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George P. (George Putnam) Upton.

The standard operas: their plots, their music, and their composers online

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Robin's younger brother, Sir Despard, next appears, and
hears from Richard of the existence of the brother whom
he had thought dead. He thereupon claims Robin as his
elder brother, and Rose shows her preference for Sir Des-
pard, who is also claimed by Mad Margaret, a village
maiden, whom he had mistreated when he was under the
influence of the Murgatroyd curse.



SULLIVAN



3 V



The second act opens in the picture gallery of Ruddygore
Castle. Robin and Adam, his faithful servant, are in the gal-
lery, the former as Sir Ruthven, and Adam as Gideon Crawle,
a new name he has taken. The new Sir Ruthven is under
the curse, and asks his servant to suggest some daily crime
for him to commit. The strong scene of the act is the
coming to life of the various baronets whose portraits hang
upon the walls, and their announcement that Robin will
die in fearful agony unless he abducts some lady, it matters
not whom. In the denouement it is revealed that a Rud-
dygore baron can only die through refusing to commit the
daily crime, but that such a refusal is tantamount to suicide.
Hence none of the ancestors ought to have died at all, and
they come back to life greatly to the delight of the profes-
sional bridesmaids, and Rose and Robin are at last united.

The principal numbers in the first act are the weird
legend (" Sir Rupert Murgatroyd, his Leisure and his
Riches"), sung by Hannah; Richard's breezy sea song
(" I shipped, d' ye see, in a Revenue Sloop ") ; the very
tuneful chorus of the bridesmaids (" Hail the Bridegroom,
hail the Bride ") ; Mad Margaret's whimsical song (" Cheer-
ily carols the Lark ") ; the melodious chorus of the bucks
and blades ("When thoroughly tired of being admired") ;
Sir Despard's song, with its alternating choral refrains
(" Oh, why am I moody and sad ") ; the madrigal (" Where
the Buds are blossoming "), written in the early English
style, and supported by the chorus ; and the charming
gavotte leading to the finale, which contains some ad-
mirable duet and trio numbers. The leading numbers
of the second act are , the opening duet for Robin and
Adam (" I once was as meek as a new-born Lamb "), with
a most melodramatic " Ha ha," followed by another
charming duet for Richard and Rose, with choral refrain
(" Happily coupled are we ") ; the weird song of Sir
Roderic ("When the night Wind howls in the Chimney



328 THE STANDARD OPERAS

Cowls "), which is finely artistic in construction ; the patter
trio for Robin, Despard, and Margaret ("My Eyes are
fully open to my awful Situation ") ; Hannah's pretty
ballad ("There grew a little Flower"); and the brilliant
finale, beginning with Robin's number (" Having been a
wicked Baronet a Week ").

The Yeomen of the Guard

" The Yeomen of the Guard ; or, the Merry Man and
his Maid," comic opera in two acts, text by Gilbert, was
first produced at the Savoy Theatre, London, October 3,
1888, and in New York, October 3, 1889. Although
"The Yeomen of the Guard" has not enjoyed the popu-
larity of some others of Sullivan's works, the composer him-
self believed it to be the best of his operas. The music
is in some numbers a parody of the old English ; the
story is melodramatic. . Colonel Fairfax had been sen-
teneed to death for sorcery. As he has twice saved the
life of Sergeant Meryll in battle, the latter and his daughter,
Phoebe, are anxious to save him also. The chance comes
when the brother of Phoebe, who has been appointed a
yeoman of the Guard, is induced to let Fairfax take his
place in the ranks. The latter is brought to the lieutenant
of the Tower and declares his readiness to die, but asks,
as he has been condemned for sorcery through the machi-
nations of one of his kinsmen who will succeed to the
estate in case he dies unmarried, that he will find him
some one whom he can marry at once. Elsie Maynard,
a strolling singer, happens along with Jack Point, a jester,
and she agrees for a money consideration to be married
blindfolded to Fairfax, provided she can leave immediately
after the ceremony. She marries him, and then the
question arises how to get the yeoman suit to Fairfax in
his cell and let him escape, as the keys are in the possession
of Wilfred, the head jailer, who is in love with Phoebe.



