THE overture opens with a short movement, fiery and highly figured, and strongly accentuated as to its bar-divisions, which accustoms the ear to the fundamental harmonies of the piece. Then comes the powerful melody which indicates the knight’s confidence in God, and in the woman he loves. This melody, however, is not rounded out to its conclusion ; it goes off into a series of progressive modulations which lead to a more agitated subject ,and movement which seem to denote the warrior’s energy and force. This is suggested by the persistent holding and repetition of the chords of the seventh, the accent in the upper voice, as in the organ figures of the bass, and the passage from key to key by means of accumulated progressions for the purpose of repeating the first figure. The close of this subject and movement is only a point of transition, for it ends with a chord of the seventh which serves as a preparation for the following key of the dominant, a general pause occurring between the two sections. This new key is now first announced pompously on the drums. The melody, now allotted to the ‘cello, gives the music a more peaceful turn and comes to rest at last upon the same chord of the seventh, and then we have the sweet little melody with which the reunion of the lovers is accompanied in the opera itself. The instruments now have a more flowing movement. Many a sigh comes into what they utter; the close of the section is warded off a while by intermediate modulations, until at last it occurs in energetic form and decision. Now, it is joy that seems to gain the victory, the forcefulness of the movement increases while the music goes into B-major and returns to the same key. Then suddenly we are sensible of a certain mysterious sense of something like horror. The passage to this new feeling is effected by the note B, which we hear first prolonged for several bars by the lowest bass and afterwards in separate sounds. We fancy that we almost hear the beating of an anxious heart, and the discords make us shiver with apprehension. It seems as if we were standing by an open grave as we feel and hear the modulations going lower and lower in their descent, until again they come to a sort of rest upon a chord of the seventh. There is now a change into the minor key for a Largo in which the mystery of the wanderings to which the unhappy Emma is condemned is revealed to us by means of restless groping modulations of the violins. The curtain rises at this point to reveal the vault containing the sarcophagus of Emma, the deus ex machina of the opera. Weber’s own directions, seldom carried out, are : ” The interior of Emma’s tomb ; a kneeling statue is beside her coffin, which is surmounted by a twelfth century baldacchino. Euryanthe prays by the coffin, while the spirit of Emma hovers overhead. Eglantine looks on.” The mysterious effect is produced by four solo violins and a tremolo on the viola.
But the way in which all these ideas hang together and are indicated in the music we do not really apprehend until we are familiar with the whole dramatic course of the opera itself. Then comes a new subject and sub-movement in B-minor which summons us once more to a scene of agitation, full of energy and of quicker tempo. The theme is given in the first two bars by the second violin, and treated then in somewhat fugato manner, the chord-sequences becoming more and more involved every moment. We see that a new struggle has occurred in this web of complicated passion, in which virile power in its highest efforts (in the firm steps taken by the voices in opposition to each other) and deep anxiety of soul (in the triplets that seem to tremble as they sound) are combined. And this effect of ” struggle” is continued with stronger and stronger emphasis, until at last the cheering power of the truth achieves its victory ; in all which there is passage from the first opening of the notes of the melody to a transitory C-major by means of an intermediate F-minor, then, passing through B, a recurrence once more to those opening notes of the original key, which then closes this second principal motiv. By means of the chord of the seventh of B, introducing it, the melody which indicates the joy of reunion is repeated in the original key with figured and richer accompaniment and it rises higher with modulations appropriate to such ascent right up to the close of the overture.
AcT I. The introduction, which represents the celebration of peace at the court of the King, gives us the feeling of joyousness, restrained, however, by the noble manners of chivalry. The chorus and dance bear a noble and grave character. Weber took the tempo of this first movement at a moderato which allows the violins to present in perfect roundness the graceful figures which occur as early as the ritornello. He makes the orchestra do its work in a sort of genial liberty, quickening its movement with subtle feeling. This is notable in the run which, begun by the violin, is completed imitatively by the ‘cello, and afterward even more in the gently emitted notes of the flute, bassoon, and others, which are interspersed in the chorus of women, and especially in the close semi-quavers of the violins.
