Opera Summaries

Andrea Chénier
Umberto Giordano
Arabella
Richard Strauss
Ariadne auf Naxos
Richard Strauss
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Un Ballo in Maschera
Giuseppe Verdi
Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Gioachino Rossini
The Bartered Bride
Bedrich Smetana
Benvenuto Cellini
Hector Berlioz
Betrothal in a Monastery
Sergei Prokofiev
Billy Budd
Benjamin Britten
La Bohème
Giacomo PuccinI
Boris Godunov
Modest Mussorgsky

Capriccio
Richard Strauss

Carmen
Georges Bizet
Cavalleria Rusticana
Pietro Mascagni
Pagliacci
Ruggiero Leoncavallo
La Cenerentola
Gioachino Rossini
La Clemenza di Tito
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Les Contes d'Hoffmann
Jacques Offenbach
Così fan tutte
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Cyrano de Bergerac
Franco Alfano
Dialogues des Carmélites
Francis Poulenc
Doktor Faust
Ferruccio Busoni
Don Carlo
Giuseppe Verdi
Don Giovanni
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Elektra
Richard Strauss
Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
L'Elisir d'Amore
Gaetano Donizetti
Eugene Onegin
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Falstaff
Giuseppe Verdi
Faust
Charles Gounod
Fedora
Umberto Giordano
Fidelio
Ludwig van Beethoven
Die Fledermaus
Johann Strauss
Der Fliegende Holländer
Richard Wagner
Die Frau ohne Schatten
Richard Strauss
The Gambler
Sergei Prokofiev
Giulio Cesare
George Frederick Handel
Götterdämmerung
Richard Wagner
The Great Gatsby
John Harbison
Hänsel und Gretel
Engelbert Humperdinck
Idomeneo
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
L'Italiana in Algeri
Gioachino Rossini
Jenufa
Leoš Janácek
La Juive
Fromental Halévy

Kát'a Kabanová
Leos Janácek

Khovanshchina
Modest Mussorgsky
Lady Macbeth Of Mtsensk
Dmitri Shostakovich
Lohengrin
Richard Wagner
Lucia di Lammermoor
Gaetano Donizetti
Luisa Miller
Giuseppe Verdi
Lulu
Alban Berg
Madama Butterfly
Giacomo Puccini
The Makropulos Case
Leos Janácek
Manon
Jules Massenet
Mazeppa
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Mefistofele
Arrigo Boito
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Richard Wagner
The Merry Widow
Franz Lehár
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Benjamin Britten
Moses und Aron
Arnold Schoenberg

Nabucco
Giuseppe Verdi

Norma
Vincenzo Bellini

Le Nozze di Figaro
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Otello
Giuseppe Verdi

Parade
Erik Satie

Les Mamelles de Tirésias
Francis Poulenc
L'Enfant et les Sortilèges
Maurice Ravel
Parsifal
Richard Wagner

Pelléas et Mélisande
Claude Debussy

Peter Grimes
Benjamin Britten

Il Pirata
Vincenzo Bellini

Prince Igor
Alexander Borodin

I Puritani
Vincenzo Bellini

The Queen of Spades
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
The Rake's Progress
Igor Stravinsky
Das Rheingold
Richard Wagner

Rigoletto
Giuseppe Verdi

Rodelinda
George Frideric Handel

Roméo et Juliette
Charles Gounod

Der Rosenkavalier
Richard Strauss

Rusalka
Antonín Dvorák

Ruslan and Lyudmila
Mikhail Glinka
Salome
Richard Strauss
Samson et Dalila
Camille Saint-Saëns
Siegfried
Richard Wagner
Simon Boccanegra
Giuseppe Verdi
Sly
Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari
Stiffelio
Giuseppe Verdi
Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky

Susannah
Carlisle Floyd

Tannhäuser
Richard Wagner
Tosca
Giacomo Puccini
La Traviata
Giuseppe Verdi
Tristan und Isolde
Richard Wagner

Il Trovatore
Giuseppe Verdi

Les Troyens
Hector Berlioz
Turandot
Giacomo Puccini
I Vespri Siciliani
Giuseppe Verdi
A View from the Bridge
William Bolcom

Die Walküre
Richard Wagner

War and Peace
Sergei Prokofiev
Werther
Jules Massenet
Wozzeck
Alban Berg
Die Zauberflöte
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Andrea Chénier
Umberto Giordano

ACT I: Gérard, servant to the Countess de Coigny, mocks the aristocracy and their manners. Seeing his father struggle with a piece of furniture, Gérard laments the suffering of all servants under their arrogant masters ("Son sessant'anni"). Maddalena, the Countess' daughter, appears and Gérard admits to himself his love for her. Busy with preparations for that evening's soirée, the Countess scolds Maddalena for not yet being dressed. Maddalena complains to her servant, Bersi, about the discomfort of the current fashions and then runs out to change. Among the guests to arrive is Fléville, a novelist, who has brought with him the rising poet, Andrea Chénier. After the Abbé relates the latest depressing news from Paris, Fléville enlivens the party with a pastorale he has written for the occasion. Maddalena then teases the reluctant Chénier into improvising a poem ("Un dì all'azzurro spazio"). Chénier scandalizes the guests with his criticism of the indifference of the clergy and the aristocracy to the suffering of the impoverished. The guests' gavotte is interrupted by Gérard bringing in a group of starving peasants. The Countess orders Gérard out along with the rabble. The guests are then invited to return to the gavotte, but they take their leave instead, and the Countess remains alone.

ACT II: The Revolution has begun, and the Reign of Terror is in full force. To fend off Incredibile, a spy, Bersi pretends to be a daughter of the Revolution ("Temer? Perchè?"). Incredibile is not deceived and takes note of Chénier waiting for someone in the Café Hottot. Chénier is joined by his friend Roucher, who has brought a passport so Chénier may leave the country safely. Chénier says his destiny is to remain to find the love he has never had and to discover who has been writing him anonymous letters. Roucher suggests the letters are a trap by one of the ladies of the evening. A procession of dignitaries led by Gérard interrupts their conversation. Incredibile takes Gérard aside to ask about the woman for whom he is searching. Gérard describes Maddalena to him. Meanwhile, Bersi asks Chénier to wait at the café for someone who wants to meet him. Maddalena appears and reveals to Chénier that it was she who wrote the letters. They pledge to love each other until death ("Ora soave"). Incredibile, having spied Chénier and Maddalena together, brings Gérard to the scene. Gérard is wounded as Chénier defends Maddalena. Gérard, however, recognizes Chénier and sends him on his way, telling him to protect Maddalena. When the gathering crowd asks who wounded Gérard, he answers that his assailant was unknown.

ACT III: In the Tribunal courtroom, Mathieu, a revolutionary, is unsuccessfully urging the crowd to donate to the cause. Gérard, recovered from his wound, makes an impassioned plea for the motherland. Madelon, an old woman who has already lost her son and a grandson in the war, offers her last grandson as a soldier. As the crowd disperses, Incredibile appears. If Gérard wants to have Maddalena, Incredibile insists, he must first arrest her lover, Chénier. As Gérard writes the accusation, he is filled with remorse at the bloodshed he has caused in his rise to power now that his new master is passion ("Nemico della patria"). No sooner does he hand Chénier's indictment to the court clerk than Maddalena appears. Gérard admits to the trap he laid for her and to his overwhelming passion for her. Maddalena offers herself to Gérard if he will save Chénier. She has been a fugitive, her mother killed in the Revolution and their home burned ("La mamma morta"). Touched by her love for Chénier, Gérard promises to try to save him. The Tribunal convenes with an unruly mob in attendance. Chénier pleads for his life ("Sì, fui soldato"), and Gérard admits to the judges that the accusation he wrote was false. Nevertheless, Chénier is sentenced to death and taken away.

ACT IV: In the ruins of Saint Lazare prison, Chénier reads a final poem ("Come un bel dì di maggio") to his friend, Roucher, who then bids him a final adieu. Gérard and Maddalena are met by the jailer, Schmidt, whom Maddalena bribes with some jewels to allow her to take the place of another young woman sentenced to death. Gérard leaves to plead Chénier's case with Robespierre once again. Maddalena tells Chénier she is there to die with him. They share a last moment together ("Vicino a te") as the day dawns. When their names are called for the guillotine, they embrace the fate which will forever join them.

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Arabella
Richard Strauss


ACT I. Vienna, 1860s. In the Waldners' hotel suite, Countess Adelaide von Waldner consults a Fortuneteller on the financial crisis in her family. As they examine the cards, "Zdenko," the Waldners' "son" -- actually their younger daughter, Zdenka, reared as a boy to save the expense of bringing up a second girl -- is kept busy warding off creditors. The Fortuneteller predicts a rich marriage for Arabella, beautiful elder daughter of the Waldners. When the older women retire, Zdenka listens to the impassioned pleas of a young officer, Matteo, who asks for help in his courtship of Arabella. He threatens to shoot himself if he cannot rely on his friend "Zdenko." No sooner has he dashed away than Arabella returns from a stroll. Dismissing her companion, she finds gifts from three other suitors, Counts Elemer, Dominik and Lamoral. Though Zdenka secretly loves Matteo, she implores her sister to favor him. Arabella replies that the right man for her has not yet appeared. Elemer arrives to invite Arabella for a sleigh ride. She accepts and goes off to change, not before pointing out to her sister a stranger standing in the street below, looking for her window. Count Waldner saunters in, disgusted with his bad luck at cards and his many bills. As a last resort, he tells his wife, he has sent a photograph of Arabella to a rich old friend and fellow officer, Mandryka. A few moments later, the latter's nephew, also called Mandryka, is announced. The young man has read Waldner's letter, fallen in love with Arabella's picture and journeyed to Vienna in his deceased uncle's place to ask her hand in marriage. Describing his rich estates in Slavonia, he lends Waldner money. As soon as the room is deserted, Arabella reappears, in a melancholy mood. She asks herself why she is so dissatisfied with her suitors. Her thoughts soon turn to the Coachman's Ball, which she will attend that evening. When Zdenka joins her, the two sisters go off to their sleigh ride.

ACT II. By the grand staircase in the foyer of a public ballroom, Waldner introduces Mandryka to the Countess and Arabella, who recognizes him as the stranger she saw outside the hotel and is overcome with emotion. When they are left alone, Mandryka, also deeply attracted, tells of his young wife who died, of his lands and the Slavonian custom of pledging troth with a glass of water. Arabella returns his declaration of love but asks to say farewell to her girlhood. The coachmen's mascot, Fiakermilli, names Arabella queen of the ball. Elated, Mandryka orders flowers and champagne for everyone but steps aside so Arabella may bid farewell to her suitors Dominik, Elemer and finally Lamoral. As the girl waltzes through the room, she does not notice Matteo, who pleads desperately with Zdenka for some sign of Arabella's professed love. Zdenka presses a key into his hand, telling him it is from Arabella and unlocks the latter's bedroom. Mandryka, overhearing, is appalled. Furious, he drinks recklessly and flirts with Fiakermilli and the Countess until Waldner brings him to his senses by suggesting they return to the hotel.

ACT III. . Unaware that Matteo has spent an hour in her room upstairs, Arabella returns from the ball, softly repeating to herself Mandryka's description of his country home. Matteo, trying to leave unnoticed, is amazed to find Arabella in the lobby and cannot understand her cool cordiality, since he believes her to have been in his arms shortly before. Mandryka arrives with the Waldners and, thinking Arabella faithless, provokes Waldner to demand satisfaction. A duel is averted when Zdenka runs downstairs in flowing negligee, confessing she gave herself to Matteo to avert his suicide. Overcome with shame, she threatens suicide herself but is forgiven by her parents and embraced by Matteo. As the others go to their quarters, Arabella bids Mandryka send his servant to her room with a glass of water. He does so and stands in the lobby, wondering how she feels toward him now. Arabella appears at the top of the stairs, water glass in hand, to plight her troth with him anew.

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Ariadne auf Naxos
Richard Strauss


PROLOGUE: In the salon of "the richest man in Vienna," preparations are in progress for a new opera seria based on the Ariadne legend, with which the master of the house will divert his guests after a sumptuous dinner. The Music Master accosts the pompous Major-domo, having heard that a foolish comedy is to follow his pupil's opera, and warns that the Composer will never tolerate such an arrangement. The Major-domo is unimpressed. No sooner have they gone than the young Composer comes in for a final rehearsal, but an impudent lackey informs him that the violins are playing at dinner. A sudden inspiration brings him a new melody, but the Tenor is too busy arguing with the Wigmaker to listen to it. Zerbinetta, pert leader of some comedians, emerges from her dressing room with an officer just as the Prima Donna comes out asking the Music Master to send for "the Count." At first attracted to Zerbinetta, the Composer is outraged when he learns she and her troupe are to share the bill with his masterpiece. Zerbinetta and the Prima Donna lock horns while dissension spreads. As the commotion reaches its height, the Major-domo returns with a flourish to announce that because of limited time, the opera and the comedy are to be played simultaneously, succeeded by a fireworks display. At first dumbstruck, the artists try to collect themselves and plan: the Dancing Master extracts musical cuts from the despairing Composer, with the lead singers each urging that the other's parts be abridged, while the comedians are given a briefing on the opera's plot. Ariadne, they are told, after being abandoned by Theseus, has come to Naxos alone to wait for death. No, says Zerbinetta - she only wants a new lover. The comedienne decides her troupe will portray a band of travelers trapped on the island by chance. Bidding the Composer take heart, she assures him that she too longs for a lasting romance, like Ariadne, but as his interest in the actress grows, she suddenly dashes off to join her colleagues. Now the Prima Donna threatens not to go on, but the Music Master promises her a triumph, and the heartened Composer greets his teacher with a paean to music. At the last minute he catches sight of the comics in full cry and runs out in horror.

THE OPERA: Ariadne is seen first at her grotto, watched over by three nymphs - Najade, Dryade and Echo - who sympathize with her grief. Enter the buffoons, who attempt to cheer her up - to no avail. As if in a trance, Ariadne resolves to await Hermes, messenger of death; he will take her to another world, undefiled - the realm of death. When the comedians still fail to divert Ariadne, Zerbinetta addresses her directly. She describes the frailty of women, the willfulness of men and the human compulsion to change an old love for a new. Insulted, Ariadne retires to her cave. When Zerbinetta concludes her address, her cronies leap on for more sport. Harlekin tries to embrace her while Scaramuccio, Truffaldin and Brighella compete for her attention, but it is Harlekin to whom she at last surrenders. The nymphs return, heralding the approach of a ship. It bears the young god Bacchus, who has escaped the enchantress Circe for Ariadne. Bacchus is heard in the distance, and Ariadne prepares to greet her visitor - surely death at last. When he appears, she thinks him Theseus come back to her, but he majestically proclaims his godhood. Entranced by her, he claims he would sooner see the stars banish than give her up. Reconciled to a new, exalted existence, Ariadne joins Bacchus in an ascent to the heavens as Zerbinetta sneaks in to have the last word: "When a new god comes along, we're dumbstruck."

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Un Ballo in Maschera
Giuseppe Verdi


The Swedish names of characters appearing in this synopsis are the ones Verdi originally intended. He was forced, however, by the government censors to move the locale of the opera to Boston. In order to avoid confusion for those accustomed to the names in the Boston version, the character names used in that version are added in parentheses, wherever they differ from those used in the original Swedish version.

ACT I. Friends and courtiers of Gustav III (Riccardo) await him in the throne room of the palace, among them a group of conspirators led by Counts de Horn and Ribbing (Samuel and Tom). As the king enters, his page, Oscar, gives him the guest list for a masked ball. Seeing the name of Amelia - wife of his first minister, Anckarström (Renato) - he muses on his secret passion for her ("La rivedrà nell'estasi"). As the others leave, the page admits Anckarström himself, who says he knows the cause of the king's disturbed look: a conspiracy against the crown. But Gustav ignores his friend's warning.

A magistrate arrives with a decree banishing the fortune teller Ulrica, who has been accused of witchcraft. When Gustav asks Oscar's opinion, the youth describes her skill at stargazing and urges him to absolve her of any crime ("Volta la terrea"). Deciding to see for himself, and overruling the objections of Anckarström, the king light-heartedly bids the court join him in an incognito visit to the soothsayer.

As Ulrica mutters incantations before a group of women ("Re dell'abisso"), Gustav discreetly enters disguised as a fisherman. The fortune teller begins her prophecies by telling the sailor Christiano (Silvano) that he will soon prosper. Gustav surreptitiously slips money and a promotion into the satchel of the seaman, who discovers it and marvels at the fortune teller's powers. The king stays in hiding when Ulrica sends her visitors away to grant an audience to Amelia, who comes seeking release from her love for Gustav. Ulrica tells her she must gather at night a magic herb that grows by the gallows; Amelia hurries away as Gustav, having overheard the conversation, resolves to follow her. A moment later Oscar and members of the court enter, and Gustav, still disguised as a fisherman, mockingly asks Ulrica to read his palm ("Di' tu se fedele"). When she says he will die by the hand of a friend, the king laughs (Quintet: "È scherzo od è follia"). Still incredulous, Gustav asks her to identify the assassin, to which she replies that the next hand he shakes is the one that will kill him. No one will shake "the fisherman's" hand, but upon seeing Anckarström arrive, he hurries to clasp his hand and says that the oracle is now disproved since Anckarström is his most loyal friend. Gustav is recognized, and is hailed by the crowd above the muttered discontent of the conspirators.

ACT II. Amelia arrives by the gallows and desperately prays that the herb she seeks will release her from her passion for the king ("Ma dall'arido stelo divulsa"). As a distant bell tolls midnight, she is terrified by an apparition and prays to heaven for mercy. Gustav arrives, and unable to resist his ardent words, Amelia confesses she loves him (Duet: "Non sai tu che se l'anima mia") but quickly veils her face when her husband rushes in to warn the king to flee approaching assassins.

Gustav, fearing that Anckarström may discover Amelia's identity, leaves only after the Captain promises to escort her back to the city without lifting her veil. Finding Anckarström instead of their intended victim, the conspirators curse their luck. The husband draws his sword when they make insolent remarks about his veiled companion; to save her husband's life, Amelia raises her veil. While the conspirators laugh at this irony, Anckarström asks their two leaders to come to his house the next morning and Amelia laments her disgrace.

ACT III. Dragging Amelia into their home, Anckarström tells her that he intends to kill her; Amelia asks to see her young son before she dies ("Morrò, ma prima in grazia"). Granting her wish, Anckarström turns to a portrait of Gustav and exclaims that it is not on Amelia that he should seek vengeance, but on the king ("Eri tu"). He is interrupted by de Horn and Ribbing; now united in purpose, they cannot agree who should have the privilege of assassinating the king. Amelia returns just as the men prepare to draw lots. Forcing his wife to choose the fatal slip of paper from a vase, Anckarström rejoices when she draws his name. A moment later Oscar brings an invitation to a masked ball at the opera house. While the men hail this chance to execute their plan, Amelia plans to warn Gustav (Quintet: "Di che fulgor").

Alone in his apartment, Gustav resolves to renounce his love, and to send Amelia and Anckarström to Finland. ("Ma se m'è forza perdeti"). Oscar delivers a letter to the king from an unknown lady warning him of the murder plot. Not wanting his absence to be taken as a sign of cowardice, Gustav leaves for the masquerade. In the Royal Opera House ballroom, festivities are in progress. The three conspirators wander through the crowd trying to learn the disguise of the king. Anckarström, taking Oscar aside, tries to persuade the youth to reveal the king's identity and is successful only after the boy's playful evasions ("Saper vorreste"). Recognizing Amelia, Gustav speaks with her (Duet: "T'amo, sì, t'amo"); despite her repeated warning, he refuses to leave. Just as the lovers bid a final farewell, Anckarström, overhearing the last part of their conversation, plunges his dagger into the king. The dying Gustav forgives Anckarström, and admits he loved Amelia but assures the remorseful captain of his wife's innocence. The crowd bewails the loss of such a generous-hearted king.

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Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Gioachino Rossini


ACT I. Seville, 1800s. At night, Count Almaviva brings a band of musicians to serenade Rosina, ward of Dr. Bartolo, who keeps the girl confined in his house. When Rosina fails to answer his song, the count pays the players, and they leave. At the sound of Figaro's voice, Almaviva steps away as the barber bounds in, boasting of his busy life as the neighborhood factotum. Figaro, though currently in Bartolo's employ, encounters Almaviva and promises to help him win Rosina - for a suitable reward. No sooner has Bartolo left the house to arrange his own marriage with Rosina than Almaviva launches into a second serenade, calling himself "Lindoro," a poor creature who can offer only love. Figaro suggests Almaviva disguise himself as a drunken soldier billeted to Bartolo's house.

Alone in the house, Rosina muses on the voice that has touched her heart and resolves to outwit Bartolo. Figaro joins her, but they leave on hearing footsteps. Bartolo enters with the music master, Don Basilio, who tells him Almaviva is a rival for Rosina's hand and advises slandering the nobleman's reputation. Bartolo agrees, but Figaro overhears them. Warning Rosina that Bartolo plans to marry her himself the very next day, the barber promises to deliver a note she has written to "Lindoro." Rosina, alone with Bartolo, undergoes an interrogation, then listens to his boast that he is far too clever to be tricked. Berta, the housekeeper, answers violent knocking at the door, returning with Almaviva disguised as a drunken soldier in search of lodging. While arguing with Bartolo, Almaviva manages to slip a love letter to Rosina. But when Bartolo demands to see the letter, the girl substitutes a laundry list. Figaro dashes in to warn that their hubbub has attracted a crowd. Police arrive to silence the disturbance. As an officer is about to arrest him, Almaviva whispers his identity and is released. Rosina, Berta, Bartolo and Basilio are stupefied by everything that is happening.

ACT II. Bartolo receives a young music teacher, "Don Alonso" (again Almaviva in disguise), who claims to be a substitute for the ailing Basilio. Rosina enters, recognizes her suitor and begins her singing lesson as Bartolo dozes in his chair. Figaro arrives to shave the doctor and manages to steal the key to the balcony window. Basilio now comes in, looking the picture of health; bribed by Almaviva, he feigns illness and departs. Figaro shaves Bartolo while Almaviva and Rosina plan their elopement that night. They are overheard by the doctor, who drives Figaro and Almaviva from the house and Rosina to her room, then sends again for Basilio. Berta, unnerved by all the confusion, complains she is going mad. Bartolo dispatches Basilio for a notary, then tricks Rosina into believing "Lindoro" is really a flunky of Almaviva. After a thunderstorm, Almaviva arrives with Figaro and climbs through a balcony window to abduct Rosina. At first the girl rebuffs "Lindoro," but when he explains that he and Almaviva are one and the same, she falls into his arms. Figaro urges haste, but before they can leave, their ladder is taken away. Basilio enters with the notary. Though summoned to wed Rosina and Bartolo, the official marries her instead to Almaviva, who bribes Basilio. Rushing in too late, Bartolo finds the lovers already wed. When Almaviva allows him to keep Rosina's dowry, the old man accepts the situation.

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The Bartered Bride
Bedrich Smetana


ACT I: A small southern village in southern Bohemia is preparing to celebrate its spring feast day. The villagers are looking forward to a day of drinking and dancing, though the women complain that it is only the men who have a real rest from work, and there is some matrimonial bickering. They advise the young couple Marenka and Jeník not to rush headlong into marriage but, observing that they are unhappy, urge them to forget whatever is troubling them and join in the drinking and dancing. Marenka has been resisting Jeník's attempts to claim a kiss from her and tells him that she is unhappy because this feast day is the day that the marriage broker (Kecal) arrives to call on the family to remind her parents, Kruina and Ludmila, of the contract that Kruina signed many years ago. He agreed, as a way of giving a bond for debt, that his daughter should marry the son of his creditor, the landowner Tobia Mícha. In any case, her father couldn't consider Jeník as a suitor, as nothing is known of his parents or birthplace. The village has the small community's natural suspicion of strangers. Jeník is goaded by Marenka's doubting his fidelity into explaining that he was driven out of his father's prosperous farm by his stepmother, and that since then he has had to earn his living as an itinerant farmhand, sleeping in the straw loft above the stables. He speaks of the difference between a home and being homeless, and then he and Marenka promise one another that one day they will start a small farm of their own. This moment, as Jeník is about to succeed in kissing Marenka, is interrupted by the arrival of Kecal, the village marriage broker, with Marenka's parents, Kruina and Ludmila. Kecal insists on the letter of the contract and reminds Kruina that he has no choice in the matter and that Marenka must marry the son of Tobia Mícha. Marenka's mother, Ludmila, is reluctant and wants to know more about the boy that her daughter is being forced to marry through her husband's indebtedness. Kecal does his professional best to persuade them of the suitability of Vasek for their daughter, stressing his mild manner and reminding them of his money. Kecal is anxious to have the contract settled and earn his commission. When they confront Marenka, she stubbornly refuses to agree and says that she is already in love. Kecal boasts that he is a master of overcoming all obstacles and stresses that the contract is binding. As the feast day dancing begins to warm up, Kecal suggests that the two families meet to discuss things and assures Marenka's parents that a little cash will soon persuade the boy Marenka says she loves to give her up. The villagers dance a polka.

ACT II: The village inn. The men are well into the day's drinking and toast good beer as a great blessing and consolation in life. Jeník stands up for love as being better than any drink. Kecal, who has come in search of Jeník, argues that cash comes before either. The argument ends in a wild, drunken dance.

Vasek, the son of Tobia Mícha and Háta and the boy who is contracted to marry Marenka, stutters that his mother thinks it is high time he was married. He bumps into Marenka without realizing that she is the girl he is supposed to marry. Marenka tells Vasek how all the village pities him because Marenka is in love with someone else and that if she married him she would probably have him murdered. She also points out that there are many girls crazy about Vasek and that there is one girl desperately in love with him. She both coaxes and frightens Vasek into swearing that he will renounce Marenka as his bride-to-be.

Meanwhile Kecal tries to induce Jeník to renounce Marenka and offers him an alternative bride, one who comes with a dowry that would help Jeník realize his dream of making a new start in life with a small farm of his own. He also offers Jeník money. Finally Jeník agrees to "sell" Marenka for 300 crowns on condition that the contract plainly says that Marenka will marry no one but the son of Tobia Mícha. Kecal thinks he has succeeded in buying off Jeník. The latter sits among the young men and muses on the true value of love, a value beyond all thought of money. Kecal summons the village to witness the contract and tells them and Marenka's parents that he has bought Jeník off for 300 crowns. They are shocked at Jeník's mercenary callousness, and their old suspicion of the homeless stranger returns. In their indignation they drive Jeník out of the village.

ACT III: Vasek, alone, worries about being murdered and marvels at how dangerous courting girls has turned out to be. He is soon distracted by the arrival of the traveling circus. The Circus Barker drums up trade by announcing the wonderful attractions he has to offer the village on its feast day, and the troupe, to draw a crowd, perform some of their tricks and dances. Esmeralda, the gypsy tightrope walker and dancer, flirts with the susceptible Vasek. Then the "Red Indian" enters breathlessly to tell the Circus Barker that Franta, who is the man who fits into the bearskin, is too drunk to stand, let alone to perform the "Bear Dance." They notice Vasek, who happens to be the right size for the bearskin, talking to Esmeralda and tell her to use her seductive charms as bait to induce Vasek to play the bear, to which, after much inducement, he finally agrees. His mother Háta finds him looking despondent and brooding about his day's strange experience with girls. Háta tells him to be cheerful and remember that today is the day he is to meet Marenka, his future bride. He tells his parents and the marriage broker that he won't marry Marenka because she's planning to have him murdered, but when Marenka arrives, he sees that she is the pretty girl he met earlier in the day and gladly agrees to marry her. Marenka, who has to be shown the contract to be convinced of Jeník's treachery and shameful deal, asks to be left alone to think. She remembers the dream that is now shattered. Jeník enters, eager to tell her that now he has some money to start the farm, but Marenka simply forces him to admit that he has sold her. Jeník is exasperated by her stubborn refusal to let him explain. Kecal's arrival with cash and contract only adds proof to Jeník's confession and makes Marenka even angrier and more tearful. Jeník even offers to persuade her to marry the son of Tobia Mícha if Kecal will give him more money. He tells Marenka she is going to be happy in her new life and that Mícha's son loves her very much. Kecal wants the matter finally settled and calls in the two families. Jeník hides a while and then reappears. As soon as he does, Mícha recognizes his long-lost elder son, and Háta the stepson she had driven out of the house years ago. Jeník says that as the contract assigns Marenka to the son of Tobia Mícha, she is rightfully his and he has come to claim her and his rightful share of his father's farm and land. Kecal realizes that he, of all people, has been outwitted. The village begins to mock him, but he leaves pouring scorn on them all, and on love. Suddenly there is a commotion. The circus "bear" has escaped. The "bear" turns out to be Vasek. Everyone laughs except his mother, who chases him home. Mícha agrees to give Jeník his rightful share of the farm and land, embraces his son, and blesses both his son and his bride-to-be. The village gathers round to toast the "bartered" bride. The couple kiss and seal their betrothal.

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Benvenuto Cellini
Hector Berlioz


ACT I. Pope Clement VII wants to be known as a generous art benefactor and collector. The prelate has commissioned Benvenuto Cellini, a hot blooded but brilliant Florentine sculptor and goldsmith, to create a statue of Perseus killing the Medusa. The Pope's treasurer, Balducci, mistrusts Cellini, preferring a local (and mediocre) sculptor, Fieramosca, to whom he has promised his beautiful daughter, Teresa, who in turn is in love with Cellini.

It is carnival time. Teresa watches the masked revelers from her window and hopes to catch a glimpse of her lover, Cellini. Though Balducci is suspicious, he hurries off to see the Pope. He feels threatened by the rebellious "bandit of genius" Cellini, and intends to persuade the Pope to support the safe and submissive Fieramosca instead of him.

Teresa is a dutiful daughter and is worried to suddenly discover Cellini in the house. Between fear and hope, the two sing of their love for each other and their disdain for Fieramosca, little realizing that the latter has also stolen into the house and is eavesdropping on them. Cellini reveals his plan to elope with Teresa to Florence: Balducci is to attend the theater and while he watches the play, Cellini and his apprentice Ascanio, disguised as monks, will abduct Teresa. Though she fears angering her father, Teresa agrees to the plan. The spying Fieramosca overhears and vows to thwart them.

When Balducci returns unexpectedly Cellini escapes but Fieramosca is discovered hiding in the house. Balducci refuses to hear any excuses and calls the neighbors and servants to punish the intruder. A group of women in their nightgowns unleash their fury on Fieramosca, who, for a moment feels like "Orpheus pursued by the Bacchantes."

Cellini muses on this new feeling: for the first time love has supplanted his desire for art and fame.

At the inn, Cellini's friends and fellow metalworkers drink to the glory of their "divine art" until the Innkeeper comes to settle the tab. Just in time, Ascanio arrives with Cellini's commission for the bronze statue of Perseus which must be cast the next day. Thanks to Balducci the funding is much smaller than expected. Infuriated, Cellini instructs the actors to mock Balducci in the commedia he will soon be attending.

Fieramosca vows to reveal to Balducci Cellini's plan to elope with Teresa, but his friend Pompeo advises him to steal the plan instead. They will disguise themselves as monks and abduct the girl.

Balducci and his daughter arrive at the Carnival, where the play will be presented. Although Balducci hates the theater, he is accompanying his daughter as a favor. The players exhort the Roman spectators to watch their commedia, which, at Cellini's instigation, pokes fun at the Papal treasurer. Feeling sorry for her father, Teresa begs him to leave, but Balducci angrily insists on staying to the end. When Balducci can take no more he attacks the players who are mocking him and in the hubbub both sets of false monks fall upon Teresa, then upon each other. Cellini stabs Pompeo and is arrested. Just when all appears lost, a cannon is fired from the Castel Sant'Angelo, signaling curfew and the end of Mardi Gras. All candles and lights are extinguished, and in the darkness and confusion Cellini escapes and Fieramosca is mistakenly arrested and accused of murder.

ACT II. Early the next morning Teresa and Ascanio look for Cellini in his atelier, hoping in vain to find him hiding there. Hearing the chant of monks in procession, they feel inspired to pray for Cellini's safe return. Cellini enters and recounts his tormented night and miraculous escape. Teresa and Cellini see their reunion as a sign of God's blessings and vow never to be parted and to flee together to Florence. Ascanio tries in vain to remind Cellini of his duty to cast the statue of Perseus. "To hell with the statue!" says the sculptor. The lovers sing of the happiness that awaits them, free, in the mountains, away from the materialistic world, but their flight is cut short by Balducci, who bursts in with Fieramosca, ordering him to take his "wife" home. At this point the Pope unexpectedly appears. His mind is on the statue, and finding out it is not ready yet, furiously decides to let somebody else cast it. Cellini is outraged and would rather die than let another-may he be Michelangelo himself-finish his work. The Pope orders the guards to arrest him, but Cellini grabs a hammer and threatens to destroy the mold of the statue if the Pope does not grant his wishes. The Pope, who cares more about his statue than anything, has to give in and grants Cellini an unconditional pardon, as well as Teresa's hand and time to cast Perseus. But, having the sculptor off guard with all these promises, he delivers the surprising condition attached to them: the statue has to be ready in one hour, or else he will be hanged.

Cellini has set up an immense foundry. The tension is at its peak. To fight his fears, Ascanio laughs and sings. Cellini feels the eyes of Rome upon him and wishes he could live the simple life of a shepherd, free from the worries and pressure that an artist has to go through to please his benefactors. But there is not much time for daydreaming. Ascanio and Cellini are rallying workmen to prepare bronze for the casting. Accompanied by swordsmen, Fieramosca enters. Under the pretext of asking satisfaction from Cellini and provoking him to a duel outside, he plans to take advantage of the sculptor's absence to bribe the workers against their master. The moment is favorable because the workers, dissatisfied with their low wages, just went on strike. But Teresa turns the plan to Cellini's advantage and the workers turn on Fieramosca, thinking that he killed their master. To their surprise, Cellini returns and orders the workmen to dress Fieramosca in an apron and put him to work. Fieramosca happily submits to this punishment.

The Pope and Balducci come to watch the casting; both are skeptical about the success. Fieramosca bursts in asking for more metal saying there is not enough to complete the job. In a creative inspiration, Cellini orders his apprentices to sacrifice all his previous works-statues and jewels-in order to save the casting. The workers redouble their efforts, but the overloaded crucible explodes. For a moment, it seems all is lost. Then the bronze begins to flow.

The casting is successful. Fieramosca is overcome by emotion and embraces his rival, Balducci suddenly changes his mind and willingly hands Teresa to Cellini, and the Pope pardons Cellini. Art has triumphed and everyone sings its praise.

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Betrothal in a Monastery
Sergei Prokofiev

ACT I, Scene 1: Don Jerome, a grandee of Seville, is talking animatedly with the rich and elderly fish merchant Isaac Mendoza about their shared dream of cornering the fish trade. They make an agreement which is to be sealed by Mendoza's marriage to Don Jerome's young daughter, Louisa, whose great beauty is described to him by Don Jerome. As they part each expresses his pleasure with the deal that has just been made.

Don Jerome's son, Ferdinand, returns home lamenting that he is desperately in love with the proud beauty Clara. Ferdinand's friend Antonio, who is in love with Louisa, comes to serenade her. Ferdinand first considers chasing him away, but relents believing that this will prevent Antonio from going off to serenade Clara. When Louisa hears Antonio's song she steps out onto her balcony to join him. Don Jerome suddenly appears, interrupting the couple, but Antonio has already vanished. As carnival revelers dance around the old man, he bemoans his difficulties with his teenage daughter and hopes that he can marry her off to Mendoza as quickly as possible.

Scene 2: Louisa and her Duenna are plotting how to outwit Louisa's father and Mendoza. Antonio is poor and Don Jerome will never allow his daughter to marry him. The Duenna is happy to help the couple since she herself dreams of marrying Mendoza and becoming rich. When Louisa asks her to hide a love letter from Antonio, the Duenna sees a perfect opportunity to plot against Don Jerome. Don Jerome enters, first scolding Ferdinand for disappearing at night, and then Louisa for allowing Antonio to serenade her. When Louisa refuses to marry Mendoza and Ferdinand sides with her, the argument grows more heated. Don Jerome threatens to lock Louisa in her room until she agrees to marry whomever he chooses. Louisa storms off, followed by her father, while Ferdinand worries about his beloved Clara.

The Duenna rushes on followed by Don Jerome, who is trying to wrest the letter from her. Grabbing the incriminating letter, he berates her for delivering love-letters to Louisa. When their argument escalates to a shouting match, the old man dismisses the Duenna and she goes to Louisa's room to collect her things. Louisa then comes out, disguised in the Duenna's cape, hood, and veil. Pretending to cry and hiding her face with a handkerchief she makes her way to the front door, which Don Jerome opens for the supposed "Duenna" before pushing her into the street.

ACT II, Scene 1: Mendoza and his impoverished friend Don Carlos are on the waterfront watching the fishwives sell their goods from Mendoza's barges.

Clara, in the company of her maid Rosina, meets up with Louisa who is searching for Antonio. Both girls discover that they have each run away from home: Louisa has decided to elope with Antonio, and Clara has fled from her wicked stepmother. Louisa assumes that Clara is now in search of her brother, Ferdinand, but Clara tells her that she has been offended by Ferdinand because he entered her room at night with a key he had duplicated. She has decided to flee to the Convent of Saint Catherine where she has friends among the nuns. When Louisa catches sight of Mendoza she asks Clara if she can temporarily borrow her identity. The real Clara agrees and departs.

The self-assured Mendoza thinks this pretty young girl, who calls herself Donna Clara d'Almanza, is in love with him. When she asks him to carry a message to Antonio he is at first outraged, then remembers that Antonio has been chasing after his fiancée, Louisa, and decides that this development might work to his advantage. He tells Don Carlos to take "Donna Clara d'Almanza" to his home while he goes off to visit Louisa at Don Jerome's house. Louisa hears the vendors hawking fish from "Signor Mendoza's barge" and realizes that the presumed "nobleman" Mendoza is just a fishmonger!

Scene 2: Mendoza tells Don Jerome that Clara has run away from home, and the two laugh at her foolish father. Don Jerome sends his servant, Lauretta, to bring Louisa, who refuses to come out of her room while her father is there. After Don Jerome exits, the Duenna appears, dressed as Louisa. At first Mendoza is polite, although scandalized by her appearance. She flatters him by praising his looks, and then sings him a song. Mendoza begins to think that Don Jerome's daughter is not all that bad--above all, she is clever and rich. Mendoza asks for her hand, but the Duenna coquettishly refuses. She suggests that if he elopes with her it will be more romantic. They work out a plan and imagine the carriage that will carry them off in the dark.

When Don Jerome's footsteps are heard the Duenna quickly exits. Don Jerome and Mendoza share a bottle of champagne to celebrate how well everything is going.

Scene 3: The disguised Louisa has been awaiting Antonio's arrival in Mendoza's house for several hours. The kindly Don Carlos tries to converse with her, but she is impatient. Mendoza and Antonio enter, but Antonio cannot understand why Clara, his friend's fiancée, would ask to see him. The laughing Mendoza pushes him into the room where "Clara" is waiting. Mendoza's curiosity gets the best of him, and he spies through the keyhole in spite of Don Carlos' protests.

When "Clara" and Antonio appear, Mendoza tells him of his plan to elope with Don Jerome's daughter. As the three celebrate their good fortune Don Carlos recalls the great love of his life who broke his heart.

ACT III, Scene 1: Don Jerome enjoys making music in the afternoon: he plays the clarinet; his friend, the coronet; and his servant, Sancho, the drum. Don Jerome is amazed that his daughter has decided to elope with the very man he had chosen to be her husband. Don Carlos arrives with a letter from Mendoza asking for forgiveness and his blessing to marry "Louisa". Don Jerome gives his permission for them to marry, then the trio continues to practice a minuet.

Suddenly, a young boy runs with a letter from Louisa asking his permission to marry. He sends his blessing, orders a wedding banquet for that evening, and returns to his clarinet.

Scene 2: Clara, now dressed as a nun, wanders sadly in the garden of the convent and is soon joined by Louisa and Antonio, who are eagerly awaiting an answer from Don Jerome. When the young boy arrives with Don Jerome's reply, the overjoyed couple decide to marry at once.

Disconsolate, Clara is once again left alone. Ferdinand appears--he has heard rumors of a romance between Clara and Antonio, and he has come looking for his treacherous friend in order to punish him. When he sees Antonio in the distance with a woman on his arm whom he assumes to be Clara, he goes into a rage and rushes off. Realizing that Ferdinand really does love her, Clara races after him.

Scene 3: The monks are having an uproarious time in their monastery, drinking wine, singing songs, and toasting the inhabitants of the neighboring Convent of Saint Catherine. When two rich gentlemen are announced, the bottles and mugs quickly disappear, and the monks pull out psalters and begin to chant. Antonio and Mendoza have come to request the help of the Brothers. They are greeted by the dour Father Superior, who issues them an angry sermon, but when a purse of ducats appears, his anger turns into kindness. Louisa runs in, followed by Ferdinand, who is prepared to fight Antonio.

Ferdinand sees the real Clara dressed as a nun standing in the doorway. As Louisa and Clara stop the fight the Duenna appears. The Father Superior blesses all three couples and leads them into the chapel to be married.

Scene 4: Don Jerome awaits the newlyweds impatiently in the ballroom which has been readied for the wedding banquet. Mendoza arrives saying that Louisa is trembling at the door and is afraid to enter her father's house.

Don Jerome embraces the Duenna, and only after Louisa and Antonio appear, followed by Ferdinand and Clara, does Mendoza realize that he has been fooled. When the Duenna assures Mendoza that she is his lawfully wedded wife, he runs away cursing her. When the two young couples ask Don Jerome's blessings he reasons that while Antonio is poor, Clara is rich, and he hasn't lost anything in the bargain. He gives his blessings as the guests assemble for the wedding banquet.

As the guests congratulate the newlyweds Don Jerome exclaims, "Wise is the father who understands his children."

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Billy Budd
Benjamin Britten


PROLOGUE: Captain Vere, as an old man, looks back on his life at sea and the mysterious workings of good and evil. In memory he evokes...

ACT I: ...the H.M.S. Indomitable during the French Wars of 1797. Early in the morning, the crew goes about its work. A cutter dispatched to board a passing merchantman returns with three impressed sailors. One of these is Billy Budd, a handsome, open-hearted young man whose only failing is a stammer in moments of stress. Shouting a farewell to his old ship, Rights of Man, Billy is misunderstood by the officers, who instruct Claggart, the Master-at-arms, to see that an eye is kept on the new recruit. Claggart orders his corporal, Squeak, to provoke Billy. The old seaman Dansker warns Billy about Claggart, but the innocent boy can see no evil in him.

In Vere's cabin a week later, the officers discuss recent mutinies at Spithead and the Nore and agree that extra vigilance must be maintained.

That same evening, the men sing chanties on the berth-deck. Billy discovers Squeak rummaging through his things and attacks him. Claggart, seeing his agitator has bungled things, has him clapped in irons and gagged, but once the men are asleep he seeks Billy's destruction. He gets the Novice, whose spirit has been broken by a flogging, to try to bribe Billy to lead a mutiny. The Novice's efforts only rouse Billy's ire. Their scuffle awakens Dansker, who again warns Billy to beware of Claggart.

ACT II: Some days later, the officers and crew are impatient to come to grips with the enemy, but the ship is becalmed and shrouded in thick mist. Claggart starts to put to Vere his case against Billy as a mutineer, but a French sail is sighted and the air begins to clear. Vere issues orders to give chase, and the men eagerly prepare for battle. A shot is tried but falls short; the wind drops, and the mist returns to put an end to the pursuit. Claggart approaches Vere once more with his complaint against Billy. Vere refuses to believe him and sends for Billy to confront his accuser.

Vere, in his cabin, is sure of Billy's innocence, but when Claggart repeats his charges in front of Billy, the boy becomes so upset that his stammer chokes him and he strikes out at Claggart, killing him on the spot. Vere, shaken, summons his officers. As he waits for them, he realizes that though Billy is innocent of murderous intent, an indictment will have to be made. When the other officers arrive, a drumhead court is constituted. Frustrated by Vere's refusal to influence the verdict one way or another, and realizing that naval law requires hanging as the penalty for striking and killing a superior, the officers reluctantly condemn Billy.
Shortly before dawn the following morning, Billy, in irons, accepts his fate and refuses to encourage Dansker, who reports a threatened mutiny.
Shortly thereafter, before the entire company, Billy is sentenced. He blesses Vere and is hanged.

EPILOGUE: Vere, again as an old man, remembers Billy's blessing and is comforted.

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La Bohème
Giacomo Puccini


ACT I. Paris, Christmas Eve, c. 1830. In their Latin Quarter garret, the painter Marcello and poet Rodolfo try to keep warm by burning pages from Rodolfo's latest drama. They are joined by their comrades — Colline, a young philosopher, and Schaunard, a musician who has landed a job and brings food, fuel and funds. But while they celebrate their unexpected fortune, the landlord, Benoit, arrives to collect the rent. Plying the older man with wine, they urge him to tell of his flirtations, then throw him out in mock indignation. As the friends depart for a celebration at the nearby Café Momus, Rodolfo promises to join them soon, staying behind to finish writing an article. There is another knock: a neighbor, Mimì, says her candle has gone out on the drafty stairs. Offering her wine when she feels faint, Rodolfo relights her candle and helps her to the door. Mimì realizes she has dropped her key, and as the two search for it, both candles are blown out. In the moonlight the poet takes the girl's shivering hand, telling her his dreams. She then recounts her solitary life, embroidering flowers and waiting for spring. Drawn to each other, Mimì and Rodolfo leave for the café.

ACT II. Amid shouts of street hawkers, Rodolfo buys Mimì a bonnet near the Café Momus before introducing her to his friends. They all sit down and order supper. A toy vendor, Parpignol, passes by, besieged by children. Marcello's former lover, Musetta, enters ostentatiously on the arm of the elderly, wealthy Alcindoro. Trying to regain the painter's attention, she sings a waltz about her popularity. Complaining that her shoe pinches, Musetta sends Alcindoro to fetch a new pair, then falls into Marcello's arms. Joining a group of marching soldiers, the Bohemians leave Alcindoro to face the bill when he returns.

ACT III. At dawn on the snowy outskirts of Paris, a Customs Officer admits farm women to the city. Musetta and revelers are heard inside a tavern. Soon Mimì walks by, searching for the place where the reunited Marcello and Musetta now live. When the painter emerges, she pours out her distress over Rodolfo's incessant jealousy. It is best they part, she says. Rodolfo, who has been asleep in the tavern, is heard, and Mimì hides; Marcello thinks she has left. The poet tells Marcello he wants to separate from his fickle sweetheart. Pressed further, he breaks down, saying Mimì is dying; her ill health can only worsen in the poverty they share. Overcome, Mimì stumbles forward to bid her lover farewell as Marcello runs back into the tavern to investigate Musetta's raucous laughter. While Mimì and Rodolfo recall their happiness, Musetta quarrels with Marcello. The painter and his mistress part in fury, but Mimì and Rodolfo decide to stay together until spring.

ACT IV. Some months later, Rodolfo and Marcello lament their loneliness in the garret. Colline and Schaunard bring a meager meal. The four stage a dance, which turns into a mock fight. The merrymaking is ended when Musetta bursts in, saying Mimì is downstairs, too weak to climb up. As Rodolfo runs to her, Musetta tells how Mimì has begged to be taken to her lover to die. While Mimì is made comfortable, Marcello goes with Musetta to sell her earrings for medicine, and Colline leaves to pawn his cherished overcoat. Alone, Mimì and Rodolfo recall their first days together, but she is seized with coughing. When the others return, Musetta gives Mimì a muff to warm her hands and prays for her life. Mimì dies quietly, and when Schaunard discovers she is dead, Rodolfo runs to her side, calling her name.

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Boris Godunov
Modest Mussorgsky


PROLOGUE: At the instigation of the Boyars, headed by Shuisky, Russian peasants are forced by police into demonstrating for Boris Godunov's ascension to the vacant throne of Russia. Shchelkalov, Secretary of the Duma (Council of Boyars), appears at the monastery doorway to announce that Boris still refuses and that Russia is doomed. A procession of pilgrims passes, praying to God for help.

Amidst cheering crowds, the great bells of Moscow herald the coronation of Boris. As the procession leaves the cathedral, Boris appears in triumph. Haunted by a strange foreboding, he prays for God's blessing. Addressing his people, he invites them all to the feast, as the crowd resumes rejoicing.

ACT I: The old monk Pimen is finishing a history of Russia. Young Grigory, a novice, awakes and describes to Pimen his nightmare in which he climbed a lofty tower and viewed the swarming multitude of Muscovites below who mocked him until he stumbled and fell. Pimen tells Grigory that fasting and prayer bring peace of mind, and compares the quiet solitude of the cloister to the outside world of sin and idle pleasure. Grigory questions Pimen about the dead Tsarevich Dimitri, legal heir to the Russian throne; Pimen recounts how Boris ordered the boy's murder. Left alone, Grigory condemns Boris and his crime and decides to leave the cloister.

Three guests interrupt the innkeeper's ballad: two drunken monks-Varlaam and Missail-and the disguised Grigory, who is being pursued by the police for escaping from the monastery. Now considering it his mission to expose Boris, Grigory is attempting flight to Lithuania, where he will assemble forces and, proclaiming himself the Tsarevich Dimitri, claim the Russian throne. Varlaam passes the time with a song about the Siege of Kazan and dozes off. The innkeeper tells them that the road is blocked by sentries, whereupon one enters with a warrant for Grigory's arrest. Since the police officer cannot read, Grigory reads the warrant for him, pretending it describes Varlaam rather than himself. But when Varlaam reads the true description, Grigory escapes by leaping through a window and crossing into Lithuania.

ACT II: Boris' daughter Xenia laments the death of her betrothed and is comforted by her nurse. Boris enters and, studying a map of Russia, tells Feodor, his son, that one day he will rule. Left alone, he ponders the fears that haunt his dreams. Feodor interrupts his torment and is sent away. The Boyar announces the arrival of Prince Shuisky, who has come with word from Poland of a Pretender to the Russian throne, supported by the Polish aristocracy and the Pope. When Boris is told the Pretender claims to be Dimitri, the Tsarevich whom Boris ordered killed at Uglich, he asks how a buried child can march on the Tsar. He promises to forgive Shuisky, whom he loathes and distrusts, all his former acts of treason if he will answer truthfully whether or not the real Dimitri was indeed killed at Uglich. Assuring the Tsar that he was, the wily Shuisky is dismissed. The clock begins to strike as Boris gives way to his terror, imagining that he sees Dimitri's ghost. Stricken with remorse, he begs God's forgiveness for his crime.

ACT III: The proud, ambitious Marina Mnishek, daughter of the Lord of Sandomir, muses how she will win the hand of the Pretender Dimitri, through whom she hopes to realize her plans of ascending to the throne of Russia. She is interrupted by the Jesuit Rangoni, who forces her to submit to his will. She is to seduce Dimitri for the good of the Catholic Church and convert the heathen Russians to Catholicism.

As Dimitri wanders through the gardens hoping Marina will remember his love for her, Rangoni appears and reassures Dimitri of Marina's love, despite the insults she has had to endure on his account. Rangoni then urges him to withdraw as the guests assemble to watch a polonaise. Soon Dimitri and Marina are left alone. Marina cold-heartedly shuns his protestations of love until she is certain of his determination to become Tsar. Marina and Dimitri then swear their love and dream of glory.

ACT IV: The starving peasants, now disenchanted with Boris, argue whether or not Tsarevich Dimitri still lives, as news reaches them that his troops are near. A group of urchins runs in, tormenting a Simpleton, and steal his only kopeck. Boris and his retinue enter distributing alms; the Simpleton asks Boris to kill the boys the way he killed Dimitri. Shuddering, Boris nonetheless protects the Simpleton from Shuisky's order that he be arrested. Referring to him as a holy man, Boris asks the Simpleton to pray for him, but the Simpleton refuses to intercede with heaven for a murderer. He sadly bewails Russia's dark future.

In response to Boris' message to the Duma that the false Dimitri presumes to dethrone him and claims the Boyars will support him, the Duma discusses how the false Dimitri should be caught and put to death. Arriving late, Shuisky rushes in with the astonishing account of how last night he accidentally observed Boris' frenzied mental anguish and imagined apparition of the murdered Dimitri. Still in a state of delirium, Boris now enters the hall and announces that Shuisky will be hanged for spreading such lies. Shuisky diverts Boris by saying that Pimen is waiting outside for an audience with the Tsar, to which Boris, regaining his composure, agrees. Pimen's story is intended to assure Boris that Tsarevich Dimitri is truly dead; instead it causes him to sink further into despair. Realizing that he is about to die, Boris dismisses the nobles and sends for his son, bidding the boy a moving farewell and naming him heir to the throne.

