Marian E.] Greene.

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Tells the stories of the operas announced to be
sung here this season in such a way that the
reader can identify the principal characters

Rhinegold has been added because it is necessan,-
to an understanding of the succeeding "Ring"
operas and the unusual interest in Parsifal at this
time justifies its being included


or THE

r M I \J ?■ .") i^l -r V




269 Dearborn Street





Marian E. Greene

1 'V'



Barber of Seville. The


Cavalleria Rusticana

Das Rheingold

Der Ring des Nibelungen

Dictionary of "Ring" Operas

Die Gotterdammerung

Die Walkure ....


La Tosca

L'Elisir d'Amore
Les Dragons de Villars
Lohengrin ....

Magic Flute, The
Marriage of Figaro, The
Mefistofele ....



Tannhauser ....
Tristan and Isolde




















1 1



Mai Hart



















THE BARBER OF SEVILLE. Composer. Rossini.

IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA. ^'"'' ^^'"'' .^p^'"*

Many of the characttrs in this opera reappear in the Marriau^e of h'igaro.

Count Almaviva. uinlcr the name of Lintlor. is wooinij^ Rosina,
the iieautiful ward of Dr. llartolo. The doctor himself has liopes of
winning Rosina and guards her closely ; but love will find a way.

ACT L Count Almaviva and some friends serenading Rosina ;
as the friends leave, Figaro, singing "Largo al Factotum" ("Make
Way for the Factotum") enters, and the count tells him of his infatu-
ation for Rosina. Figaro promises to help. Rosina appears on the
balcony ; liartolo soon follows ; she manages to drop a note to Lindor.
Figaro suggests a stratagem by which the count may get into Bar-
tolo's house : He is to don the uniform of a soldier and, presenting a
billet from the military authorities quartering him upon Dr. Bartolo,
simply go there and settle down for a siege of the damsel's heart.
The count is to feign drunkenness, as the doctor will be less likely
to suspect him. Figaro finds Rosina alone and tells her he has news;
before he can deliver his message, Bartolo and Basilio enter and,
thinking they are alone, discuss means of destroying the counts pres-
tige with the maiden. Basilio suggests, in the famous Calumny aria,
that they spread some malicious report in regard to the count ; it will
soon reach Rosina's ears, and she will dismiss him. Figaro has over-
heard them, and he discloses the scheme to Rosina. He pictures
Lindor's impatience and hints that a note from her would raise him
to the heaven of delight ; the fnodest senorita could not even think
of writing to a man ! Figaro persists. She will — maybe — perhaps —
consider it. And then she calmly draws from her bosom a note
already written to him. Figaro makes haste to deliver it. Enter
Bartolo, suspicious. What brought Figaro? How came the ink on
her finger? Some paper is missing? He warns her she must not
trifle with him. The count appears dressed as a soldier. Bartolo
resists his entrance ; the guard is called and arrests the count.

ACT. H. Bartolo more suspicious than ever; the count, once
more — this time as a music teacher. Basilio. he explains, is ill and
has sent him to give Rosina her music lesson. He gains Bartolo's
confidence by showing him the letter Rosina wTOte to himself and
promises to convince her that the count had been so base as to give it
to another woman. Bartolo falls into the snare and allows the lesson
to proceed. The count makes such good use of this advantage that
Rosina agrees to elope with him at midnight. Bertha bewails the
sad situation of her young mistress. Basilio appears and denies he
sent a substitute. The count, of course, departs hurriedly. Bartolo
shows the letter which the count gav.c him to Rosina. She is so angry
with her lover that she promises to marry her guardian. Bartolo
leaves to get the license. The count and Figaro appear ; Almaviva
satisfactorily explains about the letter, and the lovers are married just
as Bartolo arrives with officers to arrest' the count. The good doctor,
of course, forgives them.

CARMEN. Composer, Bizet.

Scene, Seville,' J 820.