The scene shows a hall in the royal palace. On the columns are fixed the shields and weapons of the knights. Near the arms of Nevers and Rethel is a lyre garlanded with flowers, and the helmet is crowned with laurel. The King is surrounded by his nobles, pages, and ladies of the court. Peace with England has just been proclaimed. The chorus of ladies hails the advent of peace (Dem Frieden Heil, and the chorus of knights says pleasant things about the ladies. All are happy but Adolar (tenor), the chief hero of the war, who stands gloomily apart.
The King tries to cheer his favourite by reminding him that he will soon see his betrothed, and asks him to let them hear sweet minstrelsy in praise of the absent Euryanthe.
Two ladies take Adolar’s lyre from the column and bring it to him. In this romanza, in which Adolar recalls first meeting with his beloved by the Loire, Unter blüh’nden Mandelbâumen, the composer has caught the noble tone of the Troubadour-Knight in a masterly way. The pizzicato of the violins here in the first strophe, and the fragmentary intermediate ritornello of the clarinets, flutes, and bassoon, make a pleasant contrast with the sustained accompaniment of the following strophe. After a slight passage of transition, the Chorus of Knights and Ladies take up the previous melody and apply it in a successful way pointedly to the singer and the Beauty whom he has been celebrating (” Heil, Euryanth’ “) : ” Hail, Euryanthe, peerless of thy sex ! Hero and singer crown thee with fame, but true faith wears the most beautiful crown of life.”
The whole courtly audience approach Adolar in couples. Ladies take his lyre, wreathe it with flowers and hang it up again, and a chaplet is placed upon his head. Lysiart, a great rival baron (bass), has been standing apart in envy and jealousy, and can stand the sight of Adolar’s honours no longer. (” Ich trag’ es nicht.”) He breaks out into recitative with mocking praise. Adolar might waste all his possessions and still earn a fine living as a minstrel ! Lysiart goes on to scoff at the very idea of woman’s faith and truth. The ladies depart in angry protest. Adolar wants to appeal to arms against one who is so recreant to all the vows of knighthood, but Lysiart refuses, saying that were he even a serf he could win away Euryanthe’s love in spite of Adolar’s rosy cheeks and golden lyre.
Adolar casts down his gauntlet of defiance, but Lysiart says that even his death would not settle the question. Adolar is strong in his faith in his Euryanthe’s constancy. Well, then, Lysiart is willing to pledge all his great estates that he can win her away from him ! So be it ! The measured firmness with which Lysiart pledges his manors is well denoted by the different intervals and the accentuated notes of his song ; the blast of the trumpet which precedes his, ” Well, thou knowest my rich patrimony ? ” is entirely in place. And equally so an excellent stroke of the music going into a decidedly quicker tempo when Adolar, in his youthful impetuosity, agrees to the stake offered, crying, “Right, right ! Be it so, be it so ! ” Now the knights seem all to be struck with astonishment, we hear from some here and there, such words as, ” foolish enterprise,” and they all join in expressing their dislike and disapproval. There is another little point here in which the truthfulness of the dramatic treatment is markedly shown, the striking way in which the music interprets the words when Lysiart plunges into the midst of what Adolar is saying. The melody was tending to B-minor, but Lysiart seizes on that key and holds it for what he has to say about the misery that may befall Adolar, while the main melody remains in F. Adolar’s wrath now bursts out more violently (quick change to D-major). Lysiart goes even further now ; he will not let his fear of Divine judgment operate on him, he cares not for that ! The instruments tremble at his speech, and it is left in appropriate obscurity, half dark, by leaving out the fundamental bass. Once more the chorus ex-presses its astonishment and warns them solemnly to desist from their dangerous purpose. Here the melody of the chorus takes a more serious turn (to G-flat-major, D-flatmajor), it addresses the others with more and more power, and its song makes a basis for the other voices. Adolar, however, remains unshaken ; with knightly feeling and in the full consciousness of innocence he speaks, in the clear-cut B-major to which the melody makes a quick transition. The far-sighted King vainly warns Adolar to beware of insidious machinations, but the latter is obstinate. Both nobles give their rings into the King’s keeping as a pledge, and Lysiart is to go to bring Euryanthe to the court, and meanwhile prosper as he may. Now the audacity of Lysiart goes to an extreme, and he pledges himself to bring them proofs of Euryanthe’s favour (where the delivery of the phrase ought to be of peculiarly accentuated significance) ; all present are seized with horror : the simple tremolo of thirds on the violins is of speaking effect here; all the knights are frightened at this mad excess of Lysiart, and all with one voice exclaim, without the orchestra, ” Forbid it that he succeed ! ” Adolar with increased fire and force expresses his confidence in the innocence which the knights implore God to crown with victory. The passage of the music in which Adolar four times repeats his ” I build on God and my Euryanthe ” expresses that confidence powerfully and is strengthened by the trumpet blasts.