The peasants seize Khruschov, a Boyar, jeer at his rank, and ask how he likes being treated the way poor Russians have been abused by Boris. Varlaam and Missail arrive, proclaiming Boris' guilt; the people vow to follow Dimitri and kill Boris. Two unlucky Jesuits, Lavitsky and Chernikovsky, appear and the crowd seizes them for hanging. Then the Pretender Dimitri approaches in triumph with his army. Amid cheers of "Long live our sovereign Dimitri Ivanovich!," he pardons Khrushchov and calls for the people to follow him in his march to Moscow. Only the Simpleton remains, lamenting poor Russia's uncertain fate.

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Capriccio
Richard Strauss


PART I: The birthday of the young, widowed Countess, Madeleine, is to be celebrated. Flamand, a composer, and Olivier, a poet, are listening to the rehearsal of Flamand's sextet, written for the occasion, while a theater director, La Roche, is asleep. While listening, Flamand and Olivier discover that they are both in love with the Countess. What will impress her more -- Flamand's music or Olivier's poetry? Prima la musica, dopo le parole, or prima le parole, dopo la musica? They agree to let the Countess decide. La Roche awakens and joins the argument. Neither poetry nor music, he says, is the greatest of the arts. His own, the art of theatrical production, overshadows them both and uses them as its servants. He believes in entertainment -- splendid decor, top notes, beautiful women, such as the actress Clairon, who had recently had an affair with Olivier. La Roche reveals that she is on her way to the château to play opposite the Count in Olivier's play. Flamand, Olivier and La Roche leave to prepare for the rehearsal in the theater, and the Count and Countess enter. They engage in a discussion about the relative merits of music and poetry. The Count admits that music leaves him cold, that words will always be superior to music. He teases his sister about her interest in the composer Flamand. She, in turn, brings up the name of Clairon. He admits he is interested in the actress, but praises a life of quickly-won, quickly-lost attachments. The Countess longs for lasting love. La Roche and his protégés return. Clairon arrives for the rehearsal. She and the Count read a scene from Olivier's play which ends with the Count's declamation of a passionate sonnet. He is congratulated, and La Roche leads them both off to rehearsal, leaving Flamand and Olivier alone with the Countess. Olivier remarks that the Count addressed the sonnet to the wrong person, it was written for the Countess, and he recites it again to her. Flamand rushes off to set it to music. In his absence, Olivier declares his love. Flamand returns to sing the sonnet he has just set. Olivier and Flamand quarrel about the true authorship of the sonnet, but the Countess decides the issue: it is now hers! La Roche takes Olivier away to rehearsal, and Flamand in his turn is able to declare his love to the Countess. He asks her to decide: music or poetry, Flamand or Olivier? The Countess promises that he shall have the answer the next morning at eleven o'clock. Flamand rushes out in great excitement, leaving the Countess alone with her thoughts and the sounds of the rehearsal next door. She orders refreshments for the company.

PART II: The rehearsal over, the participants return. The Count and his sister discuss the progress of their love affairs. While refreshments are served, La Roche introduces some dancers who perform for the company. Flamand and Olivier resume their argument of words versus music. The others join in. The Count ridicules opera -- all opera! La Roche introduces a pair of Italian singers who perform a duet. Then he tells of the spectacle he has planned for the Count's birthday -- "The Birth of Pallas Athene" and "The Fall of Carthage." The company make cruel fun of his grandiose and traditional ideas, while the Italian singers worry whether they will be paid and stuff themselves with food. La Roche finally gets a chance to speak for himself and bitterly attacks his attackers, expressing his intense faith in the theater. He wants drama to show human beings in all their aspects as creatures of flesh and blood, and orders Flamand and Olivier to create good new works that speak for their time. His listeners are deeply moved and, as a sign of their reconciliation, Olivier and Flamand agree to write an opera. The Count has a very original idea: write an opera on the events of that very day at the château, depicting the company as its characters. The suggestion is accepted by everyone, and the company breaks up. Eight servants enter and tidy up the now deserted room, commenting on the events of the afternoon from their point of view -- "backstage" as they put it -- for isn't the whole world playing at theater? The major domo gives them the night off. Then appears Monsieur Taupe, the prompter, who had fallen asleep during the rehearsal. He tells the major domo that, in fact, he is the most important person in the theater because without him the show couldn't go on. But now he has been left behind. The major domo offers to help in his predicament. The Countess enters followed by the major domo who gives her two messages: that her brother will not be at home for dinner that evening, and that Olivier will call the next morning at eleven to hear from her the ending of the opera. The Countess exclaims that since the sonnet, the composer and the poet are fated to be inseparable -- now they will both wait on her tomorrow at the same time! She sings two verses of the sonnet to herself. Which of the two men does she love? After an agony of indecision and self searching, she gazes at herself in the mirror and comes to realize that she cannot make the choice which would give the opera an ending. The major domo solves the problem by announcing that dinner is served.

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Carmen
Georges Bizet

ACT I: Corporal Moralès and the soldiers while away the time watching the passers-by, among whom is Micaëla, a peasant girl from Navarre. She asks Moralès if he knows Don José, and is told that he is a corporal in another platoon expected shortly to relieve the present guard. Avoiding their invitation to step inside the guardroom, Micaëla escapes. A trumpet call heralds the approach not only of the relief guard but also of a gang of street urchins imitating their drill. As the guards are changed, Moralès tells José that a girl is looking for him. Zuniga, the lieutenant in command of the new guard, questions Corporal José about the tobacco factory. A stranger in Seville, Zuniga is apprehensive of the dangerous atmosphere of the locale.

The factory bell rings and the men of Seville gather round the female workers as they return after their lunch break. The gypsy Carmen is awaited with anticipation. When the men gather round her, she tells them love obeys no known laws (Habañera: "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle"). Only one man pays no attention to her - Don José. Carmen throws a flower at him. The women go back into the factory and the crowd disperses.

Micaëla returns, bringing news of José's mother. She has sent Micaëla, who lives with her, to give him a letter ("Parle-moi de ma mère"). José feels that his mother is protecting him from afar. When he starts to read her letter, Micaëla runs off in embarrassment since it suggests that he marry her. At the moment that he decides to obey, a fight is heard from within the factory. The girls stream out with sharply conflicting accounts of what has occurred, but it is certain that Carmen and one of her fellow workers quarreled and that the other girl was wounded. Carmen, led out by José, refuses to answer any of Zuniga's questions. José is ordered to tie her up and take her to prison. Carmen entices him to go dancing at Lillas Pastia's tavern outside the walls of Seville (Séguedille: "Près des remparts de Séville"). Mesmerized, José agrees to help her escape. He unties the rope and, as they leave for prison, Carmen slips away. Don José is arrested.

ACT II: Carmen and her friends Frasquita and Mercédès entertain Zuniga and other officers ("Les tringles des sistres tintaient"). Zuniga tells Carmen that José has been released this very day. A torchlight procession in honor of the bullfighter Escamillo is heard, and the officers invite him in. He describes the excitements of his profession, in particular the amorous rewards that follow a successful bullfight (Toreador's Song: "Votre toast"). Escamillo then propositions Carmen, but she replies that she is engaged for the moment. He says he will wait. Carmen refuses to leave with Zuniga, who threatens to return later.

When the company has departed, the smugglers Dancaïre and Remendado enter. They have business in hand for which their regular female accomplices are essential ("Nous avons en tête une affaire"). Frasquita and Mercédès are game, but Carmen refuses to leave Seville: she is in love. Her friends are incredulous. José's song is heard in the distance. ("Dragon d'Alcala"). The smugglers withdraw. Carmen tells José that she has been dancing for his officers. When he reacts jealously, she agrees to entertain him alone (Finale: "Je vais danser en votre honneur"). Bugles are heard sounding the retreat. José says that he must return to barracks. Stupefied, Carmen mocks him, but he answers by producing the flower she threw and telling her how its faded scent sustained his love during the long weeks in prison (Flower Song: "La fleur que tu m'avais jetée"). But she replies that he doesn't love her; if he did he would desert and join her in a life of freedom in the mountains. When, torn with doubts, he finally refuses, she dismisses him contemptuously. As he leaves, Zuniga bursts in. In jealous rage José attacks him. The smugglers return, separate them, and put Zuniga under temporary constraint ("Bel officier"). José now has no choice but to desert and join the smugglers.

ACT III: The gang enters with contraband and pauses for a brief rest while Dancaïre and Remendado go on a reconnaissance mission. Carmen and José quarrel, and José gazes regretfully down to the valley where his mother is living. Carmen advises him to join her. The women turn the cards to tell their fortunes: Frasquita and Mercédès foresee rich and gallant lovers, but Carmen's cards spell death, for her and for José. She accepts the prophecy (Card Song: "En vain pour éviter les réponses amères"). Remendado and Dancaïre return announcing that customs officers are guarding the pass: Carmen, Frasquita, and Mercédès know how to deal with them ("Quant au douanier"). All depart. Micaëla appears, led by a mountaineer. She says that she fears nothing so much as meeting the woman who has turned the man she once loved into a criminal ("Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante"). But she hurries away in fear when a shot rings out. It is José firing at an intruder, who turns out to be Escamillo, transporting bulls to Seville ("Je suis Escamillo"). When he refers to the soldier whom Carmen once loved, José reveals himself and they fight. Carmen and the smugglers return and separate them. Escamillo invites everyone, especially Carmen, to be his guests at the next bullfight in Seville. José is at the end of his tether. Micaëla is discovered, and she begs José to go with her to his mother but he furiously refuses ("Dût-il m'en couter la vie"). Micaëla then reveals that his mother is dying. José promises Carmen that they will meet again. As José and Micaëla leave, Escamillo is heard singing in the distance.

ACT IV: Among the excited crowd cheering the bullfighters are Frasquita and Mercédès. Carmen enters on Escamillo's arm ("Si tu m'aimes"). Frasquita and Mercédès warn Carmen that José has been seen in the crowd. She says that she is not afraid. José enters. He implores her to forget the past and start a new life with him. She tells him calmly that everything between them is over. She will never give in: she was born free and free she will die. While the crowd is heard cheering Escamillo, José tries to prevent Carmen from joining her new lover. Carmen finally loses her temper, takes from her finger the ring that José once gave her, and throws it at his feet. José stabs her, and then confesses to the murder of the woman he loved.

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Cavalleria Rusticana
Pietro Mascagni


A Sicilian village, c. 1890. Early on Easter morning, Turiddu sings about his former beloved, Lola, now the wife of a wine carter, Alfio. As the town stirs, Santuzza, Turiddu's neglected sweetheart, comes looking for the handsome youth at the tavern of his mother, Lucia. The girl reveals she has been excommunicated, but before she can explain why, Alfio comes by with friends, boasting about his pretty young wife. A religious procession fills the square and enters the church for mass, leaving Santuzza to tell Mamma Lucia that Turiddu has taken up with Lola again. When the old woman has gone to mass, Santuzza confronts Turiddu with his betrayal. Lola passes by, and Turiddu follows her into church. Santuzza hurls a curse after him, then, consumed by jealousy, tells Alfio of Lola's infidelity. Santuzza immediately feels remorse, but the damage is done.

When the mass ends, Turiddu and the villagers drink wine, after which Alfio insults Turiddu, who accepts a challenge to duel with knives in a nearby orchard. He begs his mother to take care of Santuzza if he does not return. As Mamma Lucia and Santuzza wait anxiously, shouts rise in the distance. A woman stumbles in crying Turiddu has been killed.

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Pagliacci
Ruggiero Leoncavallo


Before the opera begins, the clown Tonio steps before the curtain to say that the author has written about actors, who know the same joys and sorrows as other people.

PART I. Southern Italy, around 1865-70. Excited villagers mill about as a small theatrical road company arrives at the outskirts of a Calabrian town. Canio, head of the troupe, describes that night's offering, and when someone jokingly suggests that the hunchback Tonio is secretly enamoured of his young wife, Canio warns he will tolerate no flirting with Nedda. As vesper bells call the women to church, the men go to the tavern, leaving Nedda alone. Disturbed by her husband's vehemence and suspicious glances, she envies the freedom of the birds soaring overhead. Tonio appears and indeed tries to make love to her, but she scorns him. Enraged, he grabs her, and she lashes out with a whip, getting rid of him but inspiring an oath of vengeance. Nedda in fact does have a lover — Silvio, who now arrives and persuades her to run away with him at midnight. But Tonio, who has seen them, hurries off to tell Canio. Before long the jealous husband bursts in on the guilty pair. Silvio escapes, and Nedda refuses to identify him, even when threatened with a knife. Beppe, another player, has to restrain Canio, and Tonio advises him to wait until evening to catch Nedda's lover. Alone, Canio sobs that he must play the clown though his heart is breaking.

PART II. The villagers, Silvio among them, assemble to see the play Pagliaccio e Colombina. In the absence of her husband, Pagliaccio (played by Canio), Colombina (Nedda) is serenaded by her lover Arlecchino (Beppe), who dismisses her buffoonish servant, Taddeo (Tonio). The sweethearts dine together and plot to poison Pagliaccio, who soon arrives; Arlecchino slips out the window. With pointed malice, Taddeo assures Pagliaccio of his wife's innocence, firing Canio's real-life jealousy. Forgetting the script, he demands that Nedda reveal her lover's name. She tries to continue with the play, the audience applauding the realism of the "acting." Maddened by her defiance, Canio stabs Nedda and then Silvio, who has rushed forward from the crowd to help her. Canio cries out that the comedy is ended.

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La Cenerentola
Gioachino Rossini


ACT I: Late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. In the run-down mansion of Don Magnifico, Baron of Montefiascone, his two daughters, Clorinda and Tisbe, try on finery while Cenerentola (Cinderella), his stepdaughter, whose given name is Angelina and who serves as the family maid, sings a forlorn ditty about a king who found a wife among the common folk. When a beggar appears, the stepsisters want to send him away, but Cenerentola offers him bread and coffee. While he stands by the door, several courtiers arrive to announce that Prince Ramiro will soon pay a visit: he is looking for the most beautiful girl in the land to be his bride. The sisters order Cenerentola to fetch them more jewels. Magnifico, awakened by the commotion, comes to investigate, scolding the girls for interrupting his dream of a donkey that sprouted wings. When he learns of the prince's visit, he exhorts the girls to save the family fortunes by capturing the young man's fancy. All retire to their rooms, and Prince Ramiro - disguised as his own valet - arrives alone, so as to see the women of the household without their knowing who he is. Cenerentola is startled by the handsome stranger, and each admires the other. Asked who she is, Cenerentola gives a flustered explanation about her mother's death and her own servile position, then excuses herself to respond to her stepsisters' call. When Magnifico enters, Ramiro says the prince will be along shortly. Magnifico fetches Clorinda and Tisbe, and they greet Dandini - the prince's valet, disguised as the prince himself - playing his role to the hilt as he searches for the fairest in the realm. The sisters fawn over Dandini, who invites them to a ball. Don Magnifico also prepares to leave, arguing with Cenerentola, who does not want to be left behind. Ramiro notes how badly Cenerentola is treated. His tutor, Alidoro, still dressed as the beggar who came earlier, reads from a census list and asks for the third daughter of the household. Magnifico denies she is still alive. Once Dandini has left with Magnifico, Alidoro tells Cenerentola she is to accompany him to the ball. Casting off his rags, he identifies himself as a member of the court and assures the girl that heaven will reward her purity of heart.

Dandini, still posing as the prince, escorts the two sisters into the royal country house and offers Magnifico a tour of the wine cellar, hoping to get him drunk. Dandini disentangles himself from the sisters and says he will see them later.

In a drawing room of the palace, Magnifico is hailed as the prince's new wine counselor. No one, he decrees, shall mix a drop of water with any wine for the next fifteen years. Looking forward to the feast, he and his attendants leave. Dandini reports to the prince with his negative opinion of the two sisters. This confuses Ramiro, who has heard Alidoro speak well of one of Magnifico's daughters. Clorinda and Tisbe rejoin Dandini; when he offers Ramiro as an escort for one of them, they turn their noses up at a mere groom. Alidoro announces the arrival of an unknown, veiled lady. Ramiro recognizes something in her voice. When she lifts her veil, he and Dandini, as well as the sisters, sense something familiar about her appearance. Their confusion is shared by Magnifico, who comes to announce supper and notices the newcomer's resemblance to Cenerentola. All feel they are in a dream but on the verge of being awakened by some rude shock.

ACT II: In a room of the palace, Magnifico stews over this new threat to his daughters' eligibility, telling them not to forget his importance when either of them ascends the throne. He leaves with the girls, whereupon Ramiro wanders in, smitten with the newly arrived guest because of her resemblance to the girl he met that morning. He conceals himself as Dandini arrives with the magnificently attired Cenerentola, courting her. She politely declines, saying she is in love with someone else - his groom. At this the delighted Ramiro steps forth. To test his sincerity, she gives him one of a pair of matching bracelets, saying that if he really cares for her, he will find her. After she leaves, Ramiro, with Alidoro's encouragement, calls his men together, so that the search can begin.

Once again the prince's valet, Dandini, faces Magnifico, who still believes he is the prince and insists he decide which daughter to marry. Dandini confesses he is a valet. When Magnifico turns indignant, Dandini orders him out of the palace.

At Magnifico's house, Cenerentola once more in rags, tends the fire and sings her ballad. Magnifico and the sisters return, all in a vile mood, and order Cenerentola to prepare supper. She obeys, as a thunderstorm rages. Dandini appears at the door, saying the prince's carriage has overturned outside. Cenerentola, bringing a chair for the prince, realizes he is Ramiro; he in turn recognizes her bracelet. Confusion reigns as Magnifico and his daughters smart from their defeat; angered by such meanness, Ramiro threatens them, but Cenerentola asks him to show mercy. Her family still against her, Cenerentola leaves with the prince, while Alidoro gives thanks to heaven for this happy outcome.

In the throne room of Ramiro's palace, Magnifico curries favor with the newly created princess, but she asks only to be acknowledged at last as his daughter. Secure in her happiness, she asks the prince to forgive Magnifico and the two stepsisters; born to misfortune, she has seen her fortunes change. Chastened, her father and stepsisters embrace her as she declares that her days of sitting by the fire are over.

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La Clemenza di Tito
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


ACT I: Rome, A.D. 79. Vitellia, daughter of the deposed Emperor Vitellio, wants the current ruler, Tito (Titus Flavius Savinus Vespasianus), assassinated because he does not return her love and has chosen as consort Berenice, daughter of the King of Judea. She tries to overcome the scruples of her admirer Sesto about committing murder for her sake. Sesto's friend Annio comes to fetch him for an audience with the emperor, revealing that Berenice will not be consort after all. Vitellia's ambitions for the throne revive, and she asks Sesto to delay his plan. Annio reminds Sesto of his own desire to marry Sesto's sister, Servilia, and urges him to ask Tito for permission. The two men reaffirm their friendship.

Before the Capitol, the populace hails Tito, who declares he will help the survivors of the recent eruption of Vesuvius at Pompeii. Annio and Sesto learn that the emperor wishes to marry Servilia. Diplomatically, Annio assures Tito he welcomes the union. The emperor says the chief joy of power lies in the opportunity to help others. Annio tells Servilia the emperor wishes to marry her, but she reaffirms her love for Annio, and he admits he returns it.

In the imperial palace, Publio, a guard, shows Tito a list of those who have spoken disloyally. Tito is inclined to forgive them. The discussion is interrupted by Servilia, who confesses her prior commitment to Annio. Tito generously relinquishes all claim to her and leaves, followed by Servilia. Vitellia, angry again, tells Sesto now is the time to strike. He declares that her wish is his command. When Vitellia learns Tito is looking for her, she calls after Sesto to stop him, but it is too late.

In front of the Capitol, Sesto, who has set fire to the building, trembles with remorse. Annio, Servilia, Publio and Vitellia appear, voicing anxiety and confusion. Believing he has succeeded in killing the emperor, Sesto starts to confess but is silenced by Vitellia.

ACT II: In the palace, Annio tells Sesto the emperor has escaped harm. When Sesto confesses his assassination attempt, Annio advises that telling Tito the truth will earn forgiveness. Vitellia rushes in, imploring Sesto to flee for both their sakes, before Publio enters and demands Sesto's sword; the man Sesto struck in the flaming Capitol was a fellow conspirator, Lentulo, who survived. Sesto is led off to a senate hearing.

In a public hall, the people are relieved to find Tito safe. When the emperor doubts his friend Sesto's disloyalty, Publio cautions against being too innocent in the face of betrayal. Sesto has confessed and been sentenced, with other conspirators, to be thrown to the lions. Annio agrees Sesto must be punished but asks Tito to consider the case compassionately. The emperor hesitates to sign the death decree until he has questioned Sesto, who is brought in. Alone with Tito, Sesto says he did not want the throne for himself, but he hesitates to implicate Vitellia. Tito, not satisfied with Sesto's explanation, orders him led to execution. Alone, Tito agonizes over his decision, then tells Publio that Sesto's fate will be made known at the arena. Addressing the gods, Tito says that if they want a stern ruler, they ought to take away his human heart. He leaves, and the distraught Vitellia enters, convinced Sesto has implicated her in the conspiracy, but Servilia and Annio beg her to save Sesto by becoming Tito's empress. Vitellia takes Tito's announcement of her as his choice as proof that Sesto did not betray her secret, and she realizes she must die rather than accept the throne at the price of Sesto's life.

At the arena, Tito is meeting with Sesto for the last time when Vitellia interrupts, declaring her guilt. The betrayed ruler almost hardens his heart before deciding to pardon the conspirators, valuing their repentance more than their fidelity.

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Les Contes d'Hoffmann
Jacques Offenbach


PROLOGUE: In Luther's deserted tavern, a chorus of spirits of wine and beer is heard, while inside the adjoining opera house Don Giovanni is being performed. Guests are expected to arrive later in the evening, among them the poet Hoffmann and the Milanese opera singer Stella, but it is Hoffmann's Muse who first appears. Knowing that fate decrees Hoffmann must choose this evening between his love for the Muse and his love for her rival, Stella, the Muse calls upon the spirits for help. Then she disappears to assume the guise of Nicklausse, Hoffmann's friend. Councilor Lindorf bribes Andrès, a servant of Stella, to intercept a note she has written to Hoffmann; it contains the key to her dressing room. Lindorf, confident of his power to achieve any goal, plans to keep that appointment himself. A crowd of noisy students fills the tavern. Hoffmann appears, accompanied by Nicklausse, and Lindorf spies them at a distance. Hoffmann is troubled; the students urge him to drink and sing, and he responds by starting the ballad of a grotesque dwarf named Kleinzach, only to digress into recollections of love. The punchbowl is lit, but the cheerful mood is broken by Lindorf, who goads Hoffmann into an exchange of sarcastic insults. Nicklausse finally interrupts, breaking the tension, yet the encounter leaves Hoffmann with a sense of foreboding. When the students tease him about his current infatuation with Stella, he offers to tell the story of three past loves....

ACT I: Awaiting the arrival of his party guests, the inventor Spalanzani admires his most recent invention, the mechanical doll Olympia, with which he hopes to recover money he lost in the collapse of the banking house of Élias. Hoffmann, the first guest to arrive, discovers Olympia and falls in love with her. Nicklausse gently teases him. The mad scientist Coppélius arrives and sells Hoffmann a pair of magic glasses through which he alone perceives Olympia as human. Spalanzani and Coppélius haggle over their share of the doll's profits, the latter claiming he owns her eyes. When Coppélius agrees to sell his rights to Spalanzani for 500 ducats, the inventor gives him a check drawn against the house of Élias. Coppélius jokingly suggests that Olympia be married off to Hoffmann. After other guests arrive, Olympia captivates the crowd with a dazzling aria, accompanied by Spalanzani at the harp. Oblivious to the periodic running down of the doll's mechanism, Hoffmann is enchanted. When everyone goes to dinner, leaving the two alone, Hoffmann pours out his heart to Olympia. Believing she loves him as well, he kisses her; she whirls into motion and out of the room. Nicklausse suggests that Olympia might not be alive, but the poet refuses to listen. Coppélius returns in a fury, having discovered that Spalanzani's bank draft is worthless, and hides as the guests return from dinner for a waltz. They are joined by Hoffmann and Olympia, who whirl faster and faster, until Hoffmann falls and breaks his magic glasses. Seizing his chance for revenge, Coppélius grabs Olympia and tears her apart.

ACT II: Crespel has fled with his daughter, Antonia, to Munich to end her love affair with Hoffmann. Sitting at the harpsichord, she sings a plaintive love song. Crespel begs her to give up singing: she has a weak heart, and the effort will endanger her life. He instructs his hard-of-hearing servant, Frantz, to allow no one into the house while he is gone. Left alone, Frantz tries to sing and dance. Hoffmann arrives, and Nicklausse, citing his past experience with love, tries to persuade him to devote himself solely to art. But Hoffmann resists, swearing eternal love to Antonia. Though she says her father has forbidden her to sing, she cannot resist asking if Hoffmann wishes to hear her. They join in a love song until Antonia nearly faints. Crespel returns and is alarmed by the arrival of the charlatan Dr. Miracle, whom he recognizes as an omen of doom: it was Miracle who treated Crespel's wife the day she died. While Hoffmann watches from a hiding place, the evil doctor inquires after Antonia and her overpowering love of music. Miracle questions the absent girl and describes her irregular pulse; when he commands her to sing, her voice is heard. The doctor offers medicines to save the girl, but Crespel, knowing this means death for his daughter, forces Miracle out. When Antonia returns, Hoffmann begs her not to sing. She reluctantly agrees, and he leaves, promising to return the next day. Miracle suddenly reappears, taunting Antonia with prospects of fame as a singer. The girl cries out to the portrait of her Mother, a famous singer, to help her resist temptation. Conjuring the portrait to life, Miracle declares that the Mother, speaking through him, wants Antonia to equal the glory of her own fame. As Miracle fiddles wildly on his violin, Antonia sings more and more feverishly until she collapses. Hoffmann rushes in, only to find her dead.

ACT III: In a Venetian palace on the Grand Canal, the courtesan Giulietta joins Nicklausse in a languid barcarole. Hoffmann abruptly changes the mood as he mockingly praises the pleasures of the flesh. Giulietta's current lover, Schlemil, jealously acknowledges her apparent affection for Hoffmann. Giulietta invites her guests to the gaming tables, but Nicklausse remains behind to warn Hoffmann against forming any attachment to the courtesan. The poet denies interest in her, declaring that should he fall in love with her, the devil may have his soul. Dappertutto, overhearing them, produces a large diamond with which he will bribe Giulietta to steal Hoffmann's reflection, just as she already has stolen Schlemil's shadow. Lured by the diamond, Giulietta agrees. She seduces Hoffmann, who is about to depart, and he falls in love instantly; during a passionate duet, she carries out Dappertutto's command. Schlemil returns, accusing Giulietta of having left him for Hoffmann. When Dappertutto comments on the poet's pallor, Hoffmann asks for a mirror and realizes with horror that he has lost his reflection, but he is trapped by his infatuation. As the guests depart, Hoffmann demands that Schlemil give him the key to Giulietta's room; when Schlemil refuses, Hoffmann kills him in a duel, with a sword proffered by Dappertutto. Taking the key from his rival, Hoffmann rushes to Giulietta's room, only to find it empty. Returning, he finds her leaving the palace with yet another admirer, the dwarf Pitichinaccio, whom she embraces....

EPILOGUE: Hoffmann has finished his tales and wants only to get drunk and forget. Nicklausse reveals that each story described a different aspect of one woman, Stella. Arriving in the tavern after her performance, the opera singer finds the poet confused and sneering; Stella prepares to leave with the triumphant Lindorf. Hoffmann interrupts their departure to sing one last verse of "Kleinzach," then collapses. Only the Muse remains behind with Hoffmann, who belongs to her at last.

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Così fan tutte
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

ACT I: Naples, late 1700s, early morning. Two young officers, Ferrando and Guglielmo, boast about the beauty and virtue of their sweethearts, the sisters Dorabella and Fiordiligi ("La mia Dorabella"). Don Alfonso, an older man and a friend of the two officers, insists that a woman's constancy is like the Arabian phoenix - everyone says it exists but no one has ever seen it ("È la fede delle femmine"). He proposes a wager of one hundred sequins that if they give him one day, and do everything he asks, he will prove the sisters are like all other women - fickle. The two young men willingly agree to Alfonso's terms and imagine with pleasure how they will spend their winnings ("Una bella serenata").

Fiordiligi and Dorabella gaze blissfully at their miniature portraits of Guglielmo and Ferrando ("Ah, guarda sorella"), and imagine happily that they will soon be married. Alfonso's plan for the day begins when he arrives with terrible news: the young officers have been called away to their regiment. The two men appear, apparently heartbroken, and they all make elaborate farewells ("Sento, o dio"). As the soldiers leave, the two women and Alfonso wish them a safe journey ("Soave sia il vento"). Alfonso is delighted with his plot and feels certain of winning his wager.

As Despina complains about how much work she has to do around the house, Fiordiligi and Dorabella, upset by the departure of their fiancés, burst in. Dorabella vents her feelings ("Smanie implacabili"), but Despina's advice is to forget their old lovers with the help of new ones. All men are fickle, she says, and unworthy of a woman's fidelity ("In uomini, in soldati"). Her mistresses resent Despina's approach to love, and depart. Alfonso arrives to plan the next stage of his wager: he enlists Despina's help to introduce the girls to two exotic visitors, in fact Ferrando and Guglielmo in disguise, and is relieved when Despina does not recognize the two men. The sisters are scandalized to discover strange men in their house. The newcomers declare their admiration for the ladies, each wooing the other's girlfriend, according to Alfonso's design, but the girls reject them. Fiordiligi likens her constancy to a rock in a storm ("Come scoglio"). The men are confident of winning the bet, but Alfonso reminds them that the day is still young. Ferrando reiterates his passion for Dorabella ("Un'aura amorosa"), and the two go off to await Alfonso's further orders. Despina, still unaware of the men's identities, plans the afternoon with Alfonso.

As the sisters lament the absence of their lovers, the two "foreigners" stagger in, pretending to have poisoned themselves in despair over their rejection. The sisters call for Despina, who urges them to care for the men while she and Alfonso fetch a doctor. Despina re-enters disguised as a doctor and, with a special magnet, pretends to draw off the poison. She then demands that the girls nurse the patients as they recover. The men revive ("Dove son?"), and request kisses. As Fiordiligi and Dorabella waver under renewed protestations of love, the men begin to worry.

ACT II: In the afternoon, Despina lectures her mistresses on their stubbornness and describes how a woman should handle men ("Una donna a quindici anni"). Dorabella is persuaded that there could be no harm in a little flirtation, and surprisingly, Fiordiligi agrees. They decide who will pair off with whom, and fitting perfectly into Alfonso's plan, each picks the other's original suitor ("Prenderò quel brunettino").

Alfonso has arranged a romantic serenade for the sisters in the garden, and after delivering a short lesson in courtship, he and Despina leave the four young people together. Guglielmo, courting Dorabella, succeeds in replacing her portrait of Ferrando with a golden heart ("Il core vi dono"). Ferrando apparently has less luck with Fiordiligi ("Ah, lo veggio"); but when she is left alone, she guiltily admits he has touched her heart ("Per pietà").

When they compare notes later, Ferrando is certain that they have won the wager. Guglielmo, although pleased at the report of Fiordiligi's faithfulness to him, is uncertain how to break the news of Dorabella's inconstancy to Ferrando. He shows his friend the portrait he took from Dorabella and Ferrando is furious. Guglielmo blames it all on women ("Donne mie, la fate a tanti!"), but his friend is not comforted ("Tradito, schernito"). Guglielmo asks Alfonso to pay him his half of the winnings, but Alfonso reminds him again that the day is not yet over.

Fiordiligi rebukes Dorabella for being fickle, but finally admits that in her heart she has succumbed to the stranger. Dorabella coaxes her to give way completely, saying love is a thief who rewards those who obey him and punishes all others ("È amore un ladroncello"). Left alone, Fiordiligi decides to run away and join Guglielmo at war, but Ferrando, pursuing the wager, tries one last time to seduce her and succeeds.

Guglielmo is furious, but Alfonso counsels forgiveness: that's the way women are, he claims, and a man who has been deceived can blame only himself ("Tutti accusan le donne"). As night falls, he promises to find a solution to their problems: he plans a double-wedding.

Despina runs in with a double-wedding plan of her own: the two sisters have agreed to marry the "foreigners," and she is to find a notary for the ceremony. The scene is set for the marriage, and Alfonso arrives with the notary - Despina in another disguise. As Fiordiligi and Dorabella sign the contract, martial strains herald the return of the former lovers' regiment. In panic the two women hide their intended husbands and try to compose themselves for the arrival of Ferrando and Guglielmo. The two apparently joyful soldiers return, but soon become disturbed by the obvious discomfort of the ladies. When they discover the notary the sisters beg the two men to kill them. Ferrando and Guglielmo reveal to them the identities of the "foreigners." Despina realizes that Alfonso had let her in on only half of the charade and tries to escape. Alfonso bids the lovers learn their lesson and, with a hymn to reason and enlightenment, the day comes to a close.

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Cyrano de Bergerac
Franco Alfano
Libretto: Henri Cain

ACT I. At a performance at the Hotel de Bourgogne, Christian, a new cadet in the Guards, admires the beautiful Roxane but dares not approach her. Cyrano, pride of the Guardsmen, bursts in to stop the performance, chasing the lead actor, whom he despises, from the stage. The Vicomte de Valvert, scandalized at this insult to the Duc de Candale's protégé, warns Cyrano that his bravado will make him powerful enemies, but Cyrano, scorning the tyranny of patronage, challenges the Vicomte, composing a ballad about their duel as they fight. The onlookers cheer Cyrano's victory, but Le Bret admonishes his friend for wasting his skill on frivolous brawls. Cyrano replies that he fights in honor of his cousin Roxane, whom he adores from afar, though his grotesque nose has banished all hope of winning her. When Roxane's duenna brings a request for a tête-à-tête the next morning, Cyrano's dream is reawakened, and he is ready to fight an army of giants. Learning that his friend Lignière is the target of 100 hired thugs set on by the pompous De Guiche in revenge for an unflattering poem, Cyrano, buoyed by the prospect of his tryst with Roxane, promises to take the villains on single-handed and invites the admiring crowd to watch.

ACT II. Scene 1. In the shop of the pastry chef Raguenot, the proprietor awaits the poets' society that meets there. Cyrano asks to be left alone with Roxane when she arrives and nervously begins a love letter to her. The poets withdraw as she enters. She thanks Cyrano for defying the Vicomte, whom the married De Guiche, himself in love with Roxane, has tried to impose on her as a compliant husband. Then, recalling the bonds of their childhood, she confides that she is in love. But Cyrano's hopes are dashed when she describes her beloved as handsome and names Christian. Roxane exacts a pledge from Cyrano to protect Christian from duels with his fellow cadets, then departs, sending word that Christian should write to her. Carbon, captain of the Guards, arrives with the company to salute Cyrano's latest exploits. Tweaked by the supercilious De Guiche, Cyrano and Carbon boast of their roughneck, devil-may-care regiment. De Guiche offers his protection to Cyrano, who rejects it scornfully. Christian, warned by the cadets not to mention Cyrano's nose, taunts the great swordsman to prove his bravery. Bound by his promise to Roxane, Cyrano lets the insult pass and, left alone with the new recruit, delivers Roxane's message. Christian protests that he cannot write: he is hopelessly inept at words of love. Cyrano, offers his services as ghostwriter: with his eloquence and Christian's beauty, they will make a lover worthy of Roxane.

Scene 2. Outside Roxane's balcony, De Guiche brings her word that the Guards, under his command, have been sent to besiege Arras. When Cyrano comes to herald Christian's arrival, she withdraws, leaving instructions for her suitor to extemporize on the theme of love. Cyrano, summoning Christian, offers to prepare a script for him, but he says he will woo for himself. No sooner has Roxane reappeared than Christian finds himself tonguetied. When she scornfully dismisses her stammering lover, he appeals to Cyrano, who, under cover of darkness, softly pours forth his own words of love. Roxane is swept away by his eloquence, and Christian climbs up to the balcony to embrace her.

ACT III. Camped outside Arras, the soldiers sleep, while LeBret and Carbon keep watch. Cyrano returns from behind enemy lines, where he has ventured day and night to deliver love letters to Roxane, written in the name of Christian, who is now her husband. When the soldiers awake, half-starved, Cyrano summons a shepherd to distract them with airs of their native Gascony, saying nostalgia is a nobler malady than hunger. De Guiche enters with news that the Spanish are mounting an attack. Facing all-but-certain death, Christian longs to send Roxane a last farewell. Cyrano says it is already written and Christian, demanding to see it, is amazed to discover a tearstain on the page. A carriage arrives, bearing Roxane, who has braved enemy fire in the name of love. Learning that the battle is imminent, she refuses to leave, saying she will die with her beloved. Alone with Christian, she confides that, though she once admired him for the beauty of his face, it is the soul he has revealed in his letters that has truly won her heart. Christian, stunned, sends her to cheer his comrades and calls for Cyrano. Repeating Roxane's declaration, he urges his friend to confess his long-repressed passion and let the lady choose between them. When Cyrano demurs, Christian summons Roxane and rushes into battle. Roxane affirms that she would love the author of the letters even without his beauty, and Cyrano is about to speak when the soldiers carry in the body of Christian. Honoring his friend's memory, Cyrano watches in silence as she finds his last letter in Christian's pocket, then bids her farewell and hurls himself into the fray.

ACT IV. Fifteen years later, in the garden of the convent where she now lives, Roxane receives the repentant DeGuiche. LeBret brings word that Cyrano's attacks on hypocrisy have made him more enemies than ever. Ragueneau rushes in, agitated, and drags LeBret away. Cyrano enters, pale and with his hat drawn down over his eyes, apologizing that an unexpected caller has made him late for his visit for the first time in fourteen years. He begins to regale Roxane with the news of the week, but she grows alarmed when he trails off in mid-sentence. Coming to, he assures her that it is only his old wound from Arras and reminds her of her long-ago promise to let him see Christian's letter of farewell. She gives it to him and he begins to read aloud. Roxane, suddenly recognizing the voice beneath her balcony, realizes that the letters were Cyrano's all along. When Le Bret and Ragueneau come in search of him, he finishes the day's "gazette" by reporting his own death at the hand of hired assassins. He has dragged himself from his deathbed to visit her. Roxane, crying that she loves him, begs him to live, but it is too late. Cyrano says he will greet death - the unexpected caller -as he has lived life, with his sword in his hand and fighting to the end. Saying that death may rob him of his laurels but never his panache, he falls lifeless.

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Dialogues des Carmélites
Francis Poulenc


ACT I. In Paris, April 1789, the first rumblings of the French Revolution are starting to shake the Old Regime. In his library, the Marquis de la Force talks worriedly with his son, the Chevalier, about Blanche, his nervous, impressionable daughter, who is unable to overcome her fear of life. Blanche suddenly appears, frightened by rioting peasants who surrounded her carriage on the way home. Soon after retiring, Blanche returns, terrified by a shadow when a footman lit candles in her room. She blurts out to her father that she wishes to become a nun.

Several weeks later, in the receiving room of the Carmelite convent at Compiègne, Blanche speaks with Mme. de Croissy, the mother superior, who warns her against illusions about the heroism of a religious life. Blanche, accepted by the order, discusses death with another young nun, Sister Constance, as they sort groceries. Blanche scolds Constance for her seemingly immature cheerfulness. Constance says she has always felt she would die young, adding she is sure she and Blanche will die together.

On her deathbed, Mme. de Croissy charges Mother Marie with Blanche's spiritual development. The young novice is present when, in her final delirium, the mother superior confesses great confusion and fear in her hour of death. I

ACT II. In the convent chapel that night, the mother superior lies in state, with Blanche and Constance standing watch. As Constance goes to fetch their replacements, Blanche is overcome by fear. She starts to leave as Mother Marie arrives. Seeing that the girl is genuinely afraid, Mother Marie tries to reassure her.

Constance explains to Blanche that the mother superior's hard death did not suit her and must have been meant for someone else, who one day will find death surprisingly simple.

In the chapter room, the nuns are gathered for the ceremony of obedience to the new prioress, Mme. Lidoine.

The Chevalier visits Blanche before escaping, urging her to leave the convent: their father is afraid for her. Blanche refuses, explaining that her highest duty is to the convent that has changed her life.

In the sacristy, the Chaplain, forbidden to perform his clerical duties, celebrates his last Mass. As he goes out, the sisters discuss the epidemic of fear that has left France unable to defend its priests. This gives Mother Marie the idea of the Carmelites' offering their lives to the cause, but Mme. Lidoine reminds her one cannot choose to be a martyr. The Chaplain returns, saying his departure was blocked; he escapes by another route as the mob knocks at the main entrance. Seeing Blanche desolate, Mother Jeanne hands her a figurine of the Christ Child as a keepsake, but in her nervousness Blanche drops and breaks it.

ACT III. As the nuns prepare to leave their devastated convent, Mother Marie addresses them in the absence of Mme. Lidoine. She proposes they all take the vow of martyrdom, which must be unanimous. A secret vote reveals one dissenter. Constance claims it was hers, asking permission to change it. She kneels with Blanche to take the vow.

Back in the library of the Marquis de la Force, Blanche is working as a servant for revolutionaries who have taken over the mansion. She is found by Mother Marie, who says it is time to rejoin the other sisters. Blanche confesses she is still dogged by fear: her father was guillotined the week before. Mother Marie gives her an address, telling her to report there within twenty-four hours.

In a street near the Bastille, Blanche learns from an old woman from Compiègne that the nuns have been arrested.

In a cell in the Conciergerie prison, Mme. Lidoine tells the Carmelites she will join in their vow of martyrdom - made during her absence. Constance says she has dreamt of Blanche's return. A jailer reads the death sentence pronounced earlier by the Revolutionary Tribunal.

The Chaplain meets with Mother Marie and tells her the nuns have been condemned. Though she desperately wants to join them, the Chaplain reminds her she cannot make a martyr of herself: that is for God to choose. In the Place de la Révolution, the Carmelites march to the guillotine, chanting the Salve Regina. Beginning with the mother superior, each is led up to death, as their numbers and their voices are cut off one at a time. Finally, only Constance remains. On her way to the scaffold, she sees Blanche step from the crowd, take up the chant and follow her.

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Doktor Faust
Ferruccio Busoni


OVERTURE. Easter Vesper and Nascent Spring.

PROLOGUE I. In Wittenberg, Germany, during the Middle Ages. Faust, Rector Magnificus of the university, is at work on an experiment in his laboratory one morning as his pupil Wagner enters to say Three Students from Cracow have appeared unannounced to give Faust a book on black magic, Clavis Astartis Magica (The Key to Astarte's Magic). Faust reflects that power at last will be his. They enter, dressed in black, and say the book is his because he is the master. When he asks what he must give in return, they reply mysteriously, "Later"; as to whether he will see them again, "Perhaps." They go before he can question them further. When Wagner reappears and says he saw no one enter or leave, Faust realizes the visitors were supernatural.

PROLOGUE II. At midnight that night, Faust opens the book and follows its instructions. He forms a circle on the floor, into which he steps and calls out to Lucifer, the fallen angel. A pale light dances around the room. In reply to unseen voices, Faust declares his Will: he wishes spirits at his command. But when six flames appear, he is unimpressed by the speed at which the first five say they can move, so he dismisses them. Only when the sixth voice -- that of Mephistopheles -- says, "I am as swift as the thoughts of man," does Faust ask the spirit to materialize and serve him. Faust asks for all his wishes to be granted, to have all knowledge and the power of genius. When Faust learns that after death he must be at Mephistopheles' service, he at first refuses, but the devil reminds him that his creditors and foes are at the door: with Faust's consent, Mephistopheles causes them to drop dead. Then, as a chorus in the distance marks Easter morning with a Credo, Faust signs the pact in blood, wondering what has become of his Will. The shock of realizing he has forfeited his soul causes him to fall down in a faint. Gloating, Mephistopheles tears the contract from his hand.

INTERMEZZO. In a chapel, the Soldier -- the brother of Gretchen, whom Faust has seduced and abandoned -- kneels, praying that he may find and punish the offender. Mephistopheles points him out to Faust, who wants him eliminated but doesn't want to do the job himself. So Mephistopheles, in the guise of a monk, offers to hear the Soldier's confession. Upon the instigation of Mephistopheles, a military patrol bursts in and kills the Soldier, claiming it is he who murdered their captain. This death is now to be on Faust's conscience.

SCENE I. In the Ducal Park at Parma, Italy, a wedding ceremony is under way for the Duke and Duchess of Parma. The Master of Ceremonies announces a special guest, the illustrious magician Dr. Faust. The guests watch as Faust enters with his herald (Mephistopheles) and an impressive train. The Duchess finds him immediately alluring, but the Duke senses that "Hell has sent him here."

Faust changes the daylight to night so he can perform his enchantments, of which the first, at the Duchess' request, is an apparition of King Solomon and Queen Balkis; their resemblance to Faust and the Duchess is apparent. Next come Samson and Delilah, followed by John the Baptist with Salome. When an Executioner (resembling the Duke) threatens the Baptist (who resembles Faust), the Duchess cries out that the Baptist must be saved. Aside, Faust asks the Duchess to come away with him; she wants to but is hesitant. The Duke orders the show to end and announces dinner, but Mephistopheles warns Faust to flee, as the food will be poisoned. The two will leave together. The Duchess wanders back in, declaring she will follow Faust, and leaves. Mephistopheles, in the guise of a court chaplain, comes back in with the Duke, advising him against sending pursuers after the lovers; instead, he should marry the sister of the Duke of Ferrara, who is threatening him with war.

SCENE II. In a tavern in Wittenberg, some students drunkenly discuss Plato and metaphysics. They ask for words of wisdom from Faust, who declares, "Nothing is proven, and nothing is provable." He cites Martin Luther, whereupon the Catholic and Protestant students start to argue.

When their religious quarrels subside, Faust reminisces about his affair with the Duchess. Mephistopheles, in the guise of a courier, appears to say she has died and sent a gift of remembrance -- the body of an infant, which he throws at Faust's feet. Mephistopheles regales the students with the tale of Faust's seduction of the Duchess -- whom, as it develops, he abandoned. To show that the case is not so serious, he turns the child's body into a bundle of straw and sets fire to it: "I turn to ashes that which is dead . . . a fairer sight shall rise to comfort you." From the flames appears a vision of Helen of Troy. The students back away, and Mephistopheles leaves. Faust apostrophizes the vision and tries to embrace her, but she eludes him. In her place three vague, dark figures appear -- the Three Students from Cracow, who tell Faust to return the magic book. He says he has destroyed it. They reply that he must die upon the stroke of twelve. As they disappear, Faust with relief welcomes the end of life.

SCENE III. On a snow-covered street in Wittenberg, outside the church, Mephistopheles appears as the Night Watchman to announce that it is eleven o'clock. Wagner, who has succeeded Faust as Rector and now lives in Faust's former house, next door, is escorted there by sycophantic students and bids them good-night. As they leave the street, Faust wanders in alone and looks at his old home. Voices in the church sing of judgment and salvation, and Faust hopes to perform one last good deed that might redeem him. He approaches a beggar woman carrying a child -- only to see it is the Duchess, who hands him the child and says there is still time to complete his work before midnight. She vanishes.

Imagining that he still might be saved, Faust turns to enter the church, but the Soldier (from the Intermezzo) appears before him, barring his way. "If only I could pray," Faust says -- but he cannot remember the words. By the light of the Night Watchman's lamp, Faust sees the figure of the crucified Christ change into that of Helen of Troy, signifying his damnation.

Making a circle on the ground, he steps into it with the child's body and bequeaths it his own Will, the primal force of life: "Above the law then shall I stand, at once embracing all the ages, and unite myself with mankind forever -- I Faust, one eternal Will!" With this he dies. As the Watchman calls out the midnight hour, a youth appears from the spot where the child's body lay. The Watchman (Mephistopheles), seeing Faust on the ground, remarks, "Has this man met with some misfortune?"

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Don Carlo
Giuseppe Verdi


ACT I. France and Spain, c. 1560s. Don Carlo, Infante of Spain, has come secretly to France to see Elisabetta de Valois, to whom he is betrothed but whom he has never met. In the wintry forest of Fontainebleau the two young people meet by chance and fall in love. But when Lerma, the Spanish ambassador, arrives, he tells them that as a condition of the peace treaty between France and Spain, Elisabetta's father has given her not to Carlo but to his father, Filippo.

ACT II. Carlo, in his misery, visits the cloister of the monastery of St. Just, where his grandfather, Carlo V, became a friar and retreated from the cares of the throne. When Carlo confesses to his friend Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa, his love for his father's wife, Rodrigo urges him to devote himself instead to the cause of Flemish independence from Spanish oppression. The two men pledge friendship and devotion to liberty.

Outside the convent, Princess Eboli entertains ladies of the court with a Moorish love song. When the queen arrives, Rodrigo slips her a note from Carlo. She agrees to see Carlo, who reiterates his love for her; when she reminds him that she is now in an impossible position, the distraught Infante rushes off. Filippo, finding Elisabetta unattended, sends her lady-in-waiting into exile. When Rodrigo speaks frankly to the king about his hopes for Flanders, Filippo asks him to watch Carlo and the queen, whom he suspects.

ACT III. Carlo goes to the queen's gardens at midnight to see Elisabetta but instead is met by the masked Eboli, who is in love with him. When he realizes who she is and shows his disappointment, Eboli threatens to bring about his downfall. To protect him, Rodrigo takes incriminating papers from the Infante.

In the square before the cathedral, a crowd gathers to witness an auto-da-fé. Carlo leads a delegation of Flemish deputies to plead for clemency for the heretics. When the king refuses, Carlo raises his sword against his father. To his astonishment, Rodrigo disarms him. As the condemned are led to the stake, a voice from heaven announces the salvation of their souls.

ACT IV. Alone in his study, Filippo laments his wife's indifference. He then calls in the aged Grand Inquisitor, who urges the death penalty for both Carlo and Rodrigo. After the implacable old priest has left, Elisabetta bursts in, crying that her jewel casket has been stolen. The king produces it, and when he forces it open, Carlo's portrait falls out. He accuses his wife of adultery. The queen faints, and Filippo summons Eboli and Rodrigo for help. When the men withdraw, Eboli confesses responsibility for Elisabetta's betrayal - it was she who stole the jewel casket - and when she goes on to confess that she once was the king's mistress, the queen banishes her to a convent. Eboli, cursing her own fatal beauty, vows to save Carlo.

In Carlo's prison cell, Rodrigo explains that he has allowed Carlo's incriminating papers to be found on his person and thus taken the blame for the Flemish insurrection. As he takes his leave, he is shot to death by a soldier of the Inquisition. The Infante is given his freedom by his father as a mob storms into the cell to defy the monarch. Filippo is protected from the throng by the arrival of the Inquisitor.

ACT V. Back in the cloister of St. Just, Elisabetta waits to bid farewell to Carlo. The lovers are surprised by Filippo and the Inquisitor, but the Infante is saved from them when Carlo V emerges from the shadows and draws him into the tomb.

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Don Giovanni
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


ACT I: Seville, 1600s. At night, outside the Commendatore's palace, Leporello grumbles about his duties as servant to Don Giovanni, a dissolute nobleman. Soon the masked Don appears, pursued by Donna Anna, the Commendatore's daughter, whom he has tried to seduce. When the Commendatore himself answers Anna's cries, he is killed in a duel by Giovanni, who escapes. Anna now returns with her fiancé, Don Ottavio. Finding her father dead, she makes Ottavio swear vengeance on the assassin.

At dawn, Giovanni flirts with a high-strung traveler outside a tavern. She turns out to be Donna Elvira, a woman he once seduced in Burgos, who is on his trail. Giovanni escapes while Leporello distracts Elvira by reciting his master's long catalog of conquests. Peasants arrive, celebrating the nuptials of their friends Zerlina and Masetto; when Giovanni joins in, he pursues the bride, angering the groom, who is removed by Leporello. Alone with Zerlina, the Don applies his charm, but Elvira interrupts and protectively whisks the girl away. When Elvira returns to denounce him as a seducer, Giovanni is stymied further while greeting Anna, now in mourning, and Ottavio. Declaring Elvira mad, he leads her off. Anna, having recognized his voice, realizes Giovanni was her attacker.

Dressing for the wedding feast he has planned for the peasants, Giovanni exuberantly downs champagne.

Outside the palace, Zerlina begs Masetto to forgive her apparent infidelity. Masetto hides when the Don appears, emerging from the shadows as Giovanni corners Zerlina. The three enter the palace together. Elvira, Anna and Ottavio arrive in dominoes and masks and are invited to the feast by Leporello.

During the festivities, Leporello entices Masetto into the dance as Giovanni draws Zerlina out of the room. When the girl's cries for help put him on the spot, Giovanni tries to blame Leporello. But no one is convinced; Elvira, Anna and Ottavio unmask and confront Giovanni, who barely escapes Ottavio's drawn sword.

ACT II: Under Elvira's balcony, Leporello exchanges cloaks with Giovanni to woo the lady in his master's stead. Leporello leads Elvira off, leaving the Don free to serenade Elvira's maid. When Masetto passes with a band of armed peasants bent on punishing Giovanni, the disguised rake gives them false directions, then beats up Masetto. Zerlina arrives and tenderly consoles her betrothed.

