The Cid

In three acts.

Text and Music by PETER CORNELIUS.

After an interval of more than thirty years the Dresden Opera has paid

a debt of honour to the dead composer and gave his finest and best

opera for the first time on January 17th 1899.

This opera had hitherto only been performed in Munich and Weimar.

Though its music is perhaps less fresh and piquant than that of the

Barber of Bagdad by the same composer, yet it has the true ring of

genius and its noble charm ranks high above the ordinary opera of

the present day.

We find in it many leading motives, which would seem to rank Cornelius

amongst Wagner's imitators, but he is very far from being one of these.

All his melodies are original and one of the finest, the Cid-motive,

which accompanies every entrance of this hero, is perfectly entrancing.

The loveliest pearls in the string of music are the funeral march and

Chimene's wail in the first act, her prayer in the second, and the

avowal of her love and the duet that follows in the last act.

The libretto written by Cornelius himself is also far above the

average; its language is uncommonly beautiful and poetic.

The scene is laid in Burgos in Castile in the year 1064. The first act

opens with a large concourse of people, assembled to celebrate Ruy

Diaz' victory over the Moors.

In the midst of their rejoicings a funeral march announces Chimene,

Countess of Lozan, whose father has been slain by Diaz. While she

wildly invokes the King's help against the hero the latter enters,

enthusiastically greeted by the people, who adore in him their

deliverer from the sword of the infidels.

He justifies himself before King Fernando, relating with quiet dignity,

how he killed Count Lozan in open duel to avenge his old father, whose

honour the Count had grossly attacked. Nevertheless he is ready to

defend himself against anybody, who is willing to fight for Donna

Chimene, and for this purpose he throws down his glove, which is taken

up by Alvar Farnez, his friend and companion in arms, who is madly in

love with Chimene.--While they are preparing for the duel the Bishop

Luyn Calvo, an uncle of Diaz, intervenes, entreating his nephew to

desist from further bloodshed and to surrender his sword Tizona into

his the priest's hands. After a hard struggle with himself the hero,

who secretly loves Chimene, yields, and hands his sword to Calvo, who

at once offers it to Chimene, thereby giving the defenceless hero into

her hands.

Exultingly she swears to take vengeance on Diaz, who stands motionless,

looking down with mournful dignity on the woman whom he loves and who

seems to hate him so bitterly.

In the midst of this scene the war cry is heard. The enemy has again

broken into the country and has already taken and burnt the fortress of

Belforad. All crowd round Diaz, beseeching him to save them. While he

stands mute and deprived of his invincible sword, Chimene, mastering

her own grief at the sight of her country's distress, lays down Tizona

at Fernando's feet. Ruy Diaz now receives his sword back from the

hands of the King, and brandishing it high above his head he leads the

warriors forth to freedom or death.

The second act takes place in Chimene's castle. Her women try to

beguile their mistress's sorrow by songs, and when they see her soothed

to quiet, they retire noiselessly. But hardly does she find

herself alone than pain and grief overcome her again. She longs to

avenge her father's death on Diaz, and yet deep in her heart there is a

feeling of great admiration for him. In vain she wrestles with her

feelings, invoking the Allmighty's help to do what is right. In this

mood Alvar finds her and once more assures her of his devotion and

repeats that he will fight with Diaz as soon as the country is freed

from the enemy. He leaves her and night sets in and in the darkness

Diaz steals in, for he cannot resist his heart's desire to see Chimene

once more before the battle. In the uncertain rays of the moonlight

she at first mistakes him for her father's ghost, but when he

pronounces her name she recognizes him, and violently motions him away,

but he falls on his knee and pours out his hopeless love. At last his

passion overcomes all obstacles; she forgives him and at his entreaty

she calls him by his name, saying: "Ruy Diaz be victorious!" Full of

joy he blesses her and goes to join his men who are heard in the

distance calling him to lead them to battle.

The third act is played once more in Burgos.

Diaz has been victorious; the whole army of captives defiles before the

throne and a rejoicing assemblage of nobles and peoples does homage to

the King. Even the Moorish Kings bend the knee voluntarily; they have

been unfortunate, but they have been conquered by the greatest hero of

the world; they are conquered by "the Cid!" When the King asks them

what the name means they tell him that its signification is

"Master"; full of enthusiasm all around adopt this name for their hero.

The Cid will be Diaz' title henceforth, immortal as his glorious star!

The people loudly call for Diaz to appear, but are told that

immediately after the battle Alvar had sent the hero a challenge. At

the same time Alvar enters unhurt, and Chimene who stands near the King

with her women ready to greet the victor, grows white and faint,

believing that Diaz has been killed by Alvar. She impetuously

interrupts the latter, who begins to relate the events, and unable to

control her feelings any longer she pours out her long pent up love for

Diaz, at the same time bewailing the slain hero and swearing

faithfulness to his memory unto death.--"He lives" cries Alvar, and at

this moment the Cid, as we must now call him appears, stormily hailed

by great and small.

Deeply moved he lays down his victorious sword at the feet of his King,

who embraces him pronouncing him Sire of Saldaja, Cardenja and

Belforad. Then he leads him to his lady who sinks into his arms

supremely happy. The Bishop blesses the noble pair and all join in his

prayer, that love may guide them through life and death.

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