La Juive The Jewess

In five acts by HALEVY.


This opera created a great sensation when it first appeared on the

stage of the Grand Opera at Paris in the year 1835, and it has never

lost its attraction. It was one of the first grand operas to which

brilliant mise en scene, gorgeous decorations etc., added success.

Halevy's great talent lies in orchestration, whi
h is here rich and

effective; his style, half French, half Italian, is full of beautiful

effects of a high order.

The libretto is one of the best which was ever written by the dexterous

and fertile Scribe.

The scene of action is laid in Constance, in the year 1414 during the


In the first act the opening of the Council is celebrated with great


The Catholics, having gained a victory over the Hussites, Huss is to be

burnt, and the Jews, equally disliked, are oppressed and put down still

more than before. All the shops are closed, only Eleazar, a rich

Jewish jeweller has kept his open, and is therefore about to be

imprisoned and put to death, when Cardinal de Brogni intervenes, and

saves the Jew and his daughter Recha from the people's fury. The

Cardinal has a secret liking for Eleazar, though he once banished him

from Rome. He hopes to gain news from him of his daughter, who was

lost in early childhood. But Eleazar hates the Cardinal bitterly.

When the mob is dispersed, Prince Leopold, the Imperial

Commander-in-Chief, approaches Recha. Under the assumed name of Samuel

he has gained her affections, and she begs him to be present at a

religious feast, which is to take place that evening at her father's

house. The act closes with a splendid procession of the Emperor and

all his dignitaries. Ruggiero, the chief judge in Constance seeing the

hated Jew and his daughter amongst the spectators, is about to seize

them once more, when Prince Leopold steps between and delivers them, to

Recha's great astonishment.

In the second act we are introduced to a great assembly of Jews, men

and women, assisting at a religious ceremony. Samuel is there with

them. The holy act is however interrupted by the Emperor's niece,

Princess Eudora, who comes to purchase a golden chain, which once

belonged to the Emperor Constantin, and which she destines for her

bride-groom, Prince Leopold. Eleazar is to bring it himself on the

following day. Samuel overhearing this is full of trouble. When

the assembly is broken up and all have gone, he returns once more to

Recha, and finding her alone, confesses that he is a Christian. Love

prevails over Recha's filial devotion, and she consents to fly with her

lover, but they are surprised by Eleazar. Hearing of Samuel's

falseness, he first swears vengeance, but, mollified by his daughter's

entreaties, he only bids him marry Recha. Samuel refuses and has to

leave, the father cursing him, Recha bewailing her lover's falseness.

In the third act we assist at the Imperial banquet. Eleazar brings the

chain, and is accompanied by Recha, who at once recognizes in Eudora's

bridegroom, her lover, Samuel. She denounces the traitor, accusing him

of living in unlawful wedlock with a Jewess, a crime, which is

punishable by death.

Leopold (alias Samuel) is outlawed, the Cardinal Brogni pronounces the

anathema upon all three, and they are put into prison.

In the fourth act Eudora visits Recha in prison, and by her prayers not

only overcomes Recha's hate, but persuades her to save Leopold by

declaring him innocent. Recha, in her noblemindedness, pardons Leopold

and Eudora, and resolves to die, alone.

Meanwhile the Cardinal has an interview with Eleazar, who tells him

that he knows the Jew, who once saved the Cardinal's little daughter

from the flames. Brogni vainly entreats him to reveal the name.

He promises to save Recha, should Eleazar be willing to abjure his

faith, but the latter remains firm, fully prepared to die.

In the fifth act we hear the clamors of the people who furiously demand

the Jew's death.

Ruggiero announces to father and daughter the verdict of death by fire.

Leopold is set free through Recha's testimony. When in view of the

funeral pile, Eleazar asks Recha, if she would prefer to live in joy

and splendor and to accept the Christian faith, but she firmly answers

in the negative. Then she is led on to death, and she is just plunged

into the glowing furnace, when Eleazar, pointing to her, informs the

Cardinal, that the poor victim is his long-lost daughter; then Eleazar

follows Recha into the flames, while Brogni falls back senseless.