In a passageway, Elvira and Leporello are surprised by Anna, Ottavio, Zerlina and Masetto, who, mistaking servant for master, threaten Leporello. Frightened, he unmasks and escapes. When Anna departs, Ottavio affirms his confidence in their love. Elvira, frustrated at her second betrayal by the Don, voices her rage.

Leporello catches up with his master in a cemetery, where a voice warns Giovanni of his doom. This is the statue of the Commendatore, which the Don proposes Leporello invite to dinner. When the servant reluctantly stammers an invitation, the statue accepts.

In her home, Anna, still in mourning, puts off Ottavio's offer of marriage until her father is avenged.

Leporello is serving Giovanni's dinner when Elvira rushes in, begging the Don, whom she still loves, to reform. But he waves her out contemptuously. At the door, her screams announce the Commendatore's statue. Giovanni boldly refuses warnings to repent, even in the face of death. Flames engulf his house, and the sinner is dragged to hell.

Among the castle ruins, the others plan their future and recite the moral: such is the fate of a wrongdoer.

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Elektra
Richard Strauss


Ancient Mycenae. In the courtyard of the palace of Agamemnon, murdered king of Mycenae, servant girls comment on the wild behavior of Elektra, Agamemnon's eldest daughter. When they have gone, Elektra bemoans her father's murder at the hands of her mother, Klytämnestra, and her mother's lover, Aegisth. Calling on her father's spirit, she vows vengeance. She is interrupted by her younger sister, Chrysothemis, who urges Elektra to give up her obsession with revenge so they both can lead normal lives. As noises from within the palace herald the approach of Klytämnestra, the girl rushes off, leaving Elektra to face their mother alone. The queen staggers in; drugs, loss of sleep and fear of retribution have made a wreck of her. She appeals to Elektra to tell her what kind of sacrifice to the gods will give her peace. Her nightmares will cease, Elektra responds, when the blood of an impure woman is shed. Challenged to name the victim, Elektra screams it is Klytämnestra herself, and that she and her banished brother Orest will wield the ax. Klytämnestra is shaken, but when her Confidante runs in and whispers something, her mood changes abruptly. Laughing maniacally, Klytämnestra leaves her puzzled daughter. The mystery is explained when Chrysothemis reappears with news that Orest is dead. Stunned, Elektra tells her sister she must now help kill Klytämnestra and Aegisth. When the girl pulls away in terror and runs off, Elektra starts to dig for the buried ax that killed Agamemnon. She is interrupted by a stranger who says he has come to inform Klytämnestra of Orest's death. When Elektra reveals her name, he tells her Orest lives. Servants come and kiss his hand. The dogs of the house know me, he says, but not my own sister. Crying his name, Elektra falls into Orest's arms and tells him she has lived only for his return. Their reunion is cut short when Orest is summoned before Klytämnestra. Hardly has he entered the palace when a scream is heard and Elektra, anxiously waiting, knows he has killed their mother. Aegisth now arrives, and Elektra joyfully lights his way into the palace, where he too meets his doom. While the halls resound with tumultuous confusion, Elektra, transported, begins an ecstatic dance. But the release of so much pent-up hate and joy proves too much for her; when Chrysothemis returns, Elektra falls lifeless.

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Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


ACT I. Turkey, 1700s. Pasha Selim has bought three Europeans from pirates - Constanze, a Spanish woman of good family; Blonde, her English maid; and Pedrillo, servant of Constanze's fiancé, Belmonte. Belmonte has traced them to a seaside palace, where Constanze has become the pasha's favorite and Pedrillo the gardener. Blonde has been given as a gift by the pasha to his overseer, Osmin. Belmonte's first encounter is with Osmin, who acts polite until Belmonte mentions Pedrillo, the custodian's rival for Blonde. He drives Belmonte away and then rails at Pedrillo, who has come in hopes of making peace with him. Belmonte returns to find his former servant, who tells him the pasha loves Constanze but will not force himself on her. Pedrillo will try to arrange a meeting between Constanze and Belmonte and an escape by boat with Blonde, if they can get past Osmin. In hiding, Belmonte yearns for Constanze, who soon appears with Pasha Selim. When the pasha asks her why she is always depressed by his courtship of her, Constanze replies she cannot forget her love for her fiancé from whom she was separated. After she leaves, Pedrillo introduces Belmonte to the pasha as a promising young architect. Selim welcomes him and, departing, arranges a conference for the next day. Osmin bars the way when Belmonte and Pedrillo try to enter the palace, but he is confused easily, and the two foreigners march him around in circles. Dizzy, Osmin does not notice they have gained access.

ACT II. In a garden, Blonde confounds Osmin with her cleverness and faces him down when he threatens her. Constanze finds Blonde and complains of her sad state, which does not improve when the pasha again asks her to marry him. She proudly refuses, preferring torture, even death. When they have gone, Blonde and Pedrillo dance into the garden, discussing their plan of escape: they will get Osmin drunk, and all four lovers will leave on Belmonte's ship. Later, Pedrillo goes about his business, finding Osmin cooperative, though drinking wine is against the Moslem religion. Thoroughly inebriated, the fat man weaves away with the bottle, leaving the coast clear for Belmonte to meet Constanze. Their reunion is shared by Blonde and Pedrillo.

ACT III. Just before midnight, Pedrillo places a ladder against the ladies' window and sings a serenade, the signal for escape. But he wakes Osmin, who is not too hung over to realize what is going on and takes them all to the pasha, who is angry. Belmonte suggests the pasha collect a handsome ransom from his wealthy family, the Lostados. At this, the pasha realizes that Belmonte is the son of an old enemy, the man who exiled him from his own country. But eventually he decides that rather than take blood for blood he will repay evil with good, freeing Constanze and Belmonte, even Blonde and Pedrillo. This does not sit well with Osmin, who will lose Blonde, but he is promised other rewards. The grateful lovers praise their benefactor as they prepare to set sail.

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L'Elisir d'Amore
Gaetano Donizetti

ACT I. Basque country, c. 1830. Adina, wealthy owner of a local farm, her friend Giannetta and a group of peasants are resting beneath a shade tree on her estate. At a distance Nemorino, a young villager, laments he has nothing to offer Adina but love. The peasants urge their mistress to read them a story — how Tristan won the heart of Isolde by drinking a magic love potion. No sooner has Adina done so than Sgt. Belcore swaggers in with his troop. The soldier's conceit amuses her, but he is not dissuaded from asking her hand in marriage. Saying she will think it over, she orders refreshments for his comrades. When Adina and Nemorino are left alone, he awkwardly declares his love. She tells him his time would be better spent looking after his ailing uncle than mooning over her, for she is fickle as a breeze.

In the town piazza, villagers hail the traveling salesman Dr. Dulcamara, who proclaims the virtues of his patent medicine. Since it is inexpensive, the villagers buy eagerly. When they have gone, Nemorino asks Dulcamara if he sells the elixir of love described in Adina's book. Pulling out a bottle of Bordeaux, the charlatan declares this is the very draught. Though it costs him his last cent, Nemorino buys the wine and hastily drinks it. Adina enters to find him tipsy; certain of winning her love, he pretends indifference. To punish him, Adina flirts with Belcore, who, informed that he must return to his garrison, persuades her to marry him at once. Horrified, Nemorino begs Adina to wait one more day, but she ignores him and invites the entire village to her wedding feast. Nemorino rushes away, moaning that he has been ruined by Dulcamara's elixir.

ACT II. At a local tavern, the pre-wedding supper is in progress. Dulcamara, self-appointed master of ceremonies, sits with the bridal couple. Adina's mind is distracted by the doctor, who suggests they blend their voices in a barcarole about a gondoliera and her wealthy suitor. When the duet ends, Adina goes off with Belcore to sign the marriage contract; the guests disperse. Remaining behind, Dulcamara is joined by Nemorino, who begs for another bottle of elixir; his pleas are rejected, because he has no money. Belcore returns, annoyed that Adina has postponed the wedding until nightfall; he spies Nemorino and asks why he is so sad. The youth explains his financial plight, whereupon the sergeant persuades him to join the army and receive a bonus awaiting all volunteers. Belcore leads the perplexed Nemorino off to sign him up, enabling him to buy more elixir.

Peasant girls, gathered in the square, hear from Giannetta that Nemorino's uncle has died and willed him a fortune. When the youth reels in, giddy from a second bottle of wine, they besiege him with attention; unaware of his new wealth, he believes the elixir finally has taken effect. Adina and Dulcamara arrive in time to see him leave with a bevy of beauties, and she, angry that he has sold his freedom to Belcore, grows doubly furious. Hoping to sell Adina a bottle of elixir, Dulcamara claims that Nemorino's popularity is due to the magic potion. Adina replies she will win him back through her own charms. Reentering alone in a pensive mood, Nemorino takes heart because of a tear he has seen on Adina's cheek, but when she appears, he acts disinterested. She confesses she bought back his enlistment papers because she loves him.

Back in the piazza, Belcore marches in to find Adina affianced to Nemorino; declaring that thousands of women await him, he accepts the situation philosophically. Attributing Nemorino's happiness and inheritance to the elixir, Dulcamara quickly sells more bottles before making his escape.

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Eugene Onegin
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky


ACT I, Scene 1.
With her devoted servant Filippyevna, the widowed Madame Larina sits in the garden of her country estate. Her daughters, Olga and Tatiana, sing a love song that reminds the older women of days gone by. Peasants coming from the fields bring freshly cut hay for their mistress and celebrate the completion of the harvest with songs and dances. Olga taunts Tatiana for failing to enjoy the festivities. Pale and shy, Tatiana remains pensive and apart, wrapped in the fantasy of her beloved novels. As the peasants leave, the poet Lenski, Olga's suitor, and his worldy friend Eugene Onegin arrive. When Madame Larina and Filippyevna enter the house, the four young people mingle, awkwardly at first. Then Lenski pours forth his love to Olga. Onegin, strolling with Tatiana, asks if she does not tire of her bucolic existence. Visibly upset by the handsome stranger, the girl answers with difficulty. As night falls, the two couples go in for dinner.

ACT I, Scene 2. In her bedroom, Tatiana persuades Filippyevna to speak of her first love and marriage. Filippyevna notices that the girl's mind is wandering and asks if she is ill. Tatiana declares she is in love and begs to be left alone. Resolved to reveal her passion to Onegin, Tatiana sits up the entire night and writes to him, full of fear and shame. She closes by pleading for his mercy and understanding. When day breaks, she gives the letter to Filippyevna for her grandson to deliver.

ACT I, Scene 3. As they work to pass the time, a group of women gathered in Madame Larina's garden sing about flirting with boys. When they leave, Tatiana hurries in, soon followed by Onegin, who asks that she hear him out. He admits he was touched by her letter but adds he would tire quickly of marriage. Though she has all the virtues he might wish in a wife, the most he can offer is a brother's love. He advises more emotional control, lest another man fail to respect her innocence. Crushed, Tatiana rushes away.

ACT II, Scene 1. Some months later in Madame Larina's house, a party is under way in honor of Tatiana's name day. As young couples glide merrily across the floor, the older guests sit watching and gossiping. Onegin dances with Tatiana but clearly is bored with these country people and their provincial sensibilities. To get back at Lenski for dragging him there, he dances with Olga, who is attracted momentarily and responds to his advances. Onegin's game is interrupted by Triquet, an elderly French tutor, who serenades Tatiana with a song he has written in her honor. When dancing resumes, Lenski jealously confronts Onegin. The merrymaking stops. Madame Larina implores them not to quarrel in her house; Lenski is remorseful but cannot contain his rage at Onegin, who accepts his challenge to a duel.

ACT II, Scene 2. At dawn on the banks of a stream near an old mill, Lenski and his second, Zaretski, await Onegin. Reflecting on the folly of his brief life, and saddened by its now unalterable course, the young poet imagines his beloved Olga visiting his grave. Onegin arrives with his second. The two men, standing apart and without looking at one another, sing a cannon in which each admits privately that they have acted rashly -- that they would rather laugh together than fight -- but pride and impulsiveness prevail. The duel is fought and Lenski is fatally shot.

ACT III, Scene 1. Several years later, in a hall of a palace in St. Petersburg, a magnificent ball is in progress. Onegin has traveled widely, seeking to alleviate his boredom and give his life meaning. With bitterness he says his search has led him tonight to a monotonous social event. Suddenly he recognizes Tatiana across the room, but she is no longer the girl he knew: sumptuously gowned, she walks with poise and dignity. Questioning his cousin, Prince Gremin, he learns that Tatiana is now Gremin's wife. The older man tells of his marriage two years earlier and describes Tatiana as his life's salvation. When Gremin introduces Onegin, Tatiana maintains her composure, excusing herself after a few words of polite conversation. Captivated, Onegin dashes from the palace.

ACT III, Scene 2. In the Gremins' town house, Tatiana recieves Onegin in answer to an impassioned letter he has written. When he falls at her feet, she remains controlled. Now that she has a rich and noble husband, she asks, does he desire her position or her shame? She recalls the days when they might have been happy; now he can bring her only grief. As Onegin's pleas grow more ardent Tatiana prays for courage. Suddenly finding strength, she rushes out, leaving the distraught Onegin behind.

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Falstaff
Giuseppe Verdi


ACT I. Sir John Falstaff, the portly rascal of Windsor, sits in the Garter Inn with his "bad companions" Bardolfo and Pistola. When Dr. Caius enters to accuse the three of abusing his home and robbing him, Falstaff dismisses the charges with mock solemnity. He then upbraids his friends for being unable to pay the bill. Seeking to better his fortunes, Falstaff plans to woo wealthy matrons Alice Ford and Meg Page. He produces love letters to both, but his henchmen decide their ethics forbid them to deliver the notes. Falstaff gives them to a page boy instead and lectures his cronies on honor, as he chases them from the inn.

In her garden, Alice and her daughter, Nannetta, talk to Meg and Dame Quickly, soon discovering that Falstaff has sent identical letters. Outraged, they resolve to punish him, then withdraw as Ford arrives with Caius, Fenton, Bardolfo and Pistola, all warning him about Falstaff's designs. Briefly alone, Nannetta and Fenton steal kisses until the women return, plotting to send Quickly to Falstaff to arrange a rendezvous with Alice. Next Nannetta and Fenton are interrupted by Ford, who also plans to visit Falstaff. As the women reappear, all pledge to take the fat knight down a peg or two.

ACT II. At the inn, Falstaff accepts Bardolfo and Pistola's feigned penitence for their mutiny. Soon Quickly curtseys in to assure the knight that both Alice and Meg return his ardor. Arranging a meeting with Alice, Falstaff rewards Quickly with a pittance and then, alone, preens himself. The next visitor is Ford, disguised as "Master Brook" and pretending an unrequited passion for Alice. Employed to break down the lady's virtue, Falstaff boasts that he already has set up a tryst and steps out to array himself. Ford, unable to believe his ears, vows to avenge his honor. Regaining his composure when Falstaff returns, he leaves arm in arm with the fat knight.

In Ford's house, Quickly tells Alice and Meg about her visit with the knight at the inn. Nannetta does not share in the fun: her father has promised her to Caius. The women reassure her before hiding, except for Alice, who sits strumming a lute as her fat suitor arrives. Recalling his salad days as a slender page, he is cut short when Quickly announces Meg's imminent approach. Falstaff leaps behind a screen, and Meg sails in to report that Ford is on his way over in a fury. Quickly confirms this, and while Ford and his men search the house, Falstaff takes refuge amid the dirty linen in a laundry basket. Slipping behind a screen, Nannetta and Fenton attract attention with the sound of their kissing. While Meg and Quickly muffle Falstaff's cries for air, Ford sneaks up on the screen, knocks it over and pauses briefly to berate the lovers as the chase continues upstairs. Alice orders servants to heave the basket into the Thames then leads her husband to the window to see Falstaff dumped into the muddy river.

ACT III. At sunset outside the inn, Falstaff bemoans his misadventure while downing a mug of warm wine. His reflections are halted by Quickly, who insists that Alice still loves him and proves it with a note appointing a midnight rendezvous in Windsor Park. Alice, Ford, Meg, Caius and Fenton sneak in as Falstaff enters the inn with Quickly, who tells him the gory tale of the Black Huntsman's ghost, often seen in Windsor Park at midnight. Alice and the others take up the story, plotting to frighten Falstaff by dressing up as wood sprites.

In moonlit Windsor Forest, Fenton sings of love and receives a monk's costume for the masquerade; Nannetta is queen of the fairies, Meg a nymph and Quickly a witch. Everyone takes off as Falstaff lumbers in, got up as a huntsman and wearing antlers. Scarcely has he greeted Alice than Meg warns of approaching demons. As the knight cowers, Nannetta calls the forest creatures to their revels. They torment Falstaff until he begs for mercy. When the conspirators unmask, Sir John takes it like a sport. Ford betroths Caius to the queen of the fairies (now Bardolfo in disguise) and unwittingly blesses Nannetta and Fenton. Ford too has been duped, but he can forgive as well, and Falstaff leads the company in declaring the world is but a jest.

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Faust
Charles Gounod

ACT I: Alone in his study, the aged Dr. Faust despairs that his lifelong search for a solution to the riddle of life has been in vain. Twice he raises a goblet of poison to his lips but falters when the songs of young men and women outside his window re-awaken the unfulfilled passions and desires of his youth. Cursing life and human passion, the envious philosopher calls on Satan for help. The Devil appears, and Faust tells him of his longing for youth and pleasure; Méphistophélès replies that these desires can be realized if he will forfeit his soul. Faust hesitates until the Devil conjures up a vision of a lovely maiden, Marguerite. A magic potion transforms Faust into a handsome youth, and he leaves with Méphistophélès in search of Marguerite (Duet: "A moi les plaisirs").

Soldiers and townspeople gather for a fair. A young officer, Valentin, holding a medallion from his sister Marguerite, asks his friend, the young boy Siébel, to protect the girl in his absence and then bids a touching farewell ("Avant de quitter ces lieux"). Wagner, a student, starts the revels with a lively song but is interrupted by Méphistophélès, who delivers an impudent hymn in praise of greed and gold ("Le veau d'or"). The Devil refuses a drink from Wagner and amazes the crowd by causing new wine to flow from an old keg. When he makes a brazen toast to Marguerite, Valentin draws his sword, but it shatters; the other soldiers, recognizing Satan, hold their swords like crosses before Méphistophélès (Chorus: "De l'enfer"), who cowers before them. As the crowd begins a waltz, Faust speaks to Marguerite. She demurely refuses to let him escort her home; Méphistophélès returns to lead the merrymakers in their dance.

ACT II: Siébel briefly visits Marguerite's garden to leave her a bouquet of flowers ("Faites-lui mes aveux"). The romantic youth is followed by Faust and Méphistophélès, who goes in search of a gift to outshine Siébel's; left alone, Faust hails Marguerite's simple home ("Salut! demeure"). The Devil returns with a box of jewels, which he places near Siébel's flowers. When Marguerite arrives, she sits by her spinning wheel to sing a ballad about the King of Thule ("Il était un roi de Thulé"), distractedly interrupting the verses with reflections on the stranger she has met. Discovering the flowers and box, the girl exclaims in delight as she adorns herself with jewels. ("Ah! je ris"). Méphistophélès detours a nosy middle-aged neighbor, Marthe, by flirting with her, so that Faust may complete his seduction. As Méphistophélès invokes a night full of stars, Marguerite confesses her love (Duet: "Il se fait tard!"), but nevertheless begs Faust to leave. The Devil mocks Faust's failure, and points to Marguerite, who has reappeared at her window. As she ecstatically expresses her love for Faust, they meet and embrace. She yields to his embraces, as Méphistophélès' taunting laughter is heard in the garden.

ACT III: Marguerite seeks refuge in church, only to be pursued by Méphistophélès, who curses her and torments her with threats of damnation. She collapses.

In the town square, Valentin and his comrades return from war, singing the glory of those slain in battle (Soldier's Chorus: "Gloire immortelle"). The soldier questions Siébel about Marguerite but receives only evasive replies; puzzled, he enters his house. Faust, remorseful at having abandoned Marguerite, arrives with Méphistophélès, who serenades the girl with a lewd ballad ("Vous qui faites l'endormie"). Valentin, stepping forth to defend his sister's honor, fights a duel with Faust. At a crucial moment, Méphistophélès interferes and Faust inadvertently kills Valentin. As the Devil drags Faust away, Marguerite kneels by her fatally wounded brother, who curses her with his last breath. She rises slowly and giggling madly to herself, moves through the crowd of villagers.

In the prison Marguerite lies asleep, condemned to death for the murder of her illegitimate child. Faust and Méphistophélès enter, bent on spiriting her away. As the Devil keeps watch, Faust wakens Marguerite; at first the distracted girl is overjoyed to see her lover, but instead of fleeing with him she tarries to recall their first days of happiness. When Méphistophélès emerges from the shadows urging haste, Marguerite calls on the angels to save her (Trio: "Anges purs, anges radieux"), and she walks to the gallows. Méphistophélès pronounces her condemned, but as she approaches the hangman, a choir of angels proclaims her salvation.

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Fedora
Umberto Giordano

ACT I: In the house of Count Vladimir Andreyevich, St. Petersburg, 1881. Desiré, valet to the Count (who is the son of the Chief of the Secret Police) and other servants are playing cards. They discuss the Count's marriage the next day to the Princess Fedora Romazov, whose wealth will help pay off his debts. The young groom Dimitri admits Fedora, who is looking for the Count. Dimitri leaves to fetch him, and Fedora wanders around the room, admiring a photograph of her beloved fiancé ("Ed ecco il suo ritratto"). The Count, wounded, is brought in on a stretcher, with Detective Grech and Dr. Lorek. The Count is taken to his room. The diplomat de Siriex arrives and introduces himself to Grech; Lorek warns Fedora that the wound is serious. Grech questions Fedora and the servants about the Count's enemies. The coachman Cirillo tells that he had driven the Count to a club. After fifteen minutes, he heard two shots, and then saw someone rush by, leaving a trail of blood in the snow. De Siriex relates that he had arrived at this moment and they had found the Count in a pool of blood, with a revolver that Desiré confirms the Count carried against potential enemies. Grech suspects that Nihilists are to blame. Desiré tells that an old woman had earlier in the day delivered a letter to the Count; then they realize that it has, in the meantime, been stolen by a stranger. Fedora cries impassionedly ("Dite, coraggio") that Grech seems unmoved to avenge her fiancé, and she swears on the cross she always wears to do so. Dimitri and the other servants try to remember if they had seen the stranger before; Michele the porter recalls that it was Loris Ipanov. Fedora watches through the windows as Grech leaves to arrest Ipanov in his house opposite the Count's. Lorek enters: the Count has died. As Grech returns to say that Loris has escaped, Fedora collapses.

ACT II: At a reception in Fedora's mansion in Paris, some months later, her flirtatious friend Olga introduces an exiled Polish pianist, Boleslao Lazinski, to Baron Rouvel and Dr. Borov. They both flirt with her about the joys of being conspirators. Fedora introduces Loris to de Siriex. She privately tells de Siriex that she is looking for proof of Loris' guilt, but that she is also falling in love with him. Borov, meanwhile, warns Loris of Fedora's charms, but Loris admits that he has already fallen in love with her. Olga is still flirting with Rouvel, and teases de Siriex by proclaiming that he called her a Cossack. He answers the charge with a song ("La donna russa") about Russian women being Daughters of Eve, having every facet of womanhood - Olga as its very ideal. She responds ("Eccone un altro più somigliante ancor") that the Parisian gentleman has all the characteristics -- both golden and poisonous -- of the champagne Clicquot.

Loris tells Fedora not only that he loves her, but also ("Amor ti vieta") that she loves him. Borov and Fedora tell Loris that they are about to leave for Russia. Loris is in despair: he cannot follow her. Fedora says that she will appeal against the sentence that prevents him from returning to his homeland. As Lazinski plays a recital, Loris tells her that he was accused, falsely, of trapping the Count, but felt that he had to come to offer her his love. He forces her to confess that she loves him; only then does he confess that he killed the Count. Fedora admits that she knows nothing of the ambush, and that her initial disgust at his admission was made before her heart thought about it. He promises to return in an hour to tell her all the details. After he leaves, she vows that he will not escape her.

The recital finishes and, as couples start dancing, de Siriex reads a telegram about a Nihilist attack on the Czar. The party breaks up. In an anteroom, Fedora begins to write a letter, and summons Grech. She tells him that Loris will return to repeat his confession, so he should wait outside for her signal to arrest him. She sends with him a letter for the Chief of Police in Russia. Loris denies Fedora's accusation that he is a Nihilist involved in the attack on the Czar, and explains why he shot her fiancé. The Count had been a witness at Loris' wedding to Wanda, a girl who worked for his mother. The Count and Wanda then fell in love. At Christmas Loris found out what was happening from Wanda's maid, so he took some incriminating letters from the Count's desk. He shows them to Fedora, thus proving that the Count still loved Wanda, and that his engagement to Fedora was only for money! Loris tells her how he had surprised the two lovers, shot the Count, and was himself wounded. The girl had fled past Cirillo, only to die later. Fedora lies to Loris, pretending that she does not know who is his accuser. He despairs of never again seeing his mother ("Vedi, io piango"). Fedora weeps for him (ashamed that it is she who has accused him), and promises that she will be like another mother to him. He is about to leave but she begs him to stay, in order to prevent him from fleeing into the arms of the police. In spite of his concerns for her reputation, he does so, and they declare their love for each other.

ACT III: Some months later, in the garden of Fedora and Loris' villa in Switzerland, as peasants are singing in the distance. Loris and Fedora are deeply in love ("Te sola io guardo"). As they embrace, Olga enters and tells them she has renounced the world and is tired of the beauties of nature. She is even tired of bicycling ("Se amor ti allena") because it means that she must be alone. It would be better to walk everywhere. Loris suggests using a tandem and leaves to collect some letters from the post office. De Siriex arrives, tell them that he was just passing by and decided to visit for tea. Olga tells them -- amid merciless teasing -- that she had become bored with Lazinski. De Siriex suggests that Lazinski -- is she strong enough to hear this? -- might have been a secret agent! After a brief fainting spell, Olga leaves to change for bicycling. De Siriex admits to Fedora that he came to talk to her about Loris. The Count's father, the Chief of Police, heard about a Nihilist believed to be an accomplice in his son's death. Loris' brother was thrown into prison, where he died. On hearing this, Loris' mother died. Fedora realizes that it was her letter that brought about both of these deaths. Olga reappears and she and de Siriex go off bicycling.

As a peasant boy is heard singing, Fedora pleads with God not to save her ("Dio di giustizia"): she is unworthy, but He should save her beloved. Loris returns from the post office with a telegram from Borov announcing his imminent arrival, and which tells Loris that he had been pardoned and is now free to return to his country and mother. One of the other letters is also from Borov, but was sent earlier. It tells of a letter sent by a woman in Paris informing the Chief of Police of Loris' confession, which led to his brother's drowning in prison, and the death of his mother. Loris vows vengeance on this woman, and Fedora realizes what she has done. Loris is determined to unmask the woman in Paris, but Fedora tries to defend her -- perhaps she was in love with the Count? Perhaps she now regrets her deed? If she repented, would not Loris forgive her? Never! Not even if the woman were to be at Loris' feet, crying, at the brink of death, begging for forgiveness ("Se quel l'infelice")? Would he not even then be merciful? Would he not even then forgive her? Yes, after choking the life out of her! Fedora secretly pours poison from her cross into her tea, and begs forgiveness again. Loris suspects that Fedora knows the identity of the woman, and then realizes the truth. She begs that he pardon her for having caused the deaths of his brother and mother. In his fury, he is ready to kill her, but she drinks the poisoned tea. Borov enters as she collapses at Loris' feet. De Siriex and Olga return as Fedora begs once more for forgiveness. The peasant boy is heard again, as Loris hugs Fedora close to him. She dies in his arms.

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Fidelio
Ludwig van Beethoven


ACT I. Spain, eighteenth century. In a prison, Marzelline, daughter of the jailer, Rocco, rejects the attentions of her father's assistant, Jacquino, who hopes to marry her. Her heart is set instead on the new errand boy, Fidelio. The latter, a hardworking lad, arrives with provisions and dispatches and is distressed by Marzelline's interest in him, especially since it has the blessing of Rocco. Fidelio is in fact Leonore, a noblewoman of Seville who has come to the jail disguised as a boy to find her husband, Florestan, a political prisoner languishing somewhere in chains. When Rocco mentions a man lying near death in the vaults below, Leonore, suspecting it might be Florestan, begs Rocco to ; ha take her on his rounds. He agrees, though the governor of the prison, Don Pizarro, allows only Rocco in the lower levels of the dungeon.

As soldiers assemble in the courtyard, Pizarro learns from the dispatches brought to him that Don Fernando, minister of state, is on his way to inspect the fortress. At this news the governor resolves to kill Florestan, his enemy, without delay and orders Rocco to dig a grave for the victim in the dungeon. Leonore, overhearing his plan, realizes Pizarro's evil nature and the plight of his victim. After praying for strength to save her husband and keep up hope, she again begs Rocco to let her accompany him to the condemned man's cell - and also to allow the other prisoners a few moments of air in the courtyard. The gasping men relish their glimpse of freedom but are ordered back by Pizarro, who hurries Rocco off to dig Florestan's grave. With apprehension, Leonore follows him into the dungeon.

ACT II. In one of the lowest cells of the prison, Florestan dreams he sees Leonore arrive to free him. But his vision turns to despair, and he sinks down exhausted. Rocco and Leonore arrive and begin digging the grave. Florestan awakens, not recognizing his wife, and Leonore almost loses her composure at the familiar sound of his voice. Florestan moves the jailer to offer him a drink, and Leonore gives him a bit of bread, urging him not to lose faith. Rocco then blows on his whistle to signal Pizarro that all is ready. The governor advances with dagger drawn to strike, but Leonore stops him with a pistol. At this moment a trumpet sounds from the battlements: Don Fernando has arrived. Rocco leads Pizarro out to meet him as Leonore and Florestan rejoice in each other's arms.

In the prison courtyard, Don Fernando proclaims justice for all. He is amazed when Rocco brings his friend Florestan before him and relates the details of Leonore's heroism. Pizarro is arrested, and Leonore herself removes Florestan's chains. The other prisoners too are freed, and the crowd hails Leonore.

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Die Fledermaus
Johann Strauss


ACT I. Vienna, 1890s. Through the windows of the Eisenstein home floats the serenade of Alfred, a tenor still in love with his old flame Rosalinde, now the wife of Gabriel von Eisenstein. Adele, a chambermaid, saunters in reading an invitation to a masked ball; Rosalinde, bedeviled by a headache and believing she has heard Alfred's voice, enters but finds only Adele. The maid asks for the evening off to visit a "sick aunt," a plea her mistress dismisses. Alfred steps into the room and begins to woo Rosalinde, who resists his verbal blandishments but melts on hearing his high A. The suitor leaves as Eisenstein and his lawyer, Blind, arrive from a session in court: Eisenstein has been sentenced to a fortnight in jail for a civil offense. No sooner does he dismiss the incompetent advocate than his friend Falke comes to invite Eisenstein to a masquerade, suggesting he bring along his repeater stop-watch, which charms all the ladies, so he can accumulate pleasant memories to sustain him during his confinement in jail. Rosalinde joins Adele in a bittersweet farewell to Eisenstein before he goes off to prison, got up, to his wife's surprise, in full evening dress. Sending Adele to her "aunt," Rosalinde receives the ardent Alfred. Their tête-à-tête is interrupted by the warden Frank, who mistakes Alfred for the man he has come to arrest. Rosalinde persuades Alfred to save her name by posing as her husband, and Frank carts him off to jail.

ACT II. In an antechamber at the palace of Prince Orlofsky, the nobleman's guests, Adele and her cousin Ida among them, await the arrival of their host. Orlofsky enters, quite bored — even with Falke's promise of a comedy of errors. The prince proclaims his guests free to do anything that suits their fancy — "Chacun à son gout." Adele, dressed in one of Rosalinde's most elegant gowns, laughs off Eisenstein's suggestion that she resembles his wife's chambermaid. Frank enters, and Rosalinde, also invited by Falke, arrives disguised as a temperamental Hungarian countess; she is soon wooed by her own reeling husband, whose pocket watch she steals to hold as proof of his philandering. Rosalinde agrees to sing a song about her "native" land, a spirited czardas, after which the guests move on to a magnificent dining area to toast the joys of wine, good fellowship and love. Champagne flows, and the guests dance wildly until dawn. When the clock strikes six, Eisenstein staggers off to keep his appointment at the jail.

ACT III. Moments later at the prison, Frosch, a drunken jailer, tries to keep order among the inmates, who are unable to sleep because of Alfred's singing. Frank arrives, still giddy with champagne, followed shortly by Ida and Adele, who, thinking him a theatrical agent, believes he might further her stage aspirations. Frank, hearing someone at the door, hides the girls in a cell and then admits Eisenstein, who has come to begin his sentence. The new prisoner is surprised to learn his cell is already occupied by a man who claims to be Eisenstein and who was found supping with Rosalinde; to obtain an explanation from the impostor, Eisenstein snatches a legal robe and wig from his astonished lawyer. No sooner is he disguised than Rosalinde hurries in to secure Alfred's release and press divorce charges against her errant husband. With her would-be paramour, she confides her flirtation to the "lawyer." Enraged, Eisenstein removes his disguise and accuses his wife of promiscuity, at which Rosalinde whips forth the watch she took from him at the ball. Orlofsky and his guests arrive to celebrate the reconciliation of Rosalinde and Eisenstein, singing a final toast as Eisenstein is taken away.

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Der Fliegende Holländer
Richard Wagner


Norway, 1700s. An icy storm drives the sea captain Daland's ship miles beyond his home on the coast. As the sky suddenly darkens and the waters again grow rough, another ship, a ghostly schooner, arrives and drops anchor next to Daland's. Its captain, the Flying Dutchman, steps ashore, despairing of his fate. He once swore he would sail around the Cape of Good Hope if it took him forever, and the devil took him at his word. Once every seven years he may leave his ship in search of a woman who will redeem him from his deathless wandering if she gives him faithful, absolute love; failing this, he is condemned to roam the seas until the Day of Judgment. He tells Daland of his plight and offers a reward of gold and jewels for a night's lodging. Then, discovering that Daland has a young daughter, the Dutchman asks for her hand in marriage. Daland, seeing the extent of the stranger's wealth, immediately agrees. Instructing the Dutchman to follow, Daland sets sail for his home port.

At Daland's house, his daughter, Senta, dreamily watches village women as they spin and make sails. They tease the girl about her suitor, the huntsman Erik, but she remains in a trance. Staring at a portrait of the Flying Dutchman, she sings a ballad about the phantom captain. With burning intensity she prays that she may be the one to save him. Erik enters and, after the others have left, asks Senta to plead his cause with Daland. Noticing her preoccupation with the Dutchman's picture, he relates a frightening dream in which he saw her embrace the Dutchman and sail away in his ship. Senta exclaims that this is her own dream as well, and the despairing Erik rushes away. A moment later, the Dutchman himself stands before the girl. He tells her of his sad lot, and she vows to be faithful to him unto death. Daland blesses the union.

At the harbor, the villagers celebrate the sailors' return. They invite the Dutchman's crew to join them but are frightened away by the ghostly crew's weird chanting. Senta soon rushes in, pursued by Erik, who insists she has pledged her love to him. Overhearing this, the Dutchman believes himself betrayed and jumps aboard his ship. As horrified villagers crowd the shore, he reveals his name and nature and sets sail. Senta runs to the top of a cliff, triumphantly proclaiming herself faithful unto death, and leaps into the sea.

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Die Frau ohne Schatten
Richard Strauss


Hunting with his favorite falcon, the Emperor of the Southeastern islands captured a gazelle; she turned into a woman, whom he married. Daughter of Keikobad, king of the spirits, she is a woman without a shadow - that is, unable to bear children. According to Keikobad's decree, unless the Empress gains a shadow before the end of the twelfth moon, she will be reclaimed by her father and the Emperor will turn to stone.

ACT I. A Pacific island, legendary times. On a palace terrace, the Empress' Nurse, adept in black magic, hears the Messenger of Keikobad warn that the Empress, still barren, has only three days left. Leaving his wife in the care of the Nurse, the Emperor departs for the hunt in hopes of recapturing the falcon, which he wounded for attacking the gazelle. Nurse and Empress descend to the human world in search of a shadow.

In the hut of Barak the dyer, his misshapen brothers argue with his wife. Barak longs for children, but she is reluctant, fearful of motherhood without having experienced it. When Barak leaves, the Nurse and the Empress arrive disguised; conjuring up visions of luxury, the Nurse convinces the Dyer's Wife to deny Barak for the three days that the visitors will act as her servants. As the Nurse and Empress disappear, the Dyer's Wife hears the voices of Unborn Children bewail their fate. Barak returns to find the marriage bed divided. Outside, Watchmen sing of conjugal love.

ACT II. The Empress, troubled, helps Barak leave for work, whereupon the Nurse brings forth the image of a youth the Dyer's Wife finds attractive. Barak returns with his hungry brothers and beggar children.

The Emperor, while hunting, is suspicious when he sees his wife and the Nurse surreptitiously enter his lodge.

Back at the Dyer's house, Barak is drugged as the Nurse conjures up the young man again for the Dyer's Wife, who, grown anxious, rouses her husband.

The sleeping Empress writhes in torment at her sin against Barak; as the falcon repeats that she is childless, she seems to see the Emperor enter a temple door.

As darkness overcomes Barak's hut, the mortals express fear, the Nurse confidence and the Empress her budding humanity. The Dyer's Wife relinquishes her shadow, enraging Barak when the lights rekindle to reveal her shadowless. A sword materializes in Barak's hand, but before he can strike her, they are swallowed into the earth. His wife now sees the value of her shadow.

ACT III. In an underground grotto in Keikobad's realm, the Dyer's Wife, separated from her husband, tries to still the voices of the Unborn Children, crying that she loves Barak, who regrets his violence. A voice urges them up a winding staircase.

A boat brings the Empress and the Nurse before the Temple, where Keikobad's Messenger condemns the Nurse to wander the mortal world.

Inside the Temple, the Empress, prostrate before the fountain of life, sees her husband turned to stone as the cries of the Dyer and his Wife are heard in the distance. She refuses to save the Emperor at the expense of Barak's happiness -- at which she casts a shadow and frees the Emperor.

In a landscape, the two couples, reunited and fertile, sing of their humanity, to the praises of the Unborn.

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The Gambler
Sergei Prokofiev


ACT I. At Roulettenberg, a fictitious spa somewhere in Central Europe, 1865. In the Garden of the Grand Hotel, outside the casino, Alexei, age twenty-five, a tutor to the General's family, encounters Pauline, the General's ward, with whom he is in love, and tells her he followed her instructions to pawn her jewelry and gamble with the proceeds -- but lost. The General, a middle-aged man smitten with the much younger opportunist Blanche, enters with her, the coldly shrewd Marquis and an Englishman, Mr. Astley. Questioned about his losses, Alexei claims the money was his own, from the salary he had saved. When the others suggest that a person in his modest position ought not to gamble, Alexei irritablyand replies that life is too short to save money gradually. The General has just received a telegram from "Babushke," Pauline's Grandma in Moscow, and goes off with the others to send a reply; they are all waiting for the old lady to die and leave them her money so they can gamble with it.

Pauline returns, annoyed that she now cannot repay her debts to the insidious Marquis. Alexei insists on his infatuation with her, but she senses cold greed beyond his hysteria. Their conversation is interrupted by the General, who has just borrowed money from the Marquis and gives Alexei a large bill to get changed. Pauline capriciously dares Alexei -- if he really loves her enough to do anything she asks -- to go and flirt with a German Baroness sitting in the park, thereby annoying her husband. He does so, creating a stir and causing the Baron and Baroness to leave.

ACT II. In the lobby of the Grand Hotel, the General reprimands Alexei for his behavior. When the young man shows no sign of contrition, the General fires him. Alexei sticks to the view that he should be allowed to act as he wishes without interference. When Alexei leaves for a moment, the General tries unsuccessfully to enlist the Marquis' help in dealing with him to prevent a scandal. As the two older men move off, Alexei returns, reflecting that everything is Pauline's fault: it was she who put him up to addressing the Baroness. Astley greets Alexei, and they discuss the cause of the General's apprehension: he is afraid any scandal might jeopardize his hopes of winning Blanche. At some point, it seems, Blanche had tried to borrow money from the Baron, causing a complaint from the Baroness. Since the Baron and Baroness are important people, the General wants to avoid further offending them. As the two men talk, Blanche passes through in search of the General. Astley goes on to explain that the General cannot propose to Blanche until he gets his inheritance from Grandma. Alexei takes the cynical view that since Pauline too will have an inheritance, she will then fall prey to the rapacious Marquis.

Astley takes his leave as the Marquis appears, bent on controlling Alexei's behavior at the behest of the General. Finding the young man resistant, the Marquis wonders aloud how best to get around him, then produces a note from Pauline telling Alexei to stop acting like a schoolboy. Alexei calls the Marquis a usurer and a parasite, accusing him of making Pauline write the note. As Alexei leaves angrily, Blanche and the General appear, asking whether the Marquis had any success in dealing with Alexei. The Marquis pretends he had success, then turns to his chief topic of interest, Grandma's imminent demise: how soon do they expect news of her?

No sooner has the General predicted her death that very night than Grandma's voice is heard: she has arrived at the hotel, a picture of health. Though she greets Pauline with a certain affection, she quickly sees through the poses of the others. She announces she is over her illness and wants to recuperate at the spa, where she also looks forward to gambling. Blanche suspects the General of false promises, while the Marquis hopes his usual deceit and hypocrisy will be sufficient to deal with the old lady.

ACT III. In an anteroom of the casino, the General is beside himself: Grandma has been gambling and losing large amounts, ignoring all entreaties to stop. His hopes of success with Blanche are evaporating. When the Marquis steps in to announce that Grandma's losses are up to 40,000, the General decides it is time to call the police: surely they will see that she is senile and irresponsible, perhaps even send her to an asylum. No such luck, the Marquis assures him. Blanche makes another brief appearance, disillusioned with the General.

When Alexei arrives, the General and the Marquis try to enlist his help in stopping Grandma from ruining them all. Prince Nilsky, who has been showing interest in Blanche, enters the salon and mentions that the old lady's losses have increased; this causes the General to collapse, momentarily stunned, before running into the casino. Blanche leaves with Nilsky. Alexei ponders the fate overtaking his erstwhile employer's family: his love for Pauline is the only thing that still connects him to them. Pauline appears, but his words to her are constrained, and the two are soon interrupted by Grandma, who is brought in looking tired. Having spent all the money she brought, she now wants to return to Moscow and has asked Astley to lend her enough for the train fare. When she invites Pauline to accompany her, the girl says she cannot leave just yet. As Grandma is carried off, the General comes back from the casino, fulminating that he has been disgraced by her losses and has lost Blanche to Nilsky.

ACT IV. In his room at the hotel, Alexei finds Pauline waiting to show him a letter from the Marquis. As Alexei reads it, he realizes that the Marquis, pressured by loans he has made to the General, is trying to get Pauline to pay her debts to him by suggesting that if he were forced to sue, her own inheritance would be in jeopardy. Flattered that Pauline has turned to him for help, Alexei runs from the room like a madman.

In the gambling hall, Alexei joins a group of seasoned gamblers who discuss his every play as he wins repeatedly, finally quitting at 200,000. This breaks the bank, and the tables are closed for the evening. After an entr'acte, the other patrons are still discussing his phenomenal luck. Gathering his winnings, Alexei returns to his room, where in a daze he imagines the voices of the croupiers and the comments of his fellow gamblers. In due time he realizes Pauline is there, waiting for him, and he offers her the 50,000 she needs to repay the Marquis. She refuses and asks whether he really loves her. For a moment it appears he is responding: they will go away together. Then, turning harsh again, Pauline demands the money, saying her love is just a commodity. When Alexei hands it to her, she throws it in his face and runs out. Alexei is left alone, dementedly recalling how he won twenty times in a row.

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Giulio Cesare
George Frederick Handel


Act I. Egypt, 48 B.C. Giulio Cesare (Julius Caesar) has defeated the forces of his political rival and former son-in-law, Pompeo (Pompey), and arrives on the banks of the Nile in triumph. Cornelia, Pompeo's second wife, begs for clemency for her husband, but Cesare says it will be granted only if the man comes to him in person. Scarcely has he said this than Achille (Achillas), the Egyptian military leader, brings in a casket containing Pompeo's head — a gift from Tolomeo (Ptolemy), the co-ruler, with Cleopatra, of Egypt. Cesare takes the gesture badly and leaves to remonstrate with Tolomeo. Cornelia faints, reviving in the arms of her son, Sesto (Sextus). Curio, Cesare's aide, who wants to marry Cornelia, offers to help her avenge her husband's death, but she spurns him. She bemoans her sorrowful state, for which death offers no relief. Sesto resolves to strike down his father's murderer.

Cleopatra learns from her retinue of Pompeo's murder. Realizing that her brother Tolomeo arranged this in hopes of currying favor with Cesare, she decides she must see the Roman emperor herself to muster support for her position as queen. Tolomeo scoffs at her, but she is determined to use her charms on Cesare. Achille enters with the news that Cesare was angered by the murder of Pompeo, adding that he would gladly do away with Cesare in return for Cornelia's hand. Tolomeo welcomes the idea of being rid of the Roman conqueror.

In his camp, Cesare muses on the fragility of life and fame as he stands before the urn containing Pompeo's remains. Curio introduces "Lidia" — actually Cleopatra in disguise as one of her ladies-in-waiting. As she tells of her tribulations at the hands of the tyrant Tolomeo, Cesare is amazed by her beauty. He excuses himself, leaving Cleopatra to hide as the grieving Cornelia appears and takes up her husband's sword. Sesto stops her, saying that he will avenge Pompeo. Cleopatra steps forth and offers the services of her adviser Nireno, who will lead the way to the guilty Tolomeo.

Tolomeo guardedly receives Cesare at his palace. He plans to have him ambushed, but Cesare suspects treachery. When Achille introduces Cornelia, Tolomeo himself is smitten by her beauty, though he pretends to Achille that the latter may still hope to marry her. Sesto tries unsuccessfully to challenge Tolomeo to combat. When Cornelia scorns Achille's wooing, he sends Egyptian soldiers to arrest Sesto. As she bemoans this latest misfortune, Sesto bids her a dejected farewell.

ACT II. In her palace, Cleopatra tells Nireno to lure Cesare to her rooms by promising news of "Lidia." She withdraws, and Cesare arrives in search of her. He is distracted by the sound of beautiful music, and when Cleopatra appears, singing the praises of Cupid's darts, Cesare is enchanted.

In the harem garden of Tolomeo's palace, Achille continues to plead with the adamant Cornelia. When he leaves, Tolomeo also tries to court her, with the same results. Sesto enters, bent on avenging his father's death.

In Cleopatra's quarters, meanwhile, her idyll with Cesare is disturbed by sounds of conspirators approaching. Revealing her identity, she urges him to flee, but he goes to face his enemies as she prays for his safety.

In Tolomeo's harem, the king sits surrounded by his favorites, Cornelia among them. Sesto rushes in and attempts to stab Tolomeo, but he is subdued by Achille, who announces that his soldiers attacked Cesare, who jumped from a palace window into the sea and is undoubtedly dead. Achille now asks for the promised reward of Cornelia's hand in marriage and is sharply turned down by Tolomeo. Sesto tries to kill himself but is dissuaded by his mother; he repeats his determination not to rest until the tyrant who murdered his father is punished.

ACT III. By the shores of the Mediterranean, sounds of battle denote the clash between Tolomeo's and Cleopatra's armies. Victorious, Tolomeo orders the still-defiant Cleopatra led off in chains. Cesare, having barely survived the fray, pulls himself from the water and prays for news of his beloved. As he leaves, Sesto enters, guided by Nireno, in search of Tolomeo; instead he finds the wounded Achille. To avenge himself on Tolomeo for abducting Cornelia, Achille hands Sesto a seal that will give him command over a hundred armed men in a nearby cave. As Achille dies, Cesare appears and demands the seal, declaring he will save both Cornelia and Cleopatra or die in the attempt.

Guarded by soldiers in Tolomeo's camp, Cleopatra fears that Cesare is dead, shattering her last hopes. She is astonished when he appears and embraces her. As he leads his soldiers off to the conquest, she compares her joy to that of a person rescued from a shipwreck.

In the harem, Tolomeo continues to court Cornelia, but Sesto discovers them and kills him. Cornelia blesses her avenging son.

Cesare and Cleopatra enter Alexandria in triumph. Cornelia presents trophies of the slain Tolomeo to Cesare, who passes them on to Cleopatra, saying he will support her rule. As the two declare their love, the people welcome the return of peace.

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Götterdämmerung
Richard Wagner

PROLOGUE: On the Valkyries' rock, three Norns spin the rope of Fate, recalling Wotan's days of power and predicting the end of the Gods. When the rope breaks they descend in terror to their mother, Erda, goddess of the earth. At dawn Siegfried and his bride, Brünnhilde, emerge from their cave ("Zu neuen Taten"). Though fearful that she may lose the hero, she sends him forth to deeds of valor. As a token of his love, Siegfried gives Brünnhilde the magic Ring he took from Fafner, and she gives him her horse Grane in exchange. Passionately they bid farewell as Siegfried sets off into the world (Rhine Journey).

ACT I: In their castle on the Rhine, Gunther, Lord of the Gibichungs, and his sister Gutrune, both unwed, ask counsel of their half-brother, Hagen. Plotting to secure the Ring, Hagen advises Gunther to marry Brünnhilde: by means of a magic potion Siegfried can be induced to forget his bride and win her for Gunther in return for Gutrune's hand. The hero's horn announces his approach. Gunther welcomes him, and Gutrune offers him the potion. Remembering Brünnhilde, he drinks and forgets all, quickly succumbing to Gutrune's beauty and agreeing to bring Brünnhilde to Gunther. The two men swear an oath of blood brotherhood ("Blühenden Lebens"), and then depart. Hagen, left to keep watch, broods on his plot's success ("Hier sitz ich zur Wacht").

On the Valkyries' rock, Brünnhilde greets her sister Waltraute, who says Wotan has warned the gods their doom is sealed unless Brünnhilde yields the Ring to the Rhinemaidens. But Brünnhilde's new love for Siegfried is more important to her than concern for the Gods. She refuses to give up the Ring, and Waltraute rides off in despair. Dusk falls as Siegfried returns transformed by the Tarnhelm into Gunther's form. He tears the Ring from the terrified Brünnhilde's finger and claims her as Gunther's Bride.

ACT II: At night, before the Gibichung hall, Hagen dreams of his father, the Nibelung Alberich, who forces him to swear he will regain the Ring ("Schläfst du, Hagen?"). As dawn breaks, Siegfried returns with cheerful greetings for Hagen and Gutrune: he has won Brünnhilde for Gunther. Hagen summons the vassals to welcome the king and his bride ("Hoiho, Hoiho!"). When Gunther leads in Brünnhilde, she is startled at seeing Siegfried; observing the Ring on his finger, she decries his treachery and proclaims Siegfried her true husband ("Heilige Götter!"). Still under the potion's spell, the hero vows upon Hagen's spear that he has never wronged her ("Helle Wehr! Heilige Waffe!"). Brünnhilde swears he lies, but Siegfried dismisses her charge and leaves with Gutrune. The dazed Brünnhilde, bent on revenge ("Welches Unhold's List"), reveals to Hagen the hero's one vulnerable spot: a spear in the back will kill him. Taunted by Brünnhilde and lured by Hagen's description of the Ring's power, Gunther joins the murder plot. The couples proceed to the wedding feast.

ACT III: On the bank of the Rhine the three Rhinemaidens bewail their lost treasure ("Frau Sonne sendet lichte Strahlen"). Soon Siegfried approaches, separated from his hunting party. The maidens plead for the Ring, but he ignores both their entreaties and warnings. When the hunters arrive, Siegfried at Hagen's urging describes his boyhood with Mime (his Nibelung foster father), his slaying of the dragon Fafner and finally - after Hagen gives him a potion to restore his memory - his wooing of Brünnhilde ("Mime hiess ein mürrischer Zwerg"). Pretending indignation, Hagen plunges a spear into the hero's back. Remembering Brünnhilde with his last breath, Siegfried dies and is borne off (Funeral Music).

At the Gibichung hall, Gutrune nervously awaits her bridegroom's return. Hagen tells her Siegfried has been killed by a wild boar, but when his body is carried in she accuses Gunther of murder. Hagen admits the crime ("Ja denn! Ich hab'ihn erschlegen"). Quarreling over the Ring, Gunther is killed by Hagen, who falls back in fear when the dead Siegfried raises his hand. Brünnhilde, entering, orders a funeral pyre for Siegfried ("Starke Scheite"). She condemns the gods for their guilt in his death, takes the Ring, and promises it to the Rhinemaidens. Placing it on her finger, she throws a torch onto the pyre and joyfully rushes into the flames. As the river overflows its banks and the Gibichung hall is consumed, the Rhinemaidens, dragging Hagen to his death, regain their gold, at last purified of its curse. Flames engulf Valhalla, leaving a human world redeemed by love.

