The Folkungs

In five acts by EDMUND KRETSCHMER.


The composer of this opera evidently belongs to the most talented of

our days, and it is no wonder that his two operas "Henry the Lion" and

"The Folkungs", have rapidly found their way to every stage of

importance. Particularly "The Folkungs" is such a happy combination of

modern orchestration, abundance of fine melody, and northern

characteristical coloring, that it charms the connoisseur as well as

the unlearned.

The scene is laid in Sweden, in the 13th century.

The first act represents the convent Nydal on the snowy heights of the

Kyoeles. Sten Patrik, the confidant and abettor of Bengt, Duke of

Schoonen, has allured Prince Magnus, second son of King Erick of

Sweden, to follow him out of his convent, and has brought him hither by

ruse and force. He now announces to the Prince, that he may choose

between death and a nameless life in the convent Nydal, and Magnus,

having no choice, swears on Sten's sword that he, Prince Magnus, will

be forever dead to the world.

The monks receive him into their brotherhood, as he answers to the

Abbot Ansgar's questions, that he is an orphan, homeless, abandoned,

seeking peace only. The Abbot first subjects Magnus to a trial of his

constancy, by letting him hold the night-vigil in storm and snow.--The

monks retire, leaving the unhappy Prince outside the gates. While he

sinks into deep reverie, Lars Olafson, the castellan of the King's

castle of Bognaes, and son of the Prince's nurse, appears. He seeks his

Prince, who so mysteriously disappeared from the world, and relates to

Magnus, that King Erick is dead, as well as his eldest son, and that

Prince Magnus is called to come and claim his throne and bride.

Princess Maria, the only surviving Folkung, is already being wooed by

their enemy, Duke Bengt of Schoonen, and now the listener understands

the vile plot against himself. And as Lars calls him to defend his

country and his Princess against the Duke and his confederates the

Danes, Magnus considers it a sign from heaven that he is to die for his

country, a course of action, which his oath does not prohibit.

When the Abbot calls his new guest, he has disappeared, and Sten

Patrik consoles himself with the thought that the fugitive must have

perished in the raging snow-storm.

The second act shows us Princess Maria in her castle Bognaes on the lake

of Maelar. She is the King's niece and successor to the throne. She

takes a last farewell from her people, and Bengt appears to lead her to

Upsala for the coronation.

The nurse Kariri and her son Olaf assure her of her folk's fidelity,

and when she has departed, Lars calls the men together, and presenting

the youth from Skoelen as their leader, makes them take oath of faith on

their standard.--Karin recognizes the Prince in the stranger, but he

firmly denies his identity, and with glowing words calls the people to

rise against their common foe.

The next scene begins with the act of coronation.--The crowned Queen

Maria is to announce her choice of a husband from the Mora-stone, when

her words are arrested by a look from Magnus, in whom she recognizes

the youth she loved.

But, though almost mad with longing and torment, Magnus, mindful of his

oath, still denies himself, and the Duke with his friend Sten, who both

believed themselves lost, impetuously demand the impostor's arrest.

But the Queen asserts her right to judge him herself.

In the fourth act Magnus is brought to his mother's sleeping room. The

charm of youthful remembrances surround him, and hearing an old ballad,

which Karin sings, he forgets himself and so proves his identity

beyond any doubt to the hidden listeners. Maria rushes forward; he

folds her to his breast in a transport of love, and only when Karin

greets him as her King, he remembers that he has broken his oath, and

without more reflection precipitates himself from the balcony into the

sea. Maria sinks back in a swoon.

In the last act Sten Patrik comes, to remind Bengt of his promise to

give him Schoonen. The Duke refuses to pay him, now that Sweden is in

revolt and the Prince living. Sten threatens to reveal his treachery

against Magnus. Bengt is about to kill the only accomplice in his

deed, when Maria, who has heard all, arrests his arm, and accuses him

of murder. Then she rushes to the balcony to call her people to

vengeance. Bengt draws his sword to stab her, but the people throng

in, seize and throw him into the sea. Now Maria hears with rapture

that Magnus lives and has driven away the Danes. With him enter the

monks, whose Abbot releases the Prince from his oath. Maria lovingly

embracing him, places her crown on her bridegroom's head and all cry

hail! to their King Magnus Ericson.

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