the gods.

But though the host of heroes grew to a goodly number, the terror of
_Alberich's_ curse still haunted the chief of gods. He might have
freed himself from it had he returned the ring and helmet made of
Rhinegold to the _Rhinedaughters_, from whom _Alberich_ filched it;
but in his desire to persuade the giants to relinquish _Freia_, whom
he had promised to them as a reward for building Walhalla, he, having
wrested the ring from _Alberich_, gave it to the giants instead of
returning it to the _Rhinedaughters_. He saw the giants contending for
the possession of the ring and saw _Fasolt_ slain--the first victim of
_Alberich's_ curse. He knows that the giant _Fafner_, having assumed
the shape of a huge serpent, now guards the Nibelung treasure, which
includes the ring and the Tarnhelmet, in a cave in the heart of a
dense forest. How shall the Rhinegold be restored to the
_Rhinedaughters_?

_Wotan_ hopes that this may be consummated by a human hero who, free
from the lust for power which obtains among the gods, shall, with a
sword of _Wotan's_ own forging, slay _Fafner_, gain possession of the
Rhinegold and restore it to its rightful owners, thus righting
_Wotan's_ guilty act and freeing the gods from the curse. To
accomplish this _Wotan_, in human guise as _Wälse_, begets, in wedlock
with a human, the twins _Siegmund_ and _Sieglinde_. How the curse of
_Alberich_ is visited upon these is related in "The Valkyr."

The dramatis personæ in "The Valkyr" are _Brünnhilde_, the valkyr, and
her eight sister valkyrs; _Fricka_, _Sieglinde_, _Siegmund_, _Hunding_
(the husband of _Sieglinde_), and _Wotan_. The action begins after the
forced marriage of _Sieglinde_ to _Hunding_. The Wälsungs are in
ignorance of the divinity of their father. They know him only as
_Wälse_.

Act I. In the introduction to "The Rhinegold," we saw the Rhine
flowing peacefully toward the sea and the innocent gambols of the
_Rhinedaughters_. But "The Valkyr" opens in storm and stress. The
peace and happiness of the first scene of the cycle seem to have
vanished from the earth with _Alberich's_ abjuration of love, his
theft of the gold, and _Wotan's_ equally treacherous acts.

This "Valkyr" Vorspiel is a masterly representation in tone of a storm
gathering for its last infuriated onslaught. The elements are
unleashed. The wind sweeps through the forest. Lightning flashes in
jagged streaks across the black heavens. There is a crash of thunder
and the storm has spent its force.

Two leading motives are employed in this introduction. They are the
=Storm Motive= and the =Donner Motive=. The =Storm Motive= is as follows:

[Music]

These themes are elemental. From them Wagner has composed storm music
of convincing power.

In the early portion of this vorspiel only the string instruments are
used. Gradually the instrumentation grows more powerful. With the
climax we have a tremendous _ff_ on the contra tuba and two tympani,
followed by the crash of the Donner Motive on the wind instruments.

The storm then gradually dies away. Before it has quite passed over,
the curtain rises, revealing the large hall of _Hunding's_ dwelling.
This hall is built around a huge ash-tree, whose trunk and branches
pierce the roof, over which the foliage is supposed to spread. There
are walls of rough-hewn boards, here and there hung with large plaited
and woven hangings. In the right foreground is a large open hearth;
back of it in a recess is the larder, separated from the hall by a
woven hanging, half drawn. In the background is a large door. A few
steps in the left foreground lead up to the door of an inner room. The
furniture of the hall is primitive and rude. It consists chiefly of a
table, bench, and stools in front of the ash-tree. Only the light of
the fire on the hearth illumines the room; though occasionally its
fitful gleam is slightly intensified by a distant flash of lightning
from the departing storm.

The door in the background is opened from without. _Siegmund_,
supporting himself with his hand on the bolt, stands in the entrance.
He seems exhausted. His appearance is that of a fugitive who has
reached the limit of his powers of endurance. Seeing no one in the
hall, he staggers toward the hearth and sinks upon a bearskin rug
before it, with the exclamation:

     Whose hearth this may be,
     Here I must rest me.

[Illustration: Lilli Lehmann as Brünnhilde in "Die Walküre"]

[Illustration: Photo by Hall

"The Valkyr." Act I

Hunding (Parker), Sieglinde (Rennyson), and Siegmund (Maclennan)]

Wagner's treatment of this scene is masterly. As _Siegmund_ stands in
the entrance we hear the =Siegmund Motive=. This is a sad, weary strain
on 'cellos and basses. It seems the wearier for the burden of an
accompanying figure on the horns, beneath which it seems to stagger as
_Siegmund_ staggers toward the hearth. Thus the music not only
reflects _Siegmund's_ weary mien, but accompanies most graphically his
weary gait. Perhaps Wagner's intention was more metaphysical. Maybe
the burden beneath which the Siegmund Motive staggers is the curse of
_Alberich_. It is through that curse that _Siegmund's_ life has been
one of storm and stress.

[Music]

When the storm-beaten Wälsung has sunk upon the rug the Siegmund
Motive is followed by the Storm Motive, _pp_--and the storm has died
away. The door of the room to the left opens and a young
woman--_Sieglinde_--appears. She has heard someone enter, and,
thinking her husband returned, has come forth to meet him--not
impelled to this by love, but by fear. For _Hunding_ had, while her
father and kinsmen were away on the hunt, laid waste their dwelling
and abducted her and forcibly married her. Ill-fated herself, she is
moved to compassion at sight of the storm-driven fugitive before the
hearth, and bends over him.

Her compassionate action is accompanied by a new motive, which by
Wagner's commentators has been entitled the Motive of Compassion. But
it seems to me to have a further meaning as expressing the sympathy
between two souls, a tie so subtle that it is at first invisible even
to those whom it unites. _Siegmund_ and _Sieglinde_, it will be
remembered, belong to the same race; and though they are at this point
of the action unknown to one another, yet, as _Sieglinde_ bends over
the hunted, storm-beaten _Siegmund_, that subtle sympathy causes her
to regard him with more solicitude than would be awakened by any other
unfortunate stranger. Hence I have called this motive the =Motive of
Sympathy=--taking sympathy in its double meaning of compassion and
affinity of feeling:

[Music]

The beauty of this brief phrase is enhanced by its unpretentiousness.
It wells up from the orchestra as spontaneously as pity mingled with
sympathetic sorrow wells up from the heart of a gentle woman. As it is
_Siegmund_ who has awakened these feelings in _Sieglinde_, the Motive
of Sympathy is heard simultaneously with the Siegmund Motive.

_Siegmund_, suddenly raising his head, ejaculates, "Water, water!"
_Sieglinde_ hastily snatches up a drinking-horn and, having quickly
filled it at a spring near the house, swiftly returns and hands it to
_Siegmund_. As though new hope were engendered in _Siegmund's_ breast
by _Sieglinde's_ gentle ministration, the Siegmund Motive rises higher
and higher, gathering passion in its upward sweep and then, combined
again with the Motive of Sympathy, sinks to an expression of heartfelt
gratitude. This passage is scored entirely for strings. Yet no
composer, except Wagner, has evoked from a full orchestra sounds
richer or more sensuously beautiful.

Having quaffed from the proffered cup the stranger lifts a searching
gaze to her features, as if they awakened within him memories the
significance of which he himself cannot fathom. She, too, is strangely
affected by his gaze. How has fate interwoven their lives that these
two people, a man and a woman, looking upon each other apparently for
the first time, are so thrilled by a mysterious sense of affinity?

Here occurs the =Love Motive= played throughout as a violoncello solo,
with accompaniment of eight violoncellos and two double basses;
exquisite in tone colour and one of the most tenderly expressive
phrases ever penned.

[Music]

The Love Motive is the mainspring of this act. For this act tells the
story of love from its inception to its consummation. Similarly in the
course of this act the Love Motive rises by degrees of intensity from
an expression of the first tender presentiment of affection to the
very ecstasy of love.

_Siegmund_ asks with whom he has found shelter. _Sieglinde_ replies
that the house is _Hunding's_, and she his wife, and requests
_Siegmund_ to await her husband's return.

       Weaponless am I:
       The wounded guest,
     He will surely give shelter,

is _Siegmund's_ reply. With anxious celerity, _Sieglinde_ asks him to
show her his wounds. But, refreshed by the draught of cool spring
water and with hope revived by her sympathetic presence, he gathers
force and, raising himself to a sitting posture, exclaims that his
wounds are but slight; his frame is still firm, and had sword and
shield held half so well, he would not have fled from his foes. His
strength was spent in flight through the storm, but the night that
sank on his vision has yielded again to the sunshine of _Sieglinde's_
presence. At these words the Motive of Sympathy rises like a sweet
hope. _Sieglinde_ fills the drinking-horn with mead and offers it to
_Siegmund_. He asks her to take the first sip. She does so and then
hands it to him. His eyes rest upon her while he drinks. As he returns
the drinking-horn to her there are traces of deep emotion in his
mien. He sighs and gloomily bows his head. The action at this point is
most expressively accompanied by the orchestra. Specially noteworthy
is an impassioned upward sweep of the Motive of Sympathy as _Siegmund_
regards _Sieglinde_ with traces of deep emotion in his mien.

In a voice that trembles with emotion, he says: "You have harboured
one whom misfortune follows wherever he wends his footsteps. Lest
through me misfortune enter this house, I will depart." With firm,
determined strides he already has reached the door, when she,
forgetting all in the vague memories that his presence have stirred
within her, calls after him:

"Tarry! You cannot bring sorrow to the house where sorrow already
reigns!"

Her words are followed by a phrase freighted as if with sorrow, the
Motive of the Wälsung Race, or =Wälsung Motive=:

[Music]

_Siegmund_ returns to the hearth, while she, as if shamed by her
outburst of feeling, allows her eyes to sink toward the ground.
Leaning against the hearth, he rests his calm, steady gaze upon her,
until she again raises her eyes to his, and they regard each other in
long silence and with deep emotion. The woman is the first to start.
She hears _Hunding_ leading his horse to the stall, and soon afterward
he stands upon the threshold looking darkly upon his wife and the
stranger. _Hunding_ is a man of great strength and stature, his eyes
heavy-browed, his sinister features framed in thick black hair and
beard, a sombre, threatful personality boding little good to whomever
crosses his path.

With the approach of _Hunding_ there is a sudden change in the
character of the music. Like a premonition of _Hunding's_ entrance we
hear the =Hunding Motive=, _pp_. Then as _Hunding_, armed with spear
and shield, stands upon the threshold, this Hunding Motive--as dark,
forbidding, and portentous of woe to the two Wälsungs as _Hunding's_
sombre visage--resounds with dread power on the tubas:

[Music]

Although weaponless, and _Hunding_ armed with spear and shield, the
fugitive meets his scrutiny without flinching, while the woman,
anticipating her husband's inquiry, explains that she had discovered
him lying exhausted at the hearth and given him shelter. With an
assumed graciousness that makes him, if anything, more forbidding,
_Hunding_ orders her prepare the meal. While she does so he glances
repeatedly from her to the stranger whom she has harboured, as if
comparing their features and finding in them something to arouse his
suspicions. "How like unto her," he mutters.

"Your name and story?" he asks, after they have seated themselves at
the table in front of the ash-tree, and when the stranger hesitates,
_Hunding_ points to the woman's eager, inquiring look.

"Guest," she urges, little knowing the suspicions her husband
harbours, "gladly would I know whence you come."

Slowly, as if oppressed by heavy memories, he begins his story,
carefully, however, continuing to conceal his name, since for all he
knows, _Hunding_ may be one of the enemies of his race. Amid
incredible hardships, surrounded by enemies against whom he and his
kin constantly were obliged to defend themselves, he grew up in the
forest. He and his father returned from one of their hunts to find the
hut in ashes, his mother a corpse, and no trace of his twin sister. In
one of the combats with their foes he became separated from his
father.

At this point you hear the Walhalla Motive, for _Siegmund's_ father
was none other than _Wotan_, known to his human descendants, however,
only as Wälse. In _Wotan's_ narrative in the next act it will be
discovered that _Wotan_ purposely created these misfortunes for
_Siegmund_, in order to strengthen him for his task.

Continuing his narrative _Siegmund_ says that, since losing track of
his father, he has wandered from place to place, ever with misfortune
in his wake. That very day he has defended a maid whom her brothers
wished to force into marriage. But when, in the combat that ensued, he
had slain her brothers, she turned upon him and denounced him as a
murderer, while the kinsmen of the slain, summoned to vengeance,
attacked him from all quarters. He fought until shield and sword were
shattered, then fled to find chance shelter in _Hunding's_ dwelling.

[Illustration: Photo by White

Fremstad as Brünnhilde in "Die Walküre"]

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Fremstad as Sieglinde in "Die Walküre"]

The story of _Siegmund_ is told in melodious recitative. It is not a
melody in the old-fashioned meaning of the term, but it fairly teems
with melodiousness. It will have been observed that incidents very
different in kind are related by _Siegmund_. It would be impossible to
treat this narrative with sufficient variety of expression in a
melody. But in Wagner's melodious recitative the musical phrases
reflect every incident narrated by _Siegmund_. For instance, when
_Siegmund_ tells how he went hunting with his father there is joyous
freshness and abandon in the music, which, however, suddenly sinks to
sadness as he narrates how they returned and found the Wälsung
dwelling devastated by enemies. We hear also the Hunding Motive at
this point, which thus indicates that whose who brought this
misfortune upon the Wälsungs were none other than _Hunding_ and his
kinsmen. As _Siegmund_ tells how, when he was separated from his
father, he sought to mingle with men and women, you hear the Love
Motive, while his description of his latest combat is accompanied by
the rhythm of the Hunding Motive. Those whom _Siegmund_ slew were
_Hunding's_ kinsmen. Thus _Siegmund's_ dark fate has driven him to
seek shelter in the house of the very man who is the arch-enemy of his
race and is bound by the laws of kinship to avenge on _Siegmund_ the
death of kinsmen.

As _Siegmund_ concludes his narrative the Wälsung Motive is heard.
Gazing with ardent longing toward _Sieglinde_, he says:

     Now know'st thou, questioning wife,
     Why "Peaceful" is not my name.

These words are sung to a lovely phrase. Then, as _Siegmund_ rises and
strides over to the hearth, while _Sieglinde_, pale and deeply
affected by his tale, bows her head, there is heard on the horns,
bassoons, violas, and 'cellos a motive expressive of the heroic
fortitude of the Wälsungs in struggling against their fate. It is the
=Motive of the Wälsungs' Heroism=, a motive steeped in the tragedy of
futile struggle against destiny.

[Music]

The sombre visage at the head of the table has grown even darker and
more threatening. _Hunding_ arises. "I know a ruthless race to whom
nothing is sacred, and hated of all," he says. "Mine were the kinsmen
you slew. I, too, was summoned from my home to take blood vengeance
upon the slayer. Returning, I find him here. You have been offered
shelter for the night, and for the night you are safe. But tomorrow be
prepared to defend yourself."

Alone, unarmed, and in the house of his enemy! And yet the same roof
harbours a friend--the woman. What strange affinity has brought them
together under the eye of the pitiless savage with whom she has been
forced into marriage? The embers on the hearth collapse. The glow
that for a moment pervades the room seems to his excited senses a
reflection from the eyes of the woman to whom he has been so
unaccountably yet so strongly drawn. Even the spot on the old
ash-tree, where he saw her glance linger before she left the room,
seems to have caught its sheen. Then the embers die out. All grows
dark.

The scene is eloquently set to music. _Siegmund's_ gloomy thoughts are
accompanied by the threatening rhythm of the Hunding Motive and the
Sword Motive in a minor key, for _Siegmund_ is still weaponless.

     A sword my father did promise....
     Wälse! Wälse! Where is thy sword!

The Sword Motive rings out like a shout of triumph. As the embers of
the fire collapse, there is seen in the glare, that for a moment falls
upon the ash-tree, the hilt of a sword whose blade is buried in the
trunk of the tree at the point upon which _Sieglinde's_ look last
rested. While the Motive of the Sword gently rises and falls, like the
coming and going of a lovely memory, _Siegmund_ apostrophizes the
sheen as the reflection of _Sieglinde's_ glance. And although the
embers die out, and night falls upon the scene, in _Siegmund's_
thoughts the memory of that pitying, loving look glimmers on.

Is it his excited fancy that makes him hear the door of the inner
chamber softly open and light footsteps coming in his direction? No;
for he becomes conscious of a form, her form, dimly limned upon the
darkness. He springs to his feet. _Sieglinde_ is by his side. She has
given _Hunding_ a sleeping-potion. She will point out a weapon to
_Siegmund_--a sword. If he can wield it she will call him the greatest
hero, for only the mightiest can wield it. The music quickens with
the subdued excitement in the breasts of the two Wälsungs. You hear
the Sword Motive and above it, on horns, clarinet, and oboe, a new
motive--that of the =Wälsungs' Call to Victory=:

[Music]

for _Sieglinde_ hopes that with the sword the stranger, who has
awakened so quickly love in her breast, will overcome _Hunding_. This
motive has a resistless, onward sweep. _Sieglinde_, amid the strains
of the stately Walhalla Motive, followed by the Sword Motive, narrates
the story of the sword. While _Hunding_ and his kinsmen were feasting
in honour of her forced marriage with him, an aged stranger entered
the hall. The men knew him not and shrank from his fiery glance. But
upon her his look rested with tender compassion. With a mighty thrust
he buried a sword up to its hilt in the trunk of the ash-tree. Whoever
drew it from its sheath to him it should belong. The stranger went his
way. One after another the strong men tugged at the hilt--but in vain.
Then she knew who the aged stranger was and for whom the sword was
destined.

The Sword Motive rings out like a joyous shout, and _Sieglinde's_
voice mingles with the triumphant notes of the Wälsungs' Call to
Victory as she turns to _Siegmund_:

     O, found I in thee
     The friend in need!

The Motive of the Wälsungs' heroism, now no longer full of tragic
import, but forceful and defiant--and _Siegmund_ holds _Sieglinde_ in
his embrace.

There is a rush of wind. The woven hangings flap and fall. As the
lovers turn, a glorious sight greets their eyes. The landscape is
illumined by the moon. Its silver sheen flows down the hills and
quivers along the meadows whose grasses tremble in the breeze. All
nature seems to be throbbing in unison with the hearts of the lovers,
and, turning to the woman, _Siegmund_ greets her with the =Love Song=:

[Music]

The Love Motive, impassioned, irresistible, sweeps through the
harmonies--and Love and Spring are united. The Love Motive also
pulsates through _Sieglinde's_ ecstatic reply after she has given
herself fully up to _Siegmund_ in the Flight Motive--for before his
coming her woes have fled as winter flies before the coming of spring.
With _Siegmund's_ exclamation:

     Oh, wondrous vision!
     Rapturous woman!

there rises from the orchestra like a vision of loveliness the Motive
of Freia, the Venus of German mythology. In its embrace it folds this
pulsating theme:

[Music]

It throbs on like a love-kiss until it seemingly yields to the
blandishments of this caressing phrase:

[Music]

This throbbing, pulsating, caressing music is succeeded by a moment of
repose. The woman again gazes searchingly into the man's features. She
has seen his face before. When? Now she remembers. It is when she has
seen her own reflection in a brook! And his voice? It seems to her
like an echo of her own. And his glance; has it never before rested on
her? She is sure it has, and she will tell him when.

She repeats how, while _Hunding_ and his kinsmen were feasting at her
marriage, an aged man entered the hall and, drawing a sword, thrust it
to the hilt in the ash-tree. The first to draw it out, to him it
should belong. One after another the men strove to loosen the sword,
but in vain. Once the aged man's glance rested on her and shone with
the same light as now shines in his who has come to her through night
and storm. He who thrust the sword into the tree was of her own race,
the Wälsungs. Who is he?

"I, too, have seen that light, but in your eyes!" exclaimed the
fugitive. "I, too, am of your race. I, too, am a Wälsung, my father
none other than Wälse himself."

"Was Wälse your father?" she cries ecstatically. "For you, then, this
sword was thrust in the tree! Let me name you, as I recall you from
far back in my childhood, _Siegmund_--_Siegmund_--_Siegmund_!"

"Yes, I am _Siegmund_; and you, too, I now know well. You are
_Sieglinde_. Fate has willed that we two of our unhappy race, shall
meet again and save each other or perish together."

Then, leaping upon the table, he grasps the sword-hilt which protrudes
from the trunk of the ash-tree where he has seen that strange glow in
the light of the dying embers. A mighty tug, and he draws it from the
tree as a blade from its scabbard. Brandishing it in triumph, he leaps
to the floor and, clasping _Sieglinde_, rushes forth with her into the
night.

And the music? It fairly seethes with excitement. As _Siegmund_ leaps
upon the table, the Motive of the Wälsungs' Heroism rings out as if in
defiance of the enemies of the race. The Sword Motive--and he has
grasped the hilt; the Motive of Compact, ominous of the fatality which
hangs over the Wälsungs; the Motive of Renunciation, with its
threatening import; then the Sword Motive--brilliant like the glitter
of refulgent steel--and _Siegmund_ has unsheathed the sword. The
Wälsungs' Call to Victory, like a song of triumph; a superb upward
sweep of the Sword Motive; the Love Motive, now rushing onward in the
very ecstasy of passion, and _Siegmund_ holds in his embrace
_Sieglinde_, his bride--of the same doomed race as himself!

Act II. In the _Vorspiel_ the orchestra, with an upward rush of the
Sword Motive, resolved into 9-8 time, the orchestra dashes into the
Motive of Flight. The Sword Motive in this 9-8 rhythm closely
resembles the Motive of the Valkyr's Ride, and the Flight Motive in
the version in which it appears is much like the Valkyr's Shout. The
Ride and the Shout are heard in the course of the _Vorspiel_, the
former with tremendous force on trumpets and trombones as the curtain
rises on a wild, rocky mountain pass, at the back of which, through a
natural rock-formed arch, a gorge slopes downward.

In the foreground stands _Wotan_, armed with spear, shield, and
helmet. Before him is _Brünnhilde_ in the superb costume of the
Valkyr. The stormy spirit of the _Vorspiel_ pervades the music of
_Wotan's_ command to _Brünnhilde_ that she bridle her steed for battle
and spur it to the fray to do combat for _Siegmund_ against _Hunding_.
_Brünnhilde_ greets _Wotan's_ command with the weirdly joyous =Shout of
the Valkyrs=

[Music: Hojotoho! Heiaha-ha.]

[Illustration: Photo by White

Weil as Wotan in "Die Walküre"]

[Illustration: Photo by Hall

"Die Walküre." Act III

Brünnhilde (Margaret Crawford)]

It is the cry of the wild horsewomen of the air, coursing through
storm-clouds, their shields flashing back the lightning, their voices
mingling with the shrieks of the tempest. Weirder, wilder joy has
never found expression in music. One seems to see the steeds of the
air and streaks of lightning playing around their riders, and to hear
the whistling of the wind.

The accompanying figure is based on the Motive of the =Ride of the
Valkyrs=:

[Music]

_Brünnhilde_, having leapt from rock to rock to the highest peak of
the mountain, again faces _Wotan_, and with delightful banter calls to
him that _Fricka_ is approaching in her ram-drawn chariot. _Fricka_
has appeared, descended from her chariot, and advances toward _Wotan_,
_Brünnhilde_ having meanwhile disappeared behind the mountain height.

_Fricka_ is the protector of the marriage vow, and as such she has
come in anger to demand from _Wotan_ vengeance in behalf of _Hunding_.
As she advances hastily toward _Wotan_, her angry, passionate
demeanour is reflected by the orchestra, and this effective musical
expression of _Fricka's_ ire is often heard in the course of the
scene. When near _Wotan_ she moderates her pace, and her angry
demeanour gives way to sullen dignity.

_Wotan_, though knowing well what has brought _Fricka_ upon the scene,
feigns ignorance of the cause of her agitation and asks what it is
that harasses her. Her reply is preceded by the stern Hunding motive.
She tells _Wotan_ that she, as the protectress of the sanctity of the
marriage vow, has heard _Hunding's_ voice calling for vengeance upon
the Wälsung twins. Her words, "His voice for vengeance is raised,"
are set to a phrase strongly suggestive of _Alberich's_ curse. It
seems as though the avenging Nibelung were pursuing _Wotan's_ children
and thus striking a blow at _Wotan_ himself through _Fricka_. The Love
Motive breathes through _Wotan's_ protest that _Siegmund_ and
_Sieglinde_ only yielded to the music of the spring night. _Wotan_
argues that _Siegmund_ and _Sieglinde_ are true lovers, and _Fricka_
should smile instead of venting her wrath on them. The motive of the
Love Song, the Love Motive, and the caressing phrase heard in the love
scene are beautifully blended with _Wotan's_ words. In strong contrast
to these motives is the music in _Fricka's_ outburst of wrath,
introduced by the phrase reflecting her ire, which is repeated several
times in the course of this episode. _Wotan_ explains to her why he
begat the Wälsung race and the hopes he has founded upon it. But
_Fricka_ mistrusts him. What can mortals accomplish that the gods, who
are far mightier than mortals, cannot accomplish? _Hunding_ must be
avenged on _Siegmund_ and _Sieglinde_. _Wotan_ must withdraw his
protection from _Siegmund_. Now appears a phrase which expresses
_Wotan's_ impotent wrath--impotent because _Fricka_ brings forward the
unanswerable argument that if the Wälsungs go unpunished by her, as
guardian of the marriage vow, she, the Queen of the Gods, will be held
up to the scorn of mankind.

_Wotan_ would fain save the Wälsungs. But _Fricka's_ argument is
conclusive. He cannot protect _Siegmund_ and _Sieglinde_, because
their escape from punishment would bring degradation upon the
queen-goddess and the whole race of the gods, and result in their
immediate fall. _Wotan's_ wrath rises at the thought of sacrificing
his beloved children to the vengeance of _Hunding_, but he is
impotent. His far-reaching plans are brought to nought. He sees the
hope of having the Ring restored to the _Rhinedaughters_ by the
voluntary act of a hero of the Wälsung race vanish. The curse of
_Alberich_ hangs over him like a dark, threatening cloud. The =Motive
of Wotan's Wrath= is as follows:

[Music]

_Brünnhilde's_ joyous shouts are heard from the height. _Wotan_
exclaims that he had summoned the Valkyr to do battle for _Siegmund_.
In broad, stately measures, _Fricka_ proclaims that her honour shall
be guarded by _Brünnhilde's_ shield and demands of _Wotan_ an oath
that in the coming combat the Wälsung shall fall. _Wotan_ takes the
oath and throws himself dejectedly down upon a rocky seat. _Fricka_
strides toward the back. She pauses a moment with a gesture of queenly
command before _Brünnhilde_, who has led her horse down the height and
into a cave to the right, then departs.

In this scene we have witnessed the spectacle of a mighty god vainly
struggling to avert ruin from his race. That it is due to irresistible
fate and not merely to _Fricka_ that _Wotan's_ plans succumb, is made
clear by the darkly ominous notes of Alberich's Curse, which resound
as _Wotan_, wrapt in gloomy brooding, leans back against the rocky
seat, and also when, in a paroxysm of despair, he gives vent to his
feelings, a passage which, for overpowering intensity of expression,
stands out even from among Wagner's writings. The final words of this
outburst of grief:

  The saddest I among all men,

are set to this variant of the Motive of Renunciation; the meaning of
this phrase having been expanded from the renunciation of love by
_Alberich_ to cover the renunciation of happiness which is forced upon
_Wotan_ by avenging fate:

[Music]

_Brünnhilde_ casts away shield, spear, and helmet, and sinking down at
_Wotan's_ feet looks up to him with affectionate anxiety. Here we see
in the Valkyr the touch of tenderness, without which a truly heroic
character is never complete.

Musically it is beautifully expressed by the Love Motive, which, when
_Wotan_, as if awakening from a reverie, fondly strokes her hair, goes
over into the Siegmund Motive. It is over the fate of his beloved
Wälsungs _Wotan_ has been brooding. Immediately following
_Brünnhilde's_ words,

  What an I were I not thy will,

is a wonderfully soft yet rich melody on four horns. It is one of
those beautiful details in which Wagner's works abound.

In _Wotan's_ narrative, which now follows, the chief of the gods tells
_Brünnhilde_ of the events which have brought this sorrow upon him, of
his failure to restore the stolen gold to the _Rhinedaughters_; of his
dread of _Alberich's_ curse; how she and her sister Valkyrs were born
to him by _Erda_; of the necessity that a hero should without aid of
the gods gain the Ring and Tarnhelmet from _Fafner_ and restore the
Rhinegold to the _Rhinedaughters_; how he begot the Wälsungs and
inured them to hardships in the hope that one of the race would free
the gods from _Alberich's_ curse.

The motives heard in _Wotan's_ narrative will be recognized, except
one, which is new. This is expressive of the stress to which the gods
are subjected through _Wotan's_ crime. It is first heard when _Wotan_
tells of the hero who alone can regain the ring. It is the =Motive of
the Gods' Stress=.

[Music]

Excited by remorse and despair _Wotan_ bids farewell to the glory of
the gods. Then he in terrible mockery blesses the Nibelung's heir--for
_Alberich_ has wedded and to him has been born a son, upon whom the
Nibelung depends to continue his death struggle with the gods.
Terrified by this outburst of wrath, _Brünnhilde_ asks what her duty
shall be in the approaching combat. _Wotan_ commands her to do
_Fricka's_ bidding and withdraw protection from _Siegmund_. In vain
_Brünnhilde_ pleads for the Wälsung whom she knows _Wotan_ loves, and
wished a victor until _Fricka_ exacted a promise from him to avenge
_Hunding_. But her pleading is in vain. _Wotan_ is no longer the
all-powerful chief of the gods--through his breach of faith he has
become the slave of fate. Hence we hear, as _Wotan_ rushes away,
driven by chagrin, rage, and despair, chords heavy with the crushing
force of fate.

Slowly and sadly _Brünnhilde_ bends down for her weapons, her actions
being accompanied by the Valkyr Motive. Bereft of its stormy
impetuosity it is as trist as her thoughts. Lost in sad reflections,
which find beautiful expression in the orchestra, she turns toward the
background.

Suddenly the sadly expressive phrases are interrupted by the Motive of
Flight. Looking down into the valley the Valkyr perceives _Siegmund_
and _Sieglinde_ approaching in hasty flight. She then disappears in
the cave. With a superb crescendo the Motive of Flight reaches its
climax and the two Wälsungs are seen approaching through the natural
arch. For hours they have toiled forward; often _Sieglinde's_ limbs
have threatened to fail her, yet never have the fugitives been able to
shake off the dread sound of _Hunding_ winding his horn as he called
upon his kinsmen to redouble their efforts to overtake the two
Wälsungs. Even now, as they come up the gorge and pass under a rocky
arch to the height of the divide, the pursuit can be heard. They are
human quarry of the hunt. Terror has begun to unsettle _Sieglinde's_
reason. When _Siegmund_ bids her rest she stares wildly before her,
then gazes with growing rapture into his eyes and throws her arms
around his neck, only to shriek suddenly: "Away, away!" as she hears
the distant horn-calls, then to grow rigid and stare vacantly before
her as _Siegmund_ announces to her that here he proposes to end their
flight, here await _Hunding_, and test the temper of _Wälse's_ sword.
Then she tries to thrust him away. Let him leave her to her fate and
save himself. But a moment later, although she still clings to him,
she apparently is gazing into vacancy and crying out that he has
deserted her. At last, utterly overcome by the strain of flight with
the avenger on the trail, she faints, her hold on _Siegmund_ relaxes,
and she would have fallen had he not caught her form in his arms.
Slowly he lets himself down on a rocky seat, drawing her with him, so
that when he is seated her head rests on his lap. Tenderly he looks
down upon the companion of his flight, and, while, like a mournful
memory, the orchestra intones the Love Motive, he presses a kiss upon
her brow--she of his own race, like him doomed to misfortune,
dedicated to death, should the sword which he has unsheathed from
_Hunding's_ ash-tree prove traitor. As he looks up from _Sieglinde_ he
is startled. For there stands on the rock above them a shining
apparition in flowing robes, breastplate, and helmet, and leaning upon
a spear. It is _Brünnhilde_, the Valkyr, daughter of _Wotan_.

=The Motive of Fate=--so full of solemn import--is heard.

[Music]

While her earnest look rests upon him, there is heard the =Motive of
the Death-Song=, a tristly prophetic strain.

[Music]

_Brünnhilde_ advances and then, pausing again, leans with one hand on
her charger's neck, and, grasping shield and spear with the other,
gazes upon _Siegmund_. Then there rises from the orchestra, in strains
of rich, soft, alluring beauty, an inversion of the Walhalla Motive.
The Fate, Death-Song and Walhalla motives recur, and _Siegmund_,
raising his eyes and meeting _Brünnhilde's_ look, questions her and
receives her answers. The episode is so fraught with solemnity that
the shadow of death seems to have fallen upon the scene. The solemn
beauty of the music impresses itself the more upon the listener,
because of the agitated, agonized scene which preceded it. To the
Wälsung, who meets her gaze so calmly, _Brünnhilde_ speaks in solemn
tones:

"Siegmund, look on me. I am she whom soon you must prepare to follow."
Then she paints for him in glowing colours the joys of Walhalla, where
_Wälse_, his father, is awaiting him and where he will have heroes for
his companions, himself the hero of many valiant deeds. _Siegmund_
listens unmoved. In reply he frames but one question: "When I enter
Walhalla, will _Sieglinde_ be there to greet me?"

When _Brünnhilde_ answers that in Walhalla he will be attended by
valkyrs and wishmaidens, but that _Sieglinde_ will not be there to
meet him, he scorns the delights she has held out. Let her greet
_Wotan_ from him, and _Wälse_, his father, too, as well as the
wishmaidens. He will remain with _Sieglinde_.

Then the radiant Valkyr, moved by _Siegmund's_ calm determination to
sacrifice even a place among the heroes of Walhalla for the woman he
loves, makes known to him the fate to which he has been doomed.
_Wotan_ desired to give him victory over _Hunding_, and she had been
summoned by the chief of the gods and commanded to hover above the
combatants, and by shielding _Siegmund_ from _Hunding's_ thrusts,
render the Wälsung's victory certain. But _Wotan's_ spouse, _Fricka_,
who, as the first among the goddesses, is guardian of the marriage
vows, has heard _Hunding's_ voice calling for vengeance, and has
demanded that vengeance be his. Let _Siegmund_ therefore prepare for
Walhalla, but let him leave _Sieglinde_ in her care. She will protect
her.

"No other living being but I shall touch her," exclaims the Wälsung,
as he draws his sword. "If the Wälsung sword is to be shattered on
Hunding's spear, to which I am to fall a victim, it first shall bury
itself in her breast and save her from a worse fate!" He poises the
sword ready for the thrust above the unconscious _Sieglinde_.

"Hold!" cries _Brünnhilde_, thrilled by his heroic love. "Whatever the
consequences which Wotan, in his wrath, shall visit upon me, today,
for the first time I disobey him. Sieglinde shall live, and with her
Siegmund! Yours the victory over Hunding. Now Wälsung, prepare for
battle!"

_Hunding's_ horn-calls sound nearer and nearer. _Siegmund_ judges that
he has ascended the other side of the gorge, intending to cross the
rocky arch. Already _Brünnhilde_ has gone to take her place where she
knows the combatants must meet. With a last look and a last kiss for
_Sieglinde_, _Siegmund_ gently lays her down and begins to ascend
toward the peak. Mist gathers; storm-clouds roll over the mountain;
soon he is lost to sight. Slowly _Sieglinde_ regains her senses. She
looks for _Siegmund_. Instead of seeing him bending over her she hears
_Hunding's_ voice as if from among the clouds, calling him to combat;
then _Siegmund's_ accepting the challenge. She staggers toward the
peak. Suddenly a bright light pierces the clouds. Above her she sees
the men fighting, _Brünnhilde_ protecting _Siegmund_ who is aiming a
deadly stroke at _Hunding_.

At that moment, however, the light is diffused with a reddish glow. In
it _Wotan_ appears. As _Siegmund's_ sword cuts the air on its errand
of death, the god interposes his spear, the sword breaks in two and
_Hunding_ thrusts his spear into the defenceless Wälsung's breast. The
second victim of _Alberich's_ curse has met his fate.

With a wild shriek, _Sieglinde_ falls to the ground, to be caught up
by _Brünnhilde_ and swung upon the Valkyr's charger, which, urged on
by its mistress, now herself a fugitive from _Wotan's_ anger, dashes
down the defile in headlong flight for the Valkyr rock.

Act III. The third act opens with the famous "Ride of the Valkyrs," a
number so familiar that detailed reference to it is scarcely
necessary. The wild maidens of Walhalla coursing upon winged steeds
through storm-clouds, their weapons flashing in the gleam of
lightning, their weird laughter mingling with the crash of thunder,
have come to hold tryst upon the Valkyr rock.

When eight of the Valkyrs have gathered upon the rocky summit of the
mountain, they espy _Brünnhilde_ approaching. It is with savage shouts
of "Hojotoho! Heiha!" those who already have reached their savage
eyrie, watch for the coming of their wild sisters. Fitful flashes of
lightning herald their approach as they storm fearlessly through the
wind and cloud, their weird shouts mingling with the clash of thunder.
"Hojotoho! Heihe!--Hojotoho! Heiha!"

But, strange burden! Instead of a slain hero across her pommel,
_Brünnhilde_ bears a woman, and instead of urging her horse to the
highest crag, she alights below. The Valkyrs hasten down the rock, and
there the wild sisters of the air stand, curiously awaiting the
approach of _Brünnhilde_.

In frantic haste the Valkyr tells her sisters what has transpired, and
how _Wotan_ is pursuing her to punish her for her disobedience. One
of the Valkyrs ascends the rock and, looking in the direction from
which _Brünnhilde_ has come, calls out that even now she can descry
the red glow behind the storm-clouds that denotes _Wotan's_ approach.
Quickly _Brünnhilde_ bids _Sieglinde_ seek refuge in the forest beyond
the Valkyr rock. The latter, who has been lost in gloomy brooding,
starts at her rescuer's supplication and in strains replete with
mournful beauty begs that she may be left to her fate and follow
_Siegmund_ in death. The glorious prophecy in which _Brünnhilde_ now
foretells to _Sieglinde_ that she is to become the mother of
_Siegfried_, is based upon the =Siegfried Motive=:

[Music]

_Sieglinde_, in joyous frenzy, blesses _Brünnhilde_ and hastens to
find safety in a dense forest to the eastward, the same forest in
which _Fafner_, in the form of a serpent, guards the Rhinegold
treasures.

_Wotan_, in hot pursuit of _Brünnhilde_, reaches the mountain summit.
In vain her sisters entreat him to spare her. He harshly threatens
them unless they cease their entreaties, and with wild cries of fear
they hastily depart.

In the ensuing scene between _Wotan_ and _Brünnhilde_, in which the
latter seeks to justify her action, is heard one of the most beautiful
themes of the cycle.

It is the =Motive of Brünnhilde's Pleading=, which finds its loveliest
expression when she addresses _Wotan_ in the passage beginning:

[Music: Thou, who this love within my breast inspired.]

_Brünnhilde_ is _Wotan's_ favourite daughter, but instead of the
loving pride with which he always has been wont to regard her, his
features are dark with anger at her disobedience of his command. He
had decreed _Siegmund's_ death. She has striven to give victory to the
Wälsung. Throwing herself at her father's feet, she pleads that he
himself had intended to save _Siegmund_ and had been turned from his
purpose only by _Fricka's_ interference, and that he had yielded only
most grudgingly to _Fricka's_ insistent behest. Therefore, when she,
his daughter, profoundly moved by _Siegmund's_ love for _Sieglinde_,
and her sympathies aroused by the sad plight of the fugitives,
disregarded his command, she nevertheless acted in accordance with his
real inclinations. But _Wotan_ is obdurate. She has revelled in the
very feelings which he was obliged, at _Fricka's_ behest, to
forego--admiration for _Siegmund's_ heroism and sympathy for him in
his misfortune. Therefore she must be punished. He will cause her to
fall into a deep sleep upon the Valkyr rock, which shall become the
Brünnhilde-rock, and to the first man who finds her and awakens her,
she, no longer a Valkyr, but a mere woman, shall fall prey.

This great scene between _Wotan_ and _Brünnhilde_ is introduced by an
orchestral passage. The Valkyr lies in penitence at her father's feet.
In the expressive orchestral measures the Motive of Wotan's Wrath
mingles with that of Brünnhilde's Pleading. The motives thus form a
prelude to the scene in which the Valkyr seeks to appease her father's
anger, not through a specious plea, but by laying bare the promptings
of a noble heart, which forced her, against the chief god's command,
to intervene for _Siegmund_. The Motive of Brünnhilde's Pleading is
heard in its simplest form at _Brünnhilde's_ words:

  Was it so shameful what I have done,

and it may be noticed that as she proceeds the Motive of Wotan's
Wrath, heard in the accompaniment, grows less stern, until with her
plea,

  Soften thy wrath,

it assumes a tone of regretful sorrow.

_Wotan's_ feelings toward _Brünnhilde_ have softened for the time from
anger to grief that he must mete out punishment for her disobedience.
In his reply excitement subsides to gloom. It would be difficult to
point to other music more touchingly expressive of deep contrition
than the phrase in which _Brünnhilde_ pleads that _Wotan_ himself
taught her to love _Siegmund_. It is here that the Motive of
Brünnhilde's Pleading assumes the form in the notation given above.
Then we hear from _Wotan_ that he had abandoned _Siegmund_ to his
fate, because he had lost hope in the cause of the gods and wished to
end his woe in the wreck of the world. The weird terror of the Curse
Motive hangs over this outburst of despair. In broad and beautiful
strains _Wotan_ then depicts _Brünnhilde_ yielding to her emotions
when she intervened for _Siegmund_.

_Brünnhilde_ makes her last appeal. She tells her father that
_Sieglinde_ has found refuge in the forest, and that there she will
give birth to a son, _Siegfried_,--the hero for whom the gods have
been waiting to overthrow their enemies. If she must suffer for her
disobedience, let _Wotan_ surround her sleeping form with a fiery
circle which only such a hero will dare penetrate. The Motive of
Brünnhilde's Pleading and the Siegfried Motive vie with each other in
giving expression to the beauty, tenderness, and majesty of this
scene.

Gently the god raises her and tenderly kisses her brow; and thus bids
farewell to the best beloved of his daughters. Slowly she sinks upon
the rock. He closes her helmet and covers her with her shield. Then,
with his spear, he invokes the god of fire. Tongues of flame leap from
the crevices of the rock. Wildly fluttering fire breaks out on all
sides. The forest beyond glows like a furnace, with brighter streaks
shooting and throbbing through the mass, as _Wotan_, with a last look
at the sleeping form of _Brünnhilde_, vanishes beyond the fiery
circle.

A majestic orchestral passage opens _Wotan's_ farewell to
_Brünnhilde_. In all music for bass voice this scene has no peer. Such
tender, mournful beauty has never found expression in music--and this,
whether we regard the vocal part or the orchestral accompaniment in
which the lovely =Slumber Motive=:

[Music]

As _Wotan_ leads _Brünnhilde_ to the rock, upon which she sinks,
closes her helmet, and covers her with her shield, then invokes
_Loge_, and, after gazing fondly upon the slumbering Valkyr, vanishes
amid the magic flames, the Slumber Motive, the Magic Fire Motive, and
the Siegfried Motive combine to place the music of the scene with the
most brilliant and beautiful portion of our heritage from the great
master-musician. But here, too, lurks Destiny. Towards the close of
this glorious finale we hear again the ominous muttering of the Motive
of Fate. _Brünnhilde_ may be saved from ignominy, _Siegfried_ may be
born to _Sieglinde_--but the crushing weight of _Alberich's_ curse
still rests upon the race of the gods.


SIEGFRIED

     Music-drama in three acts, by Richard Wagner. Produced,
     Bayreuth, August 16, 1876. London, by the Carl Rosa Company,
     1898, in English. New York, Metropolitan Opera House,
     November 9, 1887, with Lehmann (_Brünnhilde_), Fischer
     (_Wotan_), Alvary (_Siegfried_), and Seidl-Kraus (_Forest
     bird_).

     CHARACTERS

     SIEGFRIED                                       _Tenor_
     MIME                                            _Tenor_
     WOTAN (disguised as the WANDERER)       _Baritone-Bass_
     ALBERICH                                _Baritone-Bass_
     FAFNER                                           _Bass_
     ERDA                                        _Contralto_
     FOREST BIRD                                   _Soprano_
     BRÜNNHILDE                                    _Soprano_

     _Time_--Legendary.

     _Place_--A rocky cave in the forest; deep in the forest;
     wild region at foot of a rocky mount; the Brünnhilde-rock.

The Nibelungs were not present in the dramatic action of "The Valkyr,"
though the sinister influence of _Alberich_ shaped the tragedy of
_Siegmund's_ death. In "Siegfried" several characters of "The
Rhinegold," who do not take part in "The Valkyr," reappear. These are
the Nibelungs _Alberich_ and _Mime_; the giant _Fafner_, who in the
guise of a serpent guards the Ring, the Tarnhelmet, and the Nibelung
hoard in a cavern, and _Erda_.

_Siegfried_ has been born of _Sieglinde_, who died in giving birth to
him. This scion of the Wälsung race has been reared by _Mime_, who
found him in the forest by his dead mother's side. _Mime_ is plotting
to obtain possession of the ring and of _Fafner's_ other treasures,
and hopes to be aided in his designs by the lusty youth. _Wotan_,
disguised as a wanderer, is watching the course of events, again
hopeful that a hero of the Wälsung race will free the gods from
_Alberich's_ curse. Surrounded by magic fire, _Brünnhilde_ still lies
in deep slumber on the Brünnhilde Rock.

The _Vorspiel_ of "Siegfried" is expressive of _Mime's_ planning and
plotting. It begins with music of a mysterious brooding character.
Mingling with this is the Motive of the Hoard, familiar from "The
Rhinegold." Then is heard the Nibelung Motive. After reaching a
forceful climax it passes over to the Motive of the Ring, which rises
from pianissimo to a crashing climax. The ring is to be the prize of
all _Mime's_ plotting. He hopes to weld the pieces of _Siegmund's_
sword together, and that with this sword _Siegfried_ will slay
_Fafner_. Then _Mime_ will slay _Siegfried_ and possess himself of the
ring. Thus it is to serve his own ends only, that _Mime_ is craftily
rearing _Siegfried_.

The opening scene shows _Mime_ forging a sword at a natural forge
formed in a rocky cave. In a soliloquy he discloses the purpose of his
labours and laments that _Siegfried_ shivers every sword which has
been forged for him. Could he (_Mime_) but unite the pieces of
_Siegmund's_ sword! At this thought the Sword Motive rings out
brilliantly, and is jubilantly repeated, accompanied by a variant of
the Walhalla Motive. For if the pieces of the sword were welded
together, and _Siegfried_ were with it to slay _Fafner_, _Mime_ could
surreptitiously obtain possession of the ring, slay _Siegfried_, rule
over the gods in Walhalla, and circumvent _Alberich's_ plans for
regaining the hoard.

_Mime_ is still at work when _Siegfried_ enters, clad in a wild forest
garb. Over it a silver horn is slung by a chain. The sturdy youth has
captured a bear. He leads it by a bast rope, with which he gives it
full play so that it can make a dash at _Mime_. As the latter flees
terrified behind the forge, _Siegfried_ gives vent to his high spirits
in shouts of laughter. Musically his buoyant nature is expressed by a
theme inspired by the fresh, joyful spirit of a wild, woodland life.
It may be called, to distinguish it from the Siegfried Motive, the
=Motive of Siegfried the Fearless=.

[Music]

It pervades with its joyous impetuosity the ensuing scene, in which
_Siegfried_ has his sport with _Mime_, until tiring of it, he loosens
the rope from the bear's neck and drives the animal back into the
forest. In a pretty, graceful phrase _Siegfried_ tells how he blew his
horn, hoping it would be answered by a pleasanter companion than
_Mime_. Then he examines the sword which _Mime_ has been forging. The
Siegfried Motive resounds as he inveighs against the weapon's
weakness, then shivers it on the anvil. The orchestra, with a rush,
takes up the =Motive of Siegfried the Impetuous=.

[Music]

This is a theme full of youthful snap and dash. _Mime_ tells
_Siegfried_ how he tenderly reared him from infancy. The music here is
as simple and pretty as a folk-song, for _Mime's_ reminiscences of
_Siegfried's_ infancy are set to a charming melody, as though _Mime_
were recalling to _Siegfried's_ memory a cradle song of those days.
But _Siegfried_ grows impatient. If _Mime_ really tended him so kindly
out of pure affection, why should _Mime_ be so repulsive to him; and
yet why should he, in spite of _Mime's_ repulsiveness, always return
to the cave? The dwarf explains that he is to _Siegfried_ what the
father is to the fledgling. This leads to a beautiful lyric episode.
_Siegfried_ says that he saw the birds mating, the deer pairing, the
she-wolf nursing her cubs. Whom shall he call Mother? Who is _Mime's_
wife? This episode is pervaded by the lovely =Motive of Love-Life=.

[Music]

_Mime_ endeavours to persuade _Siegfried_ that he is his father and
mother in one. But _Siegfried_ has noticed that the young of birds and
deer and wolves look like the parents. He has seen his features
reflected in the brook, and knows he does not resemble the hideous
_Mime_. The notes of the Love-Life Motive pervade this episode. When
_Siegfried_ speaks of seeing his own likeness, we also hear the
Siegfried Motive. _Mime_, forced by _Siegfried_ to speak the truth,
tells of _Sieglinde's_ death while giving birth to _Siegfried_.
Throughout this scene we find reminiscences of the first act of "The
Valkyr," the Wälsung Motive, the Motive of Sympathy, and the Love
Motive. Finally, when _Mime_ produces as evidence of the truth of his
words the two pieces of _Siegmund's_ sword, the Sword Motive rings out
brilliantly. _Siegfried_ exclaims that _Mime_ must weld the pieces
into a trusty weapon. Then follows _Siegfried's_ "Wander Song," so
full of joyous abandon. Once the sword welded, he will leave the hated
_Mime_ for ever. As the fish darts through the water, as the bird
flies so free, he will flee from the repulsive dwarf. With joyous
exclamations he runs from the cave into the forest.

       *       *       *       *       *

The frank, boisterous nature of _Siegfried_ is charmingly portrayed.
His buoyant vivacity finds capital expression in the Motives of
Siegfried the Fearless, Siegfried the Impetuous, and his "Wander
Song," while the vein of tenderness in his character seems to run
through the Love-Life Motive. His harsh treatment of _Mime_ is not
brutal; for _Siegfried_ frankly avows his loathing for the dwarf, and
we feel, knowing _Mime's_ plotting against the young Wälsung, that
_Siegfried's_ hatred is the spontaneous aversion of a frank nature for
an insidious one.

_Mime_ has a gloomy soliloquy. It is interrupted by the entrance of
_Wotan_, disguised as a wanderer. At the moment _Mime_ is in despair
because he cannot weld the pieces of _Siegmund's_ sword. When the
_Wanderer_ departs, he has prophesied that only he who does not know
what fear is--only a fearless hero--can weld the fragments, and that
through this fearless hero _Mime_ shall lose his life. This prophecy
is reached through a somewhat curious process which must be
unintelligible to anyone who has not made a study of the libretto. The
_Wanderer_, seating himself, wagers his head that he can correctly
answer any three questions which _Mime_ may put to him. _Mime_ then
asks: "What is the race born in the earth's deep bowels?" The
_Wanderer_ answers: "The Nibelungs." _Mime's_ second question is:
"What race dwells on the earth's back?" The _Wanderer_ replies: "The
race of giants." _Mime_ finally asks: "What race dwells on cloudy
heights?" The _Wanderer_ answers: "The race of the gods." The
_Wanderer_, having thus answered correctly _Mime's_ three questions,
now put three questions to _Mime_: "What is that noble race which
_Wotan_ ruthlessly dealt with, and yet which he deemeth most dear?"
_Mime_ answers correctly: "The Wälsungs." Then the _Wanderer_ asks:
"What sword must _Siegfried_ then strike with, dealing to _Fafner_
death?" _Mime_ answers correctly: "With _Siegmund's_ sword." "Who,"
asks the _Wanderer_, "can weld its fragments?" _Mime_ is terrified,
for he cannot answer. Then _Wotan_ utters the prophecy of the fearless
hero.

The scene is musically most eloquent. It is introduced by two motives,
representing _Wotan_ as the Wanderer. The mysterious chords of the
former seem characteristic of _Wotan's_ disguise.

The latter, with its plodding, heavily-tramping movement, is the
motive of _Wotan's_ wandering.

The third new motive found in this scene is characteristically
expressive of the _Cringing Mime_.

Several motives familiar from "The Rhinegold" and "The Valkyr" are
heard here. The Motive of Compact so powerfully expressive of the
binding force of law, the Nibelung and Walhalla motives from "The
Rhinegold," and the Wälsungs' Heroism motives from the first act of
"The Valkyr," are among these.

When the _Wanderer_ has vanished in the forest _Mime_ sinks back on
his stool in despair. Staring after _Wotan_ into the sunlit forest,
the shimmering rays flitting over the soft green mosses with every
movement of the branches and each tremor of the leaves seem to him
like flickering flames and treacherous will-o'-the-wisps. We hear the
Loge Motive (_Loge_ being the god of fire) familiar from "The
Rhinegold" and the finale of "The Valkyr." At last _Mime_ rises to his
feet in terror. He seems to see _Fafner_ in his serpent's guise
approaching to devour him, and in a paroxysm of fear he falls with a
shriek behind the anvil. Just then _Siegfried_ bursts out of the
thicket, and with the fresh, buoyant "Wander Song" and the Motive of
Siegfried the Fearless, the weird mystery which hung over the former
scene is dispelled. _Siegfried_ looks about him for _Mime_ until he
sees the dwarf lying behind the anvil.

Laughingly the young Wälsung asks the dwarf if he has thus been
welding the sword. "The sword? The sword?" repeats _Mime_ confusedly,
as he advances, and his mind wanders back to _Wotan's_ prophecy of the
fearless hero. Regaining his senses he tells _Siegfried_ there is one
thing he has yet to learn, namely, to be afraid; that his mother
charged him (_Mime_) to teach fear to him (_Siegfried_). _Mime_ asks
_Siegfried_ if he has never felt his heart beating when in the
gloaming he heard strange sounds and saw weirdly glimmering lights in
the forest. _Siegfried_ replies that he never has. He knows not what
fear is. If it is necessary before he goes forth in quest of adventure
to learn what fear is he would like to be taught. But how can _Mime_
teach him?

The Magic Fire Motive and Brünnhilde's Slumber Motive familiar from
Wotan's Farewell, and the Magic Fire scene in the third act of "The
Valkyr" are heard here, the former depicting the weirdly glimmering
lights with which _Mime_ has sought to infuse dread into _Siegfried's_
breast, the latter prophesying that, penetrating fearlessly the fiery
circle, _Siegfried_ will reach _Brünnhilde_. Then _Mime_ tells
_Siegfried_ of _Fafner_, thinking thus to strike terror into the young
Wälsung's breast. But far from it! _Siegfried_ is incited by _Mime's_
words to meet _Fafner_ in combat. Has _Mime_ welded the fragments of
_Siegmund's_ sword, asks _Siegfried_. The dwarf confesses his
impotency. _Siegfried_ seizes the fragments. He will forge his own
sword. Here begins the great scene of the forging of the sword. Like a
shout of victory the Motive of Siegfried the Fearless rings out and
the orchestra fairly glows as _Siegfried_ heaps a great mass of coal
on the forge-hearth, and, fanning the heat, begins to file away at the
fragments of the sword.

The roar of the fire, the sudden intensity of the fierce white heat to
which the young Wälsung fans the glow--these we would respectively
hear and see were the music given without scenery or action, so
graphic is Wagner's score. The Sword Motive leaps like a brilliant
tongue of flame over the heavy thuds of a forceful variant of the
Motive of Compact, till brightly gleaming runs add to the brilliancy
of the score, which reflects all the quickening, quivering effulgence
of the scene. How the music flows like a fiery flood and how it hisses
as _Siegfried_ pours the molten contents of the crucible into a mould
and then plunges the latter into water! The glowing steel lies on the
anvil and _Siegfried_ swings the hammer. With every stroke his joyous
excitement is intensified. At last the work is done. He brandishes the
sword and with one stroke splits the anvil from top to bottom. With
the crash of the Sword Motive, united with the Motive of Siegfried the
Fearless, the orchestra dashes into a furious prestissimo, and
_Siegfried_, shouting with glee, holds aloft the sword!

Act II. The second act opens with a darkly portentous _Vorspiel_. On
the very threshold of it we meet _Fafner_ in his motive, which is so
clearly based on the Giant Motive that there is no necessity for
quoting it. Through themes which are familiar from earlier portions of
the work, the _Vorspiel_ rises to a crashing fortissimo.

The curtain lifts on a thick forest. At the back is the entrance to
_Fafner's_ cave, the lower part of which is hidden by rising ground in
the middle of the stage, which slopes down toward the back. In the
darkness the outlines of a figure are dimly discerned. It is the
Nibelung _Alberich_, haunting the domain which hides the treasures of
which he was despoiled. From the forest comes a gust of wind. A bluish
light gleams from the same direction. _Wotan_, still in the guise of a
Wanderer, enters.

The ensuing scene between _Alberich_ and the _Wanderer_ is, from a
dramatic point of view, episodical. Suffice it to say that the fine
self-poise of _Wotan_ and the maliciously restless character of
_Alberich_ are superbly contrasted. When _Wotan_ has departed the
Nibelung slips into a rocky crevice, where he remains hidden when
_Siegfried_ and _Mime_ enter. _Mime_ endeavours to awaken dread in
_Siegfried's_ heart by describing _Fafner's_ terrible form and powers.
But _Siegfried's_ courage is not weakened. On the contrary, with
heroic impetuosity, he asks to be at once confronted with _Fafner_.
_Mime_, well knowing that _Fafner_ will soon awaken and issue from his
cave to meet _Siegfried_ in mortal combat, lingers on in the hope that
both may fall, until the young Wälsung drives him away.

Now begins a beautiful lyric episode. _Siegfried_ reclines under a
linden-tree, and looks up through the branches. The rustling of the
trees is heard. Over the tremulous whispers of the orchestra--known
from concert programs as the "Waldweben" (forest-weaving)--rises a
lovely variant of the Wälsung Motive. _Siegfried_ is asking himself
how his mother may have looked, and this variant of the theme which
was first heard in "The Valkyr," when _Sieglinde_ told _Siegmund_ that
her home was the home of woe, rises like a memory of her image.
Serenely the sweet strains of the Love-Life Motive soothe his sad
thoughts. _Siegfried_, once more entranced by forest sounds, listens
intently. Birds' voices greet him. A little feathery songster, whose
notes mingle with the rustling leaves of the linden-tree, especially
charms him.

The forest voices--the humming of insects, the piping of the birds,
the amorous quiver of the branches--quicken his half-defined
aspirations. Can the little singer explain his longing? He listens,
but cannot catch the meaning of the song. Perhaps, if he can imitate
it he may understand it. Springing to a stream hard by, he cuts a reed
with his sword and quickly fashions a pipe from it. He blows on it,
but it sounds shrill. He listens again to the birds. He may not be
able to imitate his song on the reed, but on his silver horn he can
wind a woodland tune. Putting the horn to his lips he makes the forest
ring with its notes:

[Music]

The notes of the horn have awakened _Fafner_ who now, in the guise of
a huge serpent or dragon, crawls toward _Siegfried_. Perhaps the less
said about the combat between _Siegfried_ and _Fafner_ the better.
This scene, which seems very spirited in the libretto, is ridiculous
on the stage. To make it effective it should be carried out very far
back--best of all out of sight--so that the magnificent music will
not be marred by the sight of an impossible monster. The music is
highly dramatic. The exultant force of the Motive of Siegfried the
Fearless, which rings out as _Siegfried_ rushes upon _Fafner_, the
crashing chord as the serpent roars when _Siegfried_ buries the sword
in its heart, the rearing, plunging music as the monster rears and
plunges with agony--these are some of the most graphic features of the
score.

_Siegfried_ raises his fingers to his lips and licks the blood from
them. Immediately after the blood has touched his lips he seems to
understand the bird, which has again begun its song, while the forest
voices once more weave their tremulous melody. The bird tells
_Siegfried_ of the ring and helmet and of the other treasures in
_Fafner's_ cave, and _Siegfried_ enters it in quest of them. With his
disappearance the forest-weaving suddenly changes to the harsh,
scolding notes heard in the beginning of the Nibelheim scene in "The
Rhinegold." _Mime_ slinks in and timidly looks about him to make sure
of Fafner's death. At the same time _Alberich_ issues forth from the
crevice in which he was concealed. This scene, in which the two
Nibelungs berate each other, is capitally treated, and its humour
affords a striking contrast to the preceding scenes.

As _Siegfried_ comes out of the cave and brings the ring and helmet
from darkness to the light of day, there are heard the Ring Motive,
the Motive of the Rhinedaughters' Shout of Triumph, and the Rhinegold
Motive. The forest-weaving again begins, and the birds bid the young
Wälsung beware of _Mime_. The dwarf now approaches _Siegfried_ with
repulsive sycophancy. But under a smiling face lurks a plotting heart.
_Siegfried_ is enabled through the supernatural gifts with which he
has become endowed to fathom the purpose of the dwarf, who
unconsciously discloses his scheme to poison _Siegfried_. The young
Wälsung slays _Mime_, who, as he dies, hears _Alberich's_ mocking
laugh. Though the Motive of Siegfried the Fearless predominates at
this point, we also hear the Nibelung Motive and the Motive of the
Curse--indicating _Alberich's_ evil intent toward _Siegfried_.

_Siegfried_ again reclines under the linden. His soul is tremulous
with an undefined longing. As he gazes in almost painful emotion up to
the branches and asks if the bird can tell him where he can find a
friend, his being seems stirred by awakening passion.

The music quickens with an impetuous phrase, which seems to define the
first joyous thrill of passion in the youthful hero. It is the Motive
of =Love's Joy=:

[Music]

It is interrupted by a beautiful variant of the Motive of Love-Life,
which continues until above the forest-weaving the bird again thrills
him with its tale of a glorious maid who has so long slumbered upon
the fire-guarded rock. With the Motive of Love's joy coursing through
the orchestra, _Siegfried_ bids the feathery songster continue, and,
finally, to guide him to _Brünnhilde_. In answer, the bird flutters
from the linden branch, hovers over _Siegfried_, and hesitatingly
flies before him until it takes a definite course toward the
background. _Siegfried_ follows the little singer, the Motive of
Love's joy, succeeded by that of Siegfried the Fearless, bringing the
act to a close.

Act III. The third act opens with a stormy introduction in which the
Motive of the Ride of the Valkyrs accompanies the Motive of the Gods'
Stress, the Compact, and the Erda motives. The introduction reaches
its climax with the =Motive of the Dusk of the Gods=:

[Music]

Then to the sombre, questioning phrase of the Motive of Fate, the
action begins to disclose the significance of this _Vorspiel_. A wild
region at the foot of a rocky mountain is seen. It is night. A fierce
storm rages. In dire distress and fearful that through _Siegfried_ and
_Brünnhilde_ the rulership of the world may pass from the gods to the
human race, _Wotan_ summons _Erda_ from her subterranean dwelling. But
_Erda_ has no counsel for the storm-driven, conscience-stricken god.

The scene reaches its climax in _Wotan's_ noble renunciation of the
empire of the world. Weary of strife, weary of struggling against the
decree of fate, he renounces his sway. Let the era of human love
supplant this dynasty, sweeping away the gods and the Nibelungs in its
mighty current. It is the last defiance of all-conquering fate by the
ruler of a mighty race. After a powerful struggle against irresistible
forces, _Wotan_ comprehends that the twilight of the gods will be the
dawn of a more glorious epoch. A phrase of great dignity gives force
to _Wotan's_ utterances. It is the =Motive of the World's Heritage=:

[Music]

_Siegfried_ enters, guided to the spot by the bird; _Wotan_ checks his
progress with the same spear which shivered _Siegmund's_ sword.
_Siegfried_ must fight his way to _Brünnhilde_. With a mighty blow the
young Wälsung shatters the spear and _Wotan_ disappears 'mid the crash
of the Motive of Compact--for the spear with which it was the chief
god's duty to enforce compacts is shattered. Meanwhile the gleam of
fire has become noticeable. Fiery clouds float down from the mountain.
_Siegfried_ stands at the rim of the magic circle. Winding his horn he
plunges into the seething flames. Around the Motive of Siegfried the
Fearless and the Siegfried Motive flash the Magic Fire and Loge
motives.

The flames, having flashed forth with dazzling brilliancy, gradually
pale before the red glow of dawn till a rosy mist envelops the scene.
When it rises, the rock and _Brünnhilde_ in deep slumber under the
fir-tree, as in the finale of "The Valkyr," are seen. _Siegfried_
appears on the height in the background. As he gazes upon the scene
there are heard the Fate and Slumber motives and then the orchestra
weaves a lovely variant of the Freia Motive. This is followed by the
softly caressing strains of the Fricka Motive. _Fricka_ sought to make
_Wotan_ faithful to her by bonds of love, and hence the Fricka Motive
in this scene does not reflect her personality, but rather the
awakening of the love which is to thrill _Siegfried_ when he has
beheld _Brünnhilde's_ features. As he sees _Brünnhilde's_ charger
slumbering in the grove we hear the Motive of the Valkyr's Ride, and
when his gaze is attracted by the sheen of _Brünnhilde's_ armour, the
theme of Wotan's Farewell. Approaching the armed slumberer under the
fir-tree, _Siegfried_ raises the shield and discloses the figure of
the sleeper, the face being almost hidden by the helmet.

Carefully he loosens the helmet. As he takes it off _Brünnhilde's_
face is disclosed and her long curls flow down over her bosom.
_Siegfried_ gazes upon her enraptured. Drawing his sword he cuts the
rings of mail on both sides, gently lifts off the corselet and
greaves, and _Brünnhilde_, in soft female drapery, lies before him. He
starts back in wonder. Notes of impassioned import--the Motive of
Love's Joy--express the feelings that well up from his heart as for
the first time he beholds a woman. The fearless hero is infused with
fear by a slumbering woman. The Wälsung Motive, afterwards beautifully
varied with the Motive of Love's Joy, accompanies his utterances, the
climax of his emotional excitement being expressed in a majestic
crescendo of the Freia Motive. A sudden feeling of awe gives him at
least the outward appearance of calmness. With the Motive of Fate he
faces his destiny; and then, while the Freia Motive rises like a
vision of loveliness, he sinks over _Brünnhilde_, and with closed eyes
presses his lips to hers.

_Brünnhilde_ awakens. _Siegfried_ starts up. She rises, and with a
noble gesture greets in majestic accents her return to the sight of
earth. Strains of loftier eloquence than those of her greeting have
never been composed. _Brünnhilde_ rises from her magic slumbers in the
majesty of womanhood:

[Music]

With the Motive of Fate she asks who is the hero who has awakened her.
The superb Siegfried Motive gives back the proud answer. In rapturous
phrases they greet one another. It is the =Motive of Love's Greeting=,

[Music]

which unites their voices in impassioned accents until, as if this
motive no longer sufficed to express their ecstasy, it is followed by
the =Motive of Love's Passion=,

[Music]

which, with the Siegfried Motive, rises and falls with the heaving of
_Brünnhilde's_ bosom.

These motives course impetuously through this scene. Here and there we
have others recalling former portions of the cycle--the Wälsung
Motive, when _Brünnhilde_ refers to _Siegfried's_ mother, _Sieglinde_;
the Motive of Brünnhilde's Pleading, when she tells him of her
defiance of _Wotan's_ behest; a variant of the Walhalla Motive when
she speaks of herself in Walhalla; and the Motive of the World's
Heritage, with which _Siegfried_ claims her, this last leading over to
a forceful climax of the Motive of Brünnhilde's Pleading, which is
followed by a lovely, tranquil episode introduced by the =Motive of
Love's Peace=,

[Music]

succeeded by a motive, ardent yet tender--the =Motive of Siegfried the
Protector=:

[Music]

These motives accompany the action most expressively. _Brünnhilde_
still hesitates to cast off for ever the supernatural characteristics
of the Valkyr and give herself up entirely to _Siegfried_. The young
hero's growing ecstasy finds expression in the Motive of Love's Joy.
At last it awakens a responsive note of purely human passion in
_Brünnhilde_ and, answering the proud Siegfried Motive with the
jubilant Shout of the Valkyrs and the ecstatic measures of Love's
Passion, she proclaims herself his.

With a love duet--nothing puny and purring, but rapturous and
proud--the music-drama comes to a close. _Siegfried_, a scion of the
Wälsung race, has won _Brünnhilde_ for his bride, and upon her finger
has placed the ring fashioned of Rhinegold by _Alberich_ in the
caverns of Nibelheim, the abode of the Nibelungs. Clasping her in his
arms and drawing her to his breast, he has felt her splendid physical
being thrill with a passion wholly responsive to his. Will the gods be
saved through them, or does the curse of _Alberich_ still rest on the
ring worn by _Brünnhilde_ as a pledge of love?


GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG

DUSK OF THE GODS

     Music-drama in a prologue and three acts, words and music by
     Richard Wagner. Produced, Bayreuth, August 17, 1876.

     New York, Metropolitan Opera House, January 25, 1888, with
     Lehmann (_Brünnhilde_), Seidl-Kraus (_Gutrune_), Niemann
     (_Siegfried_), Robinson (_Gunther_), and Fischer (_Hagen_).
     Other performances at the Metropolitan Opera House have had,
     among others, Alvary and Jean de Reszke as _Siegfried_ and
     Édouard de Reszke as _Hagen_.

     CHARACTERS

     SIEGFRIED                                       _Tenor_
     GUNTHER                                      _Baritone_
     ALBERICH                                     _Baritone_
     HAGEN                                            _Bass_
     BRÜNNHILDE                                    _Soprano_
     GUTRUNE                                       _Soprano_
     WALTRAUTE                               _Mezzo-Soprano_
     FIRST, SECOND, AND
       THIRD NORN    _Contralto, Mezzo-Soprano, and Soprano_
     WOGLINDE, WELLGUNDE, AND
       FLOSSHILDE               _Sopranos and Mezzo-Soprano_

     Vassals and Women.

     _Time_--Legendary.

     _Place_--On the Brünnhilde-Rock; Gunther's castle on the
     Rhine; wooded district by the Rhine.

THE PROLOGUE

The first scene of the prologue is a weird conference of the three
grey sisters of fate--the _Norns_ who wind the skein of life. They
have met on the Valkyrs' rock and their words forebode the end of the
gods. At last the skein they have been winding breaks--the final
catastrophe is impending.

An orchestral interlude depicts the transition from the unearthly
gloom of the Norn scene to break of day, the climax being reached in a
majestic burst of music as _Siegfried_ and _Brünnhilde_, he in full
armour, she leading her steed by the bridle, issue forth from the
rocky cavern in the background. This climax owes its eloquence to
three motives--that of the Ride of the Valkyrs and two new motives,
the one as lovely as the other is heroic, the =Brünnhilde Motive=,

[Music]

and the =Motive of Siegfried the Hero=:

[Music]

The Brünnhilde Motive expresses the strain of pure, tender womanhood
in the nature of the former Valkyr, and proclaims her womanly ecstasy
over wholly requited love. The motive of Siegfried the Hero is clearly
developed from the motive of Siegfried the Fearless. Fearless youth
has developed into heroic man. In this scene _Brünnhilde_ and
_Siegfried_ plight their troth, and _Siegfried_ having given to
_Brünnhilde_ the fatal ring and having received from her the steed
Grane, which once bore her in her wild course through the
storm-clouds, bids her farewell and sets forth in quest of further
adventure. In this scene, one of Wagner's most beautiful creations,
occur the two new motives already quoted, and a third--the =Motive of
Brünnhilde's Love=.

[Music]

A strong, deep woman's nature has given herself up to love. Her
passion is as strong and deep as her nature. It is not a surface-heat
passion. It is love rising from the depths of a heroic woman's soul.
The grandeur of her ideal of _Siegfried_, her thoughts of him as a
hero winning fame, her pride in his prowess, her love for one whom she
deems the bravest among men, culminate in the Motive of Brünnhilde's
Love.

_Siegfried_ disappears with the steed behind the rocks and
_Brünnhilde_ stands upon the cliff looking down the valley after him;
his horn is heard from below and _Brünnhilde_ with rapturous gesture
waves him farewell. The orchestra accompanies the action with the
Brünnhilde Motive, the Motive of Siegfried the Fearless, and finally
with the theme of the love duet with which "Siegfried" closed.

The curtain then falls, and between the prologue and the first act an
orchestral interlude describes _Siegfried's_ voyage down the Rhine to
the castle of the Gibichungs where dwell _Gunther_, his sister
_Gutrune_, and their half-brother _Hagen_, the son of _Alberich_.
Through _Hagen_ the curse hurled by _Alberich_ in "The Rhinegold" at
all into whose possession the ring shall come, is to be worked out to
the end of its fell purpose--_Siegfried_ betrayed and destroyed and
the rule of the gods brought to an end by _Brünnhilde's_ expiation.

In the interlude between the prologue and the first act we first hear
the brilliant Motive of Siegfried the Fearless and then the gracefully
flowing Motives of the Rhine, and of the Rhinedaughters' Shout of
Triumph with the Motives of the Rhinegold and Ring. _Hagen's_
malevolent plotting, of which we are soon to learn in the first act,
is foreshadowed by the sombre harmonies which suddenly pervade the
music.

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Édouard de Reszke as Hagen in "Götterdämmerung"]

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Jean de Reszke as Siegfried in "Götterdämmerung"]

Act I. On the river lies the hall of the Gibichungs, where house
_Gunther_, his sister _Gutrune_, and _Hagen_, their half-brother.
_Gutrune_ is a maiden of fair mien, _Gunther_ a man of average
strength and courage, _Hagen_ a sinister plotter, large of stature and
sombre of visage. Long he has planned to possess himself of the
ring fashioned of Rhinegold. He is aware that it was guarded by the
dragon, has been taken from the hoard by _Siegfried_, and by him given
to _Brünnhilde_. And now observe the subtle craft with which he
prepares to compass his plans.

A descendant, through his father, _Alberich_, the Nibelung, of a race
which practised the black art, he plots to make _Siegfried_ forget
_Brünnhilde_ through a love-potion to be administered to him by
_Gutrune_. Then, when under the fiery influence of the potion and all
forgetful of _Brünnhilde_, _Siegfried_ demands _Gutrune_ to wife, the
price demanded will be that he win _Brünnhilde_ as bride for
_Gunther_. Before _Siegfried_ comes in sight, before _Gunther_ and
_Gutrune_ so much as even know that he is nearing the hall of the
Gibichungs, _Hagen_ begins to lay the foundation for this seemingly
impossible plot. For it is at this opportune moment _Gunther_ chances
to address him:

"Hark, Hagen, and let your answer be true. Do I head the race of the
Gibichungs with honour?"

"Aye," replies _Hagen_, "and yet, Gunther, you remain unwived while
Gutrune still lacks a husband." Then he tells _Gunther_ of
_Brünnhilde_--"a circle of flame surrounds the rock on which she
dwells, but he who can brave that fire may win her for wife. If
Siegfried does this in your stead, and brings her to you as bride,
will she not be yours?" _Hagen_ craftily conceals from his
half-brother and from _Gutrune_ the fact that _Siegfried_ already has
won _Brünnhilde_ for himself; but having aroused in _Gunther_ the
desire to possess her, he forthwith unfolds his plan and reminds
_Gutrune_ of the magic love-potion which it is in her power to
administer to _Siegfried_.

At the very beginning of this act the Hagen Motive is heard.
Particularly noticeable in it are the first two sharp, decisive
chords. They recur with dramatic force in the third act when _Hagen_
slays _Siegfried_. The =Hagen Motive= is as follows:

[Music]

This is followed by the =Gibichung Motive=, the two motives being
frequently heard in the opening scene.

[Music]

Added to these is the =Motive of the Love-Potion= which is to cause
_Siegfried_ to forget _Brünnhilde_, and conceive a violent passion for
_Gutrune_.

[Music]

Whatever hesitation may have been in _Gutrune's_ mind, because of the
trick which is involved in the plot, vanishes when soon afterwards
_Siegfried's_ horn-call announces his approach from the river, and, as
he brings his boat up to the bank, she sees this hero among men in all
his youthful strength and beauty. She hastily withdraws, to carry out
her part in the plot that is to bind him to her.

The three men remain to parley. _Hagen_ skilfully questions
_Siegfried_ regarding his combat with the dragon. Has he taken nothing
from the hoard?

"Only a ring, which I have left in a woman's keep," answers
_Siegfried_; "and this." He points to a steel network that hangs from
his girdle.

"Ha," exclaims _Hagen_, "the Tarnhelmet! I recognize it as the artful
work of the Nibelungs. Place it on your head and it enables you to
assume any guise." He then flings open a door and on the platform of a
short flight of steps that leads up to it, stands _Gutrune_, in her
hand a drinking-horn which she extends toward _Siegfried_.

"Welcome, guest, to the house of the Gibichungs. A daughter of the
race extends to you this greeting." And so, while _Hagen_ looks grimly
on, the fair _Gutrune_ offers _Siegfried_ the draught that is to
transform his whole nature. Courteously, but without regarding her
with more than friendly interest, _Siegfried_ takes the horn from her
hands and drains it. As if a new element coursed through his veins,
there is a sudden change in his manner. Handing the horn back to her
he regards her with fiery glances, she blushingly lowering her eyes
and withdrawing to the inner apartment. New in this scene is the
=Gutrune Motive=:

[Music]

"Gunther, your sister's name? Have you a wife?" _Siegfried_ asks
excitedly.

"I have set my heart on a woman," replies _Gunther_, "but may not win
her. A far-off rock, fire-encircled, is her home."

"A far-off rock, fire-encircled," repeats _Siegfried_, as if striving
to remember something long forgotten; and when _Gunther_ utters
_Brünnhilde's_ name, _Siegfried_ shows by his mien and gesture that it
no longer signifies aught to him. The love-potion has caused him to
forget her.

"I will press through the circle of flame," he exclaims. "I will seize
her and bring her to you--if you will give me Gutrune for wife."

And so the unhallowed bargain is struck and sealed with the oath of
blood-brotherhood, and _Siegfried_ departs with _Gunther_ to capture
_Brünnhilde_ as bride for the Gibichung. The compact of
blood-brotherhood is a most sacred one. _Siegfried_ and _Gunther_ each
with his sword draws blood from his arm, which he allows to mingle
with wine in a drinking-horn held by _Hagen_; each lays two fingers
upon the horn, and then, having pledged blood-brotherhood, drinks the
blood and wine. This ceremony is significantly introduced by the
Motive of the Curse followed by the Motive of Compact. Phrases of
_Siegfried's_ and _Gunther's_ pledge are set to a new motive whose
forceful simplicity effectively expresses the idea of truth. It is the
=Motive of the Vow=.

[Music]

Abruptly following _Siegfried's_ pledge:

  Thus I drink thee troth,

are those two chords of the Hagen Motive which are heard again in the
third act when the Nibelung has slain _Siegfried_. It should perhaps
be repeated here that _Gunther_ is not aware of the union which
existed between _Brünnhilde_ and _Siegfried_, _Hagen_ having concealed
this from his half-brother, who believes that he will receive the
Valkyr in all her goddess-like virginity.

When _Siegfried_ and _Gunther_ have departed and _Gutrune_, having
sighed her farewell after her lover, has retired, _Hagen_ broods with
wicked glee over the successful inauguration of his plot. During a
brief orchestral interlude a drop-curtain conceals the scene which,
when the curtain again rises, has changed to the Valkyr's rock, where
sits _Brünnhilde_, lost in contemplation of the Ring, while the Motive
of Siegfried the Protector is heard on the orchestra like a blissful
memory of the love scene in "Siegfried."

Her rapturous reminiscences are interrupted by the sounds of an
approaching storm and from the dark cloud there issues one of the
Valkyrs, _Waltraute_, who comes to ask of _Brünnhilde_ that she cast
back the ring _Siegfried_ has given her--the ring cursed by
_Alberich_--into the Rhine, and thus lift the curse from the race of
gods. But _Brünnhilde_ refuses:

     More than Walhalla's welfare,
     More than the good of the gods,
       The ring I guard.

It is dusk. The magic fire rising from the valley throws a glow over
the landscape. The notes of _Siegfried's_ horn are heard. _Brünnhilde_
joyously prepares to meet him. Suddenly she sees a stranger leap
through the flames. It is _Siegfried_, but through the Tarnhelmet (the
motive of which, followed by the Gunther Motive dominates the first
part of the scene) he has assumed the guise of the Gibichung. In vain
_Brünnhilde_ seeks to defend herself with the might which the ring
imparts. She is powerless against the intruder. As he tears the ring
from her finger, the Motive of the Curse resounds with tragic import,
followed by trist echoes of the Motive of Siegfried the Protector and
of the Brünnhilde Motive, the last being succeeded by the Tarnhelmet
Motive expressive of the evil magic which has wrought this change in
_Siegfried_. _Brünnhilde_, in abject recognition of her impotence,
enters the cavern. Before _Siegfried_ follows her he draws his sword
Nothung (Needful) and exclaims:

     Now, Nothung, witness thou, that chaste my wooing is;
     To keep my faith with my brother, separate me from his bride.

