The Master-thief





A German Legend in three parts by EUGEN LINDNER.



After Fitger's poem by GUSTAV KASTROPP and the composer.





The young composer has hitherto been little heard of by the public,

though he has a good name in the musical world, as he had already

written an opera called "Ramiro", which was put on the stage in Leipsic

and excited considerable controversy among his admirers and his

opponents. Lindner then left Leipsic for Weimar, where he studied

zealously and composed the above-mentioned opera which was at once

accepted on the small but celebrated stage of this town and has now

appeared on the greater one of Dresden. This opera is half romantic

half lyric, neither does it lack the humorous elements. It abounds in

melody, a great rarity in our times, and the romance (Lied) is its best

part.



Though the music is not precisely overpowering, it is very sweet and

pleasing; one sees that a great talent has been at work, if not a

genius.



The libretto is very nice on the whole, in some parts even charmingly

poetical and melodious.



The scene is laid in an Earldom on the Rhine.



The master-thief Wallfried, a young nobleman, who ten years before had

been put into a convent as younger son, has fled from it, and has since

then been the companion of roving minstrels and Bohemians. Having

heard of his elder brother's death, he comes home to claim his rights.

There he sees Waldmuthe, the only daughter of Count Berengar, the

Seigneur of the Earldom. As her features are as sweet as her voice,

and as the father guards his treasures better than his daughter,

Wallfried falls in love with her, and after artfully robbing her of her

necklace, he even steals a kiss from her rosy lips. At first she

reproaches him, but at last willingly leaves her ornament in his hands,

which he keeps as a token of seeing her again.



At a fair, where Wallfried for the last time makes merry with his

companions and sings to them the song of the pretty Aennchen,--by the

bye a pearl of elegance and delicacy,--he sees Count Berengar and his

daughter, and at once reclaims his own name and castle as Heir von

Sterneck from the Seigneur.--But Waldmuthe's companion, Hertha sees her

mistress's chain on Wallfried's neck and as our hero will not tell how

he came by it, he is considered a thief. His friend Marquard now

pleads for him, intimating that he took the chain only to show his

adroitness as a master-thief. Count Berengar hearing this, orders him

to give three proofs of his skill. First he is to rob the Count of his

dearest treasure, which is guarded by his soldiers and which then will

be his own, secondly he is to steal the Count himself from his palace,

and finally he must rob the Count of his own personality. Should he

fail in one of these efforts, he is to be hanged.



These tests seem to be very difficult, but Wallfried promises to

fulfill his task on the very same day.







In the second act Wallfried arrives with two friends at the Count's

castle. All three are in pilgrim's garb and bring a beautiful

wassail-horn to the Count in token of friendship from the Sire of

Rodenstein. The sentry and the Count consider these pious guests

harmless, and the Count, being a great amateur of good wine, drinks and

sings with them and soon gets drunk. The roundelays are full of wit

and humor and particularly Wallfried's song, with the charming

imitation of the spinning-wheel in the orchestra, is of great

effect.--At last one of the pilgrims intimates, that though the wine be

good, they have drunk a far better at the clergyman's in the village.

This seems incredible to the Count and he is willing to put it to the

test. He goes with his guests out of his castle and so the second of

his orders, to steal his own person, is already accomplished.



Wallfried however stays behind to rob the Count of his most valuable

treasure, which he deems to be the young Countess herself. While the

soldiers carefully guard the jewels and diamonds in the tower,

Waldmuthe steps on her balcony and confides her love to the

moon.--Wallfried, hearing her confession, easily persuades her to

follow him, as she hopes thereby to save his life and so the first

condition is likewise fulfilled.