ACT I. Public square ; soklitrs ; loungers awaiting the appear-
ance of the pretty girls from the cigarette factory, especially Carmen,
the gypsy. IVIichaela, betrothed to Don Jose, enters with a message
from his mother. He is not there ; she leaves. When the guard is
changed, Don Jose enters ; Carmen, seeing him sitting dejectedly
at one side, throws a flower at him. Alichaela returns and cfves him
her message, also a kiss — from his mother. Don Jose is about to
throw away Carmen's flower when a disturbance is heard in the fac-
tory. In a quarrel Carmen has stabbed one of the other girls. She
is arrested and her hands tied behind her back. Don Jose is told to
guard her. He falls a prey to her blandishments and lets her escape.
For this, he is sentenced to two months' imprisonment.

ACT n. Carmen in the gypsy camp. Morales, an officer, is
unsuccessful in an attempt to win her favor. Escamilkx the bull-
fighter, sings the famous Toreador song. Carmen, knowing that Don
Jose's term of imprisonment is over, expects him. When he ap])ears
she coaxes him to join the band. An officer who orders him to rejoin
his regiment is overpowered by the gypsies whom Carmen has sum-
moned.. Don Jose goes with her.

ACT HI. Haunt of the smugglers. Carmen is becoming tired
of Don Jose and now looks with growing admiration upon Escamillo.
The rivals are about to settle their diflferences in a fight, when the
others interfere. Michaela returns and Ijegs Don Jose to hasten to
his mother's bedside; she is dying. Her plea prevails and he leaves
with her.

ACT IV. (lala day in Seville; F.scamillo is to give an exhil)i-
tion of liis skill. Carmen is among the gayest of the throng. Her
comi)anii)ns warn her that Don jose has been seen; S(Xmi he apjv.'ars.
He ])leads with her to return to him. and when she spurns him, he
sta1)s licr just as Ivscamillo apjiears.


RUSTIC CHIVALRY. ^'°'' ^''"^*

Turridu. a young peasant, returning from military duty, finds
that his old sweetheart. Lola, has married Alfio, a carter. He trans-
fers his affections temporarily to Santuzza, but soon tires of her ana
becomes again the slave of the flirtatious Lola. Santuzza goes to
Lucia, Turridu's mother, with her woes. Alfio, with accompanying
male chorus, enters singing. In the next scene. Santuzza again pours
out her grief to Lucia in a song of great beauty and power ; and the
unhappy girl begs the latter to pray for her. Turridu enters. San-
tuzza appeals to him. Lola approaches, singing to harp accompani-
ment. After exasperating the wretched Santuzza with her bitter
sarcasm. Lola enters the church, knowing that Turridu will follow
her. Santuzza renews her pleading and falls fainting as her lover
enters the church. Alfio appears at this moment, and to him San-
tuzza reveals Turridu's perfidy.

The extremely popular Intermezzo is played as if to give a
breathing spell between the passionate scenes of the opera.

In the ne.xt scene the congregation is coming out of the church,
singing a chorus ; then follows a drinking song, "\"iva al vino," sung
by Turridu with Lola and others joining in the chorus. Alfio comes
in. He refuses Turridu's invitation to join the party, and the quarrel
starts. The women withdraw. Turridu bites Alfio's right ear. which
in Sicily is taken as a challenge. In the duel that follows, Alfio
kills Turridu.

FAUST. Composer, Gounod.

Scene, Germany.

ACT I. Faust, an a.^cd (icrnian scholar, discouraged that after
all his years of study he knows so little, is about to end all, when,
to his amazement, ^lephistophelcs answers his almost involuntary
appeal to the powers below. His Satanic maj.esty offers to confer
upon Faust the boon of youth if the doctor will sign a contract giving
his soul to the devil in return. As an evidence of his power. Mephis-
topheles calls up a vision of a beautiful young girl, ^Marguerite, whose
hand is to be bestowed upon Faust, if he will sign. Faust puts his
name to the paper.

ACT IL r^Iarket place of the town ; villagers, soldiers and
students join in chorus. Valentine, Marguerite's brother, sings, "O,
Santa Aledaglia," to a portrait of his beloved sister. He is going
away to the wars. Siebel, in love with ^Marguerite, promises to
watch over her. Mephistopheles appears. \'alentine resents an
insult to his sister, and the fiend by his evil ix)wer causes his sword
to break. All recognize the presence of an evil spirit ; soldiers and
students form a cross with the hilts of their swords. ^Mephistopheles
is powerless. Faust sees ^Marguerite for the first time and speaks to
her, but is repulsed.

