Silvana





In four acts by WEBER.



Text by ERNST PASQUE.





This opera was left unfinished by Weber. It has however recently been

completed, the text by Ernest Pasque, and the music by Ferdinand

Langer, who rearranged the manuscript with loving care, interweaving

different compositions from Weber, as for instance his "Invitation a la

valse", and his "Polonaise", which are dexterously introduced into the

ballet of the second act.



The action is taken from an old German legend which comes to us from

the land of the Rhine. There we may still find the ruins of the two

castles Sternberg and Liebenstein.



Of these our legend says, that they belonged to two brothers, who hated

each other, for the one, Boland, loved his brother's bride and was

refused by her. By way of revenge he slew his brother and burnt down

his castle. But in this fray the wife he coveted disappeared with her

child and both were supposed to have perished in the flames.



Since then Boland has fallen into deep melancholy and the consequences

of his dreadful deed have never ceased to torment him. His only son,

who lost his mother in early childhood, has grown up solitary, knowing

nothing of woman's sweetness, of peace and happiness. His only passion

is the hunt. He has grown into manhood and his father as well as

his vassals wish him to marry, by [Transcriber's note: but?] never yet

has he found a woman, who has touched his heart with love.



In the beginning of the first act we see him hunting in the forest. He

has lost his way and his companions and finds himself in a spot, which

he has never before seen. A beautiful maiden comes out of a small

cottage and both fall in love at first sight. The returning collier

would fain keep his only child, who has not yet seen anything of the

world; but the nymph of the forest, Silvana's protectrice, beckons him

away. When at length the Count's fellow-hunters find him, he presents

Silvana to them as his bride. The unfortunate collier is made drunk

with wine, and during his sleep they take his daughter away to the

castle of the old Rhinegrave.



But Silvana is protected in the new world into which she enters, by the

nymph, who follows her in the guise of a young minstrel. The old

Count, hearing of his son's resolution, is quite willing to receive the

bride and even consents to go to the peasant's festival, and look at

the dancing and frolicking, given in honor of his son's bridal.



There we find Ratto, the collier, who seeks his daughter Silvana,

telling everybody that robbers took her away from him, and beseeching

help to discover her. Meanwhile Silvana arrives in rich and costly

attire between Gerold, the young Count and the old Rhinegrave. The

latter, attracted by her fairness and innocence has welcomed her as his

daughter without asking for antecedents. When the dances of the

villagers have ended, the nymph enters in the guise of a minstrel,

asking to be allowed to sing to the hearers, as was the custom on the

banks of the Rhine.



She begins her ballad, the contents of which terrify the Rhinegrave,

for it is his own awful deed, which he hears. Springing up, he draws

his sword against the minstrel, but Silvana rises, protecting him with

outstretched arms. All are stupefied; Gerold looks with suspicion on

his bride, hanging on the breast of the stranger. He asks for an

explanation, but Silvana is silent. It is part of her trial, not to

betray the nymph. At the same moment Ratto, the collier, recognizes

and claims Silvana as his daughter. Everybody now looks with contempt

on the low-born maiden, and the Rhinegrave commands them to be put into

prison; but Gerold believing in his bride's innocence though

appearances are against her, entreats her once more to defend herself.

Silvana only asserts her innocence and her love for Gerold, but will

give no proofs. So the collier with his daughter and the minstrel are

taken to prison. But when the keeper opens the door in the morning,

the minstrel has disappeared.



The old Count, disgusted at the idea of his son's union with a

collier's daughter accuses her of being a sorceress. He compels her to

confess that she seduced his son by magic arts, and Silvana consents to

say anything rather than injure her lover.--She is conducted

before a court and condemned to the funeral pile. Gerold, not once

doubting her, is resolved to share her death, when in the last critical

moment the minstrel once more raises his voice and finishes the ballad,

which the Rhinegrave had interrupted so violently. He tells the

astonished hearers, that the wife and daughter of the Count, who was

slain by his brother, were not burnt in the castle, but escaped to the

forest, finding kindly refuge in a poor collier's hut where the mother

died, leaving her child, Silvana, under his protection.



The Rhinegrave, full of remorse, embraces Silvana, beseeching her

forgiveness, and the lovers are united.





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