In three acts by REINHOLD BECKER.


Becker, the well-known Dresden composer, has long won name and fame by

his beautiful songs, which may be heard all over the continent. He is

a first-rate "Liedermeister", and great was the excitement, with which

his friends looked forward to his first opera.

Their expectations were not deceived, for
he opera was put on the

stage in Dresden on Dec. 8th 1892, and was received with unanimous


Becker is not one of those high-flown artists who elevate us to the

skies; he rather lacks dramatic strength; the lyric element is his

strong point. By the Lied he finds his way direct to the hearts of his

hearers, and where ever this could be woven into the action of his

opera, he has done it with subtle taste. Tilda's dancing-air in the

first act, the evening-song, sung while the people are gliding down the

Rhine in boats, whose lovely variations remind us of quaint old airs of

bye-gone days,--the chorus of the stone-masons in the second act, and

the love-duet in the third are brilliant gems in Becker's music.

The libretto rivals the best of its kind.

The scene is laid near and in Maintz in the year 1308; it takes place

during the reign of Ludwig, Emperor of Bavaria.

Heinrich Frauenlob, the famous minstrel, who had won his name by his

songs in women's praise, is by birth a knight, Dietherr zur Meise.

Years ago he slew the Truchsess of Maintz in self-defence, and having

therefore become an outlaw, had entered the service of the Emperor. In

the beginning of the opera we find him however near Maintz, where he

stays as a guest at his friend's Wolf's castle. He takes part in the

people's festival on Midsummer day, deeming himself unknown.

When the customary St. John's fire is lighted, no one dares leap over

it for fear of an old gipsy's prophesy, which threatened with sudden

death the first who should attempt it. Frauenlob, disregarding the

prophesy, persuades Hildegund, Ottker von Scharfenstein's fair ward, to

venture through the fire with him. Hildegund is the slain Truchsess'

daughter, and has sworn, to wed the avenger of her father's death, but

each lover is unconscious of the other's name. The gipsy Sizyga alone,

who had been betrayed in her youth by Frauenlob's father, recognizes

the young knight, and though he has only just saved the old hag from

the people's fury, she wishes to avenge her wrongs on him. To this end

she betrays the secret of Frauenlob's birth to Hildegund's suitor,

Servazio di Bologna, who is highly jealous of this new rival, and

determines to lay hands on him, as soon as he enters the gates of

Maintz.--Frauenlob, though warned by Sizyga, enters Maintz attracted by

Hildegund's sweet graces; he is determined to confess everything, and

then to fly with her, should she be willing to follow him.

The second act opens with a fine song of the warder of the tower. The

city awakes, the stonemasons assemble, ready to greet the Emperor,

whose arrival is expected. Tilda, Hildegund's friend, and daughter to

Klas, chief of the stone-masons is going to church, but on her way she

is accosted by the knight Wolf, who has lost his heart to her, and now,

forgetting his plan to look for Frauenlob, follows the lovely

damsel.--When Frauenlob comes up, and sees again the well-known places

of his youth, he is deeply touched, but seeing his lady love step on

the balcony and soon after come down to enter the dome, he waylays her,

imploring her, to fly with him. At this moment Servazio, who has lain

in wait, steps forth with officers, who capture Frauenlob. Servazio

now reveals the singer's secret and Hildegund hears that her lover is

her father's murderer. Though Frauenlob tells Hildegund, that he

killed her father in self-defence, she turns from him shuddering.

Feeling that all hopes of his future happiness are at an end, he wishes

to atone for his deed by death, refusing the help of Wolf, who comes up

with his men, to release him. But the stone-masons, having recognized

the celebrated minstrel, with whose song they are about to greet the

Emperor, decide to invoke the latter's clemency.

In the third act the citizens of Maintz hail the Emperor, after which

Frauenlob's cause is brought before him. The whole population demands

his pardon, and the monarch, who loves the singer, would fain

liberate him, had not Servazio roughly insisted on the culprit's

punishment. Uncertain, what to do, the Emperor receives a long

procession of ladies with Tilda at its head, who all beseech pardon for

Frauenlob. At last the Emperor calls for Hildegund, leaving in her

hands the destiny of the prisoner. Left alone with him the latter,

prepared to die, only craves her pardon. After a hard struggle with

her conscience, love conquers and she grants him pardon. When the

Emperor reenters with his suite, to hear the sentence, they find the

lovers in close embrace. To the joy of everybody the Monarch sanctions

the union and orders the nuptials to be celebrated at once. Another

pair, Wolf and Tilda are also made happy. But Servazio vows vengeance.

Sizyga, having secretly slipped a powder into his hands, he pours it

into a cup of wine, which he presents to Frauenlob as a drink of

reconciliation. The Emperor handing the goblet to Hildegund, bids her

drink to her lover. Testing it, she at once feels its deadly effect.

Frauenlob, seeing his love stagger, snatches the cup from her emptying

it at one draught. He dies, still praising the Emperor and women,

breathing the name of his bride with his last breath. Servazio is

captured, and while Hildegund's body is strewn with roses, the wailing

women of Maintz carry their beloved minstrel to his grave.--