ACT III. The famous garden scene. Siebel sings a beautiful
ballad to Marguerite and leaves a bouqtiet on her doorstep. Faust
and Mephistopheles appear ; the latter goes out. but presently returns
with a casket of rare gems which Faust jilaces beside the bouquet.
Marguerite, at her window, sings the Spinning song ; going to the
door, she sees the bouquet, but throws it awa\- when she spies the
gems. While she is trying them on. Dame Martha arrives and both
admire the jewels. Mephistopheles draws Martha away, loa\ing
Faust and Marguerite alone. As the two couples wander, arm in
arm, around the garden, they sing a striking (|uartet. Then follows
a duet for Marguerite and Faust.

ACT IV. Two years have elapsed. Marguerite laments l"aust"s
desertion; Siebel tries to comfort her. \'alentine returns from the
wars and goes to seek his sister, l^'aust and .Mephistopheles are before
her house, the latter singing an insulting song, \alentine is slain
in a (|uarrel with him and (lies cursing his sister. The church scene
follows. Marguerite's jiitiful a])]x'als for mercy are mingled with the
mocking of the tempter and the chanting of the monks. ( Sometimes
the church scene is given before the scene with \ ali^uine.)

ACT \'. The ])rison scene. Marguerite has been condemned to
death for killing her child. I'^aust a])pears and urges her to tly with
him; she refuses. .As she dies, repentant, angels apjxar and bear
her soul to heaven.


LA TOSCA G)mFOser, Puccini.

Scene, Rome, 1800.

ACT I. Aii^i^clotli. an escaped prisoner, seeks refuse in tlie
church of Sant" Andrea. The sacristan enters; later Cavaradossi, the
painter who is decorating; the chajx^l. La Tosca. his mistress, arrives,
Ixxonies jealous because the door was locked, then because the picture
of the Madonna he is painting; resembles another woman. He soothes
her. When she leaves Angclotti comes out of hiding and tells his
friend that his sister, anticipating his escape, has put some clothing
for him under tiie altar. They find it and leave. The sacristan and
others come ; Scarpia, the chief of police, with Spoletta, appears.
They search for the prisoner ; find a fan belonging to Angelotti's
sister. La Tosca returns for another interview with her lover.
Scarpia tells her he found the fan on the painter's easel. Then he
orders that she be followed, knowing she will go to Cavaradossi's
house, and demand explanation.

ACT IL Scarpia summons La Tosca; Cavaradossi has been
arrested, but no trace of the prisoner Angelotti has been found. The
painter stoutly denies all knowledge of him. La Tosca arrives. Cav-
aradossi is led into the torture chamlxT. Scarpia and La Tosca
remain in the anteroom. The judges begin to torture Cavaradossi,
whose groans are distinctly heard ; but the victim resolutely sticks to
his story that he knows nothing of Angelotti. La Tosca begs him to
tell, but he commands her to be silent. At last, she tells that An-
gelotti is concealed in the old well in the garden. Cavaradossi is
furious with her. His own life is forfeit now because he has defiantly
proclaimed his sympathy with the revolutionary party to which
Angelotti belonged. Scarpia and La Tosca are left alone again. He
tells her that the only way to save her lover's life now is to accept his
advances, and he promises safe conduct for Cavaradossi and herself
if she will do so. She consents. He gives the order to Spoletta that
the execution of Cavaradossi be a sham. Then he writes out the
passport. When he approaclies her. she stabs him. and after securing
the precious bit of paper goes out.

ACT HL Cavaradossi. later La Tosca. She shows him the
safe conduct, tells him how she obtained it and how she killed Scarpia.
They a'-e exultant at the prospect of freedom. She tells him how to
fall when the soldiers fire at him. and that he must lie perfectly still
until she tdls him to get up. Then waits for the farce to be over
with ; discovers that her lover has been killed ; hears the outcry
about Scarpia's death, and when Spoletta rushes to arrest her, throws
herself over the parapet into the Tiber.