The scene changes to the castle garden at Nevers with Emma’s tomb in the background. Euryanthe (soprano) enters. She is longing for her lover. Her exquisite cavatina, Glöcklein im Thale (Sweet bell in the valley), is not only a beautiful melody surrounded by the richest orchestral colouring, but it is very characteristic of a young maiden-soul at one with pure and lovely nature and reminded of her absent lover by every object that meets the eye. The very first notes of the ritornello express the deep tranquillity of the landscape as well as of the singer, though some of the tones are those of painful yearning (here the composer uses with peculiar effect the long holding of the chord of the seventh). These notes of yearning are repeated with increasing ex-pression, subsiding at last into a calm, eloquent of solitary abandonment.
Two solo ‘celli, with flutes and oboes, are the instruments prominent here, so applied as to give the music of this scene a quite different colouring from the preceding. Extraordinarily beautiful and intense is the way in which the melody goes up into E, by means of a long-held chord of the seventh.
In what follows immediately, we have Eglantine (mezzo soprano) speaking of Euryanthe’s solitude and anxieties, and Euryanthe herself of her yearning pain.
The conversation of the two women in the recitative that follows has admirable points intimately connected with the situation and characters. There is a singular turn of the voices at the passage, “Love keepeth watch at thy side.” In the music of Eglantine’s aria, O mein Leid ist unermessen, it is clear that her feeling for Euryanthe is not sincere. Weber has done all that a composer can do to enforce that meaning ; the agitation in the accompaniment must not be overlooked in this connection.
The false friend has spied upon Euryanthe, and seeks to fathom the secret of her melancholy. Why does she keep lonely vigil in the tomb ? Will she persist in making her tender companion, Eglantine, miserable by not confiding in her ? Eglantine will go far away and hide her bruised heart in the wilderness. But no ! She will stay and die on Euryanthe’s breast, because she could not dwell apart from her ! ” Freundin ! Geliebte ! ” These lamentations are too much for Euryanthe. The recitative that follows reveals the secret.
It seems that Adolar’s sister Emma had a lover named Udo who fell in battle. On hearing the news, she committed suicide by means of a poison-ring. Her spirit will never find rest until the ring has been wetted with the tears of suffering innocence, and fidelity has requited evil with good.
Emma’s wraith so informed Adolar and Euryanthe while they were taking a moonlight stroll on the last of May. “Four muted violins whose long sustained notes are sup-ported by quivering violins and violas, also muted, with stifled moans from low flutes, suggest a spectral form, only half visible in the moonlight, hovering overhead and muttering words which die away on the breeze,” is Dr. Spitta’s happy description of the orchestration of this number. ” Marvellous impartment ! ” ejaculates Eglantine, and the orchestra is greatly wrought up also at Euryanthe’s imprudent disclosure. In the duet that follows, Unter ist mein Stern gegangen, Euryanthe’s anguish at having broken her oath of secrecy is accented by the sustained opening note on the bassoon. Eglatine tries to reassure her; of course it shall never go any farther ! A passage of thirds endeavours to restore tranquillity. Euryanthe presently enters Emma’s tomb, and Eglantine is left behind to explain herself. In a great scena and aria, Bethorte, die an meine Liebe glaubt, her character is finely developed by the music.
The serpentine windings of the notes, which we heard before accompanying her, continue right through the piece. The deeper tones of the flutes and bassoon are also put to noble account, as, for example, after the words ” purchase with annihilation.” The way in which the words following are expressed, ” only one moment on his breast,” where the music goes a little slower, and is echoed in the solo on the flute, is incomparably fine, as is the whole final part of the recitative.
Eglantine will search Emma’s tomb for the fatal ring, and use it as a means to estrange Adolar and her rival in his affections. No price will be too great to pay. He has scorned her love once. She will yet win him, or destroy his peace also.
On her exit, a chorus of vassals headed by Bertha and Rudolph enters to welcome the arrival of Lysiart and his retinue.
