Alfredo Catalani's Opera "Loreley"

C. P. S., Alfredo Catalani
1890 The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular  
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more » ... SICAL TIMES. MAY I, I890. 283 283 and Herrmann, the warrior-bard of the golden lyre (baritone), besides a host of choral masses, composed ot the Margrave's retinue, bards, knights, pages, archers fishermen, peasants, nymphs, and spirits. The following may serve as a rapid sketch of the drama, the scene of which is, of course, laid on the banks of the Rhine. The first act opens with a pastoral scene in which fishermen, peasants, and archers discuss the great event WhiCh iS approaching-the marriage of Walter and Anna. A bevy of old women predict that the marriage will not be a happy one, and that something ominous is impending; they are, however, silenced by the rest of the crowd, which disperses at the bidding of Herrma1za, the bard of the golden lyre. Herrmcinn, seeing young Walter approach asks him why, on the eve of his wedding, he looks so anxious and depressed; whereupon the young lord of Oberwesel confides to the Bard that he will marry Annaof ReAberg because he has pledged his word, but that for some time he has been deeply in love with Loreley, a poor and innocent orphan girl, who returns his love. The Bard advises his young friend to conquer his passion and to be true to his betrothed. At this juncture Loreley herself appears, and, seeing WcBlters agitation, wrings from him the confession that he is pledged to marry Anna, and that the wedding day is at hand. Loreley, beside herself with anguish and despair clings to Walter, who, however, repels her, and she faints with a shriek and falls to the ground. At this point a violent storm bursts; and when the clouds are clearing, the scene reveals a rocky inlet, formed by the waters of the Rhine, in which water-nymphs and spirits of the air alternately sing their plaintive strains. Loreley, sitting on the edge of the famous rock which bears her name, broods revenge, and appeals to the spirits for power to punish her faithless lover; and they promise to endow her with irresistible beauty, which will allure and entrap him, if she will swear to wed the Rhine. She swears, and throws herself into the arms of her bridegroom-the river; immediately afterwards re-appearing on the rock in transcendent beauty, clad in a star-spangled garment of flaming red. The second act introduces Anna, the promised bride, joyous and happy, preparing for the wedding. The marriage procession is formed; and, on its way to the chapel, passes along the terrace of the Margzave Rudolph's castle from which the Loreley rock can be seen. Suddenly a stroke of lightning disturbs the procession; Walter, turning towards the fatal rock, sees Loreley in all her beauty bidding him to come. The fascination is irresistible. He leaves his bride; the procession breaks up in consternation * the bride faints away in horror and despair; the Margrave and the Bard vow vengeance-but Wcllter, in a trance follows Loreley, who, after alluring him along the banks of the river, suddenly plunges and disappears in the water, The third and last act opens with the funeral procession of Anncl, who could not survive her grief and despair. Walter, having learned her sad end, is present to pay her his last tribute; but is indignantly repelled bythe mourning Mcrrgrave and his retinue. Forsaken by all, he is on the point of taking his own life, when Loreley once more appears on the rock. He sees her, hastens to her-she comes to meet him. The sweet remembrance of their first love once more unites them, and she falls into his arms when the nymphs rise out of the water to remind her that she is no longer on earth, but herself a nymph wedded to the Rhine. Wcllter, seeing all hope gone, throws himselt into the river; and Loreley, realising her awful fate, sinks lifeless on the rock. The dramatic action, which is all the more eSective because it is concentrated in three acts instead of being spread, as is often the case in the operas of the day, over four and even five, may be said to recall here and there scenes from such operas as Puccini's " Le Villi," Lort zing7s " Undine," and even " Tannhauser"-but reminiscences such as these might be multiplied indefinitely, and they spring up naturally and necessarily in every work treating of a kindred subject. The libretto, by Signori d'Ormeville and Zanardini, is one of undoubted dramatic and poetical merit, and has furnished Professor Catalani with. ample opportunity for displaying his powers as a lyrico-dramatic composer. As such, he has a pronounced tendency to write in the minor key, which imparts to his
doi:10.2307/3363240 fatcat:47jw4wqhl5edlffalsafpwjlve