Le Domino Noir
In three acts by AUBER.
Text by SCRIBE.
This is one of the most charming comic operas, which were ever written
by this master. Graceful archness and elegance of style are its
characteristics, and these lose nothing from the presence of a gay and
easy temper which makes itself felt throughout. The same may be said
of the libretto.
The plot is well wo
ked out and entertaining. The scene is laid in
Madrid in our century.
The Queen of Spain gives a masqued ball, at which our heroine Angela is
present, accompanied by her companion Brigitta. There she is seen by
Horatio di Massarena, a young nobleman, who had met her a year before
at one of these balls and fell in love with, without knowing her.
This time he detains her, but is again unable to discover her real
name, and confessing his love for her, he receives the answer, that she
can be no more than a friend to him. Massarena detains her so long
that the clock strikes the midnight-hour as Angela prepares to seek her
companion. Massarena confesses to having removed Brigitta under some
pretext, and Angela in despair cries out, that she is lost. She is in
reality member of a convent, and destined to be Lady-Abbess, though she
has not yet taken the vows. She is very highly connected, and has
secretly helped Massarena to advance in his career as a
diplomatist.--Great is her anxiety to return in her convent after
midnight, but she declines all escort, and walking alone through the
streets, she comes by chance into the house of Count Juliano, a
gentleman of somewhat uncertain character, and Massarena's friend.
Juliano is just giving a supper to his gay friends and Angela bribes
his housekeeper Claudia, to keep her for the night. She appears before
the guests disguised as an Arragonian waiting-maid, and charms them
all, and particularly Massarena with her grace and coquetry. But as
the young gentlemen begin to be insolent, she disappears, feeling
herself in danger of being recognized. Massarena, discovering in her
the charming black domino, is very unhappy to see her in such
company.--Meanwhile Angela succeeds in getting the keys of the convent
from Gil-Perez, the porter, who had also left his post, seduced by his
love of gormandizing and had come to pay court to Claudia. Angela
troubles his conscience and frightens him with her black mask, and
flies. When she has gone, the house-keeper confesses that her
pretended Arragonian was a stranger, by all appearance a noble lady,
who sought refuge in Juliano's house.
In the third act Angela reaches the convent, but not without having had
some more adventures. Through Brigitta's cleverness her absence has
not been discovered. At length the day has come when she is to be made
Lady-Abbess and she is arrayed in the attire suited to her future high
office, when Massarena is announced to her.--He comes to ask to be
relieved from a marriage with Ursula, Lord Elfort's daughter, who is
destined for him, and who is also an inmate of the convent, but whom he
cannot love. Notwithstanding her disguise he recognizes his beloved
domino, who, happily for both is released by the Queen from her high
mission and permitted to choose a husband.--Of course it is no other,
than the happy Massarena; while Ursula is consoled by being made
Lady-Abbess, a position which well suits her ambitious temper.