SULLIVAN 329

The problem is solved by Phoebe, who steals the keys,
releases Fairfax, and returns them before Wilfred dis-
covers their absence. The executioner comes forward,
and the first act closes as he is waiting for his victim.

The second act discloses the civilians and Dame
Carruthers denouncing the warders for permitting their
prisoner to escape. Point arranges with Wilfred that if
he will discharge his arquebus and state that he has killed
Fairfax he shall be a jester. When the shot is heard,
Wilfred and Point notify the governor that Fairfax is
dead. Dame Carruthers enters and informs Meryll that
from what she has heard Elsie mutter in her sleep she
is sure Fairfax is the man she married. Fairfax, in order
to test her, makes love to Elsie in Point's interest, but
ends by falling in love with her himself. In the de-
nouement, Leonard, son of Sergeant Meryll, arrives with
a pardon which had been kept back by Fairfax's kins-
men. Now that he is free, Fairfax claims Elsie, Phcebe
consents to marry Wilfred, and the Sergeant surrenders
to Dame Carruthers.

The music is in humorous imitation of the antique, in
which kind of work Sullivan is always happy. The
choruses are interesting, especially the opening double
one (" Tower Warders under Orders "), which is swing-
ing and tuneful. The principal numbers in the first act
are Dame Carruthers's song with chorus (" When our
gallant Norman Foes ") ; Fairfax's sentimental song (" Is
Life a Boon ") ; the irresistibly funny chorus both in
music and words (" Here ? s a Man of Jollity, Jibe, Joke,
jollify ; gives us of your Quality, come, Fool, follify ") ;
the extremely melodramatic duet for Elsie and Point (" I
have a Song to sing ") ; Point's recitative and song (" I 've
Jest and Joke"); Elsie's pretty ballad ( a 'Tis done! I
am a Bride"); Phoebe's graceful song ("Were I thy
Bride ") ; and the trio in the finale (" To thy fraternal



33o THE STANDARD OPERAS

Care "). The leading numbers of the second act are
Point's rollicking song (" Oh ! a private Buffoon is a
light-hearted Loon ") ; Fairfax's ballad (" Free from his
Fetters grim ") ; the quartet (" Strange Adventure ! Maiden
wedded ") ; the trio (" If he 's made the best Use of his
Time "), and the quartet (" When a Wooer goes a-woo-
ing "), which leads through a melodramatic ensemble to
the finale,

" Heighdy ! heighdy !
Misery me, lackadaydee !
He sipped no sup and he craved no crumb,
As he sighed for the love of a ladyee."

The Gondoliers

" The Gondoliers ; or, the King of Barataria," comic
opera, in two acts, text by Gilbert, was first produced
at the Savoy Theatre, London, December 7, 1889. "The
Gondoliers " will always bring a feeling of regret to the
admirers of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, as it was
their last joint production. It was during its run at the
London theatre that their partnership was dissolved after
the extraordinary collaboration of twenty-three years.
Both were at their best in their Swan Song. "The
Gondoliers " is not so much melodrama or pleasant satire
as it is genuine comedy. Among all the books which
Gilbert furnished the composer, none is more delightful
or more full of his rollicking humor than this. The story
opens in Venice. The contadine are weaving garlands
for the two favorite gondoliers, Marco and Giuseppe,
who, as they have no preference, make their choice blind-
folded, and secure Tessa and Gianetta for their brides.
As all gayly dance off, a gondola arrives with the Spanish
Duke of Plaza-Toro, the Duchess, their daughter Casilda,
and Luiz, their attendant. While waiting for an au-
dience with the Grand Inquisitor, the Duke tells Casilda



