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it, bakes them into gingerbread in her oven, and then
devours them.

The second act, " In the Forest," is preluded by a
characteristic instrumental number, " The Witches' Ride."
The children are discovered near the Ilsenstein, among the
fir-trees, making garlands, listening to the cuckoos, and
mocking them in a beautiful duet with echo accompani-
ment. At last, however, they realize that they are lost;
and in the midst of their fear, which is intensified by



i 4 o THE STANDARD OPERAS

strange sights and sounds, the Sandman, or sleep fairy, ap-
proaches them, strews sand in their eyes, and sings them to
sleep with a most delicious lullaby, after they have recited
their prayer (" When at night I go to sleep, fourteen Angels
watch do keep"). As they sleep the mist rolls away, the
forest background disappears, and the fourteen angels come
down a sort of Jacob's ladder and surround the children,
while other angels perform a stately dance, grouping them-
selves in picturesque tableau as the curtain falls.

The third act is entitled " The Witch's House." The
children are still sleeping, but the angels have vanished.
The Dawn Fairy steps forward and shakes dewdrops from
a bluebell over them, accompanying the action with a
delightful song, " I 'm up with early Dawning." Gretel
is the first to wake, and rouses Hansel by tickling him with
a leaf, at the same time singing a veritable tickling melody,
and then telling him what she has seen in her dream. In
place of the fir-trees they discover the witch's house at the
Ilsenstein, with an oven on one side and on the other a
cage, both joined to the house by a curious fence of
gingerbread figures. The house itself is constructed of
sweets and creams. Attracted by its delicious fragrance
and toothsomeness, the hungry children break off a piece and
are nibbling at it, when the old witch within surprises
and captures 'them. After a series of incantations, and
much riding upon her broomstick, which are vividly por-
trayed in the music, she prepares to cook Gretel in the
oven ; but while looking into it the children deftly tumble
her into the fire. The witch waltz, danced by the children
and full of joyous abandon, follows. To a most vivid ac-
companiment, Hansel rushes into the house and throws
fruit, nuts, and sweetmeats into Gretel's apron. Meanwhile
the oven falls into bits, and a crowd of children swarm
around them, released from their gingerbread disguises,
and sing a swelling chorus of gratitude as two of the boys



HUMPERDINCK 141

drag the witch from the ruins of the oven in the form of
a big gingerbread-cake. The father and mother appear.
Their long quest is ended. The family join in singing a
pious little hymn (" When past bearing is our grief, God
the Lord will send relief"), and the children dance joy-
ously around the reunited group. The story is only a little
child's tale, but it is wedded to music of the highest order.
The union has been made so deftly, the motives are so
charming and take their places so skilfully, and the music
is so scholarly and characteristic throughout, that no one
has yet considered this union as incongruous.



JAKOBOWSKI

EDOUARD JAKOBOWSKI, a composer residing in
London, is the writer of a very pleasant musical com-
edy, " Erminie." Though not an opera or even operetta
in the strict sense, being rather a comedy with incidental
music, its numbers are so tuneful, and the comedy has
been and still remains so popular, that it is included in this
volume. The composer has also produced an operetta,
"Paolo," but it has not made the success of " Erminie,"
which has had since its first performance in 1885 nearly
three thousand presentations.

Erminie

" Erminie," musical comedy in two acts, text by
Bellamy and Paulton, was first produced at the Comedy
Theatre, London, November 9, 1885, and in New York at
the Casino, March 10, 1886. The story of "Erminie"
is based upon the old melodrama " Robert Macaire,"
the two vagabonds, Ravannes and Cadeaux, taking the
places of the two murderers, Macaire and Jacques Strop.
Few melodramas were more popular in their day than
" Robert Macaire," in which Lemaitre, the great French
actor, made one of his most conspicuous successes. It is
also true that few musical comedies have been more suc-
cessful than " Erminie." At the opening of the opera, a
gallant on the way to his betrothal with a young lady whom
he has never seen is attacked by two thieves, Ravannes
and Cadeaux, who carry off his wardrobe and tie him to a
tree. Later, Ravannes arrives in the midst of the betrothal
festivities, and passes himself off as the expected guest.



JAKOBOWSKI 143

He introduces Cadeaux as a nobleman, and explains their
lack of proper attire with the statement that they had been
robbed while on their way there. Erminie has an affection
for Eugene, her father's secretary, and none for the man
who claims to be a suitor for her hand. Ernst, who was
the real victim of the robbery, and who is in love with
Cerise, escapes from the predicament in which the two
thieves placed him, and arrives in time for the festivities,
to find himself denounced by Ravannes as the highwayman
who had attacked them earlier in the day. Ravannes, by
assuming great magnanimity and a certain nobility of con-
duct, and by his proffers of help to Erminie in securing
the man she loves in return for her assistance in his plans,
of which she of course is ignorant, so ingratiates himself in
her confidence that he nearly succeeds in robbing the
house. In the end, however, the two vagabonds are un-
masked. Eugene obtains the hand of Erminie, and Ernst
and Cerise are equally fortunate.