V ELISIR D'AMORE. Composer, Donizetti.

THE ELIXIR OF LOVE. ^'°'' Anywhere.

ACT I. Adina, the village belle, is unable to make up her mind
which of her lovers to marry. There is Xemorino. a likely young
farmer ; but on the other hand, Sergeant Belcore's uniform is very
attractive. Dulcamara, a traveling quack, makes his entry into the
town. Xemorino promptly seeks his aid. \\'ill the good doctor sell
him a bottle of the Elixir of Love, about which Adina had that very
morning been reading to him? If he could get some and drink it,
Adina must love him — for the book said so. Dulcamara had nothing"
with that label on it, but sold Xemorino something warranted just as
good. In fact, as long as his customer liked the name the doctor was
content to christen the bottle of wine he sold him the "Elixir of Love."
The lover is taking no chances ; mstead of an ordinary dose, he
swallows the whole bottleful. Thus it happens that when he ad-
dresses Adina, she thinks that he has been drinking ( ?) : and she
indignantly notifies him that she intends to marry his rival. The
wedding is set to take place that week, but the sergeant's regiment is
ordered away before that, and he gains her consent to have the cere-
mou}- performed that very day.

ACT II. Adina, the sergeant and the notary retire to sign the
contract. Xemorino is desperate ; he still has faith in the Elixir,
and begs Dulcamara to trust him for another bottle, as his money is
all gone. The good doctor does business on the cash basis only.
Re-enter Belcore, in a rage. Adina has capriciously declined to sign
the contract until evening. Xemorino takes hope again, and when
he learns that any man who joins the army receives a bonus of twenty
crowns from the government he at once enlists. On receipt of the
money he goes again to Dulcamara. He wants the XX brand of the
Elixir now, and pays double price, too. Even the quack himself is
astonished at the change. All the village maidens crowd about
Xemorino. craving his favor. (The girls have learned that his rich
uncle has died, leaving him a fortune ; but lioth Xemoriut^* and Dul-
camara give the credit to the Elixir.) Adina's jealousy is aroused.
She decides she wants him. To Dulcamara she goes ; he sells her
some of the same brand, and incidentally remarks upon the (i'?votion
of Xemorino, who even enlisted in order to get money to buy the
Elixir and thus win her. Of course, her heart is touched h\ this
and she relentlessly jilts the sergeant. She and X'^cmorino live happy
ever after.


LES DRAGONS DE VILLARS. Composer, Maillart.

THE BELL OF THE HERMIT. Scene, France, 1720.

Interest in the opera centers about a legend believed in by the
people of a small village in France, near Savoy. St. Gratien, though
dead some two hundreil years, still watches the married women of
the conmnmity so closely that he instantly detects the slightest in-
discretion on their ])art. and he rings a bell which announces their
lault to the whole village. The government at this time is per-
secuting the Camisards, and a party of them is in hiding lx>yond the
town and near the cave of the Hermit St. Gratien. Belamy with a
detachment of soldiers is hunting for this very party, and Silvain, a
servant of Thibault, is carrying food to the fugitives. Some time
before the opera opens he had earned the gratitude of Rose Friquet,
a goat keeper, by saving her from injury.

ACT I. Thibault's orchard; Georgette, his wife, sings a song.
Thibault rushes in and warns the women that the soldiers are coming ;
lie conceals his own wife in the pigeon house. Belamy demands food
for his soldiers. Silvain appears, and his master scolds him for
neglecting his duties. Rose Friquet brings back some mules belonging
to Thibault. Belamy finds Georgette's hat. and demands to know
where the women all are. Rose tells him where Georgette may be
found. The latter, repulsing the soldier's attentions, explains the story
about St. Gratien's bell. Belamy determines to test the truth of the

ACT II. Rose and Silvain at the cave of the hermit; Rose
promises to lead the Camisards safely out of France. Thibault comes
and goes seeking his wife, whom he has seen with Belamv. The
latter now appears with Georgette. Rose hides ; every time the soldier
tries to kiss Georgette, Rose rings the bell. Thibault, hearing the
bell, runs in and Belamy attempts to convince him that the bell rang
for Rose (although St. Gratien never spied upon maidens at all).
Belamy returns after Thibault leaves; he decides to investigate the
mystery thoroughly. He comes upon Silvain leading the Camisards.
to whom he is presenting Rose as their deliverer. Silvain declares he
will marry Rose after she has guided them safely over the frontier.
Belamy hastens to rouse his soldiers, that they mav pursue the fugi-

