Il Demonio





In three acts by ANTON RUBINSTEIN



Text after the Russian of ALFRED OFFERMANN.





This opera of the great Russian musician has an entirely national

character. The great features of Rubinstein's work are most fertile

imagination and an immense power of expression, which however sometimes

almost passes the permitted bounds, although the forms are perfectly

mastered and the fanciful subject is well calculated to afford it room

for play. It is taken from the celebrated poem of Lermontoff, and

it treats of the devices, by which Satan seeks to ensnare the immortal

souls on earth.



The plot is laid in Grusia in the Caucasus.



The first scene represents a wild and lonely country, in the raging

storm voices are heard of good and bad spirits alternately. The

Arch-Fiend appears, weary of everything, even of his power. He curses

the world; in vain he is warned by the Angel of Light to cease his

strife against Heaven; the Demon's only satisfaction lies in opposition

to and battle with all that is loving and good.



He sees Tamara, daughter of Prince Gudal, who expects her bridegroom,

the Prince of Sinodal, and full of admiration for her loveliness he

wooes her. Tamara, frightened calls her companions and they all return

to the castle, but the words of the stranger, whom she has recognized

by the halo of light surrounding him, as a being from a higher world,

vibrate in her ears: "Queen of my love, thou shalt be the Empress of

Worlds."



The following scene shows Prince Sinodal, encamping for the night with

his suite; the roughness of the way has delayed his coming to Tamara.

Near the camp is a chapel, erected in memory of one of his ancestors,

who was slain there by a ruffian and the Prince's old servant

admonishes him to pray for his soul. To his destruction he postpones

it till morning, for during his sleep the Demon brings up his enemies,

the Tartars, and the Prince's caravan is robbed and he himself killed.







In the second act Tamara stands ready to receive her bridegroom, whose

coming has been announced to her by a messenger.



Tamara's thoughts are with the stranger, though against her will, when

an escort brings the dead body of Sinodal. While the poor bride is

giving vent to her sorrow and her father seeks to comfort her by

offering religious consolation, she again hears the voice of the Demon,

whispering soft seductions to her. At last she feels that her strength

is failing before a supernatural power, and so she begs her father to

let her enter a monastery. After offering many objections he finally

consents, for in truth his thoughts are only of avenging his children.



In the third act the Demon, who really loves Tamara, and regrets his

wickedness, seeks to see her. The Angel of Light denies him the

entrance, which however he finally forces. Passionately he invokes

Tamara's pity and her love and she, rent by unutterable feelings

implores Heaven's aid, but her strength gives way, and the Demon

embraces and kisses her. At this moment the Angel of Light appears,

and Tamara is about to hasten to him, when with a loud cry she sinks

down lifeless. Satan has lost; despairing and cursing all, he vanishes

and a thunder-bolt destroys the cloister, from amid the ruins of which

the Angels bear the poor love-tortured Tamara to Heaven.





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