SULLIVAN 331

the object of their visit. When she was an infant she
was married by proxy to the infant son of the King of
Barataria. When the latter abandoned the creed of his
fathers and became a Methodist, the Inquisitor had the
young husband stolen and taken to Venice. Now that
the King is dead, they have come to find the husband,
and proclaim Casilda queen. During the audience the
Inquisitor announces that the husband is a gondolier,
and that the person who brought him up had "such a
terrible taste for tippling " that he was never certain
which child had been intrusted to him, his own or the
other. The nurse, however, who is Luiz's mother, would
know, and he could induce her to tell in the torture
chamber. Shortly afterwards the Inquisitor meets the
newly wedded gondoliers, Marco and Giuseppe, and de-
cides that one or the other of them is the new king,
but as he cannot tell which, he arranges that both of
them shall rule until the nurse can be found and made
to settle the matter. Thereupon they bid their wives
good-bye, and sail away for Barataria.

The second act discloses the two kings upon the
thrones. While they are cleaning the crown and sceptre,
and their friends, the gondoliers, are playing cards, conta-
dine arrive with Tessa and Gianetta. The delighted kings
give them a grand banquet and ball, but the dance is inter-
rupted by the Inquisitor, who informs them that the ducal
party will shortly arrive, and that Casilda will claim one of
them for her husband. When Tessa and Gianetta realize
that neither of them can be queen, they begin to weep,
but are somewhat comforted when the Inquisitor assures
them they will not be kept long in suspense as the foster-
mother is in the torture chamber. In the denouement she
confesses that the late king intrusted the Prince to her, and
when traitors came to steal him she substituted her own son
and kept the Prince in hiding, and that Luiz is the real



332 THE STANDARD OPERAS

prince. Thereupon Luiz ascends the throne with Casilda
as his queen, and Marco and Guiseppe sail joyfully back to
Venice with Tessa and Gianetta.

The music is of Sullivan's best. He has reproduced in
the score the old Italian forms, employs the legitimate
modern ballad and song styles, and introduces also the " pat-
ter " songs and the " chant " songs which are so common in
his other operas. Besides this, he has given strong local
color with fandangoes, boleros, cachucas, and other dance
rhythms. The best numbers are the ensemble for Marco
and Giuseppe ("We're called Gondolieri ") ; the pompous
song of the Duke (" In Enterprise of martial Kind ") ; the
serious duet for Casilda and Luiz (" There was a Time ") ;
the Inquisitor's song ("I stab the Prince"); Tessa's
beautiful song (" When a merry Maiden marries ") ; the
frolicsome quartet (" Then one of us will be a Queen ") ;
the song of Marco with chorus (" For every one who feels
inclined"); the characteristic song of Giuseppe ("Rising
early in the Morning") ; the gay and fascinating ensemble
(" We will dance a Cachuca "), with the brilliant dance music
that follows it ; the song of the Inquisitor (" There lived a
King ") ; the ensemble (" In a contemplative Fashion "), a
quiet movement with alternating comments by chorus,
reaching a crescendo and then returning to the original
movement, one of the most effective numbers in the opera ;
the Duchess's song (" On the Day when I was wedded ") ;
and the quintet in the finale ("I am a Courtier grave and
serious ").



SUPPE

FRANZ VON SUPPE, one of the most popular of the
German light opera composers, has been called the
German Offenbach, though the styles of the two composers
differ widely. His operas are more purely comic operas
or operettas than burlesques. He was born in Dalmatia,
April 18, 1820, and died in Vienna, May 22, 1893. He
made his first success with an operetta " Das Madchen
vora Lande," which was produced in Vienna in 1847, and
his next work, a musical comedy called "Paragraph 3,"
made him known all over Germany. He was conductor at
several theatres, and most of his stage works were written
for these theatres and brought out by him. His entire list
of light operas, musical farces, and vaudevilles, includes
over one hundred and sixty titles. The most popular
among them are " Paragraph 3 " (1858) ; " Flotte Bursche "
(1863); "Pique Dame" (1864); "Franz Schubert"
(1864) ; " Die schone Galatea " (1865) ; " Leichte Caval-
lerie " (1866) ; " Fatinitza " (1876) ; " Boccaccio " (1879) ;
" Die Afrikareise " (1883) ; and " Bellmann " (1887). He
also wrote several overtures, one of which, " Poet and
Peasant," is a favorite everywhere.

