In three acts by WEBER.
English text by PLANCHE translated by TH. HELL.
Oberon is Weber's last work. In the year 1824 he had the honor of
being commissioned to compose this opera for the Covent-garden theatre.
He began at once to study English, but, his health giving way, he
progressed slowly. Notwithstanding his illness however, he worked on
and finished the opera in the year 1826. He had the happiness of
seeing it crowned with success, when he travelled to London in February
of that year, but he could not witness its triumphs in Germany, for he
died in the following July.
The text is most fantastic without any strict order of succession
either in the matter of time or locality. It is taken from Wieland's
fairy-tale of the same name.
In the first act we find Oberon, the Elfin-king in deep melancholy,
which no gaiety of his subjects, however charming, avails to remove.
He has quarrelled with his wife Titania, and both have vowed never to
be reconciled, until they find a pair of lovers, faithful to each other
in all kinds of adversity. Both long for the reunion, but the constant
lovers are not to be found.
Oberon's most devoted servant is little Puck, who has vainly roved over
the world to find what his master needs. He has however heard of a
valiant knight in Burgundy, Hueon, who has killed Carloman, the son of
Charlemagne in a duel, having been insulted by him. Charlemagne, not
willing to take his life for a deed of defence, orders him to go to
Bagdad, to slay the favorite, sitting to the left of the Calif, and to
wed the Calif's daughter Rezia. Puck resolves to make this pair suit
his ends. He tells Oberon the above-mentioned story, and by means of
his lily-sceptre shows Hueon and Rezia to him. At the same-time these
two behold each other in a vision, so that when they awake both are
deeply in love.
Oberon wakes Hueon and his faithful shield-bearer Scherasmin, and
promises his help in every time of need. He presents Hueon with a magic
horn, which will summon him at any time; Scherasmin receives a cup,
which fills with wine of itself. Then he immediately transports them
There, we find Rezia with her Arabian maid Fatima. The Calif's
daughter is to wed Babekan, a Persian Prince, but she has hated him
ever since she saw Hueon in her vision. Fatima has discovered the
arrival of Hueon. It is high time, for in the beginning of the second
act we see the Calif with Babekan, who wants to celebrate the nuptials
at once. Rezia enters, but at the same time Hueon advances, recognizing
in Rezia the fair one of his dream. He fights, and stabs Babekan. The
Turks attack him, but Scherasmin blows his magic horn and compels them
to dance and laugh, until the fugitives have escaped.
In the forest they are overtaken, but Hueon and Scherasmin, who has come
after his master with Fatima, put the pursuers to flight.
Oberon now appears to the lovers, and makes them promise upon oath that
they will remain faithful to each other under every temptation. He
immediately after transports them to the port of Ascalon, from which
they are to sail homeward. Oberon now puts their constancy to the
proof. Puck conjures up the nymphs and the spirits of the air, who
raise an awful tempest. Hueon's ship sinks; the lovers are shipwrecked.
While Hueon seeks for help, Rezia is captured by the pirates, and
Hueon, returning to save her, is wounded and left senseless on the
beach. Oberon now causes him to fall into a magic sleep, which is to
last seven days.
In the third act we find Scherasmin and his bride, Fatima in Tunis
dressed as poor gardeners.
A corsair has saved the shipwrecked and sold them as slaves to the Emir
of Tunis. Though poor and in captivity they do not lose courage and
are happy that they are permitted to bear their hard lot together.
Meanwhile the seven days of Hueon's sleep have passed. Awaking, he
finds himself to his astonishment in Tunis, in the Emir's garden, with
his servant beside him, who is not less astonished at finding his
Fatima, coming back, relates that she has discovered Rezia in the
Emir's harem. Hueon, who finds a nosegay with a message, which bids him
come to the myrtle-bower during the night, believes that it comes from
Rezia and is full of joy at the idea of meeting his bride. Great is
his terror, when the lady puts aside her veil, and he sees Roschana,
the Emir's wife. She has fallen in love with the noble knight, whom
she saw in the garden, but all her desires are in vain; he loathes her
and is about to escape, when the Emir enters, captures and sentences
him to be consumed by fire. Roschana is to be drowned. Rezia, hearing
of her lover's fate, implores the Emir to pardon him. But she has
already offended him by her unwillingness to listen to his
protestations of love, and when he hears that Hueon is her husband, he
condemns them to be burnt together. Their trials however are nearing
their end. Scherasmin has regained his long-lost horn, by means of
which he casts a spell on everybody, until, blowing it with all his
might, he calls Oberon to their aid. The Elfin-King appears
accompanied by Queen Titania, who is now happily reconciled to him and
thanking the lovers for their constancy, he brings them safely back to
Paris, where Charlemagne holds his court. The Emperor's wrath is now
gone and he warmly welcomes Sir Hueon with his lovely bride, promising
them honor and glory for their future days.
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