In three acts by FLOTOW.
Text after the French by W. FRIEDRICH.
Flotow, who composed this little opera when at Paris in the year 1844,
that is long before his Martha, had the satisfaction of scoring a great
success on the evening of its first representation in Hamburg. The
pleasant impression then made by its agreeable and lovely melodies has
not faded the less that, after hearing many of our stormy and exciting
modern operas, one often and ardently longs for the restful charm
and guileless pleasure of a piece like this.
The libretto is interesting and touching, without being
Stradella, the celebrated Venetian singer has fallen in love with
Leonore, ward of a rich Venetian citizen named Bassi. She returns his
love, but is strictly guarded by her uncle, who wants to marry her
himself. Stradella succeeds in deceiving Bassi and aided by his friend
carries her off during the Carnival. In the second act we find the
lovers in a little village near Rome, where a priest unites them for
ever and gives them his benediction.
But Malvolio, a bandit, has sought them by Bassi's orders, and
discovers their refuge. Entering the villa, where he finds open doors
but no people, he meets with another bandit, in whom he recognizes his
friend Barbarino, also sent as it turns out on the same errand.
They decide to do the business together, that is to say: to kill
Stradella, and to carry his wife back to her guardian. Under the mask
of pilgrims going to a sacred festival, they find a kindly shelter in
Stradella's house and are won by the latter's fine voice, as well as by
the charm of his noble behaviour, so that they wholly abandon their
But in the third act Bassi appears, and not finding his order executed,
offers such a large sum of gold to the banditti, that they at length
promise to stab Stradella during his next singing performance. While
they lie-in-wait for him, Stradella sings the hymn of the Holy
Virgin's clemency towards sinners so touchingly, that his pursuers cast
their swords away and sink on their knees, joining in the refrain.
Full of astonishment Stradella learns of the danger in which he had
been, but in the end he willingly pardons not only the banditti but
also his wife's uncle, who, won over like the ruffians by the power of
Stradella's song, humbly asks for the Singer's friendship, which is
granted to him.
The people lead their favorite in triumph to the festival, which he
helps to glorify with his wondrous voice.