Phrases of the pledge of Brotherhood followed by the Brünnhilde,
Gutrune, and Sword motives accompany his words. The thuds of the
typical Nibelung rhythm resound, and lead to the last crashing chord
of this eventful act.

Act II. The ominous Motive of the Nibelung's Malevolence introduces
the second act. The curtain rises upon the exterior of the hall of the
Gibichungs. To the right is the open entrance to the hall, to the left
the bank of the Rhine, from which rises a rocky ascent toward the
background. It is night. _Hagen_, spear in hand and shield at side,
leans in sleep against a pillar of the hall. Through the weird
moonlight _Alberich_ appears. He urges _Hagen_ to murder _Siegfried_
and to seize the ring from his finger. After hearing _Hagen's_ oath
that he will be faithful to the hate he has inherited, _Alberich_
disappears. The weirdness of the surroundings, the monotony of
_Hagen's_ answers, uttered seemingly in sleep, as if, even when the
Nibelung slumbered, his mind remained active, imbue this scene with
mystery.

A charming orchestral interlude depicts the break of day. Its serene
beauty is, however, broken in upon by the =Motive of Hagen's Wicked
Glee=, which I quote, as it frequently occurs in the course of
succeeding events.

[Music]

All night _Hagen_ has watched by the bank of the river for the return
of the men from the quest. It is daylight when _Siegfried_ returns,
tells him of his success, and bids him prepare to receive _Gunther_
and _Brünnhilde_. On his finger he wears the ring--the ring made of
Rhinegold, and cursed by _Alberich_--the same with which he pledged
his troth to _Brünnhilde_, but which in the struggle of the night, and
disguised by the Tarnhelmet as _Gunther_, he has torn from her
finger--the very ring the possession of which _Hagen_ craves, and for
which he is plotting. _Gutrune_ has joined them. _Siegfried_ leads her
into the hall.

_Hagen_, placing an ox-horn to his lips, blows a loud call toward the
four points of the compass, summoning the Gibichung vassals to the
festivities attending the double wedding--_Siegfried_ and _Gutrune_,
_Gunther_ and _Brünnhilde_; and when the Gibichung brings his boat up
to the bank, the shore is crowded with men who greet him boisterously,
while _Brünnhilde_ stands there pale and with downcast eyes. But as
_Siegfried_ leads _Gutrune_ forward to meet _Gunther_ and his bride,
and _Gunther_ calls _Siegfried_ by name, _Brünnhilde_ starts, raises
her eyes, stares at _Siegfried_ in amazement, drops _Gunther's_ hand,
advances, as if by sudden impulse, a step toward the man who awakened
her from her magic slumber on the rock, then recoils in horror, her
eyes fixed upon him, while all look on in wonder. The Motive of
Siegfried the Hero, the Sword Motive, and the Chords of the Hagen
Motive emphasize with a tumultuous crash the dramatic significance of
the situation. There is a sudden hush--_Brünnhilde_ astounded and
dumb, _Siegfried_ unconscious of guilt quietly self-possessed,
_Gunther_, _Gutrune_, and the vassals silent with amazement--it is
during this moment of tension that we hear the motive which expresses
the thought uppermost in _Brünnhilde_, the thought which would find
expression in a burst of frenzy were not her wrath held in check by
her inability to quite grasp the meaning of the situation or to
fathom the depth of the treachery of which she has been the victim.
This is the =Motive of Vengeance=:

[Music]

"What troubles Brünnhilde?" composedly asks _Siegfried_, from whom all
memory of his first meeting with the rock maiden and his love for her
have been effaced by the potion. Then, observing that she sways and is
about to fall, he supports her with his arm.

"Siegfried knows me not!" she whispers faintly, as she looks up into
his face.

"There stands your husband," is _Siegfried's_ reply, as he points to
_Gunther_. The gesture discloses to _Brünnhilde's_ sight the ring upon
his finger, the ring he gave her, and which to her horror _Gunther_,
as she supposed, had wrested from her. In the flash of its precious
metal she sees the whole significance of the wretched situation in
which she finds herself, and discovers the intrigue, the trick, of
which she has been the victim. She knows nothing, however, of the
treachery _Hagen_ is plotting, or of the love-potion that has aroused
in _Siegfried_ an uncontrollable passion to possess _Gutrune_, has
caused him to forget her, and led him to win her for _Gunther_. There
at _Gutrune's_ side, and about to wed her, stands the man she loves.
To _Brünnhilde_, infuriated with jealousy, her pride wounded to the
quick, _Siegfried_ appears simply to have betrayed her to _Gunther_
through infatuation for another woman.

"The ring," she cries out, "was taken from me by that man," pointing
to _Gunther_. "How came it on your finger? Or, if it is not the
ring"--again she addresses _Gunther_--"where is the one you tore from
my hand?"

_Gunther_, knowing nothing about the ring, plainly is perplexed. "Ha,"
cries out _Brünnhilde_ in uncontrollable rage, "then it was Siegfried
disguised as you and not you yourself who won it from me! Know then,
Gunther, that you, too, have been betrayed by him. For this man who
would wed your sister, and as part of the price bring me to you as
bride, was wedded to me!"

In all but _Hagen_ and _Siegfried_, _Brünnhilde's_ words arouse
consternation. _Hagen_, noting their effect on _Gunther_, from whom he
craftily has concealed _Siegfried's_ true relation to _Brünnhilde_,
sees in the episode an added opportunity to mould the Gibichung to his
plan to do away with _Siegfried_. The latter, through the effect of
the potion, is rendered wholly unconscious of the truth of what
_Brünnhilde_ has said. He even has forgotten that he ever has parted
with the ring, and, when the men, jealous of _Gunther's_ honour, crowd
about him, and _Gunther_ and _Gutrune_ in intense excitement wait on
his reply, he calmly proclaims that he found it among the dragon's
treasure and never has parted with it. To the truth of this assertion,
to a denial of all _Brünnhilde_ has accused him of, he announces
himself ready to swear at the point of any spear which is offered for
the oath, the strongest manner in which the asseveration can be made
and, in the belief of the time, rendering his death certain at the
point of that very spear should he swear falsely.

How eloquent the music of these exciting scenes!--Crashing chords of
the Ring Motive followed by that of the Curse, as _Brünnhilde_
recognizes the ring on _Siegfried's_ finger, the Motive of Vengeance,
the Walhalla Motive, as she invokes the gods to witness her
humiliation, the touchingly pathetic Motive of Brünnhilde's Pleading,
as she vainly strives to awaken fond memories in _Siegfried_; then
again the Motive of Vengeance, as the oath is about to be taken, the
Murder Motive and the Hagen Motive at the taking of the oath, for the
spear is _Hagen's_; and in _Brünnhilde's_ asseveration, the Valkyr
music coursing through the orchestra.

It is _Hagen_ who offers his weapon for the oath. "Guardian of honour,
hallowed weapon," swears _Siegfried_, "where steel can pierce me,
there pierce me; where death can be dealt me, there deal it me, if
ever I was wed to Brünnhilde, if ever I have wronged Gutrune's
brother."

At his words, _Brünnhilde_, livid with rage, strides into the circle
of men, and thrusting _Siegfried's_ fingers away from the spearhead,
lays her own upon it.

"Guardian of honour, hallowed weapon," she cries, "I dedicate your
steel to his destruction. I bless your point that it may blight him.
For broken are all his oaths, and perjured now he proves himself."

_Siegfried_ shrugs his shoulders. To him _Brünnhilde's_ imprecations
are but the ravings of an overwrought brain. "Gunther, look to your
lady. Give the tameless mountain maid time to rest and recover," he
calls out to Gutrune's brother. "And now, men, follow us to table, and
make merry at our wedding feast!" Then with a laugh and in highest
spirits, he throws his arm about _Gutrune_ and draws her after him
into the hall, the vassals and women following them.

But _Brünnhilde_, _Hagen_, and _Gunther_ remain behind; _Brünnhilde_
half stunned at sight of the man with whom she has exchanged troth,
gaily leading another to marriage, as though his vows had been mere
chaff; _Gunther_, suspicious that his honour wittingly has been
betrayed by _Siegfried_, and that _Brünnhilde's_ words are true;
_Hagen_, in whose hands _Gunther_ is like clay, waiting the
opportunity to prompt both _Brünnhilde_ and his half-brother to
vengeance.

"Coward," cries _Brünnhilde_ to _Gunther_, "to hide behind another in
order to undo me! Has the race of the Gibichungs fallen so low in
prowess?"

"Deceiver, and yet deceived! Betrayer, and yet myself betrayed," wails
_Gunther_. "Hagen, wise one, have you no counsel?"

"No counsel," grimly answers _Hagen_, "save Siegfried's death."

"His death!"

"Aye, all these things demand his death."

"But, Gutrune, to whom I gave him, how would we stand with her if we
so avenged ourselves?" For even in his injured pride _Gunther_ feels
that he has had a share in what _Siegfried_ has done.

But _Hagen_ is prepared with a plan that will free _Gunther_ and
himself of all accusation. "Tomorrow," he suggests, "we will go on a
great hunt. As Siegfried boldly rushes ahead we will fell him from the
rear, and give out that he was killed by a wild boar."

"So be it," exclaims _Brünnhilde_; "let his death atone for the shame
he has wrought me. He has violated his oath; he shall die!"

At that moment as they turn toward the hall, he whose death they have
decreed, a wreath of oak on his brow and leading _Gutrune_, whose hair
is bedecked with flowers, steps out on the threshold as though
wondering at their delay and urges them to enter. _Gunther_, taking
_Brünnhilde_ by the hand, follows him in. _Hagen_ alone remains
behind, and with a look of grim triumph watches them as they disappear
within. And so, although the valley of the Rhine re-echoes with glad
sounds, it is the Murder Motive that brings the act to a close.

Act III. How picturesque the _mise-en-scène_ of this act--a clearing
in the forest primeval near a spot where the bank of the Rhine slopes
toward the river. On the shore, above the stream, stands _Siegfried_.
Baffled in the pursuit of game, he is looking for _Gunther_, _Hagen_,
and his other comrades of the hunt, in order to join them.

One of the loveliest scenes of the trilogy now ensues. The
_Rhinedaughters_ swim up to the bank and, circling gracefully in the
current of the river, endeavour to coax from him the ring of
Rhinegold. It is an episode full of whimsical badinage and, if
anything, more charming even than the opening of "Rhinegold."

_Siegfried_ refuses to give up the ring. The _Rhinedaughters_ swim off
leaving him to his fate.

Here is the principal theme of their song in this scene:

[Music]

Distant hunting-horns are heard. _Gunther_, _Hagen_, and their
attendants gradually assemble and encamp themselves. _Hagen_ fills a
drinking-horn and hands it to _Siegfried_ whom he persuades to relate
the story of his life. This _Siegfried_ does in a wonderfully
picturesque, musical, and dramatic story in which motives, often heard
before, charm us anew.

In the course of his narrative he refreshes himself by a draught from
the drinking-horn into which meanwhile _Hagen_ has pressed the juice
of an herb. Through this the effect of the love-potion is so far
counteracted that tender memories of _Brünnhilde_ well up within him
and he tells with artless enthusiasm how he penetrated the circle of
flame about the Valkyr, found _Brünnhilde_ slumbering there, awoke her
with his kiss, and won her. _Gunther_ springs up aghast at this
revelation. Now he knows that _Brünnhilde's_ accusation is true.

Two ravens fly overhead. As _Siegfried_ turns to look after them the
Motive of the Curse resounds and _Hagen_ plunges his spear into the
young hero's back. _Gunther_ and the vassals throw themselves upon
_Hagen_. The Siegfried Motive, cut short with a crashing chord, the
two murderous chords of the Hagen Motive forming the bass--and
_Siegfried_, who with a last effort has heaved his shield aloft to
hurl it at _Hagen_, lets it fall, and, collapsing, drops upon it. So
overpowered are the witnesses--even _Gunther_--by the suddenness and
enormity of the crime that, after a few disjointed exclamations, they
gather, bowed with grief, around _Siegfried_. _Hagen_, with stony
indifference turns away and disappears over the height.

With the fall of the last scion of the Wälsung race we hear a new
motive, simple yet indescribably fraught with sorrow, the =Death
Motive=.

[Music]

_Siegfried_, supported by two men, rises to a sitting posture, and
with a strange rapture gleaming in his glance, intones his death-song.
It is an ecstatic greeting to _Brünnhilde_. "Brünnhilde!" he exclaims,
"thy wakener comes to wake thee with his kiss." The ethereal harmonies
of the Motive of Brünnhilde's Awakening, the Motive of Fate, the
Siegfried Motive swelling into the Motive of Love's Greeting and dying
away through the Motive of Love's Passion to Siegfried's last
whispered accents--"Brünnhilde beckons to me"--in the Motive of
Fate--and _Siegfried_ sinks back in death.

Full of pathos though this episode be, it but brings us to the
threshold of a scene of such overwhelming power that it may without
exaggeration be singled out as the supreme musico-dramatic climax of
all that Wagner wrought, indeed of all music. _Siegfried's_ last
ecstatic greeting to his Valkyr bride has made us realize the
blackness of the treachery which tore the young hero and _Brünnhilde_
asunder and led to his death; and now as we are bowed down with a
grief too deep for utterance--like the grief with which a nation
gathers at the grave of its noblest hero--Wagner voices for us, in
music of overwhelmingly tragic power, feelings which are beyond
expression in human speech. This is not a "funeral march," as it is
often absurdly called--it is the awful mystery of death itself
expressed in music.

Motionless with grief the men gather around _Siegfried's_ corpse.
Night falls. The moon casts a pale, sad light over the scene. At the
silent bidding of _Gunther_ the vassals raise the body and bear it in
solemn procession over the rocky height. Meanwhile with majestic
solemnity the orchestra voices the funeral oration of the "world's
greatest hero." One by one, but tragically interrupted by the Motive
of Death, we hear the motives which tell the story of the Wälsungs'
futile struggle with destiny--the Wälsung Motive, the Motive of the
Wälsungs' Heroism, the Motive of Sympathy, and the Love Motive, the
Sword Motive, the Siegfried Motive, and the Motive of Siegfried the
Hero, around which the Death Motive swirls and crashes like a black,
death-dealing, all-wrecking flood, forming an overwhelmingly powerful
climax that dies away into the Brünnhilde Motive with which, as with a
heart-broken sigh, the heroic dirge is brought to a close.

Meanwhile the scene has changed to the Hall of the Gibichungs as in
the first act. _Gutrune_ is listening through the night for some
sound which may announce the return of the hunt.

Men and women bearing torches precede in great agitation the funeral
train. _Hagen_ grimly announces to _Gutrune_ that _Siegfried_ is dead.
Wild with grief she overwhelms _Gunther_ with violent accusations. He
points to _Hagen_ whose sole reply is to demand the ring as spoil.
_Gunther_ refuses. _Hagen_ draws his sword and after a brief combat
slays _Gunther_. He is about to snatch the ring from _Siegfried's_
finger, when the corpse's hand suddenly raises itself threateningly,
and all--even _Hagen_--fall back in consternation.

_Brünnhilde_ advances solemnly from the back. While watching on the
bank of the Rhine she has learned from the _Rhinedaughters_ the
treachery of which she and _Siegfried_ have been the victims. Her mien
is ennobled by a look of tragic exaltation. To her the grief of
_Gutrune_ is but the whining of a child. When the latter realizes that
it was _Brünnhilde_ whom she caused _Siegfried_ to forget through the
love-potion, she falls fainting over _Gunther's_ body. _Hagen_ leaning
on his spear is lost in gloomy brooding.

_Brünnhilde_ turns solemnly to the men and women and bids them erect a
funeral pyre. The orchestral harmonies shimmer with the Magic Fire
Motive through which courses the Motive of the Ride of the Valkyrs.
Then, her countenance transfigured by love, she gazes upon her dead
hero and apostrophizes his memory in the Motive of Love's Greeting.
From him she looks upward and in the Walhalla Motive and the Motive of
Brünnhilde's Pleading passionately inveighs against the injustice of
the gods. The Curse Motive is followed by a wonderfully beautiful
combination of the Walhalla Motive and the Motive of the Gods' Stress
at _Brünnhilde's_ words:

  Rest thee! Rest thee! O, God!

For with the fading away of Walhalla, and the inauguration of the
reign of human love in place of that of lust and greed--a change to be
wrought by the approaching expiation of _Brünnhilde_ for the crimes
which began with the wresting of the Rhinegold from the
_Rhinedaughters_--_Wotan's_ stress will be at an end. _Brünnhilde_,
having told in the graceful, rippling Rhine music how she learned of
_Hagen's_ treachery through the _Rhinedaughters_, places upon her
finger the ring. Then turning toward the pyre upon which _Siegfried's_
body rests, she snatches a huge firebrand from one of the men, and
flings it upon the pyre, which kindles brightly. As the moment of her
immolation approaches the Motive of Expiation begins to dominate the
scene.

_Brünnhilde_ mounts her Valkyr charger, Grane, who oft bore her
through the clouds, while lightning flashed and thunder reverberated.
With one leap the steed bears her into the blazing pyre.

The Rhine overflows. Borne on the flood, the _Rhinedaughters_ swim to
the pyre and draw, from _Brünnhilde's_ finger, the ring. _Hagen_,
seeing the object of all his plotting in their possession, plunges
after them. Two of them encircle him with their arms and draw him down
with them into the flood. The third holds up the ring in triumph.

In the heavens is perceived a deep glow. It is Götterdämmerung--the
dusk of the gods. An epoch has come to a close. Walhalla is in flames.
Once more its stately motive resounds, only to crumble, like a ruin,
before the onsweeping power of the motive of expiation. The Siegfried
Motive with a crash in the orchestra; once more then the Motive of
Expiation. The sordid empire of the gods has passed away. A new era,
that of human love, has dawned through the expiation of _Brünnhilde_.
As in "The Flying Dutchman" and "Tannhäuser," it is through woman that
comes redemption.


TRISTAN UND ISOLDE

TRISTAN AND ISOLDE

     Music-drama in three acts, words and music by Richard
     Wagner, who calls the work, "eine Handlung" (an action).
     Produced, under the direction of Hans von Bülow, Munich,
     June 10, 1865. First London production, June 20, 1882.
     Produced, December 1, 1886, with Anton Seidl as conductor,
     at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, with Niemann
     (_Tristan_), Fischer (_King Marke_), Lehmann (_Isolde_),
     Robinson (_Kurwenal_), von Milde (_Melot_), Brandt
     (_Brangäne_), Kemlitz (a _Shepherd_), Alvary (a _Sailor_),
     Sänger (a _Helmsman_). Jean de Reszke is accounted the
     greatest _Tristan_ heard at the Metropolitan. Nordica,
     Ternina, Fremstad, and Gadski are other _Isoldes_, who have
     been heard at that house. Édouard de Reszke sang _King
     Marke_, and Bispham _Kurwenal_.

     CHARACTERS

     TRISTAN, a Cornish knight, nephew to KING MARKE _Tenor_
     KING MARKE, of Cornwall                          _Bass_
     ISOLDE, an Irish princess                     _Soprano_
     KURWENAL, one of TRISTAN'S retainers         _Baritone_
     MELOT, a courtier                            _Baritone_
     BRANGÄNE, ISOLDE'S attendant            _Mezzo-Soprano_
     A SHEPHERD                                      _Tenor_
     A SAILOR                                        _Tenor_
     A HELMSMAN                                   _Baritone_

     Sailors, Knights, Esquires, and Men-at-Arms.

     _Time_--Legendary.

     _Place_--A ship at sea; outside _King Marke's_ palace,
     Cornwall; the platform at Kareol, _Tristan's_ castle.

Wagner was obliged to remodel the "Tristan" legend thoroughly before
it became available for a modern drama. He has shorn it of all
unnecessary incidents and worked over the main episodes into a
concise, vigorous, swiftly moving drama, admirably adapted for the
stage. He shows keen dramatic insight in the manner in which he adapts
the love-potion of the legends to his purpose. In the legends the love
of Tristan and Isolde is merely "chemical"--entirely the result of the
love-philtre. Wagner, however, presents them from the outset as
enamoured of one another, so that the potion simply quickens a passion
already active.

To the courtesy of G. Schirmer, Inc., publishers of my _Wagner's
Music-Dramas Analysed_, I am indebted, as I have already stated
elsewhere, for permission to use material from that book. I have there
placed a brief summary of the story of "Tristan and Isolde" before the
descriptive account of the "book" and music, and, accordingly do so
here.

In the Wagnerian version the plot is briefly as follows: _Tristan_,
having lost his parents in infancy, has been reared at the court of
his uncle, _Marke_, King of Cornwall. He has slain in combat Morold,
an Irish knight, who had come to Cornwall, to collect the tribute that
country had been paying to Ireland. Morold was affianced to his cousin
_Isolde_, daughter of the Irish king. _Tristan_, having been
dangerously wounded in the combat, places himself, without disclosing
his identity, under the care of Morold's affianced, _Isolde_, who
comes of a race skilled in magic arts. She discerns who he is; but,
although she is aware that she is harbouring the slayer of her
affianced, she spares him and carefully tends him, for she has
conceived a deep passion for him. _Tristan_ also becomes enamoured of
her, but both deem their love unrequited. Soon after _Tristan's_
return to Cornwall, he is dispatched to Ireland by _Marke_, that he
may win _Isolde_ as Queen for the Cornish king.

The music-drama opens on board the vessel in which _Tristan_ bears
_Isolde_ to Cornwall. Deeming her love for _Tristan_ unrequited she
determines to end her sorrow by quaffing a death-potion; and
_Tristan_, feeling that the woman he loves is about to be wedded to
another, readily consents to share it with her. But _Brangäne_,
_Isolde's_ companion, substitutes a love-potion for the death-draught.
This rouses their love to resistless passion. Not long after they
reach Cornwall, they are surprised in the castle garden by the King
and his suite, and _Tristan_ is severely wounded by _Melot_, one of
_Marke's_ knights. _Kurwenal_, _Tristan's_ faithful retainer, bears
him to his native place, Kareol. Hither _Isolde_ follows him, arriving
in time to fold him in her arms as he expires. She breathes her last
over his corpse.

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Nordica as Isolde]

THE VORSPIEL

All who have made a study of opera, and do not regard it merely as a
form of amusement, are agreed that the score of "Tristan and Isolde"
is the greatest setting of a love story for the lyric stage. In fact
to call it a love story seems a slight. It is a tale of tragic
passion, culminating in death, unfolded in the surge and palpitation
of immortal music.

This passion smouldered in the heart of the man and woman of this epic
of love. It could not burst into clear flame because over it lay the
pall of duty--a knight's to his king, a wife's to her husband. They
elected to die; drank, as they thought, a death potion. Instead it was
a magic love-philtre, craftily substituted by the woman's confidante.
Then love, no longer vague and hesitating, but roused by sorcerous
means to the highest rapture, found expression in the complete
abandonment of the lovers to their ecstasy--and their fate.

What precedes the draught of the potion in the drama, is narrative,
explanatory and prefatorial. Once _Tristan_ and _Isolde_ have shared
the goblet, passion is unleashed. The goal is death.

The magic love-philtre is the excitant in this story of rapture and
gloom. The _Vorspiel_ therefore opens most fittingly with a motive
which expresses the incipient effect of the potion upon _Tristan_ and
_Isolde_. It clearly can be divided into two parts, one descending,
the other ascending chromatically. The potion overcomes the
restraining influence of duty in two beings and leaves them at the
mercy of their passions. The first part, with its descending
chromatics, is pervaded by a certain trist mood, as if _Tristan_ were
still vaguely forewarned by his conscience of the impending tragedy.
The second soars ecstatically upward. It is the woman yielding
unquestioningly to the rapture of requited love. Therefore, while the
phrase may be called the Motive of the Love-Potion, or, as Wolzogen
calls it, of Yearning, it seems best to divide it into the =Tristan and
Isolde Motives= (A and B).

[Music]

The two motives having been twice repeated, there is a fermate. Then
the Isolde Motive alone is heard, so that the attention of the hearer
is fixed upon it. For in this tragedy, as in that of Eden, it is the
woman who takes the first decisive step. After another fermate, the
last two notes of the Isolde Motive are twice repeated, dying away to
_pp_. Then a variation of the Isolde Motive

[Music]

leads with an impassioned upward sweep into another version, full of
sensuous yearning, and distinct enough to form a new Motive, the
=Motive of the Love Glance=.

[Music]

This occurs again and again in the course of the _Vorspiel_. Though
readily recognized, it is sufficiently varied with each repetition
never to allow the emotional excitement to subside. In fact, the
_Vorspiel_ gathers impetus as it proceeds, until, with an inversion of
the Love Glance Motive, borne to a higher and higher level of
exaltation by upward rushing runs, it reaches its climax in a paroxysm
of love, to die away with repetitions of the Tristan, the Isolde, and
the Love Glance motives.

[Music]

In the themes it employs this prelude tells, in music, the story of
the love of _Tristan_ and _Isolde_. We have the motives of the hero
and heroine of the drama, and the Motive of the Love Glance. When as
is the case in concerts, the finale of the work, "Isolde's
Love-Death," is linked to the _Vorspiel_, we are entrusted with the
beginning and the end of the music-drama, forming an eloquent epitome
of the tragic story.

Act I. Wagner wisely refrains from actually placing before us on the
stage, the events that transpired in Ireland before _Tristan_ was
despatched thither to bring _Isolde_ as a bride to _King Marke_. The
events, which led to the two meetings between _Tristan_ and _Isolde_,
are told in _Isolde's_ narrative, which forms an important part of the
first act. This act opens aboard the vessel in which _Tristan_ is
conveying _Isolde_ to Cornwall.

The opening scene shows _Isolde_ reclining on a couch, her face hid in
soft pillows, in a tent-like apartment on the forward deck of a
vessel. It is hung with rich tapestries, which hide the rest of the
ship from view. _Brangäne_ has partially drawn aside one of the
hangings and is gazing out upon the sea. From above, as though from
the rigging, is heard the voice of a young _Sailor_ singing a farewell
song to his "Irish maid." It has a wild charm and is a capital example
of Wagner's skill in giving local colouring to his music. The words,
"Frisch weht der Wind der Heimath zu" (The wind blows freshly toward
our home) are sung to a phrase which occurs frequently in the course
of this scene. It represents most graphically the heaving of the sea
and may be appropriately termed the Ocean Motive. It undulates
gracefully through _Brangäne's_ reply to _Isolde's_ question as to the
vessel's course, surges wildly around _Isolde's_ outburst of impotent
anger when she learns that Cornwall's shore is not far distant, and
breaks itself in savage fury against her despairing wrath as she
invokes the elements to destroy the ship and all upon it. =Ocean
Motive.=

[Music]

It is her hopeless passion for _Tristan_ which has prostrated
_Isolde_, for the Motive of the Love Glance accompanies her first
exclamation as she starts up excitedly.

_Isolde_ calls upon _Brangäne_ to throw aside the hangings, that she
may have air. _Brangäne_ obeys. The deck of the ship, and, beyond it,
the ocean, are disclosed. Around the mainmast sailors are busy
splicing ropes. Beyond them, on the after deck, are knights and
esquires. A little aside from them stands _Tristan_, gazing out upon
the sea. At his feet reclines _Kurwenal_, his esquire. The young
sailor's voice is again heard.

_Isolde_ beholds _Tristan_. Her wrath at the thought that he whom she
loves is bearing her as bride to another vents itself in a vengeful
phrase. She invokes death upon him. This phrase is the =Motive of
Death=.

[Music]

The Motive of the Love Glance is heard--and gives away _Isolde's_
secret--as she asks _Brangäne_ in what estimation she holds _Tristan_.
It develops into a triumphant strain as _Brangäne_ sings his praises.
_Isolde_ then bids her command _Tristan_ to come into her presence.
This command is given with the Motive of Death, for it is their mutual
death _Isolde_ wishes to compass. As _Brangäne_ goes to do her
mistress's bidding, a graceful variation of the Ocean Motive is heard,
the bass marking the rhythmic motions of the sailors at the ropes.
_Tristan_ refuses to leave the helm and when _Brangäne_ repeats
_Isolde's_ command, _Kurwenal_ answers in deft measures in praise of
_Tristan_. Knights, esquires, and sailors repeat the refrain. The
boisterous measures--"Hail to our brave Tristan!"--form the =Tristan
Call=.

[Music: Heil unser Held Tristan,]

_Isolde's_ wrath at _Kurwenal's_ taunts find vent in a narrative in
which she tells _Brangäne_ that once a wounded knight calling himself
Tantris landed on Ireland's shore to seek her healing art. Into a
niche in his sword she fitted a sword splinter she had found imbedded
in the head of Morold, which had been sent to her in mockery after he
had been slain in a combat with the Cornish foe. She brandished the
sword over the knight, whom thus by his weapon she knew to be
_Tristan_, her betrothed's slayer. But _Tristan's_ glance fell upon
her. Under its spell she was powerless. She nursed him back to health,
and he vowed eternal gratitude as he left her. The chief theme of this
narrative is derived from the Tristan Motive.

[Music]

     What of the boat, so bare, so frail,
     That drifted to our shore?
     What of the sorely stricken man feebly extended there?
     Isolde's art he humbly sought;
     With balsam, herbs, and healing salves,
     From wounds that laid him low,
     She nursed him back to strength.

Exquisite is the transition of the phrase "His eyes in mine were
gazing," to the Isolde and Love Glance motives. The passage beginning:
"Who silently his life had spared," is followed by the Tristan Call,
_Isolde_ seeming to compare sarcastically what she considers his
betrayal of her with his fame as a hero. Her outburst of wrath as she
inveighs against his treachery in now bearing her as bride to _King
Marke_, carries the narrative to a superb climax. _Brangäne_ seeks to
comfort _Isolde_, but the latter, looking fixedly before her,
confides, almost involuntarily, her love for _Tristan_.

It is clear, even from this brief description, with what constantly
varying expression the narrative of Isolde is treated. Wrath, desire
for vengeance, rapturous memories that cannot be dissembled, finally a
confession of love to _Brangäne_--such are the emotions that surge to
the surface.

They lead _Brangäne_ to exclaim: "Where lives the man who would not
love you?" Then she weirdly whispers of the love-potion and takes a
phial from a golden salver. The motives of the Love Glance and of the
Love-Potion accompany her words and action. But _Isolde_ seizes
another phial, which she holds up triumphantly. It is the
death-potion. Here is heard an ominous phrase of three notes--the
=Motive of Fate=.

[Music]

A forceful orchestral climax, in which the demons of despairing wrath
seem unleashed, is followed by the cries of the sailors greeting the
sight of the land, where she is to be married to _King Marke_.
_Isolde_ hears them with growing terror. _Kurwenal_ brusquely calls to
her and _Brangäne_ to prepare soon to go ashore. _Isolde_ orders
_Kurwenal_ that he command _Tristan_ to come into her presence; then
bids _Brangäne_ prepare the death-potion. The Death Motive accompanies
her final commands to _Kurwenal_ and _Brangäne_, and the Fate Motive
also drones threatfully through the weird measures. But _Brangäne_
artfully substitutes the love-potion for the death-draught.

_Kurwenal_ announces _Tristan's_ approach. _Isolde_, seeking to
control her agitation, strides to the couch, and, supporting herself
by it, gazes fixedly at the entrance where _Tristan_ remains
standing. The motive which announces his appearance is full of tragic
defiance, as if _Tristan_ felt that he stood upon the threshold of
death, yet was ready to meet his fate unflinchingly. It alternates
effectively with the Fate Motive, and is used most dramatically
throughout the succeeding scene between _Tristan_ and _Isolde_.
Sombrely impressive is the passage when he bids _Isolde_ slay him with
the sword she once held over him.

     If so thou didst love thy lord,
     Lift once again this sword,
     Thrust with it, nor refrain,
     Lest the weapon fall again.

Shouts of the sailors announce the proximity of land. In a variant of
her narrative theme _Isolde_ mockingly anticipates _Tristan's_ praise
of her as he leads her into _King Marke's_ presence. At the same time
she hands him the goblet which contains, as she thinks, the
death-potion and invites him to quaff it. Again the shouts of the
sailors are heard, and _Tristan_, seizing the goblet, raises it to his
lips with the ecstasy of one from whose soul a great sorrow is about
to be lifted. When he has half emptied it, _Isolde_ wrests it from him
and drains it.

The tremor that passes over _Isolde_ loosens her grasp upon the
goblet. It falls from her hand. She faces _Tristan_.

Is the weird light in their eyes the last upflare of passion before
the final darkness? What does the music answer as it enfolds them in
its wondrous harmonies? The Isolde Motive;--then what? Not the glassy
stare of death; the Love Glance, like a swift shaft of light
penetrating the gloom. The spell is broken. _Isolde_ sinks into
_Tristan's_ embrace.

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Lilli Lehmann as Isolde]

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Jean de Reszke as Tristan]

Voices! They hear them not. Sailors are shouting with joy that the
voyage is over. Upon the lovers all sounds are lost, save their own
short, quick interchange of phrases, in which the rapture of their
passion, at last uncovered, finds speech. Music surges about them. But
for _Brangäne_ they would be lost. It is she who parts them, as the
hangings are thrust aside.

Knights, esquires, sailors crowd the deck. From a rocky height _King
Marke's_ castle looks down upon the ship, now riding at anchor in the
harbour. Peace and joy everywhere save in the lovers' breasts!
_Isolde_ faints in _Tristan's_ arms. Yet it is a triumphant climax of
the Isolde Motive that is heard above the jubilation of the ship-folk,
as the act comes to a close.

Act II. This act also has an introduction, which together with the
first scene between _Isolde_ and _Brangäne_, constitutes a wonderful
mood picture in music. Even Wagner's bitterest critic, Edward
Hanslick, of Vienna, was forced to compare it with the loveliest
creations of Schubert, in which that composer steeps the senses in
dreams of night and love.

And so, this introduction of the second act opens with a motive of
peculiar significance. During the love scene in the previous act,
_Tristan_ and _Isolde_ have inveighed against the day which jealously
keeps them apart. They may meet only under the veil of darkness. Even
then their joy is embittered by the thought that the blissful night
will soon be succeeded by day. With them, therefore, the day stands
for all that is inimical, night for all that is friendly. This simile
is elaborated with considerable metaphysical subtlety, the lovers even
reproaching the day with _Tristan's_ willingness to lead _Isolde_ to
_King Marke_, _Tristan_ charging that in the broad light of the
jealous day his duty to win _Isolde_ for his king stood forth so
clearly as to overpower the passion for her which he had nurtured
during the silent watches of the night. The phrase, therefore, which
begins the act as with an agonized cry is the =Day Motive=.

[Music]

The Day Motive is followed by a phrase whose eager, restless measures
graphically reflect the impatience with which _Isolde_ awaits the
coming of _Tristan_--the =Motive of Impatience=.

[Music]

Over this there hovers a dulcet, seductive strain, the =Motive of the
Love Call=, which is developed into the rapturous measures of the
=Motive of Ecstasy=.

[Music]

When the curtain rises, the scene it discloses is the palace garden,
into which _Isolde's_ apartments open. It is a summer night, balmy
and with a moon. The _King_ and his suite have departed on a hunt.
With them is _Melot_, a knight who professes devotion to _Tristan_,
but whom _Brangäne_ suspects.

_Brangäne_ stands upon the steps leading to _Isolde's_ apartment. She
is looking down a bosky _allée_ in the direction taken by the hunt.
This silently gliding, uncanny creature, the servitor of sin in
others, is uneasy. She fears the hunt is but a trap; and that its
quarry is not the wild deer, but her mistress and the knight, who
conveyed her for bride to _King Marke_.

Meanwhile against the open door of _Isolde's_ apartment is a burning
torch. Its flare through the night is to be the signal to _Tristan_
that all is well, and that _Isolde_ waits.

The first episode of the act is one of those exquisite tone paintings
in the creation of which Wagner is supreme. The notes of the
hunting-horns become more distant. _Isolde_ enters from her apartment
into the garden. She asks _Brangäne_ if she cannot now signal for
_Tristan_. _Brangäne_ answers that the hunt is still within hearing.
_Isolde_ chides her--is it not some lovely, prattling rill she hears?
The music is deliciously idyllic--conjuring up a dream-picture of a
sylvan spring night bathed in liquescent moonlight. _Brangäne_ warns
_Isolde_ against _Melot_; but _Isolde_ laughs at her fears. In vain
_Brangäne_ entreats her mistress not to signal for _Tristan_. The
seductive measures of the Love Call and of the Motive of Ecstasy tell
throughout this scene of the yearning in _Isolde's_ breast. When
_Brangäne_ informs _Isolde_ that she substituted the love-potion for
the death-draught, _Isolde_ scorns the suggestion that her guilty love
for _Tristan_ is the result of her quaffing the potion. This simply
intensified the passion already in her breast. She proclaims this in
the rapturous phrases of the Isolde Motive; and then, when she
declares her fate to be in the hands of the goddess of love, there
are heard the tender accents of the =Love Motive=.

[Music]

In vain _Brangäne_ warns once more against possible treachery from
_Melot_. The Love Motive rises with ever increasing passion until
_Isolde's_ emotional exaltation finds expression in the Motive of
Ecstasy as she bids _Brangäne_ hie to the lookout, and proclaims that
she will give _Tristan_ the signal by extinguishing the torch, though
in doing so she were to extinguish the light of her life. The Motive
of the Love Call ringing out triumphantly accompanies her action, and
dies away into the Motive of Impatience as she gazes down a bosky
avenue through which she seems to expect _Tristan_ to come to her.
Then the Motive of Ecstasy and _Isolde's_ rapturous gesture tell that
she has discerned her lover; and, as this Motive reaches a fiercely
impassioned climax, _Tristan_ and _Isolde_ rush into each other's
arms.

The music fairly seethes with passion as the lovers greet one another,
the Love Motive and the Motive of Ecstasy vying in the excitement of
this rapturous meeting. Then begins the exchange of phrases in which
the lovers pour forth their love for one another. This is the scene
dominated by the Motive of the Day, which, however, as the day sinks
into the soft night, is softened into the =Night Motive=, which soothes
the senses with its ravishing caress.

[Music]

This motive throbs through the rapturous harmonies of the duet: "Oh,
sink upon us, Night of Love," and there is nothing in the realms of
music or poetry to compare in suggestiveness with these caressing,
pulsating phrases.

The duet is broken in upon by _Brangäne's_ voice warning the lovers
that night will soon be over. The _arpeggios_ accompanying her warning
are like the first grey streaks of dawn. But the lovers heed her not.
In a smooth, soft melody--the =Motive of Love's Peace=--whose sensuous
grace is simply entrancing, they whisper their love.

[Music]

It is at such a moment, enveloped by night and love, that death should
have come to them; and, indeed, it is for such a love-death they
yearn. Hence we have here, over a quivering accompaniment, the =Motive
of the Love-Death=,

[Music]

Once more _Brangäne_ calls. Once more _Tristan_ and _Isolde_ heed her
not.

  Night will shield us for aye!

Thus exclaims _Isolde_ in defiance of the approach of dawn, while the
Motive of Ecstasy, introduced by a rapturous mordent, soars ever
higher.

[Music]

A cry from _Brangäne_, _Kurwenal_ rushing upon the scene calling to
_Tristan_ to save himself--and the lovers' ravishing dream is ended.
Surrounded by the _King_ and his suite, with the treacherous _Melot_,
they gradually awaken to the terror of the situation. Almost
automatically _Isolde_ hides her head among the flowers, and _Tristan_
spreads out his cloak to conceal her from view while phrases
reminiscent of the love scene rise like mournful memories.

Now follows a soliloquy for the _King_, whose sword instead should
have leapt from its scabbard and buried itself in _Tristan's_ breast.
For it seems inexplicable that the monarch, who should have slain the
betrayer of his honour, indulges instead in a philosophical discourse,
ending:

     The unexplained,
     Unpenetrated
     Cause of all these woes,
     Who will to us disclose?

_Tristan_ turns to _Isolde_. Will she follow him to the bleak land of
his birth? Her reply is that his home shall be hers. Then _Melot_
draws his sword. _Tristan_ rushes upon him, but as _Melot_ thrusts,
allows his guard to fall and receives the blade. _Isolde_ throws
herself on her wounded lover's breast.

Act III. The introduction to this act opens with a variation of the
Isolde Motive, sadly prophetic of the desolation which broods over the
scene to be disclosed when the curtain rises. On its third repetition
it is continued in a long-drawn-out ascending phrase, which seems to
represent musically the broad waste of ocean upon which _Tristan's_
castle looks down from its craggy height.

The whole passage appears to represent _Tristan_ hopelessly yearning
for _Isolde_, letting his fancy travel back over the watery waste to
the last night of love, and then giving himself up wholly to his
grief.

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Gadski as Isolde]

[Illustration: N.Y. Photographic Co.

Ternina as Isolde]

The curtain rises upon the desolate grounds of Kareol, between the
outer walls of _Tristan's_ castle and the main structure, which stands
upon a rocky eminence overlooking the sea. _Tristan_ is stretched,
apparently lifeless, under a huge linden-tree. Over him, in deep
sorrow, bends the faithful _Kurwenal_. A _Shepherd_ is heard piping a
strain, whose plaintive notes harmonize most beautifully with the
despairing desolation and sadness of the scene. It is the =Lay of
Sorrow=, and by it, the _Shepherd_, who scans the sea, conveys to
_Kurwenal_ information that the ship he has dispatched to Cornwall to
bear _Isolde_ to Kareol has not yet hove in sight.

The Lay of Sorrow is a strain of mournful beauty, with the simplicity
and indescribable charm of a folk-song. Its plaintive notes cling like
ivy to the grey and crumbling ruins of love and joy.

[Music]

The _Shepherd_ peers over the wall and asks if _Tristan_ has shown any
signs of life. _Kurwenal_ gloomily replies in the negative. The
_Shepherd_ departs to continue his lookout, piping the sad refrain.
_Tristan_ slowly opens his eyes. "The old refrain; why wakes it me?
Where am I?" he murmurs. _Kurwenal_ is beside himself with joy at
these signs of returning life. His replies to _Tristan's_ feeble and
wandering questions are mostly couched in a motive which beautifully
expresses the sterling nature of this faithful retainer, one of the
noblest characters Wagner has drawn.

[Music]

When _Tristan_ loses himself in sad memories of _Isolde_, _Kurwenal_
seeks to comfort him with the news that he has sent a trusty man to
Cornwall to bear _Isolde_ to him that she may heal the wound inflicted
by _Melot_ as she once healed that dealt _Tristan_ by Morold. In
_Tristan's_ jubilant reply, during which he draws _Kurwenal_ to his
breast, the Isolde Motive assumes a form in which it becomes a theme
of joy.

But it is soon succeeded by the =Motive of Anguish=,

[Music]

when _Tristan_ raves of his yearning for _Isolde_. "The ship! the
ship!" he exclaims. "Kurwenal, can you not see it?" The Lay of Sorrow,
piped by the _Shepherd_, gives the sad answer. It pervades his sad
reverie until, when his mind wanders back to _Isolde's_ tender nursing
of his wound in Ireland, the theme of Isolde's Narrative is heard
again. Finally his excitement grows upon him, and in a paroxysm of
anguish bordering on insanity he even curses love.

_Tristan_ sinks back apparently lifeless. But no--as _Kurwenal_ bends
over him and the Isolde Motive is breathed by the orchestra, he again
whispers of _Isolde_. In ravishing beauty the Motive of Love's Peace
caressingly follows his vision as he seems to see _Isolde_ gliding
toward him o'er the waves. With ever-growing excitement he orders
_Kurwenal_ to the lookout to watch the ship's coming. What he sees so
clearly cannot _Kurwenal_ also see? Suddenly the music changes in
character. The ship is in sight, for the _Shepherd_ is heard piping a
joyous lay.

[Music]

It pervades the music of _Tristan's_ excited questions and
_Kurwenal's_ answers as to the vessel's movements. The faithful
retainer rushes down toward the shore to meet _Isolde_ and lead her to
_Tristan_. The latter, his strength sapped by his wound, his mind
inflamed to insanity by his passionate yearning, struggles to rise. He
raises himself a little. The Motive of Love's Peace, no longer
tranquil, but with frenzied rapidity, accompanies his actions as, in
his delirium, he tears the bandage from his wounds and rises from his
couch.

_Isolde's_ voice! Into her arms, outstretched to receive him, staggers
_Tristan_. Gently she lets him down upon his couch, where he has lain
in the anguish of expectancy.

"Tristan!"

"Isolde!" he answers in broken accents. This last look resting
rapturously upon her, while in mournful beauty the Love Glance Motive
rises from the orchestra, he expires.

In all music there is no scene more deeply shaken with sorrow.

Tumultuous sounds are heard. A second ship has arrived. _Marke_ and
his suite have landed. _Tristan's_ men, thinking the _King_ has come
in pursuit of _Isolde_, attack the new-comers, _Kurwenal_ and his men
are overpowered, and _Kurwenal_, having avenged _Tristan_ by slaying
_Melot_, sinks, himself mortally wounded, dying by _Tristan's_ side.
He reaches out for his dead master's hand, and his last words are:
"Tristan, chide me not that faithfully I follow you."

When _Brangäne_ rushes in and hurriedly announces that she has
informed the _King_ of the love-potion, and that he comes bringing
forgiveness, _Isolde_ heeds her not. As the Love-Death Motive rises
softly over the orchestra and slowly swells into the impassioned
Motive of Ecstasy, to reach its climax with a stupendous crash of
instrumental forces, she gazes with growing transport upon her dead
lover, until, with rapture in her last glance, she sinks upon his
corpse and expires.

In the Wagnerian version of the legend this love-death, for which
_Tristan_ and _Isolde_ prayed and in which they are united, is more
than a mere farewell together to life. It is tinged with Oriental
philosophy, and symbolizes the taking up into and the absorption of by
nature of all that is spiritual, and hence immortal, in lives rendered
beautiful by love.


DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG

THE MASTERSINGERS OF NUREMBURG

     Opera in three acts, words and music by Richard Wagner.
     Produced, Munich, June 21, 1868, under direction of Hans von
     Bülow. London, Drury Lane, May 30, 1882, under Hans Richter;
     Covent Garden, July 13, 1889, in Italian; Manchester, in
     English, by the Carl Rosa Company, April 16, 1896. New York,
     Metropolitan Opera House, January 4, 1886, with Fischer
     (_Hans Sachs_), Seidl-Kraus (_Eva_), Marianne Brandt
     (_Magdalena_), Stritt (_Walther_), Kemlitz (_Beckmesser_);
     Conductor, Seidl. _Sachs_ has also been sung by Édouard de
     Reszke, Van Rooy, and Whitehill; _Walther_ by Jean de
     Reszke; _Eva_ by Eames, Gadski, and Hempel; _Beckmesser_ by
     Goritz; _Magdalena_ by Schumann-Heink and Homer.

     CHARACTERS

     HANS SACHS, Cobbler             }                _Bass_
     VEIT POGNER, Goldsmith          }                _Bass_
     KUNZ VOGELGESANG, Furrier       }               _Tenor_
     CONRAD NACHTIGALL, Buckle-Maker }                _Bass_
     SIXTUS BECKMESSER, Town Clerk   }                _Bass_
     FRITZ KOTHNER, Baker            } Mastersingers  _Bass_
     BALTHAZAR ZORN, Pewterer        }               _Tenor_
     ULRICH EISLINGER, Grocer        }               _Tenor_
     AUGUST MOSER, Tailor            }               _Tenor_
     HERMANN ORTEL, Soap-boiler      }                _Bass_
     HANS SCHWARZ, Stocking-Weaver   }                _Bass_
     HANS FOLZ, Coppersmith          }                _Bass_
     WALTHER VON STOLZING, a young Franconian knight _Tenor_
     DAVID, apprentice to HANS SACHS                 _Tenor_
     A NIGHT WATCHMAN                                 _Bass_
     EVA, daughter of POGNER                       _Soprano_
     MAGDALENA, EVA'S nurse                  _Mezzo-Soprano_

     Burghers of the Guilds, Journeymen, 'Prentices, Girls, and
     Populace.

     _Time_--Middle of the Sixteenth Century.

     _Place_--Nuremburg.

Wagner's music-dramas are all unmistakably Wagner, yet they are
wonderfully varied. The style of the music in each adapts itself
plastically to the character of the story. Can one, for instance,
imagine the music of "Tristan" wedded to the story of "The
Mastersingers," or _vice versa_? A tragic passion, inflamed by the
arts of sorcery inspired the former. The latter is a thoroughly human
tale set to thoroughly human music. Indeed, while "Tristan" and "The
Ring of the Nibelung" are tragic, and "Parsifal" is deeply religious,
"The Mastersingers" is a comic work, even bordering in one scene on
farce. Like Shakespeare, Wagner was equally at home in tragedy and
comedy.

_Walther von Stolzing_ is in love with _Eva_. Her father having
promised her to the singer to whom at the coming midsummer festival
the _Mastersingers_ shall adjudge the prize, it becomes necessary for
_Walther_ to seek admission to their art union. He is, however,
rejected, his song violating the rules to which the Mastersingers
slavishly adhere. _Beckmesser_ is also instrumental in securing
_Walther's_ rejection. The town clerk is the "marker" of the union.
His duty is to mark all violations of the rules against a candidate.
_Beckmesser_, being a suitor for _Eva's_ hand, naturally makes the
most of every chance to put down a mark against _Walther_.

_Sachs_ alone among the _Mastersingers_ has recognized the beauty of
_Walther's_ song. Its very freedom from rule and rote charms him, and
he discovers in the young knight's untrammelled genius the power
which, if properly directed, will lead art from the beaten path of
tradition toward a new and loftier ideal.

After _Walther's_ failure before the Mastersingers the impetuous young
knight persuades _Eva_ to elope with him. But at night as they are
preparing to escape, _Beckmesser_ comes upon the scene to serenade
_Eva_. _Sachs_, whose house is opposite _Pogner's_, has meanwhile
brought his work bench out into the street and insists on "marking"
what he considers _Beckmesser's_ mistakes by bringing his hammer down
upon his last with a resounding whack. The louder _Beckmesser_ sings
the louder _Sachs_ whacks. Finally the neighbours are aroused.
_David_, who is in love with _Magdalena_ and thinks _Beckmesser_ is
serenading her, falls upon him with a cudgel. The whole neighbourhood
turns out and a general _mêlée_ ensues, during which _Sachs_ separates
_Eva_ and _Walther_ and draws the latter into his home.

The following morning _Walther_ sings to _Sachs_ a song which has come
to him in a dream, _Sachs_ transcribing the words and passing friendly
criticism upon them and the music. The midsummer festival is to take
place that afternoon, and through a ruse _Sachs_ manages to get
_Walther's_ poem into _Beckmesser's_ possession, who, thinking the
words are by the popular cobbler-poet, feels sure he will be the
chosen master. _Eva_, coming into the workshop to have her shoes
fitted, finds _Walther_, and the lovers depart with _Sachs_, _David_,
and _Magdalena_ for the festival. Here _Beckmesser_, as _Sachs_ had
anticipated, makes a wretched failure, as he has utterly missed the
spirit of the poem, and _Walther_, being called upon by _Sachs_ to
reveal its beauty in music, sings his prize song, winning at once the
approbation of the _Mastersingers_ and the populace. He is received
into their art union and at the same time wins _Eva_ as his bride.

[Illustration: Photo by Falk

Emil Fischer as Hans Sachs in "Die Meistersinger"]

[Illustration: Photo by White

Weil and Goritz as Hans Sachs and Beckmesser in "Die Meistersinger"]

The Mastersingers were of burgher extraction. They flourished in
Germany, chiefly in the imperial cities, during the fourteenth,
fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries. They did much to generate and
preserve a love of art among the middle classes. Their musical
competitions were judged according to a code of rules which
distinguished by particular names thirty-two faults to be avoided.
Scriptural or devotional subjects were usually selected and the judges
or Merker (Markers) were, in Nuremburg, four in number, the first
comparing the words with the Biblical text, the second criticizing the
prosody, the third the rhymes, and the fourth the tune. He who had the
fewest marks against him received the prize.

Hans Sachs, the most famous of the Mastersingers, born November 5,
1494, died January, 1576, in Nuremburg, is said to have been the
author of some six thousand poems. He was a cobbler by trade--

     Hans Sachs was a shoe-
     Maker and poet too.

A monument was erected to him in the city of his birth in 1874.

"The Mastersingers" is a simple, human love story, simply told, with
many touches of humour to enliven it, and its interest enhanced by
highly picturesque, historical surroundings. As a drama it conveys
also a perfect picture of the life and customs of Nuremburg of the
time in which the story plays. Wagner must have made careful
historical researches, but his book lore is not thrust upon us. The
work is so spontaneous that the method and manner of its art are lost
sight of in admiration of the result. Hans Sachs himself could not
have left a more faithful portrait of life in Nuremburg in the middle
of the sixteenth century.

"The Mastersingers" has a peculiarly Wagnerian interest. It is
Wagner's protest against the narrow-minded critics and the prejudiced
public who so long refused him recognition. Edward Hanslick, the
bitterest of Wagner's critics, regarded the libretto as a personal
insult to himself. Being present by invitation at a private reading of
the libretto, which Wagner gave in Vienna, Hanslick rose abruptly and
left after the first act. _Walther von Stolzing_ is the incarnation of
new aspirations in art; the champion of a new art ideal, and
continually chafing under the restraints imposed by traditional rules
and methods. _Hans Sachs_ is a conservative. But, while preserving
what is best in art traditions, he is able to recognize the beautiful
in what is new. He represents enlightened public opinion. _Beckmesser_
and the other _Mastersingers_ are the embodiment of rank
prejudice--the critics. _Walther's_ triumph is also Wagner's. Few of
Wagner's dramatic creations equal in lifelike interest the character
of _Sachs_. It is drawn with a strong, firm hand, and filled in with
many delicate touches.

The _Vorspiel_ gives a complete musical epitome of the story. It is
full of life and action--pompous, impassioned, and jocose in turn, and
without a suggestion of the overwrought or morbid. Its sentiment and
its fun are purely human. In its technical construction it has long
been recognized as a masterpiece.

In the sense that it precedes the rise of the curtain, this orchestral
composition is a _Vorspiel_, or prelude. As a work, however, it is a
full-fledged overture, rich in thematic material. These themes are
Leading Motives heard many times, and in wonderful variety in the
three acts of "The Mastersingers." To a great extent an analysis of
this overture forecasts the work itself. Accordingly, again through
the courtesy of G. Schirmer Inc., I avail myself of my _Wagner's
Music-Dramas Analysed_, in the account of the _Vorspiel_ and of the
action and music that follow it.

The pompous =Motive of the Mastersingers= opens the _Vorspiel_. This
theme gives capital musical expression to the characteristics of these
dignitaries; eminently worthy but self-sufficient citizens who are
slow to receive new impressions and do not take kindly to
innovations. Our term of old fogy describes them imperfectly, as it
does not allow for their many excellent qualities. They are slow to
act, but if they are once aroused their ponderous influence bears down
all opposition. At first an obstacle to genuine reform, they are in
the end the force which pushes it to success. Thus there is in the
Motive of the Mastersingers a certain ponderous dignity which well
emphasizes the idea of conservative power.

[Music]

In great contrast to this is the =Lyric Motive=, which seems to express
the striving after a poetic ideal untrammelled by old-fashioned
restrictions, such as the rules of the _Mastersingers_ impose.

[Music]

But, the sturdy conservative forces are still unwilling to be
persuaded of the worth of this new ideal. Hence the Lyric Motive is
suddenly checked by the sonorous measures of the =Mastersingers' March=.

[Music]

In this the majesty of law and order finds expression. It is followed
by a phrase of noble breadth and beauty, obviously developed from
portions of the Motive of the Mastersingers, and so typical of the
goodwill which should exist among the members of a fraternity that it
may be called the =Motive of the Art Brotherhood=.

[Music]

It reaches an eloquent climax in the =Motive of the Ideal=.

[Music]

Opposed, however, to this guild of conservative masters is the
restless spirit of progress. Hence, though stately the strains of the
Mastersingers' March and of the Guild Motive, soon yield to a theme
full of emotional energy and much like the Lyric Motive. _Walther_ is
the champion of this new ideal--not, however, from a purely artistic
impulse, but rather through his love for _Eva_. Being ignorant of the
rules and rote of the _Mastersingers_ he sings, when he presents
himself for admission to the fraternity, measures which soar
untrammelled into realms of beauty beyond the imagination of the
masters. But it was his love for _Eva_ which impelled him to seek
admission to the brotherhood, and love inspired his song. He is
therefore a reformer only by accident; it is not his love of art, but
his passion for _Eva_, which really brings about through his prize
song a great musical reform. This is one of Wagner's finest dramatic
touches--the love story is the mainspring of the action, the moral is
pointed only incidentally. Hence all the motives in which the restless
striving after a new ideal, or the struggles of a new art form to
break through the barriers of conservative prejudice, find expression,
are so many love motives, _Eva_ being the incarnation of _Walther's_
ideal. Therefore the motive which breaks in upon the Mastersingers'
March and Guild Motive with such emotional energy expresses
_Walther's_ desire to possess _Eva_, more than his yearning for a new
ideal in art. So I call it the =Motive of Longing=.

[Music]

A portion of "Walther's Prize Song," like a swiftly whispered
declaration of love, leads to a variation of one of the most beautiful
themes of the work--the =Motive of Spring=.

[Music]

[Music]

And now Wagner has a fling at the old fogyism which was so long an
obstacle to his success. He holds the masters up to ridicule in a
delightfully humorous passage which parodies the Mastersingers' and
Art Brotherhood motives, while the Spring Motive vainly strives to
assert itself. In the bass, the following quotation is the =Motive of
Ridicule=, the treble being a variant of the Art Brotherhood Motive.

[Music]

When it is considered that the opposition Wagner encountered from
prejudiced critics, not to mention a prejudiced public, was the bane
of his career, it seems wonderful that he should have been content to
protest against it with this pleasant raillery instead of with bitter
invective. The passage is followed by the Motive of the Mastersingers,
which in turn leads to an imposing combination of phrases. We hear the
portion of the Prize Song already quoted--the Motive of the
Mastersingers as bass--and in the middle voices portions of the
Mastersingers' March; a little later the Motive of the Art Brotherhood
and the Motive of Ridicule are added, this grand massing of orchestral
forces reaching a powerful climax, with the Motive of the Ideal, while
the Motive of the Mastersingers brings the _Vorspiel_ to a fitting
close. In this noble passage, in which the "Prize Song" soars above
the various themes typical of the masters, the new ideal seems to be
borne to its triumph upon the shoulders of the conservative forces
which, won over at last, have espoused its cause with all their sturdy
energy.

This concluding passage in the _Vorspiel_ thus brings out with great
eloquence the inner significance of "Die Meistersinger." In whatever
the great author and composer of this work wrote for the stage, there
always was an ethical meaning back of the words and music. Thus we
draw our conclusion of the meaning of "Die Meistersinger" story from
the wonderful combination of leading motives in the peroration of its
_Vorspiel_.

In his fine book, _The Orchestra and Orchestral Music_, W.J. Henderson
relates this anecdote:

"A professional musician was engaged in a discussion of Wagner in the
corridor of the Metropolitan Opera House, while inside the orchestra
was playing the 'Meistersinger' overture.

"'It is a pity,' said this wise man, in a condescending manner, 'but
Wagner knows absolutely nothing about counterpoint.'

"At that instant the orchestra was singing five different melodies at
once; and, as Anton Seidl was the conductor, they were all audible."

In a rare book by J.C. Wagenseil, printed in Nuremburg in 1697, are
given four "Prize Master Tones." Two of these Wagner has reproduced in
modern garb, the former in the Mastersingers' March, the latter in the
Motive of the Art Brotherhood.

[Music] [Music]

Act I. The scene of this act is laid in the Church of St. Catherine,
Nuremburg. The congregation is singing the final chorale of the
service. Among the worshippers are _Eva_ and her maid, _Magdalena_.
_Walther_ stands aside, and, by means of nods and gestures,
communicates with _Eva_. This mimic conversation is expressively
accompanied by interludes between the verses of the chorale,
interludes expressively based on the Lyric, Spring, and Prize Song
motives, and contrasting charmingly with the strains of the chorale.

The service over, the Motive of Spring, with an impetuous upward rush,
seems to express the lovers' joy that the restraint is removed, and
the Lyric Motive resounds exultingly as the congregation departs,
leaving _Eva_, _Magdalena_, and _Walther_ behind.

_Eva_, in order to gain a few words with _Walther_, sends _Magdalena_
back to the pew to look for a kerchief and hymn-book, she has
purposely left there. _Magdalena_ urges _Eva_ to return home, but just
then _David_ appears in the background and begins putting things to
rights for the meeting of the _Mastersingers_. _Magdalena_ is
therefore only too glad to linger. The Mastersinger and Guild
motives, which naturally accompany _David's_ activity, contrast
soberly with the ardent phrases of the lovers. _Magdalena_ explains to
_Walther_ that _Eva_ is already affianced, though she herself does not
know to whom. Her father wishes her to marry the singer to whom at the
coming contest the _Mastersingers_ shall award the prize; and, while
she shall be at liberty to decline him, she may marry none but a
master. _Eva_ exclaims: "I will choose no one but my knight!" Very
pretty and gay is the theme heard when _David_ joins the group--the
=Apprentice Motive=.

[Music]

How capitally this motive expresses the light-heartedness of gay young
people, in this case the youthful apprentices, among whom _David_ was
as gay and buoyant as any. Every melodious phrase--every
motive--employed by Wagner appears to express exactly the character,
circumstance, thing, or feeling, to which he applies it. The opening
episodes of "Die Meistersinger" have a charm all their own.

The scene closes with a beautiful little terzet, after _Magdalena_ has
ordered _David_, under penalty of her displeasure, to instruct the
knight in the art rules of the _Mastersingers_.

When the 'prentices enter, they proceed to erect the marker's
platform, but stop at times to annoy the somewhat self-sufficient
_David_, while he is endeavouring to instruct _Walther_ in the rules
of the _Mastersingers_. The merry Apprentice Motive runs through the
scene and brings it to a close as the 'prentices sing and dance around
the marker's box, suddenly, however, breaking off, for the
_Mastersingers_ appear.

There is a roll-call and then the fine passage for bass voice, in
which _Pogner_ offers _Eva's_ hand in marriage to the winner of the
coming song contest--with the proviso that _Eva_ adds her consent. The
passage is known on concert programmes as "Pogner's Address."

_Walther_ is introduced by _Pogner_. The =Knight Motive=:

[Music]

_Beckmesser_, jealous, and determined that _Walther_ shall fail,
enters the marker's box.

_Kothner_ now begins reading off the rules of singing established by
the masters, which is a capital take-off on old-fashioned forms of
composition and never fails to raise a hearty laugh if delivered with
considerable pomposity and unction. Unwillingly enough _Walther_ takes
his seat in the candidate's chair. _Beckmesser_ shouts from the
marker's box: "Now begin!" After a brilliant chord, followed by a
superb ascending run on the violins, _Walther_, in ringing tones,
enforced by a broad and noble chord, repeats _Beckmesser's_ words. But
such a change has come over the music that it seems as if that upward
rushing run had swept away all restraint of ancient rule and rote,
just as the spring wind whirling through the forest tears up the
spread of dry, dead leaves, thus giving air and sun to the yearning
mosses and flowers. In _Walther's_ song the Spring Motive forms an
ever-surging, swelling accompaniment, finally joining in the vocal
melody and bearing it higher and higher to an impassioned climax. In
his song, however, _Walther_ is interrupted by the scratching made by
_Beckmesser_ as he chalks the singer's violations of the rules on the
slate, and _Walther_, who is singing of love and spring, changes his
theme to winter, which, lingering behind a thorny hedge, is plotting
how it can mar the joy of the vernal season. The knight then rises
from the chair and sings a second stanza with defiant enthusiasm. As
he concludes it _Beckmesser_ tears open the curtains which concealed
him in the marker's box, and exhibits his board completely covered
with chalk marks. _Walther_ protests, but the masters, with the
exception of _Sachs_ and _Pogner_, refuse to listen further, and
deride his singing. We have here the =Motive of Derision=.

[Music]

_Sachs_ protests that, while he found the knight's art method new, he
did not find it formless. The =Sachs Motive= is here introduced.

[Music]

The Sachs Motive betokens the genial nature of this sturdy, yet gentle
man--the master spirit of the drama. He combines the force of a
conservative character with the tolerance of a progressive one, and
is thus the incarnation of the idea which Wagner is working out in
this drama, in which the union of a proper degree of conservative
caution with progressive energy produces a new ideal in art. To
_Sachs's_ innuendo that _Beckmessers'_ marking hardly could be
considered just, as he is a candidate for _Eva's_ hand, _Beckmesser_,
by way of reply, chides _Sachs_ for having delayed so long in
finishing a pair of shoes for him, and as _Sachs_ makes a humorously
apologetic answer, the Cobbler Motive is heard.

The sturdy burgher calls to _Walther_ to finish his song in spite of
the masters. And now a finale of masterful construction begins. In
short, excited phrases the masters chaff and deride _Walther_. His
song, however, soars above all the hubbub. The 'prentices see their
opportunity in the confusion, and joining hands they dance around the
marker's box, singing as they do so. We now have combined with
astounding skill _Walther's_ song, the 'prentices' chorus, and the
exclamations of the masters. The latter finally shout their verdict:
"Rejected and outsung!" The knight, with a proud gesture of contempt,
leaves the church. The 'prentices put the seats and benches back in
their proper places, and in doing so greatly obstruct the masters as
they crowd toward the doors. _Sachs_, who has lingered behind, gazes
thoughtfully at the singer's empty chair, then, with a humorous
gesture of discouragement, turns away.

Act II. The scene of this act represents a street in Nuremburg
crossing the stage and intersected in the middle by a narrow, winding
alley. There are thus two corner houses--on the right corner of the
alley _Pogner's_, on the left _Sachs's_. Before the former is a
linden-tree, before the latter an elder. It is a lovely summer
evening.

The opening scene is a merry one. _David_ and the 'prentices are
closing shop. After a brisk introduction based on the Midsummer
Festival Motive the 'prentices quiz _David_ on his love affair with
_Magdalena_. The latter appears with a basket of dainties for her
lover, but on learning that the knight has been rejected, she snatches
the basket away from _David_ and hurries back to the house. The
'prentices now mockingly congratulate _David_ on his successful
wooing. _David_ loses his temper and shows fight, but _Sachs_, coming
upon the scene, sends the 'prentices on their way and then enters his
workshop with _David_. The music of this episode, especially the
'prentices' chorus, is bright and graceful.

_Pogner_ and _Eva_, returning from an evening stroll, now come down
the alley. Before retiring into the house the father questions the
daughter as to her feelings concerning the duty she is to perform at
the Mastersinging on the morrow. Her replies are discreetly evasive.
The music beautifully reflects the affectionate relations between
_Pogner_ and _Eva_. When _Pogner_, his daughter seated beside him
under the linden-tree, speaks of the morrow's festival and _Eva's_
part in it in awarding the prize to the master of her choice before
the assembled burghers of Nuremburg, the stately =Nuremburg Motive= is
ushered in.

[Music]

_Magdalena_ appears at the door and signals to _Eva_. The latter
persuades her father that it is too cool to remain outdoors and, as
they enter the house, _Eva_ learns from _Magdalena_ of _Walther's_
failure before the masters. Magdalena advises her to seek counsel with
_Sachs_ after supper.

The Cobbler Motive shows us _Sachs_ and _David_ in the former's
workshop. When the master has dismissed his 'prentice till morning, he
yields to his poetic love of the balmy midsummer night and, laying
down his work, leans over the half-door of his shop as if lost in
reverie. The Cobbler Motive dies away to _pp_, and then there is
wafted from over the orchestra like the sweet scent of the blooming
elder the Spring Motive, while tender notes on the horn blossom
beneath a nebulous veil of tremolo violins into memories of
_Walther's_ song. Its measures run through _Sachs's_ head until,
angered at the stupid conservatism of his associates, he resumes his
work to the brusque measures of the Cobbler's Motive. As his ill
humour yields again to the beauties of the night, this motive yields
once more to that of spring, which, with reminiscences of _Walther's_
first song before the masters, imbues this masterful monologue with
poetic beauty of the highest order. The last words in praise of
_Walther_ ("The bird who sang today," etc.) are sung to a broad and
expressive melody.

_Eva_ now comes out into the street and, shyly approaching the shop,
stands at the door unnoticed by _Sachs_ until she speaks to him. The
theme which pervades this scene seems to breathe forth the very spirit
of lovely maidenhood which springs from the union of romantic
aspirations, feminine reserve, and rare physical graces. It is the =Eva
Motive=, which, with the delicate touch of a master, Wagner so varies
that it follows the many subtle dramatic suggestions of the scene. The
Eva Motive, in its original form, is as follows:

[Music]

When at _Eva's_ first words _Sachs_ looks up, there is this elegant
variation of the Eva Motive:

[Music]

Then the scene being now fully ushered in, we have the Eva Motive
itself. _Eva_ leads the talk up to the morrow's festival, and when
_Sachs_ mentions _Beckmesser_ as her chief wooer, roguishly hints,
with evident reference to _Sachs_ himself, that she might prefer a
hearty widower to a bachelor of such disagreeable characteristics as
the marker. There are sufficient indications that the sturdy master is
not indifferent to _Eva's_ charms, but, whole-souled, genuine friend
that he is, his one idea is to further the love affair between his
fair neighbour and _Walther_. The music of this passage is very
suggestive. The melodic leading of the upper voice in the
accompaniment, when _Eva_ asks: "Could not a widower hope to win me?"
is identical with a variation of the Isolde Motive in "Tristan and
Isolde," while the Eva Motive, shyly _pp_, seems to indicate the
artfulness of _Eva's_ question. The reminiscence from "Tristan" can
hardly be regarded as accidental, for _Sachs_ afterwards boasts that
he does not care to share the fate of poor King Marke. _Eva_ now
endeavours to glean particulars of _Walther's_ experience in the
morning, and we have the Motive of Envy, the Knight Motive, and the
Motive of Ridicule. _Eva_ does not appreciate the fine satire in
_Sachs's_ severe strictures on _Walther's_ singing--he re-echoes not
his own views, but those of the other masters, for whom, not for the
knight, his strictures are really intended--and she leaves him in
anger. This shows _Sachs_ which way the wind blows, and he forthwith
resolves to do all in his power to bring _Eva's_ and _Walther's_ love
affair to a successful conclusion. While _Eva_ is engaged with
_Magdalena_, who has come out to call her, he busies himself in
closing the upper half of his shop door so far that only a gleam of
light is visible, he himself being completely hidden. _Eva_ learns
from _Magdalena_ of _Beckmesser's_ intended serenade, and it is agreed
that the maid shall personate _Eva_ at the window.

Steps are heard coming down the alley. _Eva_ recognizes _Walther_ and
flies to his arms, _Magdalena_ discreetly hurrying into the house. The
ensuing ardent scene between _Eva_ and _Walther_ brings familiar
motives. The knight's excitement is comically broken in upon by the
_Night Watchman's_ cow-horn, and, as _Eva_ lays her hand soothingly
upon his arm and counsels that they retreat within the shadow of the
linden-tree, there steals over the orchestra, like the fragrance of
the summer night, a delicate variant of the Eva Motive--=The Summer
Night Motive=.

[Music]

_Eva_ vanishes into the house to prepare to elope with _Walther_. The
_Night Watchman_ now goes up the stage intoning a mediæval chant.
Coming in the midst of the beautiful modern music of "The
Mastersingers," its effect is most quaint.

As _Eva_ reappears and she and the knight are about to make their
escape, _Sachs_, to prevent this precipitate and foolish step, throws
open his shutters and allows his lamp to shed a streak of brilliant
light across the street.

The lovers hesitate; and now _Beckmesser_ sneaks in after the _Night
Watchman_ and, leaning against _Sachs's_ house, begins to tune his
lute, the peculiar twang of which, contrasted with the rich
orchestration, sounds irresistibly ridiculous.

Meanwhile, _Eva_ and _Walther_ have once more retreated into the shade
of the linden-tree, and _Sachs_, who has placed his work bench in
front of his door, begins hammering at the last and intones a song
which is one of the rough diamonds of musical invention, for it is
purposely brusque and rough, just such a song as a hearty, happy
artisan might sing over his work. It is aptly introduced by the
Cobbler Motive. _Beckmesser_, greatly disturbed lest his serenade be
ruined, entreats _Sachs_ to cease singing. The latter agrees, but with
the proviso that he shall "mark" each of _Beckmesser's_ mistakes with
a hammer stroke. As if to bring out as sharply as possible the
ridiculous character of the serenade, the orchestra breathes forth
once more the summer night's music before _Beckmesser_ begins his
song, and this is set to a parody of the Lyric Motive. Wagner, with
keen satire, seems to want to show how a beautiful melody may become
absurd through old-fogy methods. _Beckmesser_ has hardly begun before
_Sachs's_ hammer comes down on the last with a resounding whack, which
makes the town clerk fairly jump with anger. He resumes, but soon is
rudely interrupted again by a blow of _Sachs's_ hammer. The whacks
come faster and faster. _Beckmesser_, in order to make himself heard
above them, sings louder and louder. Some of the neighbours are
awakened by the noise and coming to their windows bid _Beckmesser_
hold his peace. _David_, stung by jealousy as he sees _Magdalena_
listening to the serenade, leaps from his room and falls upon the town
clerk with a cudgel. The neighbours, male and female, run out into the
street and a general _mêlée_ ensues, the masters, who hurry upon the
scene, seeking to restore quiet, while the 'prentices vent their high
spirits by doing all in their power to add to the hubbub. All is now
noise and disorder, pandemonium seeming to have been let loose upon
the dignified old town.

Musically this tumult finds expression in a fugue whose chief theme is
the =Cudgel Motive=.

[Music]

From beneath the hubbub of voices--those of the 'prentices and
journeymen, delighted to take part in the shindy, of the women who are
terrified at it, and of the masters who strive to stop it, is heard
the theme of _Beckmesser's_ song, the real cause of the row. This is
another of those many instances in which Wagner vividly expresses in
his music the significance of what transpires on the stage.

_Sachs_ finally succeeds in shoving the 'prentices and journeymen out
of the way. The street is cleared, but not before the cobbler-poet has
pushed _Eva_, who was about to elope with _Walther_, into her father's
arms and drawn _Walther_ after him into his shop.

The street is quiet. And now, the rumpus subsided and all concerned in
it gone, the _Night Watchman_ appears, rubs his eyes and chants his
mediæval call. The street is flooded with moonlight. The _Watchman_
with his clumsy halberd lunges at his own shadow, then goes up the
alley.

We have had hubbub, we have had humour, and now we have a musical
ending elvish, roguish, and yet exquisite in sentiment. The effect is
produced by the Cudgel Motive played with the utmost delicacy on the
flute, while the theme of _Beckmesser's_ serenade merrily runs after
itself on clarinet and bassoon, and the muted violins softly breathe
the Midsummer Festival Motive.

Act III. During this act the tender strain in _Sachs's_ sturdy
character is brought out in bold relief. Hence the prelude develops
what may be called three Sachs themes, two of them expressive of his
twofold nature as poet and cobbler, the third standing for the love
which his fellow-burghers bear him.

The prelude opens with the Wahn Motive or Motive of Poetic Illusion.
This reflects the deep thought and poetic aspirations of _Sachs_ the
poet. It is followed by the theme of the beautiful chorus, sung later
in the act, in praise of _Sachs_: "Awake! draws nigh the break of
day." This theme, among the three heard in the prelude, points to
_Sachs's_ popularity. The third consists of portions of the cobbler's
song in the second act. This prelude has long been considered one of
Wagner's masterpieces. The themes are treated with the utmost
delicacy, so that we recognize through them both the tender, poetic
side of _Sachs's_ nature and his good-humoured brusqueness. =The Motive
of Poetic illusion= is deeply reflective, and it might be preferable to
name it the Motive of Poetic Thought, were it not that it is better to
preserve the significance of the term Wahn Motive, which there is
ample reason to believe originated with Wagner himself. The prelude
is, in fact, a subtle analysis of character expressed in music.

[Music]

How peaceful the scene on which the curtain rises. _Sachs_ is sitting
in an armchair in his sunny workshop, reading in a large folio. The
Illusion Motive has not yet died away in the prelude, so that it seems
to reflect the thoughts awakened in _Sachs_ by what he is reading.
_David_, dressed for the festival, enters just as the prelude ends.
There is a scene full of charming _bonhomie_ between _Sachs_ and his
'prentice, which is followed, when the latter has withdrawn, by
_Sachs's_ monologue: "Wahn! Wahn! Ueberall Wahn!" (Illusion,
everywhere illusion.)

While the Illusion Motive seems to weave a poetic atmosphere about
him, _Sachs_, buried in thought, rests his head upon his arm over the
folio. The Illusion Motive is followed by the Spring Motive, which in
turn yields to the Nuremburg Motive as _Sachs_ sings the praises of
the stately old town. At his reference to the tumult of the night
before there are in the score corresponding allusions to the music of
that episode. "A glowworm could not find its mate," he sings,
referring to _Walther_ and _Eva_. The Midsummer Festival, Lyric, and
Nuremburg motives in union foreshadow the triumph of true art through
love on Nuremburg soil, and thus bring the monologue to a stately
conclusion.

_Walther_ now enters from the chamber, which opens upon a gallery,
and, descending into the workshop, is heartily greeted by _Sachs_ with
the Sachs Motive, which dominates the immediately ensuing scene. Very
beautiful is the theme in which _Sachs_ protests against _Walther's_
derision of the masters; for they are, in spite of their many
old-fogyish notions, the conservators of much that is true and
beautiful in art.

_Walther_ tells _Sachs_ of a song which came to him in a dream during
the night, and sings two stanzas of this "Prize Song," _Sachs_ making
friendly critical comments as he writes down the words. The Nuremburg
Motive in sonorous and festive instrumentation closes this melodious
episode.

When _Sachs_ and _Walther_ have retired _Beckmesser_ is seen peeping
into the shop. Observing that it is empty he enters hastily. He is
ridiculously overdressed for the approaching festival, limps, and
occasionally rubs his muscles as if he were still stiff and sore from
his drubbing. By chance his glance falls on the manuscript of the
"Prize Song" in _Sachs's_ handwriting on the table, when he breaks
forth in wrathful exclamations, thinking now that he has in the
popular master a rival for _Eva's_ hand. Hearing the chamber door
opening he hastily grabs the manuscript and thrusts it into his
pocket. _Sachs_ enters. Observing that the manuscript is no longer on
the table, he realizes that _Beckmesser_ has stolen it, and conceives
the idea of allowing him to keep it, knowing that the marker will fail
most wretchedly in attempting to give musical expression to
_Walther's_ inspiration.

The scene places _Sachs_ in a new light. A fascinating trait of his
character is the dash of scapegrace with which it is seasoned. Hence,
when he thinks of allowing _Beckmesser_ to use the poem the Sachs
Motive takes on a somewhat facetious, roguish grace. There now ensues
a charming dialogue between _Sachs_ and _Eva_, who enters when
_Beckmesser_ has departed. This is accompanied by a transformation of
the Eva Motive, which now reflects her shyness and hesitancy in taking
_Sachs_ into her confidence.

With it is joined the Cobbler Motive when _Eva_ places her foot upon
the stool while _Sachs_ tries on the shoes she is to wear at the
festival. When, with a cry of joy, she recognizes her lover as he
appears upon the gallery, and remains motionless, gazing upon him as
if spellbound, the lovely Summer Night Motive enhances the beauty of
the tableau. While _Sachs_ cobbles and chats away, pretending not to
observe the lovers, the Motive of Maidenly Reserve passes through many
modulations until there is heard a phrase from "Tristan and Isolde"
(the Isolde Motive), an allusion which is explained below. The Lyric
Motive introduces the third stanza of _Walther's_ "Prize Song," with
which he now greets _Eva_, while she, overcome with joy at seeing her
lover, sinks upon _Sachs's_ breast. The Illusion Motive rhapsodizes
the praises of the generous cobbler-poet, who seeks relief from his
emotions in bantering remarks, until _Eva_ glorifies him in a noble
burst of love and gratitude in a melody derived from the Isolde
Motive.

It is after this that _Sachs_, alluding to his own love of _Eva_,
exclaims that he will have none of King Marke's triste experience; and
the use of the King Marke Motive at this point shows that the previous
echoes of the Isolde Motive were premeditated rather than accidental.