The music of " Erminie " is light and graceful through-
out. Its principal numbers are Erminie's song ("Ah!
when Love is young") ; the duet for Eugene and Erminie
("Past and Future ") ; the Marquis' stirring martial song
(" Dull is the Life of the Soldier in Peace ") ; the thieves'
rollicking duet ("We're a philanthropic Couple, be it
known ") ; Erminie's pretty dream song (" At Midnight on
my Pillow lying"), and the lullaby ("Dear Mother, in
Dreams I see her"), which is the gem of the opera; the
song and whistling chorus (" What the Dicky Birds say ") ;
the vocal gavotte (" Join in Pleasures, dance a Measure ") ;
and the concerted piece (" Good-night "), which leads up to
the close of the last act.



LECOCQ

CHARLES LECOCQ was born in Paris, June 3, 1832.
He entered the Conservatory in 1849, carried off
many prizes, and proved himself a superior musical
scholar and a good organist. Indeed, his attainments at
that time were so excellent that he might have risen to a
high position in the musical world, but almost from the
first his ambition was to make a success with light works
for the theatre, especially on the lines which Offenbach
had followed. After a series of comic operas produced
between 1864 and 1868 he became firmly established in
public favor, and all his works met with a cordial recep-
tion. Among his most successful operas are the follow-
ing : " Fleurde The" (1868) ; " Le Barbier de Trouville "
(1871); "Les Cent Vierges " (1872); "La Fille de
Mine. Angot" (1873); " Girofle-Girofla " (1874); "La
Petite Mariee" (1876); "La Marjolaine " (1877);
and "Le Petit- Due " and"Camargo" (1878). The list
of his dramatic works includes over fifty numbers, besides
which he wrote ballads, songs, and piano pieces. Lecocq
was made Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1894.

Girofle-Girofla

"Girofle-Girofla," opera bouffe in three acts, text by
Vanloo and Aterrier, was first produced at the Theatre
des Fantasies Parisiennes, Brussels, March 21, 1874; in
Paris, November n, 1874; in New York at the Park
Theatre in 1875. The scene is laid in Spain. The



LECOCQ 145

opening scene introduces Don Bolero d'Alcarazas, a Span-
ish grandee, and Aurore, his wife, also their twin daugh-
ters, Girofle" and Girofla, who, being of marriageable age,
have been hastily betrothed, Girofle to Marasquin, a banker,
to whom Don Bolero is heavily indebted, and Girofla
to Mourzook, a Moorish chief, who has made regular
demands upon Don Bolero for money on penalty of death.
By the double marriage he expects to get rid of his obli-
gations on the one hand and avoid the payment of the
enforced tribute on the other. Girofle is married as ar-
ranged, but Girofla, who was to have been married the
same day, is abducted by pirates before the ceremony can
be performed. When Mourzook arrives and finds he has
no bride, he is in a terrible rage, but is quieted down
when, after a little manoeuvring by Aurore, Girofle" is
passed off on him as Girofla, and is thus to be married a
second time.

In the second act the wedding festivities are going on
and both bridegrooms are clamoring for their brides. No
word is heard from Admiral Matamoras, who has been
sent to capture the pirates. Don Bolero and Aurore resort
to all kinds of expedients to settle matters and pacify the
irate banker and the furious Moor, and besides have much
trouble in restraining Girofle from flying to her Maras-
quin. At last she is locked up. She manages to get
out, however, and goes off with some of her cousins for
a revel. Her absence is explained by a report that the
pirates have carried her off also, which adds to the parents'
perplexity as well as to the fury of Marasquin and Mour-
zook. At last Girofle appears in a tipsy condition and is
claimed by both. The act closes with the report that
Matamoras has been defeated, and that the pirates have
carried Girofla to Constantinople.

The third act opens on the following morning. The two
would-be husbands have been locked into their apartments.

