In four acts by ALEXANDER WOLFF.
Musical accompaniment by CHARLES MARIA VON WEBER.
Though Preciosa is not an opera, we may feel justified in admitting it
into our collection, as the music, which Weber wrote to it has alone
given celebrity to Wolff's drama, which would otherwise have long been
This musical composition is justly called one of the German nation's
jewels, and it shows all the best qualities of Weber's rich music. It
was written after the Freischuetz and done in the incredibly short space
of nine days, and owed its success principally to the really national
coloring of melody, which has made some of its songs so popular.
The libretto is well done, the subject both attracting and interesting
to the hearer. The scene is laid in Spain. The first act introduces
us to Madrid and takes us into the house of a noble Spaniard, named Don
Francesco de Carcano. His son, Don Alonzo has fallen violently in love
with a Bohemian girl, called Preciosa, whose beauty, virtue and charms
are on everybody's lips. The father, wishing to know her, calls her
before him and she comes with her people, enchanting the old nobleman
as well as his son by her noble bearing and her exquisite songs.
The second act represents a forest with the gipsies' camp. Alonzo, who
has told his father that he followed the army, but has in reality been
seeking Preciosa, at length finds her out and tries to win her. But
though she, returns his love, she is yet unwilling to follow him, and
he resolves to link his fate with that of the Bohemians, in order to
prove to Preciosa that his love is real and true. Dressed as a common
hunter he follows his new friend, and the gipsies, who are all governed
by Preciosa's will swear, never to betray him.
The third act introduces us into the castle of Don Azevedo in Valencia,
a friend of Don Francesco's. The former is about to celebrate his
silver-wedding. Eugenio, his son, hearing that Preciosa is in the
neighborhood, resolves to win her for his father's festival having
heard of the latter's delight at seeing the gipsy-girl in his friend's
house at Madrid. Eugenio rouses the jealousy of Alonzo, who begins a
quarrel which ends by Alonzo's being sent to prison.
The chief of the Bohemians and old mother Viarda who see too late, that
they have come into dangerous grounds, break up their camp, but
Preciosa, anxious about her lover, takes flight.
She is caught by the chief, but, seizing Alonzo's gun, which was left
lying under a tree and threatening to fire if he does not obey her, she
forces him to follow her into the castle.
The last act takes place in Azevedo's castle, where his wife, Donna
Clara, touched by Preciosa's loveliness, is willing to assist her in
liberating her lover. Meanwhile mother Viarda comes with the other
gipsies to betray Alonzo's secret, asking one thousand scudi and her
chief's liberty. At this moment the youth's father, Don Francesco,
comes to offer his congratulations at the silver-wedding of his friend.
He finds his son, whom he pardons, Preciosa having for his sake agreed
to renounce her bridegroom. While bidding her hosts a sad farewell,
Preciosa is so overcome by her feelings, that Donna Clara entreats her
husband to buy the girl, whom she believes to be a stolen child. Don
Fernando explains to the Bohemians, that he has the right to liberate
Preciosa, who has been taken in his grounds, if they should be unable
to prove her gipsy-descent. Old Viarda, finding that her schemes have
fallen through, shows by a mark on Preciosa's shoulder, that the girl
is Donna Clara's own daughter, who was robbed many years ago and was
believed by her desolate parents to be drowned. In consideration of
Preciosa's entreaties the gipsies are pardoned and only ordered to
leave the country for ever. Preciosa is of course united to her
faithful lover Alonzo.
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