In five acts by EDMUND KRETSCHMER.
Text by MOSENTHAL.
The composer of this opera evidently belongs to the most talented of
our days, and it is no wonder that his two operas "Henry the Lion" and
"The Folkungs", have rapidly found their way to every stage of
importance. Particularly "The Folkungs" is such a happy combination of
modern orchestration, abundance of fine melody, and northern
characteristical coloring, that it charms the connoisseur as well as
The scene is laid in Sweden, in the 13th century.
The first act represents the convent Nydal on the snowy heights of the
Kyoeles. Sten Patrik, the confidant and abettor of Bengt, Duke of
Schoonen, has allured Prince Magnus, second son of King Erick of
Sweden, to follow him out of his convent, and has brought him hither by
ruse and force. He now announces to the Prince, that he may choose
between death and a nameless life in the convent Nydal, and Magnus,
having no choice, swears on Sten's sword that he, Prince Magnus, will
be forever dead to the world.
The monks receive him into their brotherhood, as he answers to the
Abbot Ansgar's questions, that he is an orphan, homeless, abandoned,
seeking peace only. The Abbot first subjects Magnus to a trial of his
constancy, by letting him hold the night-vigil in storm and snow.--The
monks retire, leaving the unhappy Prince outside the gates. While he
sinks into deep reverie, Lars Olafson, the castellan of the King's
castle of Bognaes, and son of the Prince's nurse, appears. He seeks his
Prince, who so mysteriously disappeared from the world, and relates to
Magnus, that King Erick is dead, as well as his eldest son, and that
Prince Magnus is called to come and claim his throne and bride.
Princess Maria, the only surviving Folkung, is already being wooed by
their enemy, Duke Bengt of Schoonen, and now the listener understands
the vile plot against himself. And as Lars calls him to defend his
country and his Princess against the Duke and his confederates the
Danes, Magnus considers it a sign from heaven that he is to die for his
country, a course of action, which his oath does not prohibit.
When the Abbot calls his new guest, he has disappeared, and Sten
Patrik consoles himself with the thought that the fugitive must have
perished in the raging snow-storm.
The second act shows us Princess Maria in her castle Bognaes on the lake
of Maelar. She is the King's niece and successor to the throne. She
takes a last farewell from her people, and Bengt appears to lead her to
Upsala for the coronation.
The nurse Kariri and her son Olaf assure her of her folk's fidelity,
and when she has departed, Lars calls the men together, and presenting
the youth from Skoelen as their leader, makes them take oath of faith on
their standard.--Karin recognizes the Prince in the stranger, but he
firmly denies his identity, and with glowing words calls the people to
rise against their common foe.
The next scene begins with the act of coronation.--The crowned Queen
Maria is to announce her choice of a husband from the Mora-stone, when
her words are arrested by a look from Magnus, in whom she recognizes
the youth she loved.
But, though almost mad with longing and torment, Magnus, mindful of his
oath, still denies himself, and the Duke with his friend Sten, who both
believed themselves lost, impetuously demand the impostor's arrest.
But the Queen asserts her right to judge him herself.
In the fourth act Magnus is brought to his mother's sleeping room. The
charm of youthful remembrances surround him, and hearing an old ballad,
which Karin sings, he forgets himself and so proves his identity
beyond any doubt to the hidden listeners. Maria rushes forward; he
folds her to his breast in a transport of love, and only when Karin
greets him as her King, he remembers that he has broken his oath, and
without more reflection precipitates himself from the balcony into the
sea. Maria sinks back in a swoon.
In the last act Sten Patrik comes, to remind Bengt of his promise to
give him Schoonen. The Duke refuses to pay him, now that Sweden is in
revolt and the Prince living. Sten threatens to reveal his treachery
against Magnus. Bengt is about to kill the only accomplice in his
deed, when Maria, who has heard all, arrests his arm, and accuses him
of murder. Then she rushes to the balcony to call her people to
vengeance. Bengt draws his sword to stab her, but the people throng
in, seize and throw him into the sea. Now Maria hears with rapture
that Magnus lives and has driven away the Danes. With him enter the
monks, whose Abbot releases the Prince from his oath. Maria lovingly
embracing him, places her crown on her bridegroom's head and all cry
hail! to their King Magnus Ericson.
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