Fatinitza

" Fatinitza," opera comique in three acts, text by Zell
and Gen£e, was first produced in Vienna, January 5, 1876.
The story is an interesting one. Vladimir Samoilofif, a
young lieutenant in the Russian army, while masquerading
in girl's costume under the name of Fatinitza, encounters a
Russian general, Count Timofey Kantschakoff, who falls



334 THE STANDARD OPERAS

desperately in love with him. He manages to escape from
him, and subsequently meets the General's niece, the
Princess Lydia, whom he knows only as Lydia, and the two
fall in love. Hearing of the attachment, the General trans-
fers the young officer to the Russian outposts. The first
act opens in camp at Rustchuk. Julian, a war correspond-
ent, has just been brought in as a spy, but is recognized by
Vladimir as an old friend. They plan private theatricals, in
which Vladimir takes a female part. The General unex-
pectedly appears at the play, and recognizes Vladimir as
his Fatinitza. When the opportunity presents itself, he re-
sumes his love making, but it is interrupted by the arrival of
Lydia, whose noble rank Vladimir learns for the first time.
Any danger of recognition, however, is averted by the cor-
respondent, who tells Lydia that Fatinitza is Vladimir's sis-
ter. The doting old General commends Fatinitza to the
Princess, and goes off to inspect his troops. In his absence
some Bashi-Bazouks surprise the camp and capture Lydia,
Vladimir, and Julian, leaving the latter behind to arrange a
ransom.

The second act opens in the harem of Izzet Pasha, gov-
ernor of the Turkish fortress. Vladimir, in his female at-
tire, and Lydia are brought in as captives, and the Pasha
announces to his four wives that Lydia will be the fifth.
Julian then arrives with the Russian sergeant, Steipann, to
arrange for the release of his friends. The Pasha offers to
give up Fatinitza, but declares he will retain Lydia. Stei-
pann returns to the General with the Pasha's terms, carry-
ing also a secret message from Julian, who has discovered
how the Russians may capture the Turks. Julian remains
with the Pasha, who gives him many entertainments, among
them a shadow pantomime, during which the General and
his soldiers rush in and rescue their friends.

The third act opens in the General's summer palace at
Odessa. He has promised his niece to an old and crippled



SUPPE 335

friend of his, but Julian once more straightens out matters
by convincing the General that the real Fatinitza has died
of grief because she was separated from him. Thereupon
he consents to his niece's union with Fatinitza' s brother,
Vladimir.

The principal numbers of the first act are Vladimir's
romance, in the sentimental vein (" Lost is the Dream that
bound me ") ; the reporter's (Julian) jolly descriptive song
(" With my Note-book in my Hand ") ; the pompously mar-
tial entrance song of General Kantschakoff (" Thunder,
Lightning ! who goes there ? ") which forcibly recalls Gen-
eral Bourn's " Pif, paf, pouf" song in Offenbach's "Grand
Duchess " ; Lydia's sleighing-song (" When the Snow a
Veil is flinging ") ; and the quartet in the next scene
(" Not a Look shall tell "), in the mock Italian style. The
second act opens with the characteristic toilet chorus in the
harem (" Washing, dressing, brushing, combing "). The re-
maining most striking numbers are Izzet's song and dance
(" I pine but for Progress ") ; the pretty duet for Vladimir
and Lydia (" New Doubts, new Fears ") ; the effective sex-
tet (" 'T is well; then learn that this young Russian");
the brilliant kismet duet for Izzet and Julian (" We are
simply what Fortune pleases ") ; the sextet in the finale
(" Silver Tinkling, ringing brightly "), known as the Bell
Sextet ; and the characteristic music to the Karagois, or
Turkish shadow pantomime, which forms a second finale.
The leading numbers of the last act are Lydia's bell song
.(" Chime, ye Bells "), accompanied by the ringing of bells on
the stage, and distant shots ; the trio for Lydia, Vladimir,
and Julian (" Again, Love, we meet "), which is one of the
most effective bits in the opera ; and the brilliant closing
chorus (" Joy, Joy, Joy, to the Bride ").



