The Devil's Part
In three acts by AUBER.
Text by SCRIBE.
This composition might rather be called a Vaudeville with musical
accompaniment, than an opera. The music is not above mediocrity,
though we find many pleasing and even exquisite melodies in it. That
it has held its present place on the stage for the past forty years is
due principally to its excellent libretto, which is full of comical and
ingenious situations. The principal role is given to Carlo Broschi.
He is no other than the famous singer Farinelli, who as a matter
of fact did heal a Spanish King from madness, though it was not
Ferdinand IV, but his predecessor Philip V, the husband of Elizabeth of
Ferrara. Notwithstanding these anachronisms the libretto ranks with
Carlo Broschi has placed his only sister Casilda in a convent near
Madrid, to save her from the persecutions of the clergy, who have been
trying for reasons of their own to give the beautiful maiden to the
King. Casilda confesses to her brother that she is in love with an
unknown cavalier, who entertains a like passion for her, but Carlo, a
poor minstrel, considers that his sister, a milliner, does not stand
high enough in the social scale to permit a lawful union with a
Carlo meets the King accidentally. He has fallen into deep melancholy,
and Carlo succeeds in cheering him by singing an old romance, which he
learnt from his mother. Both King and Queen are full of gratitude, and
Carlo soon finds himself at court and loaded with honors. In his new
position he meets with Raphael d'Estuniga, Casilda's lover.
In despair at having lost his lady-love he is about to appeal to the
Devil for help, when Carlo appears, presenting himself as Satan. He
promises his help on condition that Raphael shall give him one half of
all his winnings. This is a condition easily accepted, and Raphael is
made a Court Official through Carlo's influence.
Meanwhile the clergy vainly try to ensnare the King again; Carlo is
like his better self; he disperses his Sire's melancholy by
singing to him and rekindles his interest in government.
Raphael, feeling quite secure in his league with the Devil, begins to
play; he is fortunate, but Carlo never fails to claim the share, which
is willingly surrendered to him.
All at once Casilda appears on the scene to put herself under the
protection of her brother, the priests having found out her refuge.
She recognizes the King, and tells her brother that it was he, to whom
she was taken against her will. The King believes her to be a ghost
and his reason threatens to give way, but Carlo assures him that the
girl is living. The Queen, who knows nothing of her husband's secret,
here interrupts the conversation and bids Carlo follow her.
Meanwhile Raphael and Casilda have an interview, but the King comes
suddenly upon them and at once orders Raphael to be put to death, the
latter having failed in the reverence due to his Sovereign. Raphael
however trusting in the Devil's help does not let his spirits sink and
Carlo actually saves him by telling the King, that Casilda is Raphael's
But the Grand-Inquisitor succeeds in discovering this untruth, and in
exciting the King's anger against his favorite. Carlo, much
embarrassed, obtains an interview with the King, and confessing the
whole truth assures him, that the Queen knows as yet nothing and
implores him to give his thoughts and his affections once more to her
and to his country. The King, touched to generosity, gives his
benediction to the lovers, together with a new title for Raphael, who
is henceforth to be called Count of Puycerda. Now at last Raphael
learns that the so-called Devil is his bride's brother, who tells him
that this time his share lies in making two lovers happy, a share which
gives him both pleasure and content.
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