10



146 THE STANDARD OPERAS

Marasquin has passed a quiet night, but Mourzook has
smashed the furniture and escaped from his chamber through
the window. The parents assure Marasquin that even if
Mourzook returns he will have to leave that afternoon, and
suggest that there can be no harm in letting him have
Girofl£ for his wife until that time. Marasquin reluctantly
consents, and when Mourzook returns and Girofle is pre-
sented to him as Girofla, a ridiculous love scene occurs,
which Marasquin contrives to interrupt by various devices.
Finally the return of Girofla is announced, and Matamoras
with his sailors appear, leading her by the hand. Ex-
planations are made all round, the parents are forgiven,
and Mourzook is satisfied.

The music is lively throughout and oftentimes brilliant,
and of a higher standard than usually characterizes opera
bouffe. The most taking numbers are the ballad with
pizzicato accompaniment, sung by Paquita, " Lorsque la
journee est fini " (" When the Day is finished ") ; the con-
certed ensemble, "A la chapelle " ("To the Church") ;
the grotesque pirates' chorus, " Parmi les choses delicates "
("Among the delicate Things to do"), and the sparkling
duet for Girofle and Marasquin, " C'est fini, le m'ariage "
("The Marriage has been solemnized"), in the first act;
the bacchanalian chorus, " £coutez cette musique " (" Lis-
ten to this Music"), leading up to a dance; a vivacious
and well-written quintet, " Matamoras, grand capitaine "
("'Matamoras, our great Captain") ; a fascinating drink-
ing song, " Le punch scintille " (" See how it sparkles "),
and the andante duet, " O Girofle, O Girofla," a smooth,
tender melody, which is in striking contrast with the
drinking-music preceding it and that which immediately
follows the chorus of the half-tipsy wedding-guests, " C 'est
le canon " (" It is the Cannon "), in the second act ; and
the rondo, "Beau pere, une telle demand" ("Oh, my
Father, now you ask"), sung by Marasquin, and the duet



LECOCQ 147

for Mourzook and Girofte, " Ma belle GiroAe 1 " (" My
Lovely Girofle "), in the third act.



La Fille de Madame Angot

" La Fille de Madame Angot," opera bouffe in three
acts, text by Clairville, Sirandin, and Konig, was first pro-
duced at the Fantasies Parisiennes, Brussels, November,
1872; in Paris at the Folies Dramatiques, February 23,
1873. The first act opens in a market square in Paris,
where the market women and others in holiday attire are
making ready to celebrate the wedding of Pomponnet, the
hairdresser, and Clairette, the daughter of the late
Madame Angot. During the festive preparations, for
which Clairette has little desire, as her affections are fixed
upon Ange Pitou, a street singer, who is continually in
trouble by reason of his political songs, the latter makes
his appearance. He is informed of the forthcoming
wedding, which has been arranged by the market people,
who have adopted Clairette as the child of the market.
At the same time Larivaudiere and Louchard, the police
officials who caused his arrest because of his knowledge of
the relations of Larivaudiere and Mademoiselle Lange, the
comedienne and favorite of Barras, are surprised to find
him at large. To prevent him from reciting his knowl-
edge in a song which he is sure has been written,
Larivaudiere buys him off. Pitou subsequently regrets his
bargain. When the crowd clamors for a song, he says
he has none. The people are furious with him, but
Clairette comes to his rescue. She has found the song
denouncing Larivaudiere, sings it, and is arrested, notwith-
standing Pitou's declaration that he is the author of it.

The second act opens in Mademoiselle Lange's salon.
She has persuaded Barras to release Clairette and have her
brought to her apartments, so that she may discover why



148 THE STANDARD OPERAS

she sings this song denouncing the government and insult-
ing her also. In the meantime she has also sent for
Pomponnet, her hairdresser, and informs him what his
future wife has done. He replies that Pitou wrote the
song, and that he (Pomponnet) has it. She orders him
to fetch it to her. When Clairette arrives they recognize
each other as old school friends. Mademoiselle Lange
assures her she shall not go back to prison and that she
need not marry Pomponnet. She retires to Mademoiselle
Lange's boudoir when a visitor is announced. It is Ange
Pitou, and a love scene at once occurs. The jealous
Larivaudiere enters and accuses them of being lovers. To
justify herself Mademoiselle Lange declares that Pitou and
Clairette are lovers, and the latter confirms the statement.
Pomponnet's voice is heard in the outer room. He is
admitted, and promptly arrested for having the revolution-
ary song on his person. The act closes with a meeting of
conspirators, and Mademoiselle Lange's clever foiling of
the grenadiers who have come to arrest them, by turning
the whole affair into a grand ball, to which they are
invited.

The last act is occupied with plots and counter-plots
which at last succeed in disentangling all the complica-
tions. Mademoiselle Lange's perfidy, as well as Pitou's, is
shown up, Larivaudiere has his revenge, and Clairette and
Pomponnet are made happy.