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The Great Gatsby
John Harbison


ACT I. Nick Carraway, a stockbroker who lives on West Egg, Long Island, visits old acquaintances from the Middle West, his distant cousin Daisy Buchanan and her husband, Tom, a wealthy sportsman, at their East Egg estate, across Manhasset Bay. Also present is Jordan Baker, a professional golfer and Daisy's girlhood friend, whom Daisy introduces to Nick in hopes of making a match between them. When Jordan mentions Gatsby (who lives next door to Nick), Daisy becomes flustered. Nick compliments the ladies, but Tom interrupts with his theories about civilization's decline. When the phone rings, Tom goes to answer it, followed anxiously by Daisy. Alone with Nick, Jordan reveals that Tom has a woman in New York. Daisy and Tom, somewhat ill at ease, return to the drawing room, and he takes Jordan to see his polo ponies. While they are gone, Daisy discloses to Nick that she is unhappy, because Tom mistreats her, and though she has become "sophisticated," she misses the "old, warm world" of her youth in Louisville. Returning from the stables, Jordan reads aloud from The Saturday Evening Post. Nick expresses some misgivings about Eastern society, and Tom wonders who Gatsby is. The phone rings again.

About halfway between West Egg and New York, the commuter train stops at a "valley of ashes." Tom drags a reluctant Nick to a nearby garage to meet Myrtle, whose husband, George Wilson, owns the place. Tom sends Wilson on an errand. Myrtle appears, and she and Tom dance to the radio. She describes her first meeting with Tom to Nick, who becomes increasingly embarrassed. Myrtle's insistence on talking about Daisy angers Tom, who hits her, bloodying her nose, then leaves.

In the early evening, Gatsby stands on his vast lawn, looking across the bay at a green light on Daisy's peer. He goes inside, and waiters, caterers, musicians and guests begin arriving for a party. Nick is among the guests; he dances with Jordan, the only person he knows at the party. They speculate about their mysterious host, then mingle separately. Nick begins talking to a man with whom he reminisces about the War; the stranger turns out to be Gatsby. About to ask Nick for a favor, Gatsby is called to the phone, and Jordan rejoins Nick. Sometime later, Gatsby comes outside again but remains apart. The party intensifies until sounds of an automobile crash disperse the crowd. In the ensuing confusion, a businessman with shady connections, Meyer Wolfshiem, appears; finding Gatsby, he tells him that their business ventures in Philadelphia and Detroit are in trouble and their debts must be paid in full. Shrugging off this unpleasant news, Gatsby sends him away. Turning to Nick, Gatsby asks his favor: could Nick arrange a meeting with Daisy? Nick leaves him alone by the dock. Gazing at Daisy's green light, Gatsby recalls their love five years ago in Louisville and confidently plans to win her back.

Nick has arranged a meeting between his neighbor and Daisy at his cottage. He and Jordan play a game of trying to name Gatsby's guests. Before departing, she tells Nick how Gatsby and Daisy fell in love, despite her parents' disapproval. While Gatsby was fighting in World War I, Daisy married Tom. Gatsby arrives, nervous and distracted, and waits for what seems an eternity to him. When Daisy's horn is heard outside, he slips away, then returns, pretending casually to have dropped by. Gatsby and Daisy remain almost silent, and Nick withdraws. Gradually, the former lovers re-establish their old feelings for each other. Standing at the window, they admire Gatsby's grand house across the lawn; he begins wildly to plan their future and invites her to tour the mansion. When Nick returns, they barely notice.

ACT II. At another of Gatsby's parties, rumors about his past run rampant. The Buchanans arrive, and Tom is introduced to Gatsby. Gatsby dances with Daisy while a band vocalist sings. Seeing Nick, Gatsby excuses himself, leaving Daisy to dance by herself. Gatsby worries aloud to Nick that she isn't having a good time. Nick cautions him that the past cannot be repeated, and Gatsby goes into the house. Daisy asks Nick to distract her husband so that she can be alone with Gatsby, who tries to convince her that they can recapture the glow of their past relationship. Meanwhile, Nick defends his friend to a skeptical Tom, who is looking for his wife. Rumors about Gatsby's shady business continue to be heard among the guests. When Tom finds Daisy and Gatsby, he invites the latter to their house the following Sunday.

On a hot afternoon at the Buchanans', Daisy and Jordan — in white dresses — recline on chaises longues, listening to the radio, while Nick and Gatsby make nervous conversation. Daisy flirts with Gatsby, annoying her husband. When she suggests they all go into the city to escape the heat, Tom says he'll drive Gatsby's yellow car, telling the latter to take his blue coupé. Daisy decides to go with Gatsby. Tom vents his anger to Jordan and Nick.

Daisy, Gatsby, Tom, Nick and Jordan take a suite at the Plaza Hotel. Sounds from a wedding downstairs make Daisy think of her own nuptials in Louisville. When Tom begins to challenge Gatsby, Daisy turns on her husband, seeming to take his rival's part. Confronted with Gatsby's assertion that Daisy never loved him, Toms recalls the things that bind them together, forcing her to choose between them. Indecisive, Daisy longs for her simpler past. The two men try to persuade her, until she finally decides to stay with Tom. When she pleads to go home, Tom, exultant, contemptuously tells Daisy to return to Long Island with Gatsby in his yellow car, as Tom has nothing to fear. Nick suddenly remembers it is his thirtieth birthday.

That night, at Wilson's garage, Myrtle looks out the window at the road; she is lonely and longs for Tom. Her husband, suspicious and grim, works on his cars. Both feel desperately trapped in their marriage and in this place. Thinking she sees Tom, whom she saw at the garage that afternoon in a new yellow car, Myrtle rushes out. A crash is heard. Tom, Nick and Jordan, on their way back to Long Island, drive up to see what has happened and learn that Myrtle has been killed by a hit-and-run driver. Her body is brought into the garage. Tom identifies Gatsby as the owner of the yellow car. Wilson, grieving, is determined to find the driver.

Early the next morning, movers carry furniture out of Gatsby's house. Nick and Jordan arrive; as they look for Gatsby, she observes that all their dreams are over. He appears, and she leaves. When Nick accuses Gatsby of leaving the scene of the accident, he reveals that Daisy was behind the wheel of the car. After confirming his reluctant sympathy with Gatsby and his dreams, Nick departs. As Gatsby waits for Daisy to signal him with the green light, he recalls his youth and his love for her. Wilson appears and shoots Gatsby, killing him.

Nick and Jordan meet at Gatsby's house, before his funeral. Since their relationship has been neither deep nor destructive, they agree to go their separate ways without regret, and Jordan departs. Wolfshiem drops by and looks around to assure himself that the house is "clean," leaving before the funeral. Gatsby's father arrives and introduces himself to Nick. The simple old man, awed by the splendor of the house, proudly produces his son's youthful manual of self-improvement, from which he and Nick read. Partygoers come, but finding no party, they move on, as a minister arrives to conduct a brief service, with only Nick and Gatsby's father present. After the funeral, Nick is left alone to reflect on what has happened. Daisy's green light is all that is visible.

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Hänsel und Gretel
Engelbert Humperdinck


ACT I: In the house of a broom-maker deep in a German forest, Hänsel und Gretel have been left by their parents, who are off in town. Gretel puts down the stocking she is knitting to recite a nursery rhyme, which Hansel interrupts with cries of hunger. Gretel runs after her playful brother, calling him a complaining crocodile. She shows him a pitcher of milk hidden in the cupboard, but will not let him drink it. To keep him happy, she begins to teach him how to dance. The two become hilarious and roll together all over the floor. Suddenly the door to the hut springs open and Gertrude, their mother, comes in and angrily reproves them for their horseplay. When Hansel laughs at Gretel's punishment, his mother chases him around the hut; in a flash the milk pitcher falls to the floor and smashes. Furious, Gertrude chases both children out of the house and sends them into the wood to find wild strawberries. She exhaustedly puts her head down on the table just as the happy voice of her husband Peter is heard in the distance. Slightly tipsy, he walks around outside the hut and sits down to finish his bottle before entering. He shows Gertrude all the food he has bought and tells her that he sold his brooms to a wedding party for the best price he has ever received. They celebrate their good fortune with a toast to all broom-makers and he then asks where the children are. When Gertrude tells him that they have gone to the wood, he is horrified. He tells her about the Witch who lives there and who bakes children into bread. The two rush off to find Hänsel und Gretel.

In a forest glade, Gretel is making a wreath of wild flowers as Hansel picks the last of the wild strawberries. He offers his basket to Gretel, who eats one; as they start to leave, a cuckoo calls, and the children parrot the bird's call, eating strawberries all the while. As darkness falls, they realize they cannot refill the basket, and worse, that they are lost. Their fears multiply as they see wild animals behind every tree. A large owl menacingly glowers from an overhanging branch, just as an old man carrying a large sack appears. He scatters gold sand and promises restful sleep. When the Sandman leaves, the two children kneel to say their prayers and quickly fall asleep. The glade is gradually transfigured as a golden light filters down from above. Fourteen angels clothed in light forest-green and gold surround the sleeping forms and place a golden diaphanous blanket over them. As two angels ascend to keep guard, the curtain falls.

ACT II: The Dewfairy, sprinkling silver dust around her, awakens Gretel, who tries to drag the sleepy Hansel to his feet. Mist covering the back of the stage disappears, the trees vanish, and there appears a many-turreted pink-and-green candy house, with rows of gingerbread children forming a fence on either side. When Hansel breaks a piece of cake from one of the windows, he hears a voice from inside the house. An ancient crone comes out and grabs the children by their arms. She tells both of them that she is Rosina Dainty-mouth; when they refuse her blandishments, she puts a spell on them and claps Hansel in a large cage. Gretel is released to go into the house to set the Witch's table, and a huge oven comes into view. In a paroxysm of joy at her prospective banquet, the Witch jumps on her broomstick and rides all around, laughing as she flies. Gretel has overheard the Witch's plan to bake her, and while the Witch feeds Hansel raisins to fatten him up, Gretel whispers the Witch's magic words, which break the spell on Hansel. Hungry for Gretel, the Witch calls her to the oven. Gretel cleverly asks the Witch to show her how to make the oven work. As the Witch leans in, Gretel frees Hänsel und they push her in and slam the door. The two dance about joyously while the stage fills with animals from the enchanted forest who join in their dance. The oven gets hotter and hotter until it explodes. Hänsel und Gretel see that all the gingerbread children have become real children, still asleep. Hansel recites the Witch's spell and the children spring to life. As Peter and Gertrude rush in and embrace their children, a huge gingerbread cake of the Witch is found in the oven. Before eating, all join in giving thanks for the Lord's deliverance.

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Idomeneo
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


ACT I. Sidon, capital of the island of Crete. Ilia, daughter of King Priam, reflects on the defeat of Troy, which she never will see again, and on her love for Prince Idamante, son of Idomeneo, which she hesitates to acknowledge. Soon Idamante comes to free the Trojan prisoners. Saddened by Ilia's rejection of his love, he tells her it is not his fault that their fathers were enemies. Trojans and Cretans alike welcome the return of peace, but Elettra, jealous of Ilia, rushes in to protest Idamante's clemency toward the enemy prisoners. Arbace, the king's confidant, interrupts with the news that Idomeneo has been lost at sea on his return voyage. Elettra, fearing that a Trojan soon will be Queen of Crete, feels the furies of Hades tormenting her.

On a deserted seashore, the shipwrecked Idomeneo recalls the vow he foolishly made to Neptune - to sacrifice, if he were spared, the first living creature he meets on shore. Idamante approaches him, but because the two have not seen each other since the son's infancy, recognition is slow. When Idomeneo realizes the youth is his own child, he orders Idamante never to seek him out. Grief-stricken by his father's rejection, Idamante runs off. Cretan troops disembarking from Idomeneo's ship are met by their wives, and all sing the praises of Neptune, who will be honored with a sacrifice.


ACT II. At the palace, Idomeneo seeks counsel from Arbace, who says a substitute could be sacrificed if Idamante went into exile immediately. Idomeneo orders his son to escort Elettra home to Greece. Ilia then greets Idomeneo, whose kind words move her to declare that since she has lost everything, he will be her father and Crete her country. As she leaves, Idomeneo realizes his deliverance has cost Ilia her happiness as well as his own. Saved at sea, he now finds a tempest raging in his own bosom. Elettra welcomes the idea of going to Argos with Idamante, voicing her love for him.

At the port of Sidon, Idomeneo bids his son farewell and urges him to learn the art of ruling while he is away. Before the ship can sail, however, a storm breaks out, and a sea serpent appears among the waves. Recognizing it as a messenger from Neptune, the king offers himself as atonement for having defaulted in his bargain with the sea god.

ACT III. In the royal garden, Ilia asks the breezes to carry her love to Idamante, who appears, explaining that the serpent is wreaking havoc in the countryside and that he must go to fight it. When he says he may as well die as suffer the torments of unrequited love, Ilia confesses her love. They are surprised by Elettra and Idomeneo. When Idamante asks his father why he shuns him and sends him away, Idomeneo can reply only that the youth must leave. Ilia asks for consolation from Elettra, who is preoccupied with revenge. Arbace comes with news that the people, led by the High Priest of Neptune, are clamoring for Idomeneo. The High Priest tells the king of the destruction wrought in the land by Neptune's monster, exhorting Idomeneo to reveal the name of the person whose sacrifice is demanded by the god. When the king confesses that his own son is the victim, the populace is horrified.

Outside the temple, the king and High Priest join with Neptune's priests in prayer that the god may be appeased. Arbace announces that Idamante has succeeded in killing the monster. As Idomeneo fears new reprisals from Neptune, Idamante enters in sacrificial robes, saying he at last understands his father's dilemma and is ready to die. After an agonizing farewell, Idomeneo is about to sacrifice his son when Ilia intervenes, offering her own life instead. The oracular Voice of Neptune is heard. Idomeneo must yield the throne to Ilia and Idamante. Everyone is relieved except Elettra, who longs for her own death. Idomeneo presents Idamante and his bride as the new rulers. The people call upon the god of love and marriage to bless the royal pair and bring peace.

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L'Italiana in Algeri
Gioachino Rossini


ACT I. In Algiers, at the seaside palace of the bey Mustafà, his wife, Elvira, complains that her husband no longer loves her; her attendants reply there is nothing she can do. Mustafà himself bursts in. Asserting he will not let women get the better of him, he sends Elvira away when she complains. Mustafà says he has tired of his wife and will give her to Lindoro, a young Italian at the court, to marry. Then he orders Haly, a captain in his service, to provide an Italian woman for himself-someone more interesting than the girls in his harem, all of whom bore him. Lindoro longs for his own sweetheart, Isabella, whom he lost when pirates captured him. Mustafà tells him he can have Elvira, insisting she posseses every virtue that Lindoro, in his attempt to escape Mustafà's connubial trap, has listed.

Elsewhere along the shore, a shipwreck is spotted in the distance, and Haly's pirates exult in the catch. Isabella arrives on shore, lamenting the cruelty of a fate that has interrupted her quest for her lost fiancé, Lindoro. Though in danger, she is confident of her skill in taming men. The pirates seize Taddeo, an aging admirer of Isabella's, and attempt to sell him into slavery, but he claims he is Isabella's uncle and cannot leave her. When the Turks learn that both captives are Italian, they rejoice in having found the new star for their leader's harem. Taddeo is aghast at the aplomb with which Isabella takes his news, but after a quarrel about his jealousy, they decide they had better face their predicament together.

Elvira's slave, Zulma, tries to reconcile Lindoro and her mistress to the fact that Mustafà has ordered them to marry. Mustafà promises Lindoro he may return to Italy -- if he will take Elvira. Seeing no other way, Lindoro accepts, making it clear he might not marry Elvira until after they reach Italy. Elvira, however, loves her husband and sees no advantage in aiding Lindoro's escape. When Haly announces the capture of an Italian woman, Mustafà gloats in anticipation of conquest, then leaves to meet her. Lindoro tries to tell Elvira she has no choice but to leave her heartless husband.

In the main hall of his palace, hailed by eunuchs as "the scourge of women," Mustafà welcomes Isabella with ceremony. Aside, she remarks that he looks ridiculous and feels certain that she will be able to deal with him; he, on the other hand, finds her enchanting. As she seemingly throws herself on his mercy, the jealous Taddeo starts to make a scene and is saved only when she declares that he is her "uncle." Elvira and Lindoro, about to leave for Italy, come to say good-bye to the bey, and Lindoro and Isabella are stunned to recognize each other. To prevent Lindoro's departure, Isabella insists that Mustafà cannot banish his wife, adding that Lindoro must stay as her own personal servant. Between the frustration of Mustafà's plans and the happy but confused excitement of the lovers, everyone's head reels.

ACT II. Elvira and various members of the court are discussing how easily the Italian woman has cowed Mustafà, giving Elvira hope of regaining his love. When Mustafà enters, however, it is to declare he will visit Isabella in her room for coffee. She comes out of her room, upset because Lindoro apparently broke faith with her by agreeing to escape with Elvira. Lindoro appears and reassures her of his loyalty. Promising a scheme for their freedom, Isabella leaves him to his rapturous feelings. After he too leaves, Mustafà reappears, followed by attendants with the terrified Taddeo, who is to be honored as the bey's Kaimakan, or personal bodyguard, in exchange for helping secure Isabella's affections. Dressed in Turkish garb, he sees no choice but to accept the compulsory honor.

In her apartment, Isabella dons Turkish clothes herself and prepares for Mustafà's visit, telling Elvira that the way to keep her husband is to be more assertive. As she completes her toilette, Isabella, knowing she is overheard by Mustafà in the background, sings a half-mocking invocation to Venus to help conquer her victim. To make him impatient, she keeps him waiting, as her "servant" Lindoro acts as go-between. At length she presents herself to the bey, who introduces Taddeo as his Kaimakan. Mustafà sneezes -- a signal for Taddeo to leave-but Taddeo stays, and Isabella invites Elvira to stay for coffee, to Mustafà's displeasure. When Isabella insists that he treat his wife gently, Mustafà bursts out in annoyance, while the others wonder what to make of his fulminations.

Elsewhere in the palace, Haly predicts that his master is no match for an Italian woman. As Lindoro and Taddeo plan their escape, Taddeo says he is Isabella's true love. Lindoro is amused but realizes he needs Taddeo's help in dealing with Mustafà, who enters, still furious. Lindoro says Isabella actually cares very much for the bey and wants him to prove his worthiness by entering the Italian order of Pappataci. Believing this to be an honor, Mustafà asks what he has to do. Simple, says Lindoro: eat, drink, and sleep all you like, oblivious to anything around you. Aside, Haly and Zulma wonder what Isabella is up to.

In her apartment, Isabella readies a feast of initiation for the bey, exhorting her fellow Italians to be confident. Mustafà arrives, and Lindoro reminds him of the initiation procedure. After he is pronounced a Pappataci, food is brought in, and he is tested by Isabella and Lindoro, who pretend to make love while Taddeo reminds Mustafà to ignore them. A ship draws up in the background, and the lovers prepare to embark with other Italian captives, but Taddeo realizes that he too is being tricked and tries to rally Mustafà, who persists in keeping his vow of paying no attention. When Mustafà finally responds, the Italians have the situation under control and bid a courteous farewell. Mustafà, his lesson learned, takes Elvira back, and everyone sings the praises of the resourceful Italian woman.

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Jenufa
Leoš Janácek


ACT I. In a quiet Moravian village, Jenufa waits anxiously to hear if her beloved Števa is to be drafted, for she is carrying his child. Števa's stepbrother, Laca, secretly loves Jenufa but tries to hide his feelings by making offensive comments about her to his grandmother - who owns the nearby mill - and to the mill's Foreman. The shepherd boy Jano enters, thrilled that he can read and thanking Jenufa for teaching him. It soon turns out that Števa is free of military duty, and he staggers in with some boisterous recruits, musicians and villagers, who break into a rowdy dance. Jenufa is distraught over Števa's cavalier attitude. The noise incurs the displeasure of Jenufa's foster mother, Kostelnicka. She is a stern widow with considerable moral authority, whose name describes her honorary office with the church where she serves as a sacristan. Remembering her own drunken husband, she tells Števa he can marry Jenufa only after a year of teetotaling. Grandmother Buryja sends everybody away, leaving Števa alone with Jenufa. He is petulant at her plea for marriage. After he leaves, Laca returns, needling Jenufa, finally quarreling with her. Torn between love and jealousy, he slashes her cheek with his whittling knife. She runs into the house, and the servant Barena says it was an accident, but the Foreman accuses Laca of hurting Jenufa deliberately.

ACT II. While everyone thinks she is in Vienna working as a servant, Jenufa has remained hidden at home and given birth to a boy. Her proud stepmother cannot bear the shame and has sent secretly for Števa. After giving the girl sleeping medicine, she tells him about the baby and kneels before him, begging him to wed Jenufa and claim his son. But he refuses to take a disfigured bride; in fact he is engaged to Karolka, the Mayor's daughter. Next Jenufa's distraught stepmother turns to Laca, who is eager to marry the girl but so taken aback to hear about her baby that Kostelnicka on an impulse pretends it is dead. There is only one way out for her now, she feels. Taking the child, she heads for the frozen millstream to drown him. When Jenufa wakes, she prays for her child, but her stepmother returns to tell the girl she has been in a coma for two days, during which the baby died. She also tells her about Števa's coming marriage. Laca returns, humbly offering himself to Jenufa, who reminds him she has neither wealth nor honor. Laca insists he loves her. Conquered by grief, she agrees to become his wife.

ACT III. Two months later, Jenufa is about to marry Laca. Among the guests are the Mayor and his Wife - who notices that Jenufa is not wearing the usual white garland - and Števa with his coquettish fiancée, Karolka. Barena and some other girls arrive with flowers, and Grandmother Buryja blesses the couple. Suddenly, Jano runs in to say a drowned baby has been found in the thawing millstream. Kostelnicka becomes hysterical, while Jenufa identifies the body as that of her child. Everyone now turns on Jenufa, but Laca defends her, and her stepmother's confession abruptly ends the mystery. Before Kostelnicka is led away to face her punishment, Jenufa forgives the wretched woman. Then she turns to Laca and offers him his freedom. Again he declares his love, and since she has grown to love him too, they put the tragedy behind them and start a new life.

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La Juive
Fromental Halévy


ACT I. Constance, 1414. The Emperor Sigismund has called a religious council, following his victory over the religious reformer Jan Hus. To celebrate that victory, the townsfolk sing a Te Deum, but they are shocked to find someone working on this holy day. It is the Jew Eléazar, a goldsmith and refugee, who defies the Christian laws that once sent his sons to the stake. Ruggiero, the town's provost marshal, is about to arrest him when Cardinal de Brogni, the president of the Council of Constance (Konstanz), stops him. Brogni recognizes Eléazar from the days when both men lived in Rome: Brogni was then a city magistrate, married and father to a girl. Around the time that he enforced the law that sent Eléazar into exile, Brogni lost his wife and daughter in a fire. Now Brogni counsels forgiveness, telling Ruggiero that their example may inspire the Jews to turn to the Christian god. He even asks Eléazar's pardon, which Eléazar vows never to give. Eléazar has a daughter, the beautiful Rachel, beloved of a painter named Samuel who is in reality Prince Léopold, the emperor's son and the general who defeated the Hussites. Léopold implores Albert, a sergeant in the imperial guard, not to reveal his true identity, and when the crowd of townsfolk moves on, he serenades Rachel. She invites him to join her and her father for a Passover seder the next evening. As the townsfolk return to await the imperial procession, Eléazar and Rachel, caught up in the crowd, seek refuge on the steps of the church. Ruggiero denounces them, and the townsfolk threaten to throw the Jews into Lake Constance. Just then, "Samuel" arrives and, to the astonishment of Rachel and her father, persuades the townsfolk to spare them.

ACT II. Inside Eléazar's home "Samuel" has joined others in celebrating Passover. Eléazar calls on God to punish any traitors among them; when he passes the unleavened bread, "Samuel," observed by Rachel, lets his piece fall to the floor. A knock at the door frightens the Jews, who hurriedly conceal every trace of the seder before slipping out the back. At Eléazar's command, "Samuel" remains. The visitor is a Christian, the Princess Eudoxie, who has come to purchase from Eléazar a magnificent chain that she wants to give to her husband-Léopold, whom she does not recognize. Concealing himself from her, Léopold expresses his remorse at betraying her. Agreeing to bring her the chain the next evening, Eléazar sees Eudoxie to the door, and in his absence, Rachel asks Léopold to explain how he was able to save them from the mob. He promises to return to speak to her privately.

Rachel apprehensively awaits her beloved. Léopold appears and admits that he is a Christian. She reminds him that his people's law prescribes death for any Jewish woman who loves a Christian. He did not mean to put her at risk, he says, but his love for her was so great that he could think of nothing else. She is on the point of eloping with him, when Eléazar catches them. Seeing his hospitality betrayed and his daughter compromised, Eléazar is furious but willing to forgive a fellow Jew; his wrath is unbounded when Léopold admits his faith. Rachel intervenes, insisting that she is as much to blame as her lover. Moved by her pleas, Eléazar consents to her marriage, but Léopold refuses to marry a Jew. Eléazar calls on God to curse Léopold.

ACT III. In her palace, Eudoxie rejoices at her husband's safe return from his campaign against the Hussites. Rachel, who has followed Léopold to the palace but does not know his true identity, hopes to learn more; Eudoxie agrees to engage her as a servant. They are interrupted by Léopold, now in his princely garb; he is startled to see Rachel, though she does not recognize him. Eudoxie welcomes him home and urges him to forget his cares. A celebration is announced. As the princess had commanded, Eléazar arrives with the chain. Suddenly, Rachel recognizes "Samuel," and when Eudoxie presents the chain to her husband, Rachel steps forward and declares Léopold unworthy to receive such a precious gift. He has had relations with a Jewish girl, a crime for which they both must die. Privately asking God to strike him too, Eléazar demands that Brogni take action. Since Léopold won't defend himself, Brogni supposes the allegation to be true, and he condemns the prince and the Jews who have broken the laws of man and God.

ACT IV. Eudoxie summons the prisoner Rachel and begs her to spare the man they both love. Rachel replies that a Jew can be as magnanimous as a Christian. When a guard announces that Brogni is coming, Eudoxie withdraws, believing she has Rachel's promise. However, when Brogni asks Rachel how she will testify before the Council, she tells him only that she knows her duty before God. Brogni urges her to save her own life by renouncing her faith, but she refuses. Brogni turns to Eléazar, saying that he can save the girl's life if he will renounce Judaism; offended, Eléazar refuses, then reminds Brogni of the fire that killed his wife and child. The girl is alive, Eléazar tells him, in the care of a Jew. Brogni pleads with him to reveal her whereabouts, but Eléazar spurns him. Alone, Eléazar muses that ever since Rachel came into his life, he has devoted himself to her happiness-can he now condemn her to death? At first, he resolves to save her, but then he hears a mob outside calling for Jews to be burned. "You want our blood, Christians," he cries, "and yet I was going to hand Rachel over to you-no, no, never!" God, he says, has shown him the light.

ACT V. In a public square, the people of Constance have gathered to witness the execution of the heretics. Ruggiero tells Eléazar that the Council has condemned only two people to die; Léopold has been sent into exile. When Eléazar scoffs at the hypocrisy of Christian justice, Rachel admits that her testimony saved Léopold. She asks her father not to let the Christians see him weep for her. As the executioner steps forward, Eléazar tells Rachel she can save herself by accepting Christianity. Proudly, she refuses and is led away. Brogni asks Eléazar once again what became of his daughter; as the mob roars and Rachel is thrown into the cauldron, Eléazar points to the cauldron and shouts, "There she is!"

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Kát'a Kabanová
Leos Janácek


ACT I. The small Russian town of Kalinove', sometime in the 1860s. The young clerk Ván'a Kudrjás' rhapsodizes over the afternoon view of the Volga, to the amusement of the literal-minded housekeeper of the adjoining Kabanov home. They see two men approaching — the overbearing merchant Dikoj and his nephew, Boris Grigorjevic' — and leave quickly as Dikoj continues his castigation of the young man. When the merchant discovers that Kabanicha, matriarch of the Kabanov family, is not at home, he stalks off, leaving Boris to explain to his friend Ván'a why he puts up with such abuse: his parents are dead, and in order to collect his inheritance, he must treat his uncle with respect. As members of the Kabanov household return from vespers, Boris confesses to Ván'a that he is secretly in love with Kát'a, the young wife. The two men depart as old Kabanicha berates her son, Tichon, for his lack of attentiveness. He tries to please her, as does his wife, Kát'a, who tells the old woman they love and respect her. At a sharp reply from Kabanicha, Kát'a enters the house, soon followed by her mother-in-law, and Tichon's temper snaps at being told he spoils his wife. Tichon complains to Varvara, foster daughter of the family, who retorts he would rather drink and forget his troubles than stand up for Kát'a's rights.

Inside the house, Kát'a tells Varvara how free and happy she felt as a child, constantly dreaming. Even now, she admits, she has dreamed of having a lover. Before she can say more about the man who attracts her, Tichon comes to say good-bye: he is leaving on a short trip to Kazan at his mother's behest. Kát'a begs him not to go or else to take her along, but he refuses. When she asks him to make her swear to speak to no strangers during his absence, he wonders what is wrong with her. Kabanicha announces that it is time to leave, adding that Tichon must tell his wife how to behave while he is gone. Tichon dutifully repeats that Kát'a must treat Kabanicha like her own mother and always act with propriety. Then he bows to his mother, kisses her and Kát'a and hurries away.

ACT II. As the women work on embroidery, Kabanicha criticizes Kát'a for not making a display of grief over Tichon's absence. After she has left, Varvara shows Kát'a the key to the far part of the garden: she plans to meet her lover there and hints that Kát'a might want to do the same, pressing the key into her hand. Kát'a hesitates but decides that fate has willed it: she is going to meet Boris. As darkness approaches, she steps outside. Kabanicha reenters with the drunken Dikoj, who says she is the only person he can talk to. He complains that people take advantage of his softheartedness: a peasant recently angered him, but he ended up on his knees to ask the man's forgiveness. As he demonstrates, blubbering, Kabanicha primly tells him to get hold of himself.

Waiting for Varvara in the garden, Ván'a amuses himself with a song about an independent-minded young girl like his sweetheart. To his surprise, Boris appears, having received a message to come there. Varvara arrives, cheerfully picking up Ván'a's song, and they head for a walk by the river. When Kát'a appears, Boris proclaims his love. She is hesitant at first, seeing only sin and ruin, but finally her pent-up feelings pour out, and she embraces him. They too go for a walk as Ván'a and Varvara return, Varvara explaining her precautions in case the old lady should look for any of them. As the rapturous voices of the second couple are heard, Ván'a and Varvara call to them that it's time to go home.

ACT III. Ván'a and a friend, Kuligan, are walking near the river when an approaching storm drives them to shelter in a ruined building, where they are joined by other strollers. When Dikoj appears, Ván'a tries to conciliate him by talking about a new invention, the lightning rod, but this only angers Dikoj, who insists storms are not electricity but God's punishment. When the rain lets up, people start to leave the shelter, and Ván'a runs into Boris and Varvara. The girl reports that Tichon is back, and Kát'a seems very upset. The men retreat as Kabanicha approaches with Tichon and Kát'a. Bystanders at first assume that Kát'a is frightened by the returning storm, but she confesses to Tichon in front of everyone that she dallied with Boris during her husband's absence. Then she runs out into the tempest.

As evening approaches and the storm has passed, Tichon looks frantically for Kát'a at another spot along the river bank. While they are helping him, Varvara and Ván'a decide to escape to Moscow, where they can lead a life of their own. As the searchers move off, Kát'a appears, aware that her confession served only to dishonor her and humiliate Boris. Her life is a constant torment, and she longs to see her lover one last time. He wanders in, surprised to find her, and they embrace. he says his uncle is sending him away to another town — but what will become of Kát'a? Her mind wandering, she bids him farewell. As he walks off in sorrow, she thinks how nature will renew itself over her grave, then throws herself into the river. On the far bank, Kuligan sees her jump and calls for help. Tichon rushes back, followed by Kabanicha, whom he blames for Kát'a's self-destruction. Meanwhile, bystanders fetch a boat and try to help. When Dikoj brings Kát'a's body and lays it on the ground, Tichon flings himself down, sobbing. Coldly, Kabanicha thanks the bystanders for their assistance.

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Khovanshchina
Modest Mussorgsky


ACT I. Russia 1682. A patrol of Streltsy (musketeers) gathers at dawn in Moscow's Red Square, boasting how they massacred political foes during the night. When a Public Scribe opens his stall, the boyar Shaklovity dictates an anonymous letter to Czar Peter and the Imperial Council incriminating the Khovansky family and a fanatical religous sect, the Old Believers, of plotting to overthrow the throne. The populace then hails the arrival of Prince Ivan Khovansky, commander of the Streltsy, who praises his men for routing out traitors. When the crowd disperses, Khovansky's young son Andrei tries to force his attentions on Emma, a girl from the German Lutheran quarter, who is protected by Marfa, a seeress and one of the Old Believers. The elder Khovansky also fancies Emma and orders the Streltsy to take her to his palace. Father and son quarrel over the girl until Dosifei, patriarch of the Old Believers, intervenes.

ACT II. In his palace, Prince Vasily Golitsyn, counselor and erstwhile lover of the regent Princess Sophia, reads a letter from her with mistrust. Golitsyn summons Marfa to cast his horoscope, and despite her fears, she divines his future in a bowl of water, foretelling betrayal, disgrace, poverty and exile. Horrified, Golitsyn dismisses the seeress, ordering a henchman, Varsonofiev, to drown her in a nearby marsh. Alone and in despair, Golitsyn muses on the end of his hopes for Russia, whose links to other nations he has sought to strengthen. Suddenly Ivan Khovansky bursts in, bitterly accusing Golitsyn of weakening the powers of the nobles. As accusations fly, only the unexpected appearance of Dosifei prevents violence. Dosifei, himself the former Prince Mychetsky, urges the two to ally with him and save Russia through a return to the old beliefs. Marfa rushes in, having narrowly escaped death when the czar's bodyguard appeared, freeing her from her pursuer. Shaklovity returns to say the czar has accused the Khovanskys of treason, dubbing their schemes "Khovanshchina."

Outside the home of Ivan Khovansky in the Streltsy quarter of Moscow, the Old Believers proclaim their triumph over heresy. Marfa, once betrothed to Prince Andrei, cannot forget her love for him. Dosifei comforts her and leads her away. Shaklovity enters, obsessed with fears of Russia's doom, withdrawing as the Streltsy boisterously return home, boasting of prowess in drink and battle. Their womenfolk rebuke them until the Scribe reports that foreign mercenaries, aided by the czar's guard, are coming to attack the Streltsy. At this the Streltsy implore Ivan Khovansky to counterattack, but fearing the czar's power, he tells them to submit. Terrified, the Streltsy and their wives pray for deliverance.

ACT III. At Khovansky's house, Prince Ivan feasts while serving maidens perform folk songs. Varsonofiev interrupts to tell him his life is in peril, but he ignores the warning, summoning Persian slave girls to dance. Shaklovity then approaches with news that Princess Sophia wishes Khovansky to attend an important meeting of the Imperial Council. Refusing at first, he relents and dresses in ceremonial robes, his serving maidens hailing him as a "white swan." As Khovansky is about to leave, he is assassinated. Shaklovity contemptuously quotes the song of the "white swan" over his body.

In St. Basil's Square, bystanders watch Golitsyn being sent into exile. Dosifei appears, finding divine judgment in the downfall of Khovansky and Golitsyn, who could not rise above selfish quarrels. But Marfa arrives to report that the Old Believers will be next: the czar is sending troops to destroy their hermitage. Seeing martyrdom at hand, Dosifei tells Marfa to bring Andrei along, so his soul can be saved, but the young prince, still infatuated with Emma, refuses Marfa's entreaties until the Streltsy are herded into the square for execution. Terrifed, he leaves with Marfa before a herald, Streshnev, rushes in to announce that the czar has pardoned the Streltsy.

In a forest near Moscow, the Old Believers assemble at their hermitage, resolved to die on a funeral pyre rather than surrender. Dosifei leads them inside, telling them to stand fast and ascend to eternal life. Andrei's thoughts are still with Emma, but Marfa tells him to remember their love. As distant trumpets announce the troops' approach, the Old Believers set fire to their hermitage and meet death in the purifying flames.

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Lady Macbeth Of Mtsensk
Dmitri Shostakovich


ACT I. In her room, Katerina Ismailova lies on her bed, bored with the tedium of her life and loveless marriage. Boris, her disagreeable old father-in-law, comes upstairs to complain that she has not yet given his son an heir — no doubt she would like to take a lover, but his watchfulness will prevent that. Leaving the room, Boris tells Katerina to prepare rat poison, and she mutters that nothing would please her more than to feed it to him. Boris returns in a moment with his son, Zinovy. When a messenger arrives with news that a dam on the property has broken and needs immediate repair, Zinovy says he personally will oversee the work. Before leaving, Zinovy introduces to his father a laborer named Sergei, whom he has just engaged. Boris insists his son make his wife swear an oath to be faithful while he is away and, in spite of Zinovy's protests, forces her to kneel. The men leave. The cook, Aksinya, gossips that the handsome Sergei was dismissed from his last job because the mistress fell for him.

Out in the yard, the male servants molest Aksinya, who complains loudly. Katerina appears and berates the men, declaring the bravery of women. Sergei, insisting on shaking Katerina's hand, squeezes it until she cries out in pain and pushes him away. Sergei and Katerina wrestle. He throws her just as Boris comes out of the house, threatening to tell Zinovy about his wife's behavior, and sends them all back to work. Katerina goes to her bedroom. She is not there long before her father-in-law comes to scold her for wasting a candle. When he has gone, she undresses, singing of nature's freedom and her own loneliness. On the pretext of wanting to borrow a book, Sergei knocks at her door, reminding her how agreeable their wrestling match was and, seizing her, offers to start it again. An embrace leads to passionate lovemaking, which is interrupted momentarily when Boris, who has locked Katerina's door, asks if she is safely in bed.

ACT II. Out in the courtyard, Boris sees Sergei at the window kissing Katerina good-bye. When the young man climbs down the drainpipe, Boris grabs him by the collar and, shouting for help, has Sergei stripped and tied to a post. After summoning Katerina to the window to watch, Boris flogs Sergei. Katerina screams to be let out of her room, but no one moves; in the end she slides down the drainpipe and hurls herself at her father-in-law. After the flogging, Sergei is locked in the storeroom, and Boris demands something to eat, meanwhile sending his son a message that there is trouble at home. Katerina serves him mushrooms she has poisoned. Boris cries out for water to relieve the burning pain and a priest to hear his final confession, but Katerina coldly takes the keys from his pocket and leaves him to die alone. Laborers arriving for work cannot understand the old man's babblings, but a priest gets there in time to hear him accuse his daughter-in-law of murder. She mourns so eloquently, however, that the priest ponders the mysteries of dying.

In Katerina's room, Sergei fans her passion by telling her that Zinovy's return will bring an end to their love. Saying he wishes he were her husband, Sergei falls asleep. Katerina's thoughts of the future are interrupted by the appearance of the ghost of Boris. Unable at first to frighten her, the ghost eventually causes the girl to scream in terror, waking Sergei, who cannot see the specter. The lovers doze until Katerina is sure she hears someone coming. Realizing it is Zinovy, Sergei hides. Entering his wife's room, Zinovy begins to question her. How did she spend her time while he was away? When he asks why the bed is made up for two, she replies that she was anticipating his return. Then he notices a man's belt on top of it. Shouting that he knows all about her scandalous behavior, Zinovy begins to beat Katerina with the belt, until Sergei rushes forward to defend her. Zinovy scrambles to the window, but Katerina pulls him back, and Sergei helps her strangle him. The lovers carry the body down to the cellar, where they bury it in a shallow grave.

ACT III. On their wedding day, Katerina and Sergei think about the corpse that lies hidden under the cellar floor. As they leave for their nuptials, a drunken Shabby Peasant, seeking more liquor, breaks down the door to the cellar and, complaining of the awful stench, emerges almost immediately.

At the local jail, the Police Chief and his men sit idle. Things look up when a nihilist teacher is brought in and questioned, but even this cannot compensate for the fact that none of them have been invited to the wedding feast. When the Shabby Peasant bursts in with the news that he has found a corpse in the Ismailovs' cellar, the chief and his men, glad for an excuse to crash the celebration, hurry off to investigate.

The wedding feast is in progress in the Ismailovs' garden when Katerina notices that the padlock on the cellar door has been broken. She tells Sergei they have been discovered and must leave immediately. As he goes to get money from inside the house, the Police Chief and his men enter the garden. Sergei becomes nervous and confused, but Katerina, realizing there is no point in pretense, holds out her wrists to be handcuffed. Sergei tries to escape but is captured.

ACT IV. Shackled convicts stop near a bridge for the night, men and women in separate groups. An Old Convict sings of the long, hard road to Siberia. Bribing a guard to let her go to the men, Katerina finds Sergei, who rebuffs her, blaming her for his predicament. Returning to the women, she laments that, difficult as her trial and subsequent flogging were, it is harder still to bear Sergei's hatred. Meanwhile, Sergei flirts with another convict Sonyetka, whose stockings are torn; she promises Sergei she will be his if he can get her another pair — from his rich wife. He goes to Katerina, pretending he will soon be taken to a doctor because the fetters have rubbed his legs raw. Katerina gives him her own stockings, which he takes to Sonyetka. The two run off together, leaving Katerina in despair, as the rest of the women taunt her. An officer, finally wakened by the noise, orders everyone to get ready to continue the march. The Old Convict rouses Katerina, who slowly goes over to Sonyetka, standing near the bridge, and attacks her. Both women fall into the swift-flowing river and are drowned. As the officer orders everyone to move off, the Old Convict resumes his song.

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Lohengrin
Richard Wagner


ACT I: Antwerp, c. 900s. On the banks of the Scheldt, a Herald announces King Heinrich, who asks Count Telramund to explain why the Duchy of Brabant is torn by strife and disorder. Telramund accuses his young ward, Elsa, of having murdered her brother, Gottfried, heir to Brabant's Christian dynasty. (Gottfried was actually enchanted by the evil Ortrud, whom Telramund has wed.) When Elsa is called to defend herself, she relates a dream of a knight in shining armor who will come to save her. The herald calls for the defender, but only when Elsa prays does the knight appear, magically drawn in a boat by a swan. He betroths himself to her on condition that she never ask his name or origin. Defeating Telramund in combat, the newcomer establishes the innocence of his bride.

ACT II: Before dawn in the castle courtyard, Ortrud and the lamenting Telramund swear vengeance. When Elsa appears serenely in a window, Ortrud attempts to sow distrust in the girl's mind, preying on her curiosity, but Elsa innocently offers the scheming Ortrud friendship. Inside, while the victorious knight is proclaimed guardian of Brabant, the banned Telramund furtively enlists four noblemen to side with him against his newfound rival. At the cathedral entrance, Ortrud and Telramund attempt to stop the wedding - she by suggesting that the unknown knight is in fact an impostor, he by accusing Elsa's bridegroom of sorcery. The crowd stirs uneasily. Though troubled by doubt, Elsa reiterates her faith in the knight before they enter the church, accompanied by King Heinrich.

ACT III: Alone in the bridal chamber, Elsa and her husband express their love until anxiety and uncertainty at last compel the bride to ask the groom who he is and whence he has come. Before he can reply, Telramund and his henchmen burst in. With a cry, Elsa hands the knight his sword, with which he kills Telramund. Ordering the nobles to bear the body to the king, he sadly tells Elsa he will meet her later to answer her questions.

Escorting Elsa and the bier to the Scheldt, the knight tells the king he cannot now lead the army against the Hungarian invaders. He explains that his home is the temple of the Holy Grail at distant Monsalvat, to which he must return; Parsifal is his father, and Lohengrin is his name. He bids farewell and turns to his magic swan. Now Ortrud rushes in, jubilant over Elsa's betrayal of the man who could have broken the spell that transformed her brother into a swan. But Lohengrin's prayers bring forth Gottfried in place of his vanished swan, and after naming the boy ruler of Brabant, Lohengrin disappears, led by the dove of the Grail. Ortrud perishes, and Elsa, calling for her lost husband, falls lifeless to the ground.

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Lucia di Lammermoor
Gaetano Donizetti


In a feud between the Scottish families of Ravenswood and Lammermoor, Enrico (Lord Henry Ashton of Lammermoor) has gained the upper hand over Edgardo (Edgar of Ravenswood), killing his kinsmen and taking over his estates. By the time of the opera's action, however, Enrico's fortunes have begun to wane. In political disfavor, he stakes all on uniting his family with that of Arturo (Lord Arthur Bucklaw), whom he means to force his sister, Lucia (Lucy Ashton), to marry.

ACT I. In a ruined park near Lammermoor Castle, Enrico's retainers prepare to search for a mysterious trespasser. Normanno, captain of the guard, remains behind to greet Enrico, who decries Lucia's refusal to marry Arturo. When the girl's elderly tutor, Raimondo, suggests that grief over her mother's death keeps her from thoughts of love, Normanno reveals that Lucia has been discovered keeping trysts with a hunter who saved her from a raging bull. He suspects the stranger is none other than Edgardo. Enrico rages, and as retainers confirm Normanno's suspicions, he swears vengeance.

At a fountain near her mother's tomb, Lucia, fearful of her brother, awaits a rendezvous with Edgardo. She tells her confidante, Alisa, the tale of a maiden's ghost that haunts the fountain and has warned her of a tragic end to her love for Edgardo. Though Alisa implores her to take care, Lucia cannot restrain her love. On arrival, Edgardo explains he must go to France on a political mission but wishes to reconcile himself with Enrico so he and Lucia may marry. Lucia, knowing her brother will not relent, begs Edgardo to keep their love a secret. Though infuriated at Enrico's persecution, he agrees. The lovers seal their vows by exchanging rings, then bid each other farewell.

ACT II. In an anteroom of Lammermoor Castle, Enrico plots with Normanno to force Lucia to marry Arturo. As the captain goes off to greet the bridegroom, Lucia enters, distraught but defiant, only to be shown a forged letter, supposedly from Edgardo, proving him pledged to another. Crushed, she longs for death, but Enrico insists on her marrying at once to save the family fortunes. Now Raimondo urges her to consent to the wedding, invoking the memory of her mother and asking her to respect the family's desperate situation. When she yields, he reminds her there are heavenly rewards for earthly sacrifices.

In the great hall of Lammermoor, as guests hail the union of two important families, Arturo pledges to restore the Ashtons' prestige. Enrico prepares him for Lucia's melancholy by pleading her grief over her mother's death. No sooner has the girl entered and been forced to sign the marriage contract than Edgardo bursts in. Returning earlier than expected, he has learned of the wedding and come to claim his bride. Bloodshed is averted only when Raimondo commands the rivals to put up their swords. Seeing Lucia's signature on the contract, Edgardo tears his ring from her finger, curses her and rushes from the hall. Hardly comprehending his words, Lucia collapses.

ACT III. Edgardo sits in a chamber at the foot of Wolf's Crag tower, deep in thought, as a storm rages. Enrico rides there to confront him, and the flames of their enmity flare. They agree to meet at dawn among the tombs of the Ravenswoods to fight a duel.

The continuing wedding festivities are halted when Raimondo enters to announce that Lucia, gone mad, has stabbed and killed Arturo in the bridal chamber. Disheveled, unaware of what she has done, she wanders in, recalling her meetings with Edgardo and imagining herself married to him. When the angry Enrico rushes in, he is silenced by the sight of her pitiful condition. Believing herself in heaven, Lucia falls dying.

Among the tombs of his ancestors, Edgardo, last of the Ravenswoods, laments Lucia's supposed betrayal and awaits his duel with Enrico, which he hopes will end his own life. Guests leaving Lammermoor Castle tell Edgardo the dying Lucia has called his name. As he is about to rush to her side, Raimondo arrives to tell of her death, and her bier is carried by. Resolving to join Lucia in heaven, Edgardo stabs himself and dies.

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Luisa Miller
Giuseppe Verdi


ACT I.
Tyrol, early 1700s. Luisa, daughter of an old soldier, is in love with a young man she knows as Carlo but who is actually Rodolfo, son of the local lord, Walter. The two lovers proclaim undying fidelity, but Miller, Luisa's father, is dubious, and his fears are confirmed when Walter's retainer, Wurm, who also loves Luisa and hopes to marry her, reveals Rodolfo's true identity.

In Walter's castle, Wurm tells his master of Rodolfo's love for Luisa. Walter resolves to end their relationship, because he hopes to have his son marry a widowed duchess, Federica. Left alone with her, Rodolfo reveals that he loves another, but the duchess, who has worshiped him since childhood, refuses to break their engagement.

At home, Miller tells Luisa that Rodolfo has deceived her and is about to contract a wealthy marriage. The young man, however, comes to plead his sincerity. When Walter storms in shortly afterward and is about to have both Luisa and her father consigned to prison, Rodolfo secures their freedom by threatening to reveal how his father, with Wurm's assistance, murdered his cousin to gain his present position.

ACT II. Luisa learns that her father has been jailed for insulting Walter. Wurm tells her the only way she can save Miller is to write a letter admitting she sought Rodolfo for his wealth, and pledging herself to Wurm. After doing his bidding, she learns she must go to the castle and declare her love for him before the duchess.

Wurm presents Luisa's letter to Walter, and the two plot to send it to Rodolfo. Wurm then brings in Luisa. Goaded on with threats by Wurm and Walter against her father, she professes her love for Wurm to Federica.

Rodolfo receives Luisa's letter in the castle courtyard. In despair he is about to attack Wurm when Walter appears and persuades him that marrying Federica will be the best way for him to avenge Luisa's treachery.

ACT III. Miller, released from prison, tries to comfort Luisa. The two agree to leave the village the next day. As Luisa prays, Rodolfo enters and pours a vial of poison into a decanter on the table. He confronts Luisa with the letter. When she cannot deny she wrote it, Rodolfo asks her to pour him a drink; when he says it tastes bitter, she swallows some too. Rodolfo tells Luisa the cup was poisoned, and she, released from her vow, tells him the truth. As Luisa expires in Miller's arms, Rodolfo, with a final effort, kills Wurm.

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Lulu
Alban Berg


PROLOGUE. Somewhere in the German-speaking world, around 1871. A Ringmaster, outside his circus tent, invites the audience to see some wild animals. He shows the wildest of the lot, the "serpent" Lulu, carried by a stagehand. We will soon see, he declares, how she snares people, begetting evil deeds.

ACT I. In a Painter's studio, Lulu, an actress and dancer, is posing for her portrait. Married to Dr. Goll, an elderly Medical Professor, she is the mistress of Dr. Schön, an editor in chief, who rescued her from the gutter as a child. While Schön watches the work in progress, his son, the composer Alwa, enters, then excuses himself and leaves with his father.

Alone with Lulu, the distracted Painter tries to make love to her, but she keeps escaping. A knock is heard. Knowing that it is Lulu's husband, the Painter hesitates to answer, so Dr. Goll breaks the door down. Horrified at finding the two alone together, he collapses and dies of a stroke. Lulu realizes she is now a rich widow. Frightened at the prospect of his apparent luck, the Painter questions her about her moral beliefs and finds she has none. He prays for strength.

In an elegant drawing room, the Painter -- now married to Lulu -- brings the morning mail, including commissions for his work. An announcement of Schön's engagement to a society girl disturbs Lulu. As the Painter looks lovingly at her, the doorbell rings. The caller turns out to be Schigolch, an old derelict who is somehow part of Lulu's past. Alone with her, he asks for money -- a request she has heard often -- and compliments her on her good fortune, but she reveals she is bored. When the bell rings again, he leaves, and Schön arrives, referring to the departing Schigolch as Lulu's father and asking her to remove herself from his life. The Painter, he points out, must sooner or later become aware of their continuing affair, but Lulu says that her husband is blinded by love. Schön reminds her how he helped her make two good marriages; now that he is engaged, he wants no scandal. Lulu replies that if she belongs to anyone it is to Schön, the only one who has given her real attention. When the Painter comes in, Lulu leaves him to learn some facts of life from Schön, who reminds him he has married a fortune. Schön explains he has known Lulu since she was twelve and has tried to get her out of his life. Now, he says, the Painter must assert himself and make Lulu behave like a respectable wife. Deeply shocked, the Painter steps out and locks himself in another room. When Lulu appears, followed by Alwa, the three break down the door and discover that the Painter has killed himself. Schön calls the police, and Lulu predicts he will end up marrying her.