_Magdalena_ and _David_ now enter, and _Sachs_ gives to _Walther's_
"Prize Song" its musical baptism, utilizing chiefly the first and
second lines of the chorale which opens the first act. _David_ then
kneels down and, according to the custom of the day, receives from
_Sachs_ a box on the ear in token that he is advanced from 'prentice
to journeyman. Then follows the beautiful quintet, in which the "Prize
Song," as a thematic germ, puts forth its loveliest blossoms. This is
but one of many instances in which Wagner proved that when the
dramatic situation called for it he could conceive and develop a
melody of most exquisite fibre.

After the quintet the orchestra resumes the Nuremburg Motive and all
depart for the festival. The stage is now shut off by a curtain behind
which the scene is changed from _Sachs's_ workshop to the meadow on
the banks of the Pegnitz, near Nuremburg. After a tumultuous
orchestral interlude, which portrays by means of motives already
familiar, with the addition of the fanfare of the town musicians, the
noise and bustle incidental to preparations for a great festival, the
curtain rises upon a lively scene. Boats decked out in flags and
bunting and full of festively clad members of the various guilds and
their wives and children are constantly arriving. To the right is a
platform decorated with the flags of the guilds which have already
gathered. People are making merry under tents and awnings where
refreshments are served. The 'prentices are having a jolly time of it
heralding and marshalling the guilds who disperse and mingle with the
merrymakers after the standard bearers have planted their banners near
the platform.

Soon after the curtain rises the cobblers arrive, and as they march
down the meadow, conducted by the 'prentices, they sing in honour of
St. Crispin, their patron saint, a chorus, based on the Cobbler
Motive, to which a melody in popular style is added. The town
watchmen, with trumpets and drums, the town pipers, lute makers, etc.,
and then the journeymen, with comical sounding toy instruments, march
past, and are succeeded by the tailors, who sing a humorous chorus,
telling how Nuremburg was saved from its ancient enemies by a tailor,
who sewed a goatskin around him and pranced around on the town walls,
to the terror of the hostile army, which took him for the devil. The
bleating of a goat is capitally imitated in this chorus.

With the last chord of the tailors' chorus the bakers strike up their
song and are greeted in turn by cobblers and tailors with their
respective refrains. A boatful of young peasant girls in gay costumes
now arrives, and the 'prentices make a rush for the bank. A charming
dance in waltz time is struck up. The 'prentices with the girls dance
down toward the journeymen, but as soon as these try to get hold of
the girls, the 'prentices veer off with them in another direction.
This veering should be timed to fall at the beginning of those periods
of the dance to which Wagner has given, instead of eight measures,
seven and nine, in order by this irregularity to emphasize the ruse of
the 'prentices.

The dance is interrupted by the arrival of the masters, the 'prentices
falling in to receive, the others making room for the procession. The
_Mastersingers_ advance to the stately strains of the Mastersinger
Motive, which, when _Kothner_ appears bearing their standard with the
figure of King David playing on his harp, goes over into the sturdy
measures of the Mastersingers' March. _Sachs_ rises and advances. At
sight of him the populace intone the noblest of all choruses: "Awake!
draws nigh the break of day," the words of which are a poem by the
real Hans Sachs.

At its conclusion the populace break into shouts in praise of _Sachs_,
who modestly yet most feelingly gives them thanks. When _Beckmesser_
is led to the little mound of turf upon which the singer is obliged to
stand, we have the humorous variation of the Mastersinger Motive from
the Prelude. _Beckmesser's_ attempt to sing _Walther's_ poem ends, as
_Sachs_ had anticipated, in utter failure. The town clerk's effort is
received with jeers. Before he rushes away, infuriated but utterly
discomfited, he proclaims that _Sachs_ is the author of the song they
have derided. The cobbler-poet declares to the people that it is not
by him; that it is a beautiful poem if sung to the proper melody and
that he will show them the author of the poem, who will in song
disclose its beauties. He then introduces _Walther_. The knight easily
succeeds in winning over people and masters, who repeat the closing
melody of his "Prize Song" in token of their joyous appreciation of
his new and wondrous art. _Pogner_ advances to decorate _Walther_ with
the insignia of the Mastersingers' Guild.

[Music]

In more ways than one the "Prize Song" is a mainstay of "Die
Meistersinger." It has been heard in the previous scene of the third
act, not only when _Walther_ rehearses it for _Sachs_, but also in
the quintet. Moreover, versions of it occur in the overture and
indeed, throughout the work, adding greatly to the romantic sentiment
of the score. For "Die Meistersinger" is a comedy of romance.

In measures easily recognized from the Prelude, to which the Nuremburg
Motive is added, _Sachs_ now praises the masters and explains their
noble purpose as conservators of art. _Eva_ takes the wreath with
which _Walther_ has been crowned, and with it crowns _Sachs_, who has
meanwhile decorated the knight with the insignia. _Pogner_ kneels, as
if in homage, before _Sachs_, the masters point to the cobbler as to
their chief, and _Walther_ and _Eva_ remain on either side of him,
leaning gratefully upon his shoulders. The chorus repeats _Sachs's_
final admonition to the closing measures of the Prelude.


PARSIFAL

     Stage Dedication Festival Play (Bühnenweihfestspiel) in
     three acts, words and music by Richard Wagner. Produced
     Bayreuth, July 26, 1882. Save in concert form, the work was
     not given elsewhere until December 24, 1903, when it was
     produced at the Metropolitan Opera House at that time under
     the direction of Heinrich Conried.

     At the Bayreuth performances there were alternating casts.
     Winckelmann was the _Parsifal_ of the _première_, Gudehus of
     the second performance, Jäger of the third. The alternating
     _Kundrys_ were Materna, Marianne Brandt, and Malten;
     _Gurnemanz_ Scaria and Siehr; _Amfortas_ Reichmann;
     _Klingsor_, Hill and Fuchs. Hermann Levi conducted.

     In the New York cast Ternina was _Kundry_, Burgstaller
     _Parsifal_, Van Rooy _Amfortas_, Blass _Gurnemanz_, Goritz
     _Klingsor_, Journet _Titurel_, Miss Moran and Miss Braendle
     the first and second, Harden and Bayer the third and fourth
     _Esquires_, Bayer and Mühlmann two _Knights_ of the Grail,
     Homer a _Voice_.

     CHARACTERS

     AMFORTAS, son of TITUREL, ruler of the
       Kingdom of the Grail                  _Baritone-Bass_
     TITUREL, former ruler                            _Bass_
     GURNEMANZ, a veteran Knight of the Grail         _Bass_
     KLINGSOR, a magician                             _Bass_
     PARSIFAL                                        _Tenor_
     KUNDRY                                        _Soprano_
     FIRST AND SECOND KNIGHTS               _Tenor and Bass_
     FOUR ESQUIRES                     _Sopranos and Tenors_
     SIX OF KLINGSOR'S FLOWER MAIDENS             _Sopranos_

     Brotherhood of the Knights of the Grail; Youths and Boys;
     Flower Maidens (two choruses of sopranos and altos).

     _Time_--The Middle Ages.

     _Place_--Spain, near and in the Castle of the Holy Grail; in
     Klingsor's enchanted castle and in the garden of his castle.

[Illustration: Photographs of the First Performance of "Parsifal,"
Bayreuth, 1882

The Grail-Bearer]

[Illustration: Photographs of the First Performance of "Parsifal,"
Bayreuth, 1882

Winckelmann and Materna as Parsifal and Kundry

Scaria as Gurnemanz]

"Parsifal" is a familiar name to those who have heard "Lohengrin."
Lohengrin, it will be remembered, tells Elsa that he is Parsifal's son
and one of the knights of the Holy Grail. The name is written Percival
in "Lohengrin," as well as in Tennyson's "Idyls of the King." Now,
however, Wagner returns to the quainter and more "Teutonic" form of
spelling. "Parsifal" deals with an earlier period in the history of
the Grail knighthood than "Lohengrin." But there is a resemblance
between the Grail music in "Parsifal" and the "Lohengrin" music--a
resemblance not in melody, nor even in outline, but merely in the
purity and spirituality that breathes through both.

Three legends supplied Wagner with the principal characters in this
music-drama. They were "Percival le Galois; or Contes de Grail," by
Chrétien de Troyes (1190); "Parsifal," by Wolfram von Eschenbach, and
a manuscript of the fourteenth century called by scholars the
"Mabinogion." As usual, Wagner has not held himself strictly to any
one of these, but has combined them all, and revivified them through
the alchemy of his own genius.

Into the keeping of _Titurel_ and his band of Christian knights has
been given the Holy Grail, the vessel from which the Saviour drank
when He instituted the Last Supper. Into their hands, too, has been
placed, as a weapon of defence against the ungodly, the Sacred Spear,
the arm with which the Roman soldier wounded the Saviour's side. The
better to guard these sanctified relics _Titurel_, as King of the
Grail knighthood, has reared a castle, Montsalvat, which, from its
forest-clad height, facing Arabian Spain, forms a bulwark of
Christendom against the pagan world and especially against _Klingsor_,
a sorcerer and an enemy of the good. Yet time and again this
_Klingsor_, whose stronghold is nearby, has succeeded in enticing
champions of the Grail into his magic garden, with its lure of
flower-maidens and its arch-enchantress _Kundry_, a rarely beautiful
woman, and in making them his servitors against their one-time
brothers-in-arms.

Even _Amfortas_, _Titurel's_ son, to whom _Titurel_, grown old in
service and honour, has confided his reign and wardship, has not
escaped the thrall of _Klingsor's_ sorcery. Eager to begin his reign
by destroying _Klingsor's_ power at one stroke, he penetrated into the
garden to attack and slay him. But he failed to reckon with human
frailty. Yielding to the snare so skilfully laid by the sorcerer and
forgetting, at the feet of the enchantress, _Kundry_, the mission upon
which he had sallied forth, he allowed the Sacred Spear to drop from
his hand. It was seized by the evil-doer he had come to destroy, and
he himself was grievously wounded with it before the knights who
rushed to his rescue could bear him off.

This wound no skill has sufficed to heal. It is sapping _Amfortas's_
strength. Indecision, gloom, have come over the once valiant
brotherhood. Only the touch of the Sacred Spear that made the wound
will avail to close it, but there is only one who can regain it from
_Klingsor_. For to _Amfortas_, prostrate in supplication for a sign, a
mystic voice from the sanctuary of the Grail replied:

     By pity guided,
       The guileless fool;
     Wait for him,
       My chosen tool.

This prophecy the knights construe to signify that their king's
salvation can be wrought only by youth so "guileless," so wholly
ignorant of sin, that, instead of succumbing to the temptations of
_Klingsor's_ magic garden, he will become, through resisting them,
cognizant of _Amfortas's_ guilt, and, stirred by pity for him, make
his redemption the mission of his life, regain the Spear and heal him
with it. And so the Grail warders are waiting, waiting for the coming
of the "guileless fool."

The working out of this prophecy forms the absorbing subject of the
story of "Parsifal." The plot is allegorical. _Parsifal_ is the
personification of Christianity, _Klingsor_ of Paganism, and the
triumph of _Parsifal_ over _Klingsor_ is the triumph of Christianity
over Paganism.

The character of _Kundry_ is one of Wagner's most striking creations.
She is a sort of female Ahasuerus--a wandering Jewess. In the
Mabinogion manuscript she is no other than Herodias, condemned to
wander for ever because she laughed at the head of John the Baptist.
Here Wagner makes another change. According to him she is condemned
for laughing in the face of the Saviour as he was bearing the cross.
She seeks forgiveness by serving the Grail knights as messenger on her
swift horse, but ever and anon she is driven by the curse hanging over
her back to _Klingsor_, who changes her to a beautiful woman and
places her in his garden to lure the Knights of the Grail. She can be
freed only by one who resists her temptations. Finally she is freed by
_Parsifal_ and is baptized. In her character of Grail messenger she
has much in common with the wild messengers of Walhalla, the Valkyrs.
Indeed, in the Edda Saga, her name appears in the first part of the
compound Gundryggja, which denotes the office of the Valkyrs.

THE VORSPIEL

The _Vorspiel_ to "Parsifal" is based on three of the most deeply
religious motives in the entire work. It opens with the =Motive of the
Sacrament=, over which, when it is repeated, _arpeggios_ hover, as in
the religious paintings of old masters angel forms float above the
figure of virgin or saint.

[Music]

Through this motive we gain insight into the office of the Knights of
the Grail, who from time to time strengthen themselves for their
spiritual duties by partaking of the communion, on which occasions the
Grail itself is uncovered. This motive leads to the =Grail Motive=,
effectively swelling to forte and then dying away in ethereal
harmonies, like the soft light with which the Grail illumines the hall
in which the knights gather to worship.

[Music]

The trumpets then announce the =Motive of Faith=, severe but
sturdy--portraying superbly the immutability of faith.

[Music]

The Grail Motive is heard again and then the Motive of Faith is
repeated, its severity exquisitely softened, so that it conveys a
sense of peace which "passeth all understanding."

[Music]

The rest of the _Vorspiel_ is agitated. That portion of the Motive of
the Sacrament which appears later as the Spear Motive here assumes
through a slight change a deeply sad character, and becomes typical
throughout the work of the sorrow wrought by _Amfortas's_ crime. I
call it the =Elegiac Motive=.

[Music]

Thus the _Vorspiel_ depicts both the religious duties which play so
prominent a part in the drama, and unhappiness which _Amfortas's_
sinful forgetfulness of these duties has brought upon himself and his
knights.

Act I. One of the sturdiest of the knights, the aged _Gurnemanz_, grey
of head and beard, watches near the outskirts of the forest. One dawn
finds him seated under a majestic tree. Two young _Esquires_ lie in
slumber at his feet. Far off, from the direction of the castle, sounds
a solemn reveille.

"Hey! Ho!" _Gurnemanz_ calls with brusque humour to the _Esquires_.
"Not forest, but sleep warders I deem you!" The youths leap to their
feet; then, hearing the solemn reveille, kneel in prayer. The Motive
of Peace echoes their devotional thoughts. A wondrous peace seems to
rest upon the scene. But the transgression of the _King_ ever breaks
the tranquil spell. For soon two _Knights_ come in the van of the
train that thus early bears the _King_ from a bed of suffering to the
forest lake nearby, in whose waters he would bathe his wound. They
pause to parley with _Gurnemanz_, but are interrupted by outcries from
the youths and sounds of rushing through air.

"Mark the wild horsewoman!"--"The mane of the devil's mare flies
madly!"--"Aye, 'tis Kundry!"--"She has swung herself off," cry the
_Esquires_ as they watch the approach of the strange creature that
now rushes in--a woman clad in coarse, wild garb girdled high with a
snake-skin, her thick black hair tumbling about her shoulders, her
features swarthy, her dark eyes now flashing, now fixed and glassy.
Precipitately she thrusts a small crystal flask into _Gurnemanz's_
hand.

"Balsam--for the king!" There is a savagery in her manner that seems
designed to ward off thanks, when _Gurnemanz_ asks her whence she has
brought the flask, and she replies: "From farther away than your
thought can travel. If it fail, Arabia bears naught else that can ease
his pain. Ask no further. I am weary."

Throwing herself upon the ground and resting her face on her hands,
she watches the _King_ borne in, replies to his thanks for the balsam
with a wild, mocking laugh, and follows him with her eyes as they bear
him on his litter toward the lake, while _Gurnemanz_ and four
_Esquires_ remain behind.

_Kundry's_ rapid approach on her wild horse is accompanied by a
furious gallop in the orchestra.

[Music]

Then, as she rushes upon the stage, the =Kundry Motive=--a headlong
descent of the string instruments through four octaves--is heard.

[Music]

_Kundry's_ action in seeking balsam for the _King's_ wound gives us
insight into the two contradictory natures represented by her
character. For here is the woman who has brought all his suffering
upon _Amfortas_ striving to ease it when she is free from the evil
sway of _Klingsor_. She is at times the faithful messenger of the
Grail; at times the evil genius of its defenders.

When _Amfortas_ is borne in upon a litter there is heard the =Motive of
Amfortas's Suffering=, expressive of his physical and mental agony. It
has a peculiar heavy, dragging rhythm, as if his wound slowly were
sapping his life.

[Music]

A beautiful idyl is played by the orchestra when the knights bear
_Amfortas_ to the forest lake.

[Music]

One of the youths, who has remained with _Gurnemanz_, noting that
_Kundry_ still lies where she had flung herself upon the ground, calls
out scornfully, "Why do you lie there like a savage beast?"

"Are not even the beasts here sacred?" she retorts, but harshly, and
not as if pleading for sufferance. The other _Esquires_ would have
joined in harassing her had not _Gurnemanz_ stayed them.

"Never has she done you harm. She serves the Grail, and only when she
remains long away, none knows in what distant lands, does harm come to
us." Then, turning to where she lies, he asks: "Where were you
wandering when our leader lost the Sacred Spear? Why were you not here
to help us then?"

"I never help!" is her sullen retort, although a tremor, as if caused
by a pang of bitter reproach, passes over her frame.

"If she wants to serve the Grail, why not send her to recover the
Sacred Spear!" exclaims one of the _Esquires_ sarcastically; and the
youths doubtless would have resumed their nagging of _Kundry_, had not
mention of the holy weapon caused _Gurnemanz_ to give voice to
memories of the events that have led to its capture by _Klingsor_.
Then, yielding to the pressing of the youths who gather at his feet
beneath the tree, he tells them of _Klingsor_--how the sorcerer has
sued for admission to the Grail brotherhood, which was denied him by
_Titurel_, how in revenge he has sought its destruction and now,
through possession of the Sacred Spear, hopes to compass it.

Prominent with other motives already heard, is a new one, the =Klingsor
Motive=:

[Music]

During this recital _Kundry_ still lies upon the ground, a sullen,
forbidding looking creature. At the point when _Gurnemanz_ tells of
the sorcerer's magic garden and of the enchantress who has lured
_Amfortas_ to his downfall, she turns in quick, angry unrest, as if
she would away, but is held to the spot by some dark and compelling
power. There is indeed something strange and contradictory in this
wild creature, who serves the Grail by ranging distant lands in
search of balsam for the _King's_ wound, yet abruptly, vindictively
almost, repels proffered thanks, and is a sullen and unwilling
listener to _Gurnemanz's_ narrative. Furthermore, as _Gurnemanz_
queried, where does she linger during those long absences, when harm
has come to the warders of the Grail and now to their _King_? The
Knights of the Grail do not know it, but it is none other than she
who, changed by _Klingsor_ into an enchantress, lures them into his
magic garden.

_Gurnemanz_ concludes by telling the _Esquire_ that while _Amfortas_
was praying for a sign as to who could heal him, phantom lips
pronounced these words:

     By pity lightened
       The guileless fool;
     Wait for him,
       My chosen tool.

This introduces an important motive, that of the =Prophecy=, a phrase of
simple beauty, as befits the significance of the words to which it is
sung. _Gurnemanz_ sings the entire motive and then the _Esquires_ take
it up.

[Music]

They have sung only the first two lines when suddenly their prayerful
voices are interrupted by shouts of dismay from the direction of the
lake. A moment later a wounded swan, one of the sacred birds of the
Grail brotherhood, flutters over the stage and falls dead near
_Gurnemanz_. The knights follow in consternation. Two of them bring
_Parsifal_, whom they have seized and accuse of murdering the sacred
bird. As he appears the magnificent =Parsifal Motive= rings out on the
horns:

[Music]

It is a buoyant and joyous motive, full of the wild spirit and freedom
of this child of nature, who knows nothing of the Grail and its
brotherhood or the sacredness of the swan, and freely boasts of his
skilful marksmanship. During this episode the Swan Motive from
"Lohengrin" is effectively introduced. Then follows _Gurnemanz's_
noble reproof, sung to a broad and expressive melody. Even the animals
are sacred in the region of the Grail and are protected from harm.
_Parsifal's_ gradual awakening to a sense of wrong is one of the most
touching scenes of the music-drama. His childlike grief when he
becomes conscious of the pain he has caused is so simple and pathetic
that one cannot but be deeply affected.

After _Gurnemanz_ has ascertained that _Parsifal_ knows nothing of the
wrong he committed in killing the swan he plies him with questions
concerning his parentage. _Parsifal_ is now gentle and tranquil. He
tells of growing up in the woods, of running away from his mother to
follow a cavalcade of knights who passed along the edge of the forest
and of never having seen her since. In vain he endeavours to recall
the many pet names she gave him. These memories of his early days
introduce the sad motive of his mother, =Herzeleid= (Heart's Sorrow) who
has died in grief.

[Music]

The old knight then proceeds to ply _Parsifal_ with questions
regarding his parentage, name, and native land. "I do not know," is
the youth's invariable answer. His ignorance, coupled, however, with
his naïve nobility of bearing and the fact that he has made his way to
the Grail domain, engender in _Gurnemanz_ the hope that here at last
is the "guileless fool" for whom prayerfully they have been waiting,
and the _King_, having been borne from the lake toward the castle
where the holy rite of unveiling the Grail is to be celebrated that
day, thither _Gurnemanz_ in kindly accents bids the youth follow him.

Then occurs a dramatically effective change of scene. The scenery
becomes a panorama drawn off toward the right, and as _Parsifal_ and
_Gurnemanz_ face toward the left they appear to be walking in that
direction. The forest disappears; a cave opens in rocky cliffs and
conceals the two; they are then seen again in sloping passages which
they appear to ascend. Long sustained trombone notes softly swell;
approaching peals of bells are heard. At last they arrive at a mighty
hall which loses itself overhead in a high vaulted dome, down from
which alone the light streams in.

The change of scene is ushered in by the solemn =Bell Motive=, which is
the basis of the powerful orchestral interlude accompanying the
panorama, and also of the scene in the hall of the Grail Castle.

[Music]

As the communion, which is soon to be celebrated, is broken in upon by
the violent grief and contrition of _Amfortas_, so the majestic sweep
of this symphony is interrupted by the agonized =Motive of Contrition=,
which graphically portrays the spiritual suffering of the _King_.

This subtly suggests the Elegiac Motive and the Motive of Amfortas's
Suffering, but in greatly intensified degrees. For it is like an
outcry of torture that affects both body and soul.

With the Motive of the Sacrament resounding solemnly upon the
trombones, followed by the Bell Motive, sonorous and powerful,
_Gurnemanz_ and _Parsifal_ enter the hall, the old knight giving the
youth a position from which he can observe the proceedings. From the
deep colonnades on either side in the rear the knights issue, march
with stately tread, and arrange themselves at the horseshoe-shaped
table, which incloses a raised couch. Then, while the orchestra plays
a solemn processional based on the Bell Motive, they intone the
chorus: "To the last love feast." After the first verse a line of
pages crosses the stage and ascend into the dome. The graceful
interlude here is based on the Bell Motive.

[Music]

The chorus of knights closes with a glorious outburst of the Grail
Motive as _Amfortas_ is borne in, preceded by pages who bear the
covered Grail. The _King_ is lifted upon the couch and the holy vessel
is placed upon the stone table in front of it. When the Grail Motive
has died away amid the pealing of the bells, the youths in the gallery
below the dome sing a chorus of penitence based upon the Motive of
Contrition. Then the Motive of Faith floats down from the dome as an
unaccompanied chorus for boys' voices--a passage of ethereal
beauty--the orchestra whispering a brief postludium like a faint echo.
This is, when sung as it was at Bayreuth, where I heard the first
performance of "Parsifal" in 1882, the most exquisite effect of the
whole score. For spirituality it is unsurpassed. It is an absolutely
perfect example of religious music--a beautiful melody without the
slightest worldly taint.

_Titurel_ now summons _Amfortas_ to perform his sacred office--to
uncover the Grail. At first, tortured by contrition for his sin, of
which the agony from his wound is a constant reminder, he refuses to
obey his aged father's summons. In anguish he cries out that he is
unworthy of the sacred office. But again ethereal voices float down
from the dome. They now chant the prophecy of the "guileless fool"
and, as if comforted by the hope of ultimate redemption, _Amfortas_
uncovers the Grail. Dusk seems to spread over the hall. Then a ray of
brilliant light darts down upon the sacred vessel, which shines with a
soft purple radiance that diffuses itself through the hall. All are on
their knees save the youth, who has stood motionless and obtuse to the
significance of all he has heard and seen save that during
_Amfortas's_ anguish he has clutched his heart as if he too felt the
pang. But when the rite is over--when the knights have partaken of
communion--and the glow has faded, and the _King_, followed by his
knights, has been borne out, the youth remains behind, vigorous,
handsome, but to all appearances a dolt.

"Do you know what you have witnessed?" _Gurnemanz_ asks harshly, for
he is grievously disappointed.

For answer the youth shakes his head.

"Just a fool, after all," exclaims the old knight, as he opens a side
door to the hall. "Begone, but take my advice. In future leave our
swans alone, and seek yourself, gander, a goose!" And with these harsh
words he pushes the youth out and angrily slams the door behind him.

This jarring break upon the religious feeling awakened by the scene
would be a rude ending for the act, but Wagner, with exquisite tact,
allows the voices in the dome to be heard once more, and so the
curtains close, amid the spiritual harmonies of the Prophecy of the
Guileless Fool and of the Grail Motive.

Act II. This act plays in _Klingsor's_ magic castle and garden. The
_Vorspiel_ opens with the threatful Klingsor motive, which is followed
by the Magic and Contrition Motives, the wild Kundry Motive leading
over to the first scene.

In the inner keep of his tower, stone steps leading up to the
battlemented parapet and down into a deep pit at the back, stands
_Klingsor_, looking into a metal mirror, whose surface, through his
necromancy, reflects all that transpires within the environs of the
fastness from which he ever threatens the warders of the Grail. Of all
that just has happened in the Grail's domain it has made him aware;
and he knows that of which _Gurnemanz_ is ignorant--that the youth,
whose approach the mirror divulges, once in his power, vain will be
the prophecy of the "guileless fool" and his own triumph assured. For
it is that same "guileless fool" the old knight impatiently has thrust
out.

_Klingsor_ turns toward the pit and imperiously waves his hand. A
bluish vapour rises from the abyss and in it floats the form of a
beauteous woman--_Kundry_, not the _Kundry_ of a few hours before,
dishevelled and in coarse garb girdled with snake-skin; but a houri,
her dark hair smooth and lustrous, her robe soft, rich Oriental
draperies. Yet even as she floats she strives as though she would
descend to where she has come from, while the sorcerer's harsh laugh
greets her vain efforts. This then is the secret of her strange
actions and her long disappearances from the Grail domain, during
which so many of its warders have fallen into _Klingsor's_ power! She
is the snare he sets, she the arch-enchantress of his magic garden.
Striving as he hints while he mocks her impotence, to expiate some sin
committed by her during a previous existence in the dim past, by
serving the brotherhood of the Grail knights, the sorcerer's power
over her is such that at any moment he can summon her to aid him in
their destruction.

Well she knows what the present summons means. Approaching the tower
at this very moment is the youth whom she has seen in the Grail
forest, and in whom she, like _Klingsor_, has recognized the only
possible redeemer of _Amfortas_ and of--herself. And now she must lure
him to his doom and with it lose her last hope of salvation, now, aye,
now--for even as he mocks her, _Klingsor_ once more waves his hand,
castle and keep vanish as if swallowed up by the earth, and in its
place a garden heavy with the scent of gorgeous flowers fills the
landscape.

The orchestra, with the Parsifal Motive, gives a spirited description
of the brief combat between _Parsifal_ and _Klingsor's_ knights. It is
amid the dark harmonies of the Klingsor Motive that the keep sinks out
of sight and the magic garden, spreading out in all directions, with
_Parsifal_ standing on the wall and gazing with astonishment upon the
brilliant scene, is disclosed.

The _Flower Maidens_ in great trepidation for the fate of their lover
knights rush in from all sides with cries of sorrow, their confused
exclamations and the orchestral accompaniment admirably enforcing
their tumultuous actions.

The Parsifal Motive again introduces the next episode, as _Parsifal_,
attracted by the grace and beauty of the girls, leaps down into the
garden and seeks to mingle with them. It is repeated several times in
the course of the scene. The girls, seeing that he does not seek to
harm them, bedeck themselves with flowers and crowd about him with
alluring gestures, finally circling around him as they sing this
caressing melody:

[Music]

The effect is enchanting, the music of this episode being a marvel of
sensuous grace. _Parsifal_ regards them with childlike, innocent joy.
Then they seek to impress him more deeply with their charms, at the
same time quarrelling among themselves over him. When their rivalry
has reached its height, _Kundry's_ voice--"Parsifal, tarry!"--is
wafted from a flowery nook nearby.

[Music]

"Parsifal!" In all the years of his wandering none has called him by
his name; and now it floats toward him as if borne on the scent of
roses. A beautiful woman, her arms stretched out to him, welcomes him
from her couch of brilliant, redolent flowers. Irresistibly drawn
toward her, he approaches and kneels by her side; and she, whispering
to him in tender accents, leans over him and presses a long kiss upon
his lips. It is the lure that has sealed the fate of many a knight of
the Grail. But in the youth it inspires a sudden change. The perilous
subtlety of it, that is intended to destroy, transforms the "guileless
fool" into a conscious man, and that man conscious of a mission. The
scenes he has witnessed in the Grail castle, the stricken _King_ whose
wound ever bled afresh, the part he is to play, the peril of the
temptation that has been placed in his path--all these things become
revealed to him in the rapture of that unhallowed kiss. In vain the
enchantress seeks to draw him toward her. He thrusts her from him.
Maddened by the repulse, compelled through _Klingsor's_ arts to see in
the handsome youth before her lawful prey, she calls upon the sorcerer
to aid her. At her outcry _Klingsor_ appears on the castle wall, in
his hand the Spear taken from _Amfortas_, and, as _Parsifal_ faces
him, hurls it full at him. But lo, it rises in its flight and remains
suspended in the air over the head of him it was aimed to slay.

Reaching out and seizing it, _Parsifal_ makes with it the sign of the
cross. Castle and garden wall crumble into ruins, the garden shrivels
away, leaving in its place a sere wilderness, through which
_Parsifal_, leaving _Kundry_ as one dead upon the ground, sets forth
in search of the castle of the Grail, there to fulfil the mission with
which now he knows himself charged.

Act III. Not until after long wanderings through the wilderness,
however, is it that _Parsifal_ once more finds himself on the
outskirts of the Grail forest. Clad from head to foot in black armour,
his visor closed, the Holy Spear in his hand, he approaches the spot
where _Gurnemanz_, now grown very old, still holds watch, while
_Kundry_, again in coarse garb, but grown strangely pale and gentle,
humbly serves the brotherhood. It is Good Friday morn, and peace
rests upon the forest.

_Kundry_ is the first to discern the approach of the black knight.
From the tender exaltation of her mien, as she draws _Gurnemanz's_
look toward the silent figure, it is apparent that she divines who it
is and why he comes. To _Gurnemanz_, however, he is but an armed
intruder on sanctified ground and upon a holy day, and, as the black
knight seats himself on a little knoll near a spring and remains
silent, the old warder chides him for his offence. Tranquilly the
knight rises, thrusts the Spear he bears into the ground before him,
lays down his sword and shield before it, opens his helmet, and,
removing it from his head, places it with the other arms, and then
himself kneels in silent prayer before the Spear. Surprise,
recognition of man and weapon, and deep emotion succeed each other on
_Gurnemanz's_ face. Gently he raises _Parsifal_ from his kneeling
posture, once more seats him on the knoll by the spring, loosens his
greaves and corselet, and then places upon him the coat of mail and
mantle of the knights of the Grail, while _Kundry_, drawing a golden
flask from her bosom anoints his feet and dries them with her loosened
hair. Then _Gurnemanz_ takes from her the flask, and, pouring its
contents upon _Parsifal's_ head, anoints him king of the knights of
the Grail. The new king performs his first office by taking up water
from the spring in the hollow of his hand and baptizing _Kundry_,
whose eyes, suffused with tears, are raised to him in gentle rapture.

Here is heard the stately =Motive of Baptism=:

[Music]

The "Good Friday Spell," one of Wagner's most beautiful mood paintings
in tone color, is the most prominent episode in these scenes.

[Music]

Once more _Gurnemanz_, _Kundry_ now following, leads the way toward
the castle of the Grail. _Amfortas's_ aged father, _Titurel_,
uncomforted by the vision of the Grail, which _Amfortas_, in his
passionate contrition, deems himself too sullied to unveil, has died,
and the knights having gathered in the great hall, _Titurel's_ bier is
borne in solemn procession and placed upon a catafalque before
_Amfortas's_ couch.

"Uncover the shrine!" shout the knights, pressing upon _Amfortas_. For
answer, and in a paroxysm of despair, he springs up, tears his
garments asunder and shows his open wound. "Slay me!" he cries. "Take
up your weapons! Bury your sword-blades deep--deep in me, to the
hilts! Kill me, and so kill the pain that tortures me!"

As _Amfortas_ stands there in an ecstasy of pain, _Parsifal_ enters,
and, quietly advancing, touches the wound with the point of the Spear.

"One weapon only serves to staunch your wounded side--the one that
struck it."

_Amfortas's_ torture changes to highest rapture. The shrine is opened
and _Parsifal_, taking the Grail, which again radiates with light,
waves it gently to and fro, as _Amfortas_ and all the knights kneel in
homage to him, while _Kundry_, gazing up to him in gratitude, sinks
gently into the sleep of death and forgiveness for which she has
longed.

The music of this entire scene floats upon ethereal _arpeggios_. The
Motive of Faith especially is exquisitely accompanied, its spiritual
harmonies finally appearing in this form.

[Music]

There are also heard the Motives of Prophecy and of the Sacrament, as
the knights on the stage and the youths and boys in the dome chant.
The Grail Motive, which is prominent throughout the scene, rises as if
in a spirit of gentle religious triumph and brings, with the Sacrament
Motive, the work to a close.



Gioachino Antonio Rossini

(1792-1868)


It would be difficult to persuade any one today that Rossini was a
reformer of opera. But his instrumentation, excessively simple as it
seems to us, was regarded, by his contemporaries, as distracting too
much attention from the voices. This was one of the reasons his
_Semiramide_ was coolly received at its production in Venice, 1823.

But however simple, not to say primitive, the instrumentation of his
Italian operas now strikes us, he made one great innovation in opera
for which we readily can grant him recognition as a reformer. He
dispensed with _secco_ recitative, the so-called "dry" recitative,
which I have mentioned as a drawback to the operatic scores of Mozart.
For this Rossini substituted a more dramatic recital of the text
leading up to the vocal numbers, and accompanied it with such
instruments, or combinations of instruments even to full orchestra, as
he considered necessary. We accept a well accompanied recitative in
opera as a matter of course. But in its day it was a bold step
forward, and Rossini should receive full credit for it. Indeed it will
be found that nearly all composers, whose works survive in the
repertoire, instead of tamely accepting the routine of workmanship in
opera, as inherited from their predecessors, had ideas of their own,
which they put into effect, sometimes at the temporary sacrifice of
popularity. Gluck and Wagner, especially the latter, were extreme
types of the musical reformer. Compared with them Rossini was mild.
But his merits should be conceded, and gratefully.

Rossini often is spoken of as the "Swan of Pesaro," where he was born.
His mother sang _buffa_ rôles in a travelling opera troupe, in the
orchestra of which his father was a horn player. After previous
musical instruction in Bologna, he was turned over to Angelo Tesei,
sang in church and afterwards travelled with his parents both as
singer and accompanist, thus gaining at first hand valuable experience
in matters operatic. In 1807 he entered the Liceo (conservatory) at
Bologna, studying 'cello under Cavedagni and composition with Padre
Mattei. By 1810 already he was able to bring out in Venice, and with
applause, a one act comedy opera, "La Cambiale di Matrimonio." During
1812 he received commissions for no less than five light operas,
scoring, in 1813, with his "Tancredi" his first success in the grand
manner. There was scarcely a year now that did not see a work from his
pen, sometimes two, until his "Guillaume Tell" was produced in Paris,
1829. This was an entire change of style from his earlier works,
possibly, however, foreshadowed by his "Comte Ory," a revision of a
previous score, and produced, as was his "Tell," at the Grand Opéra.

"Guillaume Tell" not only is written to a French libretto; it is in
the French style of grand opera, in which the vocal melody is less
ornate and the instrumental portion of the score more carefully
considered than in the Italian.

During the remaining thirty-nine years of his life not another opera
did Rossini compose. He appears deliberately to have formed this
resolution in 1836, after hearing "Les Huguenots" by Meyerbeer, as if
he considered it useless for him to attempt to rival that composer. He
resided in Bologna and Florence until 1855, then in Paris, or near
there, dying at Ruelle.

He presents the strange spectacle of a successful composer of opera,
who lived to be seventy-six, abruptly closing his dramatic career at
thirty-seven.


IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA

THE BARBER OF SEVILLE

     Opera in two acts, by Rossini; text by Cesare Sterbini,
     founded on Beaumarchais. Produced, Argentina Theatre, Rome,
     February 5, 1816; London, King's Theatre, March 10, 1818.
     Paris, in Italian, 1819; in French, 1824. New York, in
     English, at the Park Theatre, May 3, 1819, with Thomas
     Phillipps and Miss Leesugg, as _Almaviva_ and _Rosina_; in
     Italian, at the Park Theatre, November 29, 1825, with Manuel
     Garcia, the elder, as _Almaviva_; Manuel Garcia, the
     younger, _Figaro_; Signorina Garcia (afterwards the famous
     Malibran), _Rosina_; Signor Rosick, _Dr. Bartolo_; Signor
     Angrisani, _Don Basilio_; Signor Crivelli, the younger,
     _Fiorello_, and Signora Garcia, _mère_, _Berta_. (See
     concluding paragraphs of this article.) Adelina Patti,
     Melba, Sembrich, Tetrazzini are among the prima donnas who
     have been familiar to opera lovers in this country as
     _Rosina_. Galli-Curci appeared in this rôle in Chicago,
     January 1, 1917.

     CHARACTERS

     COUNT ALMAVIVA                                  _Tenor_
     DOCTOR BARTOLO                                   _Bass_
     BASILIO, a Singing Teacher                       _Bass_
     FIGARO, a Barber                             _Baritone_
     FIORELLO, servant to the Count                   _Bass_
     AMBROSIO, servant to the Doctor                  _Bass_
     ROSINA, the Doctor's ward                     _Soprano_
     BERTA (or MARCELLINA), Rosina's Governess     _Soprano_

     Notary, Constable, Musicians and Soldiers.

     _Time_--Seventeenth Century.

     _Place_--Seville, Spain.

Upon episodes in Beaumarchais's trilogy of "Figaro" comedies two
composers, Mozart and Rossini, based operas that have long maintained
their hold upon the repertoire. The three Beaumarchais comedies are
"Le Barbier de Séville," "Le Mariage de Figaro," and "La Mère
Coupable." Mozart selected the second of these, Rossini the first; so
that although in point of composition Mozart's "Figaro" (May, 1786)
antedates Rossini's "Barbiere" (February, 1816) by nearly thirty
years, "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" precedes "Le Nozze di Figaro" in
point of action. In both operas _Figaro_ is a prominent character,
and, while the composers were of wholly different nationality and
race, their music is genuinely and equally sparkling and witty. To
attempt to decide between them by the flip of a coin would be "heads I
win, tails you lose."

There is much to say about the first performance of "Il Barbiere di
Siviglia"; also about the overture, the origin of _Almaviva's_
graceful solo, "Ecco ridente in cielo," and the music selected by
prima donnas to sing in the "lesson scene" in the second act. But
these details are better preceded by some information regarding the
story and the music.

       *       *       *       *       *

Act I, Scene 1. A street by _Dr. Bartolo's_ house. _Count Almaviva_, a
Grandee of Spain, is desperately in love with _Rosina_, the ward of
_Doctor Bartolo_. Accompanied by his servant Fiorello and a band of
lutists, he serenades her with the smooth, flowing measures of "Ecco
ridente in cielo," (Lo, smiling in the Eastern sky).

[Music: Ecco ridente in cielo,]

Just then _Figaro_, the barber, the general factotum and busybody of
the town, dances in, singing the famous patter air, "Largo al factotum
della città" (Room for the city's factotum).

[Music: Largo al factotum della città largo,]

He is _Dr. Bartolo's_ barber, and, learning from the _Count_ of his
heart's desire, immediately plots with him to bring about his
introduction to _Rosina_. There are two clever duets between _Figaro_
and the _Count_--one in which _Almaviva_ promises money to the
_Barber_; the other in praise of love and pleasure.

_Rosina_ is strictly watched by her guardian, _Doctor Bartolo_, who
himself plans to marry his ward, since she has both beauty and money.
In this he is assisted by _Basilio_, a music-master. _Rosina_,
however, returns the affection of the _Count_, and, in spite of the
watchfulness of her guardian, she contrives to drop a letter from the
balcony to _Almaviva_, who is still with _Figaro_ below, declaring her
passion, and at the same time requesting to know her lover's name.

Scene 2. Room in _Dr. Bartolo's_ house. _Rosina_ enters. She sings the
brilliant "Una voce poco fa" (A little voice I heard just now),

[Music: Una voce poco fa qui nel cor mi risuonò]

followed by "Io sono docile" (With mild and docile air).

[Music: Io sono docile, son rispettosa,]

_Figaro_, who has left _Almaviva_ and come in from the street, tells
her that the _Count_ is Signor Lindor, claims him as a cousin, and
adds that the young man is deeply in love with her. _Rosina_ is
delighted. She gives him a note to convey to the supposed Signor
Lindor. (Duet, _Rosina_ and _Figaro_: "Dunque io son, tu non
m'inganni?"--Am I his love, or dost thou mock me?)

Meanwhile _Bartolo_ has made known to _Basilio_ his suspicions that
_Count Almaviva_ is in love with _Rosina_. _Basilio_ advises to start
a scandal about the _Count_ and, in an aria ("La calunnia") remarkable
for its descriptive crescendo, depicts how calumny may spread from the
first breath to a tempest of scandal.

[Music: La calunnia è un venticello]

To obtain an interview with _Rosina_, the _Count_ disguises himself as
a drunken soldier, and forces his way into _Bartolo's_ house. The
disguise of _Almaviva_ is penetrated by the guardian, and the
pretended soldier is placed under arrest, but is at once released upon
secretly showing the officer his order as a Grandee of Spain. Chorus,
preceded by the trio, for _Rosina_, _Almaviva_ and _Bartolo_--"Fredda
ed immobile" (Awestruck and immovable).

Act II. The _Count_ again enters _Bartolo's_ house. He is now
disguised as a music teacher, and pretends that he has been sent by
_Basilio_ to give a lesson in music, on account of the illness of the
latter. He obtains the confidence of _Bartolo_ by producing _Rosina's_
letter to himself, and offering to persuade _Rosina_ that the letter
has been given him by a mistress of the _Count_. In this manner he
obtains the desired opportunity, under the guise of a music
lesson--the "music lesson" scene, which is discussed below--to hold a
whispered conversation with _Rosina_. _Figaro_ also manages to obtain
the keys of the balcony, an escape is determined on at midnight, and a
private marriage arranged. Now, however, _Basilio_ makes his
appearance. The lovers are disconcerted, but manage, by persuading the
music-master that he really is ill--an illness accelerated by a full
purse slipped into his hand by _Almaviva_--to get rid of him. Duet for
_Rosina_ and _Almaviva_, "Buona sera, mio Signore" (Fare you well
then, good Signore).

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Mishkin

Sammarco as Figaro in "The Barber of Seville"]

[Music:

(Count) Buona sera, mio Signore

(Rosina) Buona sera, buona sera;]

When the _Count_ and _Figaro_ have gone, _Bartolo_, who possesses the
letter _Rosina_ wrote to _Almaviva_, succeeds, by producing it, and
telling her he secured it from another lady-love of the _Count_, in
exciting the jealousy of his ward. In her anger she discloses the plan
of escape and agrees to marry her guardian. At the appointed time,
however, _Figaro_ and the _Count_ make their appearance--the lovers
are reconciled, and a notary, procured by _Bartolo_ for his own
marriage to _Rosina_, celebrates the marriage of the loving pair. When
the guardian enters, with officers of justice, into whose hands he is
about to consign _Figaro_ and the _Count_, he is too late, but is
reconciled by a promise that he shall receive the equivalent of his
ward's dower.

       *       *       *       *       *

Besides the music that has been mentioned, there should be reference
to "the big quintet" of the arrival and departure of _Basilio_. Just
before _Almaviva_ and _Figaro_ enter for the elopement there is a
storm. The delicate trio for _Almaviva_, _Rosina_ and _Figaro_,
"Zitti, zitti, piano" (Softly, softly and in silence), bears, probably
without intention, a resemblance to a passage in Haydn's "Seasons."

[Music: Zitti, zitti, piano, piano,]

The first performance of "Il Barbiere di Siviglia," an opera that has
held its own for over a century, was a scandalous failure, which,
however, was not without its amusing incidents. Castil-Blaze, Giuseppe
Carpani in his "Rossiniane," and Stendhal in "Vie de Rossini" (a lot
of it "cribbed" from Carpani) have told the story. Moreover the
_Rosina_ of the evening, Mme. Giorgi-Righetti, who was both pretty and
popular, has communicated her reminiscences.

December 26, 1815, Duke Cesarini, manager of the Argentine Theatre,
Rome, for whom Rossini had contracted to write two operas, brought out
the first of these, "Torvaldo e Dorliska," which was poorly received.
Thereupon Cesarini handed to the composer the libretto of "Il Barbiere
di Siviglia," which Paisiello, who was still living, had set to music
more than half a century before. A pleasant memory of the old master's
work still lingered with the Roman public. The honorarium was 400
Roman crowns (about $400) and Rossini also was called upon to preside
over the orchestra at the pianoforte at the first three performances.
It is said that Rossini composed his score in a fortnight. Even if not
strictly true, from December 26th to the February 5th following is but
little more than a month. The young composer had too much sense not to
honour Paisiello; or, at least, to appear to. He hastened to write to
the old composer. The latter, although reported to have been intensely
jealous of the young maestro (Rossini was only twenty-five) since the
sensational success of the latter's "Elisabetta, Regina d'Inghilterra"
(Elizabeth, Queen of England), Naples, 1815, replied that he had no
objection to another musician dealing with the subject of his opera.
In reality, it is said, he counted on Rossini's making a glaring
failure of the attempt. The libretto was rearranged by Sterbini, and
Rossini wrote a preface, modest in tone, yet not without a hint that
he considered the older score out of date. But he took the precaution
to show Paisiello's letter to all the music lovers of Rome, and
insisted on changing the title of the opera to "Almaviva, ossia
l'Inutile Precauzione" (Almaviva, or the Useless Precaution).

Nevertheless, as soon as the rumour spread that Rossini was making
over Paisiello's work, the young composer's enemies hastened to talk
in the cafés about what they called his "underhand action." Paisiello
himself, it is believed, was not foreign to these intrigues. A letter
in his handwriting was shown to Rossini. In this he is said to have
written from Naples to one of his friends in Rome urging him to
neglect nothing that would make certain the failure of Rossini's
opera.

Mme. Giorgi-Righetti reports that "hot-headed enemies" assembled at
their posts as soon as the theatre opened, while Rossini's friends,
disappointed by the recent ill luck of "Torvaldo e Dorliska" were
timid in their support of the new work. Furthermore, according to Mme.
Giorgi-Righetti, Rossini weakly yielded to a suggestion from Garcia,
and permitted that artist, the _Almaviva_ of the première, to
substitute for the air which is sung under _Rosina's_ balcony, a
Spanish melody with guitar accompaniment. The scene being laid in
Spain, this would aid in giving local colour to the work--such was the
idea. But it went wrong. By an unfortunate oversight no one had tuned
the guitar with which _Almaviva_ was to accompany himself, and Garcia
was obliged to do this on the stage. A string broke. The singer had to
replace it, to an accompaniment of laughter and whistling. This was
followed by _Figaro's_ entrance air. The audience had settled down for
this. But when they saw Zamboni, as _Figaro_, come on the stage with
another guitar, another fit of laughing and whistling seized them, and
the racket rendered the solo completely inaudible. _Rosina_ appeared
on the balcony. The public greatly admired Mme. Giorgi-Righetti and
was disposed to applaud her. But, as if to cap the climax of
absurdity, she sang: "Segui, o caro, deh segui così" (Continue my
dear, do always so). Naturally the audience immediately thought of the
two guitars, and went on laughing, whistling, and hissing during the
entire duet between _Almaviva_ and _Figaro_. The work seemed doomed.
Finally _Rosina_ came on the stage and sang the "Una voce poco fa" (A
little voice I heard just now) which had been awaited with impatience
(and which today is still considered an operatic _tour de force_ for
soprano). The youthful charm of Mme. Giorgi-Righetti, the beauty of
her voice, and the favour with which the public regarded her, "won her
a sort of ovation" in this number. A triple round of prolonged
applause raised hopes for the fate of the work. Rossini rose from his
seat at the pianoforte, and bowed. But realizing that the applause was
chiefly meant for the singer, he called to her in a whisper, "Oh,
natura!" (Oh, human nature!)

"Give her thanks," replied the artiste, "since without her you would
not have had occasion to rise from your seat."

What seemed a favourable turn of affairs did not, however, last long.
The whistling was resumed louder than ever at the duet between
_Figaro_ and _Rosina_. "All the whistlers of Italy," says
Castil-Blaze, "seemed to have given themselves a rendezvous for this
performance." Finally, a stentorian voice shouted: "This is the
funeral of Don Pollione," words which doubtless had much spice for
Roman ears, since the cries, the hisses, the stamping, continued with
increased vehemence. When the curtain fell on the first act Rossini
turned toward the audience, slightly shrugged his shoulders, and
clapped his hands. The audience, though greatly offended by this show
of contemptuous disregard for its opinion, reserved its revenge for
the second act, not a note of which it allowed to be heard.

At the conclusion of the outrage, for such it was, Rossini left the
theatre with as much nonchalance as if the row had concerned the work
of another. After they had gotten into their street clothes the
singers hurried to his lodgings to condole with him. He was sound
asleep!

[Illustration: Photo copyright, 1916, by Victor Georg

Galli-Curci as Rosina in "The Barber of Seville"]

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Sembrich as Rosina in "The Barber of Seville"]

There have been three historic failures of opera. One was the
"Tannhäuser" fiasco, Paris, 1861; another, the failure of "Carmen,"
Paris, 1875. The earliest I have just described.

For the second performance of "Il Barbiere" Rossini replaced the
unlucky air introduced by Garcia with the "Ecco ridente in cielo," as
it now stands. This cavatina he borrowed from an earlier opera of his
own, "Aureliano in Palmira" (Aurelian in Palmyra). It also had figured
in a cantata (not an opera) by Rossini, "Ciro in Babilonia" (Cyrus in
Babylon)--so that measures first sung by a Persian king in the ancient
capital of Nebuchadnezzar, and then by a Roman emperor and his
followers in the city which flourished in an oasis in the Syrian
desert, were found suitable to be intoned by a lovesick Spanish count
of the seventeenth century as a serenade to his lady of Seville. It
surely is amusing to discover in tracing this air to its original
source, that "Ecco ridente in cielo" (Lo, smiles the morning in the
sky) figured in "Aureliano in Palmira" as an address to Isis--"Sposa
del grande Osiride" (Spouse of the great Osiris).

Equally amusing is the relation of the overture to the opera. The
original is said to have been lost. The present one has nothing to do
with the ever-ready _Figaro_, the coquettish _Rosina_, or the
sentimental _Almaviva_, although there have been writers who have
dilated upon it as reflecting the spirit of the opera and its
characters. It came from the same source as "Lo, smiles the morning in
the sky"--from "Aureliano," and in between had figured as the overture
to "Elisabetta, Regina d'Inghilterra." It is thus found to express in
"Elisabetta" the conflict of love and pride in one of the most haughty
souls of whom history records the memory, and in "Il Barbiere" the
frolics of _Figaro_. But the Italians, prior to Verdi's later period,
showed little concern over such unfitness of things, for it is
recorded that this overture, when played to "Il Barbiere," was much
applauded.

"Ecco ridente in cielo," it is gravely pointed out by early writers on
Rossini, is the "first example of modulation into the minor key later
so frequently used by this master and his crowd of imitators." Also
that "this ingenious way of avoiding the beaten path was not really a
discovery of Rossini's, but belongs to Majo (an Italian who composed
thirteen operas) and was used by several musicians before Rossini."
What a delightful pother over a modulation that the veriest tyro would
now consider hackneyed! However, "Ecco ridente," adapted in such haste
to "Il Barbiere" after the failure of Garcia's Spanish ditty, was sung
by that artist the evening of the second performance, and loudly
applauded. Moreover, Rossini had eliminated from his score everything
that seemed to him to have been reasonably disapproved of. Then,
pretending to be indisposed, he went to bed in order to avoid
appearing at the pianoforte. The public, while not over-enthusiastic,
received the work well on this second evening; and before long Rossini
was accompanied to his rooms in triumph several evenings in
succession, by the light of a thousand torches in the hands of the
same Romans who had hissed his opera but a little while before. The
work was first given under the title Rossini had insisted on, but soon
changed back to that of the original libretto, "Il Barbiere di
Siviglia."

It is a singular fact that the reception of "Il Barbiere" in Paris was
much the same as in Rome. The first performance in the Salle Louvois
was coldly received. Newspapers compared Rossini's "Barber"
unfavourably with that of Paisiello. Fortunately the opposition
demanded a revival of Paisiello's work. Paër, musical director at the
Théâtre Italien, not unwilling to spike Rossini's guns, pretended to
yield to a public demand, and brought out the earlier opera. But the
opposite of what had been expected happened. The work was found to be
superannuated. It was voted a bore. It scored a fiasco. Rossini
triumphed. The elder Garcia, the _Almaviva_ of the production in Rome,
played the same rôle in Paris, as he also did in London, and at the
first Italian performance of the work in New York.

Rossini had the reputation of being indolent in the extreme--when he
had nothing to do. We have seen that when the overture to "Il Barbiere
di Siviglia" was lost (if he really ever composed one), he did not
take the trouble to compose another, but replaced it with an earlier
one. In the music lesson scene in the second act the original score is
said to have contained a trio, presumably for _Rosina_, _Almaviva_,
and _Bartolo_. This is said to have been lost with the overture. As
with the overture, Rossini did not attempt to recompose this number
either. He simply let his prima donna sing anything she wanted to.
"_Rosina_ sings an air, ad libitum, for the occasion," reads the
direction in the libretto. Perhaps it was Giorgi-Righetti who first
selected "La Biondina in gondoletta," which was frequently sung in the
lesson scene by Italian prima donnas. Later there was substituted the
air "Di tanti palpiti" from the opera "Tancredi," which is known as
the "aria dei rizzi," or "rice aria," because Rossini, who was a great
gourmet, composed it while cooking his rice. Pauline Viardot-Garcia
(Garcia's daughter), like her father in the unhappy première of the
opera, sang a Spanish song. This may have been "La Calesera," which
Adelina Patti also sang in Paris about 1867. Patti's other selections
at this time included the laughing song, the so-called "L'Éclat de
Rire" (Burst of Laughter) from Auber's "Manon Lescaut," as highly
esteemed in Paris in years gone by as Massenet's "Manon" now is. In
New York I have heard Patti sing, in this scene, the Arditi waltz, "Il
Bacio" (The Kiss); the bolero of Hélène, from "Les Vêpres Siciliennes"
(The Sicilian Vespers), by Verdi; the "Shadow Dance" from Meyerbeer's
"Dinorah"; and, in concluding the scene, "Home, Sweet Home," which
never failed to bring down the house, although the naïveté with which
she sang it was more affected than affecting.

Among prima donnas much earlier than Patti there were at least two,
Grisi and Alboni (after whom boxes were named at the Academy of Music)
who adapted a brilliant violin piece, Rode's "Air and Variations," to
their powers of vocalization and sang it in the lesson scene. I
mention this because the habit of singing an air with variations
persisted until Mme. Sembrich's time. She sang those by Proch, a
teacher of many prima donnas, among them Tietjens and Peschka-Leutner,
who sang at the Peace Jubilee in Boston (1872) and was the first to
make famous her teacher's coloratura variations, with "flauto
concertante." Besides these variations, Mme. Sembrich sang Strauss's
"Voce di Primavera" waltz, "Ah! non giunge," from "La Sonnambula," the
bolero from "The Sicilian Vespers" and "O luce di quest'anima," from
"Linda di Chamounix." The scene was charmingly brought to an end by
her seating herself at the pianoforte and singing, to her own
accompaniment, Chopin's "Maiden's Wish." Mme. Melba sang Arditi's
waltz, "Se Saran Rose," Massenet's "Sevillana," and the mad scene from
"Lucia," ending, like Mme. Sembrich, with a song to which she played
her own accompaniment, her choice being Tosti's "Mattinata." Mme.
Galli-Curci is apt to begin with the brilliant vengeance air from "The
Magic Flute," her encores being "L'Éclat de Rire" by Auber and
"Charmante Oiseau" (Pretty Bird) from David's "La Perle du Brésil"
(The Pearl of Brazil). "Home, Sweet Home" and "The Last Rose of
Summer," both sung by her to her own accompaniment, conclude this
interesting "lesson," in which every _Rosina_, although supposedly a
pupil receiving a lesson, must be a most brilliant and accomplished
prima donna.

The artifices of opera are remarkable. The most incongruous things
happen. Yet because they do not occur in a drawing-room in real life,
but on a stage separated from us by footlights, we lose all sense of
their incongruity. The lesson scene occurs, for example, in an opera
composed by Rossini in 1816. But the compositions now introduced into
that scene not only are not by Rossini but, for the most, are modern
waltz songs and compositions entirely different from the class that a
voice pupil, at the time the opera was composed, could possibly have
sung. But so convincing is the fiction of the stage, so delightfully
lawless its artifices, that these things do not trouble us at all.
Mme. Galli-Curci, however, by her choice of the "Magic Flute" aria
shows that it is entirely possible to select a work that already was a
classic at the time "Il Barbiere" was composed, yet satisfies the
demand of a modern audience for brilliant vocalization in this scene.

There is evidence that in the early history of "Il Barbiere,"
Rossini's "Di tanti palpiti" (Ah! these heartbeats) from his opera
"Tancredi" (Tancred), not only was invariably sung by prima donnas in
the lesson scene, but that it almost became a tradition to use it in
this scene. In September, 1821, but little more than five years after
the work had its première, it was brought out in France (Grand
Théâtre, Lyons) with French text by Castil-Blaze, who also
superintended the publication of the score.

"I give this score," he says, "as Rossini wrote it. But as several
pieces have been transposed to favour certain Italian opera singers, I
do not consider it useless to point out these transpositions here....
Air No. 10, written in G, is sung in A." Air No. 10, published by
Castil-Blaze as an integral part of the score of "Il Barbiere," occurs
in the lesson scene. It is "Di tanti palpiti" from "Tancredi."

[Music: Di tanti palpiti e tante pene]

Readers familiar with the history of opera, therefore aware that
Alboni was a contralto, will wonder at her having appeared as
_Rosina_, when that rôle is associated with prima donnas whose voices
are extremely high and flexible. But the rôle was written for low
voice. Giorgi-Righetti, the first _Rosina_, was a contralto. As it now
is sung by high sopranos, the music of the rôle is transposed from the
original to higher keys in order to give full scope for brilliant
vocalization on high notes.

Many liberties have been taken by prima donnas in the way of vocal
flourishes and a general decking out of the score of "Il Barbiere"
with embellishments. The story goes that Patti once sang "Una voce
poco fa," with her own frills added, to Rossini, in Paris.

"A very pretty song! Whose is it?" is said to have been the composer's
cutting comment.

There is another anecdote about "Il Barbiere" which brings in
Donizetti, who was asked if he believed that Rossini really had
composed the opera in thirteen days.

"Why not? He's so lazy," is the reported reply.

If the story is true, Donizetti was a very forward young man. He was
only nineteen when "Il Barbiere" was produced, and had not yet brought
out his first opera.

The first performance in America of "The Barber of Seville" was in
English at the Park Theatre, New York, May 3, 1819. (May 17th, cited
by some authorities, was the date of the third performance, and is so
announced in the advertisements.) Thomas Phillips was _Almaviva_ and
Miss Leesugg _Rosina_. "Report speaks in loud terms of the new opera
called 'The Barber of Seville' which is announced for this evening.
The music is said to be very splendid and is expected to be most
effective." This primitive bit of "publicity," remarkable for its day,
appeared in _The Evening Post_, New York, Monday, May 3, 1819. The
second performance took place May 7th. Much music was interpolated.
Phillips, as _Almaviva_, introduced "The Soldier's Bride," "Robin
Adair," "Pomposo, or a Receipt for an Italian Song," and "the
favourite duet with Miss Leesugg, of 'I love thee.'" (One wonders what
was left of Rossini's score.) In 1821 he appeared again with Miss
Holman as _Rosina_.

That Phillips should have sung _Figaro_, a baritone rôle in "Le Nozze
di Figaro," and _Almaviva_, a tenor part, in "Il Barbiere," may seem
odd. But in the Mozart opera he appeared in Bishop's adaptation, in
which the _Figaro_ rôle is neither too high for a baritone, nor too
low for a tenor. In fact the liberties Bishop took with Mozart's score
are so great (and so outrageous) that Phillips need have hesitated at
nothing.

On Tuesday, November 22, 1825, Manuel Garcia, the elder, issued the
preliminary announcement of his season of Italian opera at the Park
Theatre, New York. The printers appear to have had a struggle with the
Italian titles of operas and names of Italian composers. For _The
Evening Post_ announces that "The Opera of 'H. Barbiora di Seviglia,'
by Rosina, is now in rehearsal and will be given as soon as possible."
That "soon as possible" was the evening of November 29th, and is
regarded as the date of the first performance in this country of opera
in Italian.


SEMIRAMIDE

     Opera in two acts by Rossini, words by Gaetana Rossi,
     founded on Voltaire's tragedy, "Sémiramis." Produced,
     February 3, 1823, Fenice Theatre, Venice; London, King's
     Theatre, July 15, 1824; Paris, July 9, 1860, as Sémiramis;
     New York, April 25, 1826; 1855 (with Grisi and Vestivalli);
     1890 (with Patti and Scalchi).

     CHARACTERS

     SEMIRAMIDE, Queen of Babylon                  _Soprano_
     ARSACES, Commander of the Assyrian Army     _Contralto_
     GHOST OF NINUS                                   _Bass_
     OROE, Chief of the Magi                          _Bass_
     ASSUR, a Prince                              _Baritone_
     AZEMA, a Princess                             _Soprano_
     IDRENUS  }                                 {    _Tenor_
     MITRANUS } of the royal house household    { _Baritone_

     Magi, Guards, Satraps, Slaves.

     _Time_--Antiquity.

     _Place_--Babylon.

"Semiramide" seems to have had its day. Yet, were a soprano and a
contralto, capable of doing justice to the rôles of _Semiramide_ and
_Arsaces_, to appear in conjunction in the operatic firmament the
opera might be successfully revived, as it was for Patti and Scalchi.
The latter, in her prime when she first appeared here, was one of the
greatest of contraltos. I think that all, who, like myself, had the
good fortune to hear that revival of "Semiramide," still consider the
singing by Patti and Scalchi of the duet, "Giorno d'orrore" (Day of
horror) the finest example of _bel canto_ it has been their privilege
to listen to. For beauty and purity of tone, smoothness of phrasing,
elegance, and synchronization of embellishment it has not been
equalled here since.

In the first act of the opera is a brilliant aria for _Semiramide_,
"Bel raggio lusinghier" (Bright ray of hope),--the one piece that has
kept the opera in the phonograph repertoire.

[Music: Bel raggio lusinghier]

A priests' march and chorus, which leads up to the finale of the first
act, is accompanied not only by orchestra, but also by full military
band on the stage, the first instance of the employment of the latter
in Italian opera. The duet, "Giorno d'orrore," is in the second act.

[Music]

For many years the overture to "Semiramide" was a favourite at popular
concerts. It was admired for the broad, hymnlike air in the
introduction, which in the opera becomes an effective chorus,

[Music]

and for the graceful, lively melody, which is first announced on the
clarinet. I call it "graceful" and "lively," and so it would be
considered today. But in the opera it accompanies

[Music]

the cautious entrance of priests into a darkened temple where a deep
mystery is impending, and, at the time the opera was produced, this
music, which now we would describe as above, was supposed to be
"shivery" and gruesome. In fact the scene was objected to by audiences
of that now seemingly remote period, on the ground that the orchestra
was too prominent and that, in the treatment of the instrumental score
to his operas, Rossini was leaning too heavily toward German models!
But this, remember, was in 1824.

The story of "Semiramide" can be briefly told. _Semiramide_, Queen of
Babylon, has murdered her husband, _Ninus_, the King. In this deed she
was assisted by _Prince Assur_, who expects to win her hand and the
succession to the throne.

_Semiramide_, however, is enamoured of a comely youth, _Arsaces_,
victorious commander of her army, and supposedly a Scythian, but in
reality her own son, of which relationship only _Oroe_, the chief
priest of the temple, is aware. _Arsaces_ himself is in love with the
royal Princess _Azema_.

At a gathering in the temple, the gates of the tomb of _Ninus_ are
opened as if by invisible hands. The shade of _Ninus_ announces that
_Arsaces_ shall be his successor; and summons him to come to the tomb
at midnight there to learn the secret of his assassination.

Enraged at the prophecy of the succession of _Arsaces_ and knowing of
his coming visit to the tomb of _Ninus_, _Assur_ contrives to enter
it; while _Semiramide_, who now knows that the young warrior is her
son, comes to the tomb to warn him against _Assur_. The three
principal personages in the drama are thus brought together at its
climax. _Assur_ makes what would be a fatal thrust at _Arsaces_.
_Semiramide_ interposes herself between the two men and receives the
death wound. _Arsaces_ then fights and kills _Assur_, ascends the
throne and weds _Azema_.

According to legend, Semiramis, when a babe, was fed by doves; and,
after reigning for forty-two years, disappeared or was changed into a
dove and flew away. For the first New York performance Garcia
announced the work as "La Figlia dell'Aria, or Semiramide" (The
Daughter of the Air, etc.).


GUILLAUME TELL

WILLIAM TELL

     Opera by Rossini, originally in five acts, cut down to three
     by omitting the third act and condensing the fourth and
     fifth into one, then rearranged in four; words by "Jouy"
     (V.J. Étienne), rearranged by Hippolyte and Armand Marast.
     Produced, Grand Opéra, Paris, August 3, 1829, Nourrit being
     the original _Arnold_; revived with Duprez, 1837. Italy,
     "Guglielmo Tell," at Lucca, September 17, 1831. London,
     Drury Lane, 1830, in English; Her Majesty's Theatre, 1839,
     in Italian. In New York the title rôle has been sung by Karl
     Formes, who made his first American tour in 1857. The
     interpreters of _Arnold_ have included the Polish tenor
     Mierzwinski at the Academy of Music, and Tamagno.

     CHARACTERS

     WILLIAM TELL                                 _Baritone_
     HEDWIGA, Tell's wife                          _Soprano_
     JEMMY, Tell's son                             _Soprano_
     ARNOLD, suitor of Matilda                       _Tenor_
     MELCTHAL, Arnold's father                        _Bass_
     GESSLER, governor of Schwitz and Uri             _Bass_
     MATILDA, Gessler's daughter                   _Soprano_
     RUDOLPH, captain in Gessler's guard             _Tenor_
     WALTER FURST                                     _Bass_
     LEUTHOLD, a shepherd                             _Bass_
     RUEDI, a fisherman                              _Tenor_

     Peasants, Knights, Pages, Ladies, Hunters, Soldiers, Guards,
     and three Bridal Couples.

     _Time_--Thirteenth Century.

     _Place_--Switzerland.

_Arnold_, a Swiss patriot and son of the venerable Swiss leader,
_Melcthal_, has saved from drowning _Matilda_, daughter of the
Austrian tyrant _Gessler_, whom the Swiss abhor. _Arnold_ and
_Matilda_ have fallen in love with each other.

Act I. A beautiful May morning has dawned over the Lake of Lucerne, on
which _Tell's_ house is situated. It is the day of the Shepherd
Festival. According to ancient custom the grey-haired _Melcthal_
blesses the loving couples among them. But his own son, _Arnold_, does
not ask a blessing of the old man. Yet, although he loves _Matilda_,
his heart also belongs to his native land. The festival is interrupted
by the sound of horns. It is the train of _Gessler_, the hated tyrant.
_Leuthold_ rushes in, breathless. In order to protect his daughter
from dishonour, he has been obliged to kill one of _Gessler's_
soldiers. He is pursued. To cross the lake is his only means of
escape. But who will take him in the face of the storm that is coming
up? _Tell_ wastes no time in thinking. He acts. It is the last
possible moment. _Gessler's_ guards already are seen, _Rudolph_ at
their head. With _Tell's_ aid the fugitive escapes them, but they turn
to the country folk, and seize and carry off old _Melcthal_.

Act II. In a valley by a lake _Arnold_ and _Matilda_ meet and again
pledge their love. _Arnold_ learns from _Tell_ and _Walter_ that his
father has been slain by _Gessler's_ order. His thoughts turn to
vengeance. The three men bind themselves by oath to free Switzerland.
The cantons gather and swear to throw off the Austrian yoke.

Act III. The market-place in Altdorf. It is the hundredth anniversary
of Austrian rule in Switzerland. Fittingly to celebrate the day
_Gessler_ has ordered his hat to be placed on top of a pole. The Swiss
are commanded to make obeisance to the hat. _Tell_ comes along holding
his son _Jemmy_ by the hand. He refuses to pay homage to the hat. As
in him is also recognized the man who saved _Leuthold_, he must be
punished. _Gessler_ cynically orders him to shoot an apple from
_Jemmy's_ head. The shot succeeds. Fearless, as before, _Tell_ informs
_Gessler_ that the second arrow was intended for him, had the first
missed its mark. _Tell's_ arrest is ordered, but the armed Swiss, who
have risen against Austria, approach. _Gessler_ falls by _Tell's_
shot; the fight ends with the complete victory for the Swiss.
_Matilda_ who still loves _Arnold_ finds refuge in his arms.

"Guillaume Tell" is the only opera by an Italian of which it can be
said that the overture has gained world-wide fame, and justly so,
while the opera itself is so rarely heard that it may almost be said
to have passed out of the repertoire. Occasionally it is revived for
the benefit of a high tenor like Tamagno. In point of fact, however,
it is too good a work to be made the vehicle of a single operatic
star. It is a question if, with a fine ensemble, "Guillaume Tell"
could not be restored to the list of operas regularly given. Or, is it
one of those works more famous than effective; and is that why, at
this point I am reminded of a passage in Whistler's "Ten O'clock"? The
painter is writing of art and of how little its spirit is affected by
the personality of the artist, or even by the character of a whole
people.

"A whimsical goddess," he writes, "and a capricious, her strong sense
of joy tolerates no dullness, and, live we never so spotlessly, still
may she turn her back upon us.

"As, from time immemorial, has she done upon the Swiss in their
mountains.

"What more worthy people! Whose every Alpine gap yawns with tradition,
and is stocked with noble story; yet, the perverse and scornful one
will none of it, and the sons of patriots are left with the clock that
turns the mill, and the sudden cuckoo, with difficulty restrained in
its box!"

Because we associate Switzerland with tourists, personally conducted
and otherwise, with hotels, guides, and a personnel trained to
welcome, entertain, and speed the departing guest, is it difficult for
us to grasp the heroic strain in "Guillaume Tell"? Surely it is a
picturesque opera; and Switzerland has a heroic past. Probably the
real reasons for the lack of public interest in the opera are the
clumsy libretto and the fact that Rossini, an Italian, was not wholly
in his element in composing a grand opera in the French style, which
"Guillaume Tell" is. It would be difficult to point out just how and
where the style hampered the composer, but there constantly is an
undefined feeling that it did--that the score is not as spontaneous
as, for example, "The Barber of Seville"; and that, although
"Guillaume Tell" is heroic, the "sudden cuckoo, with difficulty
restrained in its box," may at any time pop out and join in the
proceedings.

The care which Rossini bestowed on this work is seen in the layout and
composition of the overture, which as an instrumental number is as
fine a _tour de force_ as his "Una voce poco fa," "Bel raggio," or
"Giorno d'orrore" are for voice. The slow introduction denotes Alpine
calm. There is a beautiful passage for violoncellos, which has been
quoted in books on instrumentation. In it Rossini may well have harked
back to his student years, when he was a pupil in violoncello playing
at the conservatory in Bologna. The calm is followed by a storm and
this, in turn, by a "Ranz des Vaches." The final section consists of a
trumpet call, followed by a fast movement, which can be played so as
to leave the hearer quite breathless. It is supposed to represent the
call to arms and the uprising of the Swiss against their Austrian
oppressors, whose yoke they threw off.

The most striking musical number in the first act of the opera, is
_Arnold's_ "Ah, Matilda."

[Music: Ah! Matilda, io t'amo, t'adoro [Transcriber's Note: original
ends with incorrect 'e amoe']]

A tenor with powerful high tones in his voice always can render this
with great effect. In fact it is so effective that its coming so early
in the work is a fault of construction which in my opinion has been a
factor in the non-success of the opera as a whole. Even a tenor like
Mierzwinski, "a natural singer of short-lived celebrity," with
remarkable high notes, in this number could rouse to a high pitch of
enthusiasm an audience that remained comparatively calm the rest of
the evening.

The climax of the second act is the trio between _Arnold_, _Tell_, and
_Walter_, followed by the assembly of the cantons and the taking of
the oath to conquer or die ("La gloria infiammi--i nostri petti"--May
glory our hearts with courage exalt).

Its most effective passage begins as follows:

[Music]

Another striking musical number is _Arnold's_ solo in the last act, at
sight of his ruined home, "O muto asil" (O, silent abode).

The opera ends with a hymn to liberty, "I boschi, i monti" (Through
forests wild, o'er mountain peaks).

At the initial performance of "Guillaume Tell" in Paris, there was no
indication that the opera was not destined to remain for many years in
the repertoire. It was given fifty-six times. Then, because of the
great length of the opera, only the second act was performed in
connection with some other work, until the sensational success of
Duprez, in 1837, led to a revival.

"Guillaume Tell," given in full, would last nearly five hours. The
poor quality of the original libretto by "Jouy" led to the revision by
Bis, but even after that there had to be cuts.

"Ah, Maestro," exclaimed an enthusiastic admirer of Rossini to that
master, "I heard your 'William Tell' at the Opera last night!"

"What?" asked Rossini. "The whole of it?"

Clever; but by his question Rossini unconsciously put his finger on
the weak spot of the opera he intended to be his masterpiece. Be it
never so well given, it is long-winded.



Vincenzo Bellini

(1802-1835)


Bellini, born in Catania, Sicily, November 3, 1802, is the composer of
"La Sonnambula," one of the most popular works of the old type of
Italian opera still found in the repertoire. "I Puritani," another
work by him, was given for the opening of two New York opera houses,
Palmo's in 1844, and Hammerstein's Manhattan, in 1903. But it
maintains itself only precariously. "Norma" is given still more
rarely, although it contains "Casta diva," one of the most famous
solos for soprano in the entire Italian repertory.

This composer died at the village of Puteaux, France, September 23,
1835, soon after the highly successful production of "I Puritani" in
Paris, and while he was working on a commission to compose two operas
for the San Carlo Theatre, Naples, which had come to him through the
success of "Puritani." He was only thirty-two.

It is not unlikely that had this composer, with his facile and
graceful gift for melody, lived longer he would have developed, as
Verdi did, a maturer and broader style, and especially have paid more
attention to the instrumentation of his operas, a detail which he
sadly neglected.


LA SONNAMBULA

THE SLEEPWALKER

     Opera in three acts by Bellini, words by Felice Romani.
     Produced, Carcano Theatre, Milan, March 6, 1831. London,
     King's Theatre, July 28, 1831; in English, Drury Lane, May
     1, 1833. New York, Park Theatre, November 13, 1835, in
     English, with Brough, Richings, and Mr. and Mrs. Wood; in
     Italian, Palmo's Opera House, May 11, 1844; frequently sung
     by Gerster and by Adelina Patti at the Academy of Music, and
     at the Metropolitan Opera House by Sembrich; at the
     Manhattan Opera House by Tetrazzini.

     CHARACTERS

     COUNT RODOLPHO, Lord of the castle               _Bass_
     TERESA, proprietress of the mill              _Soprano_
     AMINA, her foster daughter                    _Soprano_
     LISA, proprietress of the village inn         _Soprano_
     ELVINO, a young farmer                          _Tenor_
     ALESSIO, a villager                              _Bass_

     Notary, Villagers, etc.

     _Time_--Early Nineteenth Century.

     _Place_--A Village in Switzerland.

Act I. The village green. On one side an inn. In the background a
water mill. In the distance mountains. As the curtain rises the
villagers are making merry, for they are about to celebrate a nuptial
contract between _Amina_, an orphan brought up as the foster-child of
_Teresa_, the mistress of the village mill, and _Elvino_, a young
landowner of the neighbourhood. These preparations, however, fill with
jealousy the heart of _Lisa_, the proprietress of the inn. For she is
in love with _Elvino_. Nor do _Alessio's_ ill-timed attentions please
her. _Amina_ enters under the care of _Teresa_, and returns her thanks
to her neighbours for their good wishes. She has two attractive solos.
These are "Come per me sereno" (How, for me brightly shining)

[Music: Come per me sereno]

and "Sovra il sen la man mi posa" (With this heart its joy
revealing).

[Music: Sovra il sen la man mi posa,]

Both are replete with grace and charm.

When the village _Notary_ and _Elvino_ appear the contract is signed
and attested, and _Elvino_ places a ring on _Amina's_ finger. Duet:
"Prendi, l'anel ti dono" (Take now the ring I give you), a composition
in long-flowing expressive measures.

Then the village is startled by the crack of whips and the rumble of
wheels. A handsome stranger in officer's fatigue uniform appears. He
desires to have his horses watered and fed, before he proceeds to the
castle. The road is bad, night is approaching. Counselled by the
villagers, and urged by _Lisa_, the officer consents to remain the
night at the inn.

The villagers know it not at this time, but the officer is _Rodolpho_,
the lord of the castle. He looks about him and recalls the scenes of
his youth: "Vi ravviso" (As I view).

[Music: Vi ravviso a luoghi ameni,]

He then gallantly addresses himself to _Amina_ in the charming air,
"Tu non sai con quei begli occhi" (You know not, maid, the light your
eyes within).

[Music: Tu non sai con quei begli occhi,]

_Elvino_ is piqued at the stranger's attentions to his bride, but
_Teresa_ warns all present to retire, for the village is said to be
haunted by a phantom. The stranger treats the superstition lightly,
and, ushered in by _Lisa_, retires to the village inn. All then wend
their several ways homeward. _Elvino_, however, finds time to upbraid
_Amina_ for seemingly having found much pleasure in the stranger's
gallant speeches, but before they part there are mutual concessions
and forgiveness.

Act II. _Rodolpho's_ sleeping apartment at the inn. He enters,
conducted by _Lisa_. She is coquettish, he quite willing to meet her
halfway in taking liberties with her. He learns from her that his
identity as the lord of the castle has now been discovered by the
villagers, and that they will shortly come to the inn to offer their
congratulations.

He is annoyed, but quite willing that _Lisa's_ attractions shall atone
therefor. At that moment, however, there is a noise without, and
_Lisa_ escapes into an adjoining room. In her haste she drops her
handkerchief, which _Rodolpho_ picks up and hangs over the bedpost. A
few moments later he is amazed to see _Amina_, all in white, raise his
window and enter his room. He realizes almost immediately that she is
walking in her sleep, and that it is her somnambulism which has given
rise to the superstition of the village phantom. In her sleep _Amina_
speaks of her approaching marriage, of _Elvino's_ jealousy, of their
quarrel and reconciliation. _Rodolpho_, not wishing to embarrass her
by his presence should she suddenly awaken, extinguishes the candles,
steps out of the window and closes it lightly after him. Still asleep
_Amina_ sinks down upon the bed.

The villagers enter to greet _Rodolpho_. As the room is darkened, and,
to their amusement, they see the figure of a woman on the bed, they
are about to withdraw discreetly, when _Lisa_, who knows what has
happened, enters with a light, brings in _Elvino_, and points out
_Amina_ to him. The light, the sounds, awaken her. Her natural
confusion at the situation in which she finds herself is mistaken by
_Elvino_ for evidence of guilt. He casts her off. The others, save
_Teresa_, share his suspicions. _Teresa_, in a simple, natural way,
takes the handkerchief hanging over the bedpost and places it around
_Amina's_ neck, and when the poor, grief-stricken girl swoons, as
_Elvino_ turns away from her, her foster-mother catches her in her
arms.

In this scene, indeed in this act, the most striking musical number is
the duet near the end. It is feelingly composed, and, as befits the
situation of a girl mistakenly, yet none the less cruelly, accused by
her lover, is almost wholly devoid of vocal embellishment. It begins
with _Amina's_ protestations of innocence: "D'un pensiero, e d'un
accento" (Not in thought's remotest region).

When _Elvino's_ voice joins hers there is no comfort for her in his
words. He is still haunted by dark suspicions.