The peasants sing of the joys of peace in lively dance-rhythms, and the warriors respond sympathetically, ” Fubeltône.”
In the theme of the passage introducing the change of the character of dance music which is so pompously stated by the trumpets, these instruments are handled admirably ; they have to play a little easy figure which makes the rhythm and tune much more marked. The flute takes up the more joyous part of the strain. The melody of ” Courage freshens the warrior’s heart,” which is in such strong contrast to the joyous matter preceding it, is quite martial and effective.
Euryanthe appears at the door of the tomb, and Eglantine enters, saying in an aside, ” Oh, that an avenger of my shame might appear ! ” The knights loudly hail the appearance of the lovely Euryanthe, and then follows a movement (Andantino gracioso) leading into recitative, in which Euryanthe welcomes the knight, Lysiart, and he in flattering terms informs her of the pretended commission he has from the King to conduct her to the festival, which gives Euryanthe a thrill of pleasure, and sounds like a knell to Eglantine, who nevertheless feigns sympathy. The Chatelaine bids all welcome to Nevers, and is startled to hear the knights gloomily ejaculate ” Oh ! black scheme !” which Lysiart hastily explains away. She sings that this is a day of dances and songs, and the chorus, Allegretto, ” Joyous sounds ” (Fubeltone), with the charming ritornello of the flutes, and the pleasant solo by Euryanthe, Frohliche Klange, that comes flowing into the last half of the move-ment, is straightforwardly melodious.
She is in ecstasy at the prospect of seeing her beloved ; Lysiart gloats over her loveliness ; ‘Eglantine exults at having her rival in her power; and the chorus repeats its gay strains of ” Dance and song.”
ACT II. It is a dark stormy night : the scene is un-changed. Lysiart rushes out of the castle in a frame of mind in unison with the raging elements. He is tortured with desire and remorse at the same time. Euryanthe’s beauty inflames, while her purity shames him. Passion drives him on, and the thought of the favoured Adolar makes him vow revenge more fiercely than ever. The music of this recitative, Wo berg’ ich mich, and aria, Schweigt glüh’nden Sehnens, is most descriptive and characteristic.
The transition of the music from this frame of mind to the situation in which Eglantine now appears, as she hurries away in terror from the vault where she has drawn the ring from the hand of the dead woman, is equally dramatic. The strongly marked tones of the preceding aria die gradually away ; the modulation goes on by means of a repeated figure of the violins from one key to another, and what we hear tells us that something new and terrible is to be expected. Eglantine comes forward in agitation (Agitato assai) and with her comes the feeling of troubled misery (in the modulation which goes to E-minor as to a refuge). The following speech, in recitative, has many striking things in accent and modulation. The duo, Komm denn, unser Leid zu rachen, which begins with strong blasts of the trumpets, has, especially in the first section, examples of admirable characterization ; for example, where the trumpets come in again with sustained notes at the threatening words, ” In the dust I must see him who hath lifted his head to the stars,” and at the exclamation in unison, ” Power of Darkness, thou hearest the oath ! ”
Thunder and lightning accompany this meeting and con-federation of the two conspirators. Eglantine exults over her successful search for the ring and asks herself how she shall strike. ” By my hand ! ” cries Lysiart, who over-hears. Then comes the compact. If she will help him, he will make her the mistress of all his domains. Revenge leads her to comply, and in darkness their oaths are exchanged.
The scene changes to the hall in the royal castle, where Adolar, richly robed and with jewelled circlet upon his head, awaits his betrothed. He is anticipating the bliss of the meeting and is ashamed of any faint tremors of anxiety he may have felt. In his beautiful cavatina, Wehen mir Lüfte Ruh ‘ (Soft airs breathe on me), with its ritournelle of thirty-bars for flute and clarinet, there is a great deal of modulation of a quiet character. How beautifully is painful feeling expressed by the gloomy chord of the seventh, together with the doubled note of F ! At the words, ” Sweetest song,” the voice remains for one bar upon the lowest tone of a chord of the seventh, that lasts for two full bars. The passage at ” Love, how thou livest new ; hope, how thou weavest true ! ” is finely instrumented. The rising of the parts at the following words, “Faith, how thou waverest not ! ” the effect of foreboding in the broken notes of the flutes in the Allegro, at the words, ” She is near to me ! ” the sweet foretaste of fulfilment (in the agitated passage, ” O bliss, I can scarcely conceive it,” where the expression is continuously more and more decided and sure with each repetition, and culminates with the final cry, ” She is near to me ! “), all this is deeply felt and deeply thought. And now Euryanthe is really approaching with her suite. The orchestra here introduces into its music the coming situation strikingly by carrying on the same figure in chords, constantly changing up to the highest tone-registers and with increasing quickness, as well as more and more forte, and then by striking a few chords, separate and syncopated, and so breaking into pure C-major, and hurrying in staccato at the very moment of bringing in the voices with their cry, ” Take my very soul ! ” (” Hin nimm die Seele mein”), a most beautiful duet.