Backstage at a theater, Alwa pours champagne for Lulu, who is changing costume. He recalls how he first met her, shortly before his mother's death, and wanted his father to marry her so she would always be around. An African Prince appears after Lulu leaves for her next cue; he hopes to marry her. There is a commotion: Lulu has pretended to faint onstage after seeing Schön in the audience with his fiancée. Schön promptly appears in her dressing room, indignantly ordering her back onstage. Alwa tells the theater director to go on with the next number, then leaves Schön with Lulu, who delivers an ultimatum: he must renounce his fiancée for her. She dictates the letter, which Schön calls his death sentence. As the bell rings for her next number, Lulu calmly goes onstage.

ACT II. Lulu, now married to Schön, is saying good-bye to a visitor, the lesbian Countess Geschwitz, who admires her. As the two women leave the sumptuous drawing room, Schön -- irrational with jealousy of real and imagined rivals -- laments the degradation of his final years of life. Complaining to him of his recent neglect, Lulu coaxes him into their bedroom.

Geschwitz reenters and hides as several other hangers-on appear -- Schigolch, an Athlete, a Schoolboy -- to wait for Lulu, who comes in to make pleasantries with them. Schigolch denies he is Lulu's father, and says she is a Wunderkind, a miraculous child of creation. A Manservant -- himself infatuated with Lulu -- announces Dr. Schön, so the Athlete and Schoolboy hide, but it turns out to be Alwa. Schön watches from a distance as Lulu and Alwa converse; at length Alwa passionately declares his love, though she murmurs she poisoned his mother. Schön escorts his son out of the room, then returns to look for the Athlete, who he knows is hiding. He is carrying a revolver, which he gives Lulu, telling her to use it on herself because of the shame she has brought both of them. Trying to calm him, Lulu calls herself blameless for whatever others may have done on her account; Schon turns the pistol in her hand toward Lulu and seems about to pull the trigger. When he is distracted by the emergence of the frightened Schoolboy from hiding, Lulu empties the revolver into Schön's back. The wounded man calls for water, but champagne is all she can find. He warns Alwa that he is her next victim, catches sight of Geschwitz, and dies. Though Lulu begs Alwa to let her escape, he bars her way until the police arrive.

Following a musical interlude that traces Lulu's trial, conviction, imprisonment, and eventual escape, the curtain rises on the same setting, approximately one year later. Alwa, Geschwitz and the Athlete, planning Lulu's escape, wait for Schigolch, who brings passports, then leaves with Geschwitz to rescue Lulu from prison. The Athlete, planning a marriage of expediency to Lulu as his show partner, complains of all the effort he has had to contribute toward her escape plans. The Schoolboy appears, having run away from reform school; to convince him that Lulu is dead, the Athlete shows a clipping that says she was hospitalized in prison with cholera, then throws him out. Lulu, leaning on Schigolch, appears wearing Geschwitz' clothes, her escape disguise. Angry at finding her wasted by illness, the Athlete threatens to go to the police. He leaves, as does Schigolch, who has to pick up train tickets. Geschwitz has traded places with Lulu in prison in order to get her out; Lulu tells Alwa how Geschwitz infected herself, then Lulu, with cholera so that the escape could be made through the prison hospital. Seductively she asks Alwa for a kiss, to be sure he will protect and accompany her. Though she remarks that they are lying on the sofa on which his father died, Alwa is carried away.

ACT III. Lulu and Alwa have escaped to Paris, trailed by the Athlete, who proposes a toast at a gambling party in their fashionable salon as the curtain rises. Guests are discussing the booming market in Jungfrau Railway stock. A Marquis, knowing Lulu is wanted for murder by the German police, blackmails her, intending to sell her to a brothel in Cairo. Lulu protests she cannot sell herself -- the only thing that is truly hers. They are interrupted by people returning from the gaming tables, and as Lulu reads a note from the Athlete, threatening to inform on her unless she pays a large amount, the guests talk about their good luck at gambling. When the Athlete reappears, she says that her money is gone; he replies that she and Alwa still own Jungfrau Railway shares, and he gives her until the following evening to produce the money. As he moves away, a telegram arrives for the Banker; the market in Jungfrau shares has crashed.

Schigolch appears, hoping to wheedle money out of Lulu, and learns of her predicament; he offers to push the Athlete out the window if Lulu can arrange for the latter to come to his apartment that evening. Since the Athlete has been bothering Countess Geschwitz with offers of his services as a gigolo, Lulu feels she can get him to Schigolch's place under the pretense of meeting with the countess. As Schigolch and Lulu step out, the Athlete reappears and is questioned by the Marquis, who senses a competitor in his extortion scheme. He finds that his hunch is correct and leaves; Lulu then reenters to tell the Athlete that Geschwitz is waiting for him at a certain address; the countess, she adds, has promised to pay her for arranging the meeting, and this is the only way Lulu can get money for him. He agrees, leaving for the dining room, and Lulu calls Geschwitz to say that for her sake Geschwitz must submit to the Athlete, who reappears to escort her out. Lulu then arranges to change clothes with a young Groom. The gamblers come in, arguing, and the Banker reveals the worthlessness of the Jungfrau shares he has been offered in payment. Shaken by their losses, they leave. Lulu hurriedly tells Alwa that the police are on their way and leads him out the servants' entrance as they arrive -- and discover that "Lulu" is the Groom in her clothes.

Their funds gone, Lulu, Alwa and Schigolch have taken refuge in a garret in London, where Lulu has been forced into prostitution. Schigolch hustles Alwa out of the room when Lulu returns with her first client, an eccentric professor afraid of being discovered. Next to arrive is the faithful Geschwitz, who has salvaged Lulu's portrait. Alwa, briefly inspired by the sight of Lulu's former beauty, hangs it on the wall, where the others join in admiring it. Lulu goes to find another client and returns with the Black Man, who says his father is emperor of an African country. Refusing to pay in advance, he tries to take Lulu by force and deals Alwa a fatal blow when the latter tries to restrain him. After Schigolch removes the corpse, Geschwitz contemplates suicide but realizes that it would mean nothing to Lulu. When Lulu returns with a third client, she tells him Geschwitz is her crazy sister. The client haggles over the price and is about to leave, but Lulu, feeling a desperate need for him, settles for less. As they go into her room, Geschwitz resolves to return to Germany and find a new life working for women's rights. Lulu's death shriek is heard, and when Geschwitz frantically tries to open the door, the murderer -- Jack the Ripper -- stabs her as well, then looks in irritation for a towel with which to wipe the blood from his hands. As he leaves, the dying Geschwitz murmurs that she will be near Lulu in death.

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Madama Butterfly
Giacomo Puccini


ACT I.
Japan, early twentieth century. On a flowering terrace above Nagasaki harbor, U.S. Navy Lieutenant B. F. Pinkerton inspects the house he has leased from a marriage broker, Goro, who has just procured him three servants and a geisha wife, Cio-Cio-San, known as Madama Butterfly. To the American consul, Sharpless, who arrives breathless from climbing the hill, Pinkerton describes the carefree philosophy of a sailor roaming the world in search of pleasure. At the moment, he is enchanted with the fragile Cio-Cio-San, but his 999-year marriage contract contains a monthly renewal option. When Sharpless warns that the girl may not take her vows so lightly, Pinkerton brushes aside such scruples, saying he will one day marry a "real" American wife. Cio-Cio-San is heard in the distance joyously singing of her wedding. Entering surrounded by friends, she tells Pinkerton how, when her family fell on hard times, she had to earn her living as a geisha. Her relatives bustle in, noisily expressing their opinions on the marriage. In a quiet moment, Cio-Cio-San shows her bridegroom her few earthly treasures and tells him of her intention to embrace his Christian faith. The Imperial Commissioner performs the wedding ceremony, and the guests toast the couple. The celebration is interrupted by Cio-Cio-San's uncle, a Buddhist priest, who bursts in, cursing the girl for having renounced her ancestors' religion. Pinkerton angrily sends the guests away. Alone with Cio-Cio-San in the moonlit garden, he dries her tears, and she joins him in singing of their love.

ACT II. Three years later, Cio-Cio-San waits for her husband's return. As Suzuki prays to her gods for aid, her mistress stands by the doorway with her eyes fixed on the harbor. When the maid shows her how little money is left, Cio-Cio-San urges her to have faith: one fine day Pinkerton's ship will appear on the horizon. Sharpless brings a letter from the lieutenant, but before he can read it to Cio-Cio-San, Goro comes with a suitor, the wealthy Prince Yamadori. The girl dismisses both marriage broker and prince, insisting her American husband has not deserted her. When they are alone, Sharpless again starts to read the letter and suggests Pinkerton may not return. Cio-Cio-San proudly carries forth her child, Dolore (Trouble), saying that as soon as Pinkerton knows he has a son he surely will come back; if he does not, she would rather die than return to her former life. Moved by her devotion, Sharpless leaves, without having revealed the full contents of the letter. Cio-Cio-San, on the point of despair, hears a cannon report; seizing a spyglass, she discovers Pinkerton's ship entering the harbor. Now delirious with joy, she orders Suzuki to help her fill the house with flowers. As night falls, Cio-Cio-San, Suzuki and the child begin their vigil.

ACT III. As dawn breaks, Suzuki insists that Cio-Cio-San rest. Humming a lullaby to her child, she carries him to another room. Before long, Sharpless enters with Pinkerton, followed by Kate, his new wife. When Suzuki realizes who the American woman is, she collapses in despair but agrees to aid in breaking the news to her mistress. Pinkerton, seized with remorse, bids an anguished farewell to the scene of his former happiness, then rushes away. When Cio-Cio-San comes forth expecting to find him, she finds Kate instead. Guessing the truth, the shattered Cio-Cio-San agrees to give up her child if his father will return for him. Then, sending even Suzuki away, she takes out the dagger with which her father committed suicide and bows before a statue of Buddha, choosing to die with honor rather than live in disgrace. As she raises the blade, Suzuki pushes the child into the room. Sobbing farewell, Cio-Cio-San sends him into the garden to play, then stabs herself. As she dies, Pinkerton is heard calling her name.

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The Makropulos Case
Leos Janácek


ACT I: The office of the lawyer Kolenaty, Prague, 1922. Vítek, a clerk, hunting through some old files, notes that the case of Gregor v. Prus, which has been revived, dates back almost a century. Albert Gregor, an interested party in the case, inquires how it is going; Kolenaty has taken it to the supreme court but has not yet returned. Vítek's daughter, Kristina, a young singer, runs in, babbling enthusiastically about Emilia Marty, a soprano with whom she (in a bit part) has been rehearsing at the opera. To her surprise, Marty appears at the door, shown in by Kolenaty. The diva inquires about the Gregor case and, learning that Albert Gregor is one of the parties, says he might as well stay. In 1827, Kolenaty explains, Baron Ferdinand Josef Prus died without will or heirs, whereupon a certain Ferdinand Gregor laid claim to his estate, saying Prus had promised it to him verbally; Prus' cousin contested this. Marty interrupts to say that Ferdinand was really the baron's illegitimate son by an opera singer, Ellian MacGregor. When Kolenaty says the current Gregor is about to lose the case for lack of evidence, Marty asks what he would need to win. A will, says Kolenaty. Marty then describes a cupboard in the Prus house where this and other documents were kept. Kolenaty thinks she is making it up, but Gregor insists that Kolenaty investigate. Fascinated with Marty, Gregor converses with her after the lawyer leaves. He tells her he has counted on the inheritance and would shoot himself if he lost the case. Though she brushes aside Gregor's infatuation, she nevertheless tries to enlist his help in getting certain documents that she feels sure will be found with the will. Kolenaty reappears, this time with his adversary, the aristocratic Jaroslav Prus. The will was found where Marty said it would be; Prus congratulates Gregor on the victory that will be his - if evidence can be found that the illegitimate Ferdinand was indisputably Ferdinand Gregor. Marty says she will provide this proof.

ACT II: On the empty stage at the opera house, a Stagehand and Cleaning Woman discuss Marty's glamour and the success of her performance. Prus enters in search of Marty, followed by his son, Janek, and Kristina. The diva enters, contemptuous of everyone - first of the tongue-tied Janek, who immediately falls under her spell, then of Gregor, who arrives with flowers that she reminds him he cannot afford. Her mood softens when a feebleminded old man, Hauk-Sendorf, wanders in, babbling about Eugenia, a Gypsy he loved fifty years ago. Assuring him that Eugenia is not dead, Marty asks him in Spanish for a kiss, calling him by the nickname Maxi. When the others leave, Prus stays to question Marty about Ellian MacGregor, whose love letters he has read, and who he suspects may have been the "Elina Makropulos" (same initials) specified on Ferdinand's birth certificate as the mother. Since illegitimate children bore the mother's name, a descendant of "Ferdinand Makropulos" would have to be found; otherwise the estate would remain in Prus' hands. Marty offers to pay for an unopened envelope that Prus found with the other papers, but he refuses and leaves, feeling triumphant. Gregor reenters and tells the exhausted Marty he loves her desperately; her response is to doze off, at which he too leaves. She awakens to find Janek standing there and asks him, as a favor, to get her the envelope marked "To be handed to my son Ferdinand," which is in his father's house. Prus overhears and sends Janek away. Then he agrees to give Marty the envelope if she will spend the night with him.

ACT III: The next morning, in Marty's hotel room, Prus gives her the envelope but feels cheated by her coldness as a lover. A maid announces there is a message for Prus downstairs, then starts to fix Marty's hair. When Prus returns, he says that Janek has just killed himself because of his hopeless infatuation with Marty. The diva's unconcerned response infuriates Prus, but they are interrupted by Hauk-Sendorf, who thinks he and Marty are about to leave for Spain. She humors him, really wanting to leave, but soon Gregor appears, accompanied by Kolenaty, Kristina and a doctor who leads Hauk-Sendorf away. Kolenaty has noticed the similarity between Marty's autograph and the writing on a document signed "Ellian MacGregor"; he suspects her of forgery. Since she is uncooperative, the others search her papers. When she pulls a revolver, Gregor knocks it from her hand. Changing her tack, Marty says she will talk to them after she gets dressed. While she is in the next room, they continue searching her effects, finding evidence of various pseudonymns, all with the initials "E.M." Prus confirms that Elina Makropulos' writing is identical to Ellian MacGregor's. Marty returns with a bottle and a glass and wearily confesses that she was born Elina Makropulos in Crete in 1575 - which she corrects to 1585, making her 337 years old. Her father, Hieronymos, was court physician to Rudolf I (who ruled in Bohemia from 1576 to 1612). Ordered by his master to develop an elixir of eternal life, the alchemist tried it on his sixteen-year-old daughter; when she fell into a coma, he was imprisoned as a fraud, but shortly afterward the girl recovered and escaped. Some years later, she gave the formula to her lover Baron Prus; she also bore him a son, which makes her Albert Gregor's grandmother several times over. Since the formula is good for only 300 years, she now needs to recover it in order to survive. Life having lost its meaning for her, however, she feels ready to die. At first no one believes her story, but little by little they realize it must be true. Life should not last too long, she says - that way it keeps its value. She offers the formula (which was in the mysterious sealed envelope) to anyone who wants it, but no one will touch it - except Kristina, who sets fire to it with a candle. Muttering "Pater hemon," the first words of the Lord's Prayer in Greek, Marty sinks lifeless to the floor.

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Manon
Jules Massenet


ACT I: France, 1721. In the courtyard of an inn at Amiens, a crowd awaits arrival of the coach. Guillot, an elderly roué, and his wealthy friend Brétigny have ordered dinner for three actresses of easy virtue, Poussette, Javotte and Rosette; as they retire to a room, a young officer, Lescaut, comes to meet his cousin Manon, who is on her way to a convent. The coach soon arrives and with it Manon, who excitedly tells Lescaut about her first trip away from home. While he looks after her luggage, Guillot, calling for more wine, notices the pretty girl and flirts with her, but she only laughs at the elderly man's advances. Lescaut returns, and before joining friends at a gaming table he warns Manon about talking to strangers. To herself, she wistfully compares her own bland future with the pleasure-filled life of Guillot and his glamorous companions. The Chevalier Des Greiux arrives at the inn and, on seeing Manon, falls in love with her. Seizing this opportunity to escape the convent, Manon suggests that they run off to Paris in Guillot's coach. The tipsy old bon vivant, who had intended to abduct Manon himself, stumbles from the inn just in time to hurl curses after the escaping lovers.

ACT II: In their Paris apartment, Manon and Des Grieux read a letter he has written to his father describing his sweetheart and asking permission to marry her. When Des Grieux notices a bouquet of flowers Brétigny has sent to Manon, she tells him a lie to allay his suspicions of her loyalty. Lescaut and Brétigny arrive, the former to demand that Des Grieux marry Manon, the latter to tell the girl that Des Grieux is soon to be kidnapped by his irate father. The visitors depart, and Des Grieux goes off to send his letter. Left alone, Manon is unable to resist the temptation of luxury offered her by Brétigny and bids a poignant farewell to the life she has shared with Des Grieux. The young man returns, relating an idyllic vision of their future life together, but officers suddenly force their way into the room and abduct him.

ACT III: A holiday crowd fills a park at the Cours-la-Reine, where Poussette, Javotte and Rosette have eluded Guillot. Lescaut sentimentally addresses a pretty passerby as his beloved "Rosalinde," then generously offers her presents from the vendors' carts. Manon, surrounded by wealthy admirers, preens herself and sings a gavotte in praise of youth and pleasure. When Des Grieux' father, the Count, speaks with Brétigny, Manon overhears their conversation, learning that Des Grieux is about to take holy orders at the Church of St. Sulpice. She herself speaks to the Count and is piqued to hear that her former lover has grown cold to her charms. Manon rushes to St. Sulpice.

In the sacristy at St. Sulpice, some women describe the eloquence of the new abbé. Skeptical of his son's new virtue, the Count tries to persuade Des Grieux to abandon the church and marry a suitable girl. After the father leaves, Des Grieux prays for the strength to resist the memory of Manon. But Manon arrives, breaks his resolve with her ardor and persuades him to run away with her.

ACT IV: The Hôtel de Transylvanie, a notorious gambling house, is crowded with merrymakers, including Lescaut, Guillot and the three actresses. When Des Grieux arrives with Manon, she suggests that he recoup their sagging fortunes at the faro table. As the young man plays cards with Guillot, Manon and the actresses sing in praise of living for the moment. Guillot, losing every hand, accuses Des Grieux of cheating and goes off to summon the police; the authorities soon arrive and with them the Count Des Grieux, who rebukes his son but promises him that his arrest will be only temporary. Manon swoons as he is taken away.

ACT V: Manon is to be deported to Louisiana on charges of immorality. On the road to Le Havre, where she must pass, Des Grieux and Lescaut bribe the guards to release her. Manon, in the last stages of consumption, falls exhausted in her lover's arms. Des Grieux, though despairing, comforts her as, murmuring of their lost happiness, she dies.

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Mazeppa
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky


Tchaikovsky's opera "Mazeppa" is based on Pushkin's poem "Poltava," which depicts the historical Ukrainian separatist, Mazeppa, in both his political and romantic exploits. The 70-year-old "hetman" or military leader surprises the Cossack judge, Kochubey, by asking for the hand of his young daughter, Maria. After Maria runs off with Mazeppa, Kochubey denounces Mazeppa's separatist plans to Peter the Great. Peter doesn't believe Kochubey, and delivers him up to Mazeppa, who tortures and then executes him. When Maria learns of her father's fate, she goes mad.

ACT I: Young girls are telling their fortunes. Maria, Kochubey's daughter, runs in, excited that the hetman Mazeppa has arrived. The young girl has fallen in love with him and cannot imagine life without him. Andrei, a young Cossack, is in love with Maria and tells her of his deep love. But Maria's thoughts are only of Mazeppa. Andrei comes to realize the futility of his hopes.

After the grand feast in Mazeppa's honor, Mazeppa asks Kochubey for his youngest daughter's hand in marriage. Kochubey is stunned: Maria is the hetman's god daughter, and he is much older than she. Mazeppa presses the issue and Kochubey demands that he leave the house. Their quarrel attracts the attention of the other guests and Kochubey's retainers. Finally Mazeppa suggests that Maria make the choice: her father or him? Maria choses the hetman, and runs off with him.

Kochubey's wife, Lyubov, is in despair. Weeping for her daughter who has abandoned her father's house, she calls on her husband to take decisive action against Mazeppa. Kochubey has long wanted to tell Peter the Great of Mazeppa's secret plans to make the Ukraine an independent state, allied with the Swedish King Charles XII. Iskra, Kochubey's friend, suggests that Kochubey send a rider to the capital at once, to give warning of the hetman's planned treachery. Andrei is entrusted with the letter to the Czar.

ACT II: The Czar still trusts Mazeppa. He did not believe Kochubey's denunciation, and has turned him and Iskra over to Mazeppa, who sends them to be chained in his prison. Kochubey is prepared to die, but refuses to bow his head to a traitor. Orlik, Mazeppa's henchman, interrupts Kochubey's unhappy thoughts, demanding that he disclose where he hid his treasure. Kochubey refuses. He has lost two treasures--his honor, and his youngest daughter's honor--and will not give away his third. Orlik, enraged, summons the torturer.

Mazeppa admires the quiet of the Ukrainian night, and compares its peacefulness with the turmoil in his soul. When Orlik tells him that torture has failed to make Kochubey reveal his secret, Mazeppa orders the execution for the morning.

When Maria enters she reproaches Mazeppa for his seeming coolness to her. Mazeppa reassures her of his love. He then discloses his political plans to her, which the kings of Sweden and Poland have pledged to support. Maria is carried away by his plans, and imagines him on the throne of an independent Ukraine. But Mazeppa knows the risks he runs. He asks her whom she would save, if she had to choose: her husband or her father? Totally ignorant of her father's plight, she affirms that she would sacrifice anyone rather than her husband. Mazeppa leaves, deeply troubled.

Lyubov slips into the room unseen by the guards, and begs her daughter to save her father. Maria doesn't understand, and Lyubov recounts the fate awaiting Kochubey and Iskra, asking her daughter to beg Mazeppa for mercy. A march is heard in the distance: the executions are ready to begin. Maria and Lyubov rush off to save Kochubey.

A crowd has gathered to witness the executions. They watch the procession as Mazeppa rides in, followed by armed guards, executioners, and the condemned men. Kochubey and Iskra kneel and pray, and then mount the scaffold. As the ax falls, Lyubov and Maria run in, too late to stop the executions.

ACT III: The symphonic picture "The Battle of Poltava" describes the battle in which Peter the Great decisively beat the Swedish forces.

Kochubey's garden now lies in ruins. Andrei had searched the battlefield for Mazeppa, but in vain. He recalls how happy he once was, here, as he regrets the lost chance to avenge himself on the hetman. Mazeppa and Orlik enter, fleeing the Russian forces. Andrei challenges Mazeppa, and is mortally wounded.

Maria appears. Mazeppa tries to speak with her, but the poor girl doesn't recognize her beloved. She imagines she sees her father's blood on this man's hands and clothing. Orlik drags Mazeppa away, urging him to forget the madwoman.

Only now does Maria notice Andrei. She thinks he is her child. She cradles the dying young man in her arms, and sings a gentle lullaby, staring blankly ahead.

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Mefistofele
Arrigo Boito


PROLOGUE. In the heavens, angels and cherubim sing the praises of God. The fallen angel Mefistofele politely but sardonically greets the Almighty from a distance, remarking that human beings, the lords of the earth, seem to him so feeble that he scarcely has the heart to tempt them. The mystic choir asks, "Do you know Faust?" Mefistofele replies that he does indeed know that strange madman, whose thirst for knowledge leads him past man's usual capacities. The mystic choir accepts his wager that he can lead Faust to damnation. Mefistofele remarks that he likes to visit with God, the "Old Man," occasionally and have Him speak so humanly with the devil. The cherubim, who remind Mefistofele of a swarm of bees, start singing more songs of praise, and he retires. The chorus, augmented by the voices of earthly penitents and celestial phalanxes, swells in glorifying the Eternal One.

ACT I. On Easter Sunday in Frankfurt, during the sixteenth century, groups of citizens gather in a festive mood. The old scholar Dr. Faust remarks to his pupil Wagner that spring has brought hope and beauty to the earth again, but Wagner tolerates the vulgar throng only for the sake of his master. Further celebration and wild dancing are stilled by the onset of darkness. Though apprehensive about spirits, Wagner thinks little of a gray friar who has been moving about them, but Faust notices that his steps leave traces of fire and that he seems to be forming a circle or drawing a net around them. When they leave, the friar follows them.

At night in Faust's study, the friar enters unnoticed and conceals himself as Faust muses on the sleeping world and on what means most to him — the search for knowledge and good. As he starts to read the Scriptures, the friar lets out a cry and shows himself to be Mefistofele, dressed like a gentleman of the world. Questioned as to his identity, he says he is the spirit that denies everything and answers the universe with a whistle of defiance. He offers his services on earth in exchange for those of Faust in hell. Faust is less concerned about an afterlife than about achieving one perfect moment of contentment, a moment so beautiful that he would ask time to stop for it. Agreeing on this, the two make a contract.

ACT II. In the garden near Margherita's house, Faust walks with the girl while Mefistofele entertains and distracts her widowed neighbor, Marta. When Margherita asks Faust whether he believes in religion, he says he can neither affirm nor deny that he believes, having faith in nature, love, mystery and life. She tries to leave, but he inquires whether they can ever be alone together, to which she replies that her mother shares her bed and is a very light sleeper. Faust gives her some sleeping potion to make sure the old lady does not wake up, then woos Margherita ardently. Their declarations are interrupted by Marta and Mefistofele, returning from a stroll.

In the valley of Schirk, bounded by the heights of Brocken, the witches' sabbath is about to take place. Mefistofele leads Faust toward the place, and they are greeted by will-o'-the-wisps, witches and sorcerers, who hail Mefistofele as their ruler. They present him with a glass globe, which he proclaims is the world, capable of reflecting and continuing everything. With scornful laughter he hurls the globe down and smashes it. Faust sees a vision of Margherita in chains, the mark of an executioner's ax on her neck. Mefistofele tries to disabuse him of the notion as the infernal orgy reaches its height.

ACT III. The delirious Margherita is in prison, imagining that her tormentors have made up stories, saying she drowned her baby and poisoned her mother, in order to drive her mad. Mefistofele helps Faust gain entrance to the cell to rescue her. Margherita greets Faust but sorrowfully notices that his love for her seems to have died. She says she cannot leave the prison, because of her crimes and her fear of the outside world, but he tries to calm her with visions of escape to a faraway island. Mefistofele urges haste, because daybreak is at hand; seeing him, Margherita breaks into fearful fantasies about her approaching execution, then mourns the fact that today was to have been her wedding day. Dying, she renounces Faust and prays for heavenly pardon. Mefistofele pronounces her damned, but heavenly voices declare her saved. As the two men make their escape, guards and the waiting headsman are seen, cheated of their victim.

ACT IV. In a valley of ancient Greece, the classical Sabbath is under way. Elena (Helen of Troy) summons sirens and nymphs to serenade her. In the distance, the voice of Faust is heard calling Elena as he dreams of her; he has asked Mefistofele to lead him to this legendary land, where the devil feels much less at ease than among his subjects of hell. Elena, carried away by a vision of the sack of Troy, cries out and describes the horrible night of the vanquished. Faust enters and hails Elena as the ideal of classical beauty. Her courtiers retire, leaving the pair to join in a hymn to the mysterious power of love.

EPILOGUE. Faust, again an old man, is back in his study. Mefistofele stands behind him and reminds him death is near. Faust reflects on happy experiences but regrets that none of them ever struck him as so beautiful that he wanted to make time stand still. Though he has experienced everything — the love of a mortal maiden, the love of a goddess — reality has been grief, the ideal just a dream. Now at last he conceives of a higher dream, seeing himself as ruler of a peaceful realm, secure in wisdom and justice. Such a realm could create heaven on earth, and Mefistofele is shaken by it, fearing he may yet lose the wager for Faust's soul. As voices of heavenly cohorts are heard praising the Lord, Mefistofele tries desperate means to lure Faust away from his vision, conjuring up sirens to tempt him. But Faust kneels, grasping the Bible, aware that his vision is one of paradise and eternity. Recognizing it as the one fleeting vision he would wish to stay, he falls dead. Cherubim appear, showering roses on Faust — and on Mefistofele, who retreats in torment from them and from the dawning light. Whistling his last defiance, he returns to his own domain as heavenly forces claim the soul of the redeemed Faust.

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Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Richard Wagner


ACT I. As the congregation of St. Katherine's Church sings a closing hymn, the young knight Walther von Stolzing tries to catch the eye of Eva Pogner. After the parishioners have filed out, she informs her suitor that she is to be betrothed the next day to the winner of a song contest sponsored by the local Mastersingers. Eva's companion, Magdalene, tells her sweetheart, David, apprentice to the cobbler and poet Hans Sachs, to explain the rules of song composing to Walther, who is taken aback by the complicated ins and outs of mastersinging. David's fellow apprentices set up for a preliminary song trial, and the Masters arrive; but before the group's secretary, Kothner, can call the roll, Walther applies for the contest, making an enemy of fellow contestant Beckmesser, the town clerk - a spiteful, jealous pedant, suspicious of anything new. As proof that tradesmen value art, Pogner offers his daughter's hand as prize for the next day's contest. When Sachs suggests that Eva - and the people - should have some say in the matter, Pogner announces she may reject the winner but must marry a Mastersinger. Now Walther introduces himself, describing his self-taught, natural methods of composition. Going on to his trial song, Walther sings an impulsive, free-form tune, breaking all the Masters' rules, punctuated by Beckmesser's chalk and slate to count the errors. Rejected by the Masters, the young knight stalks out, leaving Sachs to muse on the distinctive appeal of Walther's melody.

ACT II. That evening, as David's fellow apprentices playfully end their day, David tells Magdalene how badly Walther fared. Eva, arriving with her father, gets the sad news from Magdalene. Across the street, Sachs sets up shop in his doorway; the scent of lilacs and the memory of Walther's song, however, distract him. Eva visits the cobbler, and though she confesses she would be glad if Sachs himself won the contest, her dismay at his pretended disapproval of Walther betrays her true feelings. Running off in a huff, she is intercepted by Walther, who begs her to elope with him, and they hide when the Night Watchman passes. Sachs lights the street with a lantern, forcing the lovers to stay hidden while Beckmesser arrives to serenade Eva, whom Magdalene impersonates in Pogner's window. When the clerk begins his tune, however, Sachs launches into a lusty cobbling song, pleading a need to finish his work. At length they agree that Sachs will drive a nail only when Beckmesser breaks a rule of style. The ensuing racket increases when David jealously attacks the clerk for apparently wooing Magdalene, and the nightshirted neighbors join in a free-for-all until the Watchman's horn disperses them. Pogner leads Eva inside while Sachs drags Walther and David into his shop; the Watchman intones the hour.

ACT III. Reading a book in his study the next morning, Sachs forgives David his unruly behavior and bids him recite his St. John's Day verses. Alone, the cobbler ponders the world's madness, then greets Walther, who tells of a wondrous dream. Sachs recognizes a potential prize song; taking down the words, he helps the knight fashion them with an ear for form and symmetry. When they depart, Beckmesser limps in and noses around. Pocketing Walther's poem, he is caught by Sachs, who tells him to keep it. Beckmesser, certain of victory, rushes out. Eva now visits Sachs on the pretext of a pinching shoe; Walther returns dressed for the festival and repeats his prize song for her. She is torn between the two men, but the wise older man turns her to the younger. When Magdalene comes in, Sachs promotes David to journeyman with a box on the ear and asks Eva to bless the new song, which all five join in praising. Then they go off to the contest.

In a meadow outside the city, guilds and citizens assemble under festive banners. After a joyful waltz, the Masters file in, Sachs getting a spontaneous hand from his people, which in turn inspires moving thanks from him. The contest opens as Beckmesser nervously tries to fit Walther's verses to his own music but forgets the words and distorts them, earning laughter from the crowd. The clerk turns furiously on Sachs and stumbles off. After rightful delivery of the song by Walther, the people are entranced, but Walther refuses the Masters' medallion. Sachs, however, convinces him otherwise, extolling tradition and its upholders as well as its fresh innovators. Youth makes its pact with age, Walther has won Eva, and the people hail Sachs once more as Eva crowns him with Walther's wreath.

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The Merry Widow
Franz Lehár


ACT I. The action takes place in the Pontevedrian embassy, Paris, 1905. Baron Mirko Zeta leads his guests in a toast to the Pontevedrian chief of state in absentia. Meanwhile, Zeta's wife, Valencienne, speaks privately to Camille de Rosillon, a young attaché with whom she has been having a flirtation. Oblivious to this, Zeta is concerned only that Hanna Glawari — widow of the wealthiest man in Pontevedro — not marry a foreigner during her sojourn in Paris, since this would spell financial disaster for the tiny country. Camille protests the seriousness of his love to Valencienne, who reminds him she is a respectable wife. After they leave, Zeta welcomes the temperamental Hanna, who is quite aware of his interest in her money and reassures him that she is still a Pontevedrian at heart. Several men confess they have fallen under her spell; she leads them into the next room for the festivities. Next to arrive is Count Danilo Danilovich, who says that after a hard day's work on behalf of his country he likes nothing better than an evening at Maxim's. Balking at the mention of Hanna, whom he evidently knows, he no sooner makes himself comfortable than Hanna herself walks in. It quickly develops that she and Danilo were once in love but that his uncle forbade the match. Danilo now swears that if saying "I love you" really means to Hanna "I love your money," he will never make such a declaration. Zeta, having seen them together, tells Danilo it is his patriotic duty to marry Hanna: since she is surrounded by suitors, danger to the national exchequer is imminent. Ladies' choice is announced for the next dance, and both Cascada and St. Brioche hope Hanna will ask them to dance. Hanna is inclined to ask Danilo, who at first says he doesn't know how to dance, then offers to sell his turn to Hanna's partner for 10,000 francs, to be donated to charity. The mention of so much money scares the other men away. Alone with Hanna, Danilo offers to dance with her after all, but she refuses, so he dances by himself.

ACT II. The evening of the next day, guests are gathered in the garden of Hanna's mansion, where she has promised a real Pontevedrian party. She interrupts the folksinging and dancing to sing the ballad of Vilja, a forest nymph who fell in love with a mortal. When she tells Zeta she is importing dancing girls to entertain Danilo in the style of Maxim's cabaret, the baron gets his hopes up: Hanna seems interested in Danilo. The latter appears and joins Hanna in verses about a couple going for a romantic ride in a carriage — but the gentleman seems unwilling to get the lady's message of acceptance. Zeta asks his aide, Njegus, and Danilo to meet him in the summerhouse at eight for a conference. With some other men from the party, they reflect happily on how difficut it is to figure out women. Hanna tests Danilo's interest by asking whether she should feel free to marry the man of her choice. They wander off, leaving Valencienne with Camille; having decided to break off with him, she reluctantly means to persuade him to propose to Hanna. Camille asks why the flower of their romance must fade so soon. She replies that one evening remains before they must part, and they will spend it in the summerhouse. When Zeta appears for the conference, Njegus — having seen the lovers enter the summerhouse — rescues Valencienne through the back door. Zeta thinks he saw his wife in there; meanwhile, though, Hanna has taken her place — to the jealous Danilo's annoyance, since he assumes she is having a tryst with Camille. When Camille repeats his protestations of love to keep up the pretense, Valencienne is shocked by his fickleness. Enjoying the joke, Hanna announces her engagement to Camille. At first Danilo pretends nonchalance, saying marriage is a private matter, not subject to diplomatic opinion, but as rage gets the better of him, he recites a warning fable about a princess who ruined herself to spite her lover, then heads for Maxim's to forget his troubles.

ACT III. Later that night, Njegus has transformed Hanna's parlor into a replica of Maxim's, complete with dancing girls, including Valencienne. When Danilo is brought in, he accepts the illusion and is greeted by the girls. Handed a telegram confirming the imminent ruin of the Pontevedrian treasury, Danilo bows to patriotic duty and officially forbids her marriage, then learns with joy that she never meant to marry Camille. Admitting his own love, he waltzes with her. Meanwhile, Zeta figures out (with the help of a telltale fan) that it was really his wife in the summerhouse; announcing he will divorce her, he proposes to Hanna. Under her late husband's will, Hanna cautions, she will lose her fortune if she remarries. Delighted, Danilo wants to marry her, but she adds that she will lose it because it will pass to her new husband. Laughingly, he resigns himself to his fate, saving the fortunes of his country at the same time. Valencienne's standing with her husband is restored by her inscription on the fan — "I am a respectable wife" — and all ends with a recapitulation of the men's ode to the delightful enigma that is woman.

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A Midsummer Night's Dream
Benjamin Britten


ACT I.
The woods outside Athens.

Night has fallen. Puck disrupts the fairies' work with news that his master Oberon is on the way. Oberon, King of the Fairies, is quarrelling with Tytania, his queen, over a young boy who is under her protection. Tytania, furious at Oberon, refuses to give up the boy to him.

Oberon sends Puck to fetch a magic flower, whose juice on Tytania's eyelids will make her fall in love with the first creature she sees upon waking. He will steal the boy while she is under the spell.

Lysander and Hermia meet outside Athens. They are escaping from the law which allows Hermia's father to force her into marriage with Demetrius. They decide to elope and marry in secret and set off into the woods.

Helena has warned Demetrius that his love, Hermia, is leaving Athens. Demetrius chases after her pursued by Helena, who is hopelessly in love with him. Demetrius scornfully rejects Helena and runs ahead into the forest. Oberon, who has witnessed their argument, orders Puck to seek out Demetrius and place the juice of the magic flower on his eyes so that he will fall in love with Helena.

Six working men have left the city to discuss in secret a play they hope to perform at the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. There is some disagreement over casting, with Bottom and Flute finally agreeing to play the parts of "Pyramus" and "Thisby," the star-crossed lovers of the play's title. Quince, the author and director of the play, hands out scripts; all agree to learn their parts and meet later that night in the woods to rehearse.

Lysander and Hermia wander, lost, through the forest. Exhausted, they lie down to sleep. Puck, mistakenly thinking he has found Demetrius, places the juice of the magic flower on Lysander's eyes. Demetrius, still pursued by Helena, angrily abandons her to the dangers of the forest at night. Alone and in despair, she sees the sleeping Lysander and wakes him. Under the effect of the "love-juice," he immediately falls in love with her. Furious, she runs off, thinking he is making fun of her. Lysander chases after her. Hermia awakes from a terrible dream to find herself alone.

In the heart of the forest, the fairies help their mistress Tytania to sleep. Oberon steals in to put the love-juice on her eyes:

"What thou seest when thou dost wake,
do it for thy true love take...
...wake when some vile thing is near."

ACT II. The woods, later the same night.

Quince and his men meet to rehearse. There are several problems raised by the script, to all of which Bottom finds a solution. Rehearsals eventually begin. Puck, seeing them at work, decides to amuse himself by turning Bottom into an ass. At the sight of this strange transformation, the others run off, terrified. Bottom, left alone, sings out loud to keep his courage up.

Bottom's singing wakes Tytania, who immediately falls in love with him. With the help of the fairies, she manages to coax him to bed.

Oberon is delighted to find Tytania in love with an ass, but he is less pleased to see Hermia still pursued by Demetrius. And the arrival of Lysander in pursuit of Helena makes it clear that Puck has put the love juice on the eyes of the wrong Athenian.

Demetrius, rejected by Hermia, falls asleep, exhausted, and Oberon places the juice on his eyes. Helena returns, still harassed by Lysander's protestations of love. Demetrius wakes, sees Helena, and falls in love with her. This merely confirms Helena's belief that the men have planned this mockery of love--a belief which is compounded when Hermia arrives to be met by Lysander's instant rejection of her. Oberon and Puck witness the furious quarrel which erupts between the four mortals.

Oberon is enraged at Puck's mistake and gives him an herb that will act as an antidote for Lysander. By imitating the men's voices, Puck keeps the lovers apart until they each fall asleep. He then places the herb on Lysander's eyes.

ACT III. The woods, shortly before dawn.

Oberon releases Tytania from the spell. She wakes to see her beloved Oberon and is appalled that she could have been in love with an ass.

Daybreak wakes the four lovers. Demetrius is still in love with Helena and Lysander is back in love with Hermia. Bottom, restored to human shape, wakes from the strangest dream--that he was transformed into an ass. He returns to the city while his friends search for him in the woods. They have just given up on finding him when he returns with the news that their play has been chosen to be performed for Theseus.

Back in Athens, the lovers have come to beg Theseus' forgiveness for their disobedience to the Athenian law. Theseus decides that the two couples shall be married at the same time as he and Hippolyta.

After Quince and his players have given their performance of "Pyramus and Thisby," the three couples retire to bed. Oberon, Tytania, and the fairies arrive to bless the sleeping household.

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Moses und Aron
Arnold Schoenberg


ACT I. Thirteenth century B.C. In the desert, Moses calls upon God and is answered by voices from the Burning Bush, asking the reluctant man to become a prophet. It is God's intention to free the Jews from bondage in Egypt, and Moses has been chosen to lead them. Moses greets his brother, Aron, who will have to serve as his spokesman, explaining his difficult ideas in terms the people can understand. Moses assures him that love is the key to unlocking this mystery. When Aron praises God for hearing prayers and receiving offerings, Moses cautions that the purification of one's own thinking is the only reward to be expected from paying such tributes.

A young couple discusses Moses' having been chosen to lead the Jews. Because he killed an Egyptian guard, bringing retribution on his people, they are afraid he will get them into further trouble. One man expresses hope that the new idea of a single God will prove stronger than Egypt's multiple gods, stronger than Pharaoh's hold. The people reiterate this hope, looking toward the arriving Moses and Aron, who keep changing roles, so that it is difficult to distinguish one from the other. Trying to explain how God can be perceived only within oneself, Moses grows frustrated by Aron's glibness, which seems to weaken his idea. Aron defies Moses, seizing his rod and throwing it down, whereupon it turns into a serpent; this, says Aron, shows how a rigid idea can be made flexible. The people wonder how this new God can help them against Pharaoh. Aron shows them another wonder: Moses' hand, which appears leprous, is healed when he places it over his heart, wherein God dwells. The people now believe God will strengthen their own hands: they will throw off their shackles and escape into the wilderness, where Moses says purity of thought will provide the only sustenance they need. Pouring Nile water, which appears to change into blood, Aron interprets the sign, saying they will no longer sweat blood for the Egyptians but will be free. When the water appears clear again, Aron says Pharaoh will drown in it. Promised a land of milk and honey, the people pledge their allegiance to this new God.

INTERLUDE. Moses has been gone for forty days. Unnerved by his long absence, the people wonder whether God and Moses have abandoned them.

ACT II. At the foot of the mountain, Aron, a Priest and a group of elders wonder why Moses is gone so long, as license and disorder prevail among the people. Aron assures them that once Moses has assimilated God's intent, he will present it in a form the people can grasp. To the anxious people who flock to him for advice, however, he admits that Moses may have defected or be in danger. Seeing them unruly and ready to kill their priests, Aron tries to calm them by giving them back their other gods: he will let them have an image they can worship. A golden calf is set up, and offerings are brought, including self-sacrifices at the altar. An emaciated youth who protests the false image is killed by tribal leaders. Priests sacrifice four maidens, and the people, who have been drinking and dancing, turn wild and orgiastic. When they have worn themselves out, and many have fallen alseep, a lookout sees Moses. Destroying the golden calf as the people slink away from him, Moses demands an accounting from Aron, who justifies his indulgence of the people by saying that no word had come from Moses. While Moses' love is entirely for his idea of God, Aron says, the people too need his love and cannot survive without it. In despair Moses smashes the tablets of laws he has brought down from the mountain. Aron denounces him as fainthearted, saying he himself keeps Moses' idea alive by trying to explain it. Led by a pillar of fire in the darkness, which turns to a pillar of cloud by day, the people come forth, encouraged once more to follow God's sign to the Promised Land. Moses distrusts the pillar as another vain image, but Aron says it guides them truly. As Aron joins the people in their exodus, Moses feels defeated. By putting words and images to what cannot be expressed, Aron has falsified Moses' absolute perception of God. "O word, thou word that I lack!" he cries, sinking in despair.

ACT III. (Schoenberg wrote no music for this act.) Moses puts Aron under arrest, accusing him of fostering idle hopes with his imagery, such as that of the Promised Land. Aron insists that Moses' word would mean nothing to the people unless interpreted in terms they can understand. Moses declares that such sophistry has won the people's allegiance to Aron rather than to God: "Images lead and rule this people you have freed, and strange wishes are their gods." By misrepresenting the true nature of God, Aron keeps leading his people back into the wilderness. When Moses tells the soldiers to let Aron go free, Aron falls dead. Even in the wilderness, Moses says, the people will reach their destined goal — unity with God.

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Nabucco
Giuseppe Verdi


ACT I. In the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, the Israelites bewail their fate: Nabucco (Nebuchadnezzar), king of Assyria, has attacked them with his hordes and is desecrating the city. As they offer prayers, Zaccaria (Zacharius), their high priest, enters with his sister, Anna, and Nabucco's daughter, Fenena, whom the Jews hold hostage. He counsels his people to be steadfast, as peace is within their reach, and reassures them that the Lord will not forsake them. Ismaele, nephew of the king of Jerusalem and leader of the military, comes in with soldiers to say Nabucco is sweeping all before him. Zaccaria hopes for a miracle and turns Fenena over to Ismaele for safekeeping.

When the others leave, following a hymn, we learn that Ismaele and Fenena are in love, having met in Babylon when he served there as ambassador. Even then they had a difficult time, because her jealous sister, Abigaille, loved Ismaele too. As they talk, Abigaille bursts in wearing warrior garb and leading a band of Assyrians (disguised as Hebrew soldiers) to occupy the temple. She greets Ismaele with scorn, then privately tells him he can save his people and earn a new kingdom if he returns her love. Saying he cannot, he offers to forfeit his life for his people, while Fenena prays to the God of Israel to shield Ismaele. The Hebrew crowd reappears, frightened because Nabucco is approaching. As the conqueror enters the temple, Zaccaria confronts him, denouncing his blasphemous arrogance and threatening to stab Fenena. But Ismaele holds back Zaccaria's blow and delivers Fenena to her father. As Zaccaria and the other Jews revile Ismaele, Nabucco orders the temple looted and burned.

ACT II. In Nabucco's palace in Babylon, Abigaille has found a parchment that could cause her ruin, since it certifies that she is not Nabucco's daughter but the child of slaves. She swears vengeance on Nabucco and his appointed heiress, Fenena, but wistfully reflects that the love she felt for Ismaele could have changed her life. The High Priest of Baal comes to say that Fenena has freed the Hebrew prisoners. As a result of her treason, the religious authorities have decided to offer Abigaille the throne instead, telling the people that their king has fallen in battle. She rejoices that the daughter of slaves will now have everyone at her feet.

Elsewhere in the palace, Zaccaria prays for the ability to persuade the Assyrians to put aside their false idols. He will begin by converting Fenena, whose apartment he enters. Two Levites, sent for by Zaccaria, appear and are surpised to meet the outcast Ismaele. As they upbraid him, Zaccaria, accompanied by Fenena and Anna, pardons Ismaele, for he saved a fellow Hebrew-the newly converted Fenena. The aged palace adviser Abdallo rushes in to tell Fenena about the reports of the king's death and to warn that her life is in danger. Before she can escape, the High Priest of Baal, followed by Abigaille and the Assyrian populace, proclaims Abigaille ruler and pronounces a death sentence on the Hebrews. When Abigaille demands the royal scepter, Fenena refuses to yield it. At that moment, to the astonishment of all, Nabucco enters, takes the crown and places it on his own head. Everyone quakes in dread before the irate monarch, who announces he is not only king but god, having overthrown both Baal and Jehovah. As he tries to force Zaccaria and Fenena to prostrate themselves, lightning strikes him and knocks the crown from his head; it also renders him insane. Abigaille retrieves the crown.

ACT III. In the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the High Priest of Baal and the populace hail Abigaille as ruler. The High Priest presses her to put the Israelites to death, but before she can sign the warrant, the disheveled Nabucco wanders in, hoping to sit once more on his throne. Abigaille dismisses the others and explains to Nabucco that she is serving as regent, since he is not well enough to rule; she gives him the warrant, hoping to trick him into ordering his own daughter's death. When she taunts him for lack of resolution, he signs. Then Nabucco remembers: what of Fenena? She too will die, retorts Abigaille. When Nabucco tries to find in his garments the document proving that Abigaille is an impostor, she confronts him with it and tears it to bits. Nabucco calls the guards but learns they are no longer his servants: their job is to keep him locked up. Reduced to pleading with Abigaille for Fenena's life, he meets with stony adamancy.

By the banks of the Euphrates, the Hebrews are resting from forced labor. Their thoughts ascend "on golden wings" to their lost homeland. Zaccaria predicts they will overcome captivity and obliterate Babylon with the Lord's help.

ACT IV. In his royal apartment, Nabucco awakens from a troubled sleep to hear voices outside calling Fenena's name. He goes to the window and sees her being led to execution. Trying the door, he remembers he is a prisoner. Desperate, he kneels to pray to the God of the Hebrews for forgiveness, pledging to convert himself and his people. His reason returns, and when Abdallo and soldiers come to see why he is trying to force the door, he convinces them that he is his old self again. Crying for a sword, he rallies his followers to regain the throne.

In the Hanging Gardens, executioners stand ready to do away with Zaccaria and his flock. The old man hails Fenena as a martyr, and she asks the Lord to receive her into heaven, but Nabucco arrives and orders the statue of Baal destroyed. As if by supernatural powers, it falls of its own accord. Abigaille takes poison and confesses her crimes, urging that Ismaele and Fenena be reunited; dying, she prays to the God of Israel to pardon her. Nabucco tells the Israelites to return to their native land and rebuild their temple, declaring that he himself now serves Jehovah. The crowd acknowledges a miracle and renders praises to God.

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Norma
Vincenzo Bellini


ACT I.
Deep in a forest, the Druids gather at the altar of their god, Irminsul, where their priest, Oroveso, leads them in a prayer for revenge against the conquering Romans. When they have left, the Roman procounsul, Polline, confesses to his aide that he no longer loves the high priestess Norma, Oroveso's daughter, but has fallen in love with a young novice priestess, Adalgisa. They leave as the Druids assemble and Norma prays to the moon goddess for peace. After the Druids disperse, Adalgisa arrives to pray for strength to resist Pollione, but when he appears he persuades her to flee with him to Rome the next day.

In her hidden retreat, Norma tells her confidante, Clotilde, that she fears Pollione may desert her and her two children for a woman whose identity she does not know. The children are led away as Adalgisa enters to confess she has a lover. Recalling her own weakness, Norma is about to absolve Adalgisa from her vows, but this kindness turns to fury when Pollione appears and Norma learns he is Adalgisa's suitor. Though Pollione would still flee with her, Adalgisa vows she would now rather die than steal him from Norma.

ACT II. That night, dagger in hand, Norma tries to bring herself to murder her children in their sleep to keep them from Pollione. But she cannot, instead summoning Adalgisa to take them to him. The girl refuses, pleading with the despairing mother to pity her children. Norma embraces Adalgisa, overcome by her offer to go to Pollione and plead for Norma.

The Druids assemble at their altar to hear Oroveso's announcement that Pollione is being replaced by a crueler commander. He rages at Rome's hateful bondage but counsels submission for the moment, so as to make the eventual revolt more certain of success.

At the temple, Norma is stunned to hear from Clotilde that Adalgisa's entreaties to Pollione have been in vain, and in a fury she urges the people to wage war on their conquerors. Oroveso demands a sacrificial victim, and just then Pollione is dragged in, having profaned the sanctuary. Alone with him, Norma promises him his freedom if he will renounce Adalgisa and return to her. When he refuses, Norma calls in the Druids and confesses her guilt. Moved by her nobility, Pollione insists on sharing her fate. After begging Orveso to watch over her children, Norma leads her lover to the pyre while the crowd prays.

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Le Nozze di Figaro
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


ACT I.
A country estate outside Seville, late eighteenth century. While preparing for their wedding, the valet Figaro learns from the maid Susanna that their philandering employer, Count Almaviva, has designs on her. At this the servant vows to outwit his master. Before long the scheming Bartolo enters the servants' quarters with his housekeeper, Marcellina, who wants Figaro to marry her to cancel a debt he cannot pay. After Marcellina and Susanna trade insults, the amorous page Cherubino arrives, reveling in his infatuation with all women. He hides when the Count shows up, furious because he caught Cherubino flirting with Barbarina, the gardener's daughter. The Count pursues Susanna but conceals himself when the gossiping music master Don Basilio approaches. The Count steps forward, however, when Basilio suggests that Cherubino has a crush on the Countess. Almaviva is enraged further when he discovers Cherubino in the room. Figaro returns with fellow servants, who praise the Count's progressive reform in abolishing the droit du seigneur — the right of a noble to take a manservant's place on his wedding night. Almaviva assigns Cherubino to his regiment in Seville and leaves Figaro to cheer up the unhappy adolescent.