In the third act the Bohemians (Wallfried's companions) have carried

the Count into the forest, and having robbed him of his clothes, dress

him in the clergyman's cassock. The Count, awaking from his

inebriety, is quite confused. His misery after the debauch is most

funnily and expressively depicted in the orchestration. His confusion

increases, when the Bohemians, dressed as peasants, greet him as

"Seigneur Pastor", and when even Benno, the warden of Sterneck calls

him by this name,--for everybody is in the plot,--he storms and rages,

but grows the more troubled. At last Wallfried makes his appearance in

the mask of Count Berengar, speaking of his presumed daughter and of

her love. Then the mists of the wine gather thicker around the Count's

tortured brain, he repeats Wallfried's words and when alone says aloud

"There goes Count Berengar, now I believe myself to be the

pastor."--Thus too the third order is fulfilled; he is robbed of

himself.



Waldmuthe, stealing up to him, roguishly laughing repeats the tests and

now the Count at once becomes sober.--Of course he is in wrath at first

and most unwilling to give his only child to one, who has passed part

of his life with Bohemians. But Waldmuthe reminds him of his own

youth, how audaciously he had won his wife, her mother, and how he had

promised her to care for their daughter's happiness. The tender father

cannot resist her touching and insinuating appeal, but resolves to try

Wallfried's sincerity. When the latter reminds him, that he has only

executed the Count's own orders, though in a somewhat different sense,

Berengar willingly grants him the tide and domains of Sterneck, but

refuses his daughter, telling him to choose instead his finest

jewels. Wallfried haughtily turns from him to join his old comrades,

and refuses name and heritage, which would be worthless to him without

his bride. But the maiden is as noble as her lover; she rushes up to

him, ready to brave her father's scorn as well as the world's dangers.

Then the Count, persuaded of the young fellow's noble heart, folds him

in his embrace and readily gives his benediction to the union.












DER MAURER.






In three acts by AUBER.



Text by SCRIBE.





This charming little work is one of the best semi-comic operas ever

composed, from the time of its first representation in Paris until now

it has never lacked success.



The libretto is founded on a true anecdote, and is admirably suited to

the music.



The scene is laid in Paris in the year 1788.



The first act represents the merry wedding of Roger, a mason, with

Henrietta, sister of Baptiste, a locksmith. A jealous old hag,

Mistress Bertrand, who would fain have married the nice young man, is

wondering, whence the poor mason has the money for his wedding, when

suddenly a young nobleman, Leon de Merinville, appears, greeting Roger

warmly. He relates to the astonished hearers, that Roger saved his

life, but would not take any reward, nor tell his name. Roger

explains that the nobleman put so much money into his pocket, that it

enabled him to marry his charming Henrietta, but Merinville is

determined to do more for him. Meanwhile Roger tries to withdraw from

the ball with his young wife; but Henrietta is called back by her

relations according to custom.--Roger, being left alone, is accosted by

two unknown men, who, veiling his eyes, force him to follow them to a

spot unknown to him, in order to do some mason-work for them. It is to

the house of Abdallah, the Turkish ambassador, that he is led. The

latter has heard that his mistress Irma, a young Greek maiden, is about

to take flight with a French officer, who is no other than de

Merinville.



The lovers are warned by a slave, named Rica, but it is too late;

Abdallah's people overtake and bind them. They are brought into a

cavern, the entrance to which Roger is ordered to mure up. There,

before him, he finds his friend and brother-in-law, Baptiste, who was

likewise caught and is now forced to help him.



Recognizing in the officer his benefactor, Roger revives hope in him by

singing a song, which Leon heard him sing at the time he saved his life.



Meanwhile Henrietta has passed a dreadful night, not being able to

account for her husband's absence. In the morning Mistress Bertrand

succeeds in exciting the young wife's sorrow and jealousy to a shocking

degree, so that when Roger at last appears, she receives him with

a volley of reproaches and questions.



Roger, unhappy about Merinville's fate and ignorant of where he has

been in the night, scarcely listens to his wife's complaints, until

Henrietta remarks that she well knows where he has been, Mistress

Bertrand having recognized the carriage of the Turkish ambassador, in

which he was wheeled away.



This brings light into Roger's brain and without more ado he rushes to

the police, with whose help the poor prisoners are delivered. Roger

returns with him to his wife's house, where things are cleared up in

the most satisfactory manner.





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