[Music]

An unusual and beautiful effect is the closing of the duet with an
expressive phrase for tenor alone: "Questo pianto del mio cor" (With
what grief my heart is torn).

[Music]

Act III, Scene 1. A shady valley between the village and the castle.
The villagers are proceeding to the castle to beg _Rodolpho_ to
intercede with _Elvino_ for _Amina_. _Elvino_ meets _Amina_. Still
enraged at what he considers her perfidy, he snatches from her finger
the ring he gave her. _Amina_ still loves him. She expresses her
feelings in the air: "Ah! perchè non posso odiarti" (Ah! Why is it I
cannot hate him [Transcriber's Note: should be 'hate you']).

Scene 2. The village, near _Teresa's_ mill. Water runs through the
race and the wheel turns rapidly. A slender wooden bridge, spanning
the wheel, gives access from some dormer lights in the millroof to an
old stone flight of steps leading down to the foreground.

_Lisa_ has been making hay while the sun shines. She has induced
_Elvino_ to promise to marry her. Preparations for the wedding are on
foot. The villagers have assembled. _Rodolpho_ endeavours to dissuade
_Elvino_ from the step he is about to take. He explains that _Amina_
is a somnambulist. But _Elvino_ has never heard of somnambulism. He
remains utterly incredulous.

_Teresa_ begs the villagers to make less disturbance, as poor _Amina_
is asleep in the mill. The girl's foster-mother learns of _Elvino's_
intention of marrying _Lisa_. Straightway she takes from her bosom
_Lisa's_ handkerchief, which she found hanging over _Rodolpho's_
bedpost. _Lisa_ is confused. _Elvino_ feels that she, too, has
betrayed him. _Rodolpho_ again urges upon _Elvino_ that _Amina_ never
was false to him--that she is the innocent victim of sleepwalking.

"Who can prove it?" _Elvino_ asks in agonized tones.

"Who? She herself!--See there!" exclaims _Rodolpho_.

For at that very moment _Amina_, in her nightdress, lamp in hand,
emerges from a window in the mill roof. She passes along, still
asleep, to the lightly built bridge spanning the mill wheel, which is
still turning round quickly. Now she sets foot on the narrow, insecure
bridge. The villagers fall on their knees in prayer that she may cross
safely. _Rodolpho_ stands among them, head uncovered. As _Amina_
crosses the bridge a rotting plank breaks under her footsteps. The
lamp falls from her hand into the torrent beneath. She, however,
reaches the other side, and gains the stone steps, which she descends.
Still walking in her sleep, she advances to where stand the villagers
and _Rodolpho_. She kneels and prays for _Elvino_. Then rising, she
speaks of the ring he has taken from her, and draws from her bosom the
flowers given to her by him on the previous day. "Ah! non credea
mirarti sì presto estinto, o fiore" (Scarcely could I believe it that
so soon thou would'st wither, O blossoms).

[Music: Ah! non credea mirarti sì presto estinto, o fiore,]

Gently _Elvino_ replaces the ring upon her finger, and kneels before
her. "Viva Amina!" cry the villagers. She awakens. Instead of sorrow,
she sees joy all around her, and _Elvino_, with arms outstretched,
waiting to beg her forgiveness and lead her to the altar.

     "Ah! non giunge uman pensiero
     Al contento ond'io son piena"
     (Mingle not an earthly sorrow
     With the rapture now o'er me stealing).

[Music:

     Ah! non giunge uman pensiero
     Al contento ond'io son piena]

It ends with this brilliant passage:

[Music]

The "Ah! non giunge" is one of the show-pieces of Italian opera. Nor
is its brilliance hard and glittering. It is the brightness of a
tender soul rejoicing at being enabled to cast off sorrow. Indeed,
there is about the entire opera a sweetness and a gentle charm, that
go far to account for its having endured so long in the repertoire,
out of which so many works far more ambitious have been dropped.

Opera-goers of the old Academy of Music days will recall the bell-like
tones of Etelka Gerster's voice in "Ah! non giunge"; nor will they
ever forget the bird-like, spontaneous singing in this rôle of Adelina
Patti, gifted with a voice and an art such as those who had the
privilege of hearing her in her prime have not heard since, nor are
likely to hear again. Admirers of Mme. Sembrich's art also are justly
numerous, and it is fortunate for habitués of the Metropolitan that
she was so long in the company singing at that house. She was a
charming _Amina_. Tetrazzini was brilliant in "La Sonnambula."
_Elvino_ is a stick of a rôle for tenor. _Rodolpho_ has the redeeming
grace of chivalry. _Amina_ is gentle, charming, appealing.

The story of "Sonnambula" is simple and thoroughly intelligible, which
cannot be said for all opera plots. The mainspring of the action is
the interesting psycho-physical manifestation of somnambulism. This is
effectively worked out. The crossing of the bridge in the last scene
is a tense moment in the simple story. It calls for an interesting
stage "property"--the plank that breaks without precipitating _Amina_,
who sometimes may have more embonpoint than voice, into the mill-race.
All these elements contribute to the success of "La Sonnambula,"
which, produced in 1831, still is a good evening's entertainment.

_Amina_ was one of Jenny Lind's favourite rôles. There is a beautiful
portrait of her in the character by Eichens. It shows her, in the last
act, kneeling and singing "Ah! non credea," and is somewhat of a
rarity. A copy of it is in the print department of the New York Public
Library. It is far more interesting than her better known portraits.


NORMA

     Opera in two acts, by Bellini; words by Felice Romani, based
     on an old French story. Produced, December 26, 1831, Milan.
     King's Theatre, June 20, 1833, in Italian; Drury Lane, June
     24, 1837, in English. Paris, Théâtre des Italiens, 1833.
     New York, February 25, 1841, at the Park Theatre; October 2,
     1854, for the opening of the Academy of Music, with Grisi,
     Mario, and Susini; December 19, 1891, Metropolitan Opera
     House, with Lilli Lehmann as _Norma_.

     CHARACTERS

     POLLIONE, Roman Pro-consul in Gaul              _Tenor_
     OROVESO, Archdruid, father of Norma              _Bass_
     NORMA, High-priestess of the druidical
       temple of Esus                              _Soprano_
     ADALGISA, a virgin of the temple            _Contralto_
     CLOTILDA, Norma's confidante                  _Soprano_
     FLAVIUS, a centurion                            _Tenor_

     Priests, Officers of the Temple, Gallic Warriors,
     Priestesses and Virgins of the Temple, and Two Children of
     Norma and Pollione.

     _Time_--Roman Occupation, about 50 B.C.

     _Place_--Gaul.

Act I. Sacred grove of the Druids. The high priest _Oroveso_ comes
with the Druids to the sacred grove to beg of the gods to rouse the
people to war and aid them to accomplish the destruction of the
Romans. Scarcely have they gone than the Roman Pro-consul _Pollione_
appears and confides to his Centurion, _Flavius_, that he no longer
loves _Norma_, although she has broken her vows of chastity for him
and has borne him two sons. He has seen _Adalgisa_ and loves her.

At the sound of the sacred instrument of bronze that calls the Druids
to the temple, the Romans disappear. The priests and priestesses
approach the altar. _Norma_, the high-priestess, daughter of
_Oroveso_, ascends the steps of the altar. No one suspects her
intimacy with the Roman enemy. But she loves the faithless man and
therefore seeks to avert the danger that threatens him, should Gaul
rise against the Romans, by prophesying that Rome will fall through
its own weakness, and declaring that it is not yet the will of the
gods that Gaul shall go to war. She also prays to the "chaste goddess"
for the return of the Roman leader, who has left her. Another
priestess is kneeling in deep prayer. This is _Adalgisa_, who also
loves _Pollione_.

The scene changes and shows _Norma's_ dwelling. The priestess is
steeped in deep sadness, for she knows that _Pollione_ plans to desert
her and their offspring, although she is not yet aware of her rival's
identity. _Adalgisa_ comes to her to unburden her heart to her
superior. She confesses that to her faith she has become untrue
through love--and love for a Roman. _Norma_, thinking of her own
unfaithfulness to her vows, is about to free _Adalgisa_ from hers,
when _Pollione_ appears. Now she learns who the beloved Roman of
_Adalgisa_ is. But the latter turns from _Pollione_. She loves _Norma_
too well to go away with the betrayer of the high-priestess.

Act II. _Norma_, filled with despair, is beside the cradle of her
little ones. An impulse to kill them comes over her. But motherhood
triumphs over unrequited love. She will renounce her lover. _Adalgisa_
shall become the happy spouse of _Pollione_, but shall promise to take
the place of mother to her children. _Adalgisa_, however, will not
hear of treachery to _Norma_. She goes to _Pollione_, but only to
remind him of his duty.

The scene changes again to a wooded region of the temple in which the
warriors of Gaul have gathered. _Norma_ awaits the result of
_Adalgisa's_ plea to _Pollione_; then learns that she has failed and
has come back to the grove to pass her life as a priestess. _Norma's_
wrath is now beyond control. Three times she strikes the brazen
shield; and, when the warriors have gathered, they joyfully hear her
message: War against the Romans! But with their deep war song now
mingles the sound of tumult from the temple. A Roman has broken into
the sacred edifice. He has been captured. It is _Pollione_, who she
knows has sought to carry off _Adalgisa_. The penalty for his
intrusion is death. But _Norma_, moved by love to pity, and still
hoping to save her recreant lover, submits a new victim to the
enraged Gauls--a perjured virgin of the priesthood.

"Speak, then, and name her!" they cry.

To their amazement she utters her own name, then confesses all to her
father, and to his care confides her children.

A pyre has been erected. She mounts it, but not alone. _Pollione_, his
love rekindled at the spectacle of her greatness of soul, joins her.
In the flames he, too, will atone for their offences before God.

       *       *       *       *       *

The ambition of every dramatic soprano of old was to don the robes of
a priestess, bind her brow with the mystic vervain, take in her hand a
golden sickle, and appear in the sacred grove of the Druids, there to
invoke the chaste goddess of the moon in the famous "Casta diva."
Prima donnas of a later period found further inspiration thereto in
the beautiful portrait of Grisi as _Norma_. Perhaps the last to yield
to the temptation was Lilli Lehmann, who, not content with having
demonstrated her greatness as _Brünnhilde_ and _Isolde_, desired in
1891, to demonstrate that she was also a great _Norma_, a
demonstration which did not cause her audience to become unduly
demonstrative. The fact is, it would be difficult to revive
successfully "Norma" as a whole, although there is not the slightest
doubt that "Casta diva, che in argenti" (Chaste goddess, may thy
silver beam), is one of the most exquisite gems of Italian song.

[Music: Casta Diva,]

It is followed immediately by "Ah! bello a me ritorna" (Beloved,
return unto me), which, being an allegro, contrasts effectively with
the long, flowing measures of "Casta diva."

Before this in the opera there has occurred another familiar number,
the opening march and chorus of the Druids, "Dell'aura tua profetica"
(With thy prophetic oracle).

[Music]

There is a fine trio for _Norma_, _Adalgisa_, and _Pollione_, at the
end of the first act, "Oh! di qual sei tu vittima" (O, how his art
deceived you).

[Music: Oh! di qual sei tu vittima]

In the scene between _Norma_ and _Adalgisa_, in the second act, is the
duet, "Mira, O, Norma!" (Hear me, Norma).

[Music: Mira, o, Norma! a' tuoi ginocchi,]

Among the melodious passages in the opera, this is second in beauty
only to "Casta diva."


I PURITANI

THE PURITANS

     Opera in three acts, by Bellini; words by Count Pepoli.
     Produced, Paris, Théâtre des Italiens, January 25, 1835,
     with Grisi as _Elvira_, Rubini as _Arturo_, Tamburini as
     _Riccardo_ and Lablache as _Giorgio_. London, King's
     Theatre, May 21, 1835, in Italian (I Puritani ed i
     Cavalieri). New York, February 3, 1844; Academy of Music,
     1883, with Gerster; Manhattan Opera House, December 3, 1906,
     with Bonci as _Arturo_, and Pinkert as _Elvira_; and in 1909
     with Tetrazzini as _Elvira_.

     CHARACTERS

     LORD GAUTIER WALTON of the Puritans              _Bass_
     SIR GEORGE WALTON, his brother,
       of the Puritans                                _Bass_
     LORD ARTHUR TALBOT, of the Cavaliers            _Tenor_
     SIR RICHARD FORTH, of the Puritans           _Baritone_
     SIR BENNO ROBERTSON, of the Puritans            _Tenor_
     HENRIETTA, of France, widow of Charles I.     _Soprano_
     ELVIRA, daughter of Lord Walton               _Soprano_

     Puritans, Soldiers of the Commonwealth, Men-at-Arms, Women,
     Pages, etc.

     _Time_--During the Wars between Cromwell and the Stuarts.

     _Place_--Near Plymouth, England.

Act I is laid in a fortress near Plymouth, held by _Lord Walton_ for
Cromwell. _Lord Walton's_ daughter, _Elvira_, is in love with _Lord
Arthur Talbot_, a cavalier and adherent of the Stuarts, but her father
has promised her hand to _Sir Richard Forth_, like himself a follower
of Cromwell. He relents, however, and _Elvira_ is bidden by her uncle,
_Sir George Walton_, to prepare for her nuptials with _Arthur_, for
whom a safe-conduct to the fortress has been provided.

_Queen Henrietta_, widow of Charles I., is a prisoner in the fortress.
On discovering that she is under sentence of death, _Arthur_, loyal to
the Stuarts, enables her to escape by draping her in _Elvira's_ bridal
veil and conducting her past the guards, as if she were the bride.
There is one critical moment. They are met by _Sir Richard_, who had
hoped to marry _Elvira_. The men draw their swords, but a
disarrangement of the veil shows _Sir Richard_ that the woman he
supposes to be _Lord Arthur's_ bride is not _Elvira_. He permits them
to pass. When the escape is discovered, _Elvira_, believing herself
deserted, loses her reason. Those who had gathered for the nuptials,
now, in a stirring chorus, invoke maledictions upon _Arthur's_ head.

Act II plays in another part of the fortress. It concerns itself
chiefly with the exhibition of _Elvira's_ madness. But it has also the
famous martial duet, "Suoni la tromba" (Sound the trumpet), in which
_Sir George_ and _Sir Richard_ announce their readiness to meet
_Arthur_ in battle and strive to avenge _Elvira's_ sad plight.

Act III is laid in a grove near the fortress. _Arthur_, although
proscribed, seeks out _Elvira_. Her joy at seeing him again
temporarily lifts the clouds from her mind, but renewed evidence of
her disturbed mental state alarms her lover. He hears men, whom he
knows to be in pursuit of him, approaching, and is aware that capture
means death, but he will not leave _Elvira_. He is apprehended and is
about to be executed when a messenger arrives with news of the defeat
of the Stuarts and a pardon for all prisoners. _Arthur_ is freed. The
sudden shock of joy restores _Elvira's_ reason. The lovers are united.

       *       *       *       *       *

As an opera "I Puritani" lacks the naïveté of "La Sonnambula," nor has
it any one number of the serene beauty of the "Casta diva" in "Norma."
Occasionally, however, it is revived for a tenor like Bonci, whose
elegance of phrasing finds exceptional opportunity in the rôle of
_Arthur_; or for some renowned prima donna of the brilliant coloratura
type, for whom _Elvira_ is a grateful part.

The principal musical numbers are, in act first, _Sir Richard Forth's_
cavatina, "Ah! per sempre io ti perdei" (Ah! forever have I lost
thee); _Arthur's_ romance, "A te o cara" (To thee, beloved);

[Music: A te o cara, amor talora,]

and _Elvira's_ sparkling polacca, "Son vergin vezzosa" (I am a
blithesome maiden).

[Music: Son vergin vezzosa, in vesto di sposa,]

In the second act we have _Elvira's_ mad scene, "Qui la voce sua
soave" (It was here in sweetest accents).

[Music: Qui la voce sua soave]

For _Elvira_ there also is in this act the beautiful air, "Vien,
diletto" (Come, dearest love).

The act closes with the duet for baritone and bass, between _Sir
Richard_ and _Sir George_, "Suoni la tromba," a fine proclamation of
martial ardour, which "in sonorousness, majesty and dramatic
intensity," as Mr. Upton writes, "hardly has an equal in Italian
opera."

[Music:

     Suoni la tromba, e intrepido
     Io pugnerò da forte;]

"A una fonte afflitto e solo" (Sad and lonely by a fountain), a
beautiful number for _Elvira_ occurs in the third act.

There also is in this act the impassioned "Star teco ognor" (Still to
abide), for _Arthur_, with _Elvira's_ reply, "Caro, non ho parola"
(All words, dear love are wanting).

It was in the duet at the end of Act II, on the occasion of the
opera's revival for Gerster, that I heard break and go to pieces the
voice of Antonio Galassi, the great baritone of the heyday of Italian
opera at the Academy of Music. "Suoni la tromba!"--He could sound it
no more. The career of a great artist was at an end.

"I Puritani" usually is given in Italian, several of the characters
having Italian equivalents for English names--_Arturo_, _Riccardo_,
_Giorgio_, _Enrichetta_, etc.

The first performance in New York of "I Puritani," which opened
Palmo's Opera House, was preceded by a "public rehearsal," which was
attended by "a large audience composed of the Boards of Aldermen,
editors, police officers, and musical people," etc. Signora Borghese
and Signor Antognini "received vehement plaudits." Antognini, however,
does not appear in the advertised cast of the opera. Signora Borghese
was _Elvira_, Signor Perozzi _Arturo_, and Signor Valtellino
_Giorgio_. The performance took place Friday, February 2, 1844.



Gaetano Donizetti

(1797-1848)


The composer of "Lucia di Lammermoor," an opera produced in 1835, but
seemingly with a long lease of life yet ahead of it, was born at
Bergamo, November 29, 1797. He composed nearly seventy operas.

His first real success, "Anna Bolena," was brought out in Rome, in
1830. Even before that, however, thirty-one operas by him had been
performed. Of his many works, the comparatively few still heard
nowadays are, in the order of their production, "L'Elisire d'Amore,"
"Lucrezia Borgia," "Lucia di Lammermoor," "La Figlia del Reggimento,"
"La Favorita," "Linda di Chamounix," and "Don Pasquale." A clever
little one-act comedy opera, "Il Campanello di Notte" (The Night Bell)
was revived in New York in the spring of 1917.

With a gift for melody as facile as Bellini's, Donizetti is more
dramatic, his harmonization less monotonous, and his orchestration
more careful. This is shown by his choice of instruments for special
effects, like the harp solo preceding the appearance of _Lucia_, the
flute obligato in the mad scene in the opera of which she is the
heroine, and the bassoons introducing "Una furtiva lagrima," in
"L'Elisire d'Amore." He is a distinct factor in the evolution of
Italian opera from Rossini to and including Verdi, from whom, in turn,
the living Italian opera composers of note derive.

Donizetti's father was a weaver, who wished his son to become a
lawyer. But he finally was permitted to enter the conservatory at
Bergamo, where, among other teachers, he had J.H. Mayr in harmony. He
studied further, on Mayr's recommendation, with Padre Martini.

As his father wanted him to teach so that he would be self-supporting,
he enlisted in the army, and was ordered to Venice. There in his
leisure moments he composed his first opera, "Enrico di Borgogna,"
produced, Venice, 1818. In 1845 he was stricken with paralysis. He
died at Bergamo, April 8, 1848.


L'ELISIRE D'AMORE

THE ELIXIR OF LOVE

     Opera, in two acts. Music by Donizetti; words by Felice
     Romani. Produced, Milan, May 12, 1832; London, December 10,
     1836; New Orleans, March 30, 1842; New York, Academy of
     Music, 1883-84, with Gerster; Metropolitan Opera House,
     1904, with Sembrich, Caruso, Scotti, and Rossi.

     CHARACTERS

     NEMORINO, a young peasant                       _Tenor_
     ADINA, wealthy, and owner of a farm           _Soprano_
     BELCORE, a sergeant                          _Baritone_
     DULCAMARA, a quack doctor                        _Bass_
     GIANNETTA, a peasant girl                     _Soprano_

     _Time_--Nineteenth Century.

     _Place_--A small Italian village.

Act I. Beauty and riches have made the young peasant woman, _Adina_,
exacting. She laughs at the embarrassed courting of the true-hearted
peasant lad, _Nemorino_; she laughs at the story of "Tristan and
Isolde," and rejoices that there are now no more elixirs to bring the
merry heart of woman into slavish dependence on love. Yet she does not
seem so much indifferent to _Nemorino_ as piqued over his lack of
courage to come to the point.

_Sergeant Belcore_ arrives in the village at the head of a troop of
soldiers. He seeks to win _Adina's_ heart by storm. The villagers
tease _Nemorino_ about his soldier rival. The young peasant is almost
driven to despair by their raillery. Enter the peripatetic quack, _Dr.
Dulcamara_. For a ducat _Nemorino_ eagerly buys of him a flask of
cheap Bordeaux, which the quack assures him is an elixir of love, and
that, within twenty-four hours, it will enable him to win _Adina_.
_Nemorino_ empties the flask at a draught. A certain effect shows
itself at once. Under the influence of the Bordeaux he falls into
extravagant mirth, sings, dances--and grieves no more about _Adina_,
who becomes piqued and, to vex _Nemorino_, engages herself to marry
_Sergeant Belcore_. An order comes to the troops to move. The
_Sergeant_ presses for an immediate marriage. To this _Adina_, still
under the influence of pique, consents. _Nemorino_ seeks to console
himself by louder singing and livelier dancing.

Act II. The village is assembled on _Adina's_ farm to celebrate her
marriage with the _Sergeant_. But it is noticeable that she keeps
putting off signing the marriage contract. _Nemorino_ awaits the
effect of the elixir. To make sure of it, he buys from _Dulcamara_ a
second bottle. Not having the money to pay for it, and _Belcore_ being
on the lookout for recruits, _Nemorino_ enlists and, with the money he
receives, pays _Dulcamara_. The fresh dose of the supposed elixir
makes _Nemorino_ livelier than ever. He pictures to himself the glory
of a soldier's career. He also finds himself greatly admired by the
village girls, for enlisting. _Adina_ also realizes that he has joined
the army out of devotion to her, and indicates that she favours him
rather than _Belcore_. But he now has the exalted pleasure of treating
her with indifference, so that she goes away very sad. He attributes
his luck to the elixir.

[Illustration: Photo by White

Hempel (Adina) and Caruso (Nemorino) in "L'Elisir d'Amore"]

The villagers have learned that his rich uncle is dead and has left a
will making him his heir. But because this news has not yet been
communicated to him, he thinks their attentions due to the
love-philtre, and believes the more firmly in its efficacy. In any
event, _Adina_ has perceived, upon the _Sergeant's_ pressing her to
sign the marriage contract, that she really prefers _Nemorino_. Like a
shrewd little woman, she takes matters into her own hands, and buys
back from _Sergeant Belcore_ her lover's enlistment paper. Having thus
set him free, she behaves so coyly that _Nemorino_ threatens to seek
death in battle, whereupon she faints right into his arms. The
_Sergeant_ bears this unlucky turn of affairs with the bravery of a
soldier, while _Dulcamara's_ fame becomes such that he can sell to the
villagers his entire stock of Bordeaux for love elixir at a price that
makes him rich.

The elixir of life of this "Elixir of Love" is the romance for tenor
in the second act, "Una furtiva lagrima" (A furtive tear), which
_Nemorino_ sings as _Adina_ sadly leaves him, when she thinks that he
has become indifferent to her. It was because of Caruso's admirable
rendition of this beautiful romance that the opera was revived at the
Metropolitan Opera House, New York, in 1904. Even the instrumental
introduction to it, in which the bassoons carry the air, is
captivating.

[Music:

     Una furtiva lagrima
     Negl'occhi suoi spuntò;]

Act I is laid on _Adina's_ farm. _Adina_ has a florid air, "Chiedi
all'aura lusinghiera" (Go, demand of yon light zephyr), with which she
turns aside from _Nemorino's_ attentions.

[Music: Chiedi all'aura lusinghiera,]

The scene then changes to a square in the village. Here _Dr.
Dulcamara_ makes his entry, singing his buffo air, "Udite, udite, o
rustici" (Give ear, now, ye rustic ones). There are two attractive
duets in this scene. One is for _Nemorino_ and _Dr. Dulcamara_,
"Obbligato! obbligato!" (Thank you kindly! thank you kindly!).

[Music]

The other, for _Adina_ and _Nemorino_, is "Esulti pur la barbara per
poco alle mie pene" (Tho' now th' exulting cruel one can thus deride
my bitter pain).

Act II, which shows a room in _Adina's_ farmhouse, opens with a bright
chorus of rejoicing at her approaching wedding. _Dulcamara_ brings out
a piece of music, which he says is the latest thing from Venice, a
barcarole for two voices. He and _Adina_ sing it; a dainty duet, "Io
son ricco, e tu sei bella" (I have riches, thou hast beauty) which
figures in all the old potpourris of the opera.

[Music:

     Io son ricco, e tu sei bella;
     Io ducati, e vezzi hai tu]

There is a scene for _Nemorino_, _Giannetta_, and the peasants, in
which _Nemorino_ praises the elixir, "Dell'elisir mirabile" (Of this
most potent elixir). Later comes another duet for _Adina_ and
_Dulcamara_, "Quanto amore!" (What affection!) in which _Adina_
expresses her realization of the death of _Nemorino's_ affection for
her.

"The score of 'Elisire d'Amore,'" says the _Dictionnaire des Opéras_,
"is one of the most pleasing that the Bergamo composer has written in
the comic vein. It abounds in charming motifs and graceful melodies.
In the first act the duet for tenor and bass between the young
villager and _Dr. Dulcamara_ is a little masterpiece of animation, the
accompaniment of which is as interesting as the vocal parts. The most
striking passages of the second act are the chorus, 'Cantiamo, facciam
brindisi'; the barcarole for two voices, 'Io son ricco, e tu sei
bella'; the quartet, 'Dell'elisir mirabile'; the duet between _Adina_
and _Dulcamara_, 'Quanto amore'; and finally the lovely and
smoothly-flowing romance of Nemorino, 'Una furtiva lagrima,' which is
one of the most remarkable inspirations of Donizetti."


LUCREZIA BORGIA

     Opera, in a prologue and two acts, by Donizetti; words by
     Felice Romani, after Victor Hugo. Produced, La Scala, Milan,
     1834; Théâtre des Italiens, Paris, 1840; London, 1839; in
     English, 1843; New York, Astor Place Opera House, 1847; with
     Grisi, September 5, 1854; with Tietjens and Brignoli, 1876;
     Academy of Music, October 30, 1882; Metropolitan Opera
     House, with Caruso, 1902.

     CHARACTERS

     ALFONSO D'ESTE, Duke of Ferrara              _Baritone_
     LUCREZIA BORGIA                               _Soprano_
     MAFFIO ORSINI                               _Contralto_
     GENNARO    } Young noblemen in                { _Tenor_
     LIVEROTTO  } the service of the               { _Tenor_
     VITELLOZZO } Venetian Republic                {  _Bass_
     GAZELLO                                          _Bass_
     RUSTIGHELLO, in the service of DON ALFONSO      _Tenor_
     GUBETTA }                                     {  _Bass_
     ASTOLFO } in the service of Lucrezia          { _Tenor_

     Gentlemen-at-arms, officers, and nobles of the Venetian
     Republic; same, attached to court of Alfonso;
     ladies-in-waiting, Capuchin monks, etc.

     _Time_--Early sixteenth century.

     _Place_--Venice and Ferrara.

When an opera, without actually maintaining itself in the repertory,
nevertheless is an object of occasional revival, it is sure to contain
striking passages that seem to justify the experiment of bringing it
forward again. "Lucrezia Borgia" has a male character, _Maffio
Orsini_, sung by a contralto. _Orsini's_ _ballata_, "Il segreto per
esser felici" (O the secret of bliss in perfection), is a famous
contralto air which Ernestine Schumann-Heink, with her voice of
extraordinary range, has made well known all over the United States.

I quote the lines from the Ditson libretto:

     O the secret of bliss in perfection,
     Is never to raise an objection,
     Whether winter hang tears on the bushes,
     Or the summer-kiss deck them with blushes.
     Drink, and pity the fool who on sorrow,
       Ever wastes the pale shade of a thought.
     Never hope for one jot from the morrow,
       Save a new day of joy by it brought!

The music has all the dash and abandon that the words suggest.
_Orsini_ sings it at a banquet in Ferrara. Suddenly from a
neighbouring room comes the sound of monks' voices chanting a dirge. A
door opens. The penitents, still chanting, enter. The lights grow dim
and one by one go out. The central doors swing back. _Lucrezia Borgia_
appears in the entrance. The banqueters are her enemies. She has
poisoned the wine they have just quaffed to _Orsini's_ song. They are
doomed. The dirge is for them. But--what she did not know--among them
is _Gennaro_, her illegitimate son, whom she dearly loves. She offers
him an antidote, but in vain. He will not save himself, while his
friends die. She then discloses the fact that she is his mother. But,
even then, instead of accepting her proffered aid to save his life, he
repulses her. _Lucrezia_ herself then drains the poisoned cup from
which he has quaffed, and sinks, dying, upon his prostrate form. Such
is the sombre setting for the _Brindisi_--the drinking song--"the
secret of bliss in perfection"--when heard in the opera.

[Music:

     Il segreto per esser felici
     Sò per prova e l'insegno agli amici]

The tenor rôle of _Gennaro_ also has tempted to occasional revivals of
the work. Mario introduced for this character as a substitute for a
scene in the second act, a recitative and air by Lillo, "Com'è soave
quest'ora di silenzio" (Oh! how delightful this pleasing hour of
silence), a change which is sometimes followed.

Prologue. Terrace of the Grimani palace, Venice. Festival by night.
_Gennaro_, weary, separates from his friends and falls asleep on a
stone bench of the terrace. Here he is discovered by _Lucrezia_, who
is masked. She regards him with deep affection. "Com'è bello quale
incanto" (Holy beauty, child of nature) she sings.

[Music: Com'è bello quale incanto]

_Gennaro_ awakens. In answer to her questions he tells her that he has
been brought up by a poor fisherman, "Di pescatore ignobile" (Deem'd
of a fisher's lowly race).

[Music: Di pescatore ignobile]

The youth's friends come upon the scene. _Maffio Orsini_ tears the
mask from _Lucrezia's_ face, and in a dramatic concerted number he and
his friends remind _Lucrezia_, for the benefit of _Gennaro_, who had
been struck by her beauty and was unaware that she was the hated
_Borgia_, how each has lost a brother or other relative through her.
"Maffio Orsini, signora, son'io cui svenaste il dormente fratello"
(Madam, I am Orsini. My brother you did poison, the while he was
sleeping). And so each one in order.

[Music: Maffio Orsini, signora, son'io]

_Gennaro_ turns from her in loathing. She faints.

Act I. A public place in Ferrara. On one side a palace. _Alfonso_,
who, incidentally, is _Lucrezia's_ fourth husband, she having done
away with his predecessors by poison, or other murderous means, is
jealous of _Gennaro_. Like the youth himself, he is ignorant that
_Lucrezia_ is his mother, and is persuaded that he is her paramour. He
has two solos. The first is "Vieni, la mia vendetta" (Haste then to
glut a vengeance); the second, "Qualunque sia l'evento" (On this I
stake my fortune).

[Music: Qualunque sia l'evento che può recar fortuna,]

_Gennaro_ and his friends come into the Plaza. They see the letters
BORGIA under the escutcheon of the palace. _Gennaro_, to show his
detestation of _Lucrezia's_ crimes, rushes up the steps and with his
sword hacks away the first letter of the name, leaving only ORGIA. At
the command of the _Duke_, he is arrested.

_Lucrezia_, not knowing who has committed the outrage, demands of her
husband that its perpetrator be put to death. _Alfonso_, with cynical
readiness, consents. _Gennaro_ is led in. _Lucrezia_ now pleads for
his life. The _Duke_ is firm, even though _Lucrezia_ quite casually
reminds him that he is her fourth husband and may share the fate of
the other three. ("Aye, though the fourth of my husbands, you lord
it.") His comment is the command that _Gennaro_ shall meet death by
quaffing a goblet of poisoned wine handed to him by _Lucrezia_
herself. There is here a strong trio for _Lucrezia_, _Gennaro_, and
_Alfonso_, as _Alfonso_ pours wine for himself and _Lucrezia_ from a
silver flagon, while he empties the poisoned contents of a gold
vessel, "the Borgia wine," into _Gennaro's_ cup. But _Lucrezia_ has
the antidote; and, the _Duke_ having left her with _Gennaro_, in order
that she shall have the pleasure of watching the death of the man of
whom he suspects her to be enamored, she gives it to _Gennaro_, and
bids him flee from _Ferrara_.

Act II is laid in the Negroni palace, and is the scene of the banquet,
which has already been described.

When "Lucrezia Borgia" was produced in Paris, in 1840, Victor Hugo,
author of the drama upon which the libretto is based, objected. The
French have long gone much further than we do in protecting the
property rights of authors and artists in their creations. The
producers of the opera were obliged to have the libretto rewritten.
The title was changed to "La Rinegata" and the scene was transferred
to Turkey.


LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR

     Opera in three acts, by Donizetti; words by Salvatore
     Cammarano, after Scott's novel, "The Bride of Lammermoor."
     Produced, San Carlo Theatre, Naples, September 26, 1835,
     with Persiani as _Lucia_, and Duprez as _Edgardo_, the rôles
     having been especially composed for these artists. London,
     Her Majesty's Theatre, April 5, 1838, and, in English, at
     the Princess Theatre, January 19, 1848. Paris, 1839. New
     York in English, at the Park Theatre, November 17, 1845;
     and, in Italian, November 14, 1849. Among celebrated
     _Lucias_ heard in this country, are Patti, Gerster, Melba,
     Sembrich, Tetrazzini and Galli-Curci (Chicago, November 21,
     1916); among _Edgardos_, Italo Campanini and Caruso.

     CHARACTERS

     LORD HENRY ASHTON, of Lammermoor             _Baritone_
     LUCY, his sister                              _Soprano_
     EDGAR, Master of Ravenswood                     _Tenor_
     LORD ARTHUR BUCKLAW                             _Tenor_
     RAYMOND, chaplain at Lammermoor                  _Bass_
     ALICE, companion to Lucy                _Mezzo-Soprano_
     NORMAN, follower of Lord Ashton                 _Tenor_

     Relatives, Retainers, and Friends of the House of
     Lammermoor.

     _Time_--About 1700.

     _Place_--Scotland.

     (Note. The characters in Italian are Enrico, Lucia, Edgardo,
     Arturo, Raimondo, Alisa, and Normanno.)

"Lucia di Lammermoor" is generally held to be Donizetti's finest work.
"In it the vein of melody--now sparkling, now sentimental, now
tragic--which embodies Donizetti's best claim on originality and
immortality, finds, perhaps, freest and broadest development." These
words are quoted from Baker's _Biographical Dictionary of Musicians_,
a volume that rarely pauses to comment on an individual work. "Lucia"
is indeed its composer's masterpiece; and a masterpiece of Italian
opera in the older definition of that term. Its melodies are many and
beautiful, and even when ornate in passages, are basically expressive
of the part of the tragic story to which they relate. Moreover, the
sextet at the end of the second act when _Edgar of Ravenswood_ appears
upon the scene just as Lucy with trembling hand has affixed her
signature to the contract of marriage between _Lord Bucklaw_ and
herself, ranks as one of the finest pieces of dramatic music in all
opera, and as a concerted number is rivalled, in Italian opera, by
only one other composition, the quartet in "Rigoletto."

The sextet in "Lucia" rises to the full height of the dramatic
situation that has been created. It does so because the music
reflects the part each character plays in the action. It has
"physiognomy"--individual aspect and phraseology for each participant
in the drama; but, withal, an interdependence, which blends the
voices, as they are swept along, into one grand, powerful, and
dramatic climax.

Another number, the mad scene in the third act, gives coloratura
sopranos an opportunity for technical display equal to that afforded
by the lesson scene in "Il Barbiere di Siviglia"; and, unlike the
latter, the music does not consist of interpolated selections, but of
a complete _scena_ with effective recitatives and brilliant solos,
that belong to the score.

In the story of "Lucia," the heroine's brother, _Lord Henry Ashton_ of
Lammermoor, in order to retrieve his fallen fortunes, and extricate
himself from a perilous situation in which his participation in
political movements directed against the King has placed him, arranges
a marriage between his sister and _Lord Arthur Bucklaw_. _Lucy_
herself knows nothing of this arrangement. _Henry_, on the other hand,
is equally ignorant of an attachment which exists between _Lucy_ and
_Edgar of Ravenswood_, between whose family and his own there long has
been a deadly feud. When he discovers it, he uses the most underhand
methods to break it off.

_Edgar of Ravenswood_ is the last of his race. While he is absent on a
mission to France in the interests of Scotland, he despatches many
letters to _Lucy_. These letters are intercepted by _Henry_ who also
arranges that a forged paper, tending to prove the infidelity of
_Edgar_, is shown to _Lucy_. Urged by the necessities of her brother,
and believing herself deserted by her lover, _Lucy_ unwillingly
consents to become the bride of _Lord Arthur Bucklaw_. But, just as
she has signed the marriage contract, _Edgar of Ravenswood_ suddenly
appears. He has returned from France, and now comes to claim the hand
of _Lucy_--but too late. Convinced that _Lucy_ has betrayed his love,
he casts the ring she gave him at her feet and invokes imprecations
upon her and his ancient enemies, the House of Lammermoor.

At night he is sought out in his gloomy castle by _Henry_. They agree
upon a duel to be fought near the tombs of the Ravenswoods, on the
ensuing morning, when _Edgar_, weary of life, and the last of a doomed
race, intends to throw himself on his adversary's weapon. But the
burden of woe has proved too much for _Lucy_ to bear. At night, after
retiring, she goes out of her mind, slays her husband, and dies of her
sorrows.

_Edgar_ awaits his enemy in the churchyard of Ravenswood. But _Ashton_
has fled. Instead, _Edgar's_ solitude is interrupted by a train of
mourners coming from the Castle of Lammermoor. Upon hearing of
_Lucy's_ death he plunges his dagger into his breast, and sinks down
lifeless in the churchyard where repose the remains of his ancestors.

On the stage this story is developed so that shortly after the curtain
rises on Act I, showing a grove near the Castle of Lammermoor, _Henry_
learns from _Norman_ the latter's suspicions that _Lucy_ and _Edgar_
have been meeting secretly in the park of Lammermoor. _Norman_ has
despatched his huntsmen to discover, if they can, whether or not his
suspicions are correct. "Cruda funesta smania" (each nerve with fury
trembleth) sings _Henry_.

Returning, the hunters relate, in a brisk chorus, that

     Long they wander'd o'er the mountain,
     Search'd each cleft around the fountain,

finally to learn by questioning a falconer that the intruder upon the
domain of Lammermoor was none other than _Edgar of Ravenswood_. Rage
and the spirit of revenge are expressed in _Henry's_ vigorous aria,
"La pietade in suo favore" (From my breast I mercy banish).

[Music: La pietade in suo favore]

The scene changes to the park near a fountain. What now occurs is
usually as follows. The curtain rises, and shows the scene--evening
and moonlight. There is played a beautiful harp solo, an unusual and
charming effect in opera. Having prepared the mood for the scene which
is to follow, it is promptly encored and played all over again. Then
_Lucy_ appears with her companion, _Alice_. To her she relates the
legend of the fountain, "Regnava nel silenzio" (Silence o'er all was
reigning).

[Music: Regnava nel silenzio]

This number gives an idea of the characteristics of _Lucy's_ principal
solos. It is brilliant in passages, yet its melody is dreamy and
reflective. Largely due to this combination of traits is the
popularity of "Lucia di Lammermoor," in which, although there is
comparatively little downright cheerful music, it is relieved of gloom
by the technical brilliancy for which it often calls;--just as, in
fact, _Lucy's_ solo following the legend of the fountain, dispels the
dark forebodings it inspired. This second solo for _Lucy_, one of the
best-known operatic numbers for soprano, is the "Quando rapito" (Then
swift as thought).

[Music: Quando rapito in estasi del più cocente ardore]

Another beautiful and familiar number is the duet between _Lucy_ and
_Edgar_, who has come to tell her of his impending departure for
France and to bid her farewell: "Verranno a te [Transcriber's Note:
original has incorrect "lá"] sull'aure" (My sighs shall on the balmy
breeze).

[Music: Verranno a te sull'aure i miei sospiri ardenti]

Act II. Apartment in the Castle of Lammermoor. "Il pallor funesto,
orrendo" (See these cheeks so pale and haggard).

[Music: Il pallor funesto, orrendo]

In this sad air _Lucy_ protests to her brother against the marriage
which he has arranged for her with _Bucklaw_. _Henry_ then shows her
the forged letter, which leads her to believe that she has been
betrayed by her lover. "Soffriva nel pianto, languia nel dolore" (My
sufferings and sorrow I've borne without repining) begins the duet
between _Lucy_ and _Henry_ with an especially effective cadenza--a
dramatic number.

Though believing herself deserted by _Edgar_, _Lucy_ still holds back
from the thought of marriage with another, and yields only to save her
brother from a traitor's death, and even then not until she has sought
counsel from _Raymond_, the chaplain of Lammermoor, who adds his
persuasions to _Henry's_.

The scene of the signing of the dower opens with a quick, bright
chorus of guests who have assembled for the ceremony.

[Music]

There is an interchange of courtesies between _Henry_ and _Arthur_;
and then _Lucy_ enters. The sadness of her mien is explained by her
brother to _Arthur_ on the ground that she is still mourning the death
of her mother. Desperate, yet reluctant, _Lucy_ signs the contracts of
dower; and at that moment, one of the most dramatic in opera, _Edgar_,
a sombre figure, but labouring under evident though suppressed
tension, appears at the head of the broad flight of steps in the
background, and slowly comes forward.

The orchestra preludes briefly:

[Music]

[Illustration: Photo by Mishkin

Caruso as Edgardo in "Lucia di Lammermoor"]

[Illustration: Photo copyright, 1916, by Victor Georg

Galli-Curci as Lucia in "Lucia di Lammermoor"]

The greatest ensemble number in Italian opera, the sextet, has begun.
_Edgardo_: "Chi mi frena in tal momento? Chi troncò dell'ire il
corso?" (What restrains me at this moment? Why my sword do I not
straightway draw?):

[Music: Chi mi frena in tal momento?]

Because he sees _Lucy_ "as a rose 'mid tempest bending":

[Music]

Even _Henry_ is moved to exclaim, "To my own blood I am a traitor":

[Music]

The chorus swells the volume of sound, but _Lucy's_ voice soars
despairingly above all:

[Music]

_Lucy_ and _Edgar_--they are the victims of _Henry's_ treachery, as
will soon transpire.

Act III. The first scene is laid in _Edgar's_ gloomy castle, whither
at night comes _Henry_ to challenge him to a duel at morn.

The scene then changes back to Lammermoor, where the wedding guests
still are feasting. Their revels are halted by _Raymond_, who,
horror-stricken, announces to them that _Lucy_ has gone mad and slain
her husband; and soon the unhappy bride herself appears. Then follows
the mad scene, one of the greatest "show numbers" for soprano, with
the further merit that it fits perfectly into the scheme of the work.

This is an elaborate _scena_. In an earlier part of the opera
Donizetti made effective use of a harp. In the mad scene he introduces
a flute obligato, which plays around the voice, joins with it, touches
it with sharp, brilliant accentuations, and glides with it up and down
the scale in mellifluous companionship.

In a brief article in _The Musician_, Thomas Tapper writes that "to
perform the mad scene has been an inspiration and incentive to
attainment for many singers. Its demands are severe. There must be the
'mood,' that is, the characterization of the mental state of _Lucy_
must be evidenced both in vocal tone and physical movement. The aria
requires an unusual degree of facility. Its transparency demands
adherence to pitch that must not vary a shade from the truth (note the
passage where voice and flute are in unison). The coloratura soprano
is here afforded unusual opportunity to display fluency and
flexibility of voice, to portray the character that is 'as Ophelia
was'; the dramatic intensity is paramount and must be sustained at a
lofty eminence. In brief, the aria is truly a _tour de force_."

One of the best things in the above is its insistence on the "mood,"
the emotional situation that underlies the music. However brilliant
the singing of the prima donna, something in her performance must yet
convey to her hearers a sense of the sad fortunes of _Lucy of
Lammermoor_.

To the accomplishment of this Donizetti lends a helping hand by
introducing, as a mournful reminiscence, the theme of the first act
love duet for _Lucy_ and _Edgar_ ("My sighs shall on the balmy
breeze"); also by the dreaminess of the two melodies, "Alfin son tua"
(Thine am I ever);

[Music]

and "Spargi d'amaro pianto" (Shed thou a tear of sorrow).

[Music]

Preceding the first of these, and also between the two, are dramatic
recitatives, in which the flute, possibly introduced merely for
musical effect, yet, with its clear, limpid notes, by no means
untypical of _Lucy's_ pure and spiritual personality, is prominent in
the instrumental part of the score. Upon a brilliant phrase of
vocalization, like "Yet shall we meet, dear Edgar, before the altar,"

[Music: Qui ricovriamo, Edgardo, a piè dell'ara]

it follows with this phrase:

[Music]

which simple, even commonplace, as it seems, nevertheless, in place,
has the desired effect of ingenuousness and charm; while the passage
beginning,

[Music]

has decided dramatic significance.

I also give an example of a passage in which flute and voice combine
in a manner that requires impeccable intonation on the singer's part.

[Music: a noi sarà, la vita etc.]

The _scena_ ends with a _stretto_, a concluding passage taken in more
rapid tempo in order to enhance the effect.

It is always interesting to me to hear this scene, when well rendered,
and to note the simple means employed by the composer to produce the
impression it makes.

The flute is an instrument that long has been the butt of humorists.
"What is worse than one flute?"--"Two flutes." This is a standard
musical joke. The kind suggestion also has been volunteered that _Lucy
of Lammermoor_ went out of her head, not because she was deserted by
_Edgar_, but because she was accompanied by a flute.

Nevertheless the flute is precisely the instrument required as an
_obligato_ to this scene. Italian composers, as a rule, pay little
attention to instrumentation. Yet it is a fact that, when they make a
special choice of an instrument in order to produce a desired effect,
their selection usually proves a happy inspiration. The flute and the
harp in "Lucia" are instances; the bassoons in the introduction to
"Una furtiva lagrima" (A furtive tear) in "L'Elisire d'Amore" furnish
another; and the wood-wind in the "Semiramide" duet, "Giorno d'orrore"
(Dark day of horror) may also be mentioned.

There is a point in the mad scene where it is easy to modulate into
the key of G major. Donizetti has written in that key the aria "Perchè
non ho del vento" (Oh, for an eagle's pinions) which sopranos
sometimes introduce during the scene, since it was composed for that
purpose.

Probably the air is unfamiliar to opera-goers in this country. Lionel
Mapleson, the librarian of the Metropolitan Opera House, never has
heard it sung there, and was interested to know where I had found it.
As it is a florid, brilliant piece of music, and well suited to the
scene, I quote a line of it, as a possible hint to some prima donna.

[Music: Perchè non ho del vento l'infaticabil vole]

During the finale of the opera, laid near the churchyard where lie the
bones of _Edgar's_ ancestors, _Lucy's_ lover holds the stage. His
final aria, "Tu che a Dio spiegasti l'ali" (Tho' from earth thou'st
flown before me), is a passage of mournful beauty, which has few
equals in Italian opera.

[Music: Tu che a Dio spiegasti l'ali, o bell'alma innamorata]

Of the singers of former days who have been heard here as _Lucia_,
Adelina Patti interpreted the rôle with the least effort and the
greatest brilliancy. Hers was a pure flexible soprano, which seemed to
flow forth spontaneously from an inexhaustible reservoir of song.
Unfortunately she was heard here by many long after her day had
passed. She had too many "farewells." But those who heard her at her
best, always will remember her as the possessor of a naturally
beautiful voice, exquisitely trained.

Italo Campanini, a tenor who was in his prime when Mapleson was
impresario at the Academy of Music, was one of the great _Edgardos_.
He was an elder brother of Cleofante Campanini, orchestral conductor
and director of the Chicago Opera Company.

As for Caruso, rarely have I witnessed such excitement as followed the
singing of the sextet the evening of his first appearance as _Edgardo_
at the Metropolitan Opera House. It is a fact that the policeman in
the lobby, thinking a riot of some sort had broken loose in the
auditorium, grabbed his night stick and pushed through the swinging
doors--only to find an audience vociferously demanding an encore. Even
granted that some of the excitement was "worked up," it was,
nevertheless, a remarkable demonstration.

The rôle of _Enrico_, though, of course, of less importance than
_Edgardo_, can be made very effective by a baritone of the first rank.
Such, for example, was Antonio Galassi, who, like Campanini, was one
of Mapleson's singers. He was a tall, well-put-up man; and when, in
the sextet, at the words "È mio rosa inaridita" [Transcriber's Note:
should be 'È mio sangue, l'ho tradita'] (Of thine own blood thou'rt
the betrayer), he came forward in one stride, and projected his voice
into the proceedings, it seemed as if, no matter what happened to the
others, he could take the entire affair on his broad shoulders and
carry it through to success.


LA FIGLIA DEL REGGIMENTO

LA FILLE DU RÉGIMENT--THE DAUGHTER OF THE REGIMENT.

     Opera in two acts, by Donizetti; words by Bayard and Jules
     H. Vernoy (Marquis St. Georges). Produced, Opéra Comique,
     Paris, as "La Fille du Régiment," February 11, 1840; Milan,
     October 30, 1840; London, in English, at the Surrey Theatre,
     December 21, 1847; the same season in Italian, with Jenny
     Lind. First American performance, New Orleans, March 7,
     1843. _Marie_ was a favorite rôle with Jenny Lind, Sontag,
     Lucca, and Patti, all of whom appeared in it in New York;
     also Sembrich, with Charles Gilibert as _Sulpice_,
     Metropolitan Opera House, 1902-03; and Hempel, with Scotti
     as _Sulpice_, same house, December 17, 1917. Tetrazzini,
     McCormack, and Gilibert, Manhattan Opera House, 1909. An
     opera with a slight hold on the repertoire, but liable to
     occasional revival for coloratura sopranos.

     CHARACTERS

     MARIE, the "Daughter of the Regiment,"
       but really the daughter of the Marquise
       de Birkenfeld                               _Soprano_
     SULPICE, Sergeant of French Grenadiers           _Bass_
     TONIO, a Tyrolese peasant in love with Marie;
       afterwards an officer of Grenadiers           _Tenor_
     MARQUISE DE BIRKENFELD                        _Soprano_
     HORTENSIO, steward to the Marquise               _Bass_
     CORPORAL                                         _Bass_

     Soldiers, peasants, friends of the Marquise, etc.

     _Time_--1815.

     _Place_--Mountains of the Swiss Tyrol.

Act I. A passage in the Tyrolese mountains. On the right is a cottage,
on the left the first houses of a village. Heights in the background.
Tyrolese peasants are grouped on rising ground, as if on the lookout.
Their wives and daughters kneel before a shrine to the Virgin. The
_Marquise de Birkenfeld_ is seated on a rustic bench. Beside her
stands _Hortensio_, her steward. They have been caught in the eddy of
the war. An engagement is in progress not far away. The Tyrolese
chorus sings valiantly, the women pray; the French are victorious. And
why not? Is not the unbeaten Twenty-first Regiment of Grenadiers among
them?

One of them is coming now, _Sergeant Sulpice_, an old grumbler. After
him comes a pretty girl in uniform, a vivandière--_Marie_, the
daughter of the regiment, found on the field of battle when she was a
mere child, and brought up by a whole regiment of fathers, the spoiled
darling of the grenadiers. She sings "Apparvi alla luce, sul campo
guerrier"

[Music:

     Apparvi alla luce,
     Sul campo guerrier,]

(I first saw the light in the camp of my brave grenadiers), which ends
in a brilliant cadenza.

[Music]

This indicates why the revival of this opera attends the appearance
upon the horizon of a coloratura star. It is typical of the
requirements of the character.

The _Sergeant_ puts her through a drill. Then they have a "Rataplan"
duet, which may be called a repetition of _Marie's_ solo with an
accompaniment of rataplans. The drum is the music that is sweetest to
her; and, indeed, _Marie's_ manipulation of the drumsticks is a
feature of the rôle.

But for a few days _Marie_ has not been as cheerful as formerly. She
has been seen with a young man. _Sulpice_ asks her about him. She
tells the _Sergeant_ that this young man saved her life by preventing
her from falling over a precipice. That, however, establishes no claim
upon her. The regiment has decreed that only a grenadier shall have
her for wife.

There is a commotion. Some soldiers drag in _Tonio_, whom they charge
as a spy. They have discovered him sneaking about the camp. His would
have been short shrift had not _Marie_ pleaded for him, for he is none
other than her rescuer. As he wants to remain near _Marie_, he decides
to become a soldier. The grenadiers celebrate his decision by drinking
to his health and calling upon _Marie_ to sing the "Song of the
Regiment," a dapper tune, which is about the best-known number of the
score: "Ciascun lo dice, ciascun lo sà! È il Reggimento, ch'egual non
ha."

     (All men confess it,
       Go where we will!
     Our gallant Regiment
       Is welcome still.)

[Music:

     Ciascun lo dice,
     Ciascun lo sà!
     È il Reggimento
     Ch'egual non ha.]

There is then a love scene for _Marie_ and _Tonio_, followed by a duet
for them, "A voti così ardente" [Transcriber's Note: should be 'A
confession sì ardente'] (No longer can I doubt it).

Afterwards the grenadiers sing a "Rataplan" chorus.

[Music: Rataplan, rataplan, rataplan,]

But, alas, the _Sergeant_ has been informed that the _Marquise de
Birkenfeld_ desires safe conduct. Birkenfeld! That is the very name to
which were addressed certain papers found on _Marie_ when she was
discovered as a baby on the battlefield. The _Marquise_ examines the
papers, declares that _Marie_ is her niece and henceforth must live
with her in the castle. Poor _Tonio_ has become a grenadier in vain.
The regiment cannot help him. It can only lament with him that their
daughter is lost to them. She herself is none too happy. She sings a
sad farewell, "Convien partir! o miei compagni d'arme" (Farewell, a
long farewell, my dear companions).

Act II. In the castle of the _Marquise_. _Marie_ is learning to dance
the minuet and to sing classical airs. But in the midst of her singing
she and _Sulpice_, whom the _Marquise_ also has brought to the castle,
break out into the "Song of the Regiment" and stirring "rataplans."
Their liveliness, however, is only temporary, for poor _Marie_ is to
wed, at her aunt's command, a scion of the ducal house of Krakenthorp.
The march of the grenadiers is heard. They come in, led by _Tonio_,
who has been made a captain for valour. _Sulpice_ can now see no
reason why _Marie_ should not marry him instead of the nobleman
selected by her aunt. And, indeed, _Marie_ and _Tonio_ decide to
elope. But the _Marquise_ confesses to the _Sergeant_, in order to win
his aid in influencing _Marie_, that the girl really is her daughter,
born out of wedlock. _Sulpice_ informs _Marie_, who now feels that she
cannot go against her mother's wishes.

In the end, however, it is _Marie_ herself who saves the situation.
The guests have assembled for the signing of the wedding contract,
when _Marie_, before them all, sings fondly of her childhood with the
regiment, and of her life as a vivandière, "Quando il destino, in
mezzo a strage ria" (When I was left, by all abandoned).

The society people are scandalized. But the _Marquise_ is so touched
that she leads _Tonio_ to _Marie_ and places the girl's hand in that
of her lover. The opera ends with an ensemble, "Salute to France!"


LA FAVORITA

THE FAVORITE

     Opera in four acts, by Donizetti; words by Alphonse Royer
     and Gustave Waez [Transcriber's Note: more commonly 'Vaëz'],
     adapted from the drama "Le Comte de Comminges," of
     Baculard-Darnaud. Produced at the Grand Opéra, Paris,
     December 2, 1840. London, in English, 1843; in Italian,
     1847. New York, Park Theatre, October 4, 1848.

     CHARACTERS

     ALFONSO XI., King of Castile                 _Baritone_
     FERDINAND, a young novice of the Monastery
       of St. James of Compostella; afterwards
       an officer                                    _Tenor_
     DON GASPAR, the King's Minister                 _Tenor_
     BALTHAZAR, Superior of the Monastery
       of St. James                                   _Bass_
     LEONORA DI GUSMANN                            _Soprano_
     INEZ, her confidante                          _Soprano_

     Courtiers, guards, monks, ladies of the court, attendants.

     _Time_--About 1340.

     _Place_--Castile, Spain.

_Leonora_, with Campanini as _Fernando_, was, for a number of seasons,
one of the principal rôles of Annie Louise Cary at the Academy of
Music. Mantelli as _Leonora_, Cremonini as _Fernando_, Ancona as _King
Alfonso_, and Plançon as _Balthazar_, appeared, 1895-96, at the
Metropolitan, where "La Favorita" [Transcriber's Note: this is the
Italian title] was heard again in 1905; but the work never became a
fixture, as it had been at the Academy of Music. The fact is that
since then American audiences, the most spoiled in the world, have
established an operatic convention as irrevocable as the laws of the
Medes and Persians. In opera the hero must be a tenor, the heroine a
true soprano. "La Favorita" fulfils the first requisite, but not the
second. The heroine is a rôle for contralto, or mezzo-soprano. Yet the
opera contains some of Donizetti's finest music, both solo and
ensemble. Pity 'tis not heard more frequently.

There is in "La Favorita" a strong, dramatic scene at the end of the
third act. As if to work up to this as gradually as possible, the
opera opens quietly.

_Ferdinand_, a novice in the Monastery of St. James of Compostella,
has chanced to see and has fallen in love with _Leonora_, the mistress
of _Alfonso_, King of Castile. He neither knows her name, nor is he
aware of her equivocal position. So deeply conceived is his passion,
it causes him to renounce his novitiate and seek out its object.

Act I. The interior of the monastery. _Ferdinand_ makes known to
_Balthazar_, the Superior, that he desires to renounce his novitiate,
because he has fallen in love, and cannot banish the woman of his
affections from his thoughts. He describes her to the priest as "Una
vergine, un angel di Dio" (A virgin, an angel of God).

[Music: Una vergine, un angel di Dio]

Although this air bears no resemblance to "Celeste Aïda" its flowing
measures and melodious beauty, combined with its position so early in
the opera, recall the Verdi aria--and prepare for it the same
fate--which is to be marred by the disturbance caused by late-comers
and to remain unheard by those who come still later.

_Balthazar's_ questions elicit from _Ferdinand_ that his only
knowledge of the woman, whose praises he has sung, is of her youth and
beauty. Name and station are unknown to him, although he believes her
to be of high rank. _Balthazar_, who had hoped that in time
_Ferdinand_ would become his successor as superior of the monastery,
releases him reluctantly from his obligations, and prophesies, as the
novice turns away from the peaceful shades of the cloister, that he
will retrace his steps, disappointed and heart-broken, to seek refuge
once more within the monastery's walls.

The scene changes to an idyllic prospect on the island of St. Leon,
where _Leonora_ lives in splendour. She, in her turn, is deeply
enamoured of _Ferdinand_, yet is convinced that, because of her
relations with _King Alfonso_, he will despise her should he discover
who she is. But so great is her love for him, that, without letting
him learn her name or station, she has arranged that he shall be
brought, blindfolded, to the island.

"Bei raggi lucenti" (Bright sunbeams, lightly dancing), a graceful
solo and chorus for _Inez_, _Leonora's_ confidante, and her woman
companions, opens the scene.

It is followed by "Dolce zeffiro, il seconda" (Gentle zephyr, lightly
wafted), which is sung by the chorus of women, as the boat conveying
_Ferdinand_ touches the island and he, after disembarking, has the
bandage withdrawn from over his eyes, and looks in amazement upon the
charming surroundings amid which he stands. He questions _Inez_
regarding the name and station of her who holds gentle sway over the
island, but in vain. _Inez_ and her companions retire, as _Leonora_
enters. She interrupts _Ferdinand's_ delight at seeing her by telling
him--but without giving her reasons--that their love can lead only to
sorrow; that they must part. He protests vehemently. She, however,
cannot be moved from her determination that he shall not be sacrificed
to their love, and hands him a parchment, which she tells him will
lead him to a career of honour.

He still protests. But at that moment _Inez_, entering hurriedly,
announces the approach of the _King_. _Leonora_ bids _Ferdinand_
farewell and goes hastily to meet _Alfonso_. _Ferdinand_ now believes
that the woman with whom he has fallen in love is of rank so high that
she cannot stoop to wed him, yet expresses her love for him by seeking
to advance him. This is confirmed when, on reading the scroll she has
given him, he discovers that it gratifies his highest ambition and
confers upon him a commission in the army. The act closes with his
martial air, "Sì, che un tuo solo accento" (Oh, fame, thy voice
inspiring).

He sees the path to glory open up before him, and with it the hope
that some great deed may yet make him worthy to claim the hand of the
woman he loves.

Act II. Gardens of the Palace of the Alcazar. _Ferdinand's_ dream of
glory has come true. We learn, through a brief colloquy between
_Alfonso_ and _Don Gaspar_, his minister, that the young officer has
led the Spanish army to victory against the Moors. Indeed, this very
palace of the Alcazar has been wrested from the enemy by the young
hero.

_Gaspar_ having retired, the _King_, who has no knowledge of the love
between _Ferdinand_ and _Leonora_, sings of his own passion for her in
the expressive air, "Vien, Leonora, a' piedi tuoi" (Come, Leonora,
before the kneeling).

The object of his love enters, accompanied by her confidante. The
_King_ has prepared a fête in celebration of _Ferdinand's_ victory,
but _Leonora_, while rejoicing in the honours destined to be his, is
filled with foreboding because of the illicit relations between
herself and the _King_, when she truly loves another. Moreover, these
fears find justification in the return of _Gaspar_ with a letter in
_Ferdinand's_ handwriting, and intended for _Leonora_, but which the
minister has intercepted in the hand of _Inez_. The _King's_ angry
questions regarding the identity of the writer are interrupted by
confused sounds from without. There enters _Balthazar_, preceded by a
priest bearing a scroll with the Papal seal. He faces the _King_ and
_Leonora_ while the lords and ladies, who have gathered for the fête,
look on in apprehension, though not wholly without knowledge of what
is impending.

For there is at the court of _Alfonso_ a strong party that condemns
the _King's_ illicit passion for _Leonora_, so openly shown. This
party has appealed to the Papal throne against the _King_. The Pope
has sent a Bull to _Balthazar_, in which the Superior of the Monastery
of St. James is authorized to pronounce the interdict on the _King_ if
the latter refuses to dismiss his favourite from the Court and restore
his legitimate wife to her rights. It is with this commission
_Balthazar_ has now appeared before the _King_, who at first is
inclined to refuse obedience to the Papal summons. He wavers.
_Balthazar_ gives him time till the morrow, and until then withholds
his anathema.

_Balthazar's_ vigorous yet dignified denunciation of the _King_, "Ah
paventa il furor d'un Dio vendicatore" (Do not call down the wrath of
God, the avenger, upon thee), forms a broadly sonorous foundation for
the finale of the act.

[Music: Ah paventa il furor d'un Dio vendicatore,]

Act III. A salon in the Palace of the Alcazar. In a brief scene the
_King_ informs his minister that he has decided to heed the behest of
the church and refrain from braving the Papal malediction. He bids
_Gaspar_ send _Leonora_ to him, but, at the first opportunity, to
arrest _Inez_, her accomplice.

It is at this juncture, as _Gaspar_ departs, that _Ferdinand_ appears
at court, returning from the war, in which he has not only
distinguished himself by his valour, but actually has saved the
kingdom. _Alfonso_ asks him to name the prize which he desires as
recompense for his services. _Leonora_ enters. _Ferdinand_, seeing
her, at once asks for the bestowal of her hand upon him in marriage.
The _King_, who loves her deeply, and has nearly risked the wrath of
the Pope for her sake, nevertheless, because immediately aware of the
passion between the two, gives his assent, but with reluctance, as
indeed appears from the irony that pervades his solo, "A tanto amor"
(Thou flow'r belov'd).

He then retires with _Ferdinand_.

_Leonora_, touched by the _King's_ magnanimity, inspired by her love
for _Ferdinand_, yet shaken by doubts and fears, because aware that he
knows nothing of her past, now expresses these conflicting feelings in
her principal air, "O, mio Fernando," one of the great Italian airs
for mezzo-soprano.

[Music: O, mio Fernando, della terra il trono]

She considers that their future happiness depends upon _Ferdinand's_
being truthfully informed of what her relations have been with the
_King_, thus giving him full opportunity to decide whether, with this
knowledge of her guilt, he will marry her, or not. Accordingly she
despatches _Inez_ with a letter to him. _Inez_, as she is on her way
to deliver this letter, is intercepted by _Gaspar_, who carries out
the _King's_ command and orders her arrest. She is therefore unable to
place in _Ferdinand's_ hands the letter of _Leonora_.

Into the presence of the assembled nobles the _King_ now brings
_Ferdinand_, decorates him with a rich chain, and announces that he
has created him Count of Zamora. The jealous lords whisper among
themselves about the scandal of _Ferdinand's_ coming marriage with the
mistress of the _King_; but _Leonora_, who enters in bridal attire,
finds _Ferdinand_ eagerly awaiting her, and ready to wed her,
notwithstanding, as she believes, his receipt of her communication and
complete knowledge of her past.

While the ceremony is being performed in another apartment, the nobles
discuss further the disgrace to _Ferdinand_ in this marriage. That
_Leonora_ was the mistress of the _King_ is, of course, a familiar
fact at court, and the nobles regard _Ferdinand's_ elevation to the
rank of nobility as a reward, not only for his defeat of the Moors,
but also for accommodatingly taking _Leonora_ off the hands of the
_King_, when the latter is threatened with the malediction of Rome.
They cannot imagine that the young officer is ignorant of the
relations that existed between his bride and the _King_.

_Ferdinand_ re-enters. In high spirits he approaches the courtiers,
offers them his hand, which they refuse. _Balthazar_ now comes to
learn the decision of the _King_. _Ferdinand_, confused by the
taunting words and actions of the courtiers, hastens to greet
_Balthazar_, who, not having seen him since he has returned victorious
and loaded with honours, embraces him, until he hears _Gaspar's_
ironical exclamation, "Leonora's bridegroom!" _Balthazar_ starts back,
and it is then _Ferdinand_ learns that he has just been wedded "alla
bella del Re"--to the mistress of the _King_.

At this moment, when _Ferdinand_ has but just been informed of what he
can only interpret as his betrayal by the _King_ and the royal
favourite, _Alfonso_ enters, leading _Leonora_, followed by her
attendants. In a stirring scene, the dramatic climax of the opera,
_Ferdinand_ tears from his neck the chain _Alfonso_ has bestowed upon
him, and throws it contemptuously upon the floor, breaks his sword and
casts it at the _King's_ feet, then departs with _Balthazar_, the
nobles now making a passage for them, and saluting, while they sing

     "Ferdinand, the truly brave,
     We salute, and pardon crave!"

Act IV. The cloisters of the Monastery of St. James. Ceremony of
_Ferdinand's_ entry into the order. "Splendon più belle in ciel le
stelle" (Behold the stars in splendour celestial), a distinguished
solo and chorus for _Balthazar_ and the monks.

Left alone, _Ferdinand_ gives vent to his sorrow, which still
persists, in the romance, "Spirto gentil" (Spirit of Light), one of
the most exquisite tenor solos in the Italian repertory.

[Music: Spirto gentil, ne' sogni miei brillasti un dì, ma ti perdei]

In 1882, thirty-four years after Donizetti's death, there was produced
in Rome an opera by him entitled "Il Duca d'Alba" (The Duke of Alba).
Scribe wrote the libretto for Rossini, who does not appear to have
used it. So it was passed on to Donizetti, who composed, but never
produced it. "Spirto gentil" was in this opera, from which Donizetti
simply transferred it.

_Balthazar_ and the monks return. With them _Ferdinand_ enters the
chapel. _Leonora_, disguised as a novice, comes upon the scene. She
hears the chanting of the monks, _Ferdinand's_ voice enunciating his
vows. He comes out from the chapel, recognizes _Leonora_, bids her be
gone. "Ah! va, t'invola! e questa terra" (These cloisters fly, etc.).

She, however, tells him of her unsuccessful effort to let him know of
her past, and craves his forgiveness for the seeming wrong she has
wrought upon him. "Clemente al par di Dio" [Transcriber's Note: some
scores render this as 'Pietoso al par del Nume'] (Forgiveness through
God I crave of thee).

All of _Ferdinand's_ former love returns for her. "Vieni, ah! vieni,"
etc. (Joy once more fills my breast).

He would bear her away to other climes and there happily pass his days
with her. But it is too late. _Leonora_ dies in his arms. "By tomorrow
my soul, too, will want your prayers," are _Ferdinand's_ words to
_Balthazar_, who, approaching, has drawn _Leonora's_ cowl over her
dishevelled hair. He calls upon the monks to pray for a departed
soul.


LINDA DI CHAMOUNIX

LINDA OF CHAMOUNIX

     Opera, in three acts, by Donizetti; words by Rossi.
     Produced, May 19, 1842, Theatre near the Carinthian Gate
     (Kärnthnerthor), Vienna. London, June, 1843. New York,
     Palma's Opera House, January 4, 1847, with Clothilda Barili;
     Academy of Music, March 9, 1861, with Clara Louise Kellogg,
     later with Patti as _Linda_ and Galassi as _Antonio_;
     Metropolitan Opera House, April 23, 1890, with Patti.

     CHARACTERS

     MARQUIS DE BOISFLEURY                            _Bass_
     CHARLES, Vicomte de Sirval                      _Tenor_
     PREFECT                                          _Bass_
     PIERROT                                     _Contralto_
     LINDA                                         _Soprano_
     ANTONIO                                      _Baritone_
     MADELINE                                      _Soprano_
     INTENDANT                                       _Tenor_

     Peasant men and women, Savoyards, etc.

     _Time_--1760, during the reign of Louis XV.

     _Place_--Chamounix and Paris.

"Linda di Chamounix" contains an air for soprano without which no
collection of opera arias is complete. This is _Linda's_ aria in the
first act, "O luce di quest'anima" (Oh! star that guid'st my fervent
love). When Donizetti was composing "Linda di Chamounix" for Vienna,
with this air and its fluent embellishments, he also was writing for
the Imperial chapel a "Miserere" and an "Ave Maria" which were highly
praised for a style as severe and restrained as "O luce di
quest'anima" is light and graceful.

"Linda di Chamounix" is in three acts, entitled "The Departure,"
"Paris," "The Return." The story is somewhat naïve, as its exposition
will show.

Act I. The village of Chamounix. On one side a farmhouse. On an
eminence a church. _Antonio_ and _Madeline_ are poor villagers.
_Linda_ is their daughter. She has fallen in love with an artist,
_Charles_, who really is the _Viscount de Sirval_, but has not yet
disclosed his identity to her. When the opera opens _Linda's_ parents
are in fear of being dispossessed by the _Marquis de Boisfleury_, who
is _Charles's_ uncle, but knows nothing of his nephew's presence in
Chamounix, or of his love for _Linda_. She, it may be remarked, is one
of those pure, sweet, unsophisticated creatures, who exist only on the
stage, and possibly only in opera.

When the opera opens, _Antonio_ returns from a visit to the
_Marquis's_ agent, the _Intendant_. Hopes have been held out to him
that the _Marquis_ will relent. _Antonio_ communicates these hopes to
his wife in the beautiful solo, "Ambo nati in questa valle" (We were
both in this valley nurtured).

[Music: Ambo nati in questa valle,]

There are shouts of "Viva!" without. The _Marquis_ has arrived. He
seems kindness itself to the old couple. He asks for _Linda_, but she
has gone to prayers in the chapel. We learn from an aside between the
_Marquis_ and his _Intendant_, that the _Marquis's_ apparent
benevolence is merely part of a libidinous scheme which involves
_Linda_, whose beauty has attracted the titled roué.

After this scene, _Linda_ comes on alone and sings "O luce di
quest'anima."

[Music:

     O luce di quest'anima,
     Delizia, amore e vita;]

I also quote the concluding phrase:

[Music:

     Unita nostra sorte,
     In ciel, in ciel sarà.]

Savoyards are preparing to depart for Paris to go to work there. Among
them is _Pierrot_, with his hurdy-gurdy. He sings a charming ballad,
"Per sua madre andò una figlia" (Once a better fortune seeking).

There is then a love scene between _Linda_ and _Charles_, with the
effective duet, "A consolarmi affrettisi" (Oh! that the blessed day
were come, when standing by my side), a phrase which is heard again
with significant effect in the third act.

[Music:

     A consolarmi affrettisi,
     Tal giorno sospirato,]

_Antonio_ then learns from the good _Prefect_ of the village that the
latter suspects the _Marquis_ of sinister intentions toward _Linda_.
Indeed at that moment _Linda_ comes in with a paper from the
_Marquis_, which assures to her parents their home; but, she adds,
naïvely, that she has been invited by the _Marquis_ to the castle.
Parents and _Prefect_ are alarmed for her safety. The _Prefect_ has a
brother in Paris. To his protection it is decided that _Linda_ shall
go with her Savoyard friends, who even now are preparing to depart.

Act II. Room in a handsome, well-furnished apartment in Paris. This
apartment is _Linda's_. In it she has been installed by _Charles_. The
natural supposition, that it has been paid for by her virtue, is in
this instance a mistake, but one, I am sure, made by nine people out
of ten of those who see the opera, since the explanation of how she
got there consists merely of a few incidental lines in recitative.

_Linda_ herself, but for her incredible naïveté would realize the
impossibility of the situation.

A voice singing in the street she recognizes as _Pierrot's_, calls him
up to her, and assists him with money, of which she appears to have
plenty. She tells him that the _Prefect's_ brother, in whose house
she was to have found protection, had died. She was obliged to support
herself by singing in the street. Fortunately she had by chance met
_Charles_, who disclosed to her his identity as the _Viscount de
Sirval_. He is not ready to marry her yet on account of certain family
complications, but meanwhile has placed her in this apartment, where
he provides for her. There is a duet, in which _Linda_ and _Pierrot_
sing of her happiness.

_Pierrot_ having left, the _Marquis_, who has discovered her retreat,
but does not know that it is provided by his nephew _Charles_, calls
to force his unwelcome attentions upon her. He laughs, as is not
unnatural, at her protestations that she is supported here in
innocence; but when she threatens him with possible violence from her
intended, he has a neat little solo of precaution, ending "Guardati,
pensaci, marchese mio" (Be cautious--ponder well, Marquis most
valiant).

The _Marquis_, having prudently taken his departure, _Linda_ having
gone to another room, and _Charles_ having come in, we learn from his
recitative and air that his mother, the Marquise de Sirval, has
selected a wife for him, whom she insists he shall marry. He hopes to
escape from this marriage, but, as his mother has heard of _Linda_ and
also insists that he shall give her up, he has come to explain matters
to her and temporarily to part from her. But when he sees her, her
beauty so moves him that his courage fails him, although, as he goes,
there is a sadness in his manner that fills her with sad forebodings.

For three months _Linda_ has heard nothing from her parents. Letters,
with money, which she has sent them, have remained unanswered--another
of the situations in which this most artless heroine of opera
discovers herself, without seeking the simple and obvious way of
relieving the suspense.

In any event, her parents have become impoverished through the
_Marquis de Boisfleury's_ disfavour, for at this moment her father, in
the condition of a mendicant, comes in to beg the intercession in his
behalf of the _Viscount de Sirval_ (Charles). Not recognizing _Linda_,
he mistakes her for _Charles's_ wife. She bestows bounteous alms upon
him, but hesitates to make herself known, until, when he bends over to
kiss her hand she cannot refrain from disclosing herself. Her
surroundings arouse his suspicions, which are confirmed by _Pierrot_,
who comes running in with the news that he has learned of preparations
for the marriage of _Charles_ to a lady of his mother's choice. In a
scene (which a fine singer like Galassi was able to invest with real
power) _Antonio_ hurls the alms _Linda_ has given him at her feet,
denounces her, and departs. _Pierrot_ seeks to comfort her. But alas!
her father's denunciation of her, and, above all, what she believes to
be _Charles's_ desertion, have unseated her reason.

Act III. The village of Chamounix. The Savoyards are returning and are
joyfully greeted. _Charles_, who has been able to persuade his mother
to permit him to wed _Linda_, has come in search of her. Incidentally
he has brought solace for _Antonio_ and _Madeline_. The De Sirvals are
the real owners of the farm, the _Marquis_, _Charles's_ uncle, being
only their representative. _Linda's_ parents are to remain in
undisturbed possession of the farm;--but where is she?

_Pierrot_ is heard singing. Whenever he sings he is able to persuade
_Linda_ to follow him. Thus her faithful friend gradually has led her
back to Chamounix. And when _Charles_ chants for her a phrase of their
first act duet, "O consolarmi affrettisi," her reason returns, and it
is "Ah! di tue pene sparve il sogno" (Ah! the vision of my sorrow
fades).

In this drama of naïveté, an artlessness which I mention again because
I think it is not so much the music as the libretto that has become
old-fashioned, even the _Marquis_ comes in for a good word. For when
he too offers his congratulations, what does _Linda_ do but refer to
the old libertine, who has sought her ruin, as "him who will be my
uncle dear."


DON PASQUALE

     Opera, in three acts, by Donizetti; words by Salvatore
     Cammarano, adapted from his earlier libretto, "Ser
     Marc'Antonio," which Stefano Pavesi had set to music in
     1813. Produced, Paris, January 4, 1843, Théâtre des
     Italiens. London, June 30, 1843. New York, March 9, 1846, in
     English; 1849, in Italian; revived for Bonci (with di
     Pasquali, Scotti, and Pini-Corsi) at the New Theatre,
     December 23, 1909; given also at the Metropolitan Opera
     House with Sembrich as _Norina_.

     CHARACTERS

     DON PASQUALE, an old bachelor                    _Bass_
     DR. MALATESTA, his friend                    _Baritone_
     ERNESTO, nephew of Don Pasquale                 _Tenor_
     NORINA, a young widow, affianced to Ernesto   _Soprano_
     A NOTARY                                     _Baritone_

     Valets, chambermaids, majordomo, dress-makers, hairdresser.

     _Time_--Early nineteenth century.

     _Place_--Rome.

"Don Pasquale" concerns an old man about to marry. He also is wealthy.
Though determined himself to have a wife, on the other hand he is very
angry with his nephew, _Ernesto_, for wishing to marry, and threatens
to disinherit him. _Ernesto_ is greatly disturbed by these threats. So
is his lady-love, the sprightly young widow, _Norina_, when he reports
them to her.

_Pasquale's_ friend, _Dr. Malatesta_, not being able to dissuade him
from marriage, pretends to acquiesce in it. He proposes that his
sister shall be the bride, and describes her as a timid, naïve,
ingenuous girl, brought up, he says, in a convent. She is, however,
none other than _Norina_, the clever young widow, who is in no degree
related to _Malatesta_. She quickly enters into the plot, which
involves a mock marriage with _Don Pasquale_. An interview takes
place. The modest graces of the supposed convent girl charm the old
man. The marriage--a mock ceremony, of course--is hurriedly
celebrated, so hurriedly that there is no time to inform the
distracted _Ernesto_ that the proceedings are bogus.

_Norina_ now displays toward _Don Pasquale_ an ungovernable temper.
Moreover she spends money like water, and devotes all her energies to
nearly driving the old man crazy. When he protests, she boxes his
ears. He is on the point of suicide. Then at last _Malatesta_ lets him
know that he has been duped. _Notary_ and contract are fictitious. He
is free. With joy he transfers to _Ernesto_ his conjugal burden--and
an income.

Act I plays in a room in _Don Pasquale's_ house and later in a room in
_Norina's_, where she is reading a romance. She is singing "Quel
guardo" (Glances so soft) and "So anch'io la virtù magica" (I, too,
thy magic virtues know) in which she appears to be echoing in thought
what she has been reading about in the book.

[Music:

     So anch'io la virtù magica
     D'un guardo a tempo e loco]

The duet, in which she and _Malatesta_ agree upon the plot--the "duet
of the rehearsal"--is one of the sprightly numbers of the score.

Act II is in a richly furnished salon of _Don Pasquale's_ house. This
is the scene of the mock marriage, of _Norina's_ assumed display of
temper and extravagance, _Don Pasquale's_ distraction, _Ernesto's_
amazement and enlightenment, and _Malatesta's_ amused co-operation. In
this act occur the duet of the box on the ears, and the quartet, which
begins with _Pasquale's_ "Son ardito" [Transcriber's Note: should be
'Son tradito'] (I am betrayed). It is the finale of the act and
considered a masterpiece.

Act III is in two scenes, the first in _Don Pasquale's_ house, where
everything is in confusion; the second in his garden, where _Ernesto_
sings to _Norina_ the beautiful serenade, "Com'è gentil" (Soft beams
the light).

