La Dame Blanche

In three acts by BOIELDIEU.

Text by SCRIBE.

Boieldieu is for the French almost what Mozart was for the German.

This opera especially may be called classic, so deliberate and careful

is its execution.

The "Lady in white" is the chef-d'oeuvre of all comic operas in French,

as Mozart's Figaro is in German. The success of this opera, whose

composer and w
ose poet were equally liked and esteemed in Paris was

enormous, and since then it has never lost its attraction.

The scene is laid in Scotland, the subject being taken from Walter

Scott's romance: "Guy Mannering".

George Brown, the hero of the opera, a young lieutenant in English

service, visits Scotland. He is hospitably received by a tenant of the

late Count Avenel, who has been dead for some years. When he

arrives, the baptism of the tenant's youngest child is just being

celebrated, and seeing that they lack a godfather, he good-naturedly

consents to take the vacant place.

Seeing the old castle of the Avenels, he asks for its history, and the

young wife Jenny tells him that according to the traditions of the

place it is haunted by a ghost, as is the case in almost every old

castle. This apparition is called the "White Lady", but unlike other

ghosts she is good, protecting her sex against fickle men. All the

people around believe firmly in her and pretend to have seen her

themselves. In the castle there exists a statue which bears the name

of this benevolent genius, and in it the old Lord has hidden treasures.

His steward Gaveston, a rogue, who has taken away the only son of the

Count in the child's earliest days, brings the castle with all its

acres to public sale, hoping to gain it for himself.

He has a charming ward, named Anna. It is she, who sometimes plays the

part of the white Lady. She has summoned the young tenant Dickson, who

is sincerely devoted to her, into the castle, and the young man though

full of fear, yet dare not disobey the ghostly commands.

George Brown, thirsting for a good adventure, and disbelieving in the

ghost-story, declares that he will go in Dickson's place.

In the second act George, who has found entrance into the castle, calls

for the white Lady, who appears in the shape of Anna. She believes

that Dickson is before her and she reveals her secret to him,

imploring his help against her false guardian Gaveston, who means to

rob the true and only heir of his property. She knows that the missing

son of the Avenels is living, and she has given a promise to the dying

Countess, to defend his rights against the rapacious Gaveston. George

gives his hand to the pretended ghost in token of fidelity, and the

warm and soft hand which clasps his, awakes tender feelings in him. On

the following morning Dickson and his wife Jenny are full of curiosity

about George's visit, but he does not breathe a word of his secret.

The sale of the castle as previously announced is to begin, and Dickson

has been empowered beforehand by all the neighboring farmers, to bid

the highest price, in order not to let it fall into the hands of the

hateful Gaveston. They bid higher and higher, but at length Dickson

stops, unable to go farther. Gaveston feels assured of his triumph,

when George Brown, recalling his vow to the white Lady, advances

boldly, bidding one thousand pounds more. Anna is beside him, in the

shape of the spectre, and George obediently bids on, till the castle is

his for the price of three hundred thousand pounds. Gaveston in a

perfect fury, swears avenge himself on the adventurer, who is to pay

the sum in the afternoon. Should he prove unable to do so, he shall be

put into prison. George, who firmly believes in the help of his

genius, is quietly confident, and meanwhile makes an inspection of the

castle. Wandering through the vast rooms, dim recollections arise

in him, and hearing the minstrel's song of the Avenels, he all at once

remembers and finishes the romance, which he heard in his childhood.

The afternoon comes and with it Mac-Irton, the justice of peace. He

wants the money, and George begs to await the white Lady, who promised

her help. Anna appears, bringing the treasure of the Avenels hidden in

the statue, and with them some documents, which prove the just claims

of Edwin Count Avenel. This long lost Count she recognizes in George

Brown, whose identity with the playmate of her youth she had found out

the night before. Gaveston approaches full of wrath to tear aside the

ghost's white veil, and sees his own ward, Anna.

The happy owner of castle and country holds firm to the promise which

he gave the white Lady, and offers hand and heart to the faithful Anna,

who has loved him from her childhood.