The lovers have met and are at the very summit of their mutual happiness : this the orchestra would tell us without the words.
Now enters a brilliant train of princes and nobles, followed by the King. The finale begins with a broad and tranquil movement in F-major, and a chorus of the knights, Leuehtend fullt die Kônigshallen, introduced by a salvo on the drums. Between the charming half-glimmer of the violin tones, the voices of the male chorus glow in delightful contrast. They sing praises to the beautiful Euryanthe, and the King paternally welcomes her, praying that nothing may ever mar her peace. Euryanthe misses the presence of the noble dames of France. The King firmly hopes that they will all be here soon to bid her welcome! With the entry of Lysiart, the music hurries forward with the action. Hitherto the anxious waiting for the decisive moment has been expressed by moduations within the region of D-flat-major, accompanied by tremolos on the violins and by the bassoon. Now Lysiart addresses the King, and the chorus appeals to the Omniscient to let truth prevail. Euryanthe grows nervous, and the King and Adolar encourage her. Lysiart asserts his success. Adolar and the King are incredulous; Euryanthe is greatly troubled. Lysiart says he has won the lady’s heart, which she contemptuously denies. He says she was not so disdainful half an hour since, and gives her the ring, the pledge of love she gave him. She falls upon her knees and appeals to Heaven, that knows her innocence, for protection from the snares encompassing her. However, to Adolar’s agitated questions, she acknowledges that she has broken her oath.
The orchestral characterisation of this scene is exceedingly powerful. We have ascending octaves on the violins, simultaneously with the expression of Adolar’s growing wrath, repeated again and again ; Euryanthe’s broken tones of questioning; Adolar’s answer to them in the melody heard first in the overture and afterwards in this finale, which expresses chivalrous confidence; the astonishment of the knights in the terrifying broken tones of the chorus ; the scorn of Lysiart, again repeated and to the same melodic phrase ; and Euryanthe’s prayer, so full of anguish, in which the composer’s modulations circling about G-flatmajor are masterly and expressive, the trumpets supporting the bass. Adolar reviles Euryanthe, who protests that she is not faithless. However, Lysiart supports his accusation by beginning the recital of the moonlight stroll late in May, when the music supports his testimony with reminiscences of Euryanthe’s confiding in Eglantine. Adolar silences him; he is satisfied, and willing to deliver up all his possessions and his life with them to Lysiart.
Majestic and crushing is the way in which the chorus expresses its reprobation at the exclamation, “Ha, the traitress ! ” (D-flat-major, followed immediately by expression of horror of the intended treason in contrasting piano.) With this, begins the most beautiful part of the finale, in which all the melodic and harmonic elements are closely knit together. The harmonization of the vocal quartette (C-major larghetto), in which the feelings of Euryanthe, Adolar, Lysiart, and the King seem to seek for a moment a place of rest, the chorus affording a simple accompaniment, is beautiful exceedingly, but very difficult for the voices.
The King’s faith in innocence is destroyed ; Lysiart is triumphant ; and Adolar will depart into obscurity. Lysiart kneels to do homage for Adolar’s lands, and the King invests him with the fief. Adolar commands Euryanthe to follow him : she is only too willing to obey.
In the following chorus, in which the knights offer them-selves to Adolar, the solo voices and the chorus are admirably concerted. The chorus sings, ” We are all thine, with lands and blood ! ” and then repeats its imprecations on Euryanthe. Here the last tones of the chorus have a sixth, which is several times repeated and strongly expresses angry feeling, especially the way in which it is connected with the orchestral basses; and immediately afterwards the bass voices of the chorus step forward alone, with the cry, “Ha, the traitress ! ” and the other voices then come in.