[Music: Com'è gentil, la notte a mezzo April,]

_Don Pasquale_, who has suspected _Norina_ of having a rendezvous in
the garden, rushes out of concealment with _Malatesta_. But _Ernesto_
is quick to hide, and _Norina_ pretends no one has been with her. This
is too much for _Don Pasquale_, and _Malatesta_ now makes it the
occasion for bringing about the dénouement, and secures the old man's
most willing consent to the marriage between _Ernesto_ and _Norina_.

When the opera had its original production in Paris, Lablache was _Don
Pasquale_, Mario _Ernesto_, Tamburini _Malatesta_, and Grisi _Norina_.
Notwithstanding this brilliant cast, the work did not seem to be going
well at the rehearsals. After one of these, Donizetti asked the music
publisher, Dormoy, to go with him to his lodgings. There he rummaged
among a lot of manuscripts until, finding what he was looking for, he
handed it to Dormoy.

"There," he said, "give this to Mario and tell him to sing it in the
last scene in the garden as a serenade to _Norina_."

When the opera was performed Mario sang it, while Lablache, behind the
scenes, played an accompaniment on the lute. It was the serenade. Thus
was there introduced into the opera that air to which, more than any
other feature of the work, it owes its occasional resuscitation.

A one-act comedy opera by Donizetti, "Il Campanello di Notte" (The
Night Bell) was produced in Naples in 1836. It would hardly be worth
referring to but for the fact that it is in the repertoire of the
Society of American Singers, who gave it, in an English version by
Sydney Rosenfeld, at the Lyceum Theatre, New York, May 7, 1917. This
little work turns on the attempts of a lover, who has been thrown
over, to prevent his successful rival, an apothecary, from going to
bed on the night of his marriage. He succeeds by adopting various
disguises, ringing the night bell, and asking for medicine. In the
American first performance David Bispham was the apothecary, called in
the adaptation, _Don Hannibal Pistacchio_. Miss Gates, the _Serafina_,
interpolated "O luce di quest'anima," from "Linda di Chamounix." Mr.
Reiss was _Enrico_, the lover.



Giuseppe Verdi

(1813-1901)


Verdi ranks as the greatest Italian composer of opera. There is a
marked distinction between his career and those of Bellini and
Donizetti. The two earlier composers, after reaching a certain point
of development, failed to advance. No later opera by Bellini equals
"La Sonnambula"; none other by Donizetti ranks with "Lucia di
Lammermoor."

But Verdi, despite the great success of "Ernani," showed seven years
later, with "Rigoletto," an amazing progress in dramatic expression
and skill in ensemble work. "Il Trovatore" and "La Traviata" were
other works of the period ushered in by "Rigoletto." Eighteen years
later the composer, then fifty-eight years old, gave evidence of
another and even more notable advance by producing "Aïda," a work
which marks the beginning of a new period in Italian opera. Still not
satisfied, Verdi brought forward "Otello" (1887) and "Falstaff"
(1893), scores which more nearly resemble music-drama than opera.

Thus the steady forging ahead of Verdi, the unhalting development of
his genius, is the really great feature of his career. In fact no
Italian composer since Verdi has caught up with "Falstaff," which may
be as profitably studied as "Le Nozze di Figaro," "Il Barbiere di
Siviglia," "Die Meistersinger," and "Der Rosenkavalier." Insert
"Falstaff" in this list, in its proper place between "Meistersinger"
and "Rosenkavalier," and you have the succession of great operas
conceived in the divine spirit of comedy, from 1786 to 1911.

In the article on "Un Ballo in Maschera," the political use made of
the letters of Verdi's name is pointed out. See p. 428.

Verdi was born at Roncole, near Busseto, October 9, 1813. He died at
Rome, January 27, 1901. There remains to be said that, at eighteen, he
was refused admission to the Milan Conservatory "on the score of lack
of musical talent."

What fools these mortals be!


ERNANI

     Opera, in four acts, by Verdi; words by Francesco Maria
     Piave, after Victor Hugo's drama, "Hernani." Produced,
     Fenice Theatre, Venice, March 9, 1844; London, Her Majesty's
     Theatre, March 8, 1845; New York, 1846, at the Astor Place
     Theatre. Patti, at the Academy of Music, Sembrich at the
     Metropolitan Opera House, have been notable interpreters of
     the rôle of _Elvira_.

     CHARACTERS

     DON CARLOS, King of Castile                  _Baritone_
     DON RUY GOMEZ DI SILVA, Grandee of Spain         _Bass_
     ERNANI, or JOHN OF ARAGON, a bandit chief       _Tenor_
     DON RICCARDO, esquire to the King               _Tenor_
     JAGO, esquire to SILVA                           _Bass_
     ELVIRA, kinswoman to SILVA                    _Soprano_
     GIOVANNA, in ELVIRA'S service                 _Soprano_

     Mountaineers and bandits, followers of _Silva_, ladies of
     _Elvira_, followers of _Don Carlos_, electors and pages.

     _Time_--Early sixteenth century.

     _Place_--Spain.

_John of Aragon_ has become a bandit. His father, the Duke of Segovia,
had been slain by order of _Don Carlos's_ father. _John_, proscribed
and pursued by the emissaries of the King, has taken refuge in the
fastnesses of the mountains of Aragon, where, under the name of
_Ernani_, he has become leader of a large band of rebel mountaineers.
_Ernani_ is in love with _Donna Elvira_, who, although she is about
to be united to her relative, the aged _Ruy Gomez di Silva_, a grandee
of Spain, is deeply enamoured of the handsome, chivalrous bandit
chief.

_Don Carlos_, afterwards Emperor Charles V., also has fallen violently
in love with _Elvira_. By watching her windows he has discovered that
at dead of night a young cavalier (_Ernani_) gains admission to her
apartments. He imitates her lover's signal, gains admission to her
chamber, and declares his passion. Being repulsed, he is about to drag
her off by force, when a secret panel opens, and he finds himself
confronted by _Ernani_. In the midst of a violent scene _Silva_
enters. To allay his jealousy and anger, naturally aroused by finding
two men, apparently rival suitors, in the apartment of his affianced,
the _King_, whom _Silva_ has not recognized, reveals himself, and
pretends to have come in disguise to consult him about his approaching
election to the empire, and a conspiracy that is on foot against his
life. Then the _King_, pointing to _Ernani_, says to _Silva_, "It doth
please us that this, our follower, depart," thus insuring _Ernani's_
temporary safety--for a Spaniard does not hand an enemy over to the
vengeance of another.

Believing a rumour that _Ernani_ has been run down and killed by the
_King's_ soldiers, _Elvira_ at last consents to give her hand in
marriage to _Silva_. On the eve of the wedding, however, _Ernani_,
pursued by the _King_ with a detachment of troops, seeks refuge in
_Silva's_ castle, in the disguise of a pilgrim. Although not known to
_Silva_, he is, under Spanish tradition, his guest, and from that
moment entitled to his protection.

_Elvira_ enters in her bridal attire. _Ernani_ is thus made aware that
her nuptials with _Don Silva_ are to be celebrated on the morrow.
Tearing off his disguise, he reveals himself to _Silva_, and demands
to be delivered up to the _King_, preferring death to life without
_Elvira_. But true to his honour as a Spanish host, _Silva_ refuses.
Even his enemy, _Ernani_, is safe in his castle. Indeed he goes so far
as to order his guards to man the towers and prepare to defend the
castle, should the _King_ seek forcible entry. He leaves the apartment
to make sure his orders are being carried out. The lovers find
themselves alone. When _Silva_ returns they are in each other's arms.
But as the _King_ is at the castle gates, he has no time to give vent
to his wrath. He gives orders to admit the _King_ and his men, bids
_Elvira_ retire, and hides _Ernani_ in a secret cabinet. The _King_
demands that _Silva_ give up the bandit. The grandee proudly refuses.
_Ernani_ is his guest. The _King's_ wrath then turns against _Silva_.
He demands the surrender of his sword and threatens him with death,
when _Elvira_ interposes. The _King_ pardons _Silva_, but bears away
_Elvira_ as hostage for the loyalty of her kinsman.

The _King_ has gone. From the wall _Silva_ takes down two swords,
releases his guest from his hiding place, and bids him cross swords
with him to the death. _Ernani_ refuses. His host has just protected
his life at the danger of his own. But, if _Silva_ insists upon
vengeance, let grandee and bandit first unite against the _King_, with
whom the honour of _Elvira_ is unsafe. _Elvira_ rescued, _Ernani_ will
give himself up to _Silva_, to whom, handing him his hunting horn, he
avows himself ready to die, whenever a blast upon it shall be sounded
from the lip of the implacable grandee. _Silva_, who has been in
entire ignorance of the _King's_ passion for _Elvira_, grants the
reprieve, and summons his men to horse.

He sets on foot a conspiracy against the _King_. A meeting of the
conspirators is held in the Cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle, in the
vault, within which stands the tomb of Charlemagne. Here it is
resolved to murder the _King_. A ballot decides who shall do the deed.
_Ernani's_ name is drawn.

The _King_, however, has received information of the time and place
of this meeting. From the tomb he has been an unobserved witness of
the meeting and purpose of the conspirators. Booming of cannon outside
tells him of his choice as head of the Holy Roman Empire. Emerging
from the tomb, he shows himself to the awed conspirators, who imagine
they see Charlemagne issuing forth to combat them. At the same moment
the doors open. The electors of the Empire enter to pay homage to
Charles V.

"The herd to the dungeon, the nobles to the headsman," he commands.

_Ernani_ advances, discovers himself as John of Aragon, and claims the
right to die with the nobles--"to fall, covered, before the _King_."
But upon _Elvira's_ fervent plea, the _King_, now also Emperor,
commences his reign with an act of grace. He pardons the conspirators,
restores to _Ernani_ his titles and estates, and unites him with
_Elvira_.

_Silva_, thwarted in his desire to marry _Elvira_, waits until
_Ernani_ and _Elvira_, after their nuptials, are upon the terrace of
_Ernani's_ castle in Aragon. At their most blissful moment he sounds
the fatal horn. _Ernani_, too chivalrous to evade his promise, stabs
himself in the presence of the grim avenger and of _Elvira_ who falls
prostrate upon his lifeless body.

In the opera, this plot develops as follows: Act I opens in the camp
of the bandits in the mountains of Aragon. In the distance is seen the
Moorish castle of _Silva_. The time is near sunset. Of _Ernani's_
followers, some are eating and drinking, or are at play, while others
are arranging their weapons. They sing, "Allegri, beviamo" (Haste!
Clink we our glasses).

_Ernani_ sings _Elvira's_ praise in the air, "Come rugiada al cespite"
(Balmier than dew to drooping bud).

[Music: Come rugiada al cespite]

This expressive number is followed by one in faster time, "O tu, che
l'alma adora" (O thou toward whom, adoring soul).

[Music:

     O tu, che l'alma adora,
     Vien, vien, la mia vita infiora,]

Enthusiastically volunteering to share any danger _Ernani_ may incur
in seeking to carry off _Elvira_, the bandits, with their chief at
their head, go off in the direction of _Silva's_ castle.

The scene changes to _Elvira's_ apartment in the castle. It is night.
She is meditating upon _Ernani_. When she thinks of _Silva_, "the
frozen, withered spectre," and contrasts with him _Ernani_, who "in
her heart ever reigneth," she voices her thoughts in that famous air
for sopranos, one of Verdi's loveliest inspirations, "Ernani!
involami" (Ernani! fly with me).

[Music:

     Ernani! Ernani! involami
     All'abborrito amplesso.]

It ends with a brilliant cadenza, "Un Eden quegli antri a me" (An Eden
that opens to me).

[Music: un Eden quegli antri a me.]

Young maidens bearing wedding gifts enter. They sing a chorus of
congratulation. To this _Elvira_ responds with a graceful air, the
sentiment of which, however, is expressed as an aside, since it refers
to her longing for her young, handsome and chivalrous lover. "Tutto
sprezzo che d'Ernani" (Words that breathe thy name Ernani).

[Music: Tutto sprezzo che d'Ernani]

The young women go. Enter _Don Carlos_, the _King_. There is a
colloquy, in which _Elvira_ protests against his presence; and then a
duet, which the _King_ begins, "Da quel dì che t'ho veduta" (From the
day, when first thy beauty).

A secret panel opens. The _King_ is confronted by _Ernani_, and by
_Elvira_, who has snatched a dagger from his belt. She interposes
between the two men. _Silva_ enters. What he beholds draws from him
the melancholy reflections--"Infelice! e tu credevi" (Unhappy me! and
I believed thee),

[Music: Infelice! e tu credevi]

an exceptionally fine bass solo. He follows it with the vindictive
"Infin, che un brando vindice" (In fine a swift, unerring blade).

Men and women of the castle and the _King's_ suite have come on. The
monarch is recognized by _Silva_, who does him obeisance, and, at the
_King's_ command, is obliged to let _Ernani_ depart. An ensemble
brings the act to a close.

Act II. Grand hall in _Silva's_ castle. Doors lead to various
apartments. Portraits of the Silva family, surmounted by ducal
coronets and coats-of-arms, are hung on the walls. Near each portrait
is a complete suit of equestrian armour, corresponding in period to
that in which lived the ancestor represented in the portrait. A large
table and a ducal chair of carved oak.

The persistent chorus of ladies, though doubtless aware that _Elvira_
is not thrilled at the prospect of marriage with her "frosty" kinsman,
and has consented to marry him only because she believes _Ernani_
dead, enters and sings "Esultiamo!" (Exultation!), then pays tribute
to the many virtues and graces of the bride.

To _Silva_, in the full costume of a Grandee of Spain, and seated in
the ducal chair, is brought in _Ernani_, disguised as a monk. He is
welcomed as a guest; but, upon the appearance of _Elvira_ in bridal
array, throws off his disguise and offers his life, a sacrifice to
_Silva's_ vengeance, as the first gift for the wedding. _Silva_,
however, learning that he is pursued by the _King_, offers him the
protection due a guest under the roof of a Spaniard.

"Ah, morir potessi adesso" (Ah, to die would be a blessing) is the
impassioned duet sung by _Elvira_ and _Ernani_, when _Silva_ leaves
them together.

[Music:

     Ah, morir potessi adesso
     O mio Ernani sul tuo petto]

_Silva_, even when he returns and discovers _Elvira_ in _Ernani's_
arms, will not break the law of Spanish hospitality, preferring to
wreak vengeance in his own way. He therefore hides _Ernani_ so
securely that the _King's_ followers, after searching the castle, are
obliged to report their complete failure to discover a trace of him.
Chorus: "Fu esplorato del castello" (We have now explored the castle).

Then come the important episodes described--the _King's_ demand for
the surrender of _Silva's_ sword and threat to execute him; _Elvira's_
interposition; and the _King's_ sinister action in carrying her off as
a hostage, after he has sung the significant air, "Vieni meco, sol di
rose" (Come with me, a brighter dawning waits for thee).

[Music: Vieni meco, sol di rose]

_Ernani's_ handing of his hunting horn to _Silva_, and his arousal of
the grandee to an understanding of the danger that threatens _Elvira_
from the _King_, is followed by the finale, a spirited call to arms by
_Silva_, _Ernani_, and chorus, "In arcione, in arcione, cavalieri!"
(To horse, to horse, cavaliers!).

_Silva_ and _Ernani_ distribute weapons among the men, which they
brandish as they rush from the hall.

Act III. The scene is a sepulchral vault, enclosing the tomb of
Charlemagne in the Cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle. The tomb is entered
by a heavy door of bronze, upon which is carved in large characters
the word "Charlemagne." Steps lead to the great door of the vault.
Other and smaller tombs are seen and other doors that give on other
passageways. Two lamps, suspended from the roof, shed a faint light.

It is into this sombre but grandiose place the _King_ has come in
order to overhear, from within the tomb of his greatest ancestor, the
plotting of the conspirators. His soliloquy, "Oh, de' verd'anni miei"
(Oh, for my youthful years once more), derives impressiveness both
from the solemnity of the situation and the music's flowing measure.

[Music: Oh de' verd'anni miei]

The principal detail in the meeting of the conspirators is their
chorus, "Si ridesti il Leon di Castiglia" (Let the lion awake in
Castilia). Dramatically effective, too, in the midst of the plotting,
is the sudden booming of distant cannon. It startles the conspirators.
Cannon boom again. The bronze door of the tomb swings open.

Then the _King_ presents himself at the entrance of the tomb. Three
times he strikes the door of bronze with the hilt of his dagger. The
principal entrance to the vault opens. To the sound of trumpets six
Electors enter, dressed in cloth of gold. They are followed by pages
carrying, upon velvet cushions, the sceptre, crown, and other imperial
insignia. Courtiers surround the Emperor. _Elvira_ approaches. The
banners of the Empire are displayed. Many torches borne by soldiers
illuminate the scene. The act closes with the pardon granted by the
_King_, and the stirring finale, "Oh, sommo Carlo!" (Charlemagne!)

Act IV, on the terrace of _Ernani's_ castle, is brief, and there is
nothing to add to what has been said of its action. _Ernani_ asks
_Silva_ to spare him till his lips have tasted the chalice filled by
love. He recounts his sad life: "Solingo, errante, misero" (To linger
in exiled misery).

_Silva's_ grim reply is to offer him his choice between a cup of
poison and a dagger. He takes the latter. "Ferma, crudele, estinguere"
(Stay thee, my lord, for me at least) cries _Elvira_, wishing to share
his fate. In the end there is left only the implacable avenger, to
gloat over _Ernani_, dead, and _Elvira_ prostrate upon his form.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Ernani," brought out in 1844, is the earliest work by Verdi that
maintains a foothold in the modern repertoire, though by no means a
very firm one. And yet "Ernani" is in many respects a fine opera. One
wonders why it has not lasted better. Hanslick, the Viennese critic,
made a discriminating criticism upon it. He pointed out that whereas
in Victor Hugo's drama the mournful blast upon the hunting horn, when
heard in the last act, thrills the listener with tragic forebodings,
in the opera, after listening to solos, choruses, and a full orchestra
all the evening, the audience is but little impressed by the sounding
of a note upon a single instrument. That comment, however, presupposes
considerable subtlety, so far undiscovered, on the part of operatic
audiences.

The fact is, that since 1844 the whirligig of time has made
one--two--three--perhaps even four revolutions, and with each
revolution the public taste that prevailed, when the first audience
that heard the work in the Teatro Fenice, went wild over "Ernani
Involami" and "Sommo Carlo," has become more remote and undergone more
and more changes. To turn back operatic time in its flight requires
in the case of "Ernani," a soprano of unusual voice and personality
for _Elvira_, a tenor of the same qualities for the picturesque rôle
of _Ernani_, a fine baritone for _Don Carlos_, and a sonorous basso,
who doesn't look too much like a meal bag, for _Don Ruy Gomez di
Silva_, Grandee of Spain.

Early in its career the opera experienced various vicissitudes. The
conspiracy scene had to be toned down for political reasons before the
production of the work was permitted. Even then the chorus, "Let the
lion awake in Castilia," caused a political demonstration. In Paris,
Victor Hugo, as author of the drama on which the libretto is based,
raised objections to its representation, and it was produced in the
French capital as "Il Proscritto" (The Proscribed) with the characters
changed to Italians. Victor Hugo's "Hernani" was a famous play in
Sarah Bernhardt's repertoire during her early engagements in this
country. Her _Doña Sol_ (_Elvira_ in the opera) was one of her finest
achievements. On seeing the play, with her in it, I put to test
Hanslick's theory. The horn was thrilling in the play. It certainly is
less so in the opera.


RIGOLETTO

     Opera in three acts, by Verdi; words by Francesco Maria
     Piave, founded on Victor Hugo's play, "Le Roi s'Amuse."
     Produced, Fenice Theatre, Venice, March 11, 1851; London,
     Covent Garden, May 14, 1853; Paris, Théâtre des Italiens,
     January 19, 1857; New York, Academy of Music, November 4,
     1857, with Bignardi and Frezzolini. Caruso made his début in
     America at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, as the
     _Duke_ in "Rigoletto," November 23, 1903; Galli-Curci hers,
     as _Gilda_, Chicago, November 18, 1916.

     CHARACTERS

     THE DUKE OF MANTUA                              _Tenor_
     RIGOLETTO, his jester, a hunchback           _Baritone_
     COUNT CEPRANO        }                     {     _Bass_
     COUNT MONTERONE      } Nobles              { _Baritone_
     SPARAFUCILE, a bravo                             _Bass_
     BORSA, in the Duke's service                    _Tenor_
     MARULLO                                          _Bass_
     COUNTESS CEPRANO                              _Soprano_
     GILDA, daughter of Rigoletto                  _Soprano_
     GIOVANNI, her duenna                          _Soprano_
     MADDALENA, sister to Sparafucile            _Contralto_

     Courtiers, nobles, pages, servants.

     _Time_--Sixteenth century.

     _Place_--Mantua.

"Rigoletto" is a distinguished opera. Composed in forty days in 1851,
nearing three-quarters of a century of life before the footlights, it
still retains its vitality. Twenty years, with all they imply in
experience and artistic growth, lie between "Rigoletto" and "Aïda."
Yet the earlier opera, composed so rapidly as to constitute a _tour de
force_ of musical creation, seems destined to remain a close second in
popularity to the more mature work of its great composer.

There are several reasons for the public's abiding interest in
"Rigoletto." It is based upon a most effective play by Victor Hugo,
"Le Roi s'Amuse," known to English playgoers in Tom Taylor's
adaptation as "The Fool's Revenge." The jester was one of Edwin
Booth's great rôles. This rôle of the deformed court jester,
_Rigoletto_, the hunchback, not only figures in the opera, but has
been vividly characterized by Verdi in his music. It is a vital,
centralizing force in the opera, concentrating and holding attention,
a character creation that appeals strongly both to the singer who
enacts it and to the audience who sees and hears it. The rôle has
appealed to famous artists. Ronconi (who taught singing in New York
for a few years, beginning in 1867) was a notable _Rigoletto_; so was
Galassi, whose intensely dramatic performance still is vividly
recalled by the older opera-goers; Renaud at the Manhattan Opera
House, Titta Ruffo at the Metropolitan Opera House, Philadelphia, both
made their American débuts as _Rigoletto_.

But the opera offers other rôles of distinction. Mario was a famous
_Duke_ in other days. Caruso made his sensational début at the
Metropolitan in the character of the volatile _Duca di Mantua_,
November 23, 1903. We have had as _Gilda_ Adelina Patti, Melba, and
Tetrazzini, to mention but a few; and the heroine of the opera is one
of the rôles of Galli-Curci, who appeared in it in Chicago, November
18, 1916. No coloratura soprano can, so to speak, afford to be without
it.

Thus the opera has plot, a central character of vital dramatic
importance, and at least two other characters of strong interest. But
there is even more to be said in its behalf. For, next to the sextet
in "Lucia," the quartet in the last act of "Rigoletto" is the finest
piece of concerted music in Italian opera--and many people will object
to my placing it only "next" to that other famous ensemble, instead of
on complete equality with, or even ahead of it.

The "argument" of "Rigoletto" deals with the amatory escapades of the
_Duke of Mantua_. In these he is aided by _Rigoletto_, his jester, a
hunchback. _Rigoletto_, both by his caustic wit and unscrupulous
conduct, has made many enemies at court. _Count Monterone_, who comes
to the court to demand the restoration of his daughter, who has been
dishonoured by the _Duke_, is met by the jester with laughter and
derision. The _Count_ curses _Rigoletto_, who is stricken with
superstitious terror.

For _Rigoletto_ has a daughter, _Gilda_, whom he keeps in strict
seclusion. But the _Duke_, without being aware who she is, has seen
her, unknown to her father, and fallen in love with her. _Count
Ceprano_, who many times has suffered under _Rigoletto's_ biting
tongue, knowing that she is in some way connected with the jester, in
fact believing her to be his mistress, and glad of any opportunity of
doing him an injury, forms a plan to carry off the young girl, and so
arranges it that _Rigoletto_ unwittingly assists in her abduction.
When he finds that it is his own daughter whom he has aided to place
in the power of the _Duke_, he determines to murder his master, and
engages _Sparafucile_, a bravo, to do so. This man has a sister,
_Maddalena_, who entices the _Duke_ to a lonely inn. She becomes
fascinated with him, however, and begs her brother to spare his life.
This he consents to do if before midnight any one shall arrive at the
inn whom he can kill and pass off as the murdered _Duke_. _Rigoletto_,
who has recovered his daughter, brings her to the inn so that, by
being a witness of the _Duke's_ inconstancy, she may be cured of her
unhappy love. She overhears the plot to murder her lover, and
_Sparafucile's_ promise to his sister. Determined to save the _Duke_,
she knocks for admittance, and is stabbed on entering. _Rigoletto_
comes at the appointed time for the body. _Sparafucile_ brings it out
in a sack. The jester is about to throw it into the water, sack and
all, when he hears the _Duke_ singing. He tears open the sack, only to
find his own daughter, at the point of death.

Act I opens in a salon in the _Duke's_ palace. A suite of other
apartments is seen extending into the background. All are brilliantly
lighted for the fête that is in progress. Courtiers and ladies are
moving about in all directions. Pages are passing to and fro. From an
adjoining salon music is heard and bursts of merriment.

[Music]

There is effervescent gayety in the orchestral accompaniment to the
scene. A minuet played by an orchestra on the stage is curiously
reminiscent of the minuet in Mozart's "Don Giovanni." The _Duke_ and
_Borsa_ enter from the back. They are conversing about an "unknown
charmer"--none other than _Gilda_--whom the _Duke_ has seen at church.
He says that he will pursue the adventure to the end, although a
mysterious man visits her nightly.

Among a group of his guests the _Duke_ sees the _Countess Ceprano_,
whom he has been wooing quite openly, in spite of the _Count's_
visible annoyance. The dashing gallant cares nothing about what anyone
may think of his escapades, least of all the husbands or other
relatives of the ladies. "Questa o quella per me pari sono" (This one,
or that one, to me 'tis the same).

[Music]

This music floats on air. It gives at once the cue to the _Duke's_
character. Like _Don Giovanni_ he is indifferent to fate, flits from
one affair to another, and is found as fascinating as he is dangerous
by all women, of whatever degree, upon whom he confers his doubtful
favours.

_Rigoletto_, hunchbacked but agile, sidles in. He is in cap and bells,
and carries the jester's bauble. The immediate object of his satire is
_Count Ceprano_, who is watching his wife, as she is being led off on
the _Duke's_ arm. _Rigoletto_ then goes out looking for other victims.
_Marullo_ joins the nobles. He tells them that _Rigoletto_, despite
his hump, has an inamorata. The statement makes a visible impression
upon _Count Ceprano_, and when the nobles, after another sally from
the jester, who has returned with the _Duke_, inveigh against his
bitter tongue, the _Count_ bids them meet him at night on the morrow
and he will guarantee them revenge upon the hunchback for the gibes
they have been obliged to endure from him.

The gay music, which forms a restless background to the recitatives of
which I have given the gist,

[Music]

trips buoyantly along, to be suddenly broken in upon by the voice of
one struggling without, and who, having freed himself from those
evidently striving to hold him back, bursts in upon the scene. It is
the aged _Count Monterone_. His daughter has been dishonoured by the
_Duke_, and he denounces the ruler of Mantua before the whole
assembly. His arrest is ordered. _Rigoletto_ mocks him until, drawing
himself up to his full height, the old noble not only denounces him,
but calls down upon him a father's curse.

_Rigoletto_ is strangely affrighted. He cowers before _Monterone's_
malediction. It is the first time since he has appeared at the
gathering that he is not gibing at someone. Not only is he subdued; he
is terror-stricken.

_Monterone_ is led off between halberdiers. The gay music again breaks
in. The crowd follows the _Duke_. But _Rigoletto_?

The scene changes to the street outside of his house. It is secluded
in a courtyard, from which a door leads into the street. In the
courtyard are a tall tree and a marble seat. There is also seen at the
end of the street, which has no thoroughfare, the gable end of _Count
Ceprano's_ palace. It is night.

As _Rigoletto_ enters, he speaks of _Monterone's_ curse. His entrance
to the house is interrupted by the appearance of _Sparafucile_, an
assassin for hire. In a colloquy, to which the orchestra supplies an
accompaniment, interesting because in keeping with the scene, he
offers to _Rigoletto_ his services, should they be needed, in putting
enemies out of the way--and his charges are reasonable.

[Music]

_Rigoletto_ has no immediate need of him, but ascertains where he can
be found.

_Sparafucile_ goes. _Rigoletto_ has a soliloquy, beginning, "How like
are we!--the tongue, my weapon, the dagger his! to make others laugh
is my vocation,--his to make them weep!... Tears, the common solace of
humanity, are to me denied.... 'Amuse me buffoon'--and I must obey."
His mind still dwells on the curse--a father's curse, pronounced upon
him, a father to whom his daughter is a jewel. He refers to it, even
as he unlocks the door that leads to his house, and also to his
daughter, who, as he enters, throws herself into his arms.

He cautions her about going out. She says she never ventures beyond
the courtyard save to go to church. He grieves over the death of his
wife--_Gilda's_ mother--that left her to his care while she was still
an infant. "Deh non parlare al misero" (Speak not of one whose loss to
me).

[Music: Deh non parlare al misero]

He charges her attendant, _Giovanna_, carefully to guard her. _Gilda_
endeavours to dispel his fears. The result is the duet for _Rigoletto_
and _Gilda_, beginning with his words to _Giovanna_, "Veglia, o donna,
questo fiore" (Safely guard this tender blossom).

[Illustration: Photo copyright, 1916, by Victor Georg

Galli-Curci as Gilda in "Rigoletto"]

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Caruso as the Duke in "Rigoletto"]

_Rigoletto_ hears footsteps in the street and goes out through the
door of the courtyard to see who may be there. As the door swings out,
the _Duke_, for it is he, in the guise of a student, whose stealthy
footsteps have been heard by the jester, conceals himself behind it,
then slips into the courtyard, tosses a purse to _Giovanna_, and hides
in the shadow of the tree. _Rigoletto_ reappears for a brief moment to
say good-bye to _Gilda_ and once more to warn _Giovanna_ to guard her
carefully.

When he has gone _Gilda_ worries because fear drove her to refrain
from revealing to her father that a handsome youth has several times
followed her from church. This youth's image is installed in her
heart. "I long to say to him 'I lo--'"

The _Duke_ steps out of the tree's shadow, motions to _Giovanna_ to
retire and, throwing himself at _Gilda's_ feet, takes the words out of
her mouth by exclaiming, "I love thee!"

No doubt taken by surprise, yet also thrilled with joy, she hearkens
to him rapturously as he declares, "È il sol dell'anima, la vita è
amore" (Love is the sun by which passion is kindled).

[Music: È il sol dell'anima, la vita è amore,]

The meeting is brief, for again there are footsteps outside. But their
farewell is an impassioned duet, "Addio speranza ed anima" (Farewell,
my hope, my soul, farewell).

He has told her that he is a student, by name Walter Maldè. When he
has gone, she muses upon the name, and, when she has lighted a candle
and is ascending the steps to her room, she sings the enchanting
coloratura air, "Caro nome che il mio cor" (Dear name, my heart
enshrines).

[Music:

     Caro nome che il mio cor
     Festi primo palpitar,]

If the _Gilda_ be reasonably slender and pretty, the scene, with the
courtyard, the steps leading up to the room, and the young maiden
gracefully and tenderly expressing her heart's first romance, is
charming, and in itself sufficient to account for the attraction which
the rôle holds for prima donnas.

Tiptoeing through the darkness outside come _Marullo_, _Ceprano_,
_Borsa_, and other nobles and courtiers, intent upon seeking revenge
for the gibes _Rigoletto_ at various times has aimed at them, by
carrying off the damsel, whom they assume to be his inamorata. At that
moment, however, the jester himself appears. They tell him they have
come to abduct the _Countess Ceprano_ and bear her to the Ducal
palace. To substantiate this statement _Marullo_ quickly has the keys
to _Ceprano's_ house passed to him by the _Count_, and in the darkness
holds them out to _Rigoletto_, who, his suspicions allayed because he
can feel the Ceprano crest in basso-relievo on the keys, volunteers to
aid in the escapade. _Marullo_ gives him a mask and, as if to fasten
it securely, ties it with a handkerchief, which he passes over the
piercings for the eyes. _Rigoletto_, confused, holds a ladder against
what he believes to be the wall of _Ceprano's_ house. By it, the
abductors climb his own wall, enter his house, gag, seize, and carry
away _Gilda_, making their exit from the courtyard, but in their hurry
failing to observe a scarf that has fluttered from their precious
burden.

_Rigoletto_ is left alone in the darkness and silence. He tears off
his mask. The door to his courtyard is open. Before him lies _Gilda's_
scarf. He rushes into the house, into her room; reappears, staggering
under the weight of the disaster, which, through his own unwitting
connivance, has befallen him.

"Ah! La maledizione!" he cries out. It is _Monterone's_ curse.

Act II has its scene laid in the ducal palace. This salon has large
folding doors in the background and smaller ones on each side, above
which are portraits of the _Duke_ and of the Duchess, a lady who,
whether from a sense of delicacy or merely to serve the convenience of
the stage, does not otherwise appear in the opera.

The _Duke_ is disconsolate. He has returned to _Rigoletto's_ house,
found it empty. The bird had flown. The scamp mourns his loss--in
affecting language and music, "Parmi veder le lagrime" (Fair maid,
each tear of mine that flows).

In a capital chorus he is told by _Marullo_ and the others that they
have abducted _Rigoletto's_ inamorata.

[Music: Scorrendo uniti remota via]

The _Duke_ well knows that she is the very one whose charms are the
latest that have enraptured him. "Possente amor mi chiama" (To her I
love with rapture).

He learns from the courtiers that they have brought her to the palace.
He hastens to her, "to console her," in his own way. It is at this
moment _Rigoletto_ enters. He knows his daughter is in the palace. He
has come to search for her. Aware that he is in the presence of those
who took advantage of him and thus secured his aid in the abduction of
the night before, he yet, in order to accomplish his purpose, must
appear light-hearted, question craftily, and be diplomatic, although
at times he cannot prevent his real feelings breaking through. It is
the ability of Verdi to give expression to such varied emotions which
make this scene one of the most significant in his operas. It is
dominated by an orchestral motive, that of the clown who jests while
his heart is breaking.

[Music: La rà, la rà, la la, la rà, la rà, la rà, la rà etc.]

Finally he turns upon the crowd that taunts him, hurls invective upon
them; and, when a door opens and _Gilda_, whose story can be read in
her aspect of despair, rushes into his arms, he orders the courtiers
out of sight with a sense of outrage so justified that, in spite of
the flippant words with which they comment upon his command, they obey
it.

Father and daughter are alone. She tells him her story--of the
handsome youth, who followed her from church--"Tutte le feste al
tempio" (One very festal morning).

Then follows her account of their meeting, his pretence that he was a
poor student, when, in reality, he was the _Duke_--to whose chamber
she was borne after her abduction. It is from there she has just come.
Her father strives to comfort her--"Piangi, fanciulla" (Weep, my
child).

At this moment he is again reminded of the curse pronounced upon him
by the father whose grief with him had been but the subject of ribald
jest. _Count Monterone_, between guards, is conducted through the
apartment to the prison where he is to be executed for denouncing the
_Duke_. Then _Rigoletto_ vows vengeance upon the betrayer of _Gilda_.

But such is the fascination which the _Duke_ exerts over women that
_Gilda_, fearing for the life of her despoiler, pleads with her father
to "pardon him, as we ourselves the pardon of heaven hope to gain,"
adding, in an aside, "I dare not say how much I love him."

It was a corrupt, carefree age. Victor Hugo created a debonair
character--a libertine who took life lightly and flitted from pleasure
to pleasure. And so Verdi lets him flit from tune to tune--gay,
melodious, sentimental. There still are plenty of men like the _Duke_,
and plenty of women like _Gilda_ to love them; and other women, be it
recalled, as discreet as the Duchess, who does not appear in this
opera save as a portrait on the wall, from which she calmly looks down
upon a jester invoking vengeance upon her husband, because of the
wrong he has done the girl, who weeps on the breast of her hunchback
father.

To Act III might be given as a sub-title, "The Fool's Revenge," the
title of Tom Taylor's adaptation into English of Victor Hugo's play.
The scene shows a desolate spot on the banks of the Mincio. On the
right, with its front to the audience, is a house two stories high, in
a very dilapidated state, but still used as an inn. The doors and
walls are so full of crevices that whatever is going on within can be
seen from without. In front are the road and the river; in the
distance is the city of Mantua. It is night.

The house is that of _Sparafucile_. With him lives his sister,
_Maddalena_, a handsome young gypsy woman, who lures men to the inn,
there to be robbed--or killed, if there is more money to be had for
murder than for robbery. _Sparafucile_ is seen within, cleaning his
belt and sharpening his sword.

Outside are _Rigoletto_ and _Gilda_. She cannot banish the image of
her despoiler from her heart. Hither the hunchback has brought her to
prove to her the faithlessness of the _Duke_. She sees him in the garb
of a soldier coming along the city wall. He descends, enters the inn,
and calls for wine and a room for the night. Shuffling a pack of
cards, which he finds on the table, and pouring out the wine, he sings
of woman. This is the famous "La donna è mobile" (Fickle is woman
fair).

[Music:

     La donna è mobile
     Qual piuma al vento,]

It has been highly praised and violently criticized; and usually gets
as many encores as the singer cares to give. As for the criticisms,
the cadenzas so ostentatiously introduced by singers for the sake of
catching applause, are no more Verdi's than is the high C in "Il
Trovatore." The song is perfectly in keeping with the _Duke's_
character. It has grace, verve, and buoyancy; and, what is an
essential point in the development of the action from this point on,
it is easily remembered. In any event I am glad that among my operatic
experiences I can count having heard "La donna è mobile" sung by such
great artists as Campanini, Caruso, and Bonci, the last two upon their
first appearances in the rôle in this country.

At a signal from _Sparafucile_, _Maddalena_ joins the _Duke_. He
presses his love upon her. With professional coyness she pretends to
repulse him. This leads to the quartet, with its dramatic
interpretation of the different emotions of the four participants. The
_Duke_ is gallantly urgent and pleading: "Bella figlia dell'amore"
(Fairest daughter of the graces).

[Music]

_Maddalena_ laughingly resists his advances: "I am proof, my gentle
wooer, 'gainst your vain and empty nothings."

[Music]

_Gilda_ is moved to despair: "Ah, thus to me of love he spoke."

[Music]

_Rigoletto_ mutters of vengeance.

It is the _Duke_ who begins the quartet; _Maddalena_ who first joins
in by coyly mocking him; _Gilda_ whose voice next falls upon the night
with despairing accents; _Rigoletto_ whose threats of vengeance then
are heard. With the return of the theme, after the first cadence, the
varied elements are combined.

They continue so to the end. _Gilda's_ voice, in brief cries of grief,
rising twice to effective climaxes, then becoming even more poignant
through the syncopation of the rhythm.

Rising to a beautiful and highly dramatic climax, the quartet ends
pianissimo.

This quartet usually is sung as the pièce de résistance of the opera,
and is supposed to be the great event of the performance. I cannot
recall a representation of the work with Nilsson and Campanini in
which this was not the case, and it was so at the Manhattan when
"Rigoletto" was sung there by Melba and Bonci. But at the
Metropolitan, since Caruso's advent, "Rigoletto" has become a "Caruso
opera," and the stress is laid on "La donna è mobile," for which
numerous encores are demanded, while with the quartet, the encore is
deliberately side-stepped--a most interesting process for the
initiated to watch.

[Illustration: Photo by Hall

The Quartet in "Rigoletto"

The Duke (Sheehan), Maddalena (Albright), Gilda (Easton), Rigoletto
(Goff)]

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Riccardo Martin as Manrico in "Il Trovatore"]

After the quartet, _Sparafucile_ comes out and receives from
_Rigoletto_ half of his fee to murder the _Duke_, the balance to be
paid when the body, in a sack, is delivered to the hunchback.
_Sparafucile_ offers to throw the sack into the river, but that does
not suit the fool's desire for revenge. He wants the grim
satisfaction of doing so himself. Satisfied that _Gilda_ has seen
enough of the _Duke's_ perfidy, he sends her home, where, for safety,
she is to don male attire and start on the way to Verona, where he
will join her. He himself also goes out.

A storm now gathers. There are flashes of lightning; distant rumblings
of thunder. The wind moans. (Indicated by the chorus, _à bouche
fermée_, behind the scenes.) The _Duke_ has gone to his room, after
whispering a few words to _Maddalena_. He lays down his hat and sword,
throws himself on the bed, sings a few snatches of "La donna è
mobile," and in a short time falls asleep. _Maddalena_, below, stands
by the table. _Sparafucile_ finishes the contents of the bottle left
by the _Duke_. Both remain silent for awhile.

_Maddalena_, fascinated by the _Duke_, begins to plead for his life.
The storm is now at its height. Lightning plays vividly across the
sky, thunder crashes, wind howls, rain falls in torrents. Through this
uproar of the elements, to which night adds its terrors, comes
_Gilda_, drawn as by a magnet to the spot where she knows her false
lover to be. Through the crevices in the wall of the house she can
hear _Maddalena_ pleading with _Sparafucile_ to spare the _Duke's_
life. "Kill the hunchback," she counsels, "when he comes with the
balance of the money." But there is honour even among assassins as
among thieves. The bravo will not betray a customer.

_Maddalena_ pleads yet more urgently. Well--_Sparafucile_ will give
the handsome youth one desperate chance for life: Should any other man
arrive at the inn before midnight, that man will he kill and put in
the sack to be thrown into the river, in place of _Maddalena's_
temporary favourite. A clock strikes the half-hour. _Gilda_ is in male
attire. She determines to save the _Duke's_ life--to sacrifice hers
for his. She knocks. There is a moment of surprised suspense within.
Then everything is made ready. _Maddalena_ opens the door, and runs
forward to close the outer one. _Gilda_ enters. For a moment one
senses her form in the darkness. A half-stifled outcry. Then all is
buried in silence and gloom.

The storm is abating. The rain has ceased; the lightning become
fitful, the thunder distant and intermittent. _Rigoletto_ returns. "At
last the hour of my vengeance is nigh." A bell tolls midnight. He
knocks at the door. _Sparafucile_ brings out the sack, receives the
balance of his money, and retires into the house. "This sack his
winding sheet!" exclaims the hunchback, as he gloats over it. The
night has cleared. He must hurry and throw it into the river.

Out of the second story of the house and on to the wall steps the
figure of a man and proceeds along the wall toward the city.
_Rigoletto_ starts to drag the sack with the body toward the stream.
Lightly upon the night fall the notes of a familiar voice singing:

     La donna è mobile
     Qual piuma al vento;
     Muta d'accento,
     E di pensiero.

     (Fickle is woman fair,
     Like feather wafted;
     Changeable ever,
     Constant, ah, never.)

It is the _Duke_. Furiously the hunchback tears open the sack. In it
he beholds his daughter. Not yet quite dead, she is able to whisper,
"Too much I loved him--now I die for him." There is a duet: _Gilda_,
"Lassù in cielo" (From yonder sky); _Rigoletto_, "Non morir" (Ah,
perish not).

"Maledizione!"--The music of _Monterone's_ curse upon the ribald
jester, now bending over the corpse of his own despoiled daughter,
resounds on the orchestra. The fool has had his revenge.

For political reasons the performance of Victor Hugo's "Le Roi
s'Amuse" was forbidden in France after the first representation. In
Hugo's play the principal character is Triboulet, the jester of
François I. The King, of course, also is a leading character; and
there is a pen-portrait of Saint-Vallier. It was considered unsafe,
after the revolutionary uprisings in Europe in 1848, to present on the
stage so licentious a story involving a monarch. Therefore, to avoid
political complications, and copyright ones possibly later, the
Italian librettist laid the scene in Mantua. _Triboulet_ became
_Rigoletto_; _François I._ the _Duke_, and _Saint-Vallier_ the _Count
Monterone_. Early in its career the opera also was given under the
title of "Viscardello."


IL TROVATORE

THE TROUBADOUR

     Opera in four acts, by Verdi; words by Salvatore Cammarano,
     based on the Spanish drama of the same title by Antonio
     Garcia Gutierrez. Produced, Apollo Theatre, Rome, January
     19, 1853. Paris, Théâtre des Italiens, December 23, 1854;
     Grand Opéra, in French as "Le Trouvère," January 12, 1857.
     London, Covent Garden, May 17, 1855; in English, as "The
     Gypsy's Vengeance," Drury Lane, March 24, 1856. America: New
     York, April 30, 1855, with Brignoli (_Manrico_), Steffanone
     (_Leonora_), Amodio (_Count di Luna_), and Vestvali
     (_Azucena_); Philadelphia, Walnut Street Theatre, January
     14, 1856, and Academy of Music, February 25, 1857; New
     Orleans, April 13, 1857. Metropolitan Opera House, New York,
     in German, 1889; 1908, Caruso, Eames, and Homer. Frequently
     performed at the Academy of Music, New York, with Campanini
     (_Manrico_), Nilsson (_Leonora_), and Annie Louise Cary
     (_Azucena_); and Del Puente or Galassi as _Count di Luna_.

     CHARACTERS

     COUNT DI LUNA, a young noble of Aragon       _Baritone_
     FERRANDO, DI LUNA'S captain of the guard         _Bass_
     MANRICO, a chieftain under the Prince
       of Biscay, and reputed son of AZUCENA         _Tenor_
     RUIZ, a soldier in MANRICO'S service            _Tenor_
     AN OLD GYPSY                                 _Baritone_
     DUCHESS LEONORA, lady-in-waiting to a
       Princess of Aragon                          _Soprano_
     INEZ, confidante of LEONORA                   _Soprano_
     AZUCENA, a Biscayan gypsy woman         _Mezzo-Soprano_

     Followers of COUNT DI LUNA and of MANRICO; messenger,
     gaoler, soldiers, nuns, gypsies.

     _Time_--Fifteenth century.

     _Place_--Biscay and Aragon.

For many years "Il Trovatore" has been an opera of world-wide
popularity, and for a long time could be accounted the most popular
work in the operatic repertoire of practically every land. While it
cannot be said to retain its former vogue in this country, it is still
a good drawing card, and, with special excellences of cast, an
exceptional one.

The libretto of "Il Trovatore" is considered the acme of absurdity;
and the popularity of the opera, notwithstanding, is believed to be
entirely due to the almost unbroken melodiousness of Verdi's score.

While it is true, however, that the story of this opera seems to be a
good deal of a mix-up, it is also a fact that, under the spur of
Verdi's music, even a person who has not a clear grasp of the plot can
sense the dramatic power of many of the scenes. It is an opera of
immense verve, of temperament almost unbridled, of genius for the
melodramatic so unerring that its composer has taken dance rhythms,
like those of mazurka and waltz, and on them developed melodies most
passionate in expression and dramatic in effect. Swift, spontaneous,
and stirring is the music of "Il Trovatore." Absurdities,
complexities, unintelligibilities of story are swept away in its
unrelenting progress. "Il Trovatore" is the Verdi of forty working at
white heat.

One reason why the plot of "Il Trovatore" seems such a jumbled-up
affair is that a considerable part of the story is supposed to have
transpired before the curtain goes up. These events are narrated by
_Ferrando_, the _Count di Luna's_ captain of the guard, soon after
the opera begins. But as even spoken narrative on the stage makes
little impression, narrative when sung may be said to make none at
all. Could the audience know what _Ferrando_ is singing about, the
subsequent proceedings would not appear so hopelessly involved, or
appeal so strongly to humorous rhymesters, who usually begin their
parodies on the opera with,

     This is the story
     of "Il Trovatore."

What is supposed to have happened before the curtain goes up on the
opera is as follows: The old Count di Luna, sometime deceased, had two
sons nearly of the same age. One night, when they still were infants,
and asleep, in a nurse's charge in an apartment in the old Count's
castle, a gypsy hag, having gained stealthy entrance into the chamber,
was discovered leaning over the cradle of the younger child, Garzia.
Though she was instantly driven away, the child's health began to fail
and she was believed to have bewitched it. She was pursued,
apprehended and burned alive at the stake.

Her daughter, _Azucena_, at that time a young gypsy woman with a child
of her own in her arms, was a witness to the death of her mother,
which she swore to avenge. During the following night she stole into
the castle, snatched the younger child of the Count di Luna from its
cradle, and hurried back to the scene of execution, intending to throw
the baby boy into the flames that still raged over the spot where they
had consumed her mother. Almost bereft of her senses, however, by her
memory of the horrible scene she had witnessed, she seized and hurled
into the flames her own child, instead of the young Count (thus
preserving, with an almost supernatural instinct for opera, the baby
that was destined to grow up into a tenor with a voice high enough to
sing "Di quella pira").

Thwarted for the moment in her vengeance, _Azucena_ was not to be
completely baffled. With the infant Count in her arms she fled and
rejoined her tribe, entrusting her secret to no one, but bringing him
up--_Manrico, the Troubadour_--as her own son; and always with the
thought that through him she might wreak vengeance upon his own
kindred.

When the opera opens, _Manrico_ has grown up; she has become old and
wrinkled, but is still unrelenting in her quest of vengeance. The old
Count has died, leaving the elder son, _Count di Luna_ of the opera,
sole heir to his title and possessions, but always doubting the death
of the younger, despite the heap of infant's bones found among the
ashes about the stake.

"After this preliminary knowledge," quaintly says the English
libretto, "we now come to the actual business of the piece." Each of
the four acts of this "piece" has a title: Act I, "Il Duello" (The
Duel); Act II, "La Gitana" (The Gypsy); Act III, "Il Figlio della
Zingara" (The Gypsy's Son); Act IV, "Il Supplizio" (The Penalty).

Act I. Atrium of the palace of Aliaferia, with a door leading to the
apartments of the _Count di Luna_. _Ferrando_, the captain of the
guard, and retainers, are reclining near the door. Armed men are
standing guard in the background. It is night. The men are on guard
because _Count di Luna_ desires to apprehend a minstrel knight, a
troubadour, who has been heard on several occasions to be serenading
from the palace garden, the _Duchess Leonora_, for whom a deep, but
unrequited passion sways the _Count_.

Weary of the watch, the retainers beg _Ferrando_ to tell them the
story of the _Count's_ brother, the stolen child. This _Ferrando_
proceeds to do in the ballad, "Abbietta zingara" (Sat there a gypsy
hag).

_Ferrando's_ gruesome ballad and the comments of the horror-stricken
chorus dominate the opening of the opera. The scene is an unusually
effective one for a subordinate character like _Ferrando_. But in "Il
Trovatore" Verdi is lavish with his melodies--more so, perhaps, than
in any of his other operas.

The scene changes to the gardens of the palace. On one side a flight
of marble steps leads to _Leonora's_ apartment. Heavy clouds obscure
the moon. _Leonora_ and _Inez_ are in the garden. From the
confidante's questions and _Leonora's_ answers it is gathered that
_Leonora_ is enamoured of an unknown but valiant knight who, lately
entering a tourney, won all contests and was crowned victor by her
hand. She knows her love is requited, for at night she has heard her
_Troubadour_ singing below her window. In the course of this narrative
_Leonora_ has two solos. The first of these is the romantic "Tacea la
notte placida" (The night calmly and peacefully in beauty seemed
reposing).

[Music:

     Tacea la notte placida,
     E bella in ciel sereno;]

It is followed by the graceful and engaging "Di tale amor che dirsi"
(Of such a love how vainly),

[Music: Di tale amor che dirsi]

with its brilliant cadenza.

_Leonora_ and _Inez_ then ascend the steps and retire into the palace.
The _Count di Luna_ now comes into the garden. He has hardly entered
before the voice of the _Troubadour_, accompanied on a lute, is heard
from a nearby thicket singing the familiar romanza, "Deserto sulla
terra" (Lonely on earth abiding).

[Music: Deserto sulla terra]

From the palace comes _Leonora_. Mistaking the Count in the shadow of
the trees for her _Troubadour_, she hastens toward him. The moon
emerging from a cloud, she sees the figure of a masked cavalier,
recognizes it as that of her lover, and turns from the _Count_ toward
the _Troubadour_. Unmasking, the _Troubadour_ now discloses his
identity as _Manrico_, one who, as a follower of the Prince of Biscay,
is proscribed in Aragon. The men draw their swords. There is a trio
that fairly seethes with passion--"Di geloso amor sprezzato" (Fires of
jealous, despised affection).

[Music]

These are the words, in which the _Count_ begins the trio. It
continues with "Un istante almen dia loco" (One brief moment thy fury
restraining).

[Music: Un istante almen dia loco]

The men rush off to fight their duel. _Leonora_ faints.

Act II. An encampment of gypsies. There is a ruined house at the foot
of a mountain in Biscay; the interior partly exposed to view; within a
great fire is lighted. Day begins to dawn.

_Azucena_ is seated near the fire. _Manrico_, enveloped in his mantle,
is lying upon a mattress; his helmet is at his feet; in his hand he
holds a sword, which he regards fixedly. A band of gypsies are sitting
in scattered groups around them.

Since an almost unbroken sequence of melodies is a characteristic of
"Il Trovatore," it is not surprising to find at the opening of this
act two famous numbers in quick succession;--the famous "Anvil
Chorus,"

[Music]

in which the gypsies, working at the forges, swing their hammers and
bring them down on clanking metal in rhythm with the music; the chorus
being followed immediately by _Azucena's_ equally famous "Stride la
vampa" (Upward the flames roll).

[Music: Stride la vampa!]

In this air, which the old gypsy woman sings as a weird, but
impassioned upwelling of memories and hatreds, while the tribe gathers
about her, she relates the story of her mother's death. "Avenge thou
me!" she murmurs to _Manrico_, when she has concluded.

The corps de ballet which, in the absence of a regular ballet in "Il
Trovatore," utilizes this scene and the music of the "Anvil Chorus"
for its picturesque saltations, dances off. The gypsies now depart,
singing their chorus. With a pretty effect it dies away in the
distance.

[Music]

Swept along by the emotional stress under which she labours, _Azucena_
concludes her narrative of the tragic events at the pyre, voice and
orchestral accompaniment uniting in a vivid musical setting of her
memories. Naturally, her words arouse doubts in _Manrico's_ mind as to
whether he really is her son. She hastens to dispel these; they were
but wandering thoughts she uttered. Moreover, after the recent battle
of Petilla, between the forces of Biscay and Aragon, when he was
reported slain, did she not search for and find him, and has she not
been tenderly nursing him back to strength?

The forces of Aragon were led by _Count di Luna_, who but a short time
before had been overcome by _Manrico_ in a duel in the palace
garden;--why, on that occasion, asks the gypsy, did he spare the
_Count's_ life?

_Manrico's_ reply is couched in a bold, martial air, "Mal reggendo
all'aspro assalto" (Ill sustaining the furious encounter).

But at the end it dies away to _pp_, when he tells how, when the
_Count's_ life was his for a thrust, a voice, as if from heaven, bade
him spare it--a suggestion, of course, that although neither _Manrico_
nor the _Count_ know that they are brothers, _Manrico_ unconsciously
was swayed by the relationship, a touch of psychology rare in Italian
opera librettos, most unexpected in this, and, of course, completely
lost upon those who have not familiarized themselves with the plot of
"Il Trovatore." Incidentally, however, it accounts for a musical
effect--the _pp_, the sudden softening of the expression, at the end
of the martial description of the duel.

Enter now _Ruiz_, a messenger from the Prince of Biscay, who orders
_Manrico_ to take command of the forces defending the stronghold of
Castellor, and at the same time informs him that _Leonora_, believing
reports of his death at Petilla, is about to take the veil in a
convent near the castle.

The scene changes to the cloister of this convent. It is night. The
_Count_ and his followers, led by _Ferrando_, and heavily cloaked,
advance cautiously. It is the _Count's_ plan to carry off _Leonora_
before she becomes a nun. He sings of his love for her in the air, "Il
Balen" (The Smile)--"Il balen del suo sorriso" (Of her smile, the
radiant gleaming)--which is justly regarded as one of the most chaste
and beautiful baritone solos in Italian opera.

[Music: Il balen del suo sorriso]

It is followed by an air _alla marcia_, also for the _Count_, "Per me
ora fatale" (Oh, fatal hour impending).

[Music: Per me ora fatale,]

A chorus of nuns is heard from within the convent. _Leonora_, with
_Inez_, and her ladies, come upon the scene. They are about to proceed
from the cloister into the convent when the _Count_ interposes. But
before he can seize _Leonora_, another figure stands between them. It
is _Manrico_. With him are _Ruiz_ and his followers. The _Count_ is
foiled.

"E deggio!--e posso crederlo?" (And can I still my eyes believe!)
exclaims _Leonora_, as she beholds before her _Manrico_, whom she had
thought dead. It is here that begins the impassioned finale, an
ensemble consisting of a trio for _Leonora_, _Manrico_, and the _Count
di Luna_, with chorus.

Act III. The camp of _Count di Luna_, who is laying siege to
Castellor, whither _Manrico_ has safely borne _Leonora_. There is a
stirring chorus for _Ferrando_ and the soldiers.

[Music]

The _Count_ comes from his tent. He casts a lowering gaze at the
stronghold from where his rival defies him. There is a commotion.
Soldiers have captured a gypsy woman found prowling about the camp.
They drag her in. She is _Azucena_. Questioned, she sings that she is
a poor wanderer, who means no harm. "Giorni poveri vivea" (I was poor,
yet uncomplaining).

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Schumann-Heink as Azucena in "Il Trovatore"]

But _Ferrando_, though she thought herself masked by the grey hairs
and wrinkles of age, recognizes her as the gypsy who, to avenge her
mother, gave over the infant brother of the _Count_ to the flames. In
the vehemence of her denials, she cries out to _Manrico_, whom she
names as her son, to come to her rescue. This still further enrages
the _Count_. He orders that she be cast into prison and then burned at
the stake. She is dragged away.

The scene changes to a hall adjoining the chapel in the stronghold of
Castellor. _Leonora_ is about to become the bride of _Manrico_, who
sings the beautiful lyric, "Amor--sublime amore" ('Tis love, sublime
emotion).

Its serenity makes all the more effective the tumultuous scene that
follows. It assists in giving to that episode, one of the most famous
in Italian opera, its true significance as a dramatic climax.

Just as _Manrico_ takes _Leonora's_ hand to lead her to the altar of
the chapel, _Ruiz_ rushes in with word that _Azucena_ has been
captured by the besiegers and is about to be burned to death. Already
through the windows of Castellor the glow of flames can be seen. Her
peril would render delay fatal. Dropping the hand of his bride,
_Manrico_, draws his sword, and, as his men gather, sings "Di quella
pira l'orrendo foco" (See the pyre blazing, oh, sight of horror), and
rushes forth at the head of his soldiers to attempt to save _Azucena_.

[Music]

The line, "O teco almeno, corro a morir" (Or, all else failing, to die
with thee), contains the famous high C.

[Music: O teco almeno corro a morir]

This is a _tour de force_, which has been condemned as vulgar and
ostentatious, but which undoubtedly adds to the effectiveness of the
number. There is, it should be remarked, no high C in the score of "Di
quella pira." In no way is Verdi responsible for it. It was introduced
by a tenor, who saw a chance to make an effect with it, and succeeded
so well that it became a fixture. A tenor now content to sing "O teco
almeno" as Verdi wrote it

[Music]

would never be asked to sing it.

Dr. Frank E. Miller, author of _The Voice_ and _Vocal Art Science_,
the latter the most complete exposition of the psycho-physical
functions involved in voice-production, informs me that a series of
photographs have been made (by an apparatus too complicated to
describe) of the vibrations of Caruso's voice as he takes and holds
the high C in "Di quella pira." The record measures fifty-eight feet.
While it might not be correct to say that Caruso's high C is
fifty-eight feet long, the record is evidence of its being superbly
taken and held.

Not infrequently the high C in "Di quella pira" is faked for tenors
who cannot reach it, yet have to sing the rôle of _Manrico_, or who,
having been able to reach it in their younger days and at the height
of their prime, still wish to maintain their fame as robust tenors.
For such the number is transposed. The tenor, instead of singing high
C, sings B-flat, a tone and a half lower, and much easier to take. By
flourishing his sword and looking very fierce he usually manages to
get away with it. Transpositions of operatic airs, requiring unusually
high voices, are not infrequently made for singers, both male and
female, no longer in their prime, but still good for two or three more
"farewell" tours. All they have to do is to step up to the footlights
with an air of perfect confidence, which indicates that the great
moment in the performance has arrived, deliver, with a certain
assumption of effort--the semblance of a real _tour de force_--the
note which has conveniently been transposed, and receive the
enthusiastic plaudits of their devoted admirers. But the assumption of
effort must not be omitted. The tenor who sings the high C in "Di
quella pira" without getting red in the face will hardly be credited
with having sung it at all.

Act IV. _Manrico's_ sortie to rescue his supposed mother failed. His
men were repulsed, and he himself was captured and thrown into the
dungeon tower of Aliaferia, where _Azucena_ was already enchained. The
scene shows a wing of the palace of Aliaferia. In the angle is a tower
with window secured by iron bars. It is night, dark and clouded.

_Leonora_ enters with _Ruiz_, who points out to her the place of
_Manrico's_ confinement, and retires. That she has conceived a
desperate plan to save her lover appears from the fact that she wears
a poison ring, a ring with a swift poison concealed under the jewel,
so that she can take her own life, if driven thereto.

Unknown to _Manrico_, she is near him. Her thoughts wander to
him;--"D'amor sull'ali rosee" (On rosy wings of love depart).

[Music: D'amor sull'ali rosee]

It is followed by the "Miserere," which was for many years and perhaps
still is the world over the most popular of all melodies from opera,
although at the present time it appears to have been superseded by
the "Intermezzo" from "Cavalleria Rusticana."

The "Miserere" is chanted by a chorus within.

[Music]

Against this as a sombre background are projected the heart-broken
ejaculations of _Leonora_.

[Music]

Then _Manrico's_ voice in the tower intones "Ah! che la morte ognora"
(Ah! how death still delayeth).

[Music]

One of the most characteristic phrases, suggestions of which occur
also in "La Traviata" and even in "Aïda," is the following:

[Music: a chi desia, a chi desia morir!]

Familiarity may breed contempt, and nothing could well be more
familiar than the "Miserere" from "Il Trovatore." Yet, well sung, it
never fails of effect; and the gaoler always has to let _Manrico_ come
out of the tower and acknowledge the applause of an excited house,
while _Leonora_ stands by and pretends not to see him, one of those
little fictions and absurdities of old-fashioned opera that really
add to its charm.

The _Count_ enters, to be confronted by _Leonora_. She promises to
become his wife if he will free _Manrico_. _Di Luna's_ passion for her
is so intense that he agrees. There is a solo for _Leonora_, "Mira, di
acerbe lagrime" (Witness the tears of agony), followed by a duet
between her and the _Count_, who little suspects that, _Manrico_ once
freed, she will escape a hated union with himself by taking the poison
in her ring.

The scene changes to the interior of the tower. _Manrico_ and
_Azucena_ sing a duet of mournful beauty, "Ai nostri monti" (Back to
our mountains).

[Music: Ai nostri monti] [Music: Riposa o madre, io prono e muto]

_Leonora_ enters and bids him escape. But he suspects the price she
has paid; and his suspicions are confirmed by herself, when the poison
she has drained from beneath the jewel in her ring begins to take
effect and she feels herself sinking in death, while _Azucena_, in her
sleep, croons dreamily, "Back to our mountains."

The _Count di Luna_, coming upon the scene, finds _Leonora_ dead in
her lover's arms. He orders _Manrico_ to be led to the block at once
and drags _Azucena_ to the window to witness the death of her supposed
son.

"It is over!" exclaims _Di Luna_, when the executioner has done his
work.

"The victim was thy brother!" shrieks the gypsy hag. "Thou art
avenged, O mother!"

She falls near the window.

"And I still live!" exclaims the _Count_.

With that exclamation the cumulative horrors, set to the most tuneful
score in Italian opera, are over.


LA TRAVIATA

THE FRAIL ONE

     Opera in three acts by Verdi; words by Francesco Maria
     Piave, after the play "La Dame aux Camélias," by Alexandre
     Dumas, _fils_. Produced Fenice Theatre, Venice, March 6,
     1853. London, May 24, 1856, with Piccolomini. Paris, in
     French, December 6, 1856; in Italian, October 27, 1864, with
     Christine Nilsson. New York, Academy of Music, December 3,
     1856, with La Grange (_Violetta_), Brignoli (_Alfredo_), and
     Amodio (_Germont, père_). Nilsson, Patti, Melba, Sembrich
     and Tetrazzini have been among famous interpreters of the
     rôle of _Violetta_ in America. Galli-Curci first sang
     _Violetta_ in this country in Chicago, December 1, 1916.

     CHARACTERS

     ALFREDO GERMONT, lover of VIOLETTA              _Tenor_
     GIORGIO GERMONT, his father                  _Baritone_
     GASTONE DE LETORIÈRES                           _Tenor_
     BARON DOUPHOL, a rival of ALFREDO                _Bass_
     MARQUIS D'OBIGNY                                 _Bass_
     DOCTOR GRENVIL                                   _Bass_
     GIUSEPPE, servant to VIOLETTA                   _Tenor_
     VIOLETTA VALÉRY, a courtesan                  _Soprano_
     FLORA BERVOIX, her friend               _Mezzo-Soprano_
     ANNINA, confidante of VIOLETTA                _Soprano_

     Ladies and gentlemen who are friends and guests in the
     houses of Violetta and Flora; servants and masks; dancers
     and guests as matadors, picadors, and gypsies.

     _Time_--Louis XIV. [Transcriber's Note: The correct time is
     about 1850. See author's discussion below.]

     _Place_--Paris and vicinity.

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Mishkin

Galli-Curci as Violetta in "La Traviata"]

At its production in Venice in 1853 "La Traviata" was a failure, for
which various reasons can be advanced. The younger Dumas's play, "La
Dame aux Camélias," familiar to English playgoers under the incorrect
title of "Camille," is a study of modern life and played in modern
costume. When Piave reduced his "Traviata" libretto from the play, he
retained the modern period. This is said to have nonplussed an
audience accustomed to operas laid in the past and given in "costume."
But the chief blame for the fiasco appears to have rested with the
singers. Graziani, the _Alfredo_, was hoarse. Salvini-Donatelli, the
_Violetta_, was inordinately stout. The result was that the scene of
her death as a consumptive was received with derision. Varesi, the
baritone, who sang _Giorgio Germont_, who does not appear until the
second act, and is of no importance save in that part of the opera,
considered the rôle beneath his reputation--notwithstanding
_Germont's_ beautiful solo, "Di Provenza"--and was none too cheerful
over it. There is evidence in Verdi's correspondence that the composer
had complete confidence in the merits of his score, and attributed its
failure to its interpreters.

When the opera was brought forward again a year later, the same city
which had decried it as a failure acclaimed it a success. On this
occasion, however, the period of the action differed from that of the
play. It was set back to the time of Louis XIV., and costumed
accordingly. There is, however, no other opera today in which this
matter of costume is so much a go-as-you-please affair for the
principals, as it is in "La Traviata." I do not recall if Christine
Nilsson dressed _Violetta_ according to the Louis XIV. period, or not;
but certainly Adelina Patti and Marcella Sembrich, both of whom I
heard many times in the rôle (and each of them the first time they
sang it here) wore the conventional evening gown of modern times. To
do this has become entirely permissible for prima donnas in this
character. Meanwhile the _Alfredo_ may dress according to the Louis
XIV. period, or wear the swallow-tail costume of today, or compromise,
as some do, and wear the swallow-tail coat and modern waistcoat with
knee-breeches and black silk stockings. As if even this diversity were
not yet quite enough, the most notable _Germont_ of recent years,
Renaud, who, at the Manhattan Opera House, sang the rôle with the most
exquisite refinement, giving a portrayal as finished as a genre
painting by Meissonnier, wore the costume of a gentleman of Provence
of, perhaps, the middle of the last century. But, as I have hinted
before, in old-fashioned opera, these incongruities, which would be
severely condemned in a modern work, don't amount to a row of pins.
Given plenty of melody, beautifully sung, and everything else can go
hang.

Act I. A salon in the house of _Violetta_. In the back scene is a
door, which opens into another salon. There are also side doors. On
the left is a fireplace, over which is a mirror. In the centre of the
apartment is a dining-table, elegantly laid. _Violetta_, seated on a
couch, is conversing with _Dr. Grenvil_ and some friends. Others are
receiving the guests who arrive, among whom are _Baron Douphol_ and
_Flora_ on the arm of the _Marquis_.

The opera opens with a brisk ensemble. _Violetta_ is a courtesan
(_traviata_). Her house is the scene of a revel. Early in the
festivities _Gaston_, who has come in with _Alfred_, informs
_Violetta_ that his friend is seriously in love with her. She treats
the matter with outward levity, but it is apparent that she is touched
by _Alfred's_ devotion. Already, too, in this scene, there are slight
indications, more emphasized as the opera progresses, that consumption
has undermined _Violetta's_ health.

First in the order of solos in this act is a spirited drinking song
for _Alfred_, which is repeated by _Violetta_. After each measure the
chorus joins in. This is the "Libiamo ne' lieti calici" (Let us quaff
from the wine cup o'erflowing).

[Music: Libiamo, libiamo ne' lieti calici]

Music is heard from an adjoining salon, toward which the guests
proceed. _Violetta_ is about to follow, but is seized with a
coughing-spell and sinks upon a lounge to recover. _Alfred_ has
remained behind. She asks him why he has not joined the others. He
protests his love for her. At first taking his words in banter, she
becomes more serious, as she begins to realize the depth of his
affection for her. How long has he loved her? A year, he answers. "Un
dì felice, eterea" (One day a rapture ethereal), he sings.

In this the words, "Di quell'amor ch'è palpito" (Ah, 'tis with love
that palpitates) are set to a phrase which _Violetta_ repeats in the
famous "Ah, fors'è lui," just as she has previously repeated the
drinking song.

Verdi thus seems to intend to indicate in his score the effect upon
her of _Alfred's_ genuine affection. She repeated his drinking song.
Now she repeats, like an echo of heartbeats, his tribute to a love of
which she is the object.

It is when _Alfred_ and the other guests have retired that _Violetta_,
lost in contemplation, her heart touched for the first time, sings "Ah
fors'è lui che l'anima" (For him, perchance, my longing soul).

[Music: Ah, fors'è lui che l'anima solinga ne' tumulti, solinga ne'
tumulti]

Then she repeats, in the nature of a refrain, the measures already
sung by _Alfred_. Suddenly she changes, as if there were no hope of
lasting love for woman of her character, and dashes into the brilliant
"Sempre libera degg'io folleggiare di gioja in gioja" (Ever free shall
I still hasten madly on from pleasure to pleasure).

[Music: Sempre libera degg'io folleggiare]

With this solo the act closes.

Act II. Salon on the ground floor of a country house near Paris,
occupied by _Alfred_ and _Violetta_, who for him has deserted the
allurements of her former life. _Alfred_ enters in sporting costume.
He sings of his joy in possessing _Violetta_: "Di miei bollenti
spiriti" (Wild my dream of ecstasy).

From _Annina_, the maid of _Violetta_, he learns that the expenses of
keeping up the country house are much greater than _Violetta_ has told
him, and that, in order to meet the cost, which is beyond his own
means, she has been selling her jewels. He immediately leaves for
Paris, his intention being to try to raise money there so that he may
be able to reimburse her.

After he has gone, _Violetta_ comes in. She has a note from _Flora_
inviting her to some festivities at her house that night. She smiles
at the absurdity of the idea that she should return, even for an
evening, to the scenes of her former life. Just then a visitor is
announced. She supposes he is a business agent, whom she is expecting.
But, instead, the man who enters announces that he is _Alfred's_
father. His dignity, his courteous yet restrained manner, at once fill
her with apprehension. She has foreseen separation from the man she
loves. She now senses that the dread moment is impending.

The elder _Germont's_ plea that she leave _Alfred_ is based both upon
the blight threatened his career by his liaison with her, and upon
another misfortune that will result to the family. There is not only
the son; there is a daughter. "Pura siccome un angelo" (Pure as an
angel) sings _Germont_, in the familiar air:

[Music: Pura siccome un angelo]

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Farrar as Violetta in "La Traviata"]

[Illustration: Photo by Mishkin

Scotti as Germont in "La Traviata"]

Should the scandal of _Alfred's_ liaison with _Violetta_ continue, the
family of a youth, whom the daughter is to marry, threaten to break
off the alliance. Therefore it is not only on behalf of his son, it is
also for the future of his daughter, that the elder _Germont_ pleads.
As in the play, so in the opera, the reason why the rôle of the
heroine so strongly appeals to us is that she makes the sacrifice
demanded of her--though she is aware that among other unhappy
consequences to her, it will aggravate the disease of which she is a
victim and hasten her death, wherein, indeed, she even sees a solace.
She cannot yield at once. She prays, as it were, for mercy: "Non
sapete" (Ah, you know not).

Finally she yields: "Dite alla giovine" (Say to thy daughter); then
"Imponete" (Now command me); and, after that, "Morrò--la mia memoria"
(I shall die--but may my memory).

_Germont_ retires. _Violetta_ writes a note, rings for _Annina_, and
hands it to her. From the maid's surprise as she reads the address, it
can be judged to be for _Flora_, and, presumably, an acceptance of her
invitation. When _Annina_ has gone, she writes to _Alfred_ informing
him that she is returning to her old life, and that she will look to
_Baron Douphol_ to maintain her. _Alfred_ enters. She conceals the
letter about her person. He tells her that he has received word from
his father that the latter is coming to see him in an attempt to
separate him from her. Pretending that she leaves, so as not to be
present during the interview, she takes of him a tearful farewell.

_Alfred_ is left alone. He picks up a book and reads listlessly. A
messenger enters and hands him a note. The address is in _Violetta's_
handwriting. He breaks the seal, begins to read, staggers as he
realizes the import, and would collapse, but that his father, who has
quietly entered from the garden, holds out his arms, in which the
youth, believing himself betrayed by the woman he loves, finds refuge.

"Di Provenza il mar, il suol chi dal cor ti cancellò" (From fair
Provence's sea and soil, who hath won thy heart away), sings the
elder _Germont_, in an effort to soften the blow that has fallen upon
his son.

[Music: Di Provenza il mar, il suol]

_Alfred_ rouses himself. Looking about vaguely, he sees _Flora's_
letter, glances at the contents, and at once concludes that
_Violetta's_ first plunge into the vortex of gayety, to return to
which she has, as he supposes, abandoned him, will be at _Flora's_
fête.

"Thither will I hasten, and avenge myself!" he exclaims, and departs
precipitately, followed by his father.

The scene changes to a richly furnished and brilliantly lighted salon
in _Flora's_ palace. The fête is in full swing. There is a ballet of
women gypsies, who sing as they dance "Noi siamo zingarelle" (We're
gypsies gay and youthful).

_Gaston_ and his friends appear as matadors and others as picadors.
_Gaston_ sings, while the others dance, "È Piquillo, un bel gagliardo"
('Twas Piquillo, so young and so daring).

It is a lively scene, upon which there enters _Alfred_, to be followed
soon by _Baron Douphol_ with _Violetta_ on his arm. _Alfred_ is seated
at a card table. He is steadily winning. "Unlucky in love, lucky in
gambling!" he exclaims. _Violetta_ winces. The _Baron_ shows evidence
of anger at _Alfred's_ words and is with difficulty restrained by
_Violetta_. The _Baron_, with assumed nonchalance, goes to the gaming
table and stakes against _Alfred_. Again the latter's winnings are
large. A servant's announcement that the banquet is ready is an
evident relief to the _Baron_. All retire to an adjoining salon. For a
brief moment the stage is empty.

_Violetta_ enters. She has asked for an interview with _Alfred_. He
joins her. She begs him to leave. She fears the _Baron's_ anger will
lead him to challenge _Alfred_ to a duel. The latter sneers at her
apprehensions; intimates that it is the _Baron_ she fears for. Is it
not the _Baron Douphol_ for whom he, _Alfred_, has been cast off by
her? _Violetta's_ emotions almost betray her, but she remembers her
promise to the elder _Germont_, and exclaims that she loves the
_Baron_.

_Alfred_ tears open the doors to the salon where the banquet is in
progress. "Come hither, all!" he shouts.

They crowd upon the scene. _Violetta_, almost fainting, leans against
the table for support. Facing her, _Alfred_ hurls at her invective
after invective. Finally, in payment of what she has spent to help him
maintain the house near Paris in which they have lived together, he
furiously casts at her feet all his winnings at the gaming table. She
faints in the arms of _Flora_ and _Dr. Grenvil_.

The elder _Germont_ enters in search of his son. He alone knows the
real significance of the scene, but for the sake of his son and
daughter cannot disclose it. A dramatic ensemble, in which _Violetta_
sings, "Alfredo, Alfredo, di questo core non puoi comprendere tutto
l'amore" (Alfred, Alfred, little canst thou fathom the love within my
heart for thee) brings the act to a close.

Act III. _Violetta's_ bedroom. At the back is a bed with the curtains
partly drawn. A window is shut in by inside shutters. Near the bed
stands a tabouret with a bottle of water, a crystal cup, and different
kinds of medicine on it. In the middle of the room is a toilet-table
and settee. A little apart from this is another piece of furniture
upon which a night-lamp is burning. On the left is a fireplace with a
fire in it.

_Violetta_ awakens. In a weak voice she calls _Annina_, who, waking up
confusedly, opens the shutters and looks down into the street, which
is gay with carnival preparations. _Dr. Grenvil_ is at the door.
_Violetta_ endeavours to rise, but falls back again. Then, supported
by _Annina_, she walks slowly toward the settee. The doctor enters in
time to assist her. _Annina_ places cushions about her. To _Violetta_
the physician cheerfully holds out hope of recovery, but to _Annina_
he whispers, as he is leaving, that her mistress has but few hours
more to live.

_Violetta_ has received a letter from the elder _Germont_ telling her
that _Alfred_ has been apprised by him of her sacrifice and has been
sent for to come to her bedside as quickly as possible. But she has
little hope that he will arrive in time. She senses the near approach
of death. "Addio del passato" (Farewell to bright visions) she sighs.
For this solo,

[Music: Addio del passato bei sogni ridenti,]

when sung in the correct interpretive mood, should be like a sigh from
the depths of a once frail, but now purified soul.

A bacchanalian chorus of carnival revellers floats up from the street.
_Annina_, who had gone out with some money which _Violetta_ had given
her to distribute as alms, returns. Her manner is excited. _Violetta_
is quick to perceive it and divine its significance. _Annina_ has seen
_Alfred_. He is waiting to be announced. The dying woman bids _Annina_
hasten to admit him. A moment later he holds _Violetta_ in his arms.
Approaching death is forgotten. Nothing again shall part them. They
will leave Paris for some quiet retreat. "Parigi, o cara, noi
lasceremo" (We shall fly from Paris, beloved), they sing.

[Music: Parigi, o cara, noi lasceremo]

But it is too late. The hand of death is upon the woman's brow. "Gran
Dio! morir sì giovine" (O, God! to die so young).

The elder _Germont_ and _Dr. Grenvil_ have come in. There is nothing
to be done. The cough that racked the poor frail body has ceased. _La
traviata_ is dead.

Not only were "Il Trovatore" and "La Traviata" produced in the same
year, but "La Traviata" was written between the date of "Trovatore's"
première at Rome (January 19th) and March 6th. Only four weeks in all
are said to have been devoted to it, and part of the time Verdi was
working on "Trovatore" as well. Nothing could better illustrate the
fecundity of his genius, the facility with which he composed. But it
was not the fatal facility that sacrifices real merit for temporary
success. There are a few echoes of "Trovatore" in "Traviata"; but the
remarkable achievement of Verdi is not in having written so beautiful
an opera as "La Traviata" in so short a time, but in having produced
in it a work in a style wholly different from "Il Trovatore." The
latter palpitates with the passions of love, hatred, and vengeance.
The setting of the action encourages these. It consists of palace
gardens, castles, dungeons. But "La Traviata" plays in drawing-rooms.
The music corresponds with these surroundings. It is vivacious,
graceful, gentle. When it palpitates, it is with sorrow. The opera
also contains a notably beautiful instrumental number--the
introduction to the third act. This was a favourite piece with
Theodore Thomas. Several times--years ago--I heard it conducted by him
at his Popular Concerts.

Oddly enough, although "Il Trovatore" is by far the more robust and at
one time was, as I have stated, the most popular opera in the world, I
believe that today the advantage lies with "La Traviata," and that, as
between the two, there belongs to that opera the ultimate chance of
survival. I explain this on the ground that, in "Il Trovatore" the
hero and heroine are purely musical creations, the real character
drawing, dramatically and musically, being in the rôle of _Azucena_,
which, while a principal rôle, has not the prominence of _Leonora_ or
_Manrico_. In "La Traviata," on the other hand, we have in the
original of _Violetta_--the _Marguerite Gauthier_ of Alexandre Dumas,
_fils_--one of the great creations of modern drama, the frail woman
redeemed by the touch of an artist. Piave, in his libretto, preserves
the character. In the opera, as in the play, one comprehends the
injunction, "Let him who is not guilty throw the first stone." For
Verdi has clothed _Violetta_ in music that brings out the character so
vividly and so beautifully that whenever I see "Traviata" I recall the
first performance in America of the Dumas play by Bernhardt, then in
her slender and supple prime, and the first American appearance in it
of Duse, with her exquisite intonation and restraint of gesture.