33 6 THE STANDARD OPERAS



Boccaccio

" Boccaccio," opera comique in three acts, text by Zell
and Genee, was first produced at the Carl Theatre, Vienna,
February i, 1879. Suppe is fond of introducing real char-
acters among the personages of his operas, and in this one,
which has become such a favorite, sharing equally in popu-
larity with " Fatinitza," we find Boccaccio of the " Decam-
eron," and the Fiametta whom he has immortalized in it
(the Princess Maria of Naples, with whom he fell violently
in love) masquerading as the adopted daughter of Lamber-
tuccio, the grocer. In the opera he is rewarded with her
hand in the finale. In reality, Maria, the Fiametta of the
" Decameron," was already the wife of another when Boc-
caccio was enamored of her. She died long before her
lover, but her memory was cherished by him, as in the case
of Beatrice and Dante, and to her we owe undoubtedly the
collection of tales in the " Decameron " which furnished
such abundant material to subsequent poets, story-tellers,
and dramatists.

The story of the opera is a simple one. Pietro, the
Prince of Palermo, is to be married to Fiametta in accord-
ance with the wishes of his father, and goes to Florence for
that purpose. The Duke, her father, for reasons of his
own, has had her reared as the adopted daughter of Lam-
bertuccio, a grocer, who was not aware of her royal birth
and intends that she shall marry Pietro, to whom she was
betrothed in infancy. On his way to Florence Pietro falls
in with a madcap lot of students, whose leader is Boccaccio,
and he joins them in many of their pranks. Boccaccio him-
self has incurred the anger of the Florentine men for having
ridiculed them in his stories, and he too is in love with
Fiametta. Pietro among his other adventures has made
love to a married woman whom the students induced him
to believe was the niece instead of the wife of Lutteringhi,



SUPPE 337

the cooper. He has the misfortune before presenting him-
self to the Duke and Fiametta to be mistaken for Boc-
caccio and to receive a sound beating. In the denouement,
when he is about to be united to Fiametta for reasons of
state, Boccaccio, knowing that he is loved by her, arranges
a play in which the misdeeds of Pietro are set forth in such
strong light that she refuses the latter and gives her hand to
the poet.

The most popular numbers in the opera are the serenade
to Beatrice (" Lovely Charmer, hear these Sounds ") ; Boc-
caccio's song with chorus (" I see a gay young Fellow stand-
ing nigh ") ; the charming duet for Fiametta and Peronetta
(" Listen to the Bells' sweet Chime ") ; Fiametta's romanza
(" If I have but Affection ") ; the duet for Boccaccio and
Fiametta (" A poor blind Man implores your Aid ") ; Leon-
etto's song, opening the second act (" The Girl of my
Heart 's a Treasure ") ; the cooper's rollicking song (" My
Wife has a scolding Tongue ") ; the coquette song by Isa-
bella (" Young Maidens must beware ") ; the " cretin " song
by Boccaccio (" When they ask me for the News ") ; the
graceful waltz song by Fiametta (" Blissful Tidings, reassur-
ing ") ; the spirited drinking-song of Pietro (" See the
Goblet flash and sparkle ") ; the duet for Boccaccio and
Fiametta (" Mia bella Fiorentina "), in the Italian style; and
the sextet (" Ye foolish Men ") which leads up to the finale
of the last act.

