Jessonda





In three acts by LOUIS SPOHR.



Text by HENRY GEHE.





Spohr wrote this opera by way of inauguration to his charge as master

of the court-chapel at Cassel, and with it he added to the fame, which

he had long before established as master of the violin and first-rate

composer. His music is sublime, and sheds a wealth of glory on the

somewhat imperfect text.



The story introduces us to Goa on the coast of Malabar at the beginning

of the 16th century.



A Rajah has just died and is bewailed by his people, and Jessonda, his

widow, who was married to the old man against her will, is doomed to be

burnt with him, according to the country's laws. Nadori, a young

priest of the God Brahma is to announce her fate to the beautiful young

widow. But Nadori is not a Brahmin by his own choice; he is young and

passionate, and though it is forbidden to him to look at women, he at

once falls in love with Jessonda's sister Amazili, whom he meets when

on his sad errand. He promises to help her in saving her beloved

sister from a terrible death.







Jessonda meanwhile hopes vainly for the arrival of the Portuguese

General, Tristan d'Acunha, to whom she pledged her faith long ago, when

a cruel fate separated her from him. She knows that the Portuguese are

at this moment besieging Goa, which formerly belonged to them.

Jessonda is accompanied by her women through the Portuguese camp, to

wash away in the floods of the Ganges the last traces of earthliness.

She sacrifices a rose to her early love.



Turning back into the town, she is recognized by Tristan, but alas, a

truce forbids him to make an assault on the town in order to deliver

his bride. Jessonda is led back in triumph by the High-priest Daudon,

to die an untimely death.



In the third act Nadori visits Tristan in secret, to bring the welcome

news that Daudon himself broke the truce, by sending two spies into the

enemy's camp to burn their ships. This act of treachery frees Tristan

from his oath. Nadori conducts him and his soldiers through

subterranean passages into the temple, where he arrives just in time to

save Jessonda from the High-priest's sword. She gives him hand and

heart, and Nadori is united to her sister Amazili.





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