Romantic Opera in three acts by Karl Maria von Weber. English text by Planche.
N the first act we find Oberon, the elf-king, in I deep melancholy, which no gaiety of his subjects, however charming, avails to remove. He has quarreled with his wife Titania, and both have vowed never to be reconciled until they find a pair of lovers faithful to each other in all kinds of adversity. Both long for the reunion, but the constant lovers are not to be found.
Oberon’s most devoted servant is little Puck, who has vainly roved over the world to find what his master needs. He has, however, heard of a valiant knight in Burgundy, Huon, who has killed Carloman, the son of Charlemagne, in a duel, having been insulted by him. Charlemagne, not willing to take his life for a deed of defense, orders him to go to Bagdad, to slay the favorite, sitting to the left of the Calif, and to wed the Calif’s daughter Rezia. Puck resolves to make this pair suit his ends. He tells Oberon the above-mentioned story, and by means of his lily-scepter shows Huon and Rezia to him. At the same time these two behold each other in a vision, so that when they awake both are deeply in love.
Oberon wakes Huon and his faithful shield-bearer Scherasmin, and promises his help in every time of need. He presents Huon with a magic horn, which will summon him at any time ; Scherasmin receives a cup, which fills with wine of itself. Then he immediately transports them to Bagdad.
There we find Rezia with her Arabian maid Fatima. The Calif’s daughter is to wed Babekan, a Persian prince, but she has hated him ever since she saw Huon in her vision. Fatima has discovered the arrival of Huon. It is high time, for in the beginning of the second act we see the Calif with Babekan, who wants to celebrate the nuptials at once. Rezia enters, but at the same time Huon advances, recognizing in Rezia the fair one of his dream. He fights and stabs Babekan. The Turks attack him, but Scherasmin blows his magic horn and compels them to dance and laugh, until the fugitives have escaped.
In the forest they are overtaken, but Huon and Scherasmin, who has come after his master with Fatima, put the pursuers to flight.
Oberon now appears to the lovers, and makes them promise upon oath that they will remain faithful to each other under every temptation. He immediately after transports them to the port of Ascalon, from which they are to sail homeward. Oberon now puts their constancy to the proof. Puck conjures up the nymphs and the spirits of the air, who raise an awful tempest. Huon’s ship sinks ; the lovers are ship-wrecked. While Huon seeks for help, Rezia is captured by the pirates, and Huon, returning to save her, is wounded and left senseless on the beach. Oberon now causes him to fall into a magic sleep, which is to last seven days.
In the third act we find Scherasmin and his bride, Fatima, in Tunis dressed as poor gardeners. A corsair has saved the shipwrecked and sold them as slaves to the Emir of Tunis. Though poor and in captivity, they do not lose courage and are happy that they are permitted to bear their hard lot together.
Meanwhile the seven days of Huon’s sleep have passed. Awaking, he finds himself, to his astonishment, in Tunis, in the Emir’s garden, with his servant beside him, who is not less astonished at finding his master.
Fatima, coming back, relates that she has discovered Rezia in the Emir’s harem. Huon, who finds a nose-gay with a message which bids him come to the myrtle-bower during the night, believes that it comes from Rezia and is full of joy at the idea of meeting his bride. Great is his terror when the lady puts aside her veil and he sees Roschana, the Emir’s wife. She has fallen in love with the noble knight, whom she saw in the garden, but all her desires are in vain; he loathes her and is about to escape, when Emir enters, captures him, and sentences him to be consumed by fire. Roschana is to be drowned. Rezia, hearing of her lover’s fate, implores the Emir to pardon him. But she has already offended him by her unwillingness to listen to his protestations of love, and when he hears that Huon is her husband, he condemns them to be burned together. Their trials, however, are nearing their end. Scherasmin has regained his long-lost horn, by means of which he casts a spell on everybody, until, blowing it with all his might, he calls Oberon to their aid. The elf-king appears accompanied by Queen Titania, who is now happily reconciled to him, and thanking the lovers for their constancy, he brings them safely back to Paris, where Charlemagne holds his court. The Emperor’s wrath is now gone and he warmly welcomes Sir Huon with his lovely bride, promising them honor and glory for their future days.