The Beautiful Galatea

" The Beautiful Galatea," opera comique in two acts,
text by Zell and Genee, was first produced in Vienna in
1865. Though of slight construction it is one of Suppe's
most melodious works, while the story is a clever setting of
the familiar mythological romance in a somewhat modern
frame, in which respect it resembles the stories of Helen of
Troy and Orpheus and Eurydice, which Offenbach so clev-
erly travestied. The first act opens with a graceful chorus

22



338 THE STANDARD OPERAS

of Grecians on their way to worship at the temple of Venus,
at dawn (" Aurora is awaking in Heaven above "). Gany-
mede, Pygmalion's servant, declines to go with them, prefer-
ring to sleep, and bids them good-bye with a lullaby (" With
Violets, with Roses, let the Temple be decked"). His
master, Pygmalion, who has finished a statue of Galatea, his
ideal, also goes to the temple, and Ganymede decides to take
a nap. His slumbers are interrupted, however, by Midas,
a professional art patron, who has heard of the statue and
informs Ganymede that he is ready to buy it, but first
wishes to see it. The servant declares it is impossible,
as his master is in love with it. Midas makes a further
appeal to him in a long descriptive arietta (" My dear
Father Gordias ") in which he boasts of his abilities, his
patronage, and his conquests. He finally bribes Ganymede
to show it to him, and as he stands gazing at it and prais-
ing its loveliness, Pygmalion, who has suddenly returned,
enters and upbraids them. After a spirited trio (" Boiling
Rage I feel within me ") Ganymede takes to his heels and
Midas is driven out. When Pygmalion is alone with the
statue, a sudden impulse moves him to destroy it because
it has been polluted by Midas's glances, but his hand is
stayed as he hears the chorus of the returning worshippers,
and he makes an impassioned appeal to Venus (" Venus,
oh, see, I fly to thee ") to give life to the marble. Venus
answers his prayer. The statue comes to life, and Galatea
falls in love with Pygmalion, the first man she has seen,
which gives an opportunity for a charming number, the
Awakening Duet (" I feel so warm, so sweet"), and for a
solo closing the act (" Lightly sways and gently sweeps ").

The second act opens with the couplets of Ganymede
("We Grecians"), at the close of which he espies Galatea
gathering flowers. As soon as the fickle Galatea sees
Ganymede, she falls in love with him because he is
younger and handsomer than Pygmalion. As they are



SUPPE 339

discoursing admiringly, Midas appears and recognizes
Galatea, and proceeds to woo her with' offers of jewels.
A pretty trio follows (" See the Trinkets I have brought
you"). She accepts his trinkets and his money, but de-
clines to accept him. As they are negotiating, Pyg-
malion returns. Ganymede once more takes to his heels,
and Galatea conceals Midas by putting him on the pedestal
behind the screen where she had stood. She then hides
her jewels, and tells Pygmalion she is hungry. Gany-
mede is summoned and arranges the table, and they sit
down, the servant with them at Galatea's request. She
sings a brilliant drinking-song ("Bright in Glass the foam-
ing Fluid pass"), in which Pygmalion and Ganymede
join. During the banquet Midas is discovered behind
the screen, and Pygmalion also learns of Galatea's fickle
conduct later, when he surprises her and Ganymede in
a pretty love scene ("Ah, I'm drawn to thee"). By
this time Pygmalion is so enraged that he prays Venus
to let her become a statue again. The goddess graciously
consents, and the sculptor promptly gets rid of Galatea
by selling her to Midas.



THOMAS

CHARLES AMBROISE THOMAS was born at
Metz, August 5, 1811, and died in Paris, February
12, 1896. He entered the Paris Conservatory in 1828,
where he carried off the Grand Prize in 1832, which en-
titled him to go to Italy. During his Italian residence
he wrote a cantata. " Hermann and Ketty," and several
instrumental works. His first work at the Opera Comique
was the one-act opera, " La Double Echelle," produced in
1837 with success. He then brought out several ballets
at the Academie, but returned to the Opera Comique
again, where, between 1840 and 1866, he composed
thirteen operas, the most successful of which were " Le
Songe d'une nuit d'e'te" (1850), "Raymond" (185 1),
"Psyche" (1857), and " Mignon " (1866). During
this period he also wrote a large number of cantatas,
choruses, part-songs, and instrumental works. His next



Online LibraryGeorge P. (George Putnam) UptonThe standard operas: their plots, their music, and their composers → online text (page 24 of 37)