ACT II. In her boudoir, the Countess laments her husband's waning love but plots to chasten him, encouraged by Figaro and Susanna. They will send Cherubino, disguised as Susanna, to a romantic assignation with the Count. Cherubino, smitten with the Countess, appears, and the two women begin to dress the page for his farcical rendezvous. While Susanna goes out to find a ribbon, the Count knocks at the door, furious to find it locked. Cherubino quickly hides in a closet, and the Countess admits her husband, who, when he hears a noise, is skeptical of her story that Susanna is inside the wardrobe. He takes his wife to fetch some tools with which to force the closet door. Meanwhile, Susanna, having observed everything from behind a screen, helps Cherubino out a window, then takes his place in the closet. Both Count and Countess are amazed to find her there. All seems well until the gardener, Antonio, storms in with crushed geraniums from a flower bed below the window. Figaro, who has run in to announce that the wedding is ready, pretends it was he who jumped from the window, faking a sprained ankle. Marcellina, Bartolo and Basilio burst into the room waving a court summons for Figaro, which delights the Count, as this gives him an excuse to delay the wedding.

ACT III. In an audience room where the wedding is to take place, Susanna leads the Count on with promises of a rendezvous in the garden. The nobleman, however, grows doubtful when he spies her conspiring with Figaro; he vows revenge. Marcellina is astonished but thrilled to discover that Figaro is in fact her long-lost natural son by Bartolo. Mother and son embrace, provoking Susanna's anger until she too learns the truth. Finding a quiet moment, the Countess recalls her past happiness, then joins Susanna in composing a letter that invites the Count to the garden that night. Later, during the marriage ceremony of Figaro and Susanna, the bride manages to slip the note, sealed with a hatpin, to the Count, who pricks his finger, dropping the pin, which Figaro retrieves.

ACT IV. In the moonlit garden, Barbarina, after unsuccessfully trying to find the lost hatpin, tells Figaro and Marcellina about the coming assignation between the Count and Susanna. Basilio counsels that it is wise to play the fool. Figaro inveighs against women and leaves, missing Susanna and the Countess, ready for their masquerade. Alone, Susanna rhapsodizes on her love for Figaro, but he, overhearing, thinks she means the Count. Susanna hides in time to see Cherubino woo the Countess — now disguised in Susanna's dress — until Almaviva chases him away and sends his wife, who he thinks is Susanna, to an arbor, to which he follows. By now Figaro understands the joke and, joining the fun, makes exaggerated love to Susanna in her Countess disguise. The Count returns, seeing, or so he thinks, Figaro with his wife. Outraged, he calls everyone to witness his judgment, but now the real Countess appears and reveals the ruse. Grasping the truth at last, the Count begs her pardon. All are reunited, and so ends this "mad day" at the court of the Almavivas.

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Otello
Giuseppe Verdi


ACT I. Cyprus, late fifteenth century. The Moor Otello, governor of the island and a general in the Venetian army, arrives in port as a tempest rages. Iago, Otello's ensign, confers with Roderigo, a fop who has come to Cyprus because of his unrequited love for Desdemona, a Venetian beauty recently married to Otello. Promising to help Roderigo, Iago says Desdemona should soon tire of her Moorish husband, adding that he himself has reasons for revenge on Otello, who passed him over for advancement, promoting Cassio instead. Iago proposes a toast; when Cassio declines any more drink, Iago says he cannot refuse to salute Otello's new wife. Cassio consents and grows tipsy as Iago provokes Roderigo to a duel with Cassio. When Montano, Otello's predecessor in command, tries to separate the two, Cassio attacks him as well. Otello comes out of the castle to restore order. When he sees Desdemona disturbed by the fray, he takes away Cassio's recent promotion. Sending everyone home, Otello turns to his bride, and they recall their courtship. Leading her back into the castle, Otello kisses her.

ACT II. A room in the castle, opening on a garden. Iago tells Cassio that by presenting his case to Desdemona he can be reinstated, because Otello is influenced by his wife. As soon as Cassio is out of sight, Iago declares his belief that a cruel God created man wicked, and life has no meaning. Iago watches as Cassio approaches Desdemona in the garden, and when Otello comes in, the lieutenant makes casual remarks about Desdemona's fidelity. Softened by his wife's beauty, Otello greets her, but she brings up the question of Cassio's demotion, annoying him. When she offers a handkerchief to wipe his brow, he throws it to the ground, where her attendant, Emilia, retrieves it. As Desdemona tries to calm Otello, Iago orders Emilia (his wife) to give him the handkerchief. Otello asks to be alone, and the others leave, except for Iago, who hangs back to observe Otello's growing suspicion. To fan the flames, Iago invents a story about how Cassio spoke lovingly of Desdemona in his sleep. Then he mentions her handkerchief, saying he saw it in Cassio's hand. Beside himself, Otello swears to have vengeance, and Iago joins in the oath.

ACT III. In the armory, Iago tells Otello that more proof is forthcoming of his betrayal by his wife and Cassio. Desdemona enters, and Otello speaks calmly until she revives the subject of Cassio. When Otello demands the handkerchief he gave her, she again pleads for Cassio. Otello calls the shocked woman a courtesan and dismisses her. He cries out that heaven could have afflicted him with anything but this, then hides as Iago returns with Cassio. Iago flashes the handkerchief he stole and leads Cassio on in banter in such a way that Otello overhears only fragments and thinks they are talking about Desdemona. As trumpets announce dignitaries from Venice, Otello vows to kill his wife that very night. The Moor greets Lodovico, who recalls him to Venice and appoints Cassio to govern Cyprus. Losing control at this news, Otello pushes his wife to the floor with insults. He orders everyone out and collapses in a seizure as Iago gloats over him, crying, "Behold the Lion!"

ACT IV. As Emilia helps Desdemona prepare for bed, the frightened woman sings of a maiden forsaken by her lover. Startled by the wind, she bids Emilia an impassioned farewell and kneels in prayer before retiring. As soon as she has dozed off, Otello enters through a secret door and kisses his wife. This wakens her, but the jealous man, deaf to her protestations of innocence, strangles her. Emilia knocks with news that Cassio has killed Roderigo; entering, she is horrified to find the dying Desdemona and summons Cassio, Lodovico and Iago, who escapes when his wife reveals his treachery. Realizing his tragedy, Otello pulls out a concealed dagger and stabs himself, dying upon a final kiss.

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Parade
Erik Satie


Parade

The ballet Parade, originally to a libretto by Jean Cocteau, choreographed by Léonide Massine and designed by Pablo Picasso, was first presented in Paris in 1917, at which time the front of Word War I was less that 100 miles from Paris. For The Metropolitan Opera's version, producer John Dexter refers the spectator to the following definition in the Dictionnaire Larrousse: "Parade: a burlesque scene played outside a sideshow booth to entice spectators inside."

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Les Mamelles de Tirésias
Francis Poulenc


PROLOGUE. Dressed in evening clothes, the Theater Manager steps before the curtain to announce to the audience a play "whose aim is to reform morals." The show is meant to amuse the audience and to encourage people to have a lot of children, he says.


ACT I. In the main square, Thérèse spiritedly denounces love and embraces feminism, refusing to submit to her Husband and planning to become a soldier. She rids herself of her breasts, which emerge from her blouse as balloons, then pops them with a cigarette lighter. As a beard sprouts on her face, Thérèse announces to her Husband that she is no longer his wife but will henceforth be known as Tirésias.

Two drunks — Presto and Lacouf — come out of a café, quarrel, duel and kill each other. Thérèse/Tirésias, smartly dressed as a man, and her Husband, dressed as a frumpy housewife, lead the village in mourning. The investigating Gendarme flirts with the Husband/housewife while the people of Zanzibar salute Thérèse/Tirésias as a general. The Husband tells the Gendarme that if the women of Zanzibar refuse to have children, he will have them, and he promises to produce some by nightfall. A Newspaperwoman decries a hoax, Presto and Lacouf revive, men light their wives’ pipes, and all ponder the imponderable fervor born of this change of sex. The curtain descends to cover everything onstage except the singers’ legs.


ACT II. Babies’ cries interrupt the enr’acte (couples dancing a gavotte), and the curtain rises on a stage filled with baby carriages. The Husband, who has given birth to 40,000 children, is interviewed by a Journalist. The more children you have, he tells the press, the richer you’ll become, for they will support you. One of his children has written a novel that has already sold 600,000 copies. When the Journalist asks for a loan, the Husband kicks him out. He creates a journalist son who tries to blackmail him but leaves empty-handed. The Gendarme threatens to prosecute the husband for the sudden addition of 40,000 new inhabitants. The Husband declares they can be fed with ration cards obtainable from the Fortuneteller. This lady enters, quarrels with the Gendarme — standing up for the legality of her profession, and for fertility — and strangles him. She drops her veil and reveals her true identity — she is Thérèse, again in women’s form. She leads her Husband and the others in a paean to love and parenthood, exhorting the audience to make babies.

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L'Enfant et les Sortilèges
Maurice Ravel


L'Enfant et les Sortilèges

A mother warns her exceedingly naughty young son to be good, but when left to his own devices, the child breaks dishes, hurts a squirrel, pulls the cat’s tail, destroys the wallpaper and tears apart his schoolbooks. When he decides to relax in an armchair, the chair gets up and walks away. In fact, all of the pieces of furniture rebel against the boy. The sofa and the chair dance defiantly, the grandfather clock laments the loss of its pendulum, the teacup and teapot begin to converse (to a foxtrot), the fire blazes at the boy and then dies out, and the shepherds and shepherdesses on the wallpaper come alive. The boy is terrified and cold. His tears fall on a book, and his favorite fairy princess rises from the page, but he consigns her back to the book. Arithmetic, in the human form of an old man, confers with his numbers, and a pair of cats chat.

The boy follows the cats to the garden, where frogs, trees, dragonflies and bats cavort peacefully in the night air. When they see the boy, they attack him to punish his destructiveness. But they relent when they see him bandaging the squirrel he harmed. His desolate and contrite cry — "Mama!" — moves the animals to lead him back to the comforting figure of his mother.

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Parsifal
Richard Wagner


ACT I. Medieval Spain. In a forest near the castle of Monsalvat, Gurnemanz, knight of the Holy Grail, rises with two young Esquires from sleep. Two other Knights arrive to prepare a morning bath for their ailing leader, Amfortas, who suffers from an incurable wound. Kundry, an ageless woman of many guises, rushes in wildly with balsam for Amfortas. The king and his entourage enter, accept the gift and proceed to the nearby lake. As Gurnemanz bewails Amfortas' wound, his companions ask him to tell about the sorcerer Klingsor, who once tried to join the knightly brotherhood. Denied because of his worldly lust, he tried to gain acceptance by castrating himself and again was rejected. Now an implacable foe, Klingsor entrapped Amfortas with a beautiful woman: while the king was lying in her arms, Klingsor snatched from him the holy spear (which had pierced Christ's side) and stabbed Amfortas. The wound can be healed only by an innocent youth made wise through compassion. Suddenly a swan falls to the ground, struck by an arrow. The Knights drag in a youth, Parsifal, whom Gurnemanz rebukes for shooting the bird. The young man flings away his bow and arrows in shame. Kundry relates that his father, Gamuret, died in battle; his mother, Herzeleide, reared the boy in the forest, but now she too is dead. As the Knights carry Amfortas' litter back, Gurnemanz leads Parsifal to the castle, wondering if he may be the prophecy's fulfillment.

In the lofty Hall of the Grail, Amfortas and his Knights prepare to commemorate the Last Supper. The voice of the leader's father, the aged Titurel, bids him uncover the holy vessel, but Amfortas hesitates, his anguish rising in the presence of the blood of Christ. At length Titurel orders the Esquires to uncover the chalice, which casts a glow about the hall. As bread and wine are offered, an invisible choir is heard from above. Parsifal understands nothing, though he clutches his heart when Amfortas cries out in pain. Gurnemanz angrily drives the uncomprehending youth away.

ACT II. Klingsor summons his thrall Kundry to seduce Parsifal. Having secured Amfortas' spear, he now seeks to inherit the Grail by destroying Parsifal, whom he recognizes as the order's salvation. Kundry, hoping for redemption, protests in vain.

In Klingsor's magic garden, Flowermaidens beg for Parsifal's embrace but disappear when Kundry, transformed into a siren, enters to woo him with tender memories of his childhood and mother. As she offers a passionate kiss, the youth recoils, understanding at last the mystery of Amfortas' wound and his own mission. Kundry now tries to lure him through pity for the weary life she has been forced to lead ever since she laughed at Christ on the cross, but again she is repulsed. Cursing Parsifal to wander hopelessly in search of Monsalvat, she calls on Klingsor, who hurls the holy spear. The youth catches it and makes the sign of the cross, causing the castle to vanish.

ACT III. Gurnemanz, now an old hermit, finds the penitent Kundry exhausted in a thicket. As he revives her, a knight in armor approaches. Gurnemanz recognizes Parsifal and the spear. The knight describes years of trying to find his way back to Amfortas and the Grail. Gurnemanz removes Parsifal's armor. Kundry washes his feet, drying them with her hair. In return, he baptizes her, then exclaims at the beauty of the spring fields. Distant bells announce the funeral of Titurel. They walk toward the castle. The Communion table has vanished from the Hall of the Grail. No longer able to uncover the chalice, Amfortas begs the Knights to end his anguish with death, but Parsifal touches him with the spear, which heals the wound. Raising the chalice, he accepts the homage of the Knights as their new leader. Kundry, released at last from her curse of wandering, falls dying.

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Pelléas et Mélisande
Claude Debussy


ACT I. Legendary times in the mythical land of Allemonde. In a forest, Golaud, a widower and grandson of King Arkel, has lost his way while hunting. By a fountain he discovers a frightened girl, Mélisande. She too is lost and cannot explain who she is. Since night is falling, she reluctantly consents to follow him.

In Arkel's castle, Geneviève reads the blind old monarch a letter Pelléas has received from Golaud, his half brother. Golaud has wed Mélisande and fears to return home, since Arkel wished to choose his bride. The old man, however, accepts the union. When Pelléas enters, asking leave to visit a dying friend, Arkel reminds him that his own father is seriously ill and persuades him to remain to greet Golaud's bride.

From a castle garden Geneviève shows Mélisande the lofty forests of Allemonde and the sea beyond. Pelléas joins them as distant sailors' cries signal the departure of Mélisande's ship. Geneviève entrusts the girl to his care.

Deep in the park, Pelléas leads Mélisande to a well. Fascinated by her reflection, she allows her long hair to get wet. Then, childishly playing with her wedding ring, she drops it into the water. Tremulously she wonders what to tell Golaud. "The truth," counsels Pelléas as they leave.

Golaud lies in bed, tended by Mélisande. In the forest his horse bolted and threw him, he tells her, and for a moment he had the sensation of a great loss. As they talk, Mélisande suddenly begins to weep, saying she longs to leave the gloomy castle. Golaud, taking her hands to comfort her, notices the ring is missing. When she says she lost it in a grotto, he sends her after it, though she is afraid.

At the grotto entrance, Pelléas and Mélisande grope through the darkness so she will be able to describe the place to Golaud. As the moon appears, Mélisande is frightened by sleeping beggars and pleads to be taken away.

ACT II. Mélisande, looking from her tower window, sings as she combs her hair. Pelléas approaches, and as she leans forward, her tresses fall over him. Pressing them to his face, he kisses them. Golaud breaks in upon the scene and chides them for playing like children.

In the dim vault below the castle, Golaud leads Pelléas to a yawning abyss, where the youth gasps for air.

As they emerge, Pelléas cries out in relief. Golaud warns him that Mélisande is expecting a child.

Beneath his wife's window, Golaud suspiciously questions Yniold, his little son by his first marriage, about Pelléas' attentions to Mélisande, but the boy can tell him nothing. When the window lights up, Golaud lifts the child to watch the couple, but Yniold sees nothing incriminating.

ACT III. Pelléas finds Mélisande in one of the castle rooms and tells her he intends to leave the next day; agreeing to a final tryst at the fountain, they part. Mélisande returns with Arkel, who assures her that since Pelléas' father is recovering, the castle soon will be more cheerful. The old man is horrified when Golaud stalks in and, accusing Mélisande of infidelity, throws her to the ground. As Golaud rushes off, she sobs that he no longer loves her. Arkel says if he were God he would pity the hearts of men.

By the well, Yniold tries to lift a stone covering a ball he has lost. Distracted by sheep being led to slaughter, he leaves as night falls. Pelléas arrives, soon followed by Mélisande. Though afraid of being seen, they quietly declare their love. Mélisande spies someone in the shadows; the lovers desperately kiss. The enraged husband storms in, kills Pelléas with his sword and then pursues the fleeing Mélisande.

Arkel, the now remorseful Golaud and a Physician wait in the bedchamber where Mélisande, who has given birth prematurely, lies dying. She awakens with no recollection of violence and acknowledges no guilt in her love for Pelléas. Arkel and the Physician return with the baby, followed by serving women. Murmuring that she finds only sadness in her daughter's face, Mélisande quietly dies. Arkel leads the grieving Golaud from the room, observing that now it is the child's turn.

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Peter Grimes
Benjamin Britten


PROLOGUE:
An English coastal village, known as the Borough, around 1830. During a coroner's inquest at the town hall, the lawyer Swallow questions a surly fisherman, Peter Grimes, about the death of his apprentice at sea during a storm. When Grimes carried the boy's body ashore, he spoke abusively to Mrs. Sedley, a nosy neighbor in the crowd of gossips that quickly gathered. The townsfolk, listening to the testimony, are angered when Grimes reviles the woman anew from the witness stand. Ellen Orford, the local schoolmistress, testifies that she helped carry the boy's body home, inciting the onlookers to further insinuations. Though Swallow rules the death accidental, he warns Grimes not to take on another boy unless he provides a woman to care for him. The fisherman replies that this is his intent, as soon as he can clear his name. When the hall empties, Ellen bids Grimes have courage, promising to help him find a better life.

ACT I: Several days later, as women are repairing nets, a group of fishermen head for the Boar, a tavern kept by Auntie, despite Bob Boles' comments on the gin there. Balstrode, a retired skipper, spies a storm, at which the villagers express their dread of the sea. From the harbor Grimes calls for help to land his boat, but only Balstrode and the apothecary Ned Keene lend him a hand. Keene tells Grimes he has found him a new apprentice at a workhouse, and when the carrier Hobson refuses to fetch the lad in the face of local hostility toward Grimes, Ellen offers to go with him, bringing forth reproaches from the villagers. Mrs. Sedley, a laudanum addict, secretly arranges a meeting with Keene at the Boar, to obtain drugs that Hobson will bring back that night. As the storm rises, the crowd fearfully disperses, leaving Grimes with Balstrode, who tries to convince him to quit the village.

That night, at the height of the storm, Auntie unwillingly admits Mrs. Sedley to the Boar. Rough-talking fishermen also arrive, and when Auntie's "Nieces," frightened by the gale, come downstairs, Boles gets into a fight with Balstrode over one of them. Keene reports that Hobson is delayed on his route, after which Grimes enters declaiming a poetic fantasy that mystifies the onlookers. To restore quiet, Balstrode leads a spirited sea chantey, with the others joining in the chorus. Hobson and Ellen arrive with the new apprentice, and Grimes at once takes the lad back into the storm, over angry protests.

ACT II: Outside church, during services, Ellen asks the new boy, John, about a bruise on his neck. Grimes comes to take the lad to fish, and when Ellen tells him he cannot buy peace by hard work, he strikes her and drags the boy off. Auntie, Keene and Boles see the incident and quickly inform the congregation, now leaving the church. Despite Ellen's protests, Boles rallies a mob and leads it off to apprehend Grimes. The Nieces, with Auntie and Ellen, reflect on the innate childishness of men.

At his hut, Grimes orders John to dress for work. Raving to himself, he imagines making enough money to marry Ellen, but his vision turns to the dead apprentice. As the mob is heard approaching, Grimes rushes John out the back door; in his haste, the boy falls over a steep cliff. Grimes escapes, and the villagers depart, except for Balstrode, who looks over the cliff and slowly begins to climb down.

ACT III: A few nights later, a dance is under way at the Moot Hall. Outside, Swallow and Keene flirt with Auntie's Nieces, after which Mrs. Sedley tries to interest Keene in a theory that Grimes has murdered his apprentice. She hides as the rector, Adams, bids his friends goodnight, then sees Balstrode enter with Ellen, who is carrying the apprentice's wet jersey. When they go, Mrs. Sedley calls for Swallow, who orders Grimes' arrest.

A few hours later, as the villagers shout his name in the distance, Grimes staggers in, raving. He scarcely notices Ellen and Balstrode when they arrive and try to comfort him, but he understands when the captain tells him to sail out and sink his boat. As dawn breaks, the two men launch the boat; then Balstrode leads the grief-stricken Ellen away. The villagers, tired of their search, begin their daily chores. The Coastguard has reported a sinking boat, and Swallow tries to spot it through his spyglass, but the others show little interest.

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Il Pirata
Vincenzo Bellini


ACT I. Sicily, late-thirteenth century. Fortune has turned against the outlaw Gualtiero, whose pirate fleet has been defeated by the forces of Ernesto on behalf of King Charles. As the people of Caldora look anxiously to sea during a storm, Gualtiero and his crew are cast ashore. He is recognized by his old tutor, Goffredo, who now lives as a hermit. Gualtiero asks what has become of Imogene, whom he still loves. Goffredo is reluctant to answer, but when the people say the local duchess-Imogene herself-is on her way to help the shipwreck victims, he urges Gualtiero not to let himself be discovered by his enemies.

Imogene arrives at the beach and greets the survivors. Questioning Gualtiero's friend Itulbo, she learns to her distress that the pirate captain may have been lost during the recent sea battle. As an aside to her companion, Adele, Imogene confides a recent dream in which she imagined Gualtiero wounded and dying upon a beach; her husband accused her of causing the man's death and dragged her away. Gualtiero, briefly stepping outside the hermit's hut, recognizes Imogene. When the sound of his voice stirs further memories of her lost love, her companions see how upset she is and lead her back to her nearby castle of Caldora.

That night, outside the castle, the shipwreck victims have been enjoying the duchess's hospitality. Itulbo, afraid their identify will be discovered, wants them to quiet down, but they share more drinks before returning to the castle. Imogene emerges, having sent Adele to find the mysterious stranger whose voice she heard on the beach. Gualtiero approaches, unrecognized at first, and answers her solicitous questions about his misfortunes, which she compares to her own. When he reveals his identity and accuses her of betraying him, she replies that she had to marry Ernesto in order to save her aged father from death in prison. They are interrupted by ladies-in-waiting, who bring Imogene's child. Gualtiero seizes his enemy's son, threatening to do away with him. At the sight of Imogene's distress, he relents and gives the boy back to her, then hurries away.

Scarcely has Imogene breathed a sigh of relief when word comes that her husband has returned triumphant from the sea battle. His soldiers march in, singing of their exploits. Ernesto joins them-and cannot understand why Imogene seems depressed at such a glorious moment. Her anxieties are justified when Ernesto sends for the leader of the shipwrecked crew and proceeds to question him. Itulbo answers in Gualtiero's stead, saying they are from Liguria, "where all strangers are welcome." Ernesto notes that the Ligurians sheltered his enemy, Gualtiero, and provisioned the pirates, so he orders the crew held until he can find out more about them. Upon Imogene's intercession, however, he agrees to let them leave, if they will do so the next morning. Aside, Gualtiero threatens Imogene with dire consequences if she will not meet him one more time, while Ernesto wonders why he mistrusts these strangers. Because Imogene is afraid to meet with him, Gualtiero starts to throw himself on Ernesto, but Itulbo and Goffredo restrain him. Imogene swoons, revives, and is led away, while Ernesto fears for her sanity. Gualtiero, recklessly longing for revenge, is dragged away by his restraints.

ACT II. Imogene's ladies-in-waiting express concern for her as she rests in her chamber. When they have left, Adele tells her she may now go to meet Gualtiero, who has sworn not to leave without seeing her. Ernesto enters, however, challenging her indifference. She admits she still loves Gualtiero, "but as one loves a man dead and buried." Then Ernesto receives a note saying Gualtiero lives and is present in the castle. Imogene warns of sure bloodshed, but Ernesto, furious, dashes from the chamber.

On the castle terrace toward daybreak, Gualtiero refuses to be persuaded by Itulbo that they should make their escape immediately, as Ernesto stipulated. Gualtiero wants to defy Ernesto, risking his own men's lives if necessary. Itulbo leaves as Imogene arrives for a final rendezvous with Gualtiero, who delivers an ultimatum: Either she flees with him, thereby punishing Ernesto, or Gualtiero stays and fights. Refusing to dishonor her marriage vows, no matter how unwelcome, she asks Gualtiero to forgive her and to flee from Ernesto's wrath. As she bids him farewell, Ernesto draws near and sees their last embrace, then bursts forth to challenge his rival. Both men are spoiling for a fight and ignore Imogene's pleas to kill her instead. They rush off. With Adele, who has arrived to comfort her, Imogene heads after the men, hoping to stop them.

In the castle later that day, the duke's followers form a funeral procession and swear to avenge his death at the hand of Gualtiero. To their surprise, Gualtiero enters. He throws down his sword and says he is ready for vengeance, but they reply he must first be condemned by a tribunal. Turning to Adele, he asks her to carry his final farewell to Imogene, in the hope that she will pray for him in death. He leaves with the knights to face his fate. Imogene wanders in, distracted, imagining she has saved her son from assassins and brought him to his dying father. When the boy actually arrives, she speaks consolingly to him until a trumpet sounds from the Council Chamber, announcing Gualtiero's condemnation. Realizing, despite her madness, that he is about to die, she envisions the scaffold and declares herself ready to die too, of grief.

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Prince Igor
Alexander Borodin


ACT I, Scene 1:
Prince Galitsky is carousing at a lavish feast with his unruly retainers, headed by Skula and Yerosha; they are gudok players who have deserted from Igor's army and vie for Galitsky's favor. Galitsky dreams of sending Yaroslavna to a convent, deposing Igor, setting himself up as ruler of Putivl, and leading a life of debauchery.

A group of women run into the court in agitation. They ask Galitsky to release a friend, who has been forcibly taken away. But Galitsky throws the women out to the laughter of the drunken rabble.

The drinking session is at its height. Together with their increasingly boisterous fellow revellers, Skula and Yerosha sing the praises of Prince Galitsky and plot treason: "We will oust Igor and enthrone Galitsky! What have we to fear?"

Scene 2: Yaroslavna is downcast. She is haunted day and night by disturbing dreams and dark foreboding -- it has been a long time since she has received news of her husband and son. She is surrounded by feuds and intrigues and Galitsky is fomenting unrest.

Yaroslavna is distracted from her affliction by the unexpected appearance of the young women driven out of court by Galitsky. They want the Princess to protect them from their tormentors and ask for Yaroslavna's help as they seek their friend who has been abducted. Although she is resolute, she is unable to make her brother see reason. His attitude is rebellious, and when she demands an answer from Galitsky he is crudely evasive and makes threats against her and Igor.

Boyars arrive with the news that Igor's army has been defeated and the Prince and his son are captives. The Russian princes are at odds and the Polovtsian hordes are invading Russia. Deeply disturbed, the Princess wishes to question the messengers herself about everything in detail, but Galitsky and his retainers are using the opportunity to hatch a revolt. Alarm bells warn of danger -- the Polovtsians are already attacking Putivl.

ACT II: Polovtsian girls sing and dance attempting to entertain Konchakovna, daughter of the Khan Konchak. Konchakovna is deep in thought and does not respond. She is waiting impatiently to see once again the imprisoned Vladimir, and plans to confess her love to him. Gradually night is falling over the steppes. Vladimir enters and the reunited lovers make pledges of love, happiness, and marriage.

Konchakovna and Vladimir are interrupted by the entry of Igor. The sleepless Prince is tormented by dark thoughts. It is hard for him to bear the disgrace of the Russian defeat and the shame of his own imprisonment. He also finds it difficult to come to terms with the idea that his homeland has been enslaved. He longs passionately for freedom, so that he may liberate Russia. He thinks with great tenderness of his wife Yaroslavna. Ovlour, a Polovtsian who has been baptized (and is friendly to the Russians), unexpectedly approaches the Prince and offers to help him escape. Igor declines, on the grounds that a secret escape is unbecoming to a Russian prince.

The Polovtsian Khan Konchak treats Prince Igor with the deference due to an honored guest, and promises him freedom if he agrees to never take up his sword against the Polovtsians again. But Igor rejects Konchak's proposal and makes no secret of his intention to raise a new army immediately and fight against the Polovtsians the moment he is freed. Konchak is impressed by the Russian prince's pride and valor. In order to dispel the gloomy spirits of his prisoner, Konchak orders his retainers to dance for Igor.

ACT III: Still held in captivity, Igor is in despair after learning of new defeats of the Russians at the hands of the Polovtsians. His country's misfortune is hard for him to bear and he blames himself for the defeat. Igor calls on the Russian princes to unite because he sees that as the only way to free themselves from their enemy. To save his home he resolves to escape. Ovlour once again offers to help.

Konchakovna is in despair. She has learned that Igor and Vladimir are planning to escape and begs Vladimir to stay with her or to take her with him. Igor also presses him. The prince's son is undecided. In desperation Konchakovna raises the alarm, but Igor and Ovlour manage to escape on horseback.

The Polovtsians come running and they and the Khans demand Vladimir's death. But Khan Konchak decides otherwise; he not only grants Vladimir his life but gives him his daughter's hand, thereby reinforcing his own power. Konchak gives the order to march against Russia.

ACT IV: Yaroslavna, who has given up any hope that Igor will return, weeps for her husband and for the fate of her country. She addresses her pleas to the wind, the sun, and the River Dnieper, hoping to learn where Igor is and what has happened to him. Yaroslavna's laments are accompanied by the sorrowful song of the passing peasants, who mourn for their devastated country. Suddenly the Princess notices two riders in the distance. They are Igor and Ovlour. Yaroslavna and Igor recognize each other and embrace. Igor embraces before his people to ask for God’s blessing after his long absence.

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I Puritani
Vincenzo Bellini


The English civil war in the 1640s divided the land between the supporters of Parliament under Oliver Cromwell (the Roundheads) and the Royalists faithful to the Stuart monarchy (the Cavaliers). The divisions were also religious with the Puritans on the Parliamentary side against the monarchists who were Episcopalian or even, in the case of the French queen, Roman Catholic.

Charles has been beheaded and the Queen, Henrietta, has escaped in disguise.

ACT I, Scene 1: Plymouth, a Puritan stronghold, is threatened by siege from the Royalist troops. Offstage voices herald the wedding day of Elvira, daughter of Lord Walton, the fortress's commander. Now Sir Richard Forth comes in lamenting that his promised bride, Elvira, loves another man - a Stuart partisan ("Ah, per sempre, io ti perdei"). Her father has no desire to force her to marry against her will, it seems, and Richard's friend Sir Bruno urges him to devote his life to leading the Parliamentary forces.

ACT I, Scene 2: Elvira tells her uncle Sir George that she would rather die than marry Sir Richard ("Sai come arde"). Her uncle reassures her, saying he has persuaded her father to allow the marriage with her lover, Lord Arthur Talbot. Although he is an enemy sworn to the Monarchist cause, he is heralded as he enters the castle keep ("A quel suono").

ACT I, Scene 2: Everyone gathers for the wedding celebration and Lord Arthur greets his bride ("A te, o cara"). He learns that Henrietta, the widow of King Charles I, is now a prisoner in the castle and soon to be taken to London for trial. Alone with her, Arthur offers to save her even if this means his death. Elvira returns with her bridal veil ("Son vergin vezzosa"); capriciously she places the veil over Henrietta's head.

When they are alone again, Arthur tells Henrietta that the veil will provide the perfect disguise to escape from the fortress. As they are about to leave, however, Sir Richard bars the way, determined to kill his rival. Henrietta separates them and reveals her identity. Richard lets them flee, knowing this will ruin Arthur. When the others return for the wedding, Sir Richard reveals Arthur's escape with Henrietta. As soldiers rush off in pursuit, Elvira believes herself betrayed and is beset by madness.

ACT II: The townsfolk mourn the sadness of Elvira's mental breakdown. Her uncle, Sir George, relates that she continues to pine for Arthur. Sir Richard arrives to announce that Arthur has been condemned to death by Parliament. The Puritans depart.

Now Elvira wanders in still reliving her happy past ("Qui la voce"). In her madness she mistakes Richard for Arthur and dreams of her wedding ("Vien, diletto"). When she goes, Sir George tries to get Richard to save Arthur. At first indignant, Richard is finally moved to help Elvira, and the two men unite in patriotism: if Arthur returns as a friend, he shall live - if as an enemy in arms, he shall die ("Suoni la tromba").

ACT III: In Elvira's garden, Arthur reveals that love for her has brought him back to Plymouth. He overhears her sing his old love song ("A una fonte afflitto") and is torn between his love and his loyalty to the Stuarts. Elvira herself appears and Arthur assures her that she is his only love ("Vieni fra queste braccia"). But the soldiers rush in to arrest Arthur.

At the crucial moment a diplomat arrives with the news that the Parliamentary faction has triumphed and the Royalists, including Sir Arthur, are all pardoned. The shock of this restores Elvira to her senses, and she embraces Arthur. Their happiness is assured.

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The Queen of Spades
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky


ACT I. During the reign of Catherine the Great (1762-96), children are at play in a St. Petersburg summer park. Two soldiers — Tsurin and Chekalinsky — enter, the former complaining about his bad luck at gambling. They remark that another soldier, Gherman, seems obsessed with the gaming table but never bets, since he is frugal and methodical. Gherman appears with Tomsky, who says his friend hardly seems like his old self: is anything bothering him? Gherman admits he is in love with a girl above his station, whose name he does not even know. When Prince Yeletsky, an officer, strolls into the park, Chekalinsky congratulates him on his recent engagement. Yeletsky declares his happiness while Gherman, aside, curses him enviously. Yeletsky points out his fiancée, Lisa, who has just appeared with her grandmother, the old Countess, once known as the Venus of Moscow. Catching sight of Gherman, the two women note they have seen him before, staring at them with frightening intensity. Gherman realizes that Lisa is his unknown beloved. When Yeletsky and the women leave, Gherman is lost in thought as the other officers discuss the Countess: known as the Queen of Spades, she succeeded at gambling in her youth by trading her favors for the winning formula of Count St. Germain in Paris. Tomsky says only two men, one of them her husband, ever learned her secret, because she was warned by an apparition to beware a "third suitor" who would try to force it from her. Musing on the magical three cards, the others lightly suggest that such a combination would solve Gherman's problems. Threatened by approaching thunder, all leave except Gherman, who vows to learn the Countess' secret.

At home, Lisa plays the spinet as she and her friend Pauline sing a duet about evening in the countryside. Their girlfriends ask to hear more, so Pauline launches into a sad ballad, followed by a dancelike song. As the merriment increases, Lisa remains pensively apart. A Governess chides the girls for indulging in unbecoming folk dancing and asks the visitors to leave. Pauline, the last to go, urges Lisa to cheer up; Lisa replies that after a storm there is a beautiful night and asks the maid, Masha, not to close the French windows to the balcony. Alone, Lisa voices her unhappiness with her engagement; she has been stirred by the romantic look of the young man in the park. To her shock, Gherman appears on the balcony. Claiming he is about to shoot himself over her betrothal to another, he begs her to take pity on him. When the Countess is heard knocking, Lisa hides Gherman and opens the door to the old woman, who tells her to shut the windows and go to bed. After the Countess retires, Lisa asks Gherman to leave but is betrayed by her feelings and falls into his embrace.

ACT II. Not long afterward, at a masked ball, Gherman's comrades comment on his obsession with the secret of the winning cards. Yeletsky passes with Lisa, noting her sadness and reassuring her of his love. Gherman receives a note from Lisa, asking him to meet her later. Tsurin and Chekalinsky sneak up behind him, muttering he is the "third suitor" who will learn the Countess' secret, then melt into the crowd as Gherman wonders whether he is hearing things. The master of ceremonies announces a tableau of shepherdesses. Lisa slips Gherman the key to her grandmother's room, saying the old woman will not be there the next day, but Gherman insists on coming that very night. Thinking fate is handing him the Countess' secret, he leaves. The guests' attention turns to the imminent arrival of Catherine the Great, for which a polonaise by O. Kozlovsky (1757­1831) is played and sung in greeting.

Gherman slips into the Countess' room and looks in fascination at her portrait as a young woman. Their fates, he feels, are linked: one of them will die because of the other. He conceals himself as the old lady approaches. The Countess deplores the manners of today and reminisces about her youth, singing an air from Grétry's Richard Coeur-de-Lion. As she dozes off, Gherman stands before her. She awakens in horror as he pleads with her to tell him her secret. When she remains speechless, he grows desperate and threatens her with a pistol — at which she dies of fright. Lisa rushes in, only to learn that the lover to whom she gave her heart was more interested in the Old Countess' secret. She orders him out and falls sobbing.

ACT III. In his room at the barracks, as the winter wind howls, Gherman reads a letter from Lisa, who wants him to meet her at midnight by the river bank. He imagines he hears the chorus chanting at the Old Countess' funeral, then is startled by a knock at the window. The old woman's ghost appears, announcing that against her will she must tell him the secret so that he can marry and save Lisa. Dazed, Gherman repeats the three cards — three, seven, ace.

By the Winter Canal, Lisa waits for Gherman: it is already near midnight, and though she clings to a forlorn hope that he still loves her, she sees her youth and happiness swallowed in darkness. At last he appears, but after uttering words of reassurance, he starts to babble wildly about the Countess and her secret. No longer even recognizing Lisa, he rushes away. Realizing that all is lost, she throws herself into the icy waters.

At a gambling house, Gherman's fellow officers are finishing supper and getting ready to play faro. Yeletsky, who has not gambled before, joins the group because his engagement has been broken: "unlucky in love, lucky at cards." Tomsky entertains the others with a song. Then Chekalinsky leads a traditional gamblers' song. Settling down to play, they are surprised when Gherman arrives, wild and distracted. Yeletsky senses a confrontation and asks Tomsky to be his second if a duel should result. Gherman, intent only on betting, starts with 40,000 rubles. He bets the three and wins, upsetting the others with his maniacal expression. Next he bets the seven and wins again. At this he takes a wine glass and declares that life is but a game. Yeletsky accepts his challenge to bet on the next round. Gherman bets the ace but is confronted by Yeletsky with the winning card — the queen of spades. Seeing the Countess' ghost, Gherman takes his own life, asking Yeletsky's forgiveness and Lisa's as well. The others pray for his tormented soul.

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The Rake's Progress
Igor Stravinsky


ACT I: Anne Trulove is in the garden of her father's country house with her suitor, Tom Rakewell, admiring the springtime. Sending Anne into the house, her father, Trulove, tells Tom he has arranged an accountant's job for him in the city. Tom declines the offer and the older man leaves. A stranger enters as Tom declares his determination to live by his wits and enjoy life. When he says "I wish I had money," the stranger introduces himself as Nick Shadow, "at your service." Shadow tells Tom that a forgotten rich uncle has died, leaving the young man a fortune. Anne and Trulove return to hear the news, the latter urging Tom to accompany Shadow to London to settle the estate. As Tom leaves, promising to send for Anne as soon as everything is arranged, Shadow turns to the audience to announce, "the Progress of a Rake begins."

At a brothel in the city, whores entertain a group of "roaring boys," dissolute young playboys; together they toast Venus and Mars. Shadow coaxes Tom to recite for the madam, Mother Goose, the catechism he has taught him: to follow nature rather than doctrine, to seek beauty (which is perishable) and pleasure (which means different things to different people). Tom refuses, however, to define love. Turning back the clocks when he sees Tom restless to escape, Shadow commends him to the pursuit of hedonism with these companions. Tom responds with ruminations of love. When the whores offer to console him, Mother Goose claims him for herself and leads him off.

As evening falls, Anne leaves her father's house, determined to find Tom, since she has heard nothing from him.

ACT II: Tom, who is in the morning room of his house in the city, is beginning to tire of city pleasures and no longer dares to think of Anne. When he says "I wish I were happy," Shadow appears, showing a poster for Baba the Turk, a bearded lady whom he urges Tom to marry, because only when one is obligated to neither passion nor reason can one be truly free. Amused by the idea, Tom gets ready to go out.

Anne approaches Tom's house but is hesitant to knock. As darkness falls, she sees servants enter with strangely shaped packages. A conveyance arrives and Tom steps out. Startled to see Anne, he says she must forget him, he cannot go back to her. Baba calls out from the sedan, whereupon Tom admits to the astonished Anne that he is married. Hurried along by Baba's impatient remarks, Anne faces the bitter realities, while Tom repeats that it is too late to turn back. As Tom helps Baba from the sedan, a curious crowd gathers. Anne hurriedly leaves.

In his morning room, Tom sits sulking amid Baba's curios as she chatters about the origin of each. When he refuses to respond to her affection, she complains bitterly. Tom silences her and she remains motionless as Tom falls asleep. Shadow wheels in a strange contraption, and when Tom awakens, saying "Oh I wish it were true," the machine turns out to be his dream: an invention for making stones into bread. Seeing it as a means of redemption for his misdeeds, Tom wonders whether he might again deserve Anne. Shadow points out the device's usefulness in gulling potential investors.

ACT III: On a spring afternoon, the same scene (including the stationary Baba) is set for an auction. Customers examine the various objects: Tom's business venture has ended in ruin. Amid rumors as to what has become of Tom, Anne enters in search of him. An auctioneer, Sellem, begins to hawk various objects -- including Baba, who resumes her chatter after the crowd bids to purchase her. Indignant at finding her belongings up for sale, she tries to order everyone out. She draws Anne aside, saying the girl should try to save Tom, who still loves her. Anne, hearing Tom and Shadow singing in the street, runs out.

Shadow leads Tom to a graveyard with a freshly dug grave, where he reminds the young man that a year and a day have passed since he promised to serve him: now the servant claims his wage. Tom must end his life by any means he chooses before the stroke of twelve. Suddenly, Shadow offers a reprieve: they will gamble for Tom's soul. When Tom, placing his trust in the Queen of Hearts, calls upon Anne, and her voice is heard, Shadow realizes he has lost. In retaliation, he condemns Tom to insanity. As Shadow disappears and dawn rises, Tom -- gone mad -- imagines himself Adonis, waiting for Venus.

In an insane asylum, Tom declares Venus will visit him, whereupon fellow inmates mock the idea. The Keeper admits Anne. Believing her to be Venus, Tom confesses his sins: "I hunted the shadows, disdaining thy true love." Briefly they imagine timeless love in Elysium. With his head upon her breast, Tom asks her to sing him to sleep. As she does, her voice moves the other inmates. Trulove comes to fetch his daughter, who bids the sleeping Tom farewell. When he wakens to find her gone, he cries out for Venus as the inmates sing "Mourn for Adonis."
 

EPILOGUE: The principals gather to tell the moral that each finds in the story. Anne warns that not every man can hope for someone like her to save him; Baba warns that all men are mad; Tom warns against self-delusion, to Trulove's agreement; Shadow mourns his role as man's alter ego; and all concur that the devil finds work for idle hands.

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Das Rheingold
Richard Wagner


In legendary times, Northern Europe consisted of three realms: the underworld, where the Nibelungs lived; the earth's surface, inhabited by giants and mortals; and the cloudy heights, home of the gods.

SCENE 1. Deep in the Rhine, three of the river's daughters, custodians of a golden treasure, laugh while they play, scarcely noticing when Alberich emerges from a crevice. Seized by desire, the gnome tries to catch the Rhinemaidens as they dart through the waters, but his clumsy attempts lead to frustration. Taunts from his quarry merely quicken the Nibelung's lust and anger. Suddenly sunlight illuminates the summit of a rock — the Rhinegold. Hailing the precious hoard, the nymphs are astonished that Alberich does not know what it represents. The Rhinegold is all-powerful, they explain to him, and were it fashioned into a Ring, the wearer would rule the world. But the gold is safe, they continue confidently, for whoever would steal the treasure must renounce love. The Nibelung vows to seize the gold. Scrambling up the rock, Alberich forswears love, wrests the prize free and escapes. The waters are plunged into darkness as the Rhinemaidens lament their loss.

SCENE 2. As the sun rises over a mountainous plateau, Fricka and Wotan slumber on a bank of flowers. A fortress, their new home, gleams in the distance. When the two gods awaken, Wotan hails the building as a fulfillment of his dreams. Fricka reproaches her husband for having promised her sister Freia to the giants Fafner and Fasolt as payment for constructing the castle. Wotan replies that he never meant to keep the bargain. As the terrified Freia runs in, pursued by Fafner and Fasolt, Wotan says Loge (fire) will help the gods out of their dilemma. The giants advance to claim their reward. When Wotan protests he made the pact in jest, that they must settle for another fee, Fasolt, smitten with Freia, balks. Fafner, intrigued that the loss of Freia's golden apples would cost the gods their eternal youth and therefore their power, decides the goddess must be abducted. As the giants drag her away, Froh (spring) and Donner (thunder) bar their path, Donner brandishing his hammer. Wotan intervenes, saying all treaties are guaranteed on his spear. Denied Freia's golden apples, the gods begin to age.

Loge, who originated the contract with the giants, and who at Wotan's command has been trying to find a suitable payment in lieu of Freia, materializes in a puff of smoke. The crafty god suggests that perhaps the Rhinegold might be an acceptable substitute. He then relates how Alberich stole the hoard, forging it into a Ring through which he can gain world dominance. Wotan is enthralled by the absolute power the Ring imparts, and when Fricka learns a wife could use the Ring to keep a philandering husband faithful, she urges Wotan to obtain it. Since the Rhinemaidens want Wotan to restore the gold to them, proposes Loge, why not steal it, as Alberich did? Fafner, who wants the gold, advises Wotan to use his wits to gain the treasure. Then, taking Freia hostage until evening, when the Nibelung's hoard must be delivered as ransom, the giants leave. No sooner does Freia disappear than the gods begin to weaken and age. Wotan, forced to make a decision, bids Loge accompany him to the nether world to seek Alberich's treasure.

SCENE 3. The clang of anvils pervades the dark caverns of Nibelheim, Alberich's domain, where he drives his slaves to mine gold to swell his hoard. Wearing the all-powerful Ring, the gnome torments Mime for the Tarnhelm he is fashioning. Mime, who covets this latest marvel for himself, must submit, and Alberich tries on the helmet, which transforms the wearer into any size or shape. The Tarnhelm also enables Alberich to become invisible, and he thrashes his defenseless brother, then vanishes to terrorize others.

Soon Wotan and Loge descend through a shaft before the cowering Mime, who complains of Alberich's tyranny, saying he had hoped to outwit his brother by means of the Tarnhelm, regaining the Ring he forged. Unrecognized and amused by the complaining gnome, the gods offer to help the Nibelungs free themselves. Now Alberich returns, driving slaves who bear mounds of gold. He knows Wotan and Loge and suspiciously questions their trip to Nibelheim, arrogantly warning of his plan to overthrow the gods and rule the world. Loge asks the Nibelung what would happen if someone stole the Ring while he slept. How could they, the gnome asks, extolling the powers of the Tarnhelm. When Loge, feigning disbelief, asks for a demonstration, Alberich transforms himself into a large serpent, then back again. Loge asks whether the Tarnhelm can turn him into something small — a toad, for instance — so he can hide. Obligingly, Alberich becomes a toad, whereupon Wotan traps him under his foot and Loge seizes the Tarnhelm. As Alberich resumes his accustomed shape, he is tied and dragged by his captors to the surface of the earth.

SCENE 4. Once more on the plateau, Loge and Wotan inform their prisoner he cannot go free without forfeiting his hoard as ransom. Though outraged, he acquiesces, certain that through the Ring he can replenish his fortune. Loge unties his right hand, enabling Alberich to kiss the Ring to summon his slaves, who haul up the gold. The gods' command obeyed, he asks for the return of the Tarnhelm, but Loge says the gods will keep it. Wotan adds that the Ring also must be part of the booty, reminding the gnome that it was not rightfully his. Alberich retorts that Wotan is as much a thief as he, but this does not prevent the god from tearing the Ring from Alberich's finger. As Loge unfastens the Nibelung's bonds, the embittered gnome hurls forth a curse on the Ring: until it returns to his hand, may care, envy and death befall all who possess it.

Alberich disappears as the other gods approach, followed by the giants with their hostage, Freia. Saddened at losing the goddess, Fasolt agrees to accept the Nibelung hoard only if it hides her from his view. The brothers thrust their clubs into the ground to support the treasure, which Loge and Froh heap up in front of Freia. Fafner complains that the gold is not quite enough — he can still see Freia's hair through a crack — forcing Loge to add the Tarnhelm to the hoard. Then Fasolt complains he can see the gleam of Freia's eye through a chink. At this Fafner demands the Ring, now on Wotan's finger. When Wotan refuses, the giants pull Freia from behind the hoard to abduct her. But darkness covers the mountaintop as a cleft in the ground opens and Erda materializes, roused from perpetual sleep by the conflict. The earth goddess warns Wotan to yield the Ring, which spells doom for the gods. Persuaded, Wotan tosses the Ring onto the hoard, whereupon Freia is released. At once Alberich's curse takes effect: the brothers quarrel over the spoils. Fafner kills Fasolt, claiming Ring, Tarnhelm and hoard for himself.

After he has gone, Fricka bids Wotan turn his thoughts to their new home. Donner summons lightning and thunder to dispel thick mists that have enveloped the mountaintop. As the heavens clear, a rainbow forms a bridge to the fortress. Noting how the setting sun gilds the noble structure, Wotan tells Fricka their abode is called Valhalla. As Wotan leads the other gods across the rainbow — all except Loge, who mutters that they are going to their doom — the Rhinemaidens are heard from the valley below, grieving for their lost treasure.

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Rigoletto
Giuseppe Verdi


ACT I.
Mantua, 1500s. At his palace, the Duke lightheartedly boasts to his courtiers of amorous conquests, escorting Countess Ceprano, his latest prize, to a private chamber as his hunchback jester, Rigoletto, makes fun of her husband. Marullo announces that Rigoletto is suspected of keeping a mistress, and Ceprano plots with the courtiers to punish the hated buffoon. Attention is diverted when Monterone, an elderly nobleman, enters to denounce the Duke for seducing his daughter. Ridiculed by Rigoletto and placed under arrest, Monterone pronounces a curse on both the Duke and his jester.

On his way home that night, Rigoletto broods on Monterone's curse. Rejecting the services offered by Sparafucile, a professional assassin, he notes that the word can be as deadly as the dagger. Greeted by his daughter, Gilda, whom he keeps hidden from the world, he reminisces about his late wife, then warns the governess, Giovanna, to admit no one. But as Rigoletto leaves, the Duke slips into the garden, tossing a purse to Giovanna to keep her quiet. The nobleman declares his love to Gilda, who has noticed him in church. He tells her he is a poor student named Gualtier Maldè, but at the sound of footsteps he rushes away. Tenderly repeating his name, Gilda retires. Meanwhile, the courtiers stop Rigoletto outside his house and ask him to help abduct Ceprano's wife, who lives across the way. The jester is duped into wearing a blindfold and holding a ladder against his own garden wall. The courtiers break into his home and carry off Gilda. Rigoletto, hearing her cry for help, tears off his blindfold and rushes into the house, discovering only her scarf. He remembers Monterone's curse.

ACT II. In his palace, the Duke is distraught over the disappearance of Gilda. When his courtiers return, saying it is they who have taken her and that she is now in his bedchamber, he joyfully rushes off to the conquest. Soon Rigoletto enters, warily looking for Gilda; the courtiers bar his way, though they are astonished to learn the girl is not his mistress but his daughter. The jester reviles them, then embraces the disheveled Gilda as she runs in to tell of her courtship and abduction. As Monterone is led to the dungeon, Rigoletto vows to avenge them both.

ACT III. At night, outside Sparafucile's run-down inn on the outskirts of town, Rigoletto and Gilda watch as the Duke flirts with the assassin's sister and accomplice, Maddalena. Rigoletto sends his daughter off to disguise herself as a boy for her escape to Verona, then pays Sparafucile to murder the Duke. As a storm rages, Gilda returns to hear Maddalena persuade her brother to kill not the Duke but the next visitor to the inn instead. Resolving to sacrifice herself for the Duke, despite his betrayal, Gilda enters the inn and is stabbed. Rigoletto comes back to claim the body and gloats over the sack Sparafucile gives him, only to hear his supposed victim singing in the distance. Frantically cutting open the sack, he finds Gilda, who dies asking forgiveness. Monterone's curse is fulfilled.

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Rodelinda
George Frideric Handel
Libretto: Nicola Haym


Bertarido, King of Lombardy and Milan, has been attacked and deposed by Grimoaldo, an ally of his estranged brother, Gundeberto. Gundeberto was killed in the battle and Bertarido vanished, leaving his queen, Rodelinda, and a young son, Flavio, in the power of the victorious ally, Grimoaldo. As a reward for defeating Bertarido, Grimoaldo was promised the hand of Bertarido's sister, Eduige-therefore gaining a legitimate claim to the throne at Milan. Eduige and Grimoaldo fell in love, but she would not marry him while mourning two brothers-one dead, one presumed so.