In fact, operas survive because the librettist has known how to create
a character and the composer how to match it with his musical genius.
Recall the dashing _Don Giovanni_; the resourceful _Figaro_, both in
the Mozart and the Rossini opera; the real interpretive quality of a
mild and gracious order in the heroine of "La Sonnambula"--innocence
personified; the gloomy figure of _Edgardo_ stalking through "Lucia di
Lammermoor"; the hunchback and the titled gallant in "Rigoletto," and
you can understand why these very old operas have lived so long. They
are not make-believe; they are real.


UN BALLO IN MASCHERA

THE MASKED BALL

     Opera in three acts, by Verdi; words by Somma, based on
     Scribe's libretto for Auber's opera, "Gustave III., ou Le
     Bal Masqué" (Gustavus III., or the Masked Ball). Produced,
     Apollo Theatre, Rome, February 17, 1859. Paris, Théâtre des
     Italiens, January 13, 1861. London, June 15, 1861. New York,
     February 11, 1861. Revivals, Metropolitan Opera House, N.Y.,
     with Jean de Reszke, 1903; with Caruso, Eames, Homer,
     Scotti, Plançon, and Journet, February 6, 1905; with Caruso,
     Destinn, Matzenauer, Hempel, and Amato, November 22, 1913.

     CHARACTERS

     RICHARD, Count of Warwick and Governor of
       Boston (or Riccardo, Duke of Olivares and
       Governor of Naples)                           _Tenor_
     AMELIA (Adelia)                               _Soprano_
     REINHART (Renato), secretary to the Governor
       and husband of Amelia                      _Baritone_
     SAMUEL        } enemies of the Governor          _Bass_
     TOM (Tommaso) }
     SILVAN, a sailor                              _Soprano_
     OSCAR (Edgardo), a page                       _Soprano_
     ULRICA, a negress astrologer                _Contralto_

     A judge, a servant of Amelia, populace, guards, etc.,
     conspirators, maskers, and dancing couples.

     _Place_--Boston, or Naples.

     _Time_--Late seventeenth or middle eighteenth century.

The English libretto of "Un Ballo in Maschera," literally "A Masked
Ball," but always called by us "The Masked Ball," has the following
note:

"The scene of Verdi's 'Ballo in Maschera' was, by the author of the
libretto, originally laid in one of the European cities. But the
government censors objected to this, probably, because the plot
contained the record of a successful conspiracy against an established
prince or governor. By a change of scene to the distant, and, to the
author, little-known, city of Boston, in America, this difficulty
seems to have been obviated. The fact should be borne in mind by
Bostonians and others, who may be somewhat astonished at the events
which are supposed to have taken place in the old Puritan city."

Certainly the events in "The Masked Ball" are amazing for the Boston
of Puritan or any other time, and it was only through necessity that
the scene of the opera was laid there. Now that political reasons for
this no longer exist, it is usually played with the scene laid in
Naples.

Auber produced, in 1833, an opera on a libretto by Scribe, entitled
"Gustave III., ou Le Bal Masqué." Upon this Scribe libretto the book
of "Un Ballo in Maschera" is based. Verdi's opera was originally
called "Gustavo III.," and, like the Scribe-Auber work, was written
around the assassination of Gustavus III., of Sweden, who, March 16,
1792, was shot in the back during a masked ball at Stockholm.

Verdi composed the work for the San Carlo Theatre, Naples, where it
was to have been produced for the carnival of 1858. But January 14th
of that year, and while the rehearsals were in progress, Felice
Orsini, an Italian revolutionist, made his attempt on the life of
Napoleon III. In consequence the authorities forbade the performance
of a work dealing with the assassination of a king. The suggestion
that Verdi adapt his music to an entirely different libretto was put
aside by the composer, and the work was withdrawn, with the result
that a revolution nearly broke out in Naples. People paraded the
street, and by shouting "Viva Verdi!" proclaimed, under guise of the
initials of the popular composer's name, that they favoured the cause
of a united Italy, with Victor Emanuel as King; viz.: Vittorio
Emmanuele Re D'Italia (Victor Emanuel, King of Italy). Finally the
censor in Rome suggested, as a way out of the difficulty, that the
title of the opera be changed to "Un Ballo in Maschera" and the scene
transferred to Boston. For however nervous the authorities were about
having a king murdered on the stage, they regarded the assassination
of an English governor in far-off America as a quite harmless
diversion. So, indeed, it proved to be, the only excitement evinced by
the audience of the Apollo Theatre, Rome, on the evening of February
18, 1859, being the result of its enthusiasm over the various musical
numbers of the work, this enthusiasm not being at all dampened by the
fact that, with the transfer to Boston, two of the conspirators,
_Samuel_ and _Tommaso_, became negroes, and the astrologer who figures
in the opera, a negress.

The sensible change of scene from Boston to Naples is said to have
been initiated in Paris upon the instance of Mario, who "would never
have consented to sing his ballad in the second act in short
pantaloons, silk stockings, red dress, and big epaulettes of gold
lace. He would never have been satisfied with the title of Earl of
Warwick and the office of governor. He preferred to be a grandee of
Spain, to call himself the Duke of Olivares, and to disguise himself
as a Neapolitan fisherman, besides paying little attention to the
strict accuracy of the rôle, but rather adapting it to his own gifts
as an artist." The ballad referred to in this quotation undoubtedly is
_Richard's_ barcarolle, "Di' tu se fedele il flutto m'aspetta"
(Declare if the waves will faithfully bear me).

Act I. Reception hall in the Governor's house. _Richard, Earl of
Warwick_, is giving an audience. _Oscar_, a page, brings him the list
of guests invited to a masked ball. _Richard_ is especially delighted
at seeing on it the name of _Amelia_, the wife of his secretary,
_Reinhart_, although his conscience bitterly reproaches him for loving
_Amelia_, for _Reinhart_ is his most faithful friend, ever ready to
defend him. The secretary also has discovered a conspiracy against his
master; but as yet has been unable to learn the names of the
conspirators.

At the audience a judge is announced, who brings for signature the
sentence of banishment against an old fortune teller, the negress
_Ulrica_. _Oscar_, however, intercedes for the old woman. _Richard_
decides to visit her in disguise and test her powers of divination.

The scene changes to _Ulrica's_ hut, which _Richard_ enters disguised
as a fisherman. Without his knowledge, _Amelia_ also comes to consult
the negress. Concealed by a curtain he hears her ask for a magic herb
to cure her of the love which she, a married woman, bears to
_Richard_. The old woman tells her of such an herb, but _Amelia_ must
gather it herself at midnight in the place where stands the gibbet.
_Richard_ thus learns that she loves him, and of her purpose to be at
the place of the gibbet at midnight. When she has gone he comes out of
his concealment and has his fortune told. _Ulrica_ predicts that he
will die by the hand of a friend. The conspirators, who are in his
retinue, whisper among themselves that they are discovered. "Who will
be the slayer?" asks Richard. The answer is, "Whoever first shall
shake your hand." At this moment _Reinhart_ enters, greets his friend
with a vigorous shake of the hand, and _Richard_ laughs at the evil
prophecy. His retinue and the populace rejoice with him.

Act II. Midnight, beside the gallows. _Amelia_, deeply veiled, comes
to pluck the magic herb. _Richard_ arrives to protect her. _Amelia_ is
unable to conceal her love for him. But who comes there? It is
_Reinhart_. Concern for his master has called him to the spot. The
conspirators are lying in wait for him nearby. _Richard_ exacts from
_Reinhart_ a promise to escort back to the city the deeply veiled
woman, without making an attempt to learn who she is, while he himself
returns by an unfrequented path. _Reinhart_ and his companion fall
into the hands of the conspirators. The latter do not harm the
secretary, but want at least to learn who the _Governor's_ sweetheart
is. They lift the veil. _Reinhart_ sees his own wife. Rage grips his
soul. He bids the leaders of the conspiracy to meet with him at his
house in the morning.

Act III. A study in _Reinhart's_ dwelling. For the disgrace he has
suffered he intends to kill _Amelia_. Upon her plea she is allowed to
embrace her son once more. He reflects that, after all, _Richard_ is
much the more guilty of the two. He refrains from killing her, but
when he and the conspirators draw lots to determine who shall kill
_Richard_, he calls her in, and, at his command, she draws a piece of
paper from an urn. It bears her husband's name, drawn unwittingly by
her to indicate the person who is to slay the man she loves. Partly to
remove _Amelia's_ suspicions, _Reinhart_ accepts the invitation to the
masked ball which _Oscar_ brings him, _Richard_, of course, knowing
nothing of what has transpired.

In the brilliant crowd of maskers, the scene having changed to that of
the masked ball, _Reinhart_ learns from _Oscar_ what disguise is worn
by _Richard_. _Amelia_, who, with the eyes of apprehensive love, also
has recognized _Richard_, implores him to flee the danger that
threatens him. But _Richard_ knows no fear. In order that the honour
of his friend shall remain secure, he has determined to send him as an
envoy to England, accompanied by his wife. Her, he tells _Amelia_, he
will never see again. "Once more I bid thee farewell, for the last
time, farewell."

"And thus receive thou my farewell!" exclaims _Reinhart_, stabbing him
in the side.

With his last words _Richard_ assures _Reinhart_ of the guiltlessness
of _Amelia_, and admonishes all to seek to avenge his death on no one.

It is hardly necessary to point out how astonishing these proceedings
are when supposed to take place in Colonial Boston. Even the one
episode of _Richard, Earl of Warwick_, singing a barcarolle in the hut
of a negress who tells fortunes is so impossible that it affects the
whole story with incredibility. But Naples--well, anything will go
there. In fact, as truth is stranger than fiction, we even can regard
the events of "The Masked Ball" as occurring more naturally in an
Italian city than in Stockholm, where the assassination of Gustavus
III. at a masquerade actually occurred.

Although the opera is a subject of only occasional revival, it
contains a considerable amount of good music and a quintet of
exceptional quality.

Early in the first act comes _Richard's_ solo, "La rivedrà
nell'estasi" (I shall again her face behold).

[Music: La rivedrà nell'estasi]

This is followed by the faithful _Reinhart's_ "Alla vita che t'arride"
(To thy life with joy abounding), with horn solo.

Strikingly effective is _Oscar's_ song, in which the page vouches for
the fortune-teller. "Volta la terrea fronte alle stelle" (Lift up
thine earthly gaze to where the stars are shining).

[Music: Volta la terrea fronte alle stelle]

In the scene in the fortune-teller's hut are a trio for _Amelia_,
_Ulrica_, and _Richard_, while the latter overhears _Amelia's_ welcome
confession of love for himself, and _Richard's_ charming barcarolle
addressed to the sorceress, a Neapolitan melody, "Di' tu se fedele il
flutto m'aspetta" (Declare if the waves will faithfully bear me).

[Music: Di' tu se fedele il flutto m'aspetta,]

The quintet begins with _Richard's_ laughing disbelief in _Ulrica's_
prophecy regarding himself, "È scherzo od è follia" ('Tis an idle
folly).

Concluding the scene is the chorus, in which, after the people have
recognized _Richard_, they sing what has been called, "a kind of 'God
Save the King' tribute to his worth"--"O figlio d'Inghilterra" (O son
of mighty England).

The second act opens with a beautiful air for _Amelia_, "Ma dall'arido
stelo divulsa" (From the stem, dry and withered, dissevered).

An impassioned duet occurs during the meeting at the place of the
gibbet between _Richard_ and _Amelia_: "O qual soave brivido" (Oh,
what delightful ecstasies).

The act ends with a quartet for _Amelia_, _Reinhart_, _Samuel_, and
_Tom_.

In the last act is _Amelia's_ touching supplication to her husband, in
which "The weeping of the violoncello and the veiled key of E-flat
minor stretch to the last limits of grief this prayer of the wife and
mother,"--"Morrò, ma prima in grazia" (I die, but first in mercy).

"O dolcezze perdute!" (O delights now lost for ever) sings her
husband, in a musical inspiration prefaced by harp and flute.

During the masked ball there is a quintet for _Amelia_, _Oscar_,
_Reinhart_, _Samuel_, and _Tom_, from which the sprightly butterfly
allegro of _Oscar_, "Di che fulgor, che musiche" (What brilliant
lights, what music gay) detaches itself, while later on the _Page_ has
a buoyant "tra-la-la" solo, beginning, in reply to _Reinhart's_
question concerning _Richard's_ disguise, "Saper vorreste di che si
veste" (You'd fain be hearing what mask he's wearing).

There is a colloquy between _Richard_ and _Amelia_. Then the
catastrophe.


BEFORE AND AFTER "UN BALLO"

Prior to proceeding to a consideration of "Aïda," I will refer briefly
to certain works by Verdi, which, although not requiring a complete
account of story and music, should not be omitted from a book on
opera.

At the Teatro San Carlo, Naples, December 8, 1849, Verdi brought out
the three-act opera "Luisa Miller," based on a play by Schiller,
"Kabale und Liebe" (Love and Intrigue). It appears to have been
Verdi's first real success since "Ernani" and to have led up to that
achieved by "Rigoletto" a year later, and to the successes of "Il
Trovatore" and "La Traviata." "Luisa Miller" was given at the Academy
of Music, New York, October 20, 1886, by Angelo's Italian Opera
Company. Giulia Valda was _Luisa_ and Vicini _Rodolfo_.

The story is a gloomy one. The first act is entitled "Love," the
second "Intrigue," the third "Poison."

     CHARACTERS

     COUNT WALTER                                     _Bass_
     RODOLFO, his son                                _Tenor_
     MILLER, an old soldier                           _Bass_
     LUISA, his daughter                           _Soprano_
     FREDERICA, DUCHESS OF OSTHEIM,
       Walter's niece                            _Contralto_
     LAURA, a peasant girl                       _Contralto_

     Ladies attending the Duchess, pages, servants, archers, and
     villagers.

_Luisa_ is the daughter of _Miller_, an old soldier. There is ardent
love between her and _Rodolfo_, the son of _Count Walter_, who has
concealed his real name and rank from her and her father and is known
to them as a peasant named Carlo. Old _Miller_, however, has a
presentiment that evil will result from their attachment. This is
confirmed on his being informed by _Wurm_ that Carlo is _Rodolfo_, his
master's son. _Wurm_ is himself in love with _Luisa_.

The _Duchess Frederica_, _Count Walter's_ niece, arrives at the
castle. She had been brought up there with _Rodolfo_, and has from
childhood cherished a deep affection for him; but, compelled by her
father to marry the Duke d'Ostheim, has not seen _Rodolfo_ for some
years. The Duke, however, having died, she is now a widow, and, on the
invitation of _Count Walter_, who has, unknown to _Rodolfo_, made
proposals of marriage to her on his son's behalf, she arrives at the
castle, expecting to marry at once the love of her childhood. The
_Count_ having been informed by _Wurm_ of his son's love for _Luisa_,
resolves to break off their intimacy. _Rodolfo_ reveals to the
_Duchess_ that he loves another. He also discloses his real name and
position to _Luisa_ and her father. The _Count_ interrupts this
interview between the lovers. Enraged at his son's persistence in
preferring a union with _Luisa_, he calls in the guard and is about to
consign her and her father to prison, when he is, for the moment,
deterred and appalled by _Rodolfo's_ threat to reveal that the
_Count_, aided by _Wurm_, assassinated his predecessor, in order to
obtain possession of the title and estates.

_Luisa's_ father has been seized and imprisoned by the _Count's_
order. She, to save his life, consents, at the instigation of _Wurm_,
to write a letter in which she states that she had never really loved
_Rodolfo_, but only encouraged him on account of his rank and fortune,
of which she was always aware; and finally offering to fly with
_Wurm._ This letter, as the _Count_ and his steward have arranged,
falls into the hands of _Rodolfo_, who, enraged by the supposed
treachery of the woman he loves, consents to marry the _Duchess_, but
ultimately resolves to kill _Luisa_ and himself.

_Luisa_ also has determined to put an end to her existence. _Rodolfo_
enters her home in the absence of _Miller_, and, after extracting from
_Luisa's_ own lips the avowal that she did write the letter, he pours
poison into a cup. She unwittingly offers it to him to quench his
thirst. Afterwards, at his request, she tastes it herself. She had
sworn to _Wurm_ that she would never reveal the fact of the compulsion
under which she had written the letter, but feeling herself released
from her oath by fast approaching death, she confesses the truth to
_Rodolfo_. The lovers die in the presence of their horror-stricken
parents.

The principal musical numbers include _Luisa's_ graceful and
brilliant solo in the first act--"Lo vidi, e'l primo palpito" (I saw
him and my beating heart). Besides there is _Old Miller's_ air, "Sacra
la scelta è d'un consorte" (Firm are the links that are forged at the
altar), a broad and beautiful melody, which, were the opera better
known, would be included in most of the operatic anthologies for bass.

There also should be mentioned _Luisa's_ air in the last act, "La
tomba è un letto sparso di fiori" (The tomb a couch is, covered with
roses).

       *       *       *       *       *

"I Vespri Siciliani" (The Sicilian Vespers) had its first performance
at the Grand Opéra, Paris, under the French title, "Les Vêpres
Siciliennes," June 13, 1855. It was given at La Scala, Milan, 1856;
London, Drury Lane, 1859; New York, Academy of Music, November 7,
1859; and revived there November, 1868. The work also has been
presented under the title of "Giovanna di Guzman." The libretto is by
Scribe and deals with the massacre of the French invaders of Sicily,
at vespers, on Easter Monday, 1282. The principal characters are _Guy
de Montford_, French Viceroy, _baritone_; _Arrigo_, a Sicilian
officer, _tenor_; _Duchess Hélène_, a prisoner, _soprano_; _Giovanni
di Procida_, a native conspirator, _bass_. _Arrigo_, who afterwards is
discovered to be the brutal _Guy de Montford's_ son, is in love with
_Hélène_. The plot turns upon his efforts to rescue her.

There is one famous number in the "The Sicilian Vespers." This is the
"Bolero," sung by _Hélène_--"Mercé, dilette amiche" (My thanks,
beloved companions).

       *       *       *       *       *

At Petrograd, November 10, 1862, there was brought out Verdi's opera
in four acts, "La Forza del Destino" (The Force of Destiny). London
heard it in June, 1867; New York, February 2, 1865, and, with the last
act revised by the composer, at the Academy of Music in 1880, with
Annie Louise Cary, Campanini, Galassi, and Del Puente. The principal
characters are _Marquis di Calatrava_, _bass_; _Donna Leonora_ and
_Don Carlo_, his children, _soprano_ and _baritone_; _Don Alvaro_,
_tenor_; _Abbot of the Franciscan Friars_, _bass_. There are
muleteers, peasants, soldiers, friars, etc. The scenes are laid in
Spain and Italy; the period is the middle of the eighteenth century.
The libretto is based on the play, "Don Alvaro o La Fuerza de Sino" by
the Duke of Rivas.

_Don Alvaro_ is about to elope with _Donna Leonora_, daughter of the
_Marquis_, when the latter comes upon them and is accidentally killed
by _Don Alvaro_. The _Marquis_ curses his daughter with his dying
breath and invokes the vengeance of his son, _Don Carlo_, upon her and
her lover. She escapes in male attire to a monastery, confesses to the
_Abbot_, and is conducted by him to a cave, where he assures her of
absolute safety.

_Don Alvaro_ and _Don Carlo_ meet before the cave. They fight a duel
in which _Don Alvaro_ mortally wounds _Don Carlo_. _Donna Leonora_,
coming out of the cave and finding her brother dying, goes to him.
With a last effort he stabs her in the heart. _Don Alvaro_ throws
himself over a nearby precipice.

"Madre, pietosa Vergine" (Oh, holy Virgin) is one of the principal
numbers of the opera. It is sung by _Donna Leonora_, kneeling in the
moonlight near the convent, while from within is heard the chant of
the priests.

The "Madre pietosa" also is utilized as a theme in the overture.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Don Carlos," produced at the Grand Opéra, Paris, March 11, 1867,
during the Universal Exposition, was the last opera composed by Verdi
before he took the musical world by storm with "Aïda." The work is in
four acts, the libretto, by Méry and du Locle, having been reduced
from Schiller's tragedy of the same title as the opera.

The characters are _Philip II._, of Spain, _bass_; _Don Carlos_, his
son, _tenor_; _Rodrigo, Marquis de Posa_, _baritone_; _Grand
Inquisitor_, _bass_; _Elizabeth de Valois_, Queen of _Philip II._, and
stepmother of _Don Carlos_, _soprano_; _Princess Eboli_, _soprano_. In
the original production the fine rôle of _Rodrigo_ was taken by Faure.

_Don Carlos_ and _Elizabeth de Valois_ have been in love with each
other, but for reasons of state _Elizabeth_ has been obliged to marry
_Philip II._, _Don Carlos's_ father. The son is counselled by
_Rodrigo_ to absent himself from Spain by obtaining from his father a
commission to go to the Netherlands, there to mitigate the cruelties
practised by the Spaniards upon the Flemings. _Don Carlos_ seeks an
audience with _Elizabeth_, in order to gain her intercession with
_Philip_. The result, however, of the meeting, is that their passion
for each other returns with even greater intensity than before.
_Princess Eboli_, who is in love with _Don Carlos_, becomes cognizant
of the _Queen's_ affection for her stepson, and informs the _King_.
_Don Carlos_ is thrown into prison. _Rodrigo_, who visits him there,
is shot by order of _Philip_, who suspects him of aiding Spain's
enemies in the Low Countries. _Don Carlos_, having been freed, makes a
tryst with the _Queen_. Discovered by the _King_, he is handed over by
him to the Inquisition to be put to death.

       *       *       *       *       *

"La Forza del Destino" and "Don Carlos" lie between Verdi's middle
period, ranging from "Luisa Miller" to "Un Ballo in Maschera" and
including "Rigoletto," "Il Trovatore," and "La Traviata," and his
final period, which began with "Aïda." It can be said that in "La
Forza" and "Don Carlos" Verdi had absorbed considerable of Meyerbeer
and Gounod, while in "Aïda," in addition to these, he had assimilated
as much of Wagner as is good for an Italian. The enrichment of the
orchestration in the two immediate predecessors of "Aïda" is apparent,
but not so much so as in that masterpiece of operatic composition. He
produced in "Aïda" a far more finished score than in "La Forza" or
"Don Carlos," sought and obtained many exquisite instrumental effects,
but always remained true to the Italian principle of the supremacy of
melody in the voice.


AÏDA

     Grand opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi. Plot by Mariette
     Bey. Written in French prose by Camille du Locle. Translated
     into Italian verse by Antonio Ghislanzoni.

     Produced in Cairo, Egypt, December 24, 1871; La Scala,
     Milan, under the composer's direction, February 8, 1872;
     Théâtre Italien, Paris, April 22, 1876; Covent Garden,
     London, June 22, 1876; Academy of Music, New York, November
     26, 1873; Grand Opéra, Paris, March 22, 1880; Metropolitan
     Opera House, with Caruso, 1904.

     CHARACTERS

     AÏDA, an Ethiopian slave                      _Soprano_
     AMNERIS, daughter of the King of Egypt      _Contralto_
     AMONASRO, King of Ethiopia, father of Aïda   _Baritone_
     RHADAMES, captain of the Guard                  _Tenor_
     RAMPHIS, High Priest                             _Bass_
     KING OF EGYPT                                    _Bass_
     MESSENGER                                       _Tenor_

     Priests, soldiers, Ethiopian slaves, prisoners, Egyptians,
     etc.

     _Time_--Epoch of the Pharaohs.

     _Place_--Memphis and Thebes.

"Aïda" was commissioned by Ismail Pacha, Khedive of Egypt, for the
Italian Theatre in Cairo, which opened in November, 1869. The opera
was produced there December 24, 1871; not at the opening of the house,
as sometimes is erroneously stated. Its success was sensational.

Equally enthusiastic was its reception when brought out at La Scala,
Milan, February 7, 1872, under the direction of Verdi himself, who was
recalled thirty-two times and presented with an ivory baton and
diamond star with the name of Aïda in rubies and his own in other
precious stones.

It is an interesting fact that "Aïda" reached New York before it did
any of the great European opera houses save La Scala. It was produced
at the Academy of Music under the direction of Max Strakosch, November
26, 1873. I am glad to have heard that performance and several other
performances of it that season. For the artists who appeared in it
gave a representation that for brilliancy has not been surpassed if,
indeed, it has been equalled. In support of this statement it is only
necessary to say that Italo Campanini was _Rhadames_, Victor Maurel
_Amonasro_, and Annie Louise Cary _Amneris_. No greater artists have
appeared in these rôles in this country. Mlle. Torriani, the _Aïda_,
while not so distinguished, was entirely adequate. Nannetti as
_Ramphis_, the high priest, Scolara as the _King_, and Boy as the
_Messenger_, completed the cast.

I recall some of the early comment on the opera. It was said to be
Wagnerian. In point of fact "Aïda" is Wagnerian only as compared with
Verdi's earlier operas. Compared with Wagner himself, it is
Verdian--purely Italian. It was said that the fine melody for the
trumpets on the stage in the pageant scene was plagiarized from a
theme in the Coronation March of Meyerbeer's "Prophète." Slightly
reminiscent the passage is, and, of course, stylistically the entire
scene is on Meyerbeerian lines; but these resemblances no longer are
of importance.

Paris failed to hear "Aïda" until April, 1876, and then at the Théâtre
Italien, instead of at the Grand Opéra, where it was not heard until
March, 1880, when Maurel was the _Amonasro_ and Édouard de Reszke,
later a favourite basso at the Metropolitan Opera House, the _King_.
In 1855 Verdi's opera, "Les Vêpres Siciliennes" (The Sicilian Vespers)
had been produced at the Grand Opéra and occurrences at the rehearsals
had greatly angered the composer. The orchestra clearly showed a
disinclination to follow the composer's minute directions regarding
the manner in which he wished his work interpreted. When, after a
conversation with the chef d'orchestre, the only result was plainly an
attempt to annoy him, he put on his hat, left the theatre, and did not
return. In 1867 his "Don Carlos" met only with a _succès d'estime_ at
the Opéra. He had not forgotten these circumstances, when the Opéra
wanted to give "Aïda." He withheld permission until 1880. But when at
last this was given, he assisted at the production, and the public
authorities vied in atoning for the slights put upon him so many years
before. The President of France gave a banquet in his honour and he
was created a Grand Officer of the National Order of the Legion of
Honour.

When the Khedive asked Verdi to compose a new opera especially for the
new opera house at Cairo, and inquired what the composer's terms would
be, Verdi demanded $20,000. This was agreed upon and he was then given
the subject he was to treat, "Aïda," which had been suggested to the
Khedive by Mariette Bey, the great French Egyptologist. The composer
received the rough draft of the story. From this Camille du Locle, a
former director of the Opéra Comique, who happened to be visiting
Verdi at Busseto, wrote a libretto in French prose, "scene by scene,
sentence by sentence," as he has said, adding that the composer showed
the liveliest interest in the work and himself suggested the double
scene in the finale of the opera. The French prose libretto was
translated into Italian verse by Antonio Ghislanzoni, who wrote more
than sixty opera librettos, "Aïda" being the most famous. Mariette Bey
brought his archeological knowledge to bear upon the production. "He
revived Egyptian life of the time of the Pharaohs; he rebuilt ancient
Thebes, Memphis, the Temple of Phtah; he designed the costumes and
arranged the scenery. And under these exceptional circumstances,
Verdi's new opera was produced."

Verdi's score was ready a year before the work had its première. The
production was delayed by force of circumstances. Scenery and costumes
were made by French artists. Before these accessories could be shipped
to Cairo, the Franco-Prussian war broke out. They could not be gotten
out of Paris. Their delivery was delayed accordingly.

Does the score of "Aïda" owe any of its charm, passion, and dramatic
stress to the opportunity thus afforded Verdi of going over it and
carefully revising it, after he had considered it finished? Quite
possibly. For we know that he made changes, eliminating, for instance,
a chorus in the style of Palestrina, which he did not consider
suitable to the priesthood of Isis. Even this one change resulted in
condensation, a valuable quality, and in leaving the exotic music of
the temple scene entirely free to exert to the full its fascination of
local colour and atmosphere.

The story is unfolded in four acts and seven scenes.

Act I. Scene 1. After a very brief prelude, the curtain rises on a
hall in the _King's_ palace in Memphis. Through a high gateway at the
back are seen the temples and palaces of Memphis and the pyramids.

It had been supposed that, after the invasion of Ethiopia by the
Egyptians, the Ethiopians would be a long time in recovering from
their defeat. But _Amonasro_, their king, has swiftly rallied the
remnants of his defeated army, gathered new levies to his standard,
and crossed the frontier--all this with such extraordinary rapidity
that the first news of it has reached the Egyptian court in Memphis
through a messenger hot-foot from Thebes with the startling word that
the sacred city itself is threatened.

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Emma Eames as Aïda]

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Saléza as Rhadames in "Aïda"]

While the priests are sacrificing to Isis in order to learn from the
goddess whom she advises them to choose as leader of the Egyptian
forces, _Rhadames_, a young warrior, indulges in the hope that he may
be the choice. To this hope he joins the further one that,
returning victorious, he may ask the hand in marriage of _Aïda_, an
Ethiopian slave of the Egyptian King's daughter, _Amneris_. To these
aspirations he gives expression in the romance, "Celeste Aïda"
(Radiant Aïda).

[Music: Celeste Aïda]

It ends effectively with the following phrase:

[Music: un trono vicino al sol, un trono vicino al sol]

He little knows that _Aïda_ is of royal birth or that _Amneris_
herself, the Princess Royal, is in love with him and, having noted the
glances he has cast upon _Aïda_, is fiercely jealous of her--a
jealousy that forms the mainspring of the story and leads to its
tragic dénouement.

A premonition of the emotional forces at work in the plot is given in
the "Vieni, O diletta" (Come dearest friend), beginning as a duet
between _Amneris_ and _Aïda_ and later becoming a trio for them and
_Rhadames_. In this the _Princess_ feigns friendship for _Aïda_, but,
in asides, discloses her jealous hatred of her.

Meanwhile the Egyptian hosts have gathered before the temple. There
the _King_ announces that the priests of Isis have learned from the
lips of that goddess the name of the warrior who is to lead the
army--_Rhadames_! It is the _Princess_ herself who, at this great
moment in his career, places the royal standard in his hands. But amid
the acclaims that follow, as _Rhadames_, to the strains of march and
chorus, is conducted by the priests to the temple of Phtah to be
invested with the consecrated armour, _Amneris_ notes the fiery look
he casts upon _Aïda_. Is this the reason _Rhadames_, young, handsome,
brave, has failed to respond to her own guarded advances? Is she, a
princess, to find a successful rival in her own slave?

Meanwhile _Aïda_ herself is torn by conflicting emotions. She loves
_Rhadames_. When the multitude shouts "Return victorious!" she joins
in the acclamation. Yet it is against her own people he is going to
give battle, and the Ethiopians are led by their king, _Amonasro_, her
father. For she, too, is a princess, as proud a princess in her own
land as _Amneris_, and it is because she is a captive and a slave that
her father has so swiftly rallied his army and invaded Egypt in a
desperate effort to rescue her, facts which for obvious reasons she
carefully has concealed from her captors.

It is easy to imagine _Aïda's_ agonized feelings since _Rhadames_ has
been chosen head of the Egyptian army. If she prays to her gods for
the triumph of the Ethiopian arms, she is betraying her lover. If she
asks the gods of victory to smile upon _Rhadames_, she is a traitress
to her father, who has taken up arms to free her, and to her own
people. Small wonder if she exclaims, as she contemplates her own
wretched state:

"Never on earth was heart torn by more cruel agonies. The sacred names
of father, lover, I can neither utter nor remember. For the one--for
the other--I would weep, I would pray!"

This scene for _Aïda_, beginning "Ritorna vincitor" (Return
victorious), in which she echoes the acclamation of the martial chorus
immediately preceding, is one of the very fine passages of the score.
The lines to which it is set also have been highly praised. They
furnished the composer with opportunity, of which he made full use, to
express conflicting emotions in music of dramatic force and, in its
concluding passage, "Numi pietà" (Pity, kind heaven), of great
beauty.

[Music:

     Numi pietà
     Del mio soffrir!
     Speme non v'ha
     pel mio dolor.]

Scene 2. _Ramphis_, the high priest, at the foot of the altar; priests
and priestesses; and afterwards _Rhadames_ are shown in the Temple of
Vulcan at Memphis. A mysterious light descends from above. A long row
of columns, one behind the other, is lost in the darkness; statues of
various deities are visible; in the middle of the scene, above a
platform rises the altar, surmounted by sacred emblems. From golden
tripods comes the smoke of incense.

A chant of the priestesses, accompanied by harps, is heard from the
interior. _Rhadames_ enters unarmed. While he approaches the altar,
the priestesses execute a sacred dance. On the head of _Rhadames_ is
placed a silver veil. He is invested with consecrated armor, while the
priests and priestesses resume the religious chant and dance.

The entire scene is saturated with local colour. Piquant, exotic, it
is as Egyptian to the ear as to the eye. You see the temple, you hear
the music of its devotees, and that music sounds as distinctively
Egyptian as if Mariette Bey had unearthed two examples of ancient
Egyptian temple music and placed them at the composer's disposal. It
is more likely, however, that the themes are original with Verdi and
that the Oriental tone colour, which makes the music of the scene so
fascinating, is due to his employment of certain intervals peculiar to
the music of Eastern people. The interval, which, falling upon Western
ears, gives an Oriental clang to the scale, consists of three
semi-tones. In the very Eastern sounding themes in the temple scenes
in "Aïda," these intervals are G to F-flat, and D to C-flat.

The sacred chant,

[Music]

twice employs the interval between D and C-flat, the first time
descending, the second time ascending, in which latter it sounds more
characteristic to us, because we regard the scale as having an upward
tendency, whereas in Oriental systems the scale seems to have been
regarded as tending downward.

In the sacred dance,

[Music]

the interval is from G to F-flat. The intervals, where employed in the
two music examples just cited, are bracketed. The interval of three
semi-tones--the characteristic of the Oriental scale--could not be
more clearly shown than it is under the second bracket of the sacred
dance.

Act II. Scene 1. In this scene, which takes place in a hall in the
apartments of _Amneris_, the Princess adopts strategy to discover if
_Aïda_ returns the passion which she suspects in _Rhadames_.
Messengers have arrived from the front with news that _Rhadames_ has
put the Ethiopians to utter rout and is returning with many trophies
and captives. Naturally _Aïda_ is distraught. Is her lover safe? Was
her father slain? It is while _Aïda's_ mind and heart are agitated by
these questions that _Amneris_ chooses the moment to test her feelings
and wrest from her the secret she longs yet dreads to fathom. The
Princess is reclining on a couch in her apartment in the palace at
Thebes, whither the court has repaired to welcome the triumphant
Egyptian army. Slaves are adorning her for the festival or agitating
the air with large feather fans. Moorish slave boys dance for her
delectation and her attendants sing:

     While on thy tresses rain
     Laurels and flowers interwoven,
     Let songs of glory mingle
     With strains of tender love.

In the midst of these festive preparations _Aïda_ enters, and
_Amneris_, craftily feigning sympathy for her lest she be grieving
over the defeat of her people and the possible loss in battle of
someone dear to her, affects to console her by telling her that
_Rhadames_, the leader of the Egyptians, has been slain.

It is not necessary for the Princess to watch the girl intently in
order to note the effect upon her of the sudden and cruelly contrived
announcement. Almost as suddenly, having feasted her eyes on the slave
girl's grief, the Princess exclaims: "I have deceived you; _Rhadames_
lives!"

"He lives!" Tears of gratitude instead of despair now moisten _Aïda's_
eyes as she raises them to Heaven.

"You love him; you cannot deny it!" cries _Amneris_, forgetting in her
furious jealousy her dignity as a Princess. "But know, you have a
rival. Yes--in me. You, my slave, have a rival in your mistress, a
daughter of the Pharaohs!"

Having fathomed her slave's secret, she vents the refined cruelty of
her jealous nature upon the unfortunate girl by commanding her to be
present at the approaching triumphant entry of _Rhadames_ and the
Egyptian army:

"Come, follow me, and you shall learn if you can contend with me--you,
prostrate in the dust, I on the throne beside the king!"

What has just been described is formulated by Verdi in a duet for
_Amneris_ and _Aïda_, "Amore! gaudio tormento" (Oh, love! Oh, joy and
sorrow!), which expresses the craftiness and subtlety of the Egyptian
Princess, the conflicting emotions of _Aïda_, and the dramatic stress
of the whole episode.

This phrase especially seems to express the combined haughtiness and
jealousy in the attitude of _Amneris_ toward _Aïda_:

[Music]

Scene 2. Brilliant indeed is the spectacle to which _Aïda_ is
compelled to proceed with the Princess. It is near a group of palms at
the entrance to the city of Thebes that the _King_ has elected to give
_Rhadames_ his triumph. Here stands the temple of Ammon. Beyond it a
triumphal gate has been erected. When the _King_ enters to the cheers
of the multitude and followed by his gaudily clad court, he takes his
seat on the throne surmounted by a purple canopy. To his left sits
_Amneris_, singling out for her disdainful glances the most unhappy of
her slaves.

A blast of trumpets, and the victorious army begins its defile past
the throne. After the foot soldiers come the chariots of war; then the
bearers of the sacred vases and statues of the gods, and a troupe of
dancing girls carrying the loot of victory. A great flourish of
trumpets, an outburst of acclaim, and _Rhadames_, proudly standing
under a canopy borne high on the shoulders of twelve of his officers,
is carried through the triumphal gate and into the presence of his
_King_. As the young hero descends from the canopy, the monarch, too,
comes down from the throne and embracing him exclaims:

"Savior of your country, I salute you. My daughter with her own hand
shall place the crown of laurels upon your brow." And when
_Amneris_, suiting her action to her father's words, crowns
_Rhadames_, the _King_ continues: "Now ask of me whatever you most
desire. I swear by my crown and by the sacred gods that nothing shall
be denied to you this day!"

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Louise Homer as Amneris in "Aïda"]

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Mishkin

Rosina Galli in the Ballet of "Aïda"]

But although no wish is nearer the heart of _Rhadames_ than to obtain
freedom for _Aïda_, he does not consider the moment as yet opportune.
Therefore he requests that first the prisoners of war be brought
before the _King_. When they enter, one of them, by his proud mien and
spirited carriage, easily stands forth from the rest. Hardly has
_Aïda_ set eyes upon him than she utters the startled exclamation, "My
father!"

It is indeed none other than _Amonasro_, the Ethiopian king, who, his
identity unknown to the Egyptians, has been made captive by them.
Swiftly gliding over to where _Aïda_ stands, he whispers to her not to
betray his rank to his captors. Then, turning to the Egyptian monarch,
he craftily describes how he has seen the king of Ethiopia dead at his
feet from many wounds, and concludes by entreating clemency for the
conquered. Not only do the other captives and _Aïda_ join in his
prayer, but the people, moved by his words and by his noble aspect,
beg their king to spare the prisoners. The priests, however, protest.
The gods have delivered these enemies into the hands of Egypt; let
them be put to death lest, emboldened by a pardon so easily obtained,
they should rush to arms again.

Meanwhile _Rhadames_ has had eyes only for _Aïda_, while _Amneris_
notes with rising jealousy the glances he turns upon her hated slave.
At last _Rhadames_, carried away by his feelings, himself joins in the
appeal for clemency. "Oh, _King_," he exclaims, "by the sacred gods
and by the splendour of your crown, you swore to grant my wish this
day! Let it be life and liberty for the Ethiopian prisoners." But the
high priest urges that even if freedom is granted to the others,
_Aïda_ and her father be detained as hostages and this is agreed upon.
Then the _King_, as a crowning act of glory for _Rhadames_, leads
_Amneris_ forth, and addressing the young warrior, says:

"_Rhadames_, the country owes everything to you. Your reward shall be
the hand of _Amneris_. With her one day you shall reign over Egypt."

A great shout goes up from the multitude. Unexpectedly _Amneris_ sees
herself triumphant over her rival, the dream of her heart fulfilled,
and _Aïda_ bereft of hope, since for _Rhadames_ to refuse the hand of
his king's daughter would mean treason and death. And so while all
seemingly are rejoicing, two hearts are sad and bewildered. For
_Aïda_, the man she adores appears lost to her forever and all that is
left to her, the tears of hopeless love; while to _Rhadames_ the heart
of _Aïda_ is worth more than the throne of Egypt, and its gift, with
the hand of _Amneris_, is like the unjust vengeance of the gods
descending upon his head.

This is the finale of the second act. It has been well said that not
only is it the greatest effort of the composer, but also one of the
grandest conceptions of modern musical and specifically operatic art.
The importance of the staging, the magnificence of the spectacle, the
diversity of characterization, and the strength of action of the drama
all conspire to keep at an unusually high level the inspiration of the
composer. The triumphal chorus, "Gloria all'Egitto" (Glory to Egypt),
is sonorous and can be rendered with splendid effect.

It is preceded by a march.

[Music]

Then comes the chorus of triumph.

[Music]

Voices of women join in the acclaim.

[Music]

The trumpets of the Egyptian troops execute a most brilliant
modulation from A-flat to B-natural.

The reference here is to the long, straight trumpets with three valves
(only one of which, however, is used). These trumpets, in groups of
three, precede the divisions of the Egyptian troops. The trumpets of
the first group are tuned in A-flat.

[Music]

When the second group enters and intones the same stirring march theme
in B-natural, the enharmonic modulation to a tone higher gives an
immediate and vastly effective "lift" to the music and the scene.

[Music]

The entrance of _Rhadames_, borne on high under a canopy by twelve
officers, is a dramatic climax to the spectacle. But a more emotional
one is to follow.

The recognition of _King Amonasro_ by his daughter; the supplication
of the captives; the plea of _Rhadames_ and the people in their
favour; the vehement protests of the priests who, in the name of the
gods of Egypt, demand their death; the diverse passions which agitate
_Rhadames_, _Aïda_, and _Amneris_; the hope of vengeance that
_Amonasro_ cherishes--all these conflicting feelings are musically
expressed with complete success. The structure is reared upon
_Amonasro's_ plea to the _King_ for mercy for the Ethiopian captives,
"Ma tu, re, tu signore possente" (But thou, O king, thou puissant
lord).

[Music]

When the singer who takes the rôle of _Amonasro_ also is a good actor,
he will know how to convey, between the lines of this supplication,
his secret thoughts and unavowed hope for the reconquest of his
freedom and his country. After the Egyptian _King_ has bestowed upon
_Rhadames_ the hand of _Amneris_, the chorus, "Gloria all'Egitto," is
heard again, and, above its sonorous measures, _Aïda's_ cry:

     What hope now remains to me?
     To him, glory and the throne;
     To me, oblivion--the tears
     Of hopeless love.

It is largely due to Verdi's management of the score to this elaborate
scene that "Aïda" not only has superseded all spectacular operas that
came before it, but has held its own against and survived practically
all those that have come since. The others were merely spectacular. In
"Aïda" the surface radiates and glows because beneath it seethe the
fires of conflicting human passion. In other operas spectacle is
merely spectacle. In "Aïda" it clothes in brilliant habiliments the
forces of impending and on-rushing tragedy.

Act III. That tragedy further advances toward its consummation in the
present act.

It is a beautiful moonlight night on the banks of the Nile--moonlight
whose silvery rays are no more exquisite than the music that seems
steeped in them.

[Music]

Half concealed in the foliage is the temple of Isis, from which issues
the sound of women's voices, softly chanting. A boat approaches the
shore and out of it steps _Amneris_ and the high priest, with a train
of closely veiled women and several guards. The _Princess_ is about to
enter upon a vigil in the temple to implore the favour of the goddess
before her nuptials with _Rhadames_.

For a while after they have entered the temple, the shore seems
deserted. But from the shadow of a grove of palms _Aïda_ cautiously
emerges into the moonlight. In song she breathes forth memories of her
native land: _Oh, patria mia!--O cieli azzurri!_ (Oh, native
land!--Oh, skies of tender blue!).

[Music: O cieli azzurri, o dolci aure native,]

The phrase, _O patria mia! mai più ti rivedrò_ (Oh, native land! I
ne'er shall see thee more)--a little further on--recalls the famous
"Non ti scordar" from the "Miserere" in "Trovatore." Here _Rhadames_
has bid _Aïda_ meet him. Is it for a last farewell? If so, the Nile
shall be her grave. She hears a swift footfall, and turning, in
expectation of seeing _Rhadames_, beholds her father. He has fathomed
her secret and divined that she is here to meet _Rhadames_--the
betrothed of _Amneris_! Cunningly _Amonasro_ works upon her feelings.
Would she triumph over her rival? The Ethiopians again are in arms.
Again _Rhadames_ is to lead the Egyptians against them. Let her draw
from him the path which he intends to take with his army and that path
shall be converted into a fatal ambuscade.

At first the thought is abhorrent to _Aïda_; but her father by
craftily inciting her love of country and no less her jealousy and
despair, at last is able to wrest consent from her; then draws back
into the shadow as he hears _Rhadames_ approaching.

This duet of _Aïda_ and _Amonasro_ is and will remain one of the
beautiful dramatic efforts of the Italian repertory. The situation is
one of those in which Verdi delights; he is in his element.

It is difficult to bring _Aïda_ to make the designs of her father
agree with her love for the young Egyptian chief. But the subtlety of
the score, its warmth, its varied and ably managed expression, almost
make plausible the submission of the young girl to the adjurations of
_Amonasro_, and excusable a decision of which she does not foresee the
consequences. To restore the crown to her father, to view again her
own country, to escape an ignominious servitude, to prevent her lover
becoming the husband of _Amneris_, her rival,--such are the thoughts
which assail her during this duet, and they are quite capable of
disturbing for a moment her better reason. _Amonasro_ sings these
phrases, so charming in the Italian:

     Rivedrai le foreste imbalsamate,
     Le fresche valli, i nostri templi d'or!
     Sposa felice a lui che amasti tanto,
     Tripudii immensi ivi potrai gioir!...

     (Thou shalt see again the balmy forests,
     The green valleys, and our golden temples.
     Happy bride of him thou lovest so much,
     Great rejoicing thenceforth shall be thine.)

As she still is reluctant to lure from her lover the secret of the
route by which, in the newly planned invasion of her country, the
Egyptians expect to enter Ethiopia, _Amonasro_ changes his tactics and
conjures up for her in music a vision of the carnage among her people,
and finally invokes her mother's ghost, until, in pianissimo,
dramatically contrasting with the force of her father's savage
imprecation, she whispers, _O patria! quanto mi costi!_ (Oh, native
land! how much thou demandest of me!).

_Amonasro_ leaves. _Aïda_ awaits her lover. When she somewhat coldly
meets _Rhadames's_ renewed declaration of love with the bitter protest
that the rites of another love are awaiting him, he unfolds his plan
to her. He will lead the Egyptians to victory and on returning with
these fresh laurels, he will prostrate himself before the _King_, lay
bare his heart to him, and ask for the hand of _Aïda_ as a reward for
his services to his country. But _Aïda_ is well aware of the power of
_Amneris_ and that her vengeance would swiftly fall upon them both.
She can see but one course to safety--that _Rhadames_ join her in
flight to her native land, where, amid forest groves and the scent of
flowers, and all forgetful of the world, they will dream away their
lives in love. This is the beginning of the dreamy yet impassioned
love duet--"Fuggiam gli ardori inospiti" (Ah, fly with me). She
implores him in passionate accents to escape with her. Enthralled by
the rapture in her voice, thrilled by the vision of happiness she
conjures up before him, he forgets for the moment country, duty, all
else save love; and exclaiming, "Love shall be our guide!" turns to
fly with her.

This duet, charged with exotic rapture, opens with recitativo phrases
for _Aïda_. I have selected three passages for quotation: "Là tra
foreste vergini" (There 'mid the virgin forest groves); "Di fiori
profumate" (And 'mid the scent of flowers); and "In estasi la terra
scorderem" (In ecstasy the world forgotten).

[Music: Là tra foreste vergini,]

[Music: In estasi beate la terra scorderem,]

[Music: in estasi la terra scorderem,]

But Aïda, feigning alarm, asks:

"By what road shall we avoid the Egyptian host?"

"The path by which our troops plan to fall upon the enemy will be
deserted until tomorrow."

"And that path?"

"The pass of Napata."

A voice echoes his words, "The pass of Napata."

"Who hears us?" exclaims _Rhadames_.

"The father of _Aïda_ and king of the Ethiopians," and _Amonasro_
issues forth from his hiding place. He has uncovered the plan of the
Egyptian invasion, but the delay has been fatal. For at the same
moment there is a cry of "Traitor!" from the temple.

It is the voice of _Amneris_, who with the high priest has overheard
all. _Amonasro_, baring a dagger, would throw himself upon his
daughter's rival, but _Rhadames_ places himself between them and bids
the Ethiopian fly with _Aïda_. _Amonasro_, drawing his daughter away
with him, disappears in the darkness; while _Rhadames_, with the
words, "Priest, I remain with you," delivers himself a prisoner into
his hands.

Act IV. Scene 1. In a hall of the Royal Palace _Amneris_ awaits the
passage, under guard, of _Rhadames_ to the dungeon where the priests
are to sit in judgment upon him. There is a duet between _Rhadames_
and this woman, who now bitterly repents the doom her jealousy is
about to bring upon the man she loves. She implores him to exculpate
himself. But _Rhadames_ refuses. Not being able to possess _Aïda_ he
will die.

He is conducted to the dungeon, from where, as from the bowels of the
earth, she hears the sombre voices of the priests.

  Ramfis. (Nel sotterraneo.)
          Radames--Radames: tu rivelasti
          Della patria i segreti allo straniero....

   Sacer. Discolpati!

  Ramfis.             Egli tace.

   Tutti.                        Traditor!


  Ramphis. (In the subterranean hall.)
           Rhadames, Rhadames, thou didst reveal
           The country's secrets to the foreigner....

  Priests. Defend thyself!

  Ramphis.                 He is silent.

      All.                               Traitor!

The dramatically condemnatory "Traditor!" is a death knell for her
lover in the ears of _Amneris_. And after each accusation, silence by
_Rhadames_, and cry by the priests of "Traitor!" _Amneris_ realizes
only too well that his approaching doom is to be entombed alive! Her
revulsions of feeling from hatred to love and despair find vent in
highly dramatic musical phrases. In fact _Amneris_ dominates this
scene, which is one of the most powerful passages for mezzo-soprano in
all opera.

Scene 2. This is the famous double scene. The stage setting is divided
into two floors. The upper floor represents the interior of the Temple
of Vulcan, resplendent with light and gold; the lower floor a
subterranean hall and long rows of arcades which are lost in the
darkness. A colossal statue of Osiris, with the hands crossed,
sustains the pilasters of the vault.

In the temple _Amneris_ and the priestesses kneel in prayer. And
_Rhadames_? Immured in the dungeon and, as he thought, to perish
alone, a form slowly takes shape in the darkness, and his own name,
uttered by the tender accents of a familiar voice, falls upon his ear.
It is _Aïda_. Anticipating the death to which he will be sentenced,
she has secretly made her way into the dungeon before his trial and
there hidden herself to find reunion with him in death. And so, while
in the temple above them the unhappy _Amneris_ kneels and implores the
gods to vouchsafe Heaven to him whose death she has compassed,
_Rhadames_ and _Aïda_, blissful in their mutual sacrifice, await the
end.

From "Celeste Aïda," _Rhadames's_ apostrophe to his beloved, with
which the opera opens, to "O, terra, addio; addio, valle di pianti!"
(Oh, earth, farewell! Farewell, vale of tears!),

[Music: O terra addio; addio valle di pianti]

which is the swan-song of _Rhadames_ and _Aïda_, united in death in
the stone-sealed vault,--such is the tragic fate of love, as set forth
in this beautiful and eloquent score by Giuseppe Verdi.


OTELLO

OTHELLO

     Opera in four acts, by Verdi. Words by Arrigo Boïto, after
     Shakespeare. Produced, La Scala, Milan, February 5, 1887,
     with Tamagno (_Otello_), and Maurel (_Iago_). London, Lyceum
     Theatre, July 5, 1889. New York, Academy of Music, under
     management of Italo Campanini, April 16, 1888, with Marconi,
     Tetrazzini, Galassi, and Scalchi. (Later in the engagement
     Marconi was succeeded by Campanini.); Metropolitan Opera
     House, 1894, with Tamagno, Albani, Maurel; 1902, Alvarez,
     Eames, and Scotti; later with Slezak, Alda, and Scotti;
     Manhattan Opera House, with Zenatello, Melba, and Sammarco.

     CHARACTERS

     OTHELLO, a Moor, general in the army
       of Venice                                     _Tenor_
     IAGO, ancient to Othello                     _Baritone_
     CASSIO, lieutenant to Othello                   _Tenor_
     RODERIGO, a Venetian                            _Tenor_
     LODOVICO, Venetian ambassador                    _Bass_
     MONTANO, Othello's predecessor in the
       government of Cyprus                           _Bass_
     A HERALD                                         _Bass_
     DESDEMONA, wife of Othello                    _Soprano_
     EMILIA, wife of Iago                    _Mezzo-Soprano_

     Soldiers and sailors of the Republic of Venice; men, women,
     and children of Venice and of Cyprus; heralds; soldiers of
     Greece, Dalmatia, and Albania; innkeeper and servants.

     _Time_--End of fifteenth century.

     _Place_--A port of the island of Cyprus.

Three years after the success of "Aïda," Verdi produced at Milan his
"Manzoni Requiem"; but nearly sixteen years were to elapse between
"Aïda" and his next work for the lyric stage. "Aïda," with its far
richer instrumentation than that of any earlier work by Verdi, yet is
in form an opera. "Otello" more nearly approaches a music-drama, but
still is far from being one. It is only when Verdi is compared with
his earlier self that he appears Wagnerian. Compared with Wagner, he
remains characteristically Italian--true to himself, in fact, as
genius should be.

Nowhere, perhaps, is this matter summed up as happily as in Baker's
_Biographical Dictionary of Musicians_: "Undoubtedly influenced by his
contemporaries Meyerbeer, Gounod, and Wagner in his treatment of the
orchestra, Verdi's dramatic style nevertheless shows a natural and
individual development, and has remained essentially Italian as an
orchestral accompaniment of vocal melody; but his later
instrumentation is far more careful in detail and luxuriant than that
of the earlier Italian school, and his melody more passionate and
poignant in expression."

"Otello" is a well-balanced score, composed to a libretto by a
distinguished poet and musician--the composer of "Mefistofele." It has
vocal melodies, which are rounded off and constitute separate
"numbers" (to employ an expression commonly applied to operatic airs),
and its recitatives are set to a well thought out instrumental
accompaniment.

It is difficult to explain the comparative lack of success with the
public of Verdi's last two scores for the lyric stage, "Otello" and
"Falstaff." Musicians fully appreciate them. Indeed "Falstaff," which
followed "Otello," is considered one of the greatest achievements in
the history of opera. Yet it is rarely given, and even "Otello" has
already reached the "revival" stage, while "Aïda," "Rigoletto," "La
Traviata," and "Il Trovatore" are fixtures, although "Rigoletto" was
composed thirty-six years before "Otello" and forty-two before
"Falstaff." Can it be that critics (including myself) and professional
musicians have been admiring the finished workmanship of Verdi's last
two scores, while the public has discovered in them a halting
inspiration, a too frequent substitution of miraculous skill for the
old-time _flair_, and a lack of that careless but attractive
occasional _laissez faire aller_ of genius, which no technical
perfection can replace? Time alone can answer.

When "Otello" opens, _Desdemona_ has preceded her husband to Cyprus
and is living in the castle overlooking the port. There are a few bars
of introduction.

[Illustration: Photo by White

Alda as Desdemona in "Otello"]

Act I. In the background a quay and the sea; a tavern with an arbour;
it is evening.

Through a heavy storm _Othello's_ ship is seen to be making port.
Among the crowd of watchers, who exclaim upon the danger to the
vessel, are _Iago_ and _Roderigo_. _Othello_ ascends the steps to the
quay, is acclaimed by the crowd, and proceeds to the castle followed
by _Cassio_, _Montano_, and soldiers. The people start a wood fire
and gather about it dancing and singing.

It transpires in talk between _Iago_ and _Roderigo_ that _Iago_ hates
_Othello_ because he has advanced _Cassio_ over him, and that
_Roderigo_ is in love with _Desdemona_.

The fire dies out, the storm has ceased. _Cassio_ has returned from
the castle. Now comes the scene in which _Iago_ purposely makes him
drunk, in order to cause his undoing. They, with others, are grouped
around the table outside the tavern. _Iago_ sings his drinking song,
"Inaffia l'ugola! trinca tracanna" (Then let me quaff the noble wine,
from the can I'll drink it).

[Music: Inaffia l'ugola! trinca, tracanna,]

Under the influence of the liquor _Cassio_ resents the taunts of
_Roderigo_, instigated by _Iago_. _Montano_ tries to quiet him.
_Cassio_ draws. There follows the fight in which _Montano_ is wounded.
The tumult, swelled by alarums and the ringing of bells, brings
_Othello_ with _Desdemona_ to the scene. _Cassio_ is dismissed from
the Moor's service. _Iago_ has scored his first triumph.

The people disperse. Quiet settles upon the scene. _Othello_ and
_Desdemona_ are alone. The act closes with their love duet, which
_Desdemona_ begins with "Quando narravi" (When thou dids't speak).

[Music]

Act II. A hall on the ground floor of the castle. _Iago_, planning to
make _Othello_ jealous of _Desdemona_, counsels _Cassio_ to induce
the Moor's wife to plead for his reinstatement. _Cassio_ goes into a
large garden at the back. _Iago_ sings his famous "Credo in un Dio
crudel che m'ha creato" [Transcriber's Note: should be 'un Dio
crudel,' but 'crudel' was possibly omitted deliberately, as 'cruel' is
also missing from the translation] (I believe in a God, who has
created me in his image). This is justly regarded as a masterpiece of
invective. It does not appear in Shakespeare, so that the lines are as
original with Boïto as the music is with Verdi. Trumpets, employed in
what may be termed a declamatory manner, are conspicuous in the
accompaniment.

_Iago_, seeing _Othello_ approach, leans against a column and looks
fixedly in the direction of _Desdemona_ and _Cassio_, exclaiming, as
_Othello_ enters, "I like not that!" As in the corresponding scene in
the play, this leads up to the questioning of him by _Othello_ and to
_Iago's_ crafty answers, which not only apply the match to, but also
fan the flame of _Othello's_ jealousy, as he watches his wife with
_Cassio_.

Children, women, and Cypriot and Albanian sailors now are seen with
_Desdemona_. They bring her flowers and other gifts. Accompanying
themselves on the cornemuse, and small harps, they sing a mandolinata,
"Dove guardi splendono" (Wheresoe'er thy glances fall). This is
followed by a graceful chorus for the sailors, who bring shells and
corals.

The scene and _Desdemona's_ beauty deeply move the _Moor_. He cannot
believe her other than innocent. But, unwittingly, she plays into
_Iago's_ hand. For her first words on joining _Othello_ are a plea for
_Cassio_. All the _Moor's_ jealousy is re-aroused. When she would
apply her handkerchief to his heated brow, he tears it from her hand,
and throws it to the ground. _Emilia_ picks it up, but _Iago_ takes it
from her. The scene is brought to a close by a quartet for
_Desdemona_, _Othello_, _Iago_, and _Emilia_.

_Othello_ and _Iago_ are left together again. _Othello_ voices the
grief that shakes his whole being, in what Mr. Upton happily describes
as "a pathetic but stirring melody." In it he bids farewell, not only
to love and trust, but to the glories of war and battle. The trumpet
is effectively employed in the accompaniment to this outburst of
grief, which begins, "Addio sante memorie" (Farewell, O sacred
memories).

[Music: Addio sante memorie, addio sublimi incanti del pensier]

To such a fury is the _Moor_ aroused that he seizes _Iago_, hurls him
to the ground, and threatens to kill him should his accusations
against _Desdemona_ prove false. There is a dramatic duet in which
_Iago_ pledges his aid to _Othello_ in proving beyond doubt the
falseness of _Desdemona_.

Act III. The great hall of the castle. At the back a terrace. After a
brief scene in which the approach of a galley with the Venetian
ambassadors is announced, _Desdemona_ enters. Wholly unaware of the
cause of _Othello's_ strange actions toward her, she again begins to
plead for _Cassio's_ restoration to favour. _Iago_ has pretended to
_Othello_ that _Desdemona's_ handkerchief (of which he surreptitiously
possessed himself) had been given by her to _Cassio_, and this has
still further fanned the flame of the _Moor's_ jealousy. The scene,
for _Othello_, is one of mingled wrath and irony. Upon her knees
_Desdemona_ vows her constancy: "Esterrefatta fisso lo sguardo tuo
tremendo" (Upon my knees before thee, beneath thy glance I tremble). I
quote the phrase, "Io prego il cielo per te con questo pianto" (I pray
my sighs rise to heaven with prayer).

[Music: Io prego il cielo per te con questo pianto]

_Othello_ pushes her out of the room. He soliloquizes: "Dio! mi potevi
scagliar tutti i mali della miseria" (Heav'n had it pleased thee to
try me with affliction).

_Iago_, entering, bids _Othello_ conceal himself; then brings in
_Cassio_, who mentions _Desdemona_ to _Iago_, and also is led by
_Iago_ into light comments on other matters, all of which _Othello_,
but half hearing them from his place of concealment, construes as
referring to his wife. _Iago_ also plays the trick with the
handkerchief, which, having been conveyed by him to _Cassio_, he now
induces the latter (within sight of _Othello_) to draw from his
doublet. There is a trio for _Othello_ (still in concealment), _Iago_,
and _Cassio_.

The last-named having gone, and the _Moor_ having asked for poison
with which to kill _Desdemona_, _Iago_ counsels that _Othello_
strangle her in bed that night, while he goes forth and slays
_Cassio_. For this counsel _Othello_ makes _Iago_ his lieutenant.

The Venetian ambassadors arrive. There follows the scene in which the
recall of _Othello_ to Venice and the appointment of _Cassio_ as
Governor of Cyprus are announced. This is the scene in which, also,
the _Moor_ strikes down _Desdemona_ in the presence of the
ambassadors, and she begs for mercy--"A terra--sì--nel livido fango"
(Yea, prostrate here, I lie in the dust); and "Quel sol sereno e
vivido che allieta il cielo e il mare" (The sun who from his cloudless
sky illumes the heavens and sea).

[Music: Quel Sol sereno e vivido che allieta il cielo e il mare]

After this there is a dramatic sextet.

All leave, save the _Moor_ and his newly created lieutenant. Overcome
by rage, _Othello_ falls in a swoon. The people, believing that the
_Moor_, upon his return to Venice, is to receive new honours from the
republic, shout from outside, "Hail, Othello! Hail to the lion of
Venice!"

"There lies the lion!" is _Iago's_ comment of malignant triumph and
contempt, as the curtain falls.

Act IV. The scene is _Desdemona's_ bedchamber. There is an orchestral
introduction of much beauty. Then, as in the play, with which I am
supposing the reader to be at least fairly familiar, comes the brief
dialogue between _Desdemona_ and _Emilia_. _Desdemona_ sings the
pathetic little willow song, said to be a genuine Italian folk tune
handed down through many centuries.

[Music: Piangea cantando nell'erma landa, piangea la mesta.... O Salce!]

_Emilia_ goes, and _Desdemona_ at her prie-Dieu, before the image of
the Virgin, intones an exquisite "Ave Maria," beginning and ending in
pathetic monotone, with an appealing melody between.

[Music: Prega per chi adorando a te si prostra, Ave! Amen!]

_Othello's_ entrance is accompanied by a powerful passage on the
double basses.

Then follows the scene of the strangling, through which are heard
mournfully reminiscent strains of the love duet that ended the first
act. _Emilia_ discloses _Iago's_ perfidy. _Othello_ kills himself.


FALSTAFF

     Opera in three acts, by Verdi; words by Arrigo Boïto, after
     Shakespeare's "Merry Wives of Windsor" and "King Henry IV."
     Produced, La Scala, Milan, March 12, 1893. Paris, Opéra
     Comique, April 18, 1894. London, May 19, 1894. New York,
     Metropolitan Opera House, February 4, 1895. This was the
     first performance of "Falstaff" in North America. It had
     been heard in Buenos Aires, July 19, 1893. The Metropolitan
     cast included Maurel as _Falstaff_, Eames as _Mistress
     Ford_, Zélie de Lussan as _Nannetta_ (_Anne_), Scalchi as
     _Dame Quickly_, Campanini as _Ford_, Russitano as _Fenton_.
     Scotti, Destinn, Alda, and Gay also have appeared at the
     Metropolitan in "Falstaff." The London production was at
     Covent Garden.

     CHARACTERS

     SIR JOHN FALSTAFF                            _Baritone_
     FENTON, a young gentleman                       _Tenor_
     FORD, a wealthy burgher                      _Baritone_
     DR. CAJUS                                       _Tenor_
     BARDOLPH } followers of Falstaff              { _Tenor_
     PISTOL   }                                    {  _Bass_
     ROBIN, a page in Ford's household
     MISTRESS FORD                                 _Soprano_
     ANNE, her daughter                            _Soprano_
     MISTRESS PAGE                           _Mezzo-Soprano_
     DAME QUICKLY                            _Mezzo-Soprano_

     Burghers and street-folk, Ford's servants, maskers, as
     elves, fairies, witches, etc.

     _Time_--Reign of Henry IV.

     _Scene_--Windsor.

     Note. In the Shakespeare comedy _Anne Ford_ is _Anne Page_.

Shakespeare's comedy, "The Merry Wives of Windsor," did not have its
first lyric adaptation when the composer of "Rigoletto" and "Aïda,"
influenced probably by his distinguished librettist, penned the score
of his last work for the stage. "Falstaff," by Salieri, was produced
in Vienna in 1798; another "Falstaff," by Balfe, came out in London
in 1838. Otto Nicolai's opera "The Merry Wives of Windsor" is
mentioned on p. 80 of this book. The character of _Falstaff_ also
appears in "Le Songe d'une Nuit d'Été" (The Midsummer Night's Dream)
by Ambroise Thomas, Paris, 1850, "where the type is treated with an
adept's hand, especially in the first act, which is a masterpiece of
pure comedy in music." "Le Songe d'une Nuit d'Été" was, in fact,
Thomas's first significant success. A one-act piece, "Falstaff," by
Adolphe Adam, was produced at the Théâtre Lyrique in 1856.

The comedy of the "Merry Wives," however, was not the only Shakespeare
play put under contribution by Boïto. At the head of the "Falstaff"
score is this note: "The present comedy is taken from 'The Merry Wives
of Windsor' and from several passages in 'Henry IV.' by Shakespeare."

Falstaff, it should be noted, is a historic figure; he was a brave
soldier; served in France; was governor of Honfleur; took an important
part in the battle of Agincourt, and was in all the engagements before
the walls of Orleans, where the English finally were obliged to
retreat before Joan of Arc. Sir John Falstaff died at the age of
eighty-two years in county Norfolk, his native shire, after numerous
valiant exploits, and having occupied his old age in caring for the
interests of the two universities of Oxford and Cambridge, to the
foundation of which he had largely contributed. To us, however, he is
known almost wholly as an enormously stout comic character.

The first scene in the first act of the work by Boïto and Verdi shows
_Falstaff_ in a room of the Garter Inn. He is accompanied by those two
good-for-nothings in his service, _Bardolph_ and _Pistol_, ragged
blackguards, whom he treats with a disdain measured by their own low
standards. _Dr. Cajus_ enters. He comes to complain that _Falstaff_
has beaten his servants; also that _Bardolph_ and _Pistol_ made him
drunk and then robbed him. _Falstaff_ laughs and browbeats him out of
countenance. He departs in anger.

_Falstaff_ has written two love letters and despatched them to two
married belles of Windsor--_Mistress Alice Ford_ and _Mistress Meg
Page_, asking each one for a rendezvous.

The scene changes to the garden of _Ford's_ house, and we are in
presence of the "merry wives"--_Alice Ford_, _Meg Page_, and _Mistress
Quickly_. With them is _Anne Ford_, _Mistress Ford's_ daughter.
Besides the garden there is seen part of the Ford house and the public
road. In company with _Dame Quickly_, _Meg_ has come to pay a visit to
_Alice Ford_, to show her a letter which she has just received from
_Falstaff_. _Alice_ matches her with one she also has received from
him. The four merry women then read the two letters, which, save for
the change of address, are exactly alike. The women are half amused,
half annoyed, at the pretensions of the fat knight. They plan to
avenge themselves upon him. Meanwhile _Ford_ goes walking before his
house in company with _Cajus_, young _Fenton_ (who is in love with
_Anne_), _Bardolph_, and _Pistol_. The last two worthies have betrayed
their master. From them _Ford_ has learned that _Falstaff_ is after
his wife. He too meditates revenge, and goes off with the others,
except _Fenton_, who lingers, kisses _Anne_ through the rail fence of
the garden, and sings a love duet with her. The men return. _Fenton_
rejoins them. _Anne_ runs back to her mother, and the four women are
seen up-stage, concocting their conspiracy of revenge.

The second act reverts to the Garter Inn, where _Falstaff_ is still at
table. _Dame Quickly_ comes with a message from _Alice_ to agree to
the rendezvous he has asked for. It is at the Ford house between two
and three o'clock, it being Ford's custom to absent himself at that
time. _Falstaff_ is pompously delighted. He promises to be prompt.

Hardly has _Dame Quickly_ left, when _Ford_ arrives. He introduces
himself to _Falstaff_ under an assumed name, presents the knight with
a purse of silver as a bait, then tells him that he is in love with
_Mistress Ford_, whose chastity he cannot conquer, and begs _Falstaff_
to lay siege to her and so make the way easier for him. _Falstaff_
gleefully tells him that he has a rendezvous with her that very
afternoon. This is just what _Ford_ wanted to know.

The next scene takes place in _Ford's_ house, where the four women get
ready to give _Falstaff_ the reception he merits. One learns here,
quite casually from talk between _Mistress Ford_ and _Anne_, that
_Ford_ wants to marry off the girl to the aged pedant _Cajus_, while
she, of course, will marry none but _Fenton_, with whom she is in
love. Her mother promises to aid her plans.

_Falstaff's_ arrival is announced. _Dame Quickly_, _Meg_, and _Anne_
leave _Mistress Ford_ with him, but conceal themselves in readiness to
come in response to the first signal. They are needed sooner than
expected. _Ford_ is heard approaching. Quick! The fat lover must be
concealed. This is accomplished by getting him behind a screen. _Ford_
enters with his followers, hoping to surprise the rake. With them he
begins a search of the rooms. While they are off exploring another
part of the house the women hurry _Falstaff_ into a big wash basket,
pile the soiled clothes over him, and fasten it down. Scarcely has
this been done when _Ford_ comes back, thinking of the screen. Just
then he hears the sound of kissing behind this piece of furniture. No
longer any doubt! _Falstaff_ is hidden there with his wife. He knocks
down the screen--and finds behind it _Anne_ and _Fenton_, who have
used to their own purpose the diversion of attention from them by the
hunt for _Falstaff_. _Ford_, more furious than ever, rushes out. His
wife and her friends call in the servants, who lift the basket and
empty it out of the window into the Thames, which flows below. When
_Ford_ comes back, his wife leads him to the window and shows him
_Falstaff_ striking out clumsily for the shore, a butt of ridicule
for all who see him.

In the third act _Dame Quickly_ is once more seen approaching
_Falstaff_, who is seated on a bench outside the Garter Inn. In behalf
of _Mistress Ford_, she offers him another rendezvous. _Falstaff_
wants to hear no more, but _Dame Quickly_ makes so many good excuses
for her friend that he decides to meet _Mistress Ford_ at the time and
place asked for by her--midnight, at Herne's oak in Windsor forest,
_Falstaff_ to appear in the disguise of the black huntsman, who,
according to legend, hung himself from the oak, with the result that
the spot is haunted by witches and sprites.

_Falstaff_, in the forest at midnight, is surrounded by the merry
women, the whole _Ford_ entourage, and about a hundred others, all
disguised and masked. They unite in mystifying, taunting, and
belabouring him, until at last he realizes whom he has to deal with.
And as it is necessary for everything to end in a wedding, it is then
that _Mistress Ford_ persuades her husband to abandon his plan to take
the pedantic _Dr. Cajus_ for son-in-law and give his daughter _Anne_
to _Fenton_.

Even taking into account "Otello," the general form of the music in
"Falstaff" is an innovation for Verdi. All the scenes are connected
without break in continuity, as in the Wagnerian music-drama, but
applied to an entirely different style of music from Wagner's. "It
required all the genius and dramatic experience of a Verdi, who had
drama in his blood, to succeed in a lyrical adventure like 'Falstaff,'
the whole score of which displays amazing youthfulness, dash, and
spirit, coupled with extraordinary grace." On the other hand, as
regards inspiration pure and simple, it has been said that there is
not found in "Falstaff" the freshness of imagination or the abundance
of ideas of the earlier Verdi, and that one looks in vain for one of
those motifs _di prima intenzione_, like the romance of _Germont_ in
"La Traviata," the song of the _Duke_ in "Rigoletto," or the
"Miserere" in "Il Trovatore," and so many others that might be named.
The same writer, however, credits the score with remarkable purity of
form and with a _sveltesse_ and lightness that are astonishing in the
always lively attraction of the musical discourse, to say nothing of a
"charming orchestration, well put together, likeable and full of
coquetry, in which are found all the brilliancy and facility of the
Rossini method."

Notwithstanding the above writer's appreciative words regarding the
instrumentation of "Falstaff," he has fallen foul of the work, because
he listened to it purely in the spirit of an opera-goer, and judged it
as an opera instead of as a music-drama. If I may be pardoned the
solecism, a music-drama "listens" different from an opera. A person
accustomed only to opera has his ears cocked for song soaring above an
accompaniment that counts for nothing save as a support for the voice.
The music-lover, who knows what a music-drama consists of, is aware
that it presents a well-balanced score, in which the orchestra
frequently changes place with the voice in interpreting the action. It
is because in "Falstaff" Verdi makes the orchestra act and sing--which
to an opera-goer, his ears alert for vocal melody, means nothing--that
the average audience, expecting something like unto what Verdi has
given them before, is disappointed. Extremists, one way or another,
are one-sided. Whoever is able to appreciate both opera and
music-drama, a catholicity of taste I consider myself fortunate in
possessing, can admire "Rigoletto," "Il Trovatore," and "La Traviata"
as much as the most confirmed devotee of opera; but can also go
further, and follow Verdi into regions where the intake is that of the
pure spirit of comedy at times exhaled by the voice, at times by the
orchestra.

While not divided into distinct "numbers," there are passages in
"Falstaff" in which Verdi has concentrated his attention on certain
characteristic episodes. In the first scene of the first act occurs
_Falstaff's_ lyric in praise of _Mistress Ford_, "O amor! Sguardo di
stella!" (O Love, with star-like eyes). I quote the beautiful passage
at "Alice è il nome" (And Alice is her name).

[Music: (Copyright, 1893, by G. Ricordi & Co.)]

The same scene has the honour monologue from "King Henry IV.," which
is purely declamatory, but with a remarkably vivid and characteristic
accompaniment, in which especially the bassoons and clarinets comment
merrily on the sarcastic sentences addressed to _Bardolph_ and
_Pistol_.

In the second scene of Act I, besides the episodes in which _Mistress
Ford_ reads _Falstaff's_ letter, the unaccompanied quartet for the
women ("Though shaped like a barrel, he fain would come courting"),
the quartet for the men, and the close of the act in which both
quartets take part, there is the piquant duet for _Anne_ and _Fenton_,
in which the lovers kiss each other between the palings of the fence.
From this duet I quote the amatory exchange of phrases, "Labbra di
foco" (Lips all afire) and "Labbra di fiore" (Lips of a flower)
between _Anne_ and _Fenton_.

[Music: (Copyright, 1893, by G. Ricordi & Co.)]

As the curtain falls _Mistress Ford_ roguishly quotes a line from
_Falstaff's_ verses, the four women together add another quotation,
"Come una stella sull'immensità" (Like some sweet star that sparkles
all the night), and go out laughing. In fact the music for the women
takes many a piquant turn.

[Music: (Copyright, 1893, by G. Ricordi & Co.)]

In Act II, the whole scene between _Falstaff_ and _Dame Quickly_ is
full of witty commentary by the orchestra. The scene between
_Falstaff_ and _Ford_ also derives its significance from the
instrumentation. _Ford's_ monologue, when he is persuaded by
_Falstaff's_ boastful talk that his wife is fickle, is highly
dramatic. The little scene of _Ford's_ and _Falstaff's_
departure--_Ford_ to expose his betrayal by his wife, _Falstaff_ for
his rendezvous with her--"is underscored by a graceful and very
elegant orchestral dialogue."

The second scene of this act has _Dame Quickly's_ madcap narrative of
her interview with _Falstaff_; and _Falstaff's_ ditty sung to
_Mistress Ford_, "Quand'ero paggio del Duca di Norfolk" (When I was
page to the Duke of Norfolk). From the popular point of view, this is
the outstanding musical number of the work. It is amusing, pathetic,
graceful, and sad; irresistible, in fact, in its mingled sentiments of
comedy and regret. Very brief, it rarely fails of encores from one to
four in number. I quote the following:

[Music: Quand'ero paggio del Duca di Norfolk ero sottile, sottile,
sottile,

(Copyright, 1893, by G. Ricordi & Co.)]

The search for _Falstaff_ by _Ford_ and his followers is most
humorously treated in the score.

In Act III, in the opening scene, in which _Falstaff_ soliloquizes
over his misadventures, the humour, so far as the music is concerned,
is conveyed by the orchestra.

From _Fenton's_ song of love, which opens the scene at Herne's oak in
Windsor forest, I quote this expressive passage:

[Music: (Copyright, 1893, by G. Ricordi & Co.)]

Another delightful solo in this scene is _Anne's_ "Erriam sotto la
luna" (We'll dance in the moonlight).

[Music: (Copyright, 1893, by G. Ricordi & Co.)]

There are mysterious choruses--sibilant and articulately
vocalized--and a final fugue.



Arrigo Boïto, 1842-


MEFISTOFELE

(MEPHISTOPHELES)

     Opera in four acts; words and music by Arrigo Boïto, the
     book based on Goethe's _Faust_. Produced, without success,
     La Scala, Milan, March 5, 1868; revised and revived, with
     success, Bologna, October 4, 1875. London, Her Majesty's
     Theatre, July 1, 1880. New York, Academy of Music, November
     24, 1880, with Campanini, Valleria, Cary, and Novara; and
     Metropolitan Opera House, December 5, 1883, Campanini,
     Nilsson, Trebelli, and Mirabella. Revivals: Metropolitan
     Opera House, 1889 (Lehmann); 1896 (Calvé); 1901 (Margaret
     McIntyre, Homer, and Plançon); 1904 (Caruso and Eames); 1907
     (Chaliapine); later with Caruso, Hempel, Destinn, and Amato.
     Manhattan Opera House, 1906, with Renaud. Chicago Opera
     Company, with Ruffo. The singer of _Margaret_ usually takes
     the part of _Elena_ (Helen), and the _Martha_ also is the
     _Pantalis_.

     CHARACTERS

     MEFISTOFELE                                      _Bass_
     FAUST                                           _Tenor_
     MARGHERITA                                    _Soprano_
     MARTHA                                      _Contralto_
     WAGNER                                          _Tenor_
     ELENA                                         _Soprano_
     PANTALIS                                    _Contralto_
     NERENO                                          _Tenor_

     Mystic choir, celestial phalanxes, cherubs, penitents,
     wayfarers, men-at-arms, huntsmen, students, citizens,
     populace, townsmen, witches, wizards, Greek chorus, sirens,
     nayads, dancers, warriors.

     _Time_--Middle Ages.

     _Place_--Heaven; Frankfurt, Germany; Vale of Tempe, Ancient
     Greece.

"Mefistofele" is in a prologue, four acts, and epilogue. In Gounod's
"Faust," the librettists were circumspect, and limited the book of the
opera to the first part of Goethe's _Faust_, the story of _Faust_ and
_Marguerite_--succinct, dramatic, and absorbing. Only for the ballet
did they reach into the second part of Goethe's play and appropriate
the scene on the Brocken, which, however, is frequently omitted.

Boïto, himself a poet, based his libretto on both parts of Goethe's
work, and endeavoured to give it the substratum of philosophy upon
which the German master reared his dramatic structure. This, however,
resulted in making "Mefistofele" two operas in one. Wherever the work
touches on the familiar story of _Faust_ and _Marguerite_, it is
absorbingly interesting, and this in spite of the similarity between
some of its scenes and those of Gounod's "Faust." When it strays into
Part II of Goethe's drama, the main thread of the action suddenly
seems broken. The skein ravels. That is why one of the most profound
works for the lyric stage, one of the most beautiful scores that has
come out of Italy, is heard so rarely.

