Merlin





In three acts by CHARLES GOLDMARK.



Text by SIEGFRIED LIPINER.





This latest creation of the talented composer at once proved itself a

success, when produced for the first time in the Opera-House in Vienna.

Since then it has quickly passed to all the larger stages.



Merlin surpasses the Queen of Sheba in dramatic value and is equal to

it in glowing coloring and brilliant orchestration. Goldmark is quite

the reverse of Wagner. Though equally master of modern

instrumentation, he abounds in melodies. Airs, duets and

choruses meet us of surpassing beauty and sweetness. The text is

highly fantastic, but interesting and poetical.



King Artus is attacked by the Saxons and almost succumbs.--In his need

he sends Lancelot to Merlin, an enchanter and seer, but at the same

time the King's best friend and a Knight of his table.



Merlin, offspring of the Prince of Hell and of a pure virgin, has power

over the demons, whom however he only employs in the service of Heaven,

his good mother's spirit protecting him. Merlin calls up a demon, whom

he forces to blind the heathen Saxons, so that the Britons may be

victorious. The demon obeys unwillingly and after Merlin's departure

he calls up the fairy Morgana who knows all the secrets of the world.

Morgana tells the demon, that if Merlin loves an earthly woman, his

power will be gone and the demon resolves to tempt Merlin with the most

beautiful woman on earth. He vanishes and the Britons return

victorious, Merlin with prophetic insight recognizing the knight, who

had betrayed his people to the Saxons. While he sings a passionate

chant in honor of his King and his country, Vivien, a Duke's daughter,

appears and they are at once attracted to each other. But Merlin

vanquishes his love and refuses to accept the crown of oak-leaves,

which his King offers him by the hand of Vivien. Then Artus takes his

own crown and puts it on Merlin's curls.







The second act begins with a conspiracy headed by Modred, Artus'

nephew, against his uncle. Lancelot openly accuses him of treason, and

the King sends to Merlin, for judgment. But alas, Merlin's love has

already blinded his understanding; he fails to detect the culpable

Modred, and declares that he is not able to find fault in him. King

Artus and his knights depart to seek new laurels, leaving the country

in Modred's hands. Merlin stays in his sanctum, to where the demon now

leads Vivien who has lost her way. The doors of the temple open by

themselves at Vivien's request, and she finds a rosy, glittering veil,

which, thrown into the air, causes various charming apparitions to

present themselves.--When Merlin comes, the whole charm vanishes into

air. Vivien tells him of her delightful adventure, but Merlin,

frightened, informs her that who ever is touched by the veil, will be

in the power of demons, chained to a rock for ever. Love conquers, and

the short hour succeeding is for both filled with earth's greatest

bliss. The news of Modred's treachery to King Artus awakes Merlin from

his dream. He tears himself from his love, vowing to shun her for ever

and to return to the well of grace. But Vivien, finding all her

prayers vain, throws the fatal veil over him to hinder his flight. The

dreadful effect becomes instantly apparent; the rose-garden disappears,

mighty rocks enclose the vale on all sides, and Merlin is held down by

burning chains.



While Vivien is consumed by self-reproach and pain, the fairy

Morgana appears, telling her that love, which is stronger than death,

can bring Merlin eternal grace. Vivien is led away by her maid, and

Lancelot enters with the knights to seek Merlin's help against the

treacherous Modred.



Seeing Merlin in this pitiful state, he sadly turns from him, but

Merlin in despair promises his soul to the demon, if he but assist to

deliver his King and his country. The demon breaks the chains and

Merlin rushes with the knights into battle. During his absence Vivien

prepares herself to receive her hero, but though she sees him return

victorious he is wounded to death. The demon comes up to claim his

victim, but Vivien, remembering Morgana's words, sacrifices herself

piercing her heart at Merlin's feet. The demon disappears cursing

heaven and earth, while Artus and his knights, though they sadly mourn

for their hero, yet praise the victory of true love.





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