The music of the opera is so bright, gay, and character-
istic that it made Lecocq a dangerous rival of Offenbach.
The most conspicuous numbers are Clairette's pretty
romance, " L' enfant de la halle " ("The Child of the
Market ") ; Amaranthe's jolly couplets, " Marchande de
mar£e " ("A beautiful Fishwoman"); Ange Pitou's
rondo, " Certainement j'aimais Clairette" ("'Tis true I
loved Clairette") and Clairette's spirited song, "Jadis les
rois, race proscrite " (" Once Kings, a Race proscribed "),




Emily Soldene as Mdlle. Laiige



LECOCQ 149

in the first act ; another equally spirited song, " Comme
un Coursier " ("Like a Courser") ; Pomponnet's pretty
air, " Elle est tellement innocente " ("She is so inno-
cent ") ; a charming sentimental duet for Mademoiselle
Lange and Clairette, " Jours fortunes de notre enfance "
("Happy Days of Childhood ") j a striking ensemble in
the form of a quintet, " Oui, je vous le dis, c'est pour
elle " ("Yes, 'tis on her Account alone"); and the
famous conspirators' chorus, " Quand on conspire "
("When one conspires"), in the second act; and Clair-
ette's couplets with chorus, "Vous aviez fait de la
depense " (" You put yourselves to great Expense ") ;
the humorous duet, " Larivaudiere and Pomponnet," and
Clairette's song, "Ah! c'est done toi " ("Ah! 'tis you,
then"), in the last act.



LEONCAVALLO

RUGGIERO LEONCAVALLO, a promising repre-
sentative of the young Italian school, was born in
Naples, March 8, 1858. He first studied with Siri, and
afterwards learned harmony and the piano from Simonetti.
While a student at the Naples Conservatory he was advised
by Rossi, one of his teachers, to devote himself to opera.
In pursuance of this counsel, he went to Bologna, and
there wrote his first opera, " Tommaso Chatterton," which
still remains in manuscript and unperformed. Then
followed a series of " wander years," during which he
visited many European countries, giving lessons in sing-
ing and upon the piano, and meeting with varying for-
tunes. In all these years, however, he cherished the plan
of producing a trilogy in the Wagnerian manner with a
groundwork from Florentine history. In a letter he says :
" I subdivided the historical periods in the following way :
first part, ' I Medici,' from the accession of Sextus IV to
the Pazzi conspiracy ; second part, ' Savonarola/ from the
investiture of Fra Benedetto to the death of Savonarola;
third part, ' Cesare Borgia,' from the death of the Duke of
Candia to that of Alexander VI." The first part was com-
pleted and performed in Milan in November, 1893, and
was a failure, notwithstanding its effective instrumentation.
It was not so, however, with the little two-act opera " I
Pagliacci," which was produced May 21, 1892, at Milan,
and met with an instantaneous and enthusiastic success.
His next work was a chorus with orchestral accompani-
ment, the text based upon Balzac's rhapsodical and highly
wrought " Seraphita," which was performed at Milan in



LEONCAVALLO 151

1894. Of his works, "I Pagliacci" is the only one known
in the United States. It has met with great favor here,
and has become standard in the Italian repertory.

I Pagliacci

" I Pagliacci," Italian opera in two acts, words by the
composer, Ruggiero Leoncavallo, was first performed at
Milan, May 21, 1892, and was introduced in this country
in the spring of 1894, Mme. Arnoldson and Signors
Ancona, Gromzeski, Guetary, and De Lucia taking the
principal parts. The scene is laid in Calabria during the
Feast of the Assumption. The Pagliacci are a troupe of
itinerant mountebanks, the characters being Nedda, the
Columbine, who is wife of Canio, or Punchinello, master
of the troupe ; Tonio, the Clown ; Beppe, the Harlequin ;
and Silvio, a villager.

The first act opens with the picturesque arrival of the
troupe in the village, and the preparations for a perfor-
mance in the rustic theatre, with which the peasants are
overjoyed. The tragic element of the composition is ap-
parent at once, and the action moves swiftly on to the
fearful denouement. Tonio, the clown, is in love with
Nedda, and before the performance makes advances to
her, which she resents by slashing him across the face with
Beppe's riding-whip. He rushes off vowing revenge, and
upon his return overhears Nedda declaring her passion for
Silvio, a young peasant, and arranging to elope with him.
Tonio thereupon seeks Canio, and tells him of his wife's
infidelity. Canio hurries to the spot, encounters Nedda ;
but Silvio has fled, and she refuses to give his name. He
attempts to stab her, but is prevented by Beppe, and the
act closes with the final preparation for the show, the
grief-stricken husband donning the motley in gloomy and
foreboding silence.

