Donna Diana

In three acts by E. VON REZNICEK.

Text after a free translation of MORETO'S comedy of the same name.

Many are the authors, who have dramatized this old, but ever young and

fresh comedy, but yet none have so nearly reached the ideal, as this

young composer. His manner of interweaving Spanish national airs is

particularly successful, because they tinge the piece with peculiar

al colouring.

The Spanish melodies are chosen with exquisite elegance and skill.

Reznicek's manner of composing is thoroughly modern; he has learnt much

from Wagner and Liszt and not least from Verdi's "Falstaff";

nevertheless he is always original, fresh and so amusing, so

sparkling with wit and genius, that I am tempted to call Donna Diana

the modern comic opera par excellence. Sometimes the orchestra is

almost too rich for Moreto's playful subject, but this is also quite

modern, and besides it offers coloristic surprises very rare in comic


In the first act the waltz is particularly charming; in the second the

ballet music and Floretta's song (im Volkston) are so beautiful that

once heard they can never be forgotten. The bolero-rythme and the 3/8

measure are typical of the Spanish style, which flows through almost

all the songs and recitations giving sparkling piquancy to the opera.

In the last act, where love conquers intrigue and gaiety the music

reaches its culminating point.

The scene is laid in Don Diego's palace at Barcelona at the time of

Catalonia's independence, Don Cesar, Prince of Urgel is resting in

Diego's Hall after having won the first prize in a tournament. He

muses sadly on Donna Diana's coldness, which all his victories fail to

overcome. Perrin the clown takes pity on him, and after having won his

confidence, gives him the advice to return coldness for coldness. Don

Cesar promises to try this cure, though it seems hard to hide his deep

love.--Floretta, Donna Diana's foster-sister enters to announce the

issue of the tournament. She fain would flirt with Perrin to whom she

is sincerely attached, but he turns a cold shoulder to her and lets her

depart in a rage, though he is over head and ears in love with the

pretty damsel.--The next scene opens on a brilliant crowd, all

welcoming Count Sovereign of Barcelona and his daughter Donna Diana.

The Count accosts them graciously, and making sign to the three gallant

Princes, Don Cesar of Urgel, Don Louis of Bearne and Gaston Count de

Foie, they advance to receive their laurels on bended knee from the

fair hands of the Princess, who crowns Cesar with a golden wreath,

while the two other princes each win a silver price.--When the ceremony

is ended, Don Diego turns to his daughter, beseeching her to give an

heir to the country by selecting a husband, but Diana declares, that

though she is willing to bend to her father's will, love seems poison

to her, and marriage death. Gaston and Louis, nothing daunted,

determine to try their luck even against the fair lady's will, and

while the father prays to God, to soften his daughter's heart, Cesar's

courage sinks ever lower, though Perrin encourages him to begin the

farce at once. Donna Diana alone is cool and calm, inwardly resolved

to keep her hand and heart free, she is deeply envied by her two

cousins Fenisa and Laura, who would gladly choose one of the gallant

warriors.--Perrin now advises the Princes to try their wit and

gallantry on the Princess, and Don Diego, consenting to his daughter's

wish, that she need only suffer their courtship for a short time, she

cooly accepts this proposal. Gaston begins to plead his cause,

declaring, that he will not leave Barcelona without a bride and Louis

follows his example; both are greatly admired and applauded by the

assistants, only Diana finds their compliments ridiculous and

their wit shallow. Cesar without a word retires to the background, and

when asked by the Princess, why he does not compete with his rivals,

answers "Because I will not love, nor ever wish to be loved; I only woo

you, to show you my regard." Greatly mortified Diana resolves to

punish such pride, by subjugating him to her charms.

In the second act a fancy ball is going on in the Prince's gardens.

Each of the ladies has a bunch of different coloured ribbons, and

decides to get the man she loves for her own. Diana now explains, that

each knight is to choose a colour, which entitles him to own the lady

who wears the same colours as long as the masquerade lasts. Don Louis

choosing green gets Donna Laura, Don Gaston wearing red is chosen by

Fenisa; Perrin loudly asserting that, abhorring love he chooses the

obscure colour black, wins Floretta, and Don Cesar choosing white,

finds himself Donna Diana's champion. She takes his arm, and soon her

beauty so inflames him, that forgetting good advice and prudence he

thrown himself at her feet, confessing his love. Triumphant, but

mockingly she turns from him, and thereby suddenly recalls his pride.

In a bantering tone he asks her, if she really believed, that his love

making, to which duty compelled him for the evening, was true? Hot

with wrath and shame at being so easily duped she bids him leave her,

and when alone resolves to have her revenge. She calls Perrin to

fetch her cousins, and charges him to let Cesar know, that he can hear

her sing in the gardens. Then she is adorned with the most bewitching

garments and surrounded by her attendants begins to play and sing most

sweetly as soon as she hears Don Cesar's steps.--The latter would have

succumbed to the temptation, if he had not been warned by Perrin, not

to listen to the siren. So they philander in the grounds, admiring the

plants, and to all appearance deaf to beauty and song. Impatiently

Diana signs Floretta, to let Cesar know, that he is in the presence of

his Princess, at which our hero like one awaking from a dream turns,

and bowing to the Princess and excusing himself gravely, disappears,

leaving Diana almost despairing.

In the third act Perrin gives vent to his happy feelings about his love

for Floretta, and about the Princess, whose state of mind he guesses.

He is delighted to see his scheme successful, and sings a merry air,

which is heard by Diana. Behind the scene Don Louis is heard, bringing

a serenade to Donna Laura, with whom he has fallen in love, and on the

other side Don Gaston sings Fenisa's praise, so that poor Diana sinking

back on a sopha is all at once surrounded by loving couples, who

shamelessly carry on their courting before her very eyes, and then

retire casting mischievous glances at their disgusted mistress. Diana

who sees Cesar approaching, determines to try a last expedient, in

order to humble his pride. Cooly she explains to him, that she has

resolved to yield to her father's wish, and to bestow her hand on

Prince Louis. For a moment Cesar stands petrified, but his guardian

angel in the guise of Perrin whispers from behind the screen, to hold

out, and not to believe in women's wiles. So he controls himself once

more, and congratulates her, wishing the same courtesy from the

Princess, because, as he calmly adds, he has got betrothed to Donna


That is the last stroke for Diana, her pride is humbled to the dust.

All her reserve vanishes, when her secret love for the hero, which she

has not even owned to herself, is in danger. She altogether breaks

down, and so she is found by her father, who enters, loudly

acknowledging Don Louis as his son-in-law, and sanctioning Don Cesar's

choice of Donna Laura. But Cesar begs to receive his bride from

Diana's own hands, at which the latter rising slowly, asks her father,

if he is still willing to leave to her alone the selection of a

husband. Don Diego granting this, she answers: "Then I choose him who

conquered pride through pride." "And who may this happy mortal be?"

says Cesar. "You ask? It's you my tyrant," she replies, and with

these words sinks into her lover's open arms.