Theodore T. Barker prefaces his translation of the libretto, published
by Oliver Ditson Company, with a recital of the story.

The Prologue opens in the nebulous regions of space, in which float
the invisible legions of angels, cherubs, and seraphs. These lift
their voices in a hymn of praise to the Supreme Ruler of the universe.
_Mefistofele_ enters on the scene at the close of the anthem, and,
standing erect amid the clouds, with his feet upon the border of his
cloak, mockingly addresses the Deity. In answer to the question from
the mystic choir, "Knowest thou Faust?" he answers contemptuously, and
offers to wager that he will be able to entice _Faust_ to evil, and
thus gain a victory over the powers of good. The wager is accepted,
and the spirits resume their chorus of praise.

Musically the Prologue is full of interest. There are five distinct
periods of music, varied in character, so that it gives necessary
movement to a scene in which there is but little stage action. There
are the prelude with mystic choir; the sardonic scherzo foreshadowing
the entry of _Mefistofele_; his scornful address, in which finally he
engages to bring about the destruction of _Faust's_ soul; a vivacious
chorus of cherubs (impersonated by twenty-four boys); a psalmody of
penitents and spirits.

Act I. The drama opens on Easter Sunday, at Frankfort-on-the-Main.
Crowds of people of all conditions move in and out of the city gates.
Among them appears a grey friar, an object of both reverence and
dread to those near him. The aged _Dr. Faust_ and his pupil _Wagner_
descend from a height and enter upon the scene, shadowed by the friar,
whose actions they discuss. _Faust_ returns to his laboratory, still
at his heels the friar, who, unheeded, enters with him, and conceals
himself in an alcove. _Faust_ gives himself to meditation, and upon
opening the sacred volume, is startled by a shriek from the friar as
he rushes from his place of concealment. _Faust_ makes the all-potent
"sign of Solomon," which compels _Mefistofele_ to throw off his
friar's disguise and to appear in his own person in the garb of a
cavalier, with a black cloak upon his arm. In reply to _Faust's_
questionings, he declares himself the spirit that denieth all things,
desiring only the complete ruin of the world, and a return to chaos
and night. He offers to make _Faust_ the companion of his wanderings,
upon certain conditions, to which the latter agrees, saying: "If thou
wilt bring me one hour of peace, in which my soul may rest--if thou
wilt unveil the world and myself before me--if I may find cause to say
to some flying moment, 'Stay, for thou art blissful,' then let me die,
and let hell's depths engulf me." The contract completed,
_Mefistofele_ spreads his cloak, and both disappear through the air.

The first scene of this act gains its interest from the reflection in
the music of the bustle and animation of the Easter festival. The
score plastically follows the many changing incidents of the scene
upon the stage. Conspicuous in the episodes in _Faust's_ laboratory
are _Faust's_ beautiful air, "Dai campi, dai prati" (From the fields
and from the meadows); and _Mefistofele's_ proclamation of his
identity, "Son lo spirito che nega" (I am the spirit that denieth).

Act II opens with the garden scene. _Faust_, rejuvenated, and under
the name of _Henry_; _Margaret_, _Mefistofele_, and _Martha_ stroll
here and there in couples, chatting and love-making. Thence
_Mefistofele_ takes _Faust_ to the heights of the Brocken, where he
witnesses the orgies of the Witches' Sabbath. The fiend is welcomed
and saluted as their king. _Faust_, benumbed and stupefied, gazes into
the murky sky, and experiences there a vision of _Margaret_, pale,
sad, and fettered with chains.

In this act the garden scene is of entrancing grace. It contains
_Faust's_ "Colma il tuo cor d'un palpito" (Flood thou thy heart with
all the bliss), and the quartet of farewell, with which the scene
ends, _Margaret_, with the gay and reckless laugh of ineffable bliss,
exclaiming to _Faust_ that she loves him. The scene in the Brocken,
besides the whirl of the witches' orgy, has a solo for _Mefistofele_,
when the weird sisters present to him a glass globe, reflected in
which he sees the earth. "Ecco il mondo" (Behold the earth).

Act III. The scene is a prison. _Margaret_ lies extended upon a heap
of straw, mentally wandering, and singing to herself. _Mefistofele_
and _Faust_ appear outside the grating. They converse hurriedly, and
_Faust_ begs for the life of _Margaret_. _Mefistofele_ promises to do
what he can, and bids him haste, for the infernal steeds are ready for
flight. He opens the cell, and _Faust_ enters it. _Margaret_ thinks
the jailors have come to release her, but at length recognizes her
lover. She describes what followed his desertion of her, and begs him
to lay her in death beside her loved ones;--her babe, whom she
drowned, her mother whom she is accused of having poisoned. _Faust_
entreats her to fly with him, and she finally consents, saying that in
some far distant isle they may yet be happy. But the voice of
_Mefistofele_ in the background recalls her to the reality of the
situation. She shrinks away from _Faust_, prays to Heaven for mercy,
and dies. Voices of the celestial choir are singing softly "She's
saved!" _Faust_ and _Mefistofele_ escape, as the executioner and his
escort appear in the background.

The act opens with _Margaret's_ lament, "L'altra notte in fonda al
mare" (To the sea, one night in sadness), in which she tells of the
drowning of her babe. There is an exquisite duet, for _Margaret_ and
_Faust_, "Lontano, sui flutti d'un ampio oceano" (Far away, o'er the
waves of a far-spreading ocean).

Act IV. _Mefistofele_ takes _Faust_ to the shores of the Vale of
Tempe. _Faust_ is ravished with the beauty of the scene while
_Mefistofele_ finds that the orgies of the _Brocken_ were more to his
taste.

'Tis the night of the classic Sabbath. A band of young maidens appear,
singing and dancing. _Mefistofele_, annoyed and confused, retires.
_Helen_ enters with chorus, and, absorbed by a terrible vision,
rehearses the story of Troy's destruction. _Faust_ enters, richly clad
in the costume of a knight of the fifteenth century, followed by
_Mefistofele_, _Nereno_, _Pantalis_, and others, with little fauns and
sirens. Kneeling before _Helen_, he addresses her as his ideal of
beauty and purity. Thus pledging to each other their love and
devotion, they wander through the bowers and are lost to sight.

_Helen's_ ode, "La luna immobile innonda l'etere" (Motionless
floating, the moon floods the dome of night); her dream of the
destruction of Troy; the love duet for _Helen_ and _Faust_, "Ah!
Amore! mistero celeste" ('Tis love, a mystery celestial); and the
dexterous weaving of a musical background by orchestra and chorus, are
the chief features in the score to this act.

In the Epilogue, we find _Faust_ in his laboratory once more--an old
man, with death fast approaching, mourning over his past life, with
the holy volume open before him. Fearing that _Faust_ may yet escape
him, _Mefistofele_ spreads his cloak, and urges _Faust_ to fly with
him through the air. Appealing to Heaven, _Faust_ is strengthened by
the sound of angelic songs, and resists. Foiled in his efforts,
_Mefistofele_ conjures up a vision of beautiful sirens. _Faust_
hesitates a moment, flies to the sacred volume, and cries, "Here at
last I find salvation"; then falling on his knees in prayer,
effectually overcomes the temptations of the evil one. He then dies
amid a shower of rosy petals, and to the triumphant song of a
celestial choir. _Mefistofele_ has lost his wager, and holy influences
have prevailed.

We have here _Faust's_ lament, "Giunto sul passo estremo" (Nearing the
utmost limit); his prayer, and the choiring of salvation.

       *       *       *       *       *

Arrigo Boïto was, it will be recalled, the author of the books to
Ponchielli's opera "La Gioconda," and Verdi's "Otello" and "Falstaff."
He was born in Padua, February 24, 1842. From 1853 to 1862 he was a
pupil of the Milan Conservatory. During a long sojourn in Germany and
Poland he became an ardent admirer of Wagner's music. Since
"Mefistofele" Boïto has written and composed another opera, "Nerone"
(Nero), but has withheld it from production.



Amilcare Ponchielli

(1834-1886)


Amilcare Ponchielli, the composer of "La Gioconda," was born at
Paderno Fasolaro, Cremona, August 31, 1834. He studied music, 1843-54,
at the Milan Conservatory. In 1856 he brought out at Cremona an opera,
"I Promessi Sposi" (The Betrothed), which, in a revised version,
Milan, 1872, was his first striking success. The same care Ponchielli
bestowed upon his studies, which lasted nearly ten years, he gave to
his works. Like "I Promessi Sposi," his opera, "I Lituani" (The
Lithuanians), brought out in 1874, was revived ten years later, as
"Alguna"; and, while "La Gioconda" (1876) did not wait so long for
success, it too was revised and brought out in a new version before it
received popular acclaim. Among his other operas are, 1880, "Il
Figliuol Prodigo" (The Prodigal Son), and, 1885, "Marion Delorme." "La
Gioconda," however, is the only one of his operas that has made its
way abroad.

Ponchielli died at Milan, January 16, 1886. He was among the very
first Italian composers to yield to modern influences and enrich his
score with instrumental effects intended to enhance its beauty and
give the support of an eloquent and expressive accompaniment to the
voice without, however, challenging its supremacy. His influence upon
his Italian contemporaries was considerable. He, rather than Verdi, is
regarded by students of music as the founder of the modern school of
Italian opera. What really happened is that there was going on in
Italy, influenced by a growing appreciation of Wagner's works among
musicians, a movement for a more advanced style of lyric drama.
Ponchielli and Boïto were leaders in this movement. Verdi, a far
greater genius than either of these, was caught up in it, and, because
of his genius, accomplished more in it than the actual leaders.
Ponchielli's influence still is potent. For he was the teacher of the
most famous living Italian composer of opera, Giacomo Puccini.


LA GIOCONDA

THE BALLAD SINGER

     Opera in four acts by Ponchielli, libretto by Arrigo Boïto,
     after Victor Hugo's play, "Angelo, Tyrant of Padua." Boïto
     signed the book with his anagram, "Tobia Gorrio." Produced
     in its original version, La Scala, Milan, April 8, 1876; and
     with a new version of the libretto in Genoa, December, 1876.
     London, Covent Garden, May 31, 1883. New York, December 20,
     1883 (for details, see below); revived, Metropolitan Opera
     House, November 28, 1904, with Nordica, Homer, Edyth Walker,
     Caruso, Giraldoni, and Plançon; later with Destinn, Ober,
     and Amato.

     CHARACTERS

     LA GIOCONDA, a ballad singer                  _Soprano_
     LA CIECA, her blind mother                  _Contralto_
     ALVISE, one of the heads of the
       State Inquisition                              _Bass_
     LAURA, his wife                         _Mezzo-Soprano_
     ENZO GRIMALDO, a Genoese noble                  _Tenor_
     BARNABA, a spy of the Inquisition            _Baritone_
     ZUÀNE, a boatman                                 _Bass_
     ISÈPO, a public letter-writer                   _Tenor_
     A PILOT                                          _Bass_

     Monks, senators, sailors, shipwrights, ladies, gentlemen,
     populace, maskers, guards, etc.

     _Time_--17th Century.

     _Place_--Venice.

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Mishkin

Amato as Barnaba in "La Gioconda"]

Twenty-one years elapsed between the production of "La Gioconda" at
the Metropolitan Opera House and its revival. Since its reawakening it
has taken a good hold on the repertoire, which makes it difficult to
explain why it should have been allowed to sleep so long. It may be
that possibilities of casting it did not suggest themselves. Not
always does "Cielo e mar" flow as suavely from lips as it does from
those of Caruso. Then, too, managers are superstitious, and may have
hesitated to make re-trial of anything that had been attempted at that
first season of opera at the Metropolitan, one of the most disastrous
on record. Even Praxede Marcelline Kochanska (in other words Marcella
Sembrich), who was a member of Henry E. Abbey's troupe, was not
re-engaged for this country, and did not reappear at the Metropolitan
until fourteen years later.

"La Gioconda" was produced at that house December 20, 1883, with
Christine Nilsson in the title rôle; Scalchi as _La Cieca_;
Fursch-Madi as _Laura_; Stagno as _Enzo_; Del Puente as _Barnaba_; and
Novara as _Alvise_. Cavalazzi, one of the leading dancers of her day,
appeared in the "Danza delle Ore" (Dance of the Hours). It was a good
performance, but Del Puente hardly was sinister enough for _Barnaba_,
or Stagno distinguished enough in voice and personality for _Enzo_.

There was in the course of the performance an unusual occurrence and
one that is interesting to hark back to. Nilsson had a voice of great
beauty--pure, limpid, flexible--but not one conditioned to a severe
dramatic strain. Fursch-Madi, on the other hand, had a large, powerful
voice and a singularly dramatic temperament. When _La Gioconda_ and
_Laura_ appeared in the great duet in the second act, "L'amo come il
fulgor del creato" (I love him as the light of creation), Fursch-Madi,
without great effort, "took away" this number from Mme. Nilsson, and
completely eclipsed her. When the two singers came out in answer to
the recalls, Mme. Nilsson, as etiquette demanded, was slightly in
advance of the mezzo-soprano, for whom, however, most of the applause
was intended. Mme. Fursch-Madi was a fine singer, but lacked the
pleasing personality and appealing temperament that we spoiled
Americans demand of our singers. She died, in extreme poverty and
after a long illness, in a little hut on one of the Orange mountains
in New Jersey, where an old chorus singer had given her shelter. She
had appeared in many tragedies of the stage, but none more tragic than
her own last hours.

Each act of "La Gioconda" has its separate title: Act I, "The Lion's
Mouth"; Act II, "The Rosary"; Act III, "The House of Gold"; Act IV,
"The Orfano Canal." The title of the opera can be translated as "The
Ballad Singer," but the Italian title appears invariably to be used.

Act I. "The Lion's Mouth." Grand courtyard of the Ducal palace,
decorated for festivities. At back, the Giant's Stairway, and the
Portico della Carta, with doorway leading to the interior of the
Church of St. Mark. On the left, the writing-table of a public
letter-writer. On one side of the courtyard one of the historic Lion's
Mouths, with the following inscription cut in black letters into the
wall:

  FOR SECRET DENUNCIATIONS
  TO THE INQUISITION
  AGAINST ANY PERSON,
  WITH IMPUNITY, SECRECY, AND
  BENEFIT TO THE STATE.

It is a splendid afternoon in spring. The stage is filled with
holiday-makers, monks, sailors, shipwrights, masquers, etc., and
amidst the busy crowd are seen some Dalmatians and Moors.

_Barnaba_, leaning his back against a column, is watching the people.
He has a small guitar, slung around his neck.

The populace gaily sings, "Feste e pane" (Sports and feasting). They
dash away to watch the regatta, when _Barnaba_, coming forward,
announces that it is about to begin. He watches them disdainfully.
"Above their graves they are dancing!" he exclaims. _Gioconda_ leads
in _La Cieca_, her blind mother. There is a duet of much tenderness
between them: "Figlia, che reggi il tremulo" (Daughter in thee my
faltering steps).

_Barnaba_ is in love with the ballad singer, who has several times
repulsed him. For she is in love with _Enzo_, a nobleman, who has been
proscribed by the Venetian authorities, but is in the city in the
disguise of a sea captain. His ship lies in the Fusina Lagoon.

_Barnaba_ again presses his love upon the girl. She escapes from his
grasp and runs away, leaving her mother seated by the church door.
_Barnaba_ is eager to get _La Cieca_ into his power in order to compel
_Gioconda_ to yield to his sinister desires. Opportunity soon offers.
For, now the regatta is over, the crowd returns bearing in triumph the
victor in the contest. With them enter _Zuàne_, the defeated
contestant, _Gioconda_, and _Enzo_. _Barnaba_ subtly insinuates to
_Zuàne_ that _La Cieca_ is a witch, who has caused his defeat by
sorcery. The report quickly spreads among the defeated boatman's
friends. The populace becomes excited. _La Cieca_ is seized and
dragged from the church steps. _Enzo_ calls upon his sailors, who are
in the crowd, to aid him in saving her.

At the moment of greatest commotion the palace doors swing open. From
the head of the stairway where stand _Alvise_ and his wife, _Laura_,
who is masked, _Alvise_ sternly commands an end to the rioting, then
descends with _Laura_.

_Barnaba_, with the keenness that is his as chief spy of the
Inquisition, is quick to observe that, through her mask, _Laura_ is
gazing intently at _Enzo_, and that _Enzo_, in spite of _Laura's_
mask, appears to have recognized her and to be deeply affected by her
presence. _Gioconda_ kneels before _Alvise_ and prays for mercy for
her mother. When _Laura_ also intercedes for _La Cieca_, _Alvise_
immediately orders her freed. In one of the most expressive airs of
the opera, "Voce di donna, o d'angelo" (Voice thine of woman, or angel
fair), _La Cieca_ thanks _Laura_ and gives to her a rosary, at the
same time extending her hands over her in blessing.

She also asks her name. _Alvise's_ wife, still masked, and looking
significantly in the direction of _Enzo_, answers, "Laura!"

"'Tis she!" exclaims _Enzo_.

The episode has been observed by _Barnaba_, who, when all the others
save _Enzo_ have entered the church, goes up to him and, despite his
disguise as a sea captain, addresses him by his name and title, "Enzo
Grimaldo, Prince of Santa Fior."

The spy knows the whole story. _Enzo_ and _Laura_ were betrothed.
Although they were separated and she obliged to wed _Alvise_, and
neither had seen the other since then, until the meeting a few moments
before, their passion still is as strong as ever. _Barnaba_, cynically
explaining that, in order to obtain _Gioconda_ for himself, he wishes
to show her how false _Enzo_ is, promises him that he will arrange for
_Laura_, on that night, to be aboard _Enzo's_ vessel, ready to escape
with him to sea.

_Enzo_ departs. _Barnaba_ summons one of his tools, _Isèpo_, the
public letter-writer, whose stand is near the Lion's Mouth. At that
moment _Gioconda_ and _La Cieca_ emerge from the church, and
_Gioconda_, seeing _Barnaba_, swiftly draws her mother behind a
column, where they are hidden from view. The girl hears the spy
dictate to _Isèpo_ a letter, for whom intended she does not know,
informing someone that his wife plans to elope that evening with
_Enzo_. Having thus learned that _Enzo_ no longer loves her, she
vanishes with her mother into the church. _Barnaba_ drops the letter
into the Lion's Mouth. _Isèpo_ goes. The spy, as keen in intellect as
he is cruel and unrelenting in action, addresses in soliloquy the
Doge's palace. "O monumento! Regia e bolgia dogale!" (O mighty
monument, palace and den of the Doges).

The masquers and populace return. They are singing. They dance "La
Furlana." In the church a monk and then the chorus chant. _Gioconda_
and her mother come out. _Gioconda_ laments that _Enzo_ should have
forsaken her. _La Cieca_ seeks to comfort her. In the church the
chanting continues.

Act II. "The Rosary." Night. A brigantine, showing its starboard side.
In front, the deserted bank of an uninhabited island in the Fusina
Lagoon. In the farthest distance, the sky and the lagoon. A few stars
visible. On the right, a cloud, above which the moon is rising. In
front, a small altar of the Virgin, lighted by a red lamp. The name of
the brigantine--"Hecate"--painted on the prow. Lanterns on the deck.

At the rising of the curtain sailors are discovered; some seated on
the deck, others standing in groups, each with a speaking trumpet.
Several cabin boys are seen, some clinging to the shrouds, some
seated. Remaining thus grouped, they sing a _Marinaresca_, in part a
sailors' "chanty," in part a regular melody.

In a boat _Barnaba_ appears with _Isèpo_. They are disguised as
fishermen. _Barnaba_ sings a fisherman's ballad, "Ah! Pescator,
affonda l'esca" (Fisher-boy, thy net now lower).

[Music]

He has set his net for _Enzo_ and _Laura_, as well as for _Gioconda_,
as his words, "Some sweet siren, while you're drifting, in your net
will coyly hide," imply. The song falls weirdly upon the night. The
scene is full of "atmosphere."

_Enzo_ comes up on deck, gives a few orders; the crew go below. He
then sings the famous "Cielo e mar!" (O sky, and sea)--an impassioned
voicing of his love for her whom he awaits. The scene, the moon having
emerged from behind a bank of clouds, is of great beauty.

[Music]

A boat approaches. In it _Barnaba_ brings _Laura_ to _Enzo_. There is
a rapturous greeting. They are to sail away as soon as the setting of
the moon will enable the ship to depart undetected. There is distant
singing. _Enzo_ goes below. _Laura_ kneels before the shrine and
prays, "Stella del marinar! Vergine santa!" (Star of the mariner!
Virgin most holy).

_Gioconda_ steals on board and confronts her rival. The duet between
the two women, who love _Enzo_, and in which each defies the other,
"L'amo come il fulgor del creato" (I adore him as the light of
creation), is the most dramatic number in the score.

[Music]

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Caruso as Enzo in "La Gioconda"]

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Louise Homer as Laura in "La Gioconda"]

_Gioconda_ is about to stab _Laura_, but stops suddenly and, seizing
her with one hand, points with the other out over the lagoon, where a
boat bearing _Alvise_ and his armed followers is seen approaching.
_Laura_ implores the Virgin for aid. In doing so she lifts up the
rosary given to her by _La Cieca_. Through it _Gioconda_ recognizes in
_Laura_ the masked lady who saved her mother from the vengeance of
the mob. Swiftly the girl summons the boat of two friendly boatmen who
have brought her thither, and bids _Laura_ make good her escape. When
_Barnaba_ enters, his prey has evaded him. _Gioconda_ has saved her.
_Barnaba_ hurries back to _Alvise's_ galley, and, pointing to the
fugitive boat in the distance, bids the galley start in pursuit.

_Enzo_ comes on deck. Instead of _Laura_ he finds _Gioconda_. There is
a dramatic scene between them. Venetian galleys are seen approaching.
Rather than that his vessel shall be captured by them, _Enzo_ sets
fire to it.

Act III. "The House of Gold." A room in _Alvise's_ house. _Alvise_
sings of the vengeance he will wreak upon _Laura_ for her betrayal of
his honour. "Sì! morir ella de'" (Yes, to die is her doom).

He summons _Laura_. Nocturnal serenaders are heard singing without, as
they wend their way in gondolas along the canal. _Alvise_ draws the
curtains from before a doorway and points to a funeral bier erected in
the chamber beyond. To _Laura_ he hands a vial of swift poison. She
must drain it before the last note of the serenade they now hear has
died away. He will leave her. The chorus ended, he will return to find
her dead.

When he has gone, _Gioconda_, who, anticipating the fate that might
befall the woman who has saved her mother, has been in hiding in the
palace, hastens to _Laura_, and hands her a flask containing a
narcotic that will create the semblance of death. _Laura_ drinks it,
and disappears through the curtains into the funeral chamber.
_Gioconda_ pours the poison from the vial into her own flask, and
leaves the empty vial on the table.

The serenade ceases. _Alvise_ re-entering, sees the empty vial on the
table. He enters the funeral apartment for a brief moment. _Laura_ is
lying as one dead upon the bier. He believes that he has been obeyed
and that _Laura_ has drained the vial of poison.

The scene changes to a great hall in _Alvise's_ house, where he is
receiving his guests. Here occurs the "Dance of the Hours," a ballet
suite which, in costume changes, light effects and choreography
represents the hours of dawn, day, evening, and night. It is also
intended to symbolize, in its mimic action, the eternal struggle
between the powers of darkness and light.

_Barnaba_ enters, dragging in with him _La Cieca_, whom he has found
concealed in the house. _Enzo_ also has managed to gain admittance.
_La Cieca_, questioned as to her purpose in the House of Gold,
answers, "For her, just dead, I prayed." A hush falls upon the fête.
The passing bell for the dead is heard slowly tolling. "For whom?"
asks _Enzo_ of _Barnaba_. "For Laura," is the reply. The guests
shudder. "D'un vampiro fatal l'ala fredda passò" (As if over our brows
a vampire's wing had passed), chants the chorus. "Già ti vedo immota e
smorta" (I behold thee motionless and pallid), sings _Enzo_.
_Barnaba_, _Gioconda_, _La Cieca_, and _Alvise_ add their voices to an
ensemble of great power. _Alvise_ draws back the curtains of the
funeral chamber, which also gives upon the festival hall. He points to
_Laura_ extended upon the bier. _Enzo_, brandishing a poniard, rushes
upon _Alvise_, but is seized by guards.

Act IV. "The Orfano Canal." The vestibule of a ruined palace on the
island of Giudecca. In the right-hand corner an opened screen, behind
which is a bed. Large porch at back, through which are seen the
lagoon, and, in the distance, the square of Saint Mark, brilliantly
illuminated. A picture of the Virgin and a crucifix hang against the
wall. Table and couch; on the table a lamp and a lighted lantern; the
flask of poison and a dagger. On a couch are various articles of mock
jewelry belonging to _Gioconda_.

On the right of the scene a long, dimly lighted street. From the end
two men advance, carrying in their arms _Laura_, who is enveloped in a
black cloak. The two _cantori_ (street singers) knock at the door. It
is opened by _Gioconda_, who motions them to place their burden upon
the couch behind the screen. As they go, she pleads with them to
search for her mother, whom she has not been able to find since the
scene in the House of Gold.

She is alone. Her love for _Enzo_, greater than her jealousy of
_Laura_, has prompted her to promise _Barnaba_ that she will give
herself to him, if he will aid _Enzo_ to escape from prison and guide
him to the Orfano Canal. Now, however, despair seizes her. In a
dramatic soliloquy--a "terrible song," it has been called--she invokes
suicide. "Suicidio! ... in questi fieri momenti tu sol mi resti" (Aye,
suicide, the sole resource now left me). For a moment she even thinks
of carrying out _Alvise's_ vengeance by stabbing _Laura_ and throwing
her body into the water--"for deep is yon lagoon."

Through the night a gondolier's voice calls in the distance over the
water: "Ho! gondolier! hast thou any fresh tidings?" Another voice,
also distant: "In the Orfano Canal there are corpses."

In despair _Gioconda_ throws herself down weeping near the table.
_Enzo_ enters. In a tense scene _Gioconda_ excites his rage by telling
him that she has had _Laura's_ body removed from the burial vault and
that he will not find it there. He seizes her. His poniard already is
poised for the thrust. Hers--so she hopes--is to be the ecstacy of
dying by his hand!

At that moment, however, the voice of _Laura_, who is coming out of
the narcotic, calls, "Enzo!" He rushes to her, and embraces her. In
the distance is heard a chorus singing a serenade. It is the same
song, before the end of which _Alvise_ had bidden _Laura_ drain the
poison. Both _Laura_ and _Enzo_ now pour out words of gratitude to
_Gioconda_. The girl has provided everything for flight. A boat,
propelled by two of her friends, is ready to convey them to a barque,
which awaits them. What a blessing, after all, the rosary, bestowed
upon the queenly _Laura_ by an old blind woman has proved to be. "Che
vedo là! Il rosario!" (What see I there! 'Tis the rosary!) Thus sings
_Gioconda_, while _Enzo_ and _Laura_ voice their thanks: "Sulle tue
mani l'anima tutta stempriamo in pianto" (Upon thy hands thy generous
tears of sympathy are falling). The scene works up to a powerful
climax.

Once more _Gioconda_ is alone. The thought of her compact with
_Barnaba_ comes over her. She starts to flee the spot, when the spy
himself appears in the doorway. Pretending that she wishes to adorn
herself for him, she begins putting on the mock jewelry, and,
utilizing the opportunity that brings her near the table, seizes the
dagger that is lying on it.

"Gioconda is thine!" she cries, facing _Barnaba_, then stabs herself
to the heart.

Bending over the prostrate form, the spy furiously shouts into her
ear, "Last night thy mother did offend me. I have strangled her!" But
no one hears him. _La Gioconda_ is dead. With a cry of rage, he rushes
down the street.



French Opera


Gluck, Wagner, and Verdi each closed an epoch. In Gluck there
culminated the pre-Mozartean school. In Mozart two streams of opera
found their source. "Don Giovanni" and "Le Nozze di Figaro" were
inspirations to Rossini, to whom, in due course of development, varied
by individual characteristics, there succeeded Bellini, Donizetti, and
Verdi.

The second stream of opera which found its source in Mozart was
German. The score of "Die Zauberflöte" showed how successfully the
rich vein of popular melody, or folk music, could be worked for the
lyric stage. The hint was taken by Weber, from whom, in the course of
gradual development, there derived Richard Wagner.

Meanwhile, however, there was another development which came direct
from Gluck. His "Iphigénie en Aulide," "Orphée et Eurydice,"
"Alceste," and "Armide" were produced at the Académie Royale de
Musique, founded by Lully in 1672, and now the Grand Opéra, Paris.
They contributed materially to the development of French grand opera,
which derives from Gluck, as well as from Lully (pp. 1, 4, and 6), and
Rameau (p. 1). French opera also was sensibly influenced, and its
development in the serious manner furthered, by one of the most
learned of composers, Luigi Cherubini, for six years professor of
composition and for twenty years thereafter (1821-1841) director of
the Paris Conservatoire and at one time widely known as the composer
of the operas "Les Deux Journées" (Paris, 1800; London, as "The
Water-carrier," 1801); and "Faniska," Vienna, 1806.

To the brief statement regarding French grand opera on p. 2, I may
add, also briefly, that manner as well as matter is a characteristic
of all French art. The Frenchman is not satisfied with what he says,
unless he says it in the best possible manner or style. Thus, while
Italian composers long were contented with an instrumental
accompaniment that simply did not interfere with the voice, the French
always have sought to enrich and beautify what is sung, by the
instrumental accompaniment with which they have supported and
environed it. In its seriousness of purpose, and in the care with
which it strives to preserve the proper balance between the vocal and
orchestral portions of the score, French opera shows most clearly its
indebtedness to Gluck, and, after him, to Cherubini. It is a beautiful
form of operatic art.

In the restricted sense of the repertoire in this country, French
grand opera means Meyerbeer, Gounod, Bizet, and Massenet. In fact it
is a question if, popularly speaking, we draw the line at all between
French and Italian grand opera, since, both being Latin, they are
sister arts, and quite distinct from the German school.

Having traced opera in Germany from Gluck to Wagner, and in Italy from
Rossini to Verdi, I now turn to opera in France from Meyerbeer and a
few predecessors to Bizet.



Méhul to Meyerbeer


Certain early French operas still are in the Continental repertoire,
although they may be said to have completely disappeared here. They
are of sufficient significance to be referred to in this book.

The pianoforte pupils abroad are few who, in the course of their first
years of instruction, fail to receive a potpourri of the three-act
opera "Joseph" (Joseph in Egypt), by Étienne Nicholas Méhul
(1763-1817). The score is chaste and restrained. The principal air for
_Joseph_ (tenor), "À peine au sortir de l'enfance" (Whilst yet in
tender childhood), and the prayer for male voice, "Dieu d'Israel" (Oh,
God of Israel), are the best-known portions of the score. In
constructing the libretto Alexander Duval followed the Biblical story.
When the work opens, not only has the sale of _Joseph_ by his brethren
taken place, but the young Jew has risen to high office. Rôles,
besides _Joseph_, are _Jacob_ (bass), _Siméon_ (baritone)
[Transcriber's Note: should be 'tenor'], _Benjamin_ (soprano),
_Utobal_, _Joseph's_ confidant (bass). "Joseph en Egypte" was produced
at the Théâtre Feydeau, Paris, February 17, 1808.

"Le Calife de Bagdad," "Jean de Paris," and "La Dame Blanche" (The
White Lady), by François Adrien Boieldieu (1775-1834), are still known
by their graceful overtures. In "La Dame Blanche" the composer has
used the song of "Robin Adair," the scene of the opera being laid in
Scotland, and drawn by Scribe from Scott's novels, "The Monastery" and
"Guy Mannering." _George Brown_ was a favorite rôle with Wachtel. He
sang it in this country. The graceful invocation to the white lady was
especially well suited to his voice. "La Dame Blanche" was produced at
the Opéra Comique, Paris, December 10, 1825.

Boieldieu's music is light and graceful, in perfect French taste, and
full of charm. It has the spirit of comedy and no doubt helped develop
the comic vein in the lighter scores of Daniel François Esprit Auber
(1782-1871). But in his greatest work, "Masaniello," the French title
of which is "La Muette de Portici" (The Dumb Girl of Portici), Auber
is, musically, a descendant of Méhul. The libretto is by Scribe and
Delavigne. The work was produced in Paris, February 29, 1828. It is
one of the foundation stones of French grand opera. Eschewing vocal
ornament merely as such, and introducing it only when called for by
the portrayal of character, the emotion to be expressed, or the
situation devised by the librettist, it is largely due to its
development from this work of Auber's that French opera has occupied
for so long a time the middle ground between Italian opera with its
frank supremacy of voice on the one hand, and German opera with its
solicitude for instrumental effects on the other.

The story of "Masaniello" is laid in 1647, in and near Naples. It
deals with an uprising of the populace led by _Masaniello_. He is
inspired thereto both by the wrongs the people have suffered and by
his sister _Fenella's_ betrayal by _Alfonso_, Spanish viceroy of
Naples. The revolution fails, its leader loses his mind and is killed,
and, during an eruption of Vesuvius, _Fenella_ casts herself into the
sea. _Fenella_ is dumb. Her rôle is taken by a pantomimist, usually
the _prima ballerina_.

Greatly admired by musicians though the score be, "Masaniello's" hold
upon the repertory long has been precarious. I doubt if it has been
given in this country upon any scale of significance since the
earliest days of opera in German at the Metropolitan, when Dr.
Leopold Damrosch revived it with Anton Schott in the title rôle. Even
then it was difficult to imagine that, when "Masaniello" was played in
Brussels, in 1830, the scene of the uprising so excited the people
that they drove the Dutch out of Belgium, which had been joined to
Holland by the Congress of Vienna. The best-known musical number in
the opera is the "Air du Sommeil" (Slumber-song) sung by _Masaniello_
to _Fenella_ in the fourth act.

Auber composed many successful operas in the vein of comedy. His "Fra
Diavolo" long was popular. Its libretto by Scribe is amusing, the
score sparkling. _Fra Diavolo's_ death can be made a sensational piece
of acting, if the tenor knows how to take a fall down the wooden
runway among the canvas rocks, over which the dashing bandit--the
villain of the piece--is attempting to escape, when shot.

"Fra Diavolo" was given here with considerable frequency at one time.
But in a country where opéra comique (in the French sense of the term)
has ceased to exist, it has no place. We swing from one extreme to the
other--from grand opera, with brilliant accessories, to musical
comedy, with all its slap-dash. The sunlit middle road of opéra
comique we have ceased to tread.

Two other works, once of considerable popularity, also have
disappeared from our stage. The overture to "Zampa," by Louis J.F.
Hérold (1791-1833) still is played; the opera no more. It was produced
in Paris May 3, 1831. The libretto, by Mélésville, is based on the old
tale of "The Statue Bride."

The high tenor rôle of _Chappelou_ in "Le Postillon de Longjumeau," by
Adolphe Charles Adam (1802-1856), with its postillion song, "Ho!
ho!--Ho! ho!--Postillion of Longjumeau!" was made famous by Theodore
Wachtel, who himself was a postillion before his voice was discovered
by patrons of his father's stable, with whom he chanced to join in
singing quartet. It was he who introduced the rhythmic cracking of the
whip in the postillion's song. Wachtel sang the rôle in this country
in the season of 1871-72, at the Stadt Theatre, and in 1875-76 at the
Academy of Music. Then, having accumulated a fortune, chiefly out of
the "Postillon," in which he sang more than 1200 times, he practically
retired, accepting no fixed engagements.

During the Metropolitan Opera House season of 1884-85, Dr. Leopold
Damrosch revived, in German, "La Juive," a five-act opera by Jacques
François Fromental Élie Halévy (1799-1862), the libretto by Scribe.
Materna was the Jewess, _Rachel_ (in German _Recha_). I cannot recall
any production of the work here since then, and a considerable period
had elapsed since its previous performance here. It had its _première_
in Paris, February 23, 1835. Meyerbeer's "Robert le Diable" had been
produced in 1831. Nevertheless "La Juive" scored a triumph. But with
the production of Meyerbeer's "Les Huguenots," that composer became
the operatic idol of the public, and Halévy's star paled, although
musicians continued for many years to consider "La Juive" one of the
finest opera scores composed in France; and there are many who would
be glad to see an occasional revival of this work, as well as of
Auber's "Masaniello." The libretto of "La Juive," originally written
for Rossini, was rejected by that composer for "William Tell" (see p.
312).



Giacomo Meyerbeer

(1791-1864)


Although he was born in Berlin (September 5, 1791), studied pianoforte
and theory in Germany, and attained in that country a reputation as a
brilliant pianist, besides producing several operas there, Meyerbeer
is regarded as the founder of what generally is understood as modern
French grand opera. It has been said of him that "he joined to the
flowing melody of the Italians the solid harmony of the Germans, the
poignant declamation and varied, piquant rhythm of the French"; which
is a good description of the opera that flourishes on the stage of the
Académie or Grand Opéra, Paris. The models for elaborate spectacular
scenes and finales furnished by Meyerbeer's operas have been followed
ever since by French composers; nor have they been ignored by
Italians. He understood how to write effectively for the voice, and he
was the first composer of opera who made a point of striving for tone
colour in the instrumental accompaniment. Sometimes the effect may be
too calculated, too cunningly contrived, too obviously sought for. But
what he accomplished had decided influence on the enrichment of the
instrumental score in operatic composition.

Much criticism has been directed at Meyerbeer, and much of his music
has disappeared from the stage. But such also has been the fate of
much of the music of other composers earlier than, contemporary with,
and later than he. Meyerbeer had the pick of the great artists of his
day. His works were written for and produced with brilliant casts, and
had better not be sung at all than indifferently. His greatest work,
"Les Huguenots," is still capable of leaving a deep impression, when
adequately performed.

Meyerbeer, like many other composers for the lyric stage, has suffered
much from writers who have failed to approach opera as opera, but have
written about it from the standpoint of the symphony, with which it
has nothing in common, or have looked down upon it from the lofty
heights of the music-drama, from which, save for the fact that both
are intended to be sung and acted with scenery on a stage, it differs
greatly. Opera is a highly artificial theatrical product, and those
who have employed convincingly its sophisticated processes are not
lightly to be thrust aside.

Meyerbeer came of a Jewish family. His real name was Jacob Liebmann
Beer. He prefixed "Meyer" to his patronymic at the request of a
wealthy relative who made him his heir. He was a pupil in pianoforte
of Clementi; also studied under Abbé Vogler, being a fellow pupil of
C.M. von Weber. His first operas were German. In 1815 he went to Italy
and composed a series of operas in the style of Rossini. Going to
Paris in 1826, he became "immersed in the study of French opera, from
Lully onward." The first result was "Robert le Diable" (Robert the
Devil), Grand Opéra, Paris, 1831. This was followed by "Les
Huguenots," 1836; "Le Prophète," 1849; "L'Étoile du Nord," Opéra
Comique, 1854; "Dinorah, ou le Pardon de Ploërmel" (Dinorah, or the
Pardon of Ploërmel), Opéra Comique, 1859. Much of the music of
"L'Étoile du Nord" came from an earlier score, "Das Feldlager in
Schlesien" (The Camp in Silesia), Berlin, 1843. Meyerbeer died May 2,
1864, in Paris, where his "L'Africaine" was produced at the Grand
Opéra in 1865.


ROBERT LE DIABLE

ROBERT THE DEVIL

     Opera in five acts, by Meyerbeer; words by Scribe and
     Delavigne. Produced, Grand Opéra, Paris, November 22, 1831.
     Drury Lane, London, February 20, 1832, in English, as "The
     Demon, or the Mystic Branch"; Covent Garden, February 21,
     1832, in English, as "The Fiend Father, or Robert of
     Normandy"; King's Theatre, June 11, 1832, in French; Her
     Majesty's Theatre, May 4, 1847, in Italian. Park Theatre,
     New York, April 7, 1834, in English, with Mrs. Wood as
     _Isabel_ and Wood as _Robert_, the opera being followed by a
     _pas seul_ by Miss Wheatley, and a farce, "My Uncle John";
     Astor Place Opera House, November 3, 1851, with Bettini
     (_Robert_), Marini (_Bertram_), Bosio (_Isabella_),
     Steffanone (_Alice_); Academy of Music, November 30, 1857,
     with Formes as _Bertram_.

     CHARACTERS

     ALICE, foster-sister of Robert                _Soprano_
     ISABELLA, Princess of Sicily                  _Soprano_
     THE ABBESS                                     _Dancer_
     ROBERT, Duke of Normandy                        _Tenor_
     BERTRAM, the Unknown                             _Bass_
     RAIMBAUT, a minstrel                            _Tenor_

     _Time_--13th Century.

     _Place_--Sicily.

The production of "Robert le Diable" in Paris was such a sensational
success that it made the fortune of the Grand Opéra. Nourrit was
_Robert_, Levasseur, _Bertram_ (the prototype of _Mephistopheles_);
the women of the cast were Mlle. Dorus as _Alice_, Mme. Cinti-Damoreau
as _Isabella_, and Taglioni, the famous danseuse, as the _Abbess_.
Jenny Lind made her début in London as _Alice_, in the Italian
production of the work. In New York Carl Formes was heard as _Bertram_
at the Astor Place Theatre, November 30, 1857.

Whatever criticism may now be directed against "Robert le Diable," it
was a remarkable creation for its day. Meyerbeer's score not only
saved the libretto, in which the grotesque is carried to the point of
absurdity, but actually made a brilliant success of the production as
a whole.

The story is legendary. _Robert_ is the son of the arch-fiend by a
human woman. _Robert's_ father, known as _Bertram_, but really the
devil, ever follows him about, and seeks to lure him to destruction.
The strain of purity in the drama is supplied by _Robert's_
foster-sister, _Alice_, who, if _Bertram_ is the prototype of
_Mephistopheles_ in "Faust," may be regarded as the original of
_Michaela_ in "Carmen."

_Robert_, because of his evil deeds (inspired by _Bertram_), has been
banished from Normandy, and has come to Sicily. He has fallen in love
with _Isabella_, she with him. He is to attend a tournament at which
she is to award the prizes. Tempted by _Bertram_, he gambles and loses
all his possessions, including even his armour. These facts are
disclosed in the first act. This contains a song by _Raimbaut_, the
minstrel, in which he tells of Robert's misdeeds, but is saved from
the latter's fury by _Alice_, who is betrothed to _Raimbaut_, and who,
in an expressive air, pleads vainly with _Robert_ to mend his ways and
especially to avoid _Bertram_, from whom she instinctively shrinks. In
the second act _Robert_ and _Isabella_ meet in the palace. She bestows
upon him a suit of armour to wear in the tournament. But, misled by
_Bertram_, he seeks his rival elsewhere than in the lists, and, by his
failure to appear there, loses his honour as a knight. In the next
act, laid in the cavern of St. Irene, occurs an orgy of evil spirits,
to whose number _Bertram_ promises to add _Robert_. Next comes a scene
that verges upon the grotesque, but which is converted by Meyerbeer's
genius into something highly fantastic. This is in the ruined convent
of St. Rosalie. _Bertram_ summons from their graves the nuns who, in
life, were unfaithful to their vows. The fiend has promised _Robert_
that if he will but seize a mystic cypress branch from over the grave
of St. Rosalie, and bear it away, whatever he wishes for will become
his. The ghostly nuns, led by their _Abbess_, dance about him. They
seek to inveigle him with gambling, drink, and love, until, dazed by
their enticements, he seizes the branch. Besides the ballet of the
nuns, there are two duets for _Robert_ and _Bertram_--"Du rendezvous"
(Our meeting place), and "Le bonheur est dans l'inconstance" (Our
pleasure lies in constant change).

The first use _Robert_ makes of the branch is to effect entrance into
_Isabella's_ chamber. He threatens to seize her and bear her away, but
yields to her entreaties, breaks the branch, and destroys the spell.
In this act--the fourth--occurs the famous air for _Isabella_,
"Robert, toi que j'aime" (Robert, whom I love).

Once more _Bertram_ seeks to make with _Robert_ a compact, the price
for which shall be paid with his soul. But _Alice_, by repeating to
him the last warning words of his mother, delays the signing of the
compact until the clock strikes twelve. The spell is broken. _Bertram_
disappears. The cathedral doors swing open disclosing _Isabella_, who,
in her bridal robes, awaits _Robert_. The finale contains a trio for
_Alice_, _Robert_, and _Bertram_, which is considered one of
Meyerbeer's finest inspirations.


LES HUGUENOTS

THE HUGUENOTS

     Opera in five acts; music by Meyerbeer, words by Scribe and
     Deschamps. Produced, Grand Opéra, Paris, February 29, 1836.
     New York, Astor Place Opera House, June 24, 1850, with Salvi
     (_Raoul_), Coletti (_de Nevers_), Setti (_St. Bris_), Marini
     (_Marcel_), Signorina Bosio (_Marguerite_), Steffanone
     (_Valentine_), Vietti (Urbain); Academy of Music, March 8,
     1858, with La Grange and Formes; April 30, 1872,
     Parepa-Rosa, Wachtel, and Santley (_St. Bris_): Academy of
     Music, 1873, with Nilsson, Cary, Del Puente, and Campanini;
     Metropolitan Opera House, beginning 1901, with Melba or
     Sembrich as _Marguerite de Valois_, Nordica (_Valentine_),
     Jean de Reszke (_Raoul_), Édouard de Reszke (_Marcel_),
     Plançon (_St. Bris_), Maurel (_de Nevers_), and Mantelli
     (_Urbain_) (performances known as "the nights of the seven
     stars"); Metropolitan Opera House, 1914, with Caruso,
     Destinn, Hempel, Matzenauer, Braun, and Scotti. The first
     performance in America occurred April 29, 1839, in New
     Orleans.

     CHARACTERS

     VALENTINE, daughter of St. Bris               _Soprano_
     MARGUERITE DE VALOIS, betrothed to
       Henry IV., of Navarre                       _Soprano_
     URBAIN, page to Marguerite              _Mezzo-Soprano_
     COUNT DE ST. BRIS } Catholic noblemen      { _Baritone_
     COUNT DE NEVERS   }                        { _Baritone_
     COSSE                                           _Tenor_
     MÉRU     }                                 { _Baritone_
     THORE    } Catholic gentlemen              { _Baritone_
     TAVANNES }                                 {    _Tenor_
     DE RETZ                                      _Baritone_
     RAOUL DE NANGIS, a Huguenot nobleman            _Tenor_
     MARCEL, a Huguenot soldier, servant to Raoul     _Bass_

     Catholic and Huguenot ladies, and gentlemen of the court;
     soldiers, pages, citizens, and populace; night watch, monks,
     and students.

     _Place_--Touraine and Paris.

     _Time_--August, 1572.

It has been said that, because Meyerbeer was a Jew, he chose for two
of his operas, "Les Huguenots" and "Le Prophète," subjects dealing
with bloody uprisings due to religious differences among Christians.
"Les Huguenots" is written around the massacre of the Huguenots by the
Catholics, on the night of St. Bartholomew's, Paris, August 24, 1572;
"Le Prophète" around the seizure and occupation of Münster, in 1555,
by the Anabaptists, led by John of Leyden. Even the ballet of the
spectral nuns, in "Robert le Diable," has been suggested as due to
Meyerbeer's racial origin and a tendency covertly to attack the
Christian religion. Far-fetched, I think. Most likely his famous
librettist was chiefly responsible for choice of subjects and
Meyerbeer accepted them because of the effective manner in which they
were worked out. Even so, he was not wholly satisfied with Scribe's
libretto of "Les Huguenots." He had the scene of the benediction of
the swords enlarged, and it was upon his insistence that Deschamps
wrote in the love duet in Act IV. As it stands, the story has been
handled with keen appreciation of its dramatic possibilities.

Act I. Touraine. _Count de Nevers_, one of the leaders of the Catholic
party, has invited friends to a banquet at his château. Among these is
_Raoul de Nangis_, a Huguenot. He is accompanied by an old retainer,
the Huguenot soldier, _Marcel_. In the course of the fête it is
proposed that everyone shall toast his love in a song. _Raoul_ is the
first to be called upon. The name of the beauty whom he pledges in his
toast is unknown to him. He had come to her assistance while she was
being molested by a party of students. She thanked him most
graciously. He lives in the hope of meeting her again.

_Marcel_ is a fanatic Huguenot. Having followed his master to the
banquet, he finds him surrounded by leaders of the party belonging to
the opposite faith. He fears for the consequences. In strange contrast
to the glamour and gaiety of the festive proceedings, he intones
Luther's hymn, "A Stronghold Sure." The noblemen of the Catholic party
instead of becoming angry are amused. _Marcel_ repays their levity by
singing a fierce Huguenot battle song. That also amuses them.

At this point the _Count de Nevers_ is informed that a lady is in the
garden and wishes to speak with him. He leaves his guests who, through
an open window, watch the meeting. _Raoul_, to his surprise and
consternation, recognizes in the lady none other than the fair
creature whom he saved from the molestations of the students and with
whom he has fallen in love. Naturally, however, from the circumstances
of her meeting with _de Nevers_ he cannot but conclude that a liaison
exists between them.

_De Nevers_ returns, rejoins his guests. _Urbain_, the page of _Queen
Marguerite de Valois_, enters. He is in search of _Raoul_, having come
to conduct him to a meeting with a gracious and noble lady whose name,
however, is not disclosed. _Raoul's_ eyes having been bandaged, he is
conducted to a carriage and departs with _Urbain_, wondering what his
next adventure will be.

Act II. In the Garden of Chenonçeaux, _Queen Marguerite de Valois_
receives _Valentine_, daughter of the _Count de St. Bris_. The _Queen_
knows of her rescue from the students by _Raoul_. Desiring to put an
end to the differences between Huguenots and Catholics, which have
already led to bloodshed, she has conceived the idea of uniting
_Valentine_, daughter of one of the great Catholic leaders, to
_Raoul_. _Valentine_, however, was already pledged to _de Nevers_. It
was at the _Queen's_ suggestion that she visited _de Nevers_ and had
him summoned from the banquet in order to ask him to release her from
her engagement to him--a request which, however reluctantly, he
granted.

Here, in the Gardens of Chenonçeaux, _Valentine_ and _Raoul_ are,
according to the Queen's plan, to meet again, but she intends first to
receive him alone. He is brought in, the bandage is removed from his
eyes, he does homage to the _Queen_, and when, in the presence of the
leaders of the Catholic party, _Marguerite de Valois_ explains her
purpose and her plan through this union of two great houses to end the
religious differences which have disturbed her reign, all consent.

_Valentine_ is led in. _Raoul_ at once recognizes her as the woman of
his adventure but also, alas, as the woman whom _de Nevers_ met in the
garden during the banquet. Believing her to be unchaste, he refuses
her hand. General consternation. _St. Bris_, his followers, all draw
their swords. _Raoul's_ flashes from its sheath. Only the _Queen's_
intervention prevents bloodshed.

Act III. The scene is an open place in Paris before a chapel, where
_de Nevers_, who has renewed his engagement with _Valentine_, is to
take her in marriage. The nuptial cortège enters the building. The
populace is restless, excited. Religious differences still are the
cause of enmity. The presence of Royalist and Huguenot soldiers adds
to the restlessness of the people. _De Nevers_, _St. Bris_, and
another Catholic nobleman, _Maurevert_, come out from the chapel,
where _Valentine_ has desired to linger in prayer. The men are still
incensed over what appears to them the shameful conduct of _Raoul_
toward _Valentine_. _Marcel_ at that moment delivers to _St. Bris_ a
challenge from _Raoul_ to fight a duel. When the old Huguenot soldier
has retired, the noblemen conspire together to lead _Raoul_ into an
ambush. During the duel, followers of _St. Bris_, who have been placed
in hiding, are suddenly to issue forth and murder the young Huguenot
nobleman.

From a position in the vestibule of the chapel, _Valentine_ has
overheard the plot. She still loves _Raoul_ and him alone. How shall
she warn him of the certain death in store for him? She sees _Marcel_
and counsels him that his master must not come here to fight the duel
unless he is accompanied by a strong guard. As a result, when _Raoul_
and his antagonist meet, and _St. Bris's_ soldiers are about to attack
the Huguenot, _Marcel_ summons the latter's followers from a nearby
inn. A street fight between the two bodies of soldiers is imminent,
when the _Queen_ and her suite enter. A gaily bedecked barge comes up
the river and lays to at the bank. It bears _de Nevers_ and his
friends. He has come to convey his bride from the chapel to his home.
And now _Raoul_ learns, from the Queen, and to his great grief, that
he has refused the hand of the woman who loved him and who had gone to
_de Nevers_ in order to ask him to release her from her engagement
with him.

Act IV. _Raoul_ seeks _Valentine_, who has become the wife of _de
Nevers_, in her home. He wishes to be assured of the truth of what he
has heard from the _Queen_. During their meeting footsteps are heard
approaching and _Valentine_ barely has time to hide _Raoul_ in an
adjoining room when _de Nevers_, _St. Bris_, and other noblemen of the
Catholic party enter, and form a plan to be carried out that very
night--the night of St. Bartholomew--to massacre the Huguenots. Only
_de Nevers_ refuses to take part in the conspiracy. Rather than do so,
he yields his sword to _St. Bris_ and is led away a prisoner. The
priests bless the swords, _St. Bris_ and his followers swear loyalty
to the bloody cause in which they are enlisted, and depart to await
the order to put it into effect, the tolling of the great bell from
St. Germain.

_Raoul_ comes out from his place of concealment. His one thought is to
hurry away and notify his brethren of their peril. _Valentine_ seeks
to detain him, entreats him not to go, since it will be to certain
death. As the greatest and final argument to him to remain, she
proclaims that she loves him. But already the deep-voiced bell tolls
the signal. Flames, blood-red, flare through the windows. Nothing can
restrain _Raoul_ from doing his duty. _Valentine_ stands before the
closed door to block his egress. Rushing to a casement, he throws back
the window and leaps to the street.

Act V. Covered with blood, _Raoul_ rushes into the ballroom of the
Hôtel de Nesle, where the Huguenot leaders, ignorant of the massacre
that has begun, are assembled, and summons them to battle. Already
Coligny, their great commander, has fallen. Their followers are being
massacred.

[Illustration: Copyright photo by A. Dupont

Plançon as Saint Bris in "The Huguenots"]

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Jean de Reszke as Raoul in "The Huguenots"]

The scene changes to a Huguenot churchyard, where _Raoul_ and _Marcel_
have found temporary refuge. _Valentine_ hurries in. She wishes to
save _Raoul_. She adjures him to adopt her faith. _De Nevers_ has met
a noble death and she is free--free to marry _Raoul_. But he
refuses to marry her at the sacrifice of his religion. Now she decides
that she will die with him and that they will both die as Huguenots
and united. _Marcel_ blesses them. The enemy has stormed the
churchyard and begins the massacre of those who have sought safety
there and in the edifice itself. Again the scene changes, this time to
a square in Paris. _Raoul_, who has been severely wounded, is
supported by _Marcel_ and _Valentine_. _St. Bris_ and his followers
approach. In answer to _St. Bris's_ summons, "Who goes there?"
_Raoul_, calling to his aid all the strength he has left, cries out,
"Huguenots." There is a volley. _Raoul_, _Valentine_, _Marcel_ lie
dead on the ground. Too late _St. Bris_ discovers that he has been the
murderer of his own daughter.

Originally in five acts, the version of "Les Huguenots" usually
performed contains but three. The first two acts are drawn into one by
converting the second act into a scene and adding it to the first. The
fifth act (or in the usual version the fourth) is nearly always
omitted. This is due to the length of the opera. The audience takes it
for granted that, when _Raoul_ leaves _Valentine_, he goes to his
death. I have seen a performance of "Les Huguenots" with the last act.
So far as an understanding of the work is concerned, it is
unnecessary. It also involves as much noise and smell of gunpowder as
Massenet's opera, "La Navarraise"--and that is saying a good deal.

The performances of "Les Huguenots," during the most brilliant
revivals of that work at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, under
Maurice Grau, were known as "les nuits de sept étoiles" (the nights of
the seven stars). The cast to which the performances owed this
designation is given in the summary above. A manager, in order to put
"Les Huguenots" satisfactorily upon the stage, should be able to give
it with seven first-rate principals, trained as nearly as possible in
the same school of opera. The work should be sung preferably in
French and by singers who know something of the traditions of the
Grand Opéra, Paris. Mixed casts of Latin and Teutonic singers mar a
performance of this work. If "Les Huguenots" appears to have fallen
off in popularity since "the nights of the seven stars," I am inclined
to attribute this to inability or failure to give the opera with a
cast either as fine or as homogeneous as that which flourished at the
Metropolitan during the era of "les nuits de sept étoiles," when there
not only were seven stars on the stage, but also seven dollars in the
box office for every orchestra stall that was occupied--and they all
were.

Auber's "Masaniello," Rossini's "William Tell," Halévy's "La Juive,"
and Meyerbeer's own "Robert le Diable" practically having dropped out
of the repertoire in this country, "Les Huguenots," composed in 1836,
is the earliest opera in the French grand manner that maintains itself
on the lyric stage of America--the first example of a school of music
which, through the "Faust" of Gounod, the "Carmen" of Bizet, and the
works of Massenet, has continued to claim our attention.

After a brief overture, in which Luther's hymn is prominent, the first
act opens with a sonorous chorus for the banqueters in the salon of
_de Nevers's_ castle. _Raoul_, called upon to propose in song a toast
to a lady, pledges the unknown beauty, whom he rescued from the
insolence of a band of students. He does this in the romance, "Plus
blanche que la plus blanche hermine" (Whiter than the whitest ermine).
The accompaniment to the melodious measures, with which the romance
opens, is supplied by a viola solo, the effective employment of which
in this passage shows Meyerbeer's knowledge of the instrument and its
possibilities. This romance is a perfect example of a certain phase of
Meyerbeer's art--a suave and elegant melody for voice, accompanied in
a highly original manner, part of the time, in this instance, by a
single instrument in the orchestra, which, however, in spite of its
effectiveness, leaves an impression of simplicity not wholly
uncalculated.

_Raoul's_ romance is followed by the entrance of _Marcel_, and the
scene for that bluff, sturdy old Huguenot campaigner and loyal servant
of _Raoul_, a splendidly drawn character, dramatically and musically.
_Marcel_ tries to drown the festive sounds by intoning the stern
phrases of Luther's hymn. This he follows with the Huguenot battle
song, with its "Piff, piff, piff," which has been rendered famous by
the great bassos who have sung it, including, in this country, Formes
and Édouard de Reszke.

_De Nevers_ then is called away to his interview with the lady, whom
_Raoul_ recognizes as the unknown beauty rescued by him from the
students, and whom, from the circumstances of her visit to _de
Nevers_, he cannot but believe to be engaged in a liaison with the
latter. Almost immediately upon _de Nevers's_ rejoining his guests
there enters _Urbain_, the page of _Marguerite de Valois_. He greets
the assembly with the brilliant recitative, "Nobles Seigneurs salut!"
This is followed by a charming cavatina, "Une dame noble et sage" (A
wise and noble lady). Originally this was a soprano number, _Urbain_
having been composed as a soprano rôle, which it remained for twelve
years. Then, in 1844, when "Les Huguenots" was produced in London,
with Alboni as _Urbain_, Meyerbeer transposed it, and a contralto, or
mezzo-soprano, part it has remained ever since, its interpreters in
this country having included Annie Louise Cary, Trebelli, Scalchi, and
Homer. The theme of "Une dame noble et sage" is as follows:

[Transcriber's Note: Music apparently missing from original.]

The letter brought by _Urbain_ is recognized by the Catholic noblemen
as being in the handwriting of _Marguerite de Valois_. As it is
addressed to _Raoul_, they show by their obsequious demeanour toward
him the importance they attach to the invitation. In accordance with
its terms _Raoul_ allows himself to be blindfolded and led away by
_Urbain_.

Following the original score and regarding what is now the second
scene of Act I as the second act, this opens with _Marguerite de
Valois's_ apostrophe to the fair land of Touraine (Ô beau pays de la
Touraine), which, with the air immediately following, "À ce mot tout
s'anime et renaît la nature" (At this word everything revives and
Nature renews itself),

[Music]

constitutes an animated and brilliant scene for coloratura soprano.

There is a brief colloquy between _Marguerite_ and _Valentine_, then
the graceful female chorus, sung on the bank of the Seine and known as
the "bathers' chorus," this being followed by the entrance of _Urbain_
and his engaging song--the rondeau composed for Alboni--"Non!--non,
non, non, non, non! Vous n'avez jamais, je gage" (No!--no, no, no, no,
no! You have never heard, I wager).

_Raoul_ enters, the bandage is removed from his eyes, and there
follows a duet, "Beauté divine, enchanteresse" (Beauty brightly
divine, enchantress), between him and _Marguerite_, all graciousness
on her side and courtly admiration on his. The nobles and their
followers come upon the scene. _Marguerite de Valois's_ plan to end
the religious strife that has distracted the realm meets with their
approbation. The finale of the act begins with the swelling chorus in
which they take oath to abide by it. There is the brief episode in
which _Valentine_ is led in by _St. Bris_, presented to _Raoul_, and
indignantly spurned by him. The act closes with a turbulent ensemble.
Strife and bloodshed, then and there, are averted only by the
interposition of _Marguerite_.

Act III opens with the famous chorus of the Huguenot soldiers in
which, while they imitate with their hands the beating of drums, they
sing their spirited "Rataplan." By contrast, the Catholic maidens, who
accompany the bridal cortège of _Valentine_ and _de Nevers_ to the
chapel, intone a litany, while Catholic citizens, students, and women
protest against the song of the Huguenot soldiers. These several
choral elements are skilfully worked out in the score. _Marcel_,
coming upon the scene, manages to have _St. Bris_ summoned from the
chapel, and presents _Raoul's_ challenge to a duel. The Catholics form
their plot to assassinate _Raoul_, of which _Valentine_ finds
opportunity to notify _Marcel_, in what is one of the striking scenes
of the opera. The duel scene is preceded by a stirring septette, a
really great passage, "En mon bon droit j'ai confiance" (On my good
cause relying). The music, when the ambuscade is uncovered and
_Marcel_ summons the Huguenots to _Raoul's_ aid, and a street combat
is threatened, reaches an effective climax in a double chorus. The
excitement subsides with the arrival of _Marguerite de Valois_, and of
the barge containing _de Nevers_ and his retinue. A brilliant chorus,
supported by the orchestra and by a military band on the stage, with
ballet to add to the spectacle forms the finale, as _de Nevers_
conducts _Valentine_ to the barge, and is followed on board by _St.
Bris_ and the nuptial cortège.

The fourth act, in the home of _de Nevers_, opens with a romance for
_Valentine_, "Parmi les pleurs mon rêve se ranime" (Amid my tears, by
dreams once more o'ertaken), which is followed by a brief scene
between her and _Raoul_, whom the approach of the conspirators quickly
obliges her to hide in an adjoining apartment. The scene of the
consecration of the swords is one of the greatest in opera; but that
it shall have its full effect _St. Bris_ must be an artist like
Plançon, who, besides being endowed with a powerful and beautifully
managed voice, was superb in appearance and as _St. Bris_ had the
bearing of the dignified, commanding yet fanatic nobleman of old
France. Musically and dramatically the scene rests on _St. Bris's_
shoulders, and broad they must be, since his is the most conspicuous
part in song and action, from the intonation of his solo, "Pour cette
cause sainte, obéisses sans crainte" (With sacred zeal and ardor let
now your soul be burning),

[Music]

to the end of the savage _stretta_, when, the conspirators, having
tiptoed almost to the door, in order to disperse for their mission,
suddenly turn, once more uplift sword hilts, poignards, and
crucifixes, and, after a frenzied adjuration of loyalty to a cause
that demands the massacre of an unsuspecting foe, steal forth into the
shades of fateful night.

Powerful as this scene is, Meyerbeer has made the love duet which
follows even more gripping. For now he interprets the conflicting
emotions of love and loyalty in two hearts. It begins with _Raoul's_
exclamation, "Le danger presse et le temps vole, laisse-moi partir"
(Danger presses and time flies. Let me depart), and reaches its climax
in a _cantilena_ of supreme beauty, "Tu l'as dit, oui tu m'aimes"
(Thou hast said it; aye, thou lov'st me),

[Music]

which is broken in upon by the sinister tolling of a distant bell--the
signal for the massacre to begin. An air for _Valentine_, an
impassioned _stretta_ for the lovers, _Raoul's_ leap from the window,
followed by a discharge of musketry, from which, in the curtailed
version, he is supposed to meet his death, and this act, still an
amazing achievement in opera, is at an end.

In the fifth act, there is the fine scene of the blessing by _Marcel_
of _Raoul_ and _Valentine_, during which strains of Luther's hymn are
heard, intoned by Huguenots, who have crowded into their church for a
last refuge.

"Les Huguenots" has been the subject of violent attacks, beginning
with Robert Schumann's essay indited as far back as 1837, and starting
off with the assertion, "I feel today like the young warrior who draws
his sword for the first time in a holy cause." Schumann's most
particular "holy cause" was, in this instance, to praise Mendelssohn's
oratorio, "St. Paul," at the expense of Meyerbeer's opera "Les
Huguenots," notwithstanding the utter dissimilarity of purpose in the
two works. On the other hand Hanslick remarks that a person who cannot
appreciate the dramatic power of this Meyerbeer opera, must be lacking
in certain elements of the critical faculty. Even Wagner, one of
Meyerbeer's bitterest detractors, found words of the highest praise
for the passage from the love duet, which is quoted immediately above.
The composer of "The Ring of the Nibelung" had a much broader outlook
upon the world than Schumann, in whose genius there was, after all, a
good deal of the _bourgeois_.

Pro or con, when "Les Huguenots" is sung with a fully adequate cast,
it cannot fail of making a deep impression--as witness "les nuits de
sept étoiles."

A typical night of the seven stars at the Metropolitan Opera House,
New York, was that of December 26, 1894. The _sept étoiles_ were
Nordica (_Valentine_), Scalchi (_Urbain_), Melba (_Marguerite de
Valois_), Jean de Reszke (_Raoul_), Plançon (_St. Bris_), Maurel (_de
Nevers_), and Édouard de Reszke (_Marcel_). Two Academy of Music casts
are worth referring to. April 30, 1872, Parepa-Rosa, for her last
appearance in America, sang _Valentine_. Wachtel was _Raoul_ and
Santley _St. Bris_. The other Academy cast was a "Night of six stars,"
and is noteworthy as including Maurel twenty years, almost to the
night, before he appeared in the Metropolitan cast. The date was
December 24, 1874. Nilsson was _Valentine_, Cary _Urbain_, Maresi
_Marguerite de Valois_, Campanini _Raoul_, Del Puente _St. Bris_,
Maurel _de Nevers_, and Nannetti _Marcel_. With a more distinguished
_Marguerite de Valois_, this performance would have anticipated the
"nuits de sept étoiles."


LE PROPHÈTE

THE PROPHET

     Opera in five acts, by Meyerbeer; words by Scribe. Produced,
     Grand Opéra, Paris, April 6, 1849. London, Covent Garden,
     July 24, 1849, with Mario, Viardot-Garcia, Miss Hayes, and
     Tagliafico. New Orleans, April 2, 1850. New York, Niblo's
     Garden, November 25, 1853, with Salvi (_John of Leyden_),
     Steffanone and Mme. Maretzek. Revived in German,
     Metropolitan Opera House, by Dr. Leopold Damrosch, December
     17, 1884, with Anton Schott as _John of Leyden_, Marianne
     Brandt as _Fides_ and Schroeder-Hanfstaengl as _Bertha_. It
     was given ten times during the season, in which it was
     equalled only by "Tannhäuser" and "Lohengrin." Also,
     Metropolitan Opera House, 1898-99, with Jean de Reszke,
     Brema (_Fides_), Lehmann (_Bertha_); January 22, 1900,
     Alvarez, Schumann-Heink, Suzanne Adams, Plançon and Édouard
     de Reszke; by Gatti-Casazza, February 7, 1918, with Caruso,
     Matzenauer, Muzio, Didur, and Mardones.

     CHARACTERS

     JOHN OF LEYDEN                                  _Tenor_
     FIDES, his mother                       _Mezzo-Soprano_
     BERTHA, his bride                             _Soprano_
     JONAS     }                                   { _Tenor_
     MATTHISEN } Anabaptists                       {  _Bass_
     ZACHARIAS }                                   {  _Bass_
     COUNT OBERTHAL                               _Baritone_

     Nobles, citizens, Anabaptists, peasants, soldiers,
     prisoners, children.

     _Time_--1534-35.

     _Place_--Dordrecht, Holland, and Münster.

Act I. At the foot of _Count Oberthal's_ castle, near Dordrecht,
Holland, peasants and mill hands are assembled. _Bertha_ and _Fides_
draw near. The latter is bringing to _Bertha_ a betrothal ring from
her son _John_, who is to marry her on the morrow. But permission must
first be obtained from _Count Oberthal_ as lord of the domain. The
women are here to seek it.

There arrive three sombre looking men, who strive to rouse the people
to revolt against tyranny. They are the Anabaptists, _Jonas_,
_Matthisen_, and _Zacharias_. The _Count_, however, who chances to
come out of the castle with his followers, recognizes in _Jonas_ a
steward who was discharged from his employ. He orders his soldiers to
beat the three men with the flat of their swords. _John's_ mother and
_Bertha_ make their plea to _Oberthal_. _John_ and _Bertha_ have loved
ever since he rescued her from drowning in the Meuse. Admiring
_Bertha's_ beauty, _Oberthal_ refuses to give permission for her to
marry _John_, but, instead, orders her seized and borne to the castle
for his own diversion. The people are greatly agitated and, when the
three Anabaptists reappear, throw themselves at their feet, and on
rising make threatening gestures toward the castle.

Act II. In _John's_ inn at Leyden are the three Anabaptists and a
throng of merry-making peasants. Full of longing for _Bertha_, _John_
is thinking of the morrow. The Anabaptists discover that he bears a
remarkable resemblance to the picture of King David in the Cathedral
of Münster. They believe this resemblance can be made of service to
their plans. _John_ tells them of a strange dream he has had, and in
which he found himself standing under the dome of a temple with people
prostrate before him. They interpret it for him as evidence that he
will mount a throne, and urge him to follow them. But for him there is
but one throne--that of the kingdom of love with _Bertha_.

At that moment, however, she rushes in and begs him quickly to hide
her. She has escaped from _Oberthal_, who is in pursuit. _Oberthal_
and his soldiers enter. The _Count_ threatens that if _John_ does not
deliver over _Bertha_ to him, his mother, whom the soldiers have
captured on the way to the inn, shall die. She is brought in and
forced to her knees. A soldier with a battle-axe stands over her.
After a brief struggle _John's_ love for his mother conquers. He hands
over _Bertha_ to _Oberthal_. She is led away. _Fides_ is released.

The three Anabaptists return. Now _John_ is ready to join them, if
only to wreak vengeance on _Oberthal_. They insist that he come at
once, without even saying farewell to his mother, who must be kept in
ignorance of their plans. John consents and hurries off with them.

Act III. In the winter camp of the Anabaptists in a forest of
Westphalia, before Münster. On a frozen lake people are skating. The
people have risen against their oppressors. _John_ has been proclaimed
a prophet of God. At the head of the Anabaptists he is besieging
Münster.

The act develops in three scenes. The first reveals the psychological
medley of fanaticism and sensuality of the Anabaptists and their
followers. In the second _John_ enters. _Oberthal_ is delivered into
his hands. From him _John_ learns that _Bertha_ again has escaped from
the castle and is in Münster. The three Anabaptist leaders wish to put
the _Count_ to death. But _John_, saying that _Bertha_ shall be his
judge, puts off the execution, much to the disgust of the three
fanatics, who find _John_ assuming more authority than is agreeable to
them. This scene, the second of the act, takes place in _Zachariah's_
tent. The third scene shows again the camp of the Anabaptists. The
leaders, fearing _John's_ usurpation of power, have themselves headed
an attack by their followers on Münster and met with defeat. The
rabble they have led is furious and ready to turn even against _John_.
He, however, by sheer force of personality coupled with his assumption
of superhuman inspiration, rallies the crowd to his standard, and
leads it to victory.

Act IV. A public place in Münster. The city is in possession of the
Anabaptists. _John_, once a plain innkeeper of Leyden, has been swept
along on the high tide of success and decides to have himself
proclaimed Emperor. Meanwhile _Fides_ has been reduced to beggary. The
Anabaptists, in order to make her believe that _John_ is dead--so as
to reduce to a minimum the chance of her suspecting that the new
_Prophet_ and her son are one and the same--left in the inn a bundle
of _John's_ clothes stained with blood, together with a script stating
that he had been murdered by the _Prophet_ and his followers.

The poor woman has come to Münster to beg. There she meets _Bertha_,
who, when _Fides_ tells her that _John_ has been murdered, vows
vengeance upon the _Prophet_.

_Fides_ follows the crowd into the cathedral, to which the scene
changes. When, during the coronation scene, _John_ speaks, and
announces that he is the elect of God, the poor beggar woman starts at
the sound of his voice. She cries out, "My son!" _John's_ cause is
thus threatened and his life at stake. He has claimed divine origin.
If the woman is his mother, the people, whom he rules with an iron
hand, will denounce and kill him. With quick wit he meets the
emergency, and even makes use of it to enhance his authority by
improvising an affirmation scene. He bids his followers draw their
swords and thrust them into his breast, if the beggar woman again
affirms that he is her son. Seeing the swords held ready to pierce
him, _Fides_, in order to save him, now declares that he is not her
son--that her eyes, dimmed by age, have deceived her.

Act V. The three Anabaptists, _Jonas_, _Matthisen_, and _Zacharias_,
had intended to use _John_ only as an instrument to attain power for
themselves. The German Emperor, who is moving on Münster with a large
force, has promised them pardon if they will betray the _Prophet_ and
usurper into his hands. To this they have agreed, and are ready on his
coronation day to betray him.

At _John's_ secret command _Fides_ has been brought to the palace.
Here her son meets her. He, whom she has seen in the hour of his
triumph and who still is all-powerful, implores her pardon, but in
vain, until she, in the belief that he has been impelled to his
usurpation of power and bloody deeds only by thirst for vengeance for
_Bertha's_ wrongs, forgives him, on condition that he return to
Leyden. This he promises in full repentance.

They are joined by _Bertha_. She has sworn to kill the _Prophet_ whom
she blames for the supposed murder of her lover. To accomplish her
purpose, she has set a slow fire to the palace. It will blaze up near
the powder magazine, when the _Prophet_ and his henchmen are at
banquet in the great hall of the palace, and blow up the edifice.

She recognizes her lover. Her joy, however, is short-lived, for at the
moment a captain comes to _John_ with the announcement that he has
been betrayed and that the Emperor's forces are at the palace gates.
Thus _Bertha_ learns that her lover and the bloodstained _Prophet_ are
one. Horrified, she plunges a dagger into her heart.

_John_ determines to die, a victim to the catastrophe which _Bertha_
has planned, and which is impending. He joins the banqueters at their
orgy. At the moment when all his open and secret enemies are at the
table and pledge him in a riotous bacchanale, smoke rises from the
floor. Tongues of fire shoot up. _Fides_, in the general uproar and
confusion, calmly joins her son, to die with him, as the powder
magazine blows up, and, with a fearful crash the edifice collapses in
smoke and flame.

_John of Leyden's_ name was Jan Beuckelszoon. He was born in 1509. In
business he was successively a tailor, a small merchant, and an
innkeeper. After he had had himself crowned in Münster, that city
became a scene of orgy and cruelty. It was captured by the imperial
forces June 24, 1535. The following January the "prophet" was put to
death by torture. The same fate was meted out to Knipperdölling, his
henchman, who had conveniently rid him of one of his wives by cutting
off her head.

       *       *       *       *       *

The music of the first act of "Le Prophète" contains a cheerful chorus
for peasants, a cavatina for _Bertha_, "Mon coeur s'élance" (My
heart throbs wildly), in which she voices her joy over her expected
union with _John_; the Latin chant of the three Anabaptists, gloomy
yet stirring; the music of the brief revolt of the peasantry against
_Oberthal_; the plea of _Fides_ and _Bertha_ to _Oberthal_ for his
sanction of _Bertha's_ marriage to _John_, "Un jour, dans les flots de
la Meuse" (One day in the waves of the Meuse); _Oberthal's_ refusal,
and his abduction of _Bertha_; the reappearance of the three
Anabaptists and the renewal of their efforts to impress the people
with a sense of the tyranny by which they are oppressed.

Opening the second act, in _John's_ tavern, in the suburbs of Leyden,
are the chorus and dance of _John's_ friends, who are rejoicing over
his prospective wedding. When the three Anabaptists have recognized
his resemblance to the picture of David in the cathedral at Münster,
_John_, observing their sombre yet impressive bearing, tells them of
his dream, and asks them to interpret it: "Sous les vastes arceaux
d'un temple magnifique" (Under the great dome of a splendid temple).
They promise him a throne. But he knows a sweeter empire than the one
they promise, that which will be created by his coming union with
_Bertha_. Her arrival in flight from _Oberthal_ and _John's_ sacrifice
of her in order to save his mother from death, lead to _Fides's_ solo,
"Ah, mon fils" (Ah, my son), one of the great airs for mezzo-soprano.

[Music]

Most attractive in the next act is the ballet of the skaters on the
frozen lake near the camp of the Anabaptists. The scene is brilliant
in conception, the music delightfully rhythmic and graceful. There is
a stirring battle song for _Zacharias_, in which he sings of the enemy
"as numerous as the stars," yet defeated. Another striking number is
the fantastic trio for _Jonas_, _Zacharias_, and _Oberthal_,
especially in the descriptive passage in which in rhythm with the
music, _Jonas_ strikes flint and steel, ignites a lantern and by its
light recognizes _Oberthal_. When _John_ rallies the Anabaptists, who
have been driven back from under the walls of Münster and promises to
lead them to victory, the act reaches a superb climax in a "Hymne
Triomphal" for _John_ and chorus, "Roi du Ciel et des Anges" (Ruler of
Heaven and the Angels). At the most stirring moment of this finale, as
_John_ is being acclaimed by his followers, mists that have been
hanging over the lake are dispelled. The sun bursts forth in glory.

[Music]

In the next act there is a scene for _Fides_ in the streets of
Münster, in which, reduced to penury, she begs for alms. There also is
the scene at the meeting of _Fides_ and _Bertha_. The latter
believing, like _Fides_, that _John_ has been slain by the
Anabaptists, vows vengeance upon the _Prophet_.

The great procession in the cathedral with its march and chorus has
been, since the production of "Le Prophète" in 1849, a model of
construction for striking spectacular scenes in opera. The march is
famous. Highly dramatic is the scene in which _Fides_ first proclaims
and then denies that John is her son. The climax of the fifth act is
the drinking song, "Versez, que tout respire l'ivresse et le délire"
(Quaff, quaff, in joyous measure; breathe, breathe delirious
pleasure), in the midst of which the building is blown up, and _John_
perishes with those who would betray him.

       *       *       *       *       *

During the season of opera which Dr. Leopold Damrosch conducted at the
Metropolitan Opera House, 1884-85, when this work of Meyerbeer's led
the repertoire in number of performances, the stage management
produced a fine effect in the scene at the end of Act III, when the
_Prophet_ rallies his followers. Instead of soldiers tamely marching
past, as _John_ chanted his battle hymn, he was acclaimed by a rabble,
wrought up to a high pitch of excitement, and brandishing cudgels,
scythes, pitchforks, and other implements that would serve as weapons.
The following season, another stage manager, wishing to outdo his
predecessor, brought with him an electric sun from Germany, a horrid
thing that almost blinded the audience when it was turned on.


L'AFRICAINE

THE AFRICAN

     Opera in five acts, by Meyerbeer; words by Scribe. Produced
     Grand Opéra, Paris, April 28, 1865. London, in Italian,
     Covent Garden, July 22, 1865; in English, Covent Garden,
     October 21, 1865. New York, Academy of Music, December 1,
     1865, with Mazzoleni as _Vasco_, and Zucchi as _Selika_;
     September 30, 1872, with Lucca as _Selika_; Metropolitan
     Opera House, January 15, 1892, Nordica (_Selika_),
     Pettigiani (_Inez_), Jean de Reszke (_Vasco_), Édouard de
     Reszke (_Don Pedro_), Lasalle (_Nelusko_).

     CHARACTERS

     SELIKA, a slave                               _Soprano_
     INEZ, daughter of Don Diego                   _Soprano_
     ANNA, her attendant                         _Contralto_
     VASCO DA GAMA, an officer in the
       Portuguese Navy                               _Tenor_
     NELUSKO, a slave                             _Baritone_
     DON PEDRO, President of the Royal Council        _Bass_
     DON DIEGO } Members of the Council            {  _Bass_
     DON ALVAR }                                   { _Tenor_
     GRAND INQUISITOR                                 _Bass_

     Priests, inquisitors, councillors, sailors, Indians,
     attendants, ladies, soldiers.