The second act opens with Tonio beating the big drum,



15a



THE STANDARD OPERAS



and the people crowding to the show, among them Silvio,
who manages to make an appointment with Nedda while
she is collecting the money. The curtain of the little
theatre rises, disclosing a small room barely furnished.
The play to be performed is almost an identical picture of
the real situation in the unfortunate little troupe. Colum-
bine, who is to poison her husband, Punchinello, is enter-
taining her lover, Harlequin, while Taddeo, the clown,
watches for Punchinello's return. When Canio finally ap-
pears the mimic tragedy becomes one in reality. Inflamed
with passion, he rushes upon Nedda, and demands the
name of her lover: She still refuses to tell. He draws
his dagger. Nedda, conscious of her danger, calls upon
Silvio in the audience to save her ; but it is too late. Her
husband kills her, and Silvio, who rushes upon the stage,
is killed with the same dagger. With a wild cry full of
hate, jealousy, and despair, the unfortunate Canio tells the
audience " La commedia e finita " ( " The comedy is
finished " ). The curtain falls upon the tragedy, and the
excited audience disperses.

The story is peculiarly Italian in its motive, though the
composer has been charged with taking it from " La
Femme de Tabarin," by the French novelist, Catulle
Mendes. Be this as it may, Leoncavallo's version has the
merit of brevity, conciseness, ingenuity, and swift action,
closing in a denouement of great tragic power and capa-
ble, in the hands of a good actor, of being made very
effective. The composer has not alone been charged with
borrowing the story, but also with plagiarizing the music.
So far as the accusation of plagiarism is concerned, how-
ever, it hardly involves anything more serious than those
curious resemblances which are so often found in musical
compositions. As a whole, the opera is melodious, force-
ful, full of snap and go, and intensely dramatic, and is
without a dull moment from the prologue ( " Si pu6 ?





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LEONCAVALLO 153

Signore " ) , sung before the curtain by Tonio, to that last
despairing outcry of Canio ( " La commedia e finita " ),
upon which the curtain falls. The prominent numbers are
the prologue already referred to ; Nedda's beautiful cava-
tina in the second scene ( " O, che volo d'angello " ) ; her
duet with Silvio in the third scene ( "E allor perche " ) ;
the passionate declamation of Canio at the close of the
first act ( " Recitur ! mentre preso dal delirio " ) ; the
serenade of Beppe in the second act ("O Colombino, il
tenero " ) ; and the graceful dance music which plays so
singular a part in this fierce struggle of the passions, that
forms the motive of the closing scenes.



LORTZING

GUSTAV ALBERT LORTZING was born at Berlin,
October 23, 1803, and died there January 21,1851.
His parents were actors and in 1823 he married an ac-
tress. As a musician he was almost self-taught, but his
connections with the theatre were of great dramatic advan-
tage to him. His first opera, " Ali Pascha von Janina,"
was performed at Cologne in 1824. Two years later, he
became an actor and for eleven years was tenor singer at
the Leipzig Theatre. While thus engaged he brought out
"Die beiden Schutzen (1837), and the "Czar und Zimmer-
mann " (1839), both of which became very popular and
still remain so. These were followed by several other
operas, the most successful one being " Der Wildschiitz "
(1842). In 1844 he was conductor of the Leipzig opera
for a short time. He then travelled through Germany and
brought out more new operas, among them " Undine "
(1845), " Der Waffenschmied " (1846), "Zum Grossadmi-
ral" (1847), and " Die Roland's Knappen " (1848). In
1850, he became Capellmeister at the Friedrich-Wilhelm-
stadtisches Theatre in Berlin, where he spent the last
year of his life. The characteristics of his works are
melody, brightness, freshness, and humor.

Czar and Carpenter

" Czar and Carpenter," opera comique in three acts,
text as well as music by Lbrtzing, was first produced in
Berlin in 1839. The opening of the first act of the " Czar
and Carpenter " discloses Peter the Great and Peter Ivan-
off, a deserter from the Russian army, at work in the great



LORTZING 155

shipyard of Saardam. The British and French ambassa-
dors, having been notified that the Czar is there in dis-
guise, are searching for him with the object of negotiating
a treaty with him, or, failing in that, to abduct him. The
British ambassador employs the pompous burgomaster
of Saardam to find him a Russian named Peter, without,
however, disclosing his real character to him. The burgo-
master happens upon Peter IvanorT and brings him to the



Online LibraryGeorge P. (George Putnam) UptonThe standard operas: their plots, their music, and their composers → online text (page 11 of 37)