In three acts by LOUIS SPOHR.
Text by HENRY GEHE.
Spohr wrote this opera by way of inauguration to his charge as master
of the court-chapel at Cassel, and with it he added to the fame, which
he had long before established as master of the violin and first-rate
composer. His music is sublime, and sheds a wealth of glory on the
somewhat imperfect text.
The story introduces us to Goa on the coast of Malabar at the beginning
of the 16th century.
A Rajah has just died and is bewailed by his people, and Jessonda, his
widow, who was married to the old man against her will, is doomed to be
burnt with him, according to the country's laws. Nadori, a young
priest of the God Brahma is to announce her fate to the beautiful young
widow. But Nadori is not a Brahmin by his own choice; he is young and
passionate, and though it is forbidden to him to look at women, he at
once falls in love with Jessonda's sister Amazili, whom he meets when
on his sad errand. He promises to help her in saving her beloved
sister from a terrible death.
Jessonda meanwhile hopes vainly for the arrival of the Portuguese
General, Tristan d'Acunha, to whom she pledged her faith long ago, when
a cruel fate separated her from him. She knows that the Portuguese are
at this moment besieging Goa, which formerly belonged to them.
Jessonda is accompanied by her women through the Portuguese camp, to
wash away in the floods of the Ganges the last traces of earthliness.
She sacrifices a rose to her early love.
Turning back into the town, she is recognized by Tristan, but alas, a
truce forbids him to make an assault on the town in order to deliver
his bride. Jessonda is led back in triumph by the High-priest Daudon,
to die an untimely death.
In the third act Nadori visits Tristan in secret, to bring the welcome
news that Daudon himself broke the truce, by sending two spies into the
enemy's camp to burn their ships. This act of treachery frees Tristan
from his oath. Nadori conducts him and his soldiers through
subterranean passages into the temple, where he arrives just in time to
save Jessonda from the High-priest's sword. She gives him hand and
heart, and Nadori is united to her sister Amazili.