From abroad Bertarido has sent word of his own death, intending to return to Milan in disguise, rescue his wife and son, and escape to an anonymous life far from the vagaries of politics and the burden of government. The news of his death has devastated both Rodelinda and Eduige. Grimoaldo, intent on gaining the throne, weighs his options, counseled by two advisers-Garibaldo, his closest aide, and Unulfo, a member of Bertarido's cabinet who maintains intimate ties with the royal family and is the only person who knows that Bertarido still lives.

ACT I. Rodelinda and her son are being held in a sparsely furnished room in the palace in Milan. Grimoaldo enters with Eduige and his advisers and announces his wish to marry Rodelinda, thereby gaining the throne. The outraged Rodelinda refuses him and storms away. Eduige is appalled at Grimoaldo's overture to Rodelinda but despite the rules of mourning offers him her hand, heart and throne. Grimoaldo, however, is still stung by her previous postponements, and though still in love with her, fiercely declines Eduige's offer. Now Garibaldo makes overtures to Eduige, hoping to gain the throne for himself. Eduige, furious with Grimoaldo, does not discourage him. When he is left alone Garibaldo reveals his passionate ambition for the throne.

Bertarido arrives at the stables, where Unulfo has left a soldier's uniform for his disguise. He finds in the cemetery a memorial built in his memory by Grimoaldo to appease those loyal to him. Bertarido yearns to see Rodelinda but knows he cannot yet reveal himself. His reunion with Unulfo is interrupted when Rodelinda brings her son to plant flowers at the memorial. Unulfo succeeds in restraining Bertarido, who wants desperately to reach out to his family. Garibaldo appears with an ultimatum from Grimoaldo, to which Bertarido must also be silent witness: either Rodelinda agrees to wed Grimoaldo, or Garibaldo kills the boy. Rodelinda is forced to agree. She takes back her child, lashes out at Garibaldo, and rushes away. Bertarido cannot see past Rodelinda's surrender to Grimoaldo's demand. Unulfo promises to find some resolution to the dilemma. Alone and disconsolate, Bertarido grieves over Rodelinda's seeming loss of faith.

ACT II. In the palace library Garibaldo again offers his services to Eduige in exchange for her hand-he will kill Grimoaldo if necessary. But he sees from her response that Eduige loves Grimoaldo still. Rodelinda appears with her child and reassures Eduige that her son's future is her greatest concern. Eduige shares with Rodelinda her confused anger over Grimoaldo's rejection of her. Grimoaldo enters with Garibaldo and Unulfo, and Rodelinda presents him with an ultimatum of her own: she will marry him on one condition, that he personally kill her son before her eyes. Her gambit works-Grimoaldo backs down; but he is very taken with Rodelinda's courage and constancy and feels that he might actually come to love her, though he cannot forget his feelings for Eduige. Garibaldo and Unulfo are left alone to debate Grimoaldo's options. Garibaldo believes power should be seized and ensured at any cost. Unulfo, musing alone, decides to take Rodelinda to Bertarido and finds a breath of hope.

Walking near the stables, Eduige happens upon and recognizes Bertarido. She is overjoyed to find him alive. She assuages his fears about Rodelinda's constancy, and they move away deep in conversation as Unulfo brings Rodelinda to the stables. Unulfo goes off to look for Bertarido, who soon returns with Eduige to be reunited at last with his wife. When they are discovered together by Grimoaldo, he orders Bertarido taken into custody and, enraged, bids them take their final farewells. Bertarido will soon die.

ACT III. Eduige sends a servant to the dungeon with a concealed weapon that is to be given to Bertarido. She and Unulfo plan for Bertarido's escape: Unulfo, who has access to the prison, will lead Bertarido through a hidden tunnel from the cell to the palace garden, where Eduige will wait with Rodelinda and the child. From there they will escape. Grimoaldo enters with Garibaldo, who advises him to kill the prisoner or lose the kingdom, but Grimoaldo's conscience prevents him from taking this action: he is caught in a web of conflicting feelings-fear, suspicion, love, and remorse.

Bertarido is reassured when a weapon is dropped through the bars of his prison cell. In the darkness he strikes out at what he believes to be an assassin-but it is Unulfo, come to help him. Even though he is wounded, Unulfo manages to get Bertarido to change out of the clothes he has been seen in. As the two men escape into the tunnel, Rodelinda and Eduige arrive-Rodelinda has insisted on rescuing Bertarido herself but finds only his clothes covered with Unulfo's blood. She imagines the worst.

At the foot of Bertarido's memorial Grimoaldo's internal struggle continues. He ultimately acknowledges his cruelty and guilt. Exhausted, he falls asleep. Garibaldo attempts to assassinate Grimoaldo, but is stopped, and killed by Bertarido, who gives himself up to Grimoaldo. Following Grimoaldo into the library, Bertarido dares him to condemn his own savior. Grimoaldo is himself ready to surrender and restores wife, child and throne to the rightful king. His apology to Eduige goes unheeded at first, but eventually she forgives him. With reason restored, the survivors can envision and celebrate a happier future.

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Roméo et Juliette
Charles Gounod


PROLOGUE: Verona, fourteenth century. A chorus chants of the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets and of their children, the star-crossed lovers Roméo and Juliette.

ACT I: At a masked ball at the Capulet palace, Juliette's arrival is eagerly awaited by her cousin Tybalt and her suitor Paris. Capulet presents his daughter, the revelers exclaim at her beauty, and Juliette rhapsodizes on her joy. The host leads his guests off just as Roméo, a Montague, and his friends, all masked, steal into the ballroom intent on provoking a fight. Roméo has dreamed the night before, and Mercutio, one of his companions, launches into a song about Queen Mab, the mistress of dreams. Suddenly Roméo sees Juliette at a distance. As she waltzes around the room, singing of the freedom of youth, Roméo shyly approaches her, asking if his hand may touch hers. Tybalt returns just as Juliette tells her name to Roméo, who masks himself and rushes off. Tybalt identifies the intruder as Montague's son, but Capulet restrains him, ordering the party to continue.

ACT II: Later that night, Roméo hides until Mercutio and other friends stop calling for him. Then he apostrophizes Juliette as the sun, the purest, brightest star. The girl steps forth on her balcony to lament her attraction for an enemy, and Roméo comes forward. The two ecstatically pledge their love but are interrupted by some Capulets searching for a Montague page. Then Roméo and Juliette tenderly bid each other good night.

At Friar Laurence's cell, Roméo appears at daybreak, followed by Juliette and her nurse, Gertrude. The priest agrees to marry the young lovers in the hope that their union will end the feud between their families.

Outside Capulet's house, Roméo's page, Stéphano, sings a mocking song, which provokes a fight with Gregorio and other Capulet retainers. Mercutio protects Stéphano and is challenged by Tybalt, who insults Roméo when he tries to make peace. Mercutio duels Tybalt to defend the Montague honor and is slain, whereupon Roméo kills Tybalt. The Duke of Verona stops the bloodshed, banishing Roméo from the city.

ACT III: At dawn in Juliette's bedroom, the lovers exchange words of adoration before Roméo reluctantly leaves for exile. Capulet and Friar Laurence greet Juliette with news that she is to wed Paris that very day, but the priest gives her a sleeping potion that will make her appear dead. He promises that she will wake with Roméo beside her. Juliette drinks the potion, and when Capulet and the others arrive to lead her to the church, she collapses.

In a gloomy tomb, Roméo soliloquizes on his beloved Juliette, whom he believes dead. In despair he takes poison, only to see Juliette awaken. They hail a new life, but Roméo soon falters. He bids farewell to the frantic girl, who grasps his dagger and stabs herself. The lovers die praying for God's forgiveness.

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Der Rosenkavalier
Richard Strauss


ACT I.
Vienna, 1740s. As morning sunlight streams into her boudoir, the Marschallin — Marie Therese, Princess von Werdenberg — is embraced by her young lover, Octavian (Count Rofrano), who hides when a little blackamoor, Mohammed, brings breakfast, then again when loud voices are heard in the antechamber. The unexpected visitor is the Marschallin's country cousin Baron Ochs von Lerchenau, who has come to discuss his pending marriage to Sophie von Faninal, daughter of a wealthy bourgeois. When he asks the Marschallin what cavalier could present Sophie with the silver engagement rose, she suggests Octavian, who at the moment, disguised as the chambermaid "Mariandel" to avoid discovery, is lusted after by Ochs. As the room fills with retainers, petitioners and even an Italian tenor (whose aria is cut short by the baron's wrangling with a lawyer over Sophie's dowry), "Mariandel" escapes; Ochs enlists a pair of Italian intriguers, Annina and Valzacchi, to locate the shy servant girl. When the room is cleared, the Marschallin muses sadly on her waning youth. Returning, Octavian is stunned to find her mood totally changed, and when she suggests that one day he will tire of her, he leaves without a kiss. Starting up out of her reverie, the Marschallin tries to call him back but is too late. Summoning Mohammed, she sends Octavian the silver rose.

ACT II. Heralded by much excitement and a retinue of lackeys, Octavian enters the Faninals' ornate foyer and presents the silver rose to Sophie. The girl's duenna, Marianne, chaperones a conversation between the young people, during which they are attracted to each other. Now Ochs bursts in, shocking Sophie with his crudity before going off to discuss technicalities with her father. Octavian embraces her, but the two are caught by Annina and Valzacchi, who summon Ochs. When the outraged Octavian grazes the baron's arm with his sword, Ochs sends up a melodramatic yelp; in the ensuing confusion, Sophie tells her father she never will marry the baron, while Octavian hires Annina and Valzacchi for an intrigue he is hatching. When Ochs is alone, nursing his wound with wine, Annina, sent by Octavian, comes in with a letter from "Mariandel" asking for a rendezvous. Intoxicated with his own charm, Ochs is delighted at the prospect of a tête-à-tête. But when he refuses to tip Annina, she determines to get even.

ACT III. At Octavian's instigation, the intriguers help prepare a room in a dingy inn. Before long, Ochs and "Mariandel" arrive for a private supper. As the counterfeit chambermaid coyly leads her suitor on, grotesque heads pop out of trapdoors and secret panels, terrifying the guilty baron. Disguised, Annina runs in, shrieking that Ochs is the father of her many children. The police arrive, followed by Faninal, who summons Sophie to disclaim Ochs' wild assertion that "Mariandel" is his legitimate fiancée. The Marschallin, summoned by one of Ochs' servants, sweeps in, forces the baron to renounce Sophie and smooths over the scandal, then turns to Octavian. Lamenting that she must relinquish her young lover so soon, she nevertheless accepts the truth and gives the bewildered young man to Sophie. Alone, the lovers marvel at their dream come true. After they leave, Mohammed is sent in to retrieve Sophie's handkerchief.

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Rusalka
Antonín Dvorák


ACT I:
By a moonlit meadow near a lake, three Wood-Sprites sing, dance and tease the Water-Gnome, ruler of the lake's underwater realm.

The Water-Gnome becomes aware of his daughter Rusalka, a water-nymph, sitting sadly amid the branches of an overhanging willow tree. When he questions her, Rusalka tells him she has fallen in love with a mortal, a prince who often comes to the forest to swim in the lake. Invisible to all mortals, Rusalka has embraced the Prince as a wave but now longs to take on human form so that he may see her and embrace her in return. Further, she wants to leave the chilly waters of the lake and live in the sunlight as a human.

The wise Water-Gnome warns Rusalka against such a transformation saying that humans are full of sin, to which Rusalka replies, "But they are full of love!" Doubtful, but giving in to his daughter's pleas, the Water-Gnome tells her she will have to consult the witch Jezibaba who lives in a hut on the edge of the lake. Despairingly, the Water Gnome sinks into the lake, and Rusalka addresses the moon, begging it to tell the Prince of her love.

Rusalka calls for Jezibaba, and the witch appears. She tells the water-nymph that if she becomes human and is betrayed by her lover, both she and he will be eternally damned, but Rusalka is undeterred. Jezibaba further warns Rusalka that by becoming mortal, she will lose her power of speech. Heedless of Jezibaba's warnings, Rusalka insists, and the witch brews a potion and gives it to Rusalka to drink.

As dawn breaks over the lake, the Prince appears followed by a party of hunters. They have been pursuing a white doe which has unaccountably vanished, and the Prince senses something strange about this place. He sends his hunters away, hoping to be alone with his thoughts.

Suddenly he sees a beautiful girl, her long hair streaming around her shoulders. The Prince hails her as his fantasy; telling her that though she is mute, her lips will answer to his kisses, he embraces her. Rusalka happily lets him lead her away, ignoring the Water-Gnome and her sisters whose grieving can be heard from the depths of the lake.

ACT II: Beside a pond in the garden of the Prince's castle, a Gamekeeper and a Kitchen Boy gossip about the approaching wedding of the Prince and his strange new bride. They suspect witchcraft, but note that the Prince is notoriously fickle. He will probably lose interest in his mute and nameless bride, they say. Already he is paying attention to one of the wedding guests, a beautiful and ambitious Foreign Princess.

The Prince enters with Rusalka. He wonders why she is so cold and what makes him tremble in her embrace. Still, he says, "I must have you!" The Foreign Princess appears, reproaching the Prince for ignoring his guests. Jealous, she mocks Rusalka's muteness and says to herself, "If I can't have him, let both their happiness die!" The Prince sends Rusalka away to dress for the ball. As soon as she is gone, he begins courting the Princess, and the two go into the castle where singing and dancing herald the beginning of the ball.

In the deserted garden, the Water-Gnome suddenly rises from the depths of the pond and voices his despair over the sad fate in store for his daughter. Soon Rusalka runs from the castle in tears. Able to speak to non-mortals, she begs her father to forgive her desire to become human. She tells him that the Prince no longer loves her. "I am neither woman nor nymph," she weeps. "I cannot die, nor can I live. My heart is empty."

The Prince and the Princess come into the garden, and the Prince expresses his love for her. Rusalka rushes into his arms, but he rejects her, "Your embrace freezes me!" The Water-Gnome reappears, and lures Rusalka into the pond as the Prince throws himself at the feet of the Princess. Scornfully, the Princess laughs wildly and tells him, "Speed after your chosen one to the depths of hell."

ACT III: The doomed Rusalka comes to the lake once more. She longs for death, but knows that the fate awaiting her is worse than mere death. Jezibaba hears her and sardonically asks, "Weren't the kisses tasty? Wasn't the bridal bed warm enough?" To Rusalka's pleas, she retorts, "Love was short, grief will be long."

But under the force of Rusalka's despair, the witch weakens. There is a chance for Rusalka to save herself, she says, if she will spill the blood of the human who betrayed her. "Kill the Prince," says Jezibaba, handing Rusalka a dagger. But Rusalka hurls the weapon into the lake declaring, "He must be happy, even if I am not!"

Rusalka will now become a "bludika," a spirit of death, doomed to exist in the lowest depths of the lake, emerging only at night to lure humans to their death. Rusalka's sisters reject her, saying, "You can never join us again. Your grief spoils our merriment." Crying "Woe, woe," Rusalka vanishes into the lake.

The Gamekeeper and the Kitchen Boy arrive, hoping to consult Jezibaba about the Prince, whom they are convinced has been bewitched. The witch makes a frightening appearance, and the two manage to stammer out that Rusalka has betrayed the Prince. But the Water-Gnome has overheard and, before Jezibaba can answer, surfaces and thunders that it was the Prince who deceived Rusalka, not the other way around. Terrified at the supernatural happenings, the Gamekeeper and the Kitchen Boy flee. Jezibaba laughs at the world's folly.

The three Wood-Sprites dance and sing in the moonlight, but when the Water-Gnome tells them of Rusalka's plight they weep and run away.

The Prince emerges from the forest, distraught and searching for his "white doe." He senses Rusalka's presence and cries out, "Come back to me!" Miraculously, Rusalka does. Bitterly she reproaches him, "Why did your lips lie? Why did you betray me?"

The Prince begs Rusalka's forgiveness and asks her to kiss him. Her kiss means death and damnation she says, but the Prince is resolved. Their lips meet and he dies in her arms, while deep beneath the water the voice of the Water-Gnome cries out, "All sacrifices are futile!" Rusalka sadly thanks the Prince for letting her experience human love and, commending his soul to God, descends into the lake, down to the realm of the demons of death.

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Ruslan and Lyudmila
Mikhail Glinka


ACT I: Svyetozar is hosting a wedding celebration for his daughter, Lyudmila, who is to marry the knight Ruslan. Guests praise Svyetozar and the young couple. The only sad guests are Farlaf and Ratmir, Lyudmila's rejected suitors. The celebrants ask the bard Bayan to sing, but his song foretells ill fortune for the newlyweds. He adds, however, that after all the suffering, true love and happiness will prevail.

Lyudmila, saddened by the thoughts of leaving her father and her city, consoles Farlaf and Ratmir, then declares her love for Ruslan. Svyetozar blesses the couple as the guests call upon Lel, the god of love, to protect them. A thunderclap followed by sudden darkness interrupts the festivities. Light returns, revealing that Lyudmila has mysteriously disappeared. Svyetozar, afraid that she has fallen under an evil spell, promises his daughter and half his kingdom to the man who rescues her. Farlaf, Ratmir, and Ruslan promise never to rest until she is found.

ACT II: Ruslan encounters the wise magician Finn, who tells him that Lyudmila was abducted by the evil dwarf Chernomor, whom Ruslan has to defeat. Finn then recounts his sad history with Naina, once a proud beauty who continually rejected his advances, and how he learned the art of sorcery in order to win her over. But fate laughed at him, for when Naina finally appeared before him, she was an ugly old hag. Finn ran away from her, and now Naina seeks vengeance for his rejection. Finn warns Ruslan about the magic charms of the evil sorceress.

The cowardly Farlaf is about to abandon his search for Lyudmila when he encounters the gnarled, old Naina. She offers to help him find Lyudmila, telling him she will destroy all his enemies and deliver the girl to him. The conceited Farlaf rejoices -- his hour of triumph is at hand, and Lyudmila will finally belong to him.

In his search for Chernomor, Ruslan comes across a battlefield strewn with the bones and weapons of fallen warriors. He has lost his own weapons in battle. Ruslan dwells on his sorry lot, and foresees his own tombstone here. Picking up a spear and a shield from the battlefield, his gloomy thoughts give way to hope as he calls on the god Perun to grant him a sword. As the fog lifts, he suddenly discovers the enormous head of a sleeping giant which awakens and stirs up a tremendous storm, attempting to blow Ruslan down. With his spear, Ruslan angrily strikes at the head, which has been guarding a magic sword. Surrendering the sword to Ruslan, the head reveals its story: the giant's brother is none other than the evil dwarf Chernomor, whose strength is in his beard. The sword Ruslan now holds is Chernomor's own, and is the only weapon that can defeat him. Ruslan vows to avenge the giant and to put an end to Chernomor's evil.

ACT III: To help Farlaf, Naina attempts to divert Ratmir by having her attendants seduce him. Gorislava, Ratmir's rejected lover, who has been trying to find him ever since he went in search of Lyudmila, approaches and laments her fate. Ratmir enters, but under Naina's spell, he hardly notices Gorislava and only pays attention to Naina's beautiful maidens. Ruslan, also lured to this garden by Naina, enters and is about to fall under the same spell and forget Lyudmila when Finn appears and saves him by magically banishing Naina and her maidens. Ratmir finds his true love in Gorislava and becomes Ruslan's ally.

ACT IV: The imprisoned Lyudmila contemplates suicide, preferring death to the attentions of the evil dwarf. Refusing to be consoled by the distractions of Chernomor's attendants, she falls asleep, only to be awakened by the arrival of Chernomor and his followers. In order to seduce Lyudmila, the dwarf has arranged a series of dances to entertain himself. Ruslan comes to save his beloved and challenges Chernomor to a duel. The dwarf casts a sleeping spell on Lyudmila and hurries off to meet Ruslan. Ruslan defeats Chernomor with his magic sword by cutting off his beard. Ruslan, accompanied by Ratmir and Gorislava, eagerly approaches Lyudmila, but finds her motionless, still under the magic sleeping spell. Ruslan decides to take Lyudmila home, where, with the help of sorcerers, he will free her from the spell.

ACT V: On the way back to Kiev, Lyudmila is abducted again, this time by Farlaf, who wants to claim her for himself. Finn comes to Ratmir's aid and gives him a magic ring that will awaken Lyudmila and tells him to follow Ruslan on his way to Svyetozar's palace in Kiev and to give him the ring.

Farlaf has brought the sleeping Lyudmila to her father's palace, but is unable to rouse her. Svyetozar and his court are mourning over her. Ruslan, Ratmir, and Gorislava arrive as Farlaf hides himself. Ruslan awakens Lyudmila with the ring. The hall resounds with rejoicing and the wedding feast is resumed. The people glorify Ruslan, Lyudmila, their gods and their motherland.

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Salome
Richard Strauss


Judea, A.D. 30. From the moonlit terrace of King Herod's palace, Narraboth, captain of the guard, gazes rapturously inside at the Princess Salome, who is feasting with her stepfather and his court. The voice of the prophet Jochanaan echoes from a deep cistern, where he is imprisoned by the king, who fears him. Salome, bored with Herod's lechery and his coarse guests, rushes out for fresh air and becomes curious when she hears Jochanaan curse Herodias, her mother. When the soldiers refuse to bring Jochanaan to her, Salome turns her wiles on Narraboth, who orders that Jochanaan be summoned. Salome is fascinated by the prophet's deathly pallor and pours out her uncontrollable desire to touch him. The prophet rejects her, speaking of the Son of God who will come to save mankind. When Salome continues to beg for Jochanaan's kiss, Narraboth stabs himself in horror, and the prophet descends into the cistern, urging her to seek salvation in the Messiah. The girl collapses in frustration and longing.

Herod appears, followed by his court. When he slips in Narraboth's blood, he becomes unnerved and begins to experience hallucinations, which Herodias scorns. Herod's thoughts turn to Salome, who spurns his attentions. Renewed abuse from Jochanaan's subterranean voice harrasses Herodias, who demands that Herod turn the prophet over to the Jews. Herod's refusal incurs an argument among several Jews concerning the nature of God, and a narrative of Christ's miracles by two Nazarenes.

Herod begs Salome to divert him by dancing and offers her anything she might wish in return. Salome makes him swear he will live up to his promise, then dances, slowly shedding seven veils and finishing her performance at his feet. Salome demands the head of Jochanaan on a silver platter, ignoring Herod's desperate alternatives - jewels, rare birds, a sacred veil. The terrified king finally gives in. After a tense pause, the arm of the executioner rises from the cistern, offering the head to Salome. As clouds obscure the moon, Salome seizes her reward passionately, addressing Jochanaan as if he lived and triumphantly kissing his lips. Overcome with revulsion, Herod orders the soldiers to kill Salome.

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Samson et Dalila
Camille Saint-Saëns


ACT I: Palestine, 1150 B.C. In a square in Gaza, a group of Hebrews beg Jehovah for relief from their bondage to the Philistines; Samson, their leader, rebukes them for their lack of faith. When the Philistine commander, Abimélech, denounces the Hebrews and their God, Samson kills him and leads the Hebrews away. The High Priest of Dagon comes from the Philistine temple and curses Samson's prodigious strength, leaving with the slain man's bier. An Old Hebrew praises the returning Samson. The outer walls of the temple disappear to reveal Samson's former lover, the Philistine woman Dalila, who invites him to come that night to her nearby dwelling. She and her maidens dance seductively for Samson, who becomes deaf to the Old Hebrew's dour prophecies.

ACT II: In the vale of Sorek, Dalila calls on her gods to help her ensnare and disarm Samson, promising the High Priest to find a way to render the hero powerless. Samson appears, passionate in spite of himself; when Dalila has him in her power, she feigns disbelief in his constancy and demands that he show his love by confiding in her the secret of his strength, weeping when he refuses. Samson hears rolling thunder as a warning from God but cannot resist following Dalila inside. Not long afterward, having finally learned that the secret of Samson's strength is his long hair, she calls to hidden Philistine soldiers, who rush in to capture and blind Samson.

ACT III: In a dungeon at Gaza, the sightless Samson pushes a grist mill in a circle, praying for his people, who will suffer for his sin. He hears their voices castigating him.

During a bacchanal in the Temple of Dagon, Dalila and the High Priest taunt Samson. When they force him to kneel to Dagon, he asks a boy to lead him to the two main pillars of the temple. Samson prays to Jehovah to restore his strength, and with a mighty effort he pulls down the pillars and the temple, crushing himself and his foes.

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Siegfried
Richard Wagner


ACT I.
In his cavern workshop near Fafner's lair, Mime complains bitterly as he toils at an anvil to forge a new sword for Siegfried, who has grown to manhood. The impotent, hate-filled Nibelung has fashioned many blades for his ward, but they always broke into pieces when tested. Though Mime secretly has kept the shattered Nothung, the magic sword wielded by Siegfried's father, he lacks the skill to restore its fragments. If he could do so, with Siegfried's help, he would fulfill his dream of obtaining Fafner's Ring and becoming ruler of the world. A hunting horn announces the approach of Siegfried, who bounds in with a bear he has captured, playfully scaring Mime before releasing the animal to the forest. Impatient for a new sword, Siegfried grasps Mime's latest effort, only to have the weapon snap like a toy in his hands. To avoid the headstrong youth's anger, the Nibelung offers kind words and food, both brusquely rebuffed. At this, Mime whiningly reminds Siegfried of the long years he has looked after him and all he has taught him. Siegfried retorts he has never learned to tolerate the sight of Mime, nor does he know why he continues to live with him. They do not resemble each other, he says, and grabbing Mime by the throat, he demands to know who his real parents were. The Nibelung confesses that years ago he found a woman in distress in the woods and nursed her as she died giving birth. Her name was Sieglinde, and the baby's father had fallen in combat; Siegfried's name is a legacy from his mother. Moved by the story, Siegfried asks for proof of what he has been told, at which Mime takes forth the splintered remnants of the sword Nothung. At once the youth insists the weapon be welded whole, so he can go forth into the world to seek adventure. Siegfried runs back into the forest.

As Mime sits dejected, an aged Wanderer (Wotan) appears. Soon the unwanted guest proposes a battle of wits in which he will forfeit his head should he lose. Mime, though suspicious, agrees, then proceeds to ask the Wanderer three questions: what race lives under the earth (the Nibelungs), on the face of the earth (the giants) and on the cloudy heights (the gods)? The Wanderer answers correctly, then declares that Mime too must answer three questions, to save his own head: what is the race Wotan mistreats but loves most (the Wälsungs), what is the sword Siegfried must use if he is to kill the dragon Fafner (Nothung), and who will repair the weapon? When Mime cannot answer the last question, the Wanderer tells him the sword can be forged only by one who has never known fear — and he leaves the gnome's head as bounty to that person.

Hearing distant growls, Mime panics, thinking Fafner is coming, but it is only Siegfried, eager to wield his father's sword. Mime tries to find out whether the youth comprehends the meaning of fear. Since he does not, Mime decides to take him to Fafner's lair, where surely he will learn. When Siegfried once more orders Mime to finish Nothung, the Nibelung sobs that he lacks the craft, at which Siegfried repairs the sword himself, launching into a spirited forging song as he works. While the youth toils, Mime plots to get rid of him once the dragon has been killed and the treasure recovered. Siegfried brandishes the finished sword, splits the anvil with it and rushes into the forest.

ACT II. That night, Alberich keeps vigil near Fafner's cave, brooding over his lost treasure, determined to regain the Ring. When the Wanderer approaches, bathed in eerie light, the Nibelung at once recognizes him as Wotan. The god assures him that he no longer cares about the Ring — he is now only an observer of destiny. He adds that it is Mime whom Alberich should fear, for Mime wants the gold and brings a valiant young hero to slay Fafner. The Nibelung is perplexed that his enemy seems to be helping him. Wotan and Alberich rouse the sleeping Fafner to warn him of approaching danger, urging him to surrender the Ring, but Fafner only mumbles he will devour any attacker. God and Nibelung disappear in the shadows.

As dawn breaks, sunlight penetrates the dense foliage of the forest. Mime enters with Siegfried, showing him Fafner's lair. Dismissed by the youth, the treacherous gnome hobbles off. Siegfried stretches on the ground under a lime tree to rest, enchanted by the murmur of the forest, yearning for the mother he never knew. High in the branches over his head, a Forest Bird warbles a song he wishes he could understand. Cutting a reed and blowing on it, Siegfried tries to imitate the bird. Then he raises his silver hunting horn to his lips, inadvertently awakening Fafner, who rumbles forth from his den. During the ensuing struggle, Siegfried plunges his sword into the monster's heart. Dying, Fafner warns that whoever put Siegfried up to this deed is plotting his death as well. When Siegfried draws Nothung from the beast, his fingers are burned by blood, so he touches them to his lips. The taste of the dragon's blood enables him to understand the language of the Forest Bird, who tells him of the Nibelung hoard, the Tarnhelm and all-powerful Ring. As Siegfried disappears into the cave to inspect the treasure, Mime slinks back, only to be confronted by Alberich. The brothers quarrel over the spoils, withdrawing when Siegfried reappears, carrying proof of his victory — the Tarnhelm, which he fastens to his belt, and the Ring, which he places on his hand. Now the Forest Bird warns Siegfried about Mime, who soon creeps forward, bearing a poisoned drink. Reading the dwarf's true thoughts, the youth loses patience with the Nibelung and kills him, as Alberich's laughter echoes in the distance. While Siegfried rests, lamenting his solitude, the bird tells of a maiden who sleeps on a fire-encircled rock — Brünnhilde, a bride who can be won only by a hero who knows no fear. The youth runs through the forest toward the mountain where she sleeps.

ACT III. By night, as thunder and lightning threaten a wild mountain gorge, the Wanderer summons Erda from sleep. Concealing his identity, he seeks knowledge of the future. Erda evades the questions, and the god, resigning himself to Valhalla's doom, bequeaths the world to the redemptive power of Brünnhilde's love. When Siegfried ventures into the gorge, the Wanderer encounters his grandson, inquiring with humor about his exploits and the sword he wears. Siegfried responds arrogantly, angering the god, who tries to block his path. Drawing Nothung, the youth splinters the Wanderer's spear with a single stroke. Realizing his power has ended, the deity retrieves the broken pieces, then vanishes as Siegfried scales the mountain.

Dawn breaks on the rocky height where Brünnhilde rests. Reaching the summit, Siegfried discovers an armed, sleeping figure, which he assumes to be a man. When he removes the Valkyrie's shield, helmet and breastplate, however, he finds instead the first woman he has ever seen. At last sensing fear, he invokes the spirit of his mother, finally summoning the courage to kiss the maiden's lips. Brünnhilde, roused from her long slumber, slowly realizes she is not dreaming, that Siegfried has come. She hails the sunlight and her return to life. When Siegfried tries to embrace her, she starts in alarm, protesting that earthly passion would destroy her immortality. But she is mortal, no longer a Valkyrie, and womanly ardor soon replaces shame and fear. Throwing herself into Siegfried's arms, she bids farewell to memories of Valhalla, abandoning herself to human love, exulting even in thoughts of death.

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Simon Boccanegra
Giuseppe Verdi


PROLOGUE.
Genoa, 1300s. In a public square, Paolo and Pietro conspire to gain power over the aristocracy by electing a popular corsair, Simon Boccanegra, as doge. Boccanegra accepts, hoping it will make possible his marriage to Maria, who has been imprisoned by her father, Jacopo Fiesco, because she bore Boccanegra a daughter out of wedlock. Commoners pledge support to the corsair. When they leave, Fiesco appears, mourning Maria's death, after which Boccanegra, unaware his beloved is dead, returns and seeks peace with the nobleman. Fiesco demands that he first be given his grandchild, but Boccanegra explains she has disappeared. As Fiesco withdraws, Boccanegra enters the palace, where he discovers Maria's body. As he staggers outside, the people hail him as doge.

ACT I. Twenty-five years later, in a seaside garden, Amelia Grimaldi awaits her lover, Gabriele Adorno. He arrives, and she expresses fear for their safety in strife between the patricians and plebeians. Gabriele, learning the doge wishes her to marry Paolo, obtains for himself the blessing of Amelia's guardian, "Andrea" (the fugitive Fiesco). Determined to overthrow the doge, the men depart. Amelia greets Boccanegra, who pardons her exiled foster brothers. Gratefully the girl tells of her love for Gabriele and her lonely past. When she shows him a portrait of her dead mother, Boccanegra realizes Amelia is his own daughter, Maria, named for her mother, and they embrace. After the doge tells Paolo to forget his plan to marry Amelia, Paolo and Pietro plot to kidnap the girl.

At the doge's palace, during negotiations for a treaty between Genoa and Venice, angry shouts are heard from the streets below the council chamber. Gabriele rushes in, accusing Boccanegra of plotting Amelia's abduction. As Gabriele tries to stab the doge, Amelia intervenes and pleads for the life of Gabriele, who suspects she is Boccanegra's mistress. Amelia describes her abduction, hinting at Paolo's complicity, and Boccanegra urges the raging spectators to restore peace. He commands Paolo to curse the man behind the kidnaping, and the terrified Paolo obeys; in so doing, he curses himself.

ACT II. In the doge's quarters at night, Paolo sends Pietro to free Gabriele and "Andrea" from detention, then pours poison into Boccanegra's goblet. When Gabriele and "Andrea" enter, Paolo tries to persuade the old man to assassinate the doge, then incites Gabriele with insinuations about the doge's relationship with Amelia. The youth raves with jealousy until Amelia enters, but before she can explain, Boccanegra approaches. Gabriele hides while Amelia asks the doge to pardon her lover, for she would rather die than live without him; Boccanegra agrees, on the condition that Gabriele desert the conspirators. Left alone, the ruler drinks from the cup, noting that even pure water tastes bitter to a man who reigns, and falls asleep. Gabriele, having overheard nothing, advances and is about to strike the doge with a dagger when he is stopped by Amelia; he at last learns that she is Boccanegra's daughter. The doge forgives the contrite man, while Amelia prays to her mother in heaven. As a mob is heard outside, Gabriele refuses the doge's request that he rejoin the patricians, saying he will try to pacify them or else die in Boccanegra's defense. The doge tells him Amelia's hand will be his reward.

ACT III. Genoa is celebrating Boccanegra's victory over the rebels. "Andrea," set free, encounters the traitorous Paolo, who has been condemned to death, and who tells him he has poisoned the doge. A herald announces the revelry must end in memory of the fallen heroes; then Boccanegra comes in, mortally ill. "Andrea" reveals he is Fiesco — only to learn from the doge the actual identity of Amelia. The old man weeps at learning the truth too late and tells Boccanegra of the vengeful Paolo's poison. As the doge dies, he blesses the young couple, naming Gabriele his successor. Fiesco sadly announces the news to the people.

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Sly
Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari


ACT I.
A rowdy crowd at the Falcon, a lively tavern, keeps the hostess busy. Among the heaviest drinkers are the actor John Plake and his friends. When they try to drink the best wine in the house without paying for it, the hostess attempts -- in vain -- to have them thrown out. Dolly, the mistress of the Earl of Westmoreland, arrives for some entertainment away from the oppressiveness of the court. Everyone is greatly impressed with her beauty and dignity. Westmoreland himself soon arrives to take her back to his palace, but at Dolly's urging, he agrees to spend some time with her in the tavern.

The poet Christopher Sly arrives -- narrowly evading capture by Snare, the sheriff's officer, who has come to arrest him for his debts. Sly, a favorite among the tavern's clientele, entertains the crowd with a song. During the course of the evening he becomes increasingly drunk and eventually passes out. Westmoreland decides to play a trick on the poet, and orders his friends to take Sly to his palace and dress him in finery. When Sly awakens, they will all try to convince him that the palace is his. John Plake expresses reservations about carrying out the joke.

ACT II. In the palace, Westmoreland and his servants wait for Sly to awaken. When the poet opens his eyes, he sees the luxurious surroundings and discovers that he is dressed in expensive clothing, and is convinced that he must still be dreaming. Westmoreland, pretending to be Sly's faithful servant, tells the poet that he had fallen into an explained sleep that lasted for ten years. During this time, Westmoreland continues, Sly's wife has prayed continually for the restoration of his health. Dolly, posing as Sly's wife, can now be heard praying in another room. Intrigued, Sly asks to see her.

When Dolly, pretending to be Sly's long-suffering wife, is presented to the poet, he asks to be left alone with her. Sly suddenly finds himself face to face with the woman of his dreams. Dolly is greatly moved by his gentle talk. As they begin to exchange words of love, Westmoreland puts a stop to the charade by imitating Snare's voice. Westmoreland and the courtiers laugh raucously, and Sly is abruptly brought back to reality.

ACT III. Sly has been thrown into the cellar of the palace, where the servants mock him. Despite his humiliating treatment, Sly is convinced that Dolly's words of love were genuine. As he imagines her in the arms of another man, Sly slashes his wrist with a broken bottle. Dolly arrives to beg his forgiveness, and admits that her emotions were real. Sly, who is dying, begs her for a kiss. Dolly curses the reckless courtiers who drove her beloved to his death.

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Stiffelio
Giuseppe Verdi


ACT I: At Stankar's castle near the River Salzbach, Jorg, an elderly pastor in the congregation, leads a group in prayer for Stiffelio, who has just returned from a trip. Among those gathered is young Count Raffaele di Leuthold, who secretly has seduced Lina during her husband's absence. Stiffelio relates a strange incident told to him by a ferry pilot. Eight days ago, by the first light of dawn, the boatman saw a man jump from a window into the river below, leaving behind a distressed woman. The pilot recovered the fleeing man's wallet and gave it to Stiffelio, who now produces it. Not wishing to expose any guilty secrets, the minister throws the wallet and its identifying papers into the fire without looking at them. Lina and Raffaele express relief, for it was they whom the boatman had seen. Stankar suspects his daughter has been seduced by Raffaele and privately vows revenge. Left alone with his wife, Stiffelio notices her agitation. As he takes Lina's hand, he remarks that his dead mother's ring is missing from her finger. When she will not tell him where the ring is, Stiffelio berates her, taking her silence as proof of an infidelity. Alone, Lina prays for forgiveness. She begins to write a letter of explanation to Stiffelio but is stopped by her father, who accuses her of cowardice, saying her husband's ministry is too valuable to be destroyed by scandal. After father and daughter leave, Raffaele enters with a letter for Lina, asking for another meeting. Unaware that he is being watched by Jorg, Raffaele locks the note in a bound volume of Klopstock's Messiah, to which both he and Lina have keys.

A party for Stiffelio begins in the reception hall of Stankar's castle. When Jorg tells the minister that the volume of Klopstock hides the details of another assignation between Lina and her lover, Stiffelio announces that his next sermon will be on Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus. Stiffelio asks his wife to unlock the book. When she hesitates, the minister breaks open the lock, and Raffaele's letter falls to the floor. Seizing the note and tearing it to shreds, Stankar tells Stiffelio he will never know its secrets. When the angry Stiffelio moves toward his father-in-law, Lina begs that her husband's rage fall upon her instead. Stankar challenges Raffaele to a duel.

ACT II: That night Lina walks among the tombstones in the cemetery. She stops at the newest of the graves and asks the spirit of her dead mother to offer her prayers of penitence to God. When Raffaele comes, Lina tells him she does not love him and demands the return of her ring, as well as the letter she wrote, pleading with him to leave her father's house. Stankar arrives and orders Lina to go. When he offers Raffaele a sword, the younger man refuses to fight. Stankar goads him into taking up the sword, but the duel is interrupted by Stiffelio. When the minister stays Raffaele's hand, Stankar tells his son-in-law that he holds the hand of the man who betrayed him. Frightened by the noise of fighting, Lina returns. Stiffelio at first refuses to believe Stankar but becomes convinced of Raffaele's guilt when he sees Lina's silent tears. Stiffelio seizes Stankar's sword and challenges his rival to defend himself. When Jorg comes to remind the minister that his followers await him in church, Stiffelio struggles for self-control, reminded that Christ died pardoning all mankind.

ACT III: Despondent, Stankar considers taking his own life. When Jorg tells him Raffaele is returning to meet with Stiffelio, the Count resolves that this time the duel to avenge his family's honor will end in death. He leaves, and Stiffelio and Raffaele enter. When the husband asks his rival what he would do if Lina were free to marry, Raffaele is unable to answer. He is told to wait while Stiffelio talks with Lina. Handing his wife a decree of divorce for her signature, Stiffelio says he is leaving her. Lina protests her husband's cruelty, declaring she will always love him. Stiffelio is unmoved. Lina signs the document, then asks if she may address him not as her husband but as a man of God, confessing that she was seduced by Raffaele. As Stiffelio declares the young count must die, Stankar enters with a bloody sword, already having killed his daughter's seducer. Lina implores God to pity her.

In church, Stiffelio's followers sing a hymn about God's mercy. The heavily veiled Lina sits among the congregation. When she lifts her veil, Stiffelio is startled but begins his sermon, taking as his lesson the eighth chapter of St. John's Gospel - the story of Christ and the adulteress. As Stiffelio reads the words of Christ's pardon for the sinner, Lina mounts the stairs to her husband's pulpit on her knees. As she reaches his feet, he places his hand on the Bible and declares his wife pardoned.

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Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky


Le Sacre du Printemps

First part: A Kiss of the Earth (The Kiss Bestowed upon the Earth)
· Introduction
· The Augurs of Spring; Dances of the Young Girls
· Ritual of Abduction (The Mock Abduction)
· Spring Rounds (Vernal Round Dances)
· The Games of the Two Rival Tribes
· The Procession of the Oldest and Wisest One
· The Kiss of the Earth (The Oldest and Wisest One)
· The Dancing Out of the Earth (The Acquisition of the Earth through Dancing)

Second Part: The Exalted Sacrifice
· Introduction
· Mystic Circle of the Young Girls
· The Naming and Honoring of the Chosen One
· Evocation of the Ancestral Spirits
· Ritual Performance of the Elders as the Forefathers of Mankind
· Sacrificial Dance (The Great Sacred Dance of the Chosen One)

Le Rossignol
Libretto: Stepan Mitusov, after Hans Christian Andersen

ACT I. Legendary China. By the seashore, just before dawn, a Fisherman awaits the appearance of the Nightingale, whose singing helps him forget his daily work and worries. As the Nightingale finishes its song and flies away, several officials of the Emperor's court, including the Bonze and the Chamberlain, are led to the shore by the Cook, who tells them how the singing of the Nightingale brings tears of happiness to her eyes. They hear only the sounds of a cow and frogs. Becoming impatient, the Chamberlain tells the Cook he will appoint her private cook to the Emperor if she can find the Nightingale.

The Nightingale appears, and the Cook and the Chamberlain invite it to sing for the Emperor in the palace. The Nightingale accepts but points out that it sings most sweetly in the forest. Guided by the Cook, the Nightingale leaves for the palace, while the Fisherman praises the beauty of the Nightingale's song.

ACT II. Courtiers are decorating the palace with lanterns in excited anticipation of hearing the Nightingale's song. Curious, they ask the Cook about the Nightingale. She describes it as small and gray, practically invisible in the forest; but when it sings, tears of happiness flow from the listener's eyes. The Emperor enters in great procession, and the Nightingale, at the Emperor's signal, begins to sing ("Akh, serdtse dobroe"). Moved by the beauty of the singing, the Emperor offers the bird a reward - a golden slipper worn around its neck. "The tears I see in your eyes are all the reward I need," the Nightingale responds.

Three Japanese Envoys approach the Emperor to present him with a mechanical nightingale. As the mechanical bird begins to sing, the real Nightingale flies away. Offended, the Emperor banishes it from the empire forever and names the mechanical bird "first singer." At the seashore, the Fisherman is heard: "With the singing of the birds, Death was conquered."

ACT III. The ailing Emperor is in his bed. Death is at his side. The ghosts of the Emperor's deeds appear, calling on the Emperor to remember them. Frightened, he sends for his musicians, but instead the Nightingale appears and begins to sing. Death asks it to continue, and the Nightingale agrees, but only if Death will return the crown, sword and standard to the Emperor. Won over by the beauty of the song, Death agrees, and the Nightingale continues to sing as Death slowly withdraws. His strength returned, the Emperor offers the Nightingale first place in his court, but again the Nightingale replies that all it needs is the sight of the tears in the Emperor's eyes. It promises to return each night to sing until daybreak.

Renewed to life, the Emperor greets the day. As the curtain fall, the Fisherman is again heard: "Listen to the birds and hear the spirit of heaven."

Oedipus Rex
Libretto: Jean Cocteau, after Sophocles

ACT I. The people of Thebes call on Oedipus, their king, to save the dying city from the plague. This he promises to do. He tells them to await the arrival of Creon, who has gone to consult the Oracle at Delphi. Creon, brother of Oedipus's wife, Jocasta, returns with the Oracle's pronouncement: the murderer of King Laius still lives and is hidden in Thebes. Until the murder is avenged, the plague will not be lifted. Oedipus, boasting of the clarity of his vision, pledges to find the murderer and save the city, as he once saved it from the Sphinx. The people call to the gods for help and hail the arrival of the blind seer Teresias, the "fountain of truth." Tiresias at first refuses to speak, but when Oedipus charges him with the murder of Laius, he is compelled to answer: "The murderer is among you. The murderer of the king is a king." Oedipus turns on Tiresias and accuses him of conspiring with Creon to take over the throne. The people hail the entrance of Queen Jocasta.

ACT II. Jocasta shames Oedipus and Creon for quarreling while the city is stricken with the plague. Oracles lie, she says, and to prove her point she reminds them of the time the Oracle predicted that King Laius, her first husband, would be killed by his own son, when in truth he was slain by thieves at the crossroads. Hearing this, Oedipus is gripped with fear. He once killed an old man at the crossroads when he was coming from Corinth. He calls for the Shepherd who was a witness to the crime. A Messenger announces that King Polybus, who reared Oedipus, is dead. The Messenger found Oedipus abandoned as a baby on the mountain and, along with the Shepherd, took him to Polybus, who adopted him. Oedipus demands to know his true birth, as Jocasta flees in shame. Both Messenger and Shepherd reveal that Oedipus is the son of Laius and Jocasta and is thus guilty of both patricide and incest.

The Messenger returns to tell the people the queen has hanged herself and Oedipus has gouged out his eyes with a brooch he took from her dress. Oedipus appears, and the people bid him farewell.

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Susannah
Carlisle Floyd


ACT I. New Hope Valley, Tennessee, time "the present," on a Monday night in mid-July. A square dance is under way in the churchyard. Susannah Polk, a beautiful young local girl, is enthusiastic about the dancing, but the elders' wives are more concerned about the new minister they are getting: will he be able to save enough sinners? One woman, Mrs. McLean, singles out Susannah as an example of what she means, adding that this is only to be expected from an orphan who was raised by her drunken brother. They are surprised when the minister, Olin Blitch, who is not expected until tomorrow, appears in their midst, declaring he brings the Lord's word to their valley. Noticing Susannah, Blitch asks who she is, to which Mrs. McLean replies that both Susannah and her brother, Sam, are evil. Saying he will pray for both of them that night, Blitch asks Susannah to dance.

Later that evening, in front of the Polks' run-down farmhouse, Susannah reminisces about the dance with Little Bat McLean, a somewhat retarded youth whose parents, Elder and Mrs. McLean, don't like him to hang around the Polks; infatuated with Susannah, he does anyway. Admiring the clear sky, Susannah dreams of the day when she will see what is beyond the mountains. Her brother, a misunderstood dreamer, arrives to ask affectionately whether she had a good time. Before retiring, she asks him to sing the song their father used to sing.

Looking in the woods the next morning for a baptismal creek, the four elders of the church — Hayes, Ott, Gleaton, McLean — catch sight of Susannah bathing nude. Outraged, they propose to tell Blitch.

That evening, at a church supper in the same location as the square dance, the four elders' wives — of whom Mrs. McLean is the most venomous, Mrs. Gleaton the most tolerant, and the other two somewhere in between — discuss Susannah's scandalous behavior and wait for the minister to arrive. Suspecting something is wrong but not realizing what, Susannah arrives and offers her contribution to the supper — freshly picked and cooked peas. When told she is not welcome, the girl retreats in confusion.

At her house, looking for Sam, Susannah instead sees Little Bat, who explains why she has been ostracized. Susannah, who has always bathed there, cannot understand what she did wrong, but the boy goes on to say that she is being called a loose woman, that his mother made him say he too had been seduced by her. Incensed by his lie, she sends him away, telling him never to come back. When Sam returns home, he has heard the gossip and laments the streak in human nature that lets such a thing happen, adding there is nothing they can do but weather the storm.

ACT II. The following Friday morning, Sam informs his sister what the community wants: a public confession. She replies she has nothing to confess, though she is beginning to wonder whether maybe the devil is tempting her somehow, without her knowledge. The creek is now being used for baptisms, and Blitch has asked her to come to a prayer meeting that evening; Sam thinks she should go to show that she is not afraid, but she feels unable to face public contempt. Sam says he has to empty his traps on the other side of the mountain but will be back the next day.

That evening, inside the church, Blitch takes up the collection while the congregration sings a hymn. Starting his sermon, Blitch stresses the need for personal salvation and calls on those who have not yet been baptized to come forward. Several candidates appear. Then Blitch singles out Susannah, as the others stare at her accusingly. Against her will, as if hypnotized, she comes down the aisle to receive the benediction, then runs out of the church crying, "No!"

An hour later, back at her house, Susannah recalls a folklike song that reflects her loneliness and sorrow. The preacher surprises her, coming to pay a call: having failed to convert her at the meeting, he is determined to do so now. She defends herself vigorously, saying that the community has put her through hell all week. Feeling a conflict between his human understanding and his rigid religious convictions, Blitch finds himself drawn to her and puts his arm around her. Her energy to resist is spent, and she allows him to lead her inside the house.

Saturday morning, Blitch kneels alone in the church, praying for forgiveness: his sin and its punishment are frighteningly real to him. When the elders, their wives and Susannah file in, he declares that the girl was innocent and should be forgiven. The elders, unimpressed, leave saying they will expect Blitch at the baptism. Alone with him in the church, Susannah starts to laugh bitterly. When Blitch begs her forgiveness, she says she has forgotten what the word means.

On the porch of the Polk house at sundown, Sam returns from his trip to learn what has happened to Susannah during his absence. When he asks why she yielded to the preacher, she says she had no more strength to resist — and besides, everybody believed the worst of her anyway. Furious, Sam takes a gun and heads toward the baptism site at the creek. Not believing he would shoot Blitch, Susannah is shocked to hear a shot ring out. Little Bat runs in with news of the assassination, followed by the elders and others, threatening to lynch Sam and demanding that Susannah leave the valley. Laughing at their attempts to make her feel guilty, she takes a gun and orders them off the property. Undefeated, they retreat. Susannah gives Little Bat false encouragement, then slaps him with all her strength as he approaches. She laughs as he runs away. Then, aware of the loneliness of the exile she has created, she strengthens herself to face it.

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Tannhäuser
Richard Wagner


ACT I:
Medieval Germany. In the Venusberg, magical mountain abode of Venus, the minstrel Tannhäuser halfheartedly praises the goddess of beauty, who for more than a year has bestowed her love upon him. Venus promises greater revels when Tannhäuser asks for his freedom, but she curses his hopes of salvation when he longs for the simple pleasures and pains of earthly life. In response he calls on the Virgin Mary, and the Venusberg vanishes.

Tannhäuser finds himself in a sunny valley near the castle of the Wartburg, where passing pilgrims inspire him to laud the wonders of God. Horns announce the Landgrave Hermann and his knights, who recognize their long-lost comrade and invite him to the castle. One of them, Wolfram von Eschenbach, reminds Tannhäuser that in the past his singing won the love of Elisabeth, the landgrave's beautiful niece. On hearing her name, Tannhäuser embraces and joins his companions.

ACT II: In the Hall of Song in the Wartburg, Elisabeth hails the place where she first heard Tannhäuser's voice. Wolfram reunites the happy pair, who sing God's praises. As guests arrive, the landgrave promises Elisabeth's hand to the winner of a contest of love songs. Wolfram delivers an idealized tribute to Elisabeth, whom he too has loved. Tannhäuser, his soul still possessed by Venus, counters with a frenzied hymn to the pleasures of worldly love. Everyone is shocked, but Elisabeth protects Tannhäuser from harm, securing her uncle's pardon for her beloved on the condition that he make a pilgrimage to Rome to seek absolution.

ACT III: Several months later, Wolfram discovers Elisabeth at evening prayer before a shrine in the Wartburg valley. She searches among approaching pilgrims for Tannhäuser, but in vain. Broken, she prays to the Virgin to receive her soul in heaven. Wolfram, alone, asks the evening star to guide her on her way. Tannhäuser now staggers in wearily to relate that despite his abject penitence, the Pope decreed he could as soon be forgiven as the papal staff could break into flower. The desperate man calls to Venus, but she vanishes when Tannhäuser is reminded again by Wolfram of Elisabeth, whose funeral procession now winds down the valley. Tannhäuser collapses, dying, by her bier. A chorus of pilgrims enters, recounting a miracle: the Pope's staff, which they bear forward, has blossomed.