The final section of the finale has a force and brilliancy that carries everybody away ; the tearing, fiery figures given to the violins, the conduct of the wind instruments, everything makes it clear that the action of the drama is now at its culminating point. Adolar and Euryanthe depart, the latter protesting her innocence, while Lysiart gloats over his revenge, and the chorus execrates the faithless lady.
AcT III. The third Act begins with an orchestral introduction that well suggests quiet affecting grief; its principal figure is very expressive and beautiful. The curtain rises on a rocky glen illuminated by the full moon. A steep path leads down into it from above, and willows bend over a bubbling spring in the foreground. As we learn from the dialogue, Adolar has dragged Euryanthe hither without rest over hill and dale, and death shines in his glance. The orchestra describes the terror of the place. Adolar tells her he has brought her hither to die. (” Hier weilest du.”) He is deaf to her prayer for mercy.
The change from the prolonged B to the full chord of C-minor shows Weber’s skill in the selection of keys. Then, after various modulations, we reach A-minor with which the duet (Schirmende Engelschaar) begins. Adolar recalls that he loved her once, and she tries to appease his fury, asserting her innocence ; but only blood can wash away her guilt. The music faithfully follows the course of the emotions. The chord of the diminished seventh plays an important part, passing from C-minor to F-major, then to C, then to E-minor fortissimo, then to A-minor and back to A-major. Euryanthe sees a dreadful serpent approaching. At her cry, the key changes to E-major, and the sinuous trace is plainly audible in the orchestra. She implores him to flee and leave her as a sacrifice ; but his inflexible, ” Despair not ! ” (a hold on E-flat) is reassuring. He goes out to give battle to the monster, and Euryanthe’s view of the conflict is introduced by modulations through G-flat-minor to B-minor. She describes the struggle, and her emotions pass from deepest anguish to extreme joy. The instrumentation reproduces the tension of her feelings. The movement is an impassioned rhapsody full of splendid declamation in which the ascending accompaniment of the basses excitedly struggles against the limitations of time and bar, and the tremolo of the violins announces tremendous energy and danger also. In the second section of this movement, the aria, which is pre-ceded by a complete pause of voice and instruments, the composer has left almost everything to the actress and songstress.
The serpent is dead, and Adolar returns. The turn of the unaccompanied voice at the word, ” Now let me die ! ” is extremely affecting, coming after the exultant tones of triumph. Adolar answers, ” Be that far from me ! ”
She was willing to die for him, and the life that was forfeit to the laws of honour he will now leave in Heaven’s hands. Then he leaves her in solitude among the crags.
Euryanthe is mentally and physically exhausted. Here she will die, and some day Adolar may seek the spot, and the willows will whisper that here she gained peace and rest, and the flowers will tell him that she never betrayed him (So bin ich nun verlassen).
In the short instrumental passage that carries on the action during which Adolar departs, there are heart-rending tones, and then the little solos on the bassoon and the flute which in its isolated tones gives the impression of forlornness and forsakenness. The mind exhausted by emotion is expressed in the cavatina, Hier dicht am Quell, with its melancholy strain, ” Here, close to the spring.” Here we have a truly pathetic and simply flowing melody, accompanied by the string-quartette and one bassoon. These laments end in serious and most pensive notes; and then we have the beautiful chorus of the Hunters, Die Thale dampfen, die Höhen glüh’n, with the accompanying horns, first distant, then coming nearer, with their cry, ” How does the golden light shine in joyous victory,” full of energy and dignity. We cannot help noticing how much more noble the tone here is than in the popular Huntsmen’s chorus of the Freischütz, as indeed the situation and surroundings demand. This chorus too is all the more interesting because it is sometimes given to the voices alone, and at other times with horn accompaniment. It is scored for four horns and one bass trombone on the stage.
The royal hunting party enters, the King marvelling at the serpent slain by some mighty hand (“Die Schlang, erlegt “). The chorus discovers a despairing maiden, and the King addresses her with comforting words. Both he and the chorus are amazed when they recognize her. In the duet and chorus that follow, she begs them to leave her in peace, Lasst mich hier in Ruh’ erblassen. The King will not forsake her ; her penitence will efface her guilt ! But she is innocent ! Impossible ! and yet both monarch and kindly chorus seek only the truth and would be glad to believe it ! Whereupon it occurs to Euryanthe to defend herself; and she explains that Eglantine was the snake she warmed in her bosom and that stung her. The King accepts the lady’s word, and promises to see justice done and make her happy again.
