By Order Of His Highness
(AUF HOHEN BEFEHL.)
In three acts by CARL REINECKE.
Text by the composer after RIEHL's novel: "Ovidius at Court."
Reinecke of Leipzig is known both as excellent pianist and composer of
no ordinary talent. The Dresden theatre has been one of the first to
put the new opera upon its boards and with regard to the music, the
expectations entertained have been fully realised.
It is true music, melodious and beautiful. Reinecke's musical language
free, untrammelled and suggestive, only assumes decided form in the
character of a song, or when several voices are united. The
instrumentation is very interesting and the popular melody remarkably
So he introduces for instance the wellknown popular song: "Kein Feuer,
keine Kohle" (no fire, no coal can burn) with the most exquisite
The libretto is not as perfect as the music, being rather improbable.
A little German Residential Capital of the last century forms the
background to the picture.
Franz, the son of the Organist Ignaz Laemml, introduces himself to Dal
Segno, the celebrated Italian singing-master as the Bohemian singer
Howora. He obtains lessons from the capricious old man, who however
fails to recognize in him the long-absent son of his old enemy.
Cornelia, Dal Segno's daughter however is not so slow in recognizing
the friend of her childhood, who loves her and has all her love, as we
presently learn. Franz has only taken the name of Howora, in order to
get into favor with the maiden's father, an endeavour in which he
easily succeeds owing to his musical talents.
Meanwhile the Prince is determined to have an opera composed from
Ovid's metamorphoses. He has chosen Pyramus and Thisbe, but as the
Princess is of a very gay disposition, a request is made that the
tragedy have a happy solution, a whim which puts old pedantic Laemml
quite out of sorts.
In the second act Louis, one of the princely lackeys, brings a large
cracknel and huge paper-cornet of sweets for Cornelia, whom he courts
and whose favor he hopes in this way to win.
When he is gone, Dal Segno's sister Julia, lady's maid to the Princess,
enters with birthday-presents for her niece Cornelia, and among the
things which attract her attentions sees the cracknel, beside which she
finds a note from her own faithless lover Louis. Filled with righteous
indignation she takes it away.
Cornelia stepping out to admire her birthday-presents, meets
Franz, and after a tender scene, the young man tells his lady-love,
that he has been fortunate enough to invent for his father a happy
issue to the tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe, and that they may now hope
the best from the grateful old master.
Meanwhile good old Laemml himself appears to ask his old enemy Dal
Segno to give singing-lessons to his dear son. The Italian teacher is
very rude and ungracious, Laemml's blood rises also and a fierce
quarrel ensues, which is interrupted by the arrival of the Prince.
Having heard their complaints, he decides that the quarrel is to be
settled by a singing competition in which Howora, Dal Segno's new and
greatly praised pupil, and Franz, Laemml's son, are to contest for the
laurels. Both masters are content and decide on a duet for tenor and
soprano. This is a happy choice and Franz, who with Cornelia has heard
everything, causes his lady-love to disguise herself, in order to play
the part of Franz, while he decides to appear as Howora.
In the third act the Princess receives old Laemml, who comes to tell
her, that he has complied with her wishes as to the happy issue of the
tale and confides to her his son's secret, that Franz and Howora are
one and the same person.--The gracious Princess promises her
assistance, and Laemml leaves her very happy, dancing and merry-making
with the Prince's fool.--
In the evening Louis finds Julia attired in Cornelia's dress, and
believing her to be her niece, he places a ring on her finger and once
more pledges his faith to his old love.
The two singers perform their duet so perfectly, that Laemml, uncertain
who will obtain the prize begs for a solo. Each-one then sings a
popular song (Volkslied), and all agree that Howora has triumphed. The
happy victor is crowned with the laurels. But the Princess, touched by
the sweet voice of the other singer puts a rose-wreath on his brow.
When the cap is taken off, Dal Segno perceives that the pretended Franz
has the curls of his own daughter.--Howora being presented to him as
Laemml's son, he can do no other than yield. He embraces old Laemml
and gives his benediction to the lovers.
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