     _Time_--Early sixteenth century.

     _Place_--Lisbon; on a ship at sea; and India.

In 1838 Scribe submitted to Meyerbeer two librettos: that of "Le
Prophète" and that of "L'Africaine." For the purposes of immediate
composition he gave "Le Prophète" the preference, but worked
simultaneously on the scores of both. As a result, in 1849, soon after
the production of "Le Prophète," a score of "L'Africaine" was
finished.

The libretto, however, never had been entirely satisfactory to the
composer. Scribe was asked to retouch it. In 1852 he delivered an
amended version to Meyerbeer who, so far as his score had gone,
adapted it to the revised book, and finished the entire work in 1860.
"Thus," says the _Dictionnaire des Opéras_, "the process of creating
'L'Africaine' lasted some twenty years and its birth appears to have
cost the life of its composer, for he died, in the midst of
preparations for its production, on Monday, May 2, 1864, the day after
a copy of his score was finished in his own house in the Rue Montaigne
and under his eyes."

       *       *       *       *       *

Act I. Lisbon. The Royal Council Chamber of Portugal. Nothing has been
heard of the ship of Bartholomew Diaz, the explorer. Among his
officers was _Vasco da Gama_, the affianced of _Inez_, daughter of the
powerful nobleman, _Don Diego_. _Vasco_ is supposed to have been lost
with the ship and her father now wishes _Inez_ to pledge her hand to
_Don Pedro_, head of the Royal Council of Portugal.

During a session of the Council, it is announced that the King wishes
to send an expedition to search for Diaz, but one of the councillors,
_Don Alvar_, informs the meeting that an officer and two captives, the
only survivors from the wreck of Diaz's vessel have arrived. The
officer is brought in. He is _Vasco da Gama_, whom all have believed
to be dead. Nothing daunted by the perils he has been through, he has
formed a new plan to discover the new land that, he believes, lies
beyond Africa. In proof of his conviction that such a land exists, he
brings in the captives, _Selika_ and _Nelusko_, natives, apparently,
of a country still unknown to Europe. _Vasco_ then retires to give the
Council opportunity to discuss his enterprise.

In his absence _Don Pedro_, who desires to win _Inez_ for himself, and
to head a voyage of discovery, surreptitiously gains possession of an
important chart from among _Vasco's_ papers. He then persuades the
_Grand Inquisitor_ and the Council that the young navigator's plans
are futile. Through his persuasion they are rejected. _Vasco_, who has
again come before the meeting, when informed that his proposal has
been set aside, insults the Council by charging it with ignorance and
bias. _Don Pedro_, utilizing the opportunity to get him out of the
way, has him seized and thrown into prison.

Act II. _Vasco_ has fallen asleep in his cell. Beside him watches
_Selika_. In her native land she is a queen. Now she is a captive and
a slave, her rank, of course, unknown to her captor, since she and
_Nelusko_ carefully have kept it from the knowledge of all. _Selika_
is deeply in love with _Vasco_ and is broken-hearted over his passion
for _Inez_, of which she has become aware. But the love of this
supposedly savage slave is greater than her jealousy. She protects the
slumbering _Vasco_ from the thrust of _Nelusko's_ dagger. For her
companion in captivity is deeply in love with her and desperately
jealous of the Portuguese navigator for whom she has conceived so
ardent a desire. Not only does she save _Vasco's_ life, but on a map
hanging on the prison wall she points out to him a route known only to
herself and _Nelusko_, by which he can reach the land of which he has
been in search.

_Inez_, _Don Pedro_, and their suite enter the prison. _Vasco_ is
free. _Inez_ has purchased his freedom through her own sacrifice in
marrying _Don Pedro_. _Vasco_, through the information received from
_Selika_, now hopes to undertake another voyage of discovery and thus
seek to make up in glory what he has lost in love. But he learns that
_Don Pedro_ has been appointed commander of an expedition and has
chosen _Nelusko_ as pilot. _Vasco_ sees his hopes shattered.

Act III. The scene is on _Don Pedro's_ ship at sea. _Don Alvar_, a
member of the Royal Council, who is with the expedition, has become
suspicious of _Nelusko_. Two ships of the squadron have already been
lost. _Don Alvar_ fears for the safety of the flagship. At that moment
a Portuguese vessel is seen approaching. It is in command of _Vasco da
Gama_, who has fitted it out at his own expense. Although _Don Pedro_
is his enemy, he comes aboard the admiral's ship to warn him that the
vessel is on a wrong course and likely to meet with disaster. _Don
Pedro_, however, accuses him of desiring only to see _Inez_, who is on
the vessel, and charges that his attempted warning is nothing more
than a ruse, with that purpose in view. At his command, _Vasco_ is
seized and bound. A few moments later, however, a violent storm breaks
over the ship. It is driven upon a reef. Savages, for whom _Nelusko_
has signalled, clamber up the sides of the vessel and massacre all
save a few whom they take captive.

Act IV. On the left, the entrance to a Hindu temple; on the right a
palace. Tropical landscape. Among those saved from the massacre is
_Vasco_. He finds himself in the land which he has sought to
discover--a tropical paradise. He is threatened with death by the
natives, but _Selika_, in order to save him, protests to her subjects
that he is her husband. The marriage is now celebrated according to
East Indian rites. _Vasco_, deeply touched by _Selika's_ fidelity, is
almost determined to abide by his nuptial vow and remain here as
_Selika's_ spouse, when suddenly he hears the voice of _Inez_. His
passion for her revives.

Act V. The gardens of _Selika's_ palace. Again _Selika_ makes a
sacrifice of love. How easily she could compass the death of _Vasco_
and _Inez_! But she forgives. She persuades _Nelusko_ to provide the
lovers with a ship and bids him meet her, after the ship has sailed,
on a high promontory overlooking the sea.

To this the scene changes. On the promontory stands a large manchineel
tree. The perfume of its blossoms is deadly to anyone who breathes it
in from under the deep shadow of its branches. From here _Selika_
watches the ship set sail. It bears from her the man she loves.
Breathing in the poison-laden odour from the tree from under which she
has watched the ship depart, she dies. _Nelusko_ seeks her, finds her
dead, and himself seeks death beside her under the fatal branches of
the manchineel.

       *       *       *       *       *

Meyerbeer considered "L'Africaine" his masterpiece, and believed that
through it he was bequeathing to posterity an immortal monument to his
fame. But although he had worked over the music for many years, and
produced a wonderfully well-contrived score, his labour upon it was
more careful and self-exacting than inspired; and this despite moments
of intense interest in the opera. Not "L'Africaine," but "Les
Huguenots," is considered his greatest work.

"L'Africaine" calls for one of the most elaborate stage-settings in
opera. This is the ship scene, which gives a lengthwise section of a
vessel, so that its between-decks and cabin interiors are seen--like
the compartments of a huge but neatly partitioned box laid on its
oblong side; in fact an amazing piece of marine architecture.

Scribe's libretto has been criticized, and not unjustly, on account of
the vacillating character which he gives _Vasco da Gama_. In the first
act this operatic hero is in love with _Inez_. In the prison scene, in
the second act, when _Selika_ points out on the map the true course to
India, he is so impressed with her as a teacher of geography, that he
clasps the supposed slave-girl to his breast and addresses her in
impassioned song. _Selika_, being enamoured of her pupil, naturally is
elated over his progress. Unfortunately _Inez_ enters the prison at
this critical moment to announce to _Vasco_ that she has secured his
freedom. To prove to _Inez_ that he still loves her _Vasco_ glibly
makes her a present of _Selika_ and _Nelusko_. _Selika_, so to speak,
no longer is on the map, so far as _Vasco_ is concerned, until, in the
fourth act, she saves his life by pretending he is her husband.
Rapturously he pledges his love to her. Then _Inez's_ voice is heard
singing a ballad to the Tagus River--and _Selika_ again finds herself
deserted. There is nothing for her to do but to die under the
manchineel tree.

"Is the shadow of this tree so fatal?" asks a French authority.
"Monsieur Scribe says yes, the naturalists say no." With this question
and answer "L'Africaine" may be left to its future fate upon the
stage, save that it seems proper to remark that, although the opera is
called "The African," _Selika_ appears to have been an East Indian.

Early in the first act of the opera occurs _Inez's_ ballad, "Adieu,
mon beau rivage" (Farewell, beloved shores). It is gracefully
accompanied by flute and oboe. This is the ballad to the river Tagus,
which _Vasco_ hears her sing in the fourth act. The finale of the
first act--the scene in which _Vasco_ defies the Royal Council--is a
powerful ensemble. The slumber song for _Selika_ in the second act, as
she watches over _Vasco_, "Sur mes genoux, fils du soleil" (On my
knees, offspring of the sun) is charming, and entirely original, with
many exotic and fascinating touches. _Nelusko's_ air of homage, "Fille
des rois, à toi l'hommage" (Daughter of Kings, my homage thine),
expresses a sombre loyalty characteristic of the savage whose passion
for his queen amounts to fanaticism. The finale of the act is an
unaccompanied septette for _Inez_, _Selika_, _Anna_, _Vasco_,
_d'Alvar_, _Nelusko_, and _Don Pedro_.

In the act which plays aboardship, are the graceful chorus of women,
"Le rapide et léger navire" (The swiftly gliding ship), the prayer of
the sailors, "Ô grand Saint Dominique," and Nelusko's song,
"Adamastor, roi des vagues profondes" (Adamastor, monarch of the
trackless deep), a savage invocation of sea and storm, chanted to the
rising of a hurricane, by the most dramatic figure among the
characters in the opera. For like _Marcel_ in "Les Huguenots" and
_Fides_ in "Le Prophète," _Nelusko_ is a genuine dramatic creation.

The Indian march and the ballet, which accompanies the ceremony of the
crowning of _Selika_, open the fourth act. The music is exotic,
piquant, and in every way effective. The scene is a masterpiece of its
kind. There follow the lovely measures of the principal tenor solo of
the opera, _Vasco's_ "Paradis sorti du sein de l'onde" (Paradise,
lulled by the lisping sea). Then comes the love duet between _Vasco_
and _Selika_, "Ô transport, ô douce extase" (Oh transport, oh sweet
ecstacy). One authority says of it that "rarely have the tender
passion, the ecstacy of love been expressed with such force." Now it
would be set down simply as a tiptop love duet of the old-fashioned
operatic kind.

The scene of _Selika's_ death under the manchineel tree is preceded by
a famous prelude for strings in unison supported by clarinets and
bassoons, a brief instrumental recital of grief that makes a powerful
appeal. The opera ends dramatically with a soliloquy for
_Selika_--"D'ici je vois la mer immense" (From here I gaze upon the
boundless deep).


L'ÉTOILE DU NORD AND DINORAH

Two other operas by Meyerbeer remain for mention. One of them has
completely disappeared from the repertoire of the lyric stage. The
other suffers an occasional revival for the benefit of some prima
donna extraordinarily gifted in lightness and flexibility of vocal
phrasing. These operas are "L'Étoile du Nord" (The Star of the North),
and "Dinorah, ou Le Pardon de Ploërmel" (Dinorah, or The Pardon of
Ploërmel).

Each of these contains a famous air. "L'Étoile du Nord" has the high
soprano solo with _obbligato_ for two flutes, which was one of Jenny
Lind's greatest show-pieces, but has not sufficed to keep the opera
alive. In "Dinorah" there is the "Shadow Song," in which _Dinorah_
dances and sings to her own shadow in the moonlight--a number which,
at long intervals of time, galvanizes the rest of the score into some
semblance of life.

The score of "L'Étoile du Nord," produced at the Opéra Comique, Paris,
February 16, 1854, was assembled from an earlier work, "Das Feldlager
in Schlesien" (The Camp in Silesia), produced for the opening of the
Berlin Opera House, February 17, 1847; but the plots differ. The story
of "L'Étoile du Nord" relates to the love of _Peter the Great_ for
_Catherine_, a cantinière. Their union finally takes place, but not
until _Catherine_ has disguised herself as a soldier and served in the
Russian camp. After surreptitiously watching _Peter_ and a companion
drink and roister in the former's tent with a couple of girls, she
loses her reason. When it is happily restored by Peter playing
familiar airs to her on his flute, she voices her joy in the
show-piece, "La, la, la, air chéri" (La, la, la, beloved song), to
which reference already has been made. In the first act _Catherine_
has a "Ronde bohémienne" (Gypsy rondo), the theme of which Meyerbeer
took from his opera "Emma de Rohsburg."

"L'Étoile du Nord" is in three acts. There is much military music in
the second act--a cavalry chorus, "Beau cavalier au coeur d'acier"
(Brave cavalier with heart of steel); a grenadier song with chorus,
"Grenadiers, fiers Moscovites" (grenadiers, proud Muscovites), in
which the chorus articulates the beat of the drums ("tr-r-r-um"); the
"Dessauer" march, a cavalry fanfare "Ah! voyez nos Tartares du Don"
(Ah, behold our Cossacks of the Don); and a grenadiers' march:
stirring numbers, all of them.

The libretto is by Scribe. The first act scene is laid in Wyborg, on
the Gulf of Finland; the second in a Russian camp; the third in
Peter's palace in Petrograd. Time, about 1700.

       *       *       *       *       *

Barbier and Carré wrote the words of "Dinorah," founding their
libretto on a Breton tale. Under the title, "Le Pardon de Ploërmel"
(the scene of the opera being laid near the Breton village of
Ploërmel) the work was produced at the Opéra Comique, Paris, April 4,
1859. It has three principal characters--a peasant girl, _Dinorah_,
_soprano_; _Hoël_, a goat-herd, _baritone_; _Corentino_, a bagpiper,
_tenor_. The famous baritone, Faure, was the _Hoël_ of the Paris
production. Cordier (_Dinorah_), Amodio (_Hoël_), Brignoli
(_Corentino_) were heard in the first American production, Academy of
Music, New York, November 24, 1864. As _Dinorah_ there also have been
heard here Ilma di Murska (Booth's Theatre, 1867), Marimon (with
Campanini as _Corentino_), December 12, 1879; Adelina Patti (1882);
Tetrazzini (Manhattan Opera House, 1907); and Galli-Curci (Lexington
Theatre, January 28, 1918), with the Chicago Opera Company.

_Dinorah_ is betrothed to _Hoël_. Her cottage has been destroyed in a
storm. _Hoël_, in order to rebuild it, goes into a region haunted by
evil spirits, in search of hidden treasure. _Dinorah_, believing
herself deserted, loses her reason and, with her goat, whose tinkling
bell is heard, wanders through the mountains in search of _Hoël_.

The opera is in three acts. It is preceded by an overture during which
there is sung by the villagers behind the curtain the hymn to Our Lady
of the Pardon. The scene of the first act is a rough mountain passage
near _Corentino's_ hut. _Dinorah_ finds her goat asleep and sings to
it a graceful lullaby, "Dors, petite, dors tranquille" (Little one,
sleep; calmly rest). _Corentino_, in his cottage, sings of the fear
that comes over him in this lonely region. To dispel it, he plays on
his cornemuse. _Dinorah_ enters the hut, and makes him dance with her,
while she sings.

When someone is heard approaching, she jumps out of the window. It is
_Hoël_. Both he and _Corentino_ think she is a sprite. _Hoël_ sings of
the gold he expects to find, and offers _Corentino_ a share in the
treasure if he will aid him lift it. According to the legend, however,
the first one to touch the treasure must die, and _Hoël's_ seeming
generosity is a ruse to make _Corentino_ the victim of the discovery.
The tinkle of the goat's bell is heard. _Hoël_ advises that they
follow the sound as it may lead to the treasure. The act closes with a
trio, "Ce tintement que l'on entend" (The tinkling tones that greet
the ear). _Dinorah_ stands among the high rocks, while _Hoël_ and
_Corentino_, the latter reluctantly, make ready to follow the tinkle
of the bell.

A wood of birches by moonlight is the opening scene of the second act.
It is here _Dinorah_ sings of "Le vieux sorcier de la montagne" (The
ancient wizard of the mountain), following it with the "Shadow Song,"
"Ombre légère qui suis mes pas" (Fleet shadow that pursues my
steps)--"Ombra leggiera" in the more familiar Italian version.

[Music]

This is a passage so graceful and, when sung and acted by an Adelina
Patti, was so appealing, that I am frank to confess it suggested to me
the chapter entitled "Shadows of the Stage," in my novel of opera
behind the scenes, _All-of-a-Sudden Carmen_.

The scene changes to a wild landscape. A ravine bridged by an uprooted
tree. A pond, with a sluiceway which, when opened, gives on the
ravine. The moon has set. A storm is rising.

_Hoël_ and _Corentino_ enter; later _Dinorah_. Through the night, that
is growing wilder, she sings the legend of the treasure, "Sombre
destinée, âme condamnée" (O'ershadowing fate, soul lost for aye).

Her words recall the tragic story of the treasure to _Corentino_, who
now sees through _Hoël's_ ruse, and seeks to persuade the girl to go
after the treasure. She sings gaily, in strange contrast to the
gathering storm. Lightning flashes show her her goat crossing the
ravine by the fallen tree. She runs after her pet. As she is crossing
the tree, a thunderbolt crashes. The sluice bursts, the tree is
carried away by the flood, which seizes _Dinorah_ in its swirl. _Hoël_
plunges into the wild waters to save her.

Not enough of the actual story remains to make a third act. But as
there has to be one, the opening of the act is filled in with a song
for a _Hunter_ (_bass_), another for a _Reaper_ (_tenor_), and a duet
for _Goat-herds_ (_soprano and contralto_). _Hoël_ enters bearing
_Dinorah_, who is in a swoon. _Hoël_ here has his principal air, "Ah!
mon remords te venge" (Ah, my remorse avenges you). _Dinorah_ comes
to. Her reason is restored when she finds herself in her lover's
arms. The villagers chant the "Hymn of the Pardon." A procession forms
for the wedding, which is to make happy _Dinorah_ and _Hoël_, every
one, in fact, including the goat.

Except for the scene of the "Shadow Dance," the libretto is incredibly
inane--far more so than the demented heroine. But Meyerbeer evidently
wanted to write a pastoral opera. He did so; with the result that now,
instead of pastoral, it sounds pasteurized.



Hector Berlioz

(1803-1869)


This composer, born Côte-Saint-André, near Grenoble, December 11,
1803; died Paris, March 9, 1869, has had comparatively little
influence upon opera considered simply as such. But, as a musician
whose skill in instrumentation, and knowledge of the individual tone
quality of every instrument in the orchestra amounted to positive
genius, his influence on music in general was great. In his
symphonies--"Episode de la Vie d'un Artiste" (characterized by him as
a _symphonie phantastique_), its sequel, "Lelio, ou la Retour à la
Vie," "Harold en Italie," in which Harold is impersonated by the
viola, and the _symphonie dramatique_, "Roméo et Juliette," he proved
the feasibility of producing, by means of orchestral music, the effect
of narrative, personal characterization and the visualization of
dramatic action, as well as of scenery and material objects. He thus
became the founder of "program music."

Of Berlioz's operas not one is known on the stage of English-speaking
countries. For "La Damnation de Faust," in its original form, is not
an opera but a dramatic cantata. First performed in 1846, it was not
made over into an opera until 1893, twenty-four years after the
composer's death.


BENVENUTO CELLINI

     Opera in three acts, by Berlioz. Words by du Wailly and
     Barbier. Produced, and failed completely, Grand Opéra,
     Paris, September 3, 1838, and London a fortnight later.
     Revived London, Covent Garden, 1853, under Berlioz's own
     direction; by Liszt, at Weimar, 1855; by von Bülow, Hanover,
     1879.

     CHARACTERS

     CARDINAL SALVIATI                                _Bass_
     BALDUCCI, Papal Treasurer                        _Bass_
     TERESA, his daughter                          _Soprano_
     BENVENUTO CELLINI, a goldsmith                  _Tenor_
     ASCANIO, his apprentice                 _Mezzo-Soprano_
     FRANCESCO  } Artisans in                      { _Tenor_
     BERNARDINO } Cellini's workshop               {  _Bass_
     FIERAMOSCA, sculptor to the Pope             _Baritone_
     POMPEO, a bravo                              _Baritone_

     _Time_--1532.

     _Place_--Rome.

Act I. The carnival of 1532. We are in the house of the Papal
treasurer, _Balducci_, who has scolded his daughter _Teresa_ for
having looked out of the window. The old man is quite vexed, because
the Pope has summoned the goldsmith _Cellini_ to Rome.

_Balducci's_ daughter _Teresa_, however, thinks quite otherwise and is
happy. For she has found a note from _Cellini_ in a bouquet that was
thrown in to her from the street by a mask--_Cellini_, of course. A
few moments later he appears at her side and proposes a plan of
elopement. In the morning, during the carnival mask, he will wear a
white monk's hood. His apprentice _Ascanio_ will wear a brown one.
They will join her and they will flee together. But a listener has
sneaked in--_Fieramosca_, the Pope's sculptor, and no less _Cellini's_
rival in love than in art. He overhears the plot. Unexpectedly, too,
_Teresa's_ father, _Balducci_, comes back. His daughter still up? In
her anxiety to find an excuse, she says she heard a man sneak in.
During the search _Cellini_ disappears, and _Fieramosca_ is
apprehended. Before he can explain his presence, women neighbours, who
have hurried in, drag him off to the public bath house and treat him
to a ducking.

Act II. In the courtyard of a tavern _Cellini_ is seated, with his
assistants. He is happy in his love, for he places it even higher than
fame, which alone heretofore he has courted. He must pledge his love
in wine. Unfortunately the host will no longer give him credit. Just
then _Ascanio_ brings some money from the Papal treasurer, but in
return _Cellini_ must promise to complete his "Perseus" by morning. He
promises, although the avaricious _Balducci_ has profited by his
necessity and has sent too little money. _Ascanio_ is informed by
_Cellini_ of the disguises they are to wear at the carnival, and of
his plan that _Teresa_ shall flee with him.

Again _Fieramosca_ has been spying, and overhears the plot.
Accordingly he hires the bravo _Pompeo_ to assist him in carrying off
_Teresa_.

A change of scene shows the crowd of maskers on the Piazza di Colonna.
_Balducci_ comes along with _Teresa_. Both from the right and left
through the crowd come two monks in the disguise she and her lover
agreed upon. Which is the right couple? Soon, however, the two couples
fall upon each other. A scream, and one of the brown-hooded monks
(_Pompeo_) falls mortally wounded to the ground. A white-hooded monk
(_Cellini_) has stabbed him. The crowd hurls itself upon _Cellini_.
But at that moment the boom of a cannon gives notice that the carnival
celebration is over. It is Ash Wednesday. In the first shock of
surprise _Cellini_ escapes, and in his place the other white-hooded
monk, _Fieramosca_, is seized.

Act III. Before _Cellini's_ house, in the background of which, through
a curtain, is seen the bronze foundry, the anxious _Teresa_ is assured
by _Ascanio_ that her lover is safe. Soon he comes along himself, with
a band of monks, to whom he describes his escape. Then _Balducci_ and
_Fieramosca_ rush in. _Balducci_ wants to force his daughter to become
_Fieramosca's_ bride. The scene is interrupted by the arrival of
_Cardinal Salviati_ to see the completed "Perseus." Poor _Cellini_!
Accused of murder and the attempted kidnapping of a girl, the
"Perseus" unfinished, the money received for it spent! Heavy
punishment awaits him, and another shall receive the commission to
finish the "Perseus."

The artist flies into a passion. Another finish his masterpiece!
Never! The casting shall be done on the spot! Not metal enough? He
seizes his completed works and throws them into the molten mass. The
casting begins. The master shatters the mould. The "Perseus," a noble
work of art, appears before the eyes of the astonished onlookers--a
potent plea for the inspired master. Once more have Art and her
faithful servant triumphed over all rivals.

The statue of Perseus, by Benvenuto Cellini, one of the most famous
creations of mediæval Italy, is one of the art treasures of Florence.


BEATRICE AND BENEDICT

     Opera in two acts, by Berlioz. Words by the composer, after
     Shakespeare's comedy, "Much Ado about Nothing." Produced at
     Baden Baden, 1862.

     CHARACTERS

     DON PEDRO, a general                             _Bass_
     LEONATO, governor of Messina                     _Bass_
     HERO, his daughter                            _Soprano_
     BEATRICE, his niece                           _Soprano_
     CLAUDIO, an officer                          _Baritone_
     BENEDICT, an officer                            _Tenor_
     URSULA, Hero's companion                    _Contralto_
     SOMARONE, orchestral conductor                   _Bass_

The story is an adaptation of the short version of Shakespeare's play,
which preserves the spirit of the comedy, but omits the saturnine
intrigue of _Don John_ against _Claudio_ and _Hero_. The gist of the
comedy is the gradual reaction of the brilliant but captious
_Beatrice_ from pique and partially feigned indifference toward the
witty and gallant _Benedict_, to love. Both have tempers. In fact they
reach an agreement to marry as a result of a spirited quarrel.


LES TROYENS

THE TROJANS

PART I. "LA PRISE DE TROIE"

THE CAPTURE OF TROY

     Opera in three acts, by Berlioz. Words by the composer,
     based upon a scenario furnished by Liszt's friend, the
     Princess Caroline Sayn-Wittgenstein. Produced, November 6,
     1890, in Karlsruhe, under the direction of Felix Mottl.

     CHARACTERS

     PRIAM                                            _Bass_
     HECUBA                                      _Contralto_
     CASSANDRA                               _Mezzo-Soprano_
     POLYXENA                                      _Soprano_
     HECTOR'S ghost                                   _Bass_
     ANDROMACHE }                                    _Mutes_
     ASTYONAX   }
     ÆNEAS                                           _Tenor_
     ASCANIUS                                      _Soprano_
     PANTHEUS                                         _Bass_
     CHOROEBUS                                    _Baritone_

     _Time_--1183 B.C.

     _Place_--The Trojan Plain.

Act I. The Greek camp before Troy. It has been deserted by the Greeks.
The people of Troy, rejoicing at what they believe to be the raising
of the siege, are bustling about the camp. Many of them, however, are
standing amazed about a gigantic wooden horse. There is only one
person who does not rejoice, _Cassandra_, _Priam's_ daughter, whose
clairvoyant spirit foresees misfortune. But no one believes her dire
prophecies, not even her betrothed, _Choroebus_, whom she implores
in vain to flee.

Act II. In a grove near the walls of the city the Trojan people, with
their princes at their head, are celebrating the return of peace.
_Andromache_, however, sees no happiness for herself, since _Hector_
has fallen. Suddenly _Æneas_ hurries in with the news that the priest
_Laocoon_, who had persisted in seeing in the wooden horse only a
stratagem of the Greeks, has been strangled by a serpent. Athena must
be propitiated; the horse must be taken into the city, to the sacred
Palladium, and there set up for veneration. Of no avail is
_Cassandra's_ wailing, when the goddess has so plainly indicated her
displeasure.

Act III. _Æneas_ is sleeping in his tent. A distant sound of strife
awakens him. _Hector's Ghost_ appears to him. Troy is lost; far away,
to Italy, must _Æneas_ go, there to found a new kingdom. The _Ghost_
disappears. The priest, _Pantheus_, rushes in, bleeding from wounds.
He announces that Greeks have come out of the belly of the horse and
have opened the gates of the city to the Greek army. Troy is in
flames. _Æneas_ goes forth to place himself at the head of his men.

The scene changes to the vestal sanctuary in _Priam's_ palace. To the
women gathered in prayer _Cassandra_ announces that _Æneas_ has
succeeded in saving the treasure and covering a retreat to Mount Ida.
But her _Choroebus_ has fallen and she desires to live no longer.
Shall she become the slave of a Greek? She paints the fate of the
captive woman in such lurid colours that they decide to go to death
with her. Just as the Greeks rush in, the women stab themselves, and
grief overcomes even the hardened warriors.


PART II. "LES TROYENS À CARTHAGE"

THE TROJANS IN CARTHAGE

     Opera in five acts. Music by Berlioz. Words by the composer.
     Produced, Paris, November 4, 1863, when it failed
     completely. Revived, 1890, in Karlsruhe, under the direction
     of Felix Mottl. Mottl's performances in Karlsruhe, in 1890,
     of "La Prise de Troie" and "Les Troyens à Carthage"
     constituted the first complete production of "Les Troyens."

     CHARACTERS

     DIDO                                          _Soprano_
     ANNA                                        _Contralto_
     ÆNEAS                                           _Tenor_
     ASCANIUS                                      _Soprano_
     PANTHEUS                                         _Bass_
     NARBAL                                           _Bass_
     JOPAS                                           _Tenor_
     HYLAS                                           _Tenor_

     _Time_--1183 B.C.

     _Place_--Carthage.

Act I. In the summer-house of her palace _Dido_ tells her retainers
that the savage Numidian King, Jarbas, has asked for her hand, but she
has decided to live only for the memory of her dead husband. Today,
however, shall be devoted to festive games. The lyric poet _Jopas_
enters and announces the approach of strangers, who have escaped from
the dangers of the sea. They arrive and _Ascanius_, son of _Æneas_,
begs entertainment for a few days for himself and his companions. This
_Dido_ gladly grants them. Her Minister, _Narbal_, rushes in. The
Numidian king has invaded the country. Who will march against him?
_Æneas_, who had concealed himself in disguise among his sailors,
steps forth and offers to defend the country against the enemy.

Act II. A splendid festival is in progress in Dido's garden in honour
of the victor, _Æneas_. _Dido_ loves _Æneas_, who tells her of
Andromache, and how, in spite of her grief over _Hector_, she has laid
aside her mourning and given her hand to another. Why should _Dido_
not do likewise? Night closes in, and under its cover both pledge
their love and faith.

Has _Æneas_ forgotten his task? To remind him, Mercury appears and
strikes resoundingly on the weapons that have been laid aside, while
invisible voices call out to _Æneas_: "Italie!"

Act III. Public festivities follow the betrothal of _Dido_ and
_Æneas_. But _Dido's_ faithful Minister knows that, although _Æneas_
is a kingly lover, it is the will of the gods that the Trojan proceed
to Italy; and that to defy the gods is fatal.

Meanwhile the destiny of the lovers is fulfilled. During a hunt they
seek shelter from a thunderstorm in a cave. There they seal their love
compact. (This scene is in pantomime.)

Act IV. The Trojans are incensed that _Æneas_ places love ahead of
duty. They have determined to seek the land of their destiny without
him. Finally _Æneas_ awakes from his infatuation and, when the voices
of his illustrious dead remind him of his duty, he resolves, in spite
of _Dido's_ supplications, to depart at once.

Act V. Early morning brings to _Dido_ in her palace the knowledge that
she has lost _Æneas_ forever. She decides not to survive her loss. On
the sea beach she orders a huge pyre erected. All the love tokens of
the faithless one are fed to the flames. She herself ascends the pyre.
Her vision takes in the great future of Carthage and the greater one
of Rome. Then she throws herself on her lover's sword.


LA DAMNATION DE FAUST

THE DAMNATION OF FAUST

     In its original form a "dramatic legend" in four parts for
     the concert stage. Music by Hector Berlioz. Words, after
     Gerald de Nerval's version of Goethe's play, by Berlioz,
     Gérard, and Gandonnière. Produced in its original form as a
     concert piece at the Opéra Comique, Paris, December 6, 1846;
     London, two parts of the work, under Berlioz's direction,
     Drury Lane, February 7, 1848; first complete performance in
     England, Free Trade Hall, Manchester, February 5, 1880. New
     York, February 12, 1880, by Dr. Leopold Damrosch. Adapted
     for the operatic stage by Raoul Gunsberg, and produced by
     him at Monte Carlo, February 18, 1893, with Jean de Reszke
     as _Faust_; revived there March, 1902, with Melba, Jean de
     Reszke, and Maurice Renaud. Given in Paris with Calvé,
     Alvarez, and Renaud, to celebrate the centennial of
     Berlioz's birth, December 11, 1903. New York, Metropolitan
     Opera House, December 7, 1906; Manhattan Opera House,
     November 6, 1907, with Dalmorès as _Faust_ and Renaud as
     _Méphistophélès_.

     CHARACTERS

     MARGUERITE                                    _Soprano_
     FAUST                                           _Tenor_
     MÉPHISTOPHÉLÈS                                   _Bass_
     BRANDER                                          _Bass_

     Students, soldiers, citizens, men and women, fairies, etc.

     _Time_--Eighteenth Century.

     _Place_--A town in Germany.

In the first part of Berlioz's dramatic legend _Faust_ is supposed to
be on the Plains of Hungary. Introspectively he sings of nature and
solitude. There are a chorus and dance of peasants and a recitative.
Soldiers march past to the stirring measures of the "Rákóczy March,"
the national air of Hungary.

This march Berlioz orchestrated in Vienna, during his tour of 1845,
and conducted it at a concert in Pesth, when it created the greatest
enthusiasm. It was in order to justify the interpolation of this march
that he laid the first scene of his dramatic legend on the plains of
Hungary. Liszt claimed that his pianoforte transcription of the march
had freely been made use of by Berlioz, "especially in the harmony."

In the operatic version Gunsbourg shows _Faust_ in a mediæval chamber,
with a view, through a window, of the sally-port of a castle, out of
which the soldiers march. At one point in the march, which Berlioz has
treated contrapuntally, and where it would be difficult for marchers
to keep step, the soldiers halt and have their standards solemnly
blessed.

The next part of the dramatic legend only required a stage setting to
make it operatic. _Faust_ is in his study. He is about to quaff
poison, when the walls part and disclose a church interior. The
congregation, kneeling, sings the Easter canticle, "Christ is Risen."
Change of scene to Auerbach's cellar, Leipsic. Revel of students and
soldiers. _Brander_ sings the "Song of the Rat," whose death is
mockingly grieved over by a "Requiescat in pace" and a fugue on the
word "Amen," sung by the roistering crowd. _Méphistophélès_ then
"obliges" with the song of the flea, in which the skipping about of
the elusive insect is depicted in the accompaniment.

In the next scene in the dramatic legend, _Faust_ is supposed to be
asleep on the banks of the Elbe. Here is the most exquisite effect of
the score, the "Dance of the Sylphs," a masterpiece of delicate and
airy illustration. Violoncellos, _con sordini_, hold a single note as
a pedal point, over which is woven a gossamer fabric of melody and
harmony, ending with the faintest possible pianissimo from drum and
harps. Gunsbourg employed here, with admirable results, the aërial
ballet, and has given a rich and beautiful setting to the scene,
including a vision of _Marguerite_. The ballet is followed by a chorus
of soldiers and a students' song in Latin.

The scenic directions of Gounod's "Faust" call _Marguerite's_
house--so much of it as is projected into the garden scene--a
pavilion. Gunsbourg makes it more like an arbour, into which the
audience can see through the elimination of a supposedly existing
wall, the same as in _Sparafucile's_ house, in the last act of
"Rigoletto." Soldiers and students are strolling and singing in the
street. _Marguerite_ sings the ballad of the King of Thule. Berlioz's
setting of the song is primitive. He aptly characterizes the number as
a "Chanson Gothique." The "Invocation" of _Méphistophélès_ is followed
by the "Dance of Will-o'-the-Wisps." Then comes _Méphistophélès's_
barocque serenade. _Faust_ enters _Marguerite's_ pavilion. There is a
love duet, which becomes a trio when _Méphistophélès_ joins the
lovers and urges _Faust's_ departure.

_Marguerite_ is alone. Berlioz, instead of using Goethe's song, "Meine
Ruh ist hin" (My peace is gone), the setting of which by Schubert is
famous, substitutes a poem of his own. The unhappy _Marguerite_ sings,
"D'Amour, l'ardente flamme" (Love, devouring fire).

The singing of the students and the soldiers grows fainter. The
"retreat"--the call to which the flag is lowered at sunset--is sounded
by the drums and trumpets. _Marguerite_, overcome by remorse, swoons
at the window.

A mountain gorge. _Faust's_ soliloquy, "Nature, immense, impénétrable
et fière" (Nature, vast, unfathomable and proud). The "Ride to Hell";
moving panorama; pandemonium; redemption of _Marguerite_, whom angels
are seen welcoming in the softly illumined heavens far above the town,
in which the action is supposed to have transpired.

The production by Dr. Leopold Damrosch of "La Damnation de Faust" in
its original concert form in New York, was one of the sensational
events of the concert history of America. As an opera, however, the
work has failed so far to make the impression that might have been
expected from its effect on concert audiences; "... the experiment,
though tried in various theatres," says Grove's _Dictionary of Music
and Musicians_, "has happily not been permanently successful." Why
"happily"? It would be an advantage to operatic art if a work by so
distinguished a composer as Berlioz could find a permanent place in
the repertoire.

Gounod's "Faust," Boïto's "Mefistofele," and Berlioz's "La Damnation
de Faust" are the only settings of the Faust legend, or, more properly
speaking, of Goethe's "Faust," with which a book on opera need concern
itself. Gounod's "Faust," with its melodious score, and full of a
sentiment that more than occasionally verges on sentimentality, has
genuine popular appeal, and is likely long to maintain itself in the
repertoire. "Mefistofele," nevertheless, is the profounder work.
Boïto, in his setting, sounds Goethe's drama to greater depths than
Gounod. It always will be preferred by those who do not have to be
written down to. "La Damnation de Faust," notwithstanding its
brilliant and still modern orchestration, is the most truly mediæval
of the three scores. Berlioz himself characterizes the ballad of the
King of Thule as "Gothic." The same spirit of the Middle Ages runs
through much of the work. In several important details the operatic
adaptation has been clumsily made. Were it improved in these details,
this "Faust" of Berlioz would have a chance of more than one revival.



F. von Flotow


MARTHA

     Opera in four acts, by Friedrich von Flotow; words by
     Wilhelm Friedrich Riese, the plot based on a French ballet
     pantomime by Jules H. Vernoy and Marquis St. Georges (see p.
     559). Produced at the Imperial Opera House, Vienna, November
     25, 1847. Covent Garden, London, July 1, 1858, in Italian;
     in English at Drury Lane, October 11, 1858. Paris, Théâtre
     Lyrique, December 16, 1865, when was interpolated the famous
     air "M'apparì," from Flotow's two-act opera, "L'Âme en
     Peine," produced at the Grand Opéra, Paris, June, 1846. New
     York, Niblo's Garden, November 1, 1852, with Mme. Anna
     Bishop; in French, at New Orleans, January 27, 1860. An
     opera of world-wide popularity, in which, in this country,
     the title rôle has been sung by Nilsson, Patti, Gerster,
     Kellogg, Parepa-Rosa, and Sembrich, and _Lionel_ by
     Campanini and Caruso.

     CHARACTERS

     LADY HARRIET DURHAM, Maid of Honor to
       Queen Anne                                  _Soprano_
     LORD TRISTAN DE MIKLEFORD, her cousin            _Bass_
     PLUNKETT, a young farmer                         _Bass_
     LIONEL, his foster-brother. Afterwards
       Earl of Derby                                 _Tenor_
     NANCY, waiting-maid to Lady Harriet         _Contralto_
     SHERIFF                                          _Bass_
     THREE MAN SERVANTS             _Tenor_ and two _Basses_
     THREE MAID SERVANTS  _Soprano_ and two _Mezzo-Sopranos_

     Courtiers, pages, ladies, hunters and huntresses, farmers,
     servants, etc.

     _Time_--About 1710.

     _Place_--In and near Richmond.

The first act opens in _Lady Harriet's_ boudoir. The second scene of
this act is the fair at Richmond. The scene of the second act is laid
in _Plunkett's_ farmhouse; that of the third in a forest near
Richmond. The fourth act opens in the farmhouse and changes to _Lady
Harriet's_ park.

Act I. Scene 1. The _Lady Harriet_ yawned. It was dull even at the
court of Queen Anne.

"Your Ladyship," said _Nancy_, her sprightly maid, "here are flowers
from _Sir Tristan_."

"Their odour sickens me," was her ladyship's weary comment.

"And these diamonds!" urged _Nancy_, holding up a necklace for her
mistress to view.

"They hurt my eyes," said her ladyship petulantly.

The simple fact is the _Lady Harriet_, like many others whose
pleasures come so easily that they lack zest, was bored. Even the
resourceful _Nancy_, a prize among maids, was at last driven to
exclaim:

"If your ladyship only would fall in love!"

But herein, too, _Lady Harriet_ had the surfeit that creates
indifference. She had bewitched every man at court only to remain
unmoved by their protestations of passion. Even as _Nancy_ spoke, a
footman announced the most persistent of her ladyship's suitors, _Sir
Tristan of Mikleford_, an elderly cousin who presumed upon his
relationship to ignore the rebuffs with which she met his suit. _Sir
Tristan_ was a creature of court etiquette. His walk, his gesture,
almost his speech itself were reduced to rule and method. The
stiffness that came with age made his exaggerated manner the more
ridiculous. In fact he was the incarnation of everything that the
_Lady Harriet_ was beginning to find intolerably tedious.

"Most respected cousin, Lady in Waiting to Her Most Gracious Majesty,"
he began sententiously, and would have added all her titles had she
not cut him short with an impatient gesture, "will your ladyship seek
diversion by viewing the donkey races with me today?"

"I wonder," _Nancy_ whispered so that none but her mistress could
hear, "if he is going to run in the races himself?" which evoked from
the _Lady Harriet_ the first smile that had played around her lips
that day. Seeing this and attributing it to her pleasure at his
invitation _Sir Tristan_ sighed like a wheezy bellows and cast
sentimental glances at her with his watery eyes. To stop this
ridiculous exhibition of vanity her ladyship straightway sent him
trotting about the room on various petty pretexts. "Fetch my fan,
Sir!--Now my smelling salts--I feel a draught. Would you close the
window, cousin? Ah, I stifle for want of air! Open it again!"

To these commands _Sir Tristan_ responded with as much alacrity as his
stiff joints would permit, until _Nancy_ again whispered to her
mistress, "See! He is running for the prize!"

Likely enough _Sir Tristan's_ fair cousin soon would have sent him on
some errand that would have taken him out of her presence. But when he
opened the window again, in came the strains of a merry chorus sung by
fresh, happy voices of young women who, evidently, were walking along
the highway. The _Lady Harriet's_ curiosity was piqued. Who were these
women over whose lives ennui never seemed to have hung like a pall?
_Nancy_ knew all about them. They were servants on the way to the
Richmond fair to hire themselves out to the farmers, according to
time-honoured custom.

[Illustration: Photo by White

Ober and De Luca; Caruso and Hempel in "Martha"]

The Richmond fair! To her ladyship's jaded senses it conveyed a
suggestion of something new and frolicsome. "Nancy," she cried,
carried away with the novelty of the idea, "let us go to the fair
dressed as peasant girls and mingle with the crowd! Who knows, someone
might want to hire us! I will call myself Martha, you can be Julia,
and you, cousin, can drop your title for the nonce and go along with
us as plain Bob!" And when _Sir Tristan_, shocked at the thought that
a titled lady should be willing so to lower herself, to say nothing of
the part he himself was asked to play, protested, she appealed to him
with a feigned tenderness that soon won his consent to join them in
their lark. Then to give him a foretaste of what was expected of him,
they took him, each by an arm, and danced him about the room, shouting
with mock admiration as he half slid, half stumbled, "Bravo! What
grace! What agility!"

The _Lady Harriet_ actually was enjoying herself.

Scene 2. Meanwhile the Richmond fair was at its height. From a large
parchment the pompous _Sheriff_ had read the law by which all
contracts for service made at the fair were binding for at least one
year as soon as money had passed. Among those who had come to bid were
a sturdy young farmer, _Plunkett_, and his foster-brother _Lionel_.
The latter evidently was of a gentler birth, but his parentage was
shrouded in mystery. As a child he had been left with _Plunkett's_
mother by a fugitive, an aged man who, dying from exposure and
exhaustion, had confided the boy to her care, first, however, handing
her a ring with the injunction that if misfortune ever threatened the
boy, to show the ring to the queen.

One after another the girls proclaimed their deftness at cooking,
sewing, gardening, poultry tending, and other domestic and rural
accomplishments, the _Sheriff_ crying out, "Four guineas! Who'll have
her?--Five guineas! Who'll try her?" Many of them cast eyes at the
two handsome young farmers, hoping to be engaged by them. But they
seemed more critical than the rest.

Just then they heard a young woman's voice behind them call out, "No,
I won't go with you!" and, turning, they saw two sprightly young women
arguing with a testy looking old man who seemed to have a ridiculous
idea of his own importance. _Lionel_ and _Plunkett_ nudged each other.
Never had they seen such attractive looking girls. And when they heard
one of them call out again to the old man, "No, we won't go with
you!"--for _Sir Tristan_ was urging the _Lady Harriet_ and _Nancy_ to
leave the fair--the young men hurried over to the group.

"Can't you hear her say she won't go with you?" asked _Lionel_, while
_Plunkett_ called out to the girls near the _Sheriff's_ stand, "Here,
girls, is a bidder with lots of money!" A moment later the absurd old
man was the centre of a rioting, shouting crowd of girls, who followed
him when he tried to retreat, so that finally "Martha" and "Julia"
were left quite alone with the two men. The young women were in high
spirits. They had sallied forth in quest of adventure and here it was.
_Lionel_ and _Plunkett_, on the other hand, suddenly had become very
shy. There was in the demeanour of these girls something quite
different from what they had been accustomed to in other serving
maids. Somehow they had an "air," and it made the young men bashful.
_Plunkett_ tried to push _Lionel_ forward, but the latter hung back.

"Watch me then," said _Plunkett_. He advanced as if to speak to the
young women, but came to a halt and stood there covered with
confusion. It chanced that _Lady Harriet_ and _Nancy_ had been
watching these men with quite as much interest as they had been
watched by them. _Lionel_, who bore himself with innate grace and
refinement under his peasant garb, had immediately attracted "Martha,"
while the sturdier _Plunkett_ had caught "Julia's" eye, and they were
glad when, after a few slyly reassuring glances from them, _Plunkett_
overcame his hesitancy and spoke up:

"You're our choice, girls! We'll pay fifty crowns a year for wages,
with half a pint of ale on Sundays and plum pudding on New Year's
thrown in for extras."

"Done!" cried the girls, who thought it all a great lark, and a moment
later the _Lady Harriet_ had placed her hand in _Lionel's_ and _Nancy_
hers in _Plunkett's_ and money had passed to bind the bargain.

And now, thinking the adventure had gone far enough and that it was
time for them to be returning to court, they cast about them for _Sir
Tristan_. He, seeing them talking on apparently intimate terms with
two farmers, was scandalized and, having succeeded in standing off the
crowd by scattering money about him, he called out brusquely, "Come
away!"

"Come away?" repeated _Plunkett_ after him. "_Come away?_ Didn't these
girls let you know plainly enough a short time ago that they wouldn't
hire out to you?"

"But I rather think," interposed "Martha," who was becoming slightly
alarmed, "that it is time for 'Julia' and myself to go."

"What's that!" exclaimed _Plunkett_. "_Go?_ No, indeed," he added with
emphasis. "You may repent of your bargain, though I don't see why. But
it is binding for a year."

"If only you knew who," began _Sir Tristan_, and he was about to tell
who the young women were. But "Martha" quickly whispered to him not to
disclose their identity, as the escapade, if it became known, would
make them the sport of the court. Moreover _Plunkett_ and _Lionel_
were growing impatient at the delay and, when the crowd again gathered
about _Sir Tristan_, they hurried off the girls,--who did not seem to
protest as much as might have been expected,--lifted them into a farm
wagon, and drove off, while the crowd blocked the blustering knight
and jeered as he vainly tried to break away in pursuit.

Act II. The adventure of the _Lady Harriet_ and her maid _Nancy_, so
lightly entered upon, was carrying them further than they had
expected. To find themselves set down in a humble farmhouse, as they
did soon after they left the fair, and to be told to go into the
kitchen and prepare supper, was more than they had bargained for.

"Kitchen work!" exclaimed the _Lady Harriet_ contemptuously.

"Kitchen work!" echoed _Nancy_ in the same tone of voice.

_Plunkett_ was for having his orders carried out. But _Lionel_
interceded. A certain innate gallantry that already had appealed to
her ladyship, made him feel that although these young women were
servants, they were, somehow, to be treated differently. He suggested
as a substitute for the kitchen that they be allowed to try their
hands at the spinning wheels. But they were so awkward at these that
the men sat down to show them how to spin, until _Nancy_ brought the
lesson to an abrupt close by saucily overturning _Plunkett's_ wheel
and dashing away with the young farmer in pursuit, leaving _Lionel_
and "Martha" alone.

It was an awkward moment for her ladyship, since she could hardly fail
to be aware that _Lionel_ was regarding her with undisguised
admiration. To relieve the situation she began to hum and, finally, to
sing, choosing her favorite air, "The Last Rose of Summer." But it had
the very opposite effect of what she had planned. For she sang the
charming melody so sweetly and with such tender expression that
Lionel, completely carried away, exclaimed: "Ah, Martha, if you were
to marry me, you no longer would be a servant, for I would raise you
to my own station!"

As _Lionel_ stood there she could not help noting that he was handsome
and graceful. Yet that a farmer should suggest to her, the spoiled
darling of the court, that he would raise her to _his_ station, struck
her as so ridiculous that she burst out laughing. Just then,
fortunately, _Plunkett_ dragged in _Nancy_, whom he had pursued into
the kitchen, where she had upset things generally before he had been
able to seize her; and a distant tower clock striking midnight, the
young farmers allowed their servants, whose accomplishments as such,
if they had any, so far remained undiscovered, to retire to their
room, while they sought theirs, but not before _Lionel_ had whispered:

"Perchance by the morrow, Martha, you will think differently of what I
have said and not treat it so lightly."

Act III. But when morning came the birds had flown the cage. There was
neither a Martha nor a Julia in the little farmhouse, while at the
court of Queen Anne a certain _Lady Harriet_ and her maid _Nancy_ were
congratulating themselves that, after all, an old fop named _Sir
Tristan of Mikleford_ had had sense enough to be in waiting with a
carriage near the farmhouse at midnight and helped them escape through
the window. It even is not unlikely that within a week the _Lady
Harriet_, who was so anxious not to have her escapade become known,
might have been relating it at court as a merry adventure and that
_Nancy_ might have been doing the same in the servants' hall. But
unbeknown to the others, there had been a fifth person in the little
farmhouse, none other than Dan Cupid, who had hidden himself, perhaps
behind the clock, and from this vantage place of concealment had
discharged arrows, not at random, but straight at the hearts of two
young women and two young men. And they had not recovered from their
wounds. The _Lady Harriet_ no longer was bored; she was sad; and even
_Nancy_ had lost her sprightliness. The two men, one of them so
courteous despite his peasant garb, the other sturdy and commanding,
with whom their adventure had begun at the Richmond fair and ended
after midnight at the farmhouse, had brought some zest into their
lives; they were so different from the smooth, insincere courtiers by
whom the _Lady Harriet_ had been surrounded and from the men servants
who aped their masters and with whom _Nancy_ had been thrown when she
was not with her ladyship. The simple fact is that the _Lady Harriet_
and _Nancy_, without being certain of it themselves, were in love, her
ladyship with _Lionel_ and _Nancy_ with _Plunkett_. Of course, there
was the difference in station between _Lady Harriet_ and _Lionel_. But
he had the touch of innate breeding that made her at times forget that
he was a peasant while she was a lady of title. As for _Nancy_ and
_Plunkett_, that lively young woman felt that she needed just such a
strong hand as his to keep her out of mischief. And so it happened
that the diversions of the court again palled upon them and that, when
a great hunt was organized in which the court ladies were asked to
join, the _Lady Harriet_, although she looked most dapper in her
hunting costume, found the sport without zest and soon wandered off
into the forest solitudes.

Here, too, it chanced that _Lionel_, in much the same state of mind
and heart as her ladyship, was wandering, when, suddenly looking up,
he saw a young huntress in whom, in spite of her different costume, he
recognized the "Martha" over whose disappearance he had been grieving.
But she was torn by conflicting feelings. However her heart might go
out toward _Lionel_, her pride of birth still rebelled against
permitting a peasant to address words of love to her. "You are
mistaken. I do not know you!" she exclaimed. And when he first
appealed to her in passionate accents and then in anger began to
upbraid her for denying her identity to him who was by law her master,
she cried out for help, bringing not only _Sir Tristan_ but the entire
hunting train to her side. Noting the deference with which she was
treated and hearing her called "My Lady," _Lionel_ now perceived the
trick that had been played upon himself and _Plunkett_ at the fair.
Infuriated at the heartless deceit of which he was a victim, he
protested: "But if she accepted earnest money from me, if she bound
herself to serve me for a year----"

He was interrupted by a shout of laughter from the bystanders, and the
_Lady Harriet_, quickly profiting by the incredulity with which his
words were received, exclaimed:

"I never have laid eyes on him before. He is a madman and should be
apprehended!"

Immediately _Lionel_ was surrounded and might have been roughly
handled, had not my lady herself, moved partly by pity, partly by a
deeper feeling that kept asserting itself in spite of all, begged that
he be kindly treated.

Act IV. Before very long, however, there was a material change in the
situation. In his extremity, _Lionel_ remembered about his ring and he
asked _Plunkett_ to show it to the queen and plead his cause. The ring
proved to have been the property of the Earl of Derby. It was that
nobleman who, after the failure of a plot to recall James II. from
France and restore him to the throne, had died a fugitive and confided
his son to the care of _Plunkett's_ mother, and that son was none
other than _Lionel_, now discovered to be the rightful heir to the
title and estates. Naturally he was received with high favor at the
court of Anne, the daughter of the king to whom the old earl had
rendered such faithful service.

Despite his new honours, however, _Lionel_ was miserably unhappy. He
was deeply in love with the _Lady Harriet_. Yet he hardly could bring
himself to speak to her, let alone appear so much as even to notice
the advances which she, in her contrition, so plainly made toward him.
So, while she too suffered, he went about lonely and desolate, eating
out his heart with love and the feeling of injured pride that
prevented him from acknowledging it.

This sad state of affairs might have continued indefinitely had not
_Nancy's_ nimble wit come to the rescue. She and _Plunkett_, after
meeting again, had been quick in coming to an understanding, and now
the first thing they did was to plan how to bring together _Lionel_
and the _Lady Harriet_, who were so plainly in love with each other.
One afternoon _Plunkett_ joined _Lionel_ in his lonely walk and,
unknown to him, gradually guided him into her ladyship's garden. A
sudden turn in the path brought them in view of a bustling scene.
There were booths as at the Richmond fair, a crowd of servants and
farmers and a sheriff calling out the accomplishments of the girls. As
the crowd saw the two men, there was a hush. Then above it _Lionel_
heard a sweet, familiar voice singing:

     'Tis the last rose of summer,
       Left blooming alone;
     All her lovely companions
       Are faded and gone;
     No flower of her kindred,
       No rosebud is nigh
     To reflect back her blushes,
       Or give sigh for sigh.

     I'll not leave thee, thou lone one,
       To pine on the stem;
     Since the lonely are sleeping,
       Go sleep thou with them,
     Thus kindly I scatter
       Thy leaves o'er the bed--
     Where thy mates of the garden
       Lie scentless and dead.

The others quickly vanished. "Martha!" cried _Lionel_. "Martha! Is it
really you?" She stood before him in her servant's garb, no longer,
however, smiling and coquettish as at Richmond, but with eyes cast
down and sad.

And then as if answering to a would-be master's question of "What can
you do?" she said: "I can forget all my dreams of wealth and gold. I
can despise all the dross in which artifice and ignoble ambition mask
themselves. I can put all these aside and remember only those accents
of love and tenderness that I would have fall upon my hearing once
more." She raised her eyes pleadingly to _Lionel_. All that had
intervened was swept away. _Lionel_ saw only the girl he loved. And, a
moment later, he held his "Martha" in his arms.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Martha" teems with melody. The best-known airs are "The Last Rose of
Summer" and _Lionel's_ "M'apparì" (Like a dream). The best ensemble
piece, a quintet with chorus, occurs near the close of Act III.--"Ah!
che a voi perdoni Iddio" (Ah! May Heaven to you grant pardon). The
spinning-wheel quartet in Act II is most sprightly. But, as indicated,
there is a steady flow of light and graceful melody in this opera.
Almost at the very opening of Act I, _Lady Harriet_ and _Nancy_ have a
duet, "Questo duol che si v'affana" (Of the knights so brave and
charming). Bright, clever music abounds in the Richmond fair scene,
and _Lionel_ and _Plunkett_ express their devotion to each other in
"Solo, profugo, reietto" (Lost, proscribed, a friendless wanderer),
and "Ne giammai saper potemmo" (Never have we learned his station).
Then there is the gay quartet when the two girls leave the fair with
their masters, while the crowd surrounds _Sir Tristan_ and prevents
him from breaking through and interfering. It was in this scene that
the bass singer Castelmary, the _Sir Tristan_ of a performance of
"Martha" at the Metropolitan Opera House, February 10, 1897, was
stricken with heart failure and dropped dead upon the stage.

A capital quartet opens Act II, in the farmhouse, and leads to the
spinning-wheel quartet, "Di vederlo" (What a charming occupation).
There is a duet between _Lady Harriet_ and _Lionel_, in which their
growing attraction for each other finds expression, "Il suo sguardo è
dolce tanto" (To his eye, mine gently meeting). Then follows "Qui
sola, vergin rosa" ('Tis the last rose of summer), the words a poem by
Tom Moore, the music an old Irish air, "The Groves of Blarney," to
which Moore adapted "The Last Rose of Summer." A new and effective
touch is given to the old song by Flotow in having the tenor join with
the soprano at the close. Moreover, the words and music fit so
perfectly into the situation on the stage that for Flotow to have
"lifted" and interpolated them into his opera was a master-stroke. To
it "Martha" owes much of its popularity.

[Music: 'Tis the last rose of summer, left blooming alone,]

There is a duet for _Lady Harriet_ and _Lionel_, "Ah! ride del mio
pianto" (She is laughing at my sorrow). The scene ends with another
quartet, one of the most beautiful numbers of the score, and known as
the "Good Night Quartet," "Dormi pur, ma il mio riposo" (Cruel one,
may dreams transport thee).

Act III, played in a hunting park in Richmond forest, on the left a
small inn, opens with a song in praise of porter, the "Canzone del
Porter" by _Plunkett_, "Chi mi dirà?" (Will you tell me). The pièces
de résistance of this act are the "M'apparì"; a solo for _Nancy_, "Il
tuo stral nel lanciar"

[Music]

(Huntress fair, hastens where); _Martha's_ song, "Qui tranquilla almen
poss'io" (Here in deepest forest shadows); and the stirring quintet
with chorus.

[Music]

In Act IV there are a solo for _Plunkett_, "Il mio Lionel perirà"
(Soon my Lionel will perish), and a repetition of some of the
sprightly music of the fair scene.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is not without considerable hesitation that I have classed "Martha"
as a French opera. For Flotow was born in Teutendorf, April 27, 1812,
and died in Darmstadt January 24, 1883. Moreover, "Martha," was
produced in Vienna, and his next best-known work, "Alessandro
Stradella," in Hamburg (1844).

The music of "Martha," however, has an elegance that not only is quite
unlike any music that has come out of Germany, but is typically
French. Flotow, in fact, was French in his musical training, and both
the plot and score of "Martha" were French in origin. The composer
studied composition in Paris under Reicha, 1827-30, leaving Paris
solely on account of the July revolution, and returning in 1835, to
remain until the revolution in March, 1848, once more drove him away.
After living in Paris again, 1863-8, he settled near Vienna, making,
however, frequent visits to that city, the French capital, and Italy.

During his second stay in Paris he composed for the Grand Opéra the
first act of a ballet, "Harriette, ou la Servante de Greenwiche." This
ballet, the text by Vernoy and St. George, was for Adèle Dumilâtre.
The reason Flotow was entrusted with only one of the three acts was
the short time in which it was necessary to complete the score. The
other acts were assigned, one each, to Robert Bergmüller and Édouard
Deldevez. Of this ballet, written and composed for a French dancer and
a French audience, "Martha" is an adaptation. This accounts for its
being so typically French and not in the slightest degree German.
Flotow's opera "Alessandro Stradella" also is French in origin. It is
adapted from a one-act _pièce lyrique_, brought out by him in Paris,
in 1837. Few works produced so long ago as "Martha" have its
freshness, vivacity, and charm. Pre-eminently graceful, it yet carries
in a large auditorium like the Metropolitan, where so many operas of
the lighter variety have been lost in space.



Charles François Gounod

(1818-1893)


The composer of "Faust" was born in Paris, June 17, 1818. His father
had, in 1783, won the second prix de Rome for painting at the École
des Beaux Arts. In 1837, the son won the second prix de Rome for
music, and two years later captured the grand prix de Rome, by
twenty-five votes out of twenty-seven, at the Paris Conservatoire. His
instructors there had been Reicha in harmony, Halévy in counterpoint
and fugue, and Leseur in composition.

Gounod's first works, in Rome and after his return from there, were
religious. At one time he even thought of becoming an abbé, and on the
title-page of one of his published works he is called Abbé Charles
Gounod. A performance of his "Messe Solenelle" in London evoked so
much praise from both English and French critics that the Grand Opéra
commissioned him to write an opera. The result was "Sapho," performed
April 16, 1851, without success. It was his "Faust" which gave him
European fame. "Faust" and his "Roméo et Juliette" (both of which see)
suffice for the purposes of this book, none of his other operas having
made a decided success.

"La Rédemption," and "Mors et Vita," Birmingham, England, 1882 and
1885, are his best-known religious compositions. They are "sacred
trilogies." Gounod died, Paris, October 17, 1893.

In Dr. Theodore Baker's _Biographical Dictionary of Musicians_
Gounod's merits as a composer are summed up as follows: "Gounod's
compositions are of highly poetic order, more spiritualistic than
realistic; in his finest lyrico-dramatic moments he is akin to Weber,
and his modulation even reminds of Wagner; his instrumentation and
orchestration are frequently original and masterly." These words are
as true today as when they were written, seventeen years ago.


FAUST

     Opera, in five acts, by Gounod; words by Barbier and Carré.
     Produced, Théâtre Lyrique, Paris, March 19, 1859, with
     Miolan-Carvalho as _Marguerite_; Grand Opéra, Paris, March
     3, 1869, with Christine Nilsson as _Marguerite_, Colin as
     _Faust_, and Faure as _Méphistophélès_. London, Her
     Majesty's Theatre, June 11, 1863; Royal Italian Opera,
     Covent Garden, July 2, 1863, in Italian, as "Faust e
     Margherita"; Her Majesty's Theatre, January 23, 1864, in an
     English version by Chorley, for which, Santley being the
     _Valentine_, Gounod composed what was destined to become one
     of the most popular numbers of the opera, "Even bravest
     heart may swell" ("_Dio possente_"). New York, Academy of
     Music, November 26, 1863, in Italian, with Clara Louise
     Kellogg (_Margherita_), Henrietta Sulzer (_Siebel_), Fanny
     Stockton (_Martha_), Francesco Mazzoleni (_Faust_), Hannibal
     Biachi (_Méphistophélès_), G. Yppolito (_Valentine_), D.
     Coletti (_Wagner_). Metropolitan Opera House, opening night,
     October 22, 1883, with Nilsson, Scalchi, Lablache,
     Campanini, Novara, Del Puente.

     CHARACTERS

     FAUST, a learned doctor                         _Tenor_
     MÉPHISTOPHÉLÈS, Satan                            _Bass_
     MARGUERITE                                    _Soprano_
     VALENTINE, a soldier, brother
       to Marguerite                              _Baritone_
     SIEBEL, a village youth, in love
       with Marguerite                       _Mezzo-Soprano_
     WAGNER, a student                            _Baritone_
     MARTHA SCHWERLEIN, neighbour
       to Marguerite                         _Mezzo-Soprano_

     Students, soldiers, villagers, angels, demons, Cleopatra,
     Laïs, Helen of Troy, and others.

     _Time_--16th Century.

     _Place_--Germany.

[Illustration: Copyright photo by Dupont

Plançon as Méphistophélès in "Faust"]

Popular in this country from the night of its American production,
Gounod's "Faust" nevertheless did not fully come into its own here
until during the Maurice Grau régime at the Metropolitan Opera House.
Sung in French by great artists, every one of whom was familiar with
the traditions of the Grand Opéra, Paris, the work was given so often
that William J. Henderson cleverly suggested "Faustspielhaus" as an
appropriate substitute for the name of New York's yellow brick temple
of opera; a _mot_ which led Krehbiel, in a delightful vein of banter,
to exclaim, "Henderson, your German jokes are better than your serious
German!"

Several distinguished singers have been heard in this country in the
rôle of _Faust_. It is doubtful if that beautiful lyric number,
_Faust's_ romance, "Salut! demeure chaste et pure" (Hail to the
dwelling chaste and pure), ever has been delivered here with more
exquisite vocal phrasing than by Campanini, who sang the Italian
version, in which the romance becomes "Salve! dimora casta e pura."
That was in the old Academy of Music days, with Christine Nilsson as
_Marguerite_, which she had sung at the revival of the work by the
Paris Grand Opéra. The more impassioned outbursts of the _Faust_ rôle
also were sung with fervid expression by Campanini, so great an
artist, in the best Italian manner, that he had no Italian successor
until Caruso appeared upon the scene.

Yet, in spite of the _Faust_ of these two Italian artists, Jean de
Reszke remains the ideal _Faust_ of memory. With a personal appearance
distinguished beyond that of any other operatic artist who has been
heard here, an inborn chivalry of deportment that made him a lover
after the heart of every woman, and a refinement of musical expression
that clarified every rôle he undertook, his _Faust_ was the most
finished portrayal of that character in opera that has been heard
here. Jean de Reszke's great distinction was that everything he did
was in perfect taste. Haven't you seen _Faust_ after _Faust_ keep his
hat on while making love to _Marguerite_? Jean de Reszke, a gentleman,
removed his before ever he breathed of romance. Muratore is an
admirable _Faust_, with all the refinements of phrasing and acting
that characterize the best traditions of the Grand Opéra, Paris.

Great tenors do not, as a rule, arrive in quick succession. In this
country we have had two distinct tenor eras and now are in a third. We
had the era of Italo Campanini, from 1873 until his voice became
impaired, about 1880. Not until eleven years later, 1891, did opera in
America become so closely associated with another tenor, that there
may be said to have begun the era of Jean de Reszke. It lasted until
that artist's voluntary retirement. We are now in the era of Enrico
Caruso, whose repertoire includes _Faust_ in French.

Christine Nilsson, Adelina Patti, Melba, Eames, Calvé, have been among
the famous _Marguerites_ heard here. Nilsson and Eames may have seemed
possessed of too much natural reserve for the rôle; but Gounod's
librettists made _Marguerite_ more refined than Goethe's _Gretchen_.
Patti acted the part with great simplicity and sang it flawlessly. In
fact her singing of the ballad "Il était un roi de Thulé" (There once
was a king of Thule) was a perfect example of the artistically artless
in song. It seemed to come from her lips merely because it chanced to
be running through her head. Melba's type of beauty was somewhat
mature for the impersonation of the character, but her voice lent
itself beautifully to it. Calvé's _Marguerite_ is recalled as a
logically developed character from first note to last, and as one of
the most original and interesting of _Marguerites_. But Americans
insisted on Calvé's doing nothing but _Carmen_. When she sang in
"Faust" she appeared to them a _Carmen_ masquerading as _Marguerite_.
So back to _Carmen_ she had to go. Sembrich and Farrar are other
_Marguerites_ identified with the Metropolitan Opera House.

Plançon unquestionably was the finest _Méphistophélès_ in the history
of the opera in America up to the present time--vivid, sonorous, and
satanically polished or fantastical, as the rôle demanded.

Gounod's librettists, Michel Carré and Jules Barbier, with a true
Gallic gift for practicable stage effect, did not seek to utilize the
whole of Goethe's "Faust" for their book, but contented themselves
with the love story of _Faust_ and _Marguerite_, which also happens to
have been entirely original with the author of the play, since it does
not occur in the legends. But because the opera does not deal with the
whole of "Faust," Germany, where Gounod's work enjoys great
popularity, refuses to accept it under the same title as the play, and
calls it "Margarethe" after the heroine.

As reconstructed for the Grand Opéra, where it was brought out ten
years after its production at the Théâtre Lyrique, "Faust" develops as
follows:

There is a brief prelude. A _ff_ on a single note, then mysterious,
chromatic chords, and then the melody which Gounod composed for
Santley.

Act I. _Faust's_ study. The philosopher is discovered alone, seated at
a table on which an open tome lies before him. His lamp flickers in
its socket. Night is about turning to dawn.

_Faust_ despairs of solving the riddle of the universe. Aged, his
pursuit of science vain, he seizes a flask of poison, pours it into a
crystal goblet, and is about to drain it, when, day having dawned, the
cheerful song of young women on their way to work arrests him. The
song dies away. Again he raises the goblet, only to pause once more,
as he hears a chorus of labourers, with whose voices those of the
women unite. _Faust_, beside himself at these sounds of joy and youth,
curses life and advancing age, and calls upon Satan to aid him.

There is a flash of red light and out of it, up through the floor,
rises _Méphistophélès_, garbed as a cavalier, and in vivid red.
Alternately suave, satirical, and demoniacal in bearing, he offers to
_Faust_ wealth and power. The philosopher, however, wants neither,
unless with the gift also is granted youth. "Je veux la jeunesse"
(What I long for is youth). That is easy for his tempter, if the aged
philosopher, with pen dipped in his blood, will but sign away his
soul. _Faust_ hesitates. At a gesture from _Méphistophélès_ the scene
at the back opens and discloses _Marguerite_ seated at her
spinning-wheel, her long blond braid falling down her back. "Ô
Merveille!" (A miracle!) exclaims _Faust_, at once signs the
parchment, and drains to the vision of _Marguerite_ a goblet proffered
him by _Méphistophélès_. The scene fades away, the philosopher's garb
drops off _Faust_. The grey beard and all other marks of old age
vanish. He stands revealed a youthful gallant, eager for adventure,
instead of the disappointed scholar weary of life. There is an
impetuous duet for _Faust_ and _Méphistophélès_: "À moi les plaisirs"
('Tis pleasure I covet). They dash out of the cell-like study in which
_Faust_ vainly has devoted himself to science.

Act II. Outside of one of the city gates. To the left is an inn,
bearing as a sign a carved image of Bacchus astride a keg. It is
kermis time. There are students, among them _Wagner_, burghers old and
young, soldiers, maidens, and matrons.

The act opens with a chorus. "Faust" has been given so often that this
chorus probably is accepted by most people as a commonplace. In point
of fact it is an admirable piece of characterization. The groups of
people are effectively differentiated in the score. The toothless
chatter of the old men (in high falsetto) is an especially amusing
detail. In the end the choral groups are deftly united.

_Valentine_ and _Siebel_ join the kermis throng. The former is
examining a medallion which his sister, _Marguerite_, has given him as
a charm against harm in battle. He sings a cavatina. It is this number
which Gounod composed for Santley. As most if not all the performances
of "Faust" in America, up to the time Grau introduced the custom of
giving opera in the language of the original score, were in Italian,
this cavatina is familiarly known as the "Dio possente" (To thee, O
Father!). In French it is "À toi, Seigneur et Roi des Cieux" (To Thee,
O God, and King of Heaven). Both in the Italian and French,
_Valentine_ prays to Heaven to protect his sister during his absence.
In English, "Even bravest heart may swell," the number relates chiefly
to _Valentine's_ ambitions as a soldier.

_Wagner_ mounts a table and starts the "Song of the Rat." After a few
lines he is interrupted by the sudden appearance of _Méphistophélès_,
who, after a brief parley, sings "Le veau d'or" (The golden calf), a
cynical dissertation on man's worship of mammon. He reads the hands of
those about him. To _Siebel_ he prophesies that every flower he
touches shall wither. Rejecting the wine proffered him by _Wagner_, he
strikes with his sword the sign of the inn, the keg, astride of which
sits Bacchus. Like a stream of wine fire flows from the keg into the
goblet held under the spout by _Méphistophélès_, who raising the
vessel, pledges the health of _Marguerite_.

This angers _Valentine_ and leads to the "Scène des épées" (The scene
of the swords). _Valentine_ unsheathes his blade. _Méphistophélès_,
with his sword describes a circle about himself. _Valentine_ makes a
pass at his foe. As the thrust carries his sword into the magic
circle, the blade breaks. He stands in impotent rage, while
_Méphistophélès_ mocks him. At last, realizing who his opponent is,
_Valentine_ grasps his sword by its broken end, and extends the
cruciform hilt toward the red cavalier. The other soldiers follow
their leader's example. _Méphistophélès_, no longer mocking, cowers
before the cross-shaped sword hilts held toward him, and slinks away.
A sonorous chorus, "Puisque tu brises le fer" (Since you have broken
the blade) for _Valentine_ and his followers distinguishes this scene.

The crowd gathers for the kermis dance--"the waltz from Faust,"
familiar the world round, and undulating through the score to the end
of the gay scene, which also concludes the act. While the crowd is
dancing and singing, _Méphistophélès_ enters with _Faust_.
_Marguerite_ approaches. She is on her way from church, prayerbook in
hand. _Siebel_ seeks to join her. But every time the youth steps
toward her he confronts the grinning yet sinister visage of
_Méphistophélès_, who dexterously manages to get in his way. Meanwhile
_Faust_ has joined her. There is a brief colloquy. He offers his arm
and conduct through the crowd. She modestly declines. The episode,
though short, is charmingly melodious. The phrases for _Marguerite_
can be made to express coyness, yet also show that she is not wholly
displeased with the attention paid her by the handsome stranger. She
goes her way. The dance continues. "Valsons toujours" (Waltz alway!).

Act III. _Marguerite's_ garden. At the back a wall with a wicket door.
To the left a bower. On the right _Marguerite's_ house, with a bow
window facing the audience. Trees, shrubs, flower beds, etc.

_Siebel_ enters by the wicket. Stopping at one of the flower beds and
about to pluck a nosegay, he sings the graceful "Faites-lui mes aveux"
(Bear my avowal to her). But when he culls a flower, it shrivels in
his hand, as _Méphistophélès_ had predicted. The boy is much
perturbed. Seeing, however, a little font with holy water suspended by
the wall of the house, he dips his fingers in it. Now the flowers no
longer shrivel as he culls them. He arranges them in a bouquet, which
he lays on the house step, where he hopes _Marguerite_ will see it. He
then leaves.

_Faust_ enters with _Méphistophélès_, but bids the latter withdraw, as
if he sensed the incongruity of his presence near the home of a maiden
so pure as _Marguerite_. The tempter having gone, _Faust_ proceeds to
apostrophize _Marguerite's_ dwelling in the exquisite romance, "Salut!
demeure chaste et pure."

[Music]

_Méphistophélès_ returns. With him he brings a casket of jewels and a
handsome bouquet. With these he replaces _Siebel's_ flowers. The two
men then withdraw into a shadowy recess of the garden to await
_Marguerite's_ return.

She enters by the wicket. Her thoughts are with the handsome
stranger--above her in station, therefore the more flattering and
fascinating in her eyes--who addressed her at the kermis. Pensively
she seats herself at her spinning-wheel and, while turning it, without
much concentration of mind on her work, sings "Le Roi de Thulé," the
ballad of the King of Thule, her thoughts, however, returning to
_Faust_ before she resumes and finishes the number, which is set in
the simple fashion of a folk-song.

Approaching the house, and about to enter, she sees the flowers, stops
to admire them, and to bestow a thought of compassion upon _Siebel_
for his unrequited devotion, then sees and hesitatingly opens the
casket of jewels. Their appeal to her feminine vanity is too great to
permit her to return them at once to the casket. Decking herself out
in them, she regards herself and the sparkling gems in the handglass
that came with them, then bursts into the brilliant "Air des Bijoux"
(Jewel Song):

[Music]

     Ah! je ris de me voir
     Si belle en ce miroir!...
     Est-ce toi, Marguerite?

     (Ah! I laugh just to view--
     Marguerite! Is it you?--
     Such a belle in the glass!...)

one of the most brilliant airs for coloratura soprano, affording the
greatest contrast to the folklike ballad which preceded it, and making
with it one of the most effective scenes in opera for a soprano who
can rise to its demands: the chaste simplicity required for the
ballad, the joyous abandon and faultless execution of elaborate
embellishments involved in the "Air des Bijoux." When well done, the
scene is brilliantly successful; for, added to its own conspicuous
merit, is the fact that, save for the very brief episode in Act II,
this is the first time in two and a half acts that the limpid and
grateful tones of a solo high soprano have fallen upon the ear.

_Martha_, the neighbour and companion of _Marguerite_, joins her. In
the manner of the average duenna, whose chief duty in opera is to
encourage love affairs, however fraught with peril to her charge, she
is not at all disturbed by the gift of the jewels or by the entrance
upon the scene of _Faust_ and _Méphistophélès_. Nor, when the latter
tells her that her husband has been killed in the wars, does she
hesitate, after a few exclamations of rather forced grief, to seek
consolation on the arm of the flatterer in red, who leads her off into
the garden, leaving _Faust_ with _Marguerite_. During the scene
immediately ensuing the two couples are sometimes in view, sometimes
lost to sight in the garden. The music is a quartet, beginning with
_Faust's_ "Prenez mon bras un moment" (Pray lean upon mine arm). It is
artistically individualized. The couples and each member thereof are
deftly characterized in Gounod's score.

For a moment _Méphistophélès_ holds the stage alone. Standing by a bed
of flowers in an attitude of benediction, he invokes their subtle
perfume to lull _Marguerite_ into a false sense of security. "Il était
temps!" (It was the hour), begins the soliloquy. For a moment, as it
ends, the flowers glow. _Méphistophélès_ withdraws into the shadows.
_Faust_ and _Marguerite_ appear. _Marguerite_ plucks the petals of a
flower: "He loves me--he loves me not--he loves!" There are two
ravishing duets for the lovers, "Laisse-moi contempler ton visage"
(Let me gaze upon thy beauty), and "Ô nuit d'amour ... ciel radieux!"

[Music]

(Oh, night of love! oh, starlit sky!). The music fairly enmeshes the
listener in its enchanting measures.

[Music]

_Faust_ and _Marguerite_ part, agreeing to meet on the morrow--"Oui,
demain! des l'aurore!" (Yes, tomorrow! at dawn!). She enters the
house. _Faust_ turns to leave the garden. He is confronted by
_Méphistophélès_, who points to the window. The casement is opened by
_Marguerite_, who believes she is alone. Kneeling in the window, she
gazes out upon the night flooded with moonlight. "Il m'aime; ... Ah!
presse ton retour, cher bien-aimé! Viens!" (He loves me; ah! haste
your return, dearly beloved! Come!).

With a cry, _Faust_ rushes to the open casement, sinks upon his
knees. _Marguerite_, with an ecstatic exclamation, leans out of the
embrasure and allows him to take her into his arms. Her head rests
upon his shoulder.

At the wicket is _Méphistophélès_, shaking with laughter.

Act IV. The first scene in this act takes place in _Marguerite's_
room. No wonder _Méphistophélès_ laughed when he saw her in _Faust's_
arms. She has been betrayed and deserted. The faithful _Siebel_,
however, still offers her his love--"Si la bonheur à sourire t'invite"
(When all was young and pleasant, May was blooming)--but _Marguerite_
still loves the man who betrayed her, and hopes against hope that he
will return.

This episode is followed by the cathedral scene. _Marguerite_ has
entered the edifice and knelt to pray. But, invisible to her,
_Méphistophélès_ stands beside her and reminds her of her guilt. A
chorus of invisible demons calls to her accusingly. _Méphistophélès_
foretells her doom. The "Dies iræ," accompanied on the organ, is
heard. _Marguerite's_ voice joins with those of the worshippers. But
_Méphistophélès_, when the chant is ended, calls out that for her, a
lost one, there yawns the abyss. She flees in terror. This is one of
the most significant episodes of the work.

Now comes a scene in the street, in front of _Marguerite's_ house. The
soldiers return from war and sing their familiar chorus, "Gloire
immortelle" (Glory immortal). _Valentine_, forewarned by _Siebel's_
troubled mien that all is not well with _Marguerite_, goes into the
house. _Faust_ and _Méphistophélès_ come upon the scene. Facing the
house, and accompanying himself on his guitar, the red gallant sings
an offensive serenade. _Valentine_, aroused by the insult, which he
correctly interprets as aimed at his sister, rushes out. There is a
spirited trio, "Redouble, ô Dieu puissant" (Give double strength,
great God on high). _Valentine_ smashes the guitar with his sword,
then attacks _Faust_, whose sword-thrust, guided by _Méphistophélès_,
mortally wounds _Marguerite's_ brother. _Marguerite_ comes into the
street, throws herself over _Valentine's_ body. With his dying breath
her brother curses her.

Sometimes the order of the scenes in this act is changed. It may open
with the street scene, where the girls at the fountain hold themselves
aloof from _Marguerite_. Here the brief meeting between the girl and
_Siebel_ takes place. _Marguerite_ then goes into the house; the
soldi