Abu Hassan

In one act by WEBER.

Text by HIEMER.

This little opera, composed by Weber in his early youth and first

represented at Dresden under the composer's own direction, for a time

fell into utter oblivion, but has lately been reproduced.

Though short and unpretending it really deserves to be heard, the music

is so full of sweetness, so fresh and pretty.

The text is taken from a tale of the Arabian Thousand and One Nights,

and though full of nonsense, it amuses by its lightheartedness and

gaiety of spirit.

Abu Hassan, favorite of the Calif of Bagdad, has lived above his means,

and is now regaled with bread and water by his wife Fatima, whose only

fault is, that she sings better than she cooks. In order to better his

fortunes Abu Hassan hits upon a strange plan. He sends his wife to the

Calif's wife, Zobeide, to announce his (Hassan's) death, for which she

will obtain 50 gold pieces and a piece of brocade. Fatima departs and

in the meantime enter Abu Hassan's creditors with the appeal for money.

Unable to satisfy them the debtor approaches the eldest and richest

among them, and so pacifies him with sweet words which he is given to

understand Fatima has sent him, that old Omar consents to pay all the


When they are gone, Fatima returns with Zobeide's presents, and Abu

Hassan prepares to go in his turn to the Calif, in order to repeat a

similar death-story about his wife and get a like sum. While he is

away Omar reappears. He has bought all Hassan's accounts from his

numerous creditors and offers them to Fatima for a kiss. At this

moment the husband returns. Omar is shut into the adjoining cabinet,

and the wife secretly points out the caged bird to her spouse who

begins to storm at finding the door of the next room closed, greatly to

the anguish of the old sinner Omar,--anguish, which is enjoyed by his

tormentors to the full. In the midst of this scene Mesrur, messenger

of the Calif, appears, to find out whether Fatima is really dead. The

Calif and his wife having each received news of the death of the

other's favorite, want to know, who it was, that died, and--if both are

dead--who died first. The Calif affirms, that it is Fatima--his wife,

that it is Abu Hassan. They have made a bet, and Mesrur, seeing Fatima

lying motionless on the divan, covered with the brocade, and her

husband in evident distress beside her, runs away to convey the tidings

to the Calif. He is hardly gone, when Zobeide's nurse, Zemrud comes on

a similar errand from her mistress. Fatima, who has just covered her

husband with the brocade, receives her with tears and laments, and

the nurse departs triumphantly.

Hassan presently comes to life again but he and Fatima are not long

permitted to congratulate one another on the success of their scheme,

for the arrival of the Calif with his wife is pompously announced.

Both throw themselves on the divans, covering themselves, and so the

august couple finds them dead. The Calif, much afflicted by the sight,

offers 1000 gold pieces to anyone, who can tell him, which of the two

died first. No sooner does Hassan hear this than tearing aside his

cover, he throws himself at the Calif's feet, crying out: "It was I,

who died first!" at the same time craving the Calif's pardon together

with the gold pieces. Fatima is also speedily resuscitated and the

Calif pardons his favorites, Hassan meanwhile asserting, that he only

died badly, in order to live better. Omar, who has paid their bills in

the hope of winning Fatima's love, is driven away in disgrace.