Junker Heinz Sir Harry





In three acts by KARL VON PERFALL.



Text after Hertz's poem: Henri of Suabia by FRANZ GRANDOUR.





This opera composed recently by the Superintendent of the Royal Opera

in Munich, has made its way to the most renowned stages in Germany,

which proves that the composition is not a common one.



Indeed, though it is not composed in the large style to which we are

now accustomed from hearing so much of Wagner, the music is

interesting, particularly so, because it is entirely original and free

from reminiscenses.--There are some little masterpieces in it,

which deserve to become popular on account of their freshness; wit and

humor however are not the composer's "forte" and so the first act, in

which the vagabonds present themselves, is by far the least interesting.



The libretto is very well done; it has made free use of Hertz's pretty

poem.



The scene is laid in the beginning of the 11th century. The first act

lands us near Esslingen in Suabia, the two following near Speier.



Three swindlers concoct a plot to acquire wealth by robbing the

Emperor's daughter. To this end, one of them, Marudas, a former clerk,

has forged a document, in which the Emperor of Byzantium asks for the

hand of Agnes, daughter of Conrad, Emperor of Germany, who just

approaching with his wife Gisela, is received with acclamation by the

citizens of Esslingen. Soon after, the three vagabonds appear in

decent clothes, crying for help; they pretend to have been attacked and

robbed by brigands. Boccanera, the most insolent of them wears a

bloody bandage round his head. The document is presented to the

Emperor, who turns gladly to his wife and tells her of the flattering

offer of the Greek Prince. After he has ordered that the ambassador be

taken good care of, the Emperor is left alone with his wife. She

tenderly asks him why he always seems so sorrowful and gloomy, and

after a first evasive answer, he confides to his faithful wife what

oppresses him.



Twenty years ago he gave orders to kill a little infant, the son

of his deadliest enemy, Count of Calw, his astronomer Crusius having

prophesied, that this child would wed the Emperor's daughter and reign

after him. The remembrance of this cruelty now torments him, but

Gisela consoles her husband, hoping and praying that God will pardon

the repentant sinner. During this intercourse, a young man comes up,

entreating the Emperor to read a document, which was given to the youth

by his dying uncle and destined for the Emperor. As Conrad reads it,

he learns that this youth is the child, he would have had killed years

ago and who was carried to the forester-house and brought up there.

The Emperor and his wife thank Heaven that they have been spared so

dreadful a sin, but Conrad, afraid of the prophesy, determines to send

the young man, who is called Junker Heinz, away. He gives him a

document, in which he orders Count Gerold, governor of Speier, to give

his daughter to the three ambassadors of the Emperor of Byzantium.



In the second act we see Agnes, the Emperor's daughter, working and

singing with her damsels. She is well guarded by old Hiltrudis, but

the worthy lady is obliged to leave for some days and departs with many

exhortations. Hardly has she gone, than all the working-material

disappears, and the maidens begin to sing and frolic. The appearance

of Junker Heinz frightens them away. Heinz, who has ridden long,

thinks to take a little rest, now that he sees the towers of Speier

before him. He stretches himself on a mossy bank and is soon

asleep.--Shortly afterwards the Princess Agnes peeps about with her

companion Bertha. She is highly pleased with the appearance of the

strange hunter, and seeing him asleep, she gazes at him, until she

insensibly falls in love with him. Observing the document which the

stranger has in his keeping, she takes and reads it, and disgusted with

its contents throws it into the fountain, quickly fetching another

parchment which was once given to her by her father, and which contains

both permission to wish for something and her father's promise to grant

her wish.



When Heinz awakes, and finds the loveliest of the maidens beside him,

he falls as deeply in love as the young lady, but their tender

interview is soon interrupted by the blowing of hunter's horns.



In the third act Count Gerold, who has come with a suite, to accompany

the Princess on a hunt, is presented with the Emperor's document by

Heinz, who cannot read and who is wholly ignorant of the change which

Agnes has made. Though greatly astonished at the Emperor's command to

wed Agnes to the bringer of his letter, Count Gerold is accustomed to

obey, and Heinz, who first refuses compliance with the strange command,

at once acquiesces, when he sees that his lady-love and the Princess

are one and the same person. About to go to church, they are detained

by the Emperor, who scornfully charges Heinz with fraud.



But when Count Gerold presents the document, his scorn turns on

Agnes and he orders her to a convent. Heinz fervently entreats the

Emperor to pardon Agnes, and takes a tender farewell of her. On the

point of departing for ever, he sees the three ambassadors, whom he

recognizes and loudly denounces as robbers and swindlers. Boccanera is

obliged to own that his wound came from Junker Heinz, who caught him

stealing sheep. They are led to prison, while the Emperor, grateful to

Heinz for his daughter's delivery from robbers, gives her to him and

makes Heinz Duke of Suabia, persuaded that it is useless to fight

against that which the stars have prophesied.





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