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Tosca
Giacomo Puccini

ACT I. Cesare Angelotti, an escaped political prisoner, rushes into the church of Sant' Andrea della Valle to hide in the Attavanti chapel. As he vanishes, an old Sacristan shuffles in, praying at the sound of the Angelus. Mario Cavaradossi enters to work on his portrait of Mary Magdalene - inspired by the Marchesa Attavanti (Angelotti's sister), whom he has seen but does not know. Taking out a miniature of the singer Floria Tosca, he compares her raven beauty with that of the blonde Magdalene ("Recondita armonia"). The Sacristan grumbles disapproval and leaves. Angelotti ventures out and is recognized by his friend and fellow liberal Mario, who gives him food and hurries him back into the chapel as Tosca is heard calling outside. Forever suspicious, she jealously questions him, then prays, and reminds him of their rendezvous that evening at his villa ("Non la sospiri la nostra casetta?"). Suddenly recognizing the Marchesa Attavanti in the painting, she explodes with renewed suspicions, but he reassures her ("Qual' occhio al mondo"). When she has gone, Mario summons Angelotti from the chapel; a cannon signals that the police have discovered the escape, so the two flee to Mario's villa. Meanwhile, the Sacristan returns with choirboys who are to sing in a Te Deum that day. Their excitement is silenced by the entrance of Baron Scarpia, chief of the secret police, in search of Angelotti. When Tosca comes back to her lover, Scarpia shows her a fan with the Attavanti crest, which he has just found. Thinking Mario faithless, Tosca tearfully vows vengeance and leaves as the church fills with worshipers. Scarpia, sending his men to follow her to Angelotti, schemes to get the diva in his power ("Va, Tosca!").

ACT II. In the Farnese Palace, Scarpia anticipates the sadistic pleasure of bending Tosca to his will ("Ha più forte sapore"). The spy Spoletta arrives, not having found Angelotti; to placate the baron he brings in Mario, who is interrogated while Tosca is heard singing a cantata at a royal gala downstairs. She enters just as her lover is being taken to an adjoining room: his arrogant silence is to be broken under torture. Unnerved by Scarpia's questioning and the sound of Mario's screams, she reveals Angelotti's hiding place. Mario is carried in; realizing what has happened, he turns on Tosca, but the officer Sciarrone rushes in to announce that Napoleon has won the Battle of Marengo, a defeat for Scarpia's side. Mario shouts his defiance of tyranny ("Vittoria!") and is dragged to prison. Scarpia, resuming his supper, suggests that Tosca yield herself to him in exchange for her lover's life. Fighting off his embraces, she protests her fate to God, having dedicated her life to art and love ("Vissi d'arte"). Scarpia again insists, but Spoletta interrupts: faced with capture, Angelotti has killed himself. Tosca, forced to give in or lose her lover, agrees to Scarpia's proposition. The baron pretends to order a mock execution for the prisoner, after which he is to be freed; Spoletta leaves. No sooner has Scarpia written a safe-conduct for the lovers than Tosca snatches a knife from the table and kills him. Wrenching the document from his stiffening fingers and placing candles at his head and a crucifix on his chest, she slips from the room.

ACT III. The voice of a shepherd boy is heard as church bells toll the dawn. Mario awaits execution at the Castel Sant'Angelo; he bribes the jailer to convey a farewell note to Tosca. Writing it, overcome with memories of love, he gives way to despair ("E lucevan le stelle"). Suddenly Tosca runs in, filled with the story of her recent adventures. Mario caresses the hands that committed murder for his sake ("O dolci mani"), and the two hail their future. As the firing squad appears, the diva coaches Mario on how to fake his death convincingly; the soldiers fire and depart. Tosca urges Mario to hurry, but when he fails to move, she discovers that Scarpia's treachery has transcended the grave: the bullets were real. When Spoletta rushes in to arrest Tosca for Scarpia's murder, she cries to Scarpia to meet her before God, then leaps to her death.

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La Traviata
Giuseppe Verdi


ACT I.
In her Paris salon, the courtesan Violetta Valéry greets party guests, including Flora Bervoix, the Marquis d'Obigny, Baron Douphol, and Gastone, who introduces a new admirer, Alfredo Germont. This young man, having adored Violetta from afar, joins her in a drinking song (Brindisi: "Libiamo"). An orchestra is heard in the next room, but as guests move there to dance, Violetta suffers a fainting spell, sends the guests on ahead, and goes to her parlor to recover. Alfredo comes in, and since they are alone, confesses his love ("Un dì felice"). At first Violetta protests that love means nothing to her. Something about the young man's sincerity touches her, however, and she promises to meet him the next day. After the guests have gone, Violetta wonders if Alfredo could actually be the man she could love ("Ah, fors'è lui"). But she decides she wants freedom ("Sempre libera"), though Alfredo's voice, heard outside, argues in favor of romance.

ACT II, Scene 1. Some months later Alfredo and Violetta are living in a country house near Paris, where he praises their contentment ("De' miei bollenti spiriti"). But when the maid, Annina, reveals that Violetta has pawned her jewels to keep the house, Alfredo leaves for the city to settle matters at his own cost. Violetta comes looking for him and finds an invitation from Flora to a party that night. Violetta has no intention of going back to her old life, but trouble intrudes with the appearance of Alfredo's father. Though impressed by Violetta's ladylike manners, he demands she renounce his son: the scandal of Alfredo's affair with her has threatened his daughter's engagement ("Pura siccome un angelo"). Violetta says she cannot, but Germont eventually convinces her ("Dite alla giovine"). Alone, the desolate woman sends a message of acceptance to Flora and begins a farewell note to Alfredo. He enters suddenly, surprising her, and she can barely control herself as she reminds him of how deeply she loves him ("Amami, Alfredo") before rushing out. Now a servant hands Alfredo her farewell note as Germont returns to console his son with reminders of family life in Provence ("Di Provenza"). But Alfredo, seeing Flora's invitation, suspects Violetta has thrown him over for another lover. Furious, he determines to confront her at the party.

ACT II, Scene 2. At her soirée that evening, Flora learns from the Marquis that Violetta and Alfredo have parted, then clears the floor for hired entertainers - a band of fortune-telling Gypsies and some matadors who sing of Piquillo and his coy sweetheart ("E Piquillo un bel gagliardo"). Soon Alfredo strides in, making bitter comments about love and gambling recklessly at cards. Violetta has arrived with Baron Douphol, who challenges Alfredo to a game and loses a small fortune to him. Everyone goes in to supper, but Violetta has asked Alfredo to see her. Fearful of the Baron's anger, she wants Alfredo to leave, but he misunderstands her apprehension and demands that she admit she loves Douphol. Crushed, she pretends she does. Now Alfredo calls in the others, denounces his former love and hurls his winnings at her feet ("Questa donna conoscete?"). Germont enters in time to see this and denounces his son's behavior. The guests rebuke Alfredo and Douphol challenges him to a duel.

ACT III. In Violetta's bedroom six months later, Dr. Grenvil tells Annina her mistress has not long to live: tuberculosis has claimed her. Alone, Violetta rereads a letter from Germont saying the Baron was only wounded in his duel with Alfredo, who knows all and is on his way to beg her pardon. But Violetta senses it is too late ("Addio del passato"). Paris is celebrating Mardi Gras and, after revelers pass outside, Annina rushes in to announce Alfredo. The lovers ecstatically plan to leave Paris forever ("Parigi, o cara"). Germont enters with the doctor before Violetta is seized with a last resurgence of strength. Feeling life return, she staggers and falls dead at her lover's feet.

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Tristan und Isolde
Richard Wagner


ACT I. The legend of Tristan and Isolde (Tristram and Iseult) takes place during the Middle Ages, when knighthood and the chivalric code prevailed. On board ship from Ireland to Cornwall, a sailor's voice resounds from the rigging. His song about an Irish girl annoys the fiery Isolde, who is being taken by Tristan as bride for his uncle, King Marke. Isolde wishes the ship would sink rather than take her to her hated destination. Her companion, Brangäne, tries in vain to calm her. Instead Isolde is enraged by the knight Tristan, whom she sees standing on the afterdeck, avoiding her: by delivering her to his uncle, he shows no regard for her feelings. She sends Brangäne to summon Tristan, who sends back courtly, evasive replies. His plainspoken companion, Kurwenal, however, tells Brangäne that Tristan is not a vassal to answer Isolde's beck and call. Embarrassed by this outburst, Tristan sends Kurwenal away, but not before the latter has intoned an insolent verse about Isolde's fiancé, Morold, whom Tristan killed in combat some time before. Sailors pick up the refrain as the crestfallen Brangäne returns to the furious Isolde, who recalls that after Tristan came to Ireland to collect taxes for King Marke and killed Morold, she herself nursed him back to health, using her mother's knowledge of herbs and magic. When she realized he was her fiancé's slayer, she bemoaned her charity — but when he looked lovingly into her eyes, she took pity on him. Now he delivers her like a chattel to his uncle. She hurls forth a curse on his head and wishes death for both of them. Brangäne tries to tell her that it is no dishonor to marry a king and that Tristan is simply performing his duty. Isolde replies darkly that it shows his lack of love for her. When Brangäne reminds Isolde that her mother charged her with secret arts, Isolde tells Brangäne to prepare one of her mother's potions — the one that brings death. Cries from the deck that land is in sight are followed by the arrival of Kurwenal, who bids the women prepare to disembark. Isolde retorts that she will not accompany Tristan until he apologizes to her for his offenses. Kurwenal takes the message to his lord while Isolde forces Brangäne to pour the potion. Tristan appears, greeting Isolde with cool courtesy. When she announces that she wants satisfaction for Morold's death, Tristan offers her his sword, but she will not kill him. This would violate King Marke's hospitality and her own unwilling vows, she replies. Better that she and Tristan make peace with a drink of friendship. Understanding that she means to poison them both, he drinks, and she does the same. Expecting death, they exchange a long look of love instead, then fall into a passionate embrace. Brangäne admits she mixed a love potion as sailors' voices hail the ship's arrival in Cornwall.

ACT II. In a garden outside Marke's castle, distant horns signal the departure of the king and his retinue on a hunting party. Impatient for a rendezvous with Tristan, Isolde believes that the party is far off, but Brangäne cautions her about spies, particularly Melot, a jealous knight whom she has noticed watching Tristan. Isolde says Melot is Tristan's friend and urges Brangäne to put out the warning torch so that Tristan can approach. Brangäne knows this would be unwise, but when she laments having switched the potions, Isolde tells her the power of love rules all destiny and guided her hand. Sending the girl to stand watch, Isolde herself puts out the torch and welcomes Tristan rapturously. Both hail the darkness, which banishes the light of everyday reality and false appearances. It was the forces of daylight, Isolde says, that caused Tristan to behave conventionally and bring her from Ireland; the potion, the power of love, has released them from this delusion. Feeling safe in the truthfulness of night, they welcome its embrace. Brangäne's distant voice warns that night will soon fade and danger be revealed, but the lovers equate their oblivion with death, which will give them the total union and safe removal they crave. Their idyll is shattered as Kurwenal runs in with a warning: the king and his followers have returned, led by Melot, who denounces the lovers. Moved and disturbed, Marke declares that it was Tristan himself who urged him to marry and chose the bride, asking how a knight he so loved could bring dishonor on him. Tristan says he cannot answer, then turns to Isolde and asks whether she will follow him into the realm of death. She accepts, and Melot rushes forward, sword drawn. Wounded, Tristan falls in Kurwenal's arms.

ACT III. Outside Kareol, Tristan's home castle in Brittany, the knight lies grievously wounded, tended by Kurwenal. To a Shepherd who inquires about his master, Kurwenal replies sadly that only Isolde's arrival, with her magic arts, can save him. The Shepherd agrees to change the sad tune he is playing on his pipe as soon as he sights a ship approaching. Stirring, Tristan asks where he is, then in delirium says he has visited the realm of night and will return there. He clings to life only so that he can find Isolde and take her with him. Tristan thanks Kurwenal for his devotion, then imagines he sees Isolde's ship approaching. But the Shepherd still pipes a sad tune: the sea is empty. Tristan recalls the tune, which he heard as a child in connection with his parents' death and which he later associated with his own near-death after the duel with Morold. He wishes Isolde's medicine had given him peace then instead of reviving him to suffer the torments of longing. Once more he swoons, then revives to imagine Isolde's smile as she draws near. The Shepherd's tune finally changes to a cheerful fanfare, and Kurwenal sees the ship. Tristan rouses himself in growing agitation. For once he blesses the day, because it lights Isolde's way to him. Recklessly he tears off his bandages, letting his wounds bleed so that she can heal them — "forever." No sooner has Isolde rushed in than he falls dying in her arms. She exhorts him to live in order that they can share a final hour of reunion, but he is dead. The Shepherd sights another ship, which Kurwenal assumes is bringing Marke and Melot, bent on vengeance. Though Brangäne is with them, Kurwenal will not listen and attacks them, killing Melot and holding Marke's retainers at bay until he himself falls, mortally wounded. Marke, overwhelmed with sadness, sees the dead Tristan, while Brangäne tries to arouse Isolde, telling her the king has come to pardon and unite the lovers. But Isolde, oblivious, has a vision of Tristan beckoning to the world beyond. Must she alone perceive this and go to meet him? She must. As Brangäne tries to hold her, she sinks, transfigured in death, upon Tristan's body.

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Il Trovatore
Giuseppe Verdi


ACT I: (The Duel) Outside the guardroom of Aliaferia Palace in Aragon, Count di Luna's soldiers are waiting to apprehend Manrico, a troubadour, who rivals the count for the favors of the Lady Leonora. Ferrando, captain of the guard, keeps his men awake by telling them of a Gypsy woman burned at the stake years ago for bewitching Di Luna's younger brother. The Gypsy's daughter sought vengeance by kidnaping the child and, so the story goes, burning him at the very stake where her mother died. Di Luna, though, still hopes his brother lives.

In the palace gardens, Leonora confides to Inez how at a tournament she placed the victory wreath on the brow of an unknown knight in black armor; she saw him no more until he came to serenade her. Though Inez has misgivings, Leonora declares her love for the handsome stranger. No sooner do the women reenter the palace than Di Luna arrives to court Leonora. Simultaneously Manrico's song is heard in the distance, and Leonora rushes to greet him. The jealous count challenges Manrico to a duel, and they hurry away.

ACT II: (The Gypsy) As dawn breaks in the Biscay mountains, Gypsies sing at work with hammer and anvil. Azucena - the Gypsy's daughter described by Ferrando - relives her mother's fiery execution, recalling the dying woman's plea for vengeance. Manrico asks to hear her full story, becoming confused when Azucena, overwhelmed with memories, blurts out that by mistake she hurled her own son into the flames. Assuring him of a mother's love, Azucena makes Manrico swear revenge, but he says a strange power stayed his hand when he could have killed Di Luna in the duel. A messenger brings news that Leonora, thinking Manrico dead, plans to enter a convent. Despite Azucena's pleas, Manrico rushes away.

Di Luna, burning with passion for Leonora, waits by the cloister to kidnap her. When she enters with the nuns, he strides forward, only to be halted by Manrico, who suddenly appears with his men. As the forces struggle, the lovers escape.

ACT III: (The Gypsy's Son) Di Luna has pitched camp near the bastion of Castellor, where Manrico has taken Leonora. After soldiers sing of their eagerness for victory, Ferrando leads in Azucena, who was found nearby. The Gypsy describes her poor, lonely life and says she is only searching for her son. Di Luna reveals his identity, at which Azucena recoils and is recognized by Ferrando as the supposed murderer of Di Luna's baby brother. The count orders her burned at the stake.

Inside the castle, Manrico assures Leonora her love makes him invincible. As the couple prepares to go to the wedding chapel, Manrico's aide Ruiz bursts in to say that Azucena has been seized and tied to a stake. Manrico stares in horror at the distant pyre, which has been lit. He runs to his mother's rescue, vowing vengeance.

ACT IV: (The Torture) Ruiz brings Leonora to the foot of the captured Manrico's prison tower, where she voices her undying love and prays for his release. Monks are heard intoning a doleful Miserere for the soul of the condemned, while Manrico sings farewell from inside the bastion. Leonora resolves to save him. When Di Luna appears, Leonora agrees to yield to him but secretly swallows poison.

In their cell, Manrico comforts Azucena, who longs for their home in the mountains. No sooner does the old Gypsy fall asleep than Leonora rushes in to tell her lover he is saved, urging him to flee. Manrico comprehends the price of his freedom and denounces her, but the poison begins to take effect. He takes her in his arms as she dies. Furious at being cheated of his prize, Di Luna sends Manrico to the executioner's block, while Azucena staggers to her feet to see the ax fall. She cries out that her mother is avenged: Di Luna has killed his own brother.

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Les Troyens
Hector Berlioz


ACT I.
After ten years of siege by the Greeks, the Trojans rejoice at the prospect of peace. They marvel at the gigantic wooden horse the Greeks left behind as an offering to Pallas Athena. King Priam's daughter Cassandra, a prophetess, looks for the significance behind the Greeks' disappearance. In a moment of revelation, she saw her brother Hector's ghost on the ramparts and has tried unsuccessfully to warn her father and Coroebus, her fiancé, of further calamities. When Coroebus begs her to join the celebrations, she urges him to flee the city, because she foresees death for both of them. Aeneas, leader of the Trojan army, enters with a group offering thanks to the gods. A somber note is introduced when Andromaque, Hector's widow, brings her son Astyanax to King Priam and Queen Hecuba. Aeneas reports that the priest Laocoön, suspecting the wooden horse to be some kind of a trick, threw his spear at it and urged the crowd to set fire to it, whereupon two sea serpents devoured him. Aeneas proposes they make amends to Athena by bringing the horse into the city as a holy object. As the Trojan march sounds in the distance and the horse is hauled closer, Cassandra realizes it bears disaster.

ACT II. Aeneas, asleep in his room, is visited by the ghost of Hector, who tells him to escape, since his destiny is to found an empire that someday will rule the world. As the ghost disappears, Aeneas's friend Panthée rushes in, wounded, to report that Greek soldiers emerged from the horse and are devastating Troy. Aeneas hastens to lead the defense forces.

In the king's palace, Trojan women pray for deliverance from the invaders. Cassandra foretells that Aeneas and some of the Trojans will escape to Italy to build Rome - a new Troy. Coroebus is dead, and Cassandra prepares for her own death, asking the women whether they will submit to rape and enslavement. Some are afraid of death; driving these away, the others take up their lyres and repeat their vow to die free. Greek soldiers, entering in search of state treasure, are aghast at the sight of the women's mass suicide. Aeneas and his men have escaped with the treasure.

ACT III. In a gallery of the palace of Dido, Queen of Carthage, her subjects hail her with an anthem. She reminds them that in only seven years, since they had to flee from Tyre, they have built a flourishing new kingdom. Her sister, Anna, assures Dido, who is a widow, that one day she will be able to love again. When Iopas, the court poet, announces visitors who have narrowly escaped shipwreck in a recent storm, Dido welcomes them. They are the remnants of the Trojan army, asking a few days' hospitality en route to Italy and offering Dido what is left of their treasure. When word reaches Dido that the Numidian ruler, Iarbas, is about to attack Carthage because she refused his offer of marriage, Aeneas steps from among the sailors' ranks, identifies himself and offers to fight alongside the Carthaginians. Dido accepts, and Aeneas rallies his forces to repel the invader, entrusting his son, Ascanius, to the queen's care.

ACT IV. Orchestral interlude: Royal Hunt and Storm. Some days later in a forest, naiads, playing in a stream, hide as hunters approach. A storm breaks, and Dido and Aeneas seek shelter in a cave. Nymphs, satyrs and fauns dance during the storm and disappear when it passes.

Evening has fallen in Dido's gardens by the sea. Anna asks Narbal, the queen's adviser, why he seems worried, now that the Numidians have been defeated. He replies that since Dido fell in love with Aeneas, she has been neglecting her duties, and that Aeneas's destiny is to go on to Italy - no good can come of the romance. Narbal is afraid that in extending hospitality to the strangers, Carthage has invited its own doom. Dido enters with Aeneas and asks him to tell her more about Troy's last days. When he says that Andromaque, Hector's widow, at length succumbed to love and married Pyrrhus, one of the enemy, Dido sees a parallel to her own situation. She and Aeneas rhapsodize about their love, but at length the god Mercury appears in the moonlight and reminds Aeneas of his destination - Italy.

ACT V. By the shore at night, with the Trojan ships moored near at hand, Hylas, a young sailor, sings a homesick ballad and falls asleep. Panthée tells other Trojan leaders their delay is burdensome: daily omens and apparitions remind them of the gods' and the dead Hector's impatience with their failure to move on. Determined to leave the next day, they retire to their tents as two sentries pass, making way for Aeneas, who struggles to banish misgivings and do what he must. As he resolves to see Dido one more time, the ghosts of Priam, Hector, Coroebus and Cassandra appear, pressing their demands. Forced to give up Dido, Aeneas wakens the Trojans and tells them to set sail before sunrise. Dido finds him, however, and rages at his desertion. Though he protests that he loves her, she curses him. As she storms off, the distraught Aeneas boards his vessel. In Dido's palace, as dawn breaks, the queen asks her sister to go to Aeneas. Now that her anger is spent, she will try to persuade him to stay a few more days, but the Trojan ships are sighted already on their way out to sea. Dido laments that she did not foresee Aeneas's treachery and burn his fleet. Instead, she will burn his gifts and trophies; she orders a pyre built.

In the queen's gardens by the sea, a pyre has been set up, with relics of Aeneas, including the nuptial couch. Priests pray for the peace of Dido's heart, while Anna and Narbal curse Aeneas's venture to Italy. Dido predicts that her fate will be remembered, along with Aeneas's infamy: a future Carthaginian general, Hannibal, will avenge her against Italy one day. Seizing Aeneas's sword, she stabs herself and falls back on the couch. With her dying breath, Dido tells the shocked bystanders that fate is against Carthage: it will be destroyed, and Rome will rule eternal. Turning their backs on a vision of the Roman capitol, the survivors pronounce undying hatred on Aeneas and his descendants.

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Turandot
Giacomo Puccini


ACT I: Peking, legendary times. In a quarter swarming with people near the Forbidden City, a Mandarin reads an edict: any prince seeking to marry Princess Turandot must answer three riddles - and if he fails, he will die. Her latest suitor, the Prince of Persia, is to be executed at the rise of the moon. Bloodthirsty citizens urge the executioner on, and in the tumult a slave girl, Liù, calls out for help when her aged master is pushed to the ground. A handsome youth recognizes him as his long-lost father, Timur, vanquished king of Tartary. When the old man tells his son, Prince Calàf, that only Liù has remained faithful to him, the youth asks her why. She replies it is because once, long ago, Calàf smiled on her. The mob again cries for blood, but the moon emerges, and all fall into sudden, fearful silence. The doomed suitor passes on the way to execution, moving the onlookers to call upon Turandot to spare his life. Turandot appears and, with a contemptuous gesture, bids the execution proceed. The crowd hears a death cry in the distance. Calàf, smitten with the princess' beauty, determines to win her as his bride, striding to the gong that proclaims the arrival of a new suitor. Turandot's ministers Ping, Pang and Pong try to discourage the youth, their warnings supplemented by the entreaties of Timur and the tearful Liù. Despite their pleas, Calàf strikes the fatal gong and calls out Turandot's name.

ACT II: In their quarters, Ping, Pang and Pong lament Turandot's bloody reign, praying that love will conquer her icy heart so peace can return. As the populace gathers to hear Turandot question the new challenger, the ministers are called back to harsh reality.

The aged Emperor Altoum, seated on a high throne in the Imperial Palace, asks Calàf to give up his quest, but in vain. Turandot enters and tells the story of her ancestor Princess Lou-Ling, brutally slain by a conquering prince; in revenge Turandot has turned against all men, determining that none shall ever possess her. She poses her first question: what is born each night and dies each dawn? "Hope," Calàf answers correctly. Unnerved, Turandot continues: what flickers red and warm like a flame, yet is not fire? "Blood," replies Calàf after a moment's pause. Shaken, Turandot delivers her third riddle: what is like ice but burns? A tense silence prevails until Calàf triumphantly cries "Turandot!" While the crowd gives thanks, the princess begs her father not to abandon her to a stranger, but to no avail. Calàf generously offers Turandot a riddle of his own: if she can learn his name by dawn, he will forfeit his life.

ACT III: In a palace garden, Calàf hears a proclamation: on pain of death, no one in Peking shall sleep until Turandot learns the stranger's name. The prince muses on his impending joy; but Ping, Pang and Pong try unsuccessfully to bribe him to withdraw. As the fearful mob threatens Calàf with drawn daggers to learn his name, soldiers drag in Liù and Timur. Horrified, Calàf tries to convince the mob that neither knows his secret. When Turandot appears, commanding the dazed Timur to speak, Liù cries out that she alone knows the stranger's identity. Though tortured, she remains silent. Impressed by such endurance, Turandot asks Liù's secret; "Love," the girl replies. When the princess signals the soldiers to intensify the torture, Liù snatches a dagger from one of them and kills herself. The grieving Timur and the crowd follow her body as it is carried away. Turandot remains alone to confront Calàf, who at length takes her in his arms, forcing her to kiss him. Knowing physical passion for the first time, Turandot weeps. The prince, now sure of his victory, tells her his name.

As the people hail the emperor, Turandot approaches his throne, announcing that the stranger's name is - Love.

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I Vespri Siciliani
Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto: Eugène Scribe and Charles Duveyrier


ACT I.
In Palermo, French troops carouse in the square as Sicilians hostilely observe them ("A te, ciel natio"). Duchess Elena mourns her brother Frederick of Austria, executed by the French for treason. She is approached by a drunken French officer, who commands her to sing a song; when she does so, it is a metaphorical one about a storm-tossed ship inciting the Sicilians to cast off their fears, trust in God and rise against their oppressors ("In alto mare è battuto"). This riles up the populace to attack just as Monforte, the French governor, appears, dispersing them. A young patriot, Arrigo, is released by his guards and tells Elena he has been acquitted of charges of treason, though he still detests Monforte. When she leaves, Monforte asks the young man his name and history; despite his defiant answers about his dead mother and unknown father, Monforte offers the Sicilian fame and fortune in the service of France. Arrigo indignantly declines, whereupon the ruler warns him to avoid the rebel Elena. But Arrigo enters her palace.

ACT II. Outside the city, the patriot leader Procida secretly returns from exile and greets his homeland ("O tu, Palermo") while awaiting his followers. When Elena and Arrigo arrive, he tells them Spanish support is on its way, provided all of Sicily rises against the French. He departs, emphasizing his reliance on Arrigo. The latter confesses his love for Elena, who promises him her hand if he will avenge her brother's death ("Ah, da tue luci angeliche"). A messenger comes from Monforte with an invitation for Arrigo to attend a ball; when he refuses, soldiers lead him away. Returning, Procida is struck by the sight of young couples coming to celebrate their engagement. Using this chance to arouse popular feeling, he suggests to the French soldiers that they abduct some of the girls. The Sicilian men are infuriated and several wounded in the scuffle that follows. Sounds of carefree Frenchmen and their ladies singing a barcarole ("Del piacer s'avanza l'ora!") en route to the ball further enrage the Sicilians, who swear vengeance.

ACT III. Scene 1. Alone in his study, Monforte reflects that he has everything he wants except the love of his long-lost son, whom he has discovered to be Arrigo ("In braccio alle dovizie"). The latter is shown in, and Monforte tells him the truth, hoping to favor him. But the discovery horrifies Arrigo, who sees it as a further barrier between himself and Elena. He condemns his father for the wrong he did to his mother, but Monforte appeals -in vain- for his love, while Arrigo despairs at this new situation ("Quando al mio sen").

Scene 2. In the ballroom, the guests include some wearing green ribbons, which mark them as conspirators against Monforte's life. Procida fastens one on Arrigo, who is torn between his filial instinct and loyalty to his friends. He warns Monforte, explaining the meaning of the ribbons. As Monforte tears the ribbon off Arrigo, the conspirators, headed by Elena, surround Monforte and attempt to assassinate him. Evading them, he orders the arrest of all but Arrigo, whom he proclaims his savior. The Sicilians vow to avenge Arrigo's treachery ("Colpo orrendo, inaspettato!").

ACT IV. The unhappy Arrigo has obtained a pass from Monforte to visit the prisoners. His heart is with them, but he questions whether they will listen to his explanation ("Voi per me qui gemete"). Elena is ushered in and expresses disgust for him, but by revealing that Monforte is his father, Arrigo shakes her determination. Declaring his free to rejoin the conspiracy, she confesses she has suffered in hating him ("Arrigo! ah, parli a un core"). The lovers vow eternal fidelity ("E dolce raggio, celeste dono"). Procida, led in by soldiers, whispers to Elena that a ship from Aragon with weapons lies off the port. Noticing Arrigo, he doubts the young man's repentance and suspects more treachery. Monforte arrives and orders execution of the prisoners, but Arrigo pleads for their lives, saying he will die with them. The ruler tells him to remember he is his son, a revelation that throws Procida into despair. Arrigo again begs for clemency, but Monforte's price is that he recognize him as his father. Again refusing, Arrigo is weakened by the sight of the execution block and sound of chanting monks. Finally he agrees, and Monforte stops the execution, announcing the immediate wedding of Elena and his son as a sign of reconciliation. Procida whispers to the hesitant Elena that she must comply for the sake of her brother, while Monforte announces a pardon to the happy populace. The two sides come together ("Oh, mia sorpresa, oh giubilo").

ACT V. Before the Church of Santo Spirito, a crowd celebrates the wedding. Elena approaches in her bridal attire and sings of her happiness. ("Mercè, dilette amiche"). Arrigo joins her for a moment, after which Procida comes to tell Elena that vengeance is near: when bells ring for the marriage ceremony, the Sicilian populace will attack the unarmed French. She is horrified, but Procida dares her to denounce him now, which she cannot do. Instead, to avert the signal, she refuses to proceed with the marriage. Arrigo is shattered and tells Monforte, who brushes aside her objections and, placing her hand in Arrigo's, orders the bells rung. The Sicilians pour in and massacre the French.

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A View from the Bridge
William Bolcom


ACT I. Red Hook, Brooklyn, the 1950s. Neighborhood people begin an arduous day. The lawyer Alfieri commences the tragic story of longshoreman Eddie Carbone, and the chorus of characters and townspeople joins in the retelling.

Two stevedores, Louis and Mike, tell Eddie that the ship holding his wife's two cousins from Sicily has landed. As illegal immigrants, they have been spirited away and will be brought to Eddie's house that evening.

Arriving home, Eddie finds his niece Catherine dressed up; she has grown from a sweet child to a disturbingly beautiful young woman. She calls for Eddie's wife, Beatrice, whereupon Eddie announces the safe arrival of the two young men, Rodolpho and Marco. Catherine breaks in with news of her success at stenography school and a job offer, which irritates Eddie as it bespeaks the growing-up of his almost-daughter. He advises her about entering the world of work.

Eddie impresses Beatrice and Catherine with the importantce of silence about the "submarines." The chorus recounts the tale of a young man who betrayed information to Immigration and the community's exacting of punishment.

The young men arrive at the Carbone home. After they are introduced, Marco and Rodolpho tell a rueful story of the poverty at home that necessitated their trip. Rodolpho, whose blond charm gets on Eddie's nerves, reveals his dream-to own a motorcycle. His quieter brother Marco has a family in Sicily, but Rodolpho has, according to himself, "a nice face but no money" and thus cannot marry. But he can sing, from operatic arias to what he thinks of as jazz-the popular song "Paper Doll." He is shushed by Eddie, who fears the neighbors' suspicions.

Weeks have passed, it is evening, and Eddie and Beatrice are outside their home. Eddie has become exasperated with Rodolpho's flashy style. But the tension in the Carbone home has a deeper source: Eddie has not made love to Beatrice in months, long before the cousins' arrival. She finally confronts him with the fact.

Eddie is walking home late after work. His friends congratulate him for sheltering the two Sicilians. He becomes uncomfortable when they mention how they enjoy both brothers, Rodolpho in particular. Rodolpho and Catherine return from an evening's stroll on the Brooklyn Paramount; its view of Manhattan inspires Rodolpho. Eddie orders him into the house, whereupon he tells Catherine of his suspicion: Rodolpho wants to marry her only to obtain legal immigration papers. Beatrice begs Eddie to desist. As he skulks off, she sets Catherine straight about Eddie's feelings toward her.

The desperate Eddie calls on Alfieri to ask if there is any legal way he can keep Catherine out of Rodolpho's clutches; Eddie even suspects Rodolpho's sexuality. No, says Alfieri, except for the unthinkable-telling Immigration on the brothers.

At the Carbones' home, Eddie's gruffness shuts down any attempts at conversation. Catherine defiantly puts on a record of "Paper Doll" and invites Rodolpho to dance. Eddie explodes in anger. Suddenly, under the pretext of teaching him to box, he forces Rodolpho to fight him, landing a blow that stops the fight. Marco realizes that Eddie needs reminding of a few things-family loyalty among brothers, for one-and proves that his is the greater physical strength.


ACT II. Longshoremen scramble on the docks for bottles. Several cartons of imported Scotch have broken open-as has happened probably every year, two days before Christmas. Tony, Mike, Eddie, and Louis celebrate the ritual taking of whisky bottles in their yearly doo-wop quartet. But Eddie is different this time, drinking so much that it excites comment from his concerned friends; he staggers off.

Rodolpho and Catherine realize that this is the first time they have been alone in the house. Catherine explains her desire to live in Italy after their marriage, but Rodolpho is committed to staying in the United States. He assures her, however, that it is she he loves, not America. More than living in Italy, Catherine actually wants simply to get away from Eddie, whose recent behavior confuses her, although she still loves him. Rodolpho nudges her toward the bedroom.

Eddie enters the house drunk. Finding the two coming out of the bedroom, he orders Rodolpho to leave. Catherine wants to leave, too; Eddie responds by violently kissing her. When Rodolpho tries to pull him off her, Eddie kisses him even more brutally.

In his office, Alfieri muses about Eddie's case. Eddie bursts in, and tells Alfieri that he kissed Rodolpho to shame him in front of Catherine. To Alfieri, Rodolpho's lack of physical resistance doesn't prove his unmanliness. Eddie is left with only one way to get rid of Rodolpho: the call to Immigration.

Beatrice sadly takes down Christmas decorations. When Eddie appears, she tells him that the brothers are now renting a room upstairs. She pleads with Eddie to consent to the wedding. Eddie is furious to hear that there are two new illegal immigrants now sharing the room with Beatrice's cousins. Eddie's exhortation to get all four men out of the house is interrupted by loud knocking: Immigration is responding to Eddie's telephone call. Two officers search the house and find the four "submarines" with Catherine, who, along with Beatrice, now suspects Eddie's involvement in the arrests. Marco, certain that Eddie betrayed them, spits in his face as the group is led away in front of the townspeople. They, too, turn from Eddie in his shame.

In jail, Marco recalls the odyssey that has brought him to this moment. Just as American law will not give Eddie satisfaction in ridding him of Rodolpho, Marco feels frustrated since the law will not help him exact even an apology from Eddie.

Eddie refuses to go to the wedding or even to let Beatrice attend. Rodolpho and Catherine's begging Eddie to leave before Marco comes (he is out of jail) has no effect. The neighbors let Eddie know that he has lost all respect. Beatrice confronts Eddie with what he can't accept: The two of them are physically estranged because Eddie is in love with Catherine.

Eddie's denial is cut off by Marco's arrival. No apology is possible: Marco demands that Eddie fall to his knees before him. They fight, with Eddie pulling a knife. Marco's superior strength forces Eddie to stab himself to death with his own hand. The reenactment of Eddie Carbone's tale is over, and the townspeople and Alfieri wish us goodnight.

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Die Walküre
Richard Wagner


ACT I:
As a storm rages, Siegmund the Wälsung, exhausted from pursuit by enemies in the forest, stumbles into an unfamiliar house for shelter. Sieglinde finds the stranger lying by the hearth, and the two feel an immediate attraction. But they are soon interrupted by Sieglinde's husband, Hunding, who asks the stranger who he is. Calling himself "Woeful," Siegmund tells of a disaster-filled life ("Friedmund darf ich nicht heissen"), only to learn that Hunding is a kinsman of his foes. Hunding, before retiring, tells his guest to defend himself in the morning. Left alone, Siegmund calls on his father, Wälse, for the sword he once promised him. Sieglinde reappears, having given Hunding a sleeping potion. She tells of her wedding, at which a one-eyed stranger thrust into a tree a sword that thereafter resisted every effort to pull it out ("Der Männer Sippe"). Sieglinde confesses her unhappiness to Siegmund, whereupon he ardently embraces her and vows to free her from her forced marriage to Hunding. As moonlight floods the room, Siegmund compares their feeling to the marriage of love and spring ("Winterstürme"). Sieglinde hails him as "Spring" ("Du bist der Lenz") but asks if his father was really "Wolf," as he said earlier. When Siegmund gives his father's name as Wälse instead, Sieglinde rapturously recognizes him as Siegmund, her twin brother. The Wälsung now draws the sword from the tree and claims Sieglinde as his bride, rejoicing in the union of the Wälsungs.

ACT II: High in the mountains, Wotan, leader of the gods, tells his warrior daughter Brünnhilde she must defend his mortal son Siegmund. Leaving joyfully to do his bidding ("Hojotoho!"), the Valkyrie pauses to note the approach of Fricka, Wotan's wife and the goddess of marriage. Fricka insists he must defend Hunding's marriage rights against Siegmund, ignoring Wotan's implied argument that Siegmund could save the gods by winning back the Rhinegold from the dragon Fafner before the Nibelung dwarfs regain it. When Wotan realizes he is caught in his own trap - his power will leave him if he does not enforce the law - he agrees to his wife's demands. After Fricka has left in triumph, the frustrated god tells the returning Brünnhilde about the theft of the gold and Alberich's curse on it ("Als junger Liebe"). Brünnhilde is shocked to hear her father, his plans in ruins, order her to fight for Hunding. Then, alone in the darkness, she withdraws as Siegmund and Sieglinde approach. Siegmund comforts the distraught girl, who feels herself unworthy of him, and watches over her when she falls asleep. Brünnhilde appears to him as if in a vision, telling him he will soon go to Valhalla (Todesverkündigung: "Siegmund! Sieh auf mich!"), but when he says he will not leave Sieglinde and threatens to kill himself and his bride if his sword has no power against Hunding, she decides to help him in spite of Wotan's command. She vanishes. Siegmund bids farewell to Sieglinde when he hears the approaching Hunding's challenge. When Siegmund is about to win, however, Wotan appears and shatters his sword, leaving him to be killed by Hunding. Brünnhilde escapes with Sieglinde and the broken sword. Wotan contemptuously fells Hunding with a wave of his hand and leaves to punish Brünnhilde.

ACT III: On the Valkyries' Rock, Brünnhilde's eight warrior sisters - who have gathered there briefly, bearing slain heroes to Valhalla - are surprised to see her enter with Sieglinde. When they hear she is fleeing Wotan's wrath, they are afraid to hide her. Sieglinde is numb with despair until Brünnhilde tells her she bears Siegmund's child. Eager to be saved, she receives the pieces of the sword from Brünnhilde and ecstatically thanks her rescuer as she rushes off into the forest to hide near Fafner's cave, a place safe from Wotan. When the god appears, he sentences Brünnhilde to become a mortal woman, silencing her sisters' objections by threatening to do the same to them. Left alone with her father, Brünnhilde pleads that in disobeying his orders she was really doing what he wished ("War es so schmählich"). Wotan will not relent: she must lie in sleep, booty for any man who finds her. But as his anger abates she asks the favor of being surrounded in sleep by a wall of fire that only the bravest hero can pierce. Both sense this hero must be the child that Sieglinde will bear. Sadly renouncing his daughter ("Leb' wohl"), Wotan kisses Brünnhilde's eyes with sleep and mortality before summoning Loge, the spirit of fire, to encircle the rock. As flames spring up, the departing Wotan invokes a spell forbidding the rock to anyone who fears his spear (Fire Music).

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War and Peace
Sergei Prokofiev


PART I.
Outside the country home of Count Rostov at Otradnoye on a spring evening in 1809. A guest, Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, is seen looking from his window, wondering whether the romantic promise of spring is an illusion. At an upstairs window Rostov's daughter, Natasha, unable to sleep, muses with her cousin Sonya on the beauties of nature. Aware that someone is listening, she closes the window, leaving Andrei to realize that his life is not over at thirty-one after all; the girl he has just seen has revived his interest in living.

The following New Year's Eve, at a fashionable ball in St. Petersburg, Maria Akhrosimova welcomes her goddaughter Natasha, her cousin Sonya and Count Rostov. They immediately notice the glamorous Hélène, wife of Pierre Bezukhov, and her dashing brother, Count Anatol Kuragin. Prince Andrei asks Natasha to dance and tells her that he heard her "dreaming aloud" the previous spring. Rostov invites Andrei to call the following Sunday.

Two years later, in February 1812, Rostov brings Natasha, now engaged to Andrei, to the Volkonsky town house in Moscow to meet Andrei's formidable father. The old man does not want to receive them, and Andrei's sister, Princess Maria, handles the situation instead. As the Princess makes awkward conversation, mentioning the threat of war, the old Prince enters, unaware that the callers are there. Insultingly, he mumbles that Andrei can do as he pleases. Maria is upset by her father's behavior, but Natasha realizes he sent Andrei away for a year in hopes of discouraging the marriage. To herself she fumes that Andrei's family has no right to reject her, that she wants him back right away.

In May at the Bezukhov house, Hélène congratulates Natasha on her engagement but confides that her brother Anatol is lovesick over her. Impressed by Hélène's beauty and friendliness, Natasha thinks there can be no harm in such a person. Anatol appears, declares his love, and thrusts a letter in her hand, kissing her before leaving. Flustered, she reads the letter, written in extravagant romantic terms, saying she alone must decide his fate. Because she misses Andrei and is vulnerable in his absence, Natasha is swept off her feet by Anatol. Sonya notices her reaction and warns that Anatol is a scoundrel. Count Rostov, disapproving of the free-and-easy atmosphere, takes the girls home.

At the home of his comrade-in-arms, Lieutenant Dolokhov, Anatol boasts that Natasha has agreed to elope with him. Though Dolokhov ghostwrote Anatol's love letter for him, he disapproves of the elopement, pointing out that there is sure to be trouble, not least because Anatol is already married. Anatol, infatuated, cannot think of the future. When a coachman arrives to take him to his rendezvous, he and Dolokhov rush off into the snowstorm.

Meanwhile, at Maria Akhrosimova's house, Natasha learns from a maid that Sonya has revealed the elopement plans. When Anatole arrives, the footman is under orders to bring him to the lady of the house, but Anatol -- warned by Dolokhov of a trap -- makes his exit. The older woman confronts Natasha with her disgraceful behavior, the result of associating with Hélène. Natasha is defiant. With relief Maria Akhrosimova welcomes Pierre, whom she considers ineffectual but kindhearted, and tells him what has happened; he promises to get Anatol out of Moscow before there is a scandal or a duel. Alone, Pierre admits that he too has found Natasha disturbingly attractive. Natasha, who trusts Pierre, hears him confirm what she has just learned from her godmother: Anatol is already married. Upset by his own feelings toward Natasha, Pierre hurriedly leaves. Believing that her life is ruined, Natasha takes poison in an adjoining room, then calls to Sonya for help.

In his study Pierre confronts Anatol and demands that he leave Moscow -- and even offers him money. Disgusted with his wife, his brother-in-law, and the others, Pierre wishes he could live according to his humanitarian instincts. Lieutenant Colonel Denisov enters with the news that Napoleon's troops are gathering at the front: War is inevitable.

PART II. On August 25, 1812, before the Battle of Borodino, soldiers dig entrenchments as Denisov enters, looking for Prince Andrei. The soldiers talk of Marshal Kutuzov, who has rallied them by the thousands. Alone for a moment, Andrei reflects on the love he had for Natasha and how foolishly things turned out. Spying Pierre, who has come as a civilian observer, he tells him of his contempt for the German military advisers, who reduce everything to tactics, ignoring the people. Andrei embraces Pierre and says he fears they will not meet again. Pierre leaves as the marshall arrives, greeted by his soldiers. Though Kutuzov asks Andrei to join his staff, Andrei declines, saying he has to lead his own regiment. The opening shots of the battle are heard.

That afternoon, Napoleon surveys the scene and looks forward to conquest. Adjutants enter with urgent reports, and to one of the generals he confides that things have not been going as usual: It is a very hard victory.

Two evenings later, Kutuzov sits in council at a peasant hut with his advisers. After listening to their opinions, he makes the decision to retreat from Moscow, thereby ensuring eventual victory. When he is alone, he reflects on Moscow and what it means to the people; he knows they will rise to the occasion.

A month or so later, during the French occupation of Moscow, Pierre has a fantasy of assassinating Napoleon. From servants in the street he learns that Natasha has been nursing the wounded at her family's country home, and that -- unknown to her -- Andrei is among the injured men. French soldiers and officers, dispirited by the continued resistance of the Russian citizens, take Pierre into custody as a suspicious character. In a group of prisoners he meets Platon Karatayev, a farmer whose stoical attitude symbolizes the people's resolution. The prisoners are led off, and Napoleon arrives with his officers, appalled to see Moscow burning at the hands of its own citizens.

Andrei lies wounded in a hut on the outskirts of the city, wishing he could see Natasha once more. She comes in, and he regrets having discovered the real meaning of life at the moment his own life is ending. She stays at his bedside as he dies.

During the blizzard in November, the French retreat along the Smolensk road with their prisoners, including Pierre and Karatayev. When a guard shoots Karatayev, a partisan ambushes the guard and the French soldiers are overpowered by his comrades. Pierre learns from Denisov that life is beginning to return to Moscow. Kutuzov appears and pronounces Russia saved. He thanks the troops, who cheer him and their victory.

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Werther
Jules Massenet


ACT I. Wetzlar, near Frankfurt, 1780s. Though it is July, the widowed Bailiff teaches his younger children a Christmas carol in the garden of their house. Their progress is watched with amusement by two neighbors, Schmidt and Johann. They ask for Charlotte, the eldest daughter, who is engaged to Albert. In his absence, the Bailiff tells them, she will be escorted to the local ball that night by a young visiting poet, Werther, whom they find uncongenial. As the friends go off to supper and the Bailiff goes into the house, Werther arrives. He rhapsodizes on the beauty of the evening and watches unseen as Charlotte cuts bread and butter for the children's supper. When the party has left for the ball and the Bailiff has gone to join his friends at the tavern, Albert returns unexpectedly. Disappointed at not finding Charlotte, he promises her sister Sophie he will return in the morning. As the moon rises, Werther and Charlotte return. He has fallen in love with her, but his declaration is cut short when the Bailiff passes by, observing that Albert has returned. Despite his despair, Werther urges Charlotte not to break her promise to marry Albert.

ACT II. Three months later, Charlotte and Albert, now married, walk contentedly across the town square on their way to church, followed by Werther. Albert tries to comfort the youth, and Sophie also attempts to cheer him up, but when Charlotte comes out of the church, he speaks of their first meeting; disturbed, she tells him he must leave Wetzlar until Christmas. Werther contemplates suicide, and when Sophie interrupts him, he rushes away. As Charlotte consoles the tearful girl, Albert realizes that Werther must be in love with his wife.

ACT III. Alone at home on Christmas Eve, Charlotte rereads the dejected letters written to her by Werther. While she prays for strength, he suddenly appears. Charlotte tries to remain calm and asks him to read to her from his translation of Ossian. Werther chooses a passage where the poet foresees his own death, and when Charlotte begs him to stop, he realizes she returns his love. But she runs from his embrace with a final farewell, and Werther leaves, resolved to die. Albert enters, surprised to find Charlotte distraught, and when a message arrives from Werther asking to borrow Albert's pistols, her reaction convinces him of her love for Werther. He makes her give the pistols to the servant herself, but when Albert has gone she hurries off, praying she may reach Werther in time.

ACT IV. Charlotte arrives at Werther's quarters to find him mortally wounded. She declares her love, and he begs forgiveness. As he dies, the voices of the children outside are heard singing their Christmas carol.

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Wozzeck
Alban Berg


ACT I, Scene 1.
The Captain's room. The soldier Wozzeck shaves his Captain. The officer says Wozzeck lacks morality, citing his bastard child. Wozzeck answers that virtue is a luxury and not for "we poor folk."

Scene 2.
An open field. Wozzeck and a fellow-solider, Andres, are cutting firewood for the Captain. Wozzeck is frightened by his own visions.

Scene 3.
Marie's room. Marie and a neighbor, Margret, watch a military band pass, and Marie first takes notice of the Drum Major. She sings a lullaby to her child. Wozzeck arrives and describes his visions. Marie wants to comfort him, but he rushes off.

Scene 4.
The Doctor's study. To earn a little extra money, Wozzeck allows himself to be experimented upon by the Doctor.

Scene 5.
Street before Marie's door. Marie resists the Drum Major's advances but then succumbs.

ACT II, Scene 1.
Marie's room. Wozzeck sees the earrings given to Marie by the Drum Major. She says she found them. The soldier gives her his wages and leaves. She berates herself for the deceit.

Scene 2.
A street. The Captain and the Doctor talk morbidly of sickness and death. As Wozzeck passes by, they goad him with allusions to Marie's infidelity.

Scene 3.
Street before Marie's door. Wozzeck confronts Marie with his suspicions and tries to force her to confess.

Scene 4.
A beer garden. Two drunk apprentices amuse the crowd. Wozzeck enters and sees Marie and the Drum Major dancing together. A fool says he smells blood; Wozzeck sees everything covered in a red mist.

Scene 5.
The barracks. The Drum Major comes in among the soldiers and flaunts his seduction of Marie. He then beats Wozzeck.

ACT III, Scene 1.
Marie's room. Marie, alone, reads from the Bible the story of Mary Magdalene.

Scene 2.
A path near a pond. Marie and Wozzeck are walking together. Marie wants to hurry back to town, but Wozzeck makes her sit with him. Wozzeck's reminiscences about their life together make her nervous. She attempts to escape, but he draws a knife and murders her.

Scene 3.
A tavern. Margret and the apprentices spot blood on Wozzeck's hands and clothing. He cannot explain it and rushes out.

Scene 4.
A path near a pond. Wozzeck searches for the knife so he can more safely hide it. He wades into the water to wash himself. The Doctor and Captain, passing by, hear him drown.

Scene 5.
A street before Marie's door. While playing, neighbor children tell Marie's child that his mother is dead, but he does not understand.

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Die Zauberflöte
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


ACT I: An imaginary Egypt. Three Ladies attendant on the Queen of the Night save the fainting Prince Tamino from a serpent. When they leave to tell the Queen, the birdcatcher Papageno bounces in and boasts to Tamino that it was he who slew the serpent. The Ladies return to give Tamino a portrait of the Queen's daughter, Pamina, who they say is enslaved by the evil Sarastro, and they padlock Papageno's mouth for lying. The Queen, appearing in a burst of thunder, laments the loss of her daughter; she charges Tamino with Pamina's rescue. The Ladies hand a magic flute to Tamino and magic silver bells to Papageno to ensure their safety, appointing Three Genii to guide them.

Sarastro's Moorish slave Monostatos pursues Pamina but is frightened away by the feather-covered Papageno, who tells Pamina that Tamino loves her and intends to save her.

Led to the Temple of Sarastro, Tamino is advised by a High Priest that it is the Queen, not Sarastro, who is evil. Hearing that Pamina is safe, Tamino charms the animals with his flute, then rushes to follow the sound of Papageno's pipes. Monostatos and his retainers chase Papageno and Pamina but are rendered helpless by Papageno's magic bells. Sarastro, entering in ceremony, promises Pamina eventual freedom and punishes Monostatos. Pamina is enchanted by a glimpse of Tamino, who is led into the temple with Papageno.

ACT II: Sarastro tells his priests that Tamino will undergo initiation rites. Sworn to silence, Tamino is impervious to the temptations of the Queen's Ladies, who have no trouble derailing the cheerful Papageno from his course of virtue.

The Queen of the Night dismisses Monostatos, whom she finds kissing the sleeping Pamina, and gives her daughter a dagger with which to murder Sarastro. The weeping Pamina is confronted and consoled by Sarastro.

The gourmand Papageno is just as quick to break a new oath of fasting, and he jokes with a flirtatious old lady, who vanishes when asked her name. Tamino remains steadfast, breaking Pamina's heart: she cannot understand his silence.

The priests inform Tamino that he has only two more trials to complete his initiation. Papageno is eliminated but settles for the old lady, who turns into a young Papagena when the resigned Papageno promises to be faithful. She disappears, however.

After the Genii save the despairing Pamina from suicide, she finds Tamino and walks with him through the ordeals by water and fire, protected by the magic flute.

Papageno also is saved from attempted suicide by the Genii, who remind him to use his magic bells, which summon Papagena. The two plan for the future and move into a bird's nest.

The Queen of the Night, her Three Ladies and Monostatos attack the temple but are defeated and banished. Sarastro joins Pamina and Tamino as the throng hails Isis and Osiris, the triumph of courage, virtue and wisdom.

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