Sealed





VERSIEGELT



In one act by RICHARD BATKA and PORDES-MILO, adapted from

Rauppach's "Der versiegelte Buergermeister".



Music by LEO BLECH.





The popularity of this work, the composer's first real success, is due

not only to the sparkling and easy flow of melody, but also in large

measure to the skill with which the librettists have adapted Rauppach's

old-fashioned comedy.



We are transported to the age of chokers and kneebreeches, and the

easy-going and good-humoured spirit of the times is well caught, and

combined with the more delicate touches of feeling.



Blech is no mere imitator, but has a distinct individuality.



The chorus of the "Schuetzen", the dainty and touching little song of

the widow Gertrude, and the first love duet are effective and

characteristic, while the garrulous Lampe's songs are full of merriment.



The scene is laid in a small provincial town in the year 1830. Frau

Willmers, a worthy matron, asks permission of her neighbour, a

sprightly young widow, to deposit in her house an heirloom, in the

shape of a handsome old cupboard, her reason being that the Burgomaster

who bears her a grudge owing to an ancient dispute with her husband,

threatens her with distraint for non-payment of taxes. Gertrude

readily consents to have the cupboard placed in her room. Meanwhile

Frau Willmers' son, Bertel, the Recorder, appears with Elsa, the

daughter of the Burgomaster. Bertel has asked the Burgomaster for

Elsa's hand, and been refused. Elsa declares that she will marry

Bertel and no one but Bertel. The latter begs Gertrude, who has long

possessed the Burgomaster's affections, to soften the father's heart.

Gertrude promises to do her best, with which consolation the couple

together with Frau Willmers take their departure. In a humorous

monologue Gertrude decides to accept the Burgomaster. She is

interrupted in her soliloquy by Lampe, the Beadle, who is a regular old

Paul Pry, and boasts to the widow of his smartness and sagacity.

According to himself he can ferret out anything, or any one, from a

defrauder of the revenue to a thief, an anarchist or a murderer. Then

he goes on to say that he intended to serve notice of distraint on Frau

Willmers, but had found her door locked. Suddenly he catches sight of

the cupboard which seems familiar to him, whereupon he hurriedly leaves

to convince himself that the valuable piece of furniture has been

removed from Frau Willmers'. Meanwhile the Burgomaster arrives to ask

for Gertrude's hand. He first tells her of Bertel's suit, and is

rather taken aback upon the widow advising him to accept Bertel as a

son-in-law. Gertrude listens somewhat impatiently to his proposal, and

just as he is about to kiss her, Lampe appears at the door with Frau

Willmers. Gertrude hastily conceals the Burgomaster in the cupboard.

Lampe having compelled the unfortunate Frau Willmers to admit the

ownership of the cupboard, promptly affixes the official seal,

thus unconsciously seizing the Burgomaster as well as the cupboard.

The key is not to be found, and Lampe looking through a hole sees

something moving. He suspects a gallant to be inside and leaves the

house to fetch the Burgomaster. No sooner has he left than Bertel and

Elsa reappear, and are told by Gertrude of what has happened. They

resolve to turn the Burgomaster's involuntary imprisonment to their

advantage. While Gertrude and Frau Willmers go in search of witnesses,

the pair of lovers enact a regular comedy in front of the cupboard.

Bertel protests to his sweetheart that his loyalty to, and regard for,

her father prevent him from being a party to any deception. He

declares that he will rather die than marry the daughter against her

father's wishes, whereupon Elsa takes tragic leave of her lover. The

Burgomaster, deeply affected, reveals his presence and promises

everything if Bertel will only release him. Bertel demands Elsa's hand

in return, and the latter hastily draws up a marriage contract in

virtue of which she is to be allowed to marry in a fortnight, and is to

receive into the bargain from her father 500 dollars in gold, a house

and garden, with the customary livestock, to wit, cows, goats, ducks,

hens, etc. The document is passed into the cupboard by Bertel and

signed by the prisoner. He is then set at liberty, and gives the

couple his blessing. But to punish them for their sins, the

Burgomaster now locks them up in the cupboard, seals it lightly

[Transcriber's note: tightly?], and hides himself in the alcove.

Hereupon Gertrude appears, accompanied by a merry throng, whom she has

brought from the fair to witness the release of her lover. An

inspiriting chorus is sung, the door of the cupboard flies open, but

instead of the Burgomaster, out steps the betrothed couple. At the

same moment the Burgomaster appears with stern mien. In reply to his

question as to how the couple had got into the cupboard, Gertrude

artfully declares that she had shut them up in order to unite them in

spite of the father's harshness. For a moment all are disappointed at

the unexpected turn things are taking. But good humour gains the upper

hand, and then increases on the appearance of Lampe who is slightly

intoxicated and imagines that Bertel has killed his master, as he has

been unable to find him. He wants to lock Gertrude up in the cupboard

for having broken the official seal, but eventually is forced into the

cupboard himself, and carried off amidst the shouts and jeers of all

present. While Bertel and Elsa disappear into the alcove, the

Burgomaster makes for Gertrude and as a punishment for the trick she

has played him, makes her his wife and seals the compact in the usual

manner.





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