The point at which the emotion culminates is where, after Euryanthe has made her explanation in broken accents and after the comforting words of the King and knights, she gathers all her strength for an outburst of almost unimaginable hope and delight (aria with chorus, Zu ihm ! Zu ihm ! O weilet nicht). Here too the vocal parts assume a bolder and bolder character and power; and the phrases and subjects are more and more distinctly melodious in character. She is all but breathless under the pressure of her emotions, and finally swoons and is carried off by the lamenting knights.
At this point a Pas de cinq (composed in 1825) is introduced. It is scored for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two horns, two bassoons, and the string-quartette.
The scene changes. We are before the Castle of Nevers. In the foreground is Bertha’s cottage, which peasants are adorning with flowers. Rudolph is also assisting. The chorus sings a cheerful melody in praise of May and her blossoms, Der Mai, der Mai. In the ritornello the bassoon is prominent. Adolar enters and in a cavatina, Vernichte Kuhn das Werk der Tücke,” bewails the lack of constancy. He has returned to die near the home of his youth. He lies down on a bank and his helmet falls off. The chorus is delighted to recognise its ancient lord, and welcomes and tries to comfort him. The instrumentation is very sympathetic, and the vassals and Bertha incite Adolar to strike a blow for his lost lands. They hint their suspicions of the present owners, Lysiart and Eglantine, who are to be married to-day. Adolar begins to see light. The chorus, ” Boldly destroy the work of wicked revenge ! ” is full of dramatic action and interest, as is also the march which follows, in which the splendour in externals and varied emotion in the inward being are indicated and blended in the most masterly way. The keener instruments powerfully contribute to this ; stinging discords and great gravity of rhythm indicate the offending two who are at strife.
A bridal procession (March) now leaves the castle and descends the terraces and drawbridge. Lysiart and Eglantine, richly robed, appear, the latter deathly pale and supported by her attendants. The peasants stand aside with Adolar, and mutter imprecations on the pair. Eglantine is half swooning. The dread of retribution is upon her ; she fancies she sees Emma’s spirit demanding vengeance, and requiring her ring which has been used to murder innocence. The recitative is full of intensely dramatic music : madness is in every note. The peculiar manner in which trumpets support the monologue, the repetition of the harmonies that so strikingly reveal what is passing in the singer’s soul, and the expressions of horror by the chorus of peasants are all nobly effective, and vividly realize the situation. Adolar is enlightened by Eglantine’s words, and advances and denounces the miserable couple, “Das Frevlerpaar.” Lysiart order his knights to cast the intruder into a dungeon. They are about to obey, when Adolar raises his visor and asks if they would seize him ; where-upon they throng about him with shouts of welcome. Eglantine starts from her stupor and cries “It is he, in his glory and beauty. Woe is me ! ” and then falls fainting into the arms of her women. Lysiart curses his insolent followers, who now threaten him with God’s punishment in the majestic quartette, ” Defy not Heaven, misguided one,” in which all the voices and instruments storm with fury at the criminals. The violins are particularly prominent. Adolar challenges Lysiart, and they are about to fight, when the King enters with his retinue, and interposes. He will decide between them.
Adolar tells him of the treachery, and how he has been led to abandon Euryanthe. The King answers that she is dead. Adolar is in despair. Eglantine has revived, and now exults at the news, and savagely proclaims that Euryanthe was innocent, in a Moderato assai of many modulations. She describes how the ring was obtained, and denounces and scorns her accomplice. Lysiart is goaded to madness, and stabs her. He is immediately disarmed and led away to prison and execution. Behind the scenes now arises a joyful chorus announcing that Euryanthe lives. She enters with the hunting chorus, and flies into Adolar’s arms. The passionate duet, a Take my soul, I am wholly thine” (Hin nimm die Seele mein), heard at the former meeting of the lovers, is now repeated. The chorus gives a sort of paternal blessing (” Nun selig Gluck “), and Adolar has a kind of vision in which he sees the fulfilment of Emma’s oracular words. The ring has been wetted with tears of innocence ; evil has been requited with good ; and now her spirit can rest in peace.