In three acts by WILHELM KIENZL.
Text after the Indian legend of KALIDASA.
This opera is so brilliantly supplemented by decorations and poetic
enchantment of every kind, that it would be worth while to see those
triumphs of modern machinery alone. But not only on account of
external effect is Urvasi admired, the music is in itself well worth
hearing, though it contains many reminiscences of other well-known
composers. It is pleasing and graceful, and the orchestration is so
brilliant, that it may even deceive the hearer as to the poverty of
The subject, arranged by Kienzl himself, is highly romantic.
The Apsares, (virgins of heaven), who are sometimes allowed to visit
earth and its inhabitants, have just made use of this permission.
Urvasi, their Princess, isolates herself from their dances and is with
two sisters caught by the wild Prince of the Asures, their enemy. They
cry for help, when the King of Persia, hunting in those grounds,
appears with his suite and saves Urvasi.
They fall in love with each other, though Brahma has prophesied to the
King, that he will die poor and unknown, if he does not wed the last
Princess of the Persian kingdom, Ausinari, to whom he is already
Urvasi tells him, that not being a daughter of earth, she can only be
allowed to see him from time to time. The King swears eternal faith to
her; and she in return promises to be his in heaven. But should he
prove false, nothing can save them both from fearful punishment.
Then she bids him farewell, promising to send a rose every time she is
allowed to descend from heaven.
In the second act Ausinari, walking in the moonshine, mourns for the
King's love which she has lost. Mandava, priest of the moon, consoles
her, designing [Transcriber's note: designating?] the present night,
that of the full-moon, as the one, in which the King's heart shall
again turn to her.
After his departure Ausinari first prays to the good and mild god of
the moon, but afterwards invokes Ahriman, the Spirit of Night, lest the
moon-god should prove too weak. When she has left the park, the King
walks in dreamily. His whole soul is filled by Urvasi; he fervently
calls for her, and a rose, her love-token, falls at his feet.
But he waits in vain for her, she does not come and as the priests of
the moon appear, to celebrate the festival of their god, he retires
disappointed into a bower.
Now follows a sort of ballet. All the maidens and their lovers, who
desire to be united, sacrifice to the god; the young men throw a
blooming rose into the flame, the girls a palm-branch.
Ausinari appears and is greeted, with joyous acclamations, while Manava
enters the bower to conduct the King to the sacrifice. He vainly
strives against Ausinari and the priests, who urgently demand the
sacrifice of the red rose, which he still carries in his hand. After a
long resistance he abandons himself to despair and throws the rose into
the blaze, thinking himself forsaken by Urvasi. But hardly has he done
so, than Urvasi's form rises from the flame, solemnly reminding him of
the oath which he has broken. She has only been testing his firmness
and finding him weak, she is obliged to disappear forever as Urvasi and
to live in another form, while only deepest contrition and ardent love
can ever help him to find her again. Urvasi vanishes, and the King
leaves Ausinari, his throne, and his land, to seek as a poor pilgrim
for his beloved.
In the last act we find Urvasi's friend, the Apsare Tschitralekha,
watering a rose-bush, into which her Princess has been transformed.
The King enters in the garb of an Indian penitent. His strength
is nearly exhausted, he has sought his bride all over the earth, and he
now demands her from the spirit of the rock and from that of the
cataract, but all tell him, that she is only to find where glowing life
grows. Tired to death, he draws his sword to end his life, when
Tschitralekha laying her hand on his arm, points out the rose-bush.
The King kisses it, and falling on his knee beside the virgin who joins
in his devotions, fervently prays to Indra, that at last his love may
be given to him again. Slowly Urvasi rises from the rose-bush. A long
and exalted love-duet follows, then the Indian heaven opens and the
King dies at Urvasi's feet, struck by a ray from the celestial sun.
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