ACT III. Thibault tells Silvain that Belamy has followed the
Camisards and that he believes Rose betrayed them for the reward.
Belamy swears his appointment the evening before was with Rose.
After Thibault leaves, Belamy tests the legend once more bv kissing
Georgette ; and the bell fails to ring. Rose in her bridal dress appears ;
Silvain. having heard that the Camisards have been captured, denounces
her. She produces a paper proving that they have escaped. Belamy,
furious at having missed his prey, rushes in and orders Silvain to be
shot. Rose threatens to reveal Belamy's conduct unless the latter re-
calls his order. When his superior officer appears. Belamy smooths
the matter over. Georgette is spared and the wedding of Rose and
Silvain proceeds.


THE MAGIC FLUTE. Composer, Mozart.

IL FLAUTO MAGICO. ^"'' ^^^''


Astrafiamente, Queen of the Night, personifies the spirit of evil.
Sarastro, hip;h priest of Isis, represents enlightenment. He has in-
duced Pamina, daughter of Astrafiamente, to become a novice in the
temple of Isis, his object being to remove her from evil surroundings.

ACT I. Tamino, a prince, runs in and falls fainting ; a huge
serpent pursuing him is killed by three ladies, attendants upon the
queen. They then go back to tell their mistress about this handsome
young prince. Papageno, the bird catcher, arrives and takes upon
himself the credit of killing the serpent, for which falsehood a padlock
is placed upon his lips. Tamino receives a portrait of Pamina, the
daughter of the queen, and is told that she is kept a prisoner by the
wicked Sarastro ; the queen enters and promises him great reward
if he will restore Pamina to her arms. The Magic Flute, which has
the power of warding off danger, is then bestowed upon Tamino, and
Papageno receives a set of bells which can change anger into merri-
ment. An Egyptian room ; Pamina in charge of Alonostatos, a Moor,
who places her in chains because she will not listen to his advances.
Enter Papageno, who compares her with the portrait and then tells
her of the handsome prince who is seeking to rescue her. They go
to find Tamino. In the next scene, the prince appears and plays upon
the Magic Flute, winning an answer from Papageno. who is within
the palace. He goes out to seek Papageno ; Pamina and the bird
catcher enter. Monostatos discovers their flight and gives the alarm.
Priests enter, later Sarastro, to whom Pamina confesses her fault and
is forgiven. Tamino comes in. The lovers recognize each other, but
Sarastro orders that they undergo the ordeal of purification, and they
are led out.

ACT. II. A forest. Sarastro learns that Tamino is worthy of
being admitted to the temple. In the next scene Pamina is told by
her mother that her father when dying gave to Sarastro the sacred
symbol ofthe sun, by virtue of which he holds his power. The queen
gives her daughter a dagger and tells her she must kill Sarastro and
recover the sacred symbol. Monostatos has overheard all. When
Pamina repulses him, he tries to stab her. Sarastro saves her and
advises her to have faith in him and all will be well. Tamino is for-
bidden to speak to Pamina. Other tests are imposed also. Papageno
is accosted by an old woman who informs him he can have his choice
of taking her or going to jirison. AA'luii he chooses her. she is trans-
formed into a beautiful young woman — Papagena. Pamina. with a
dagger, is about to jnit an end lo her despair over Tamino's coldness
when she is told that he loves her still. Soon she meets her lover,
and together they pass through the ordeals of fire and water to the
inner temple. Papageno mourns the disap]")earance of Pa])agena, who
comes running in after he sounds the bells. Monostatos. .Astrafia-
mente and her attendants api)ear, bent upon the destruction of the
tem])le; a clap of thunder is heard and the place is llooded with
light — darkness in the person of the

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Online LibraryMarian E.] GreeneThe book of opera stories .. → online text (page 1 of 3)