Opera: The Lily Of Killarney – Sir Julius Benedict

“The Lily of Killarney,” presented on the continent as “The Rose of Erin,” is a light opera in three acts, the musical setting by Sir Julius Benedict. The story is taken by Oxenford from Dion Boucicault’s Irish drama, ” Colleen Bawn.” The work was produced at Covent Garden Theatre, London, Feb. 8, 1862. The characters are of the Eighteenth Century and the scene is laid in Killarney, Ireland. CHARACTERS.

Eily O’Connor, the Lily of Killarney. Mrs. Cregan, mistress of the hall at Tore Hardress Cregan, her son. Anna Chute, an heiress. Father Tom, a priest. Danny Mann, Hardress’ boatman. Myles na Coppaleen, a lover of Eily. Corrigan, Irish middleman. O’Moore. Sheelah. Dennis.

Hardress Cregan, son of Mrs. Cregan of the Hall, is the not wholly blameless hero of ” The Lily of Killarney.” The Cregan estate is heavily mortgaged and foreclosure is threatening, when Corrigan, the middleman, calls on Mrs. Cregan and suggests the marriage of her son with the rich Anna Chute as a solution of their difficulties. In the event of failing in this, Corrigan suggests, as an alternative, Mrs. Cregan’s marriage with himself. The idea is disdained and Corrigan, in retaliation, proves to Mrs. Cregan that Hardress is being taken by his henchman, Danny Mann, to see Eily, the Colleen Bawn or Lily of Killarney, a peasant girl for whom he is known to have inclinations. Eily has another lover, Myles na Coppaleen. Corrigan informs him that the Lily and Hardress have been clandestinely married. Father Tom tries to bring about a public announcement of the marriage and Hardress labors just as strenuously for the Lily’s surrender of the “marriage lines ” or certificate but this the priest and her former lover prevent. Corrigan continues to bring pressure to bear in the mortgage matter and Hardress reluctantly pays his suit to Anna, meantime suffering genuine remorse over his treatment of Colleen Bawn. The daredevil Danny Mann volunteers to get the girl out of the way; Hardress falters at an evil deed but is desperate, and finally agrees that if he shall send his glove to Danny it is to be a signal for her disappearance. Danny at once tells Mrs. Cregan that if she can induce her son to send him his glove, it in some way will mend the fortunes of the unhappy family. Ready to catch at a straw and ignorant of its import, Mrs. Cregan sends the desired article on her own account. Danny takes it to Colleen Bawn, tells her that her husband has sent for her and that she is to come in his boat. He rows her to a cave, demands the marriage certificate again and, when she refuses, pushes her into the water. Myles, who happens to be near, shoots Danny and saves the girl. Eventually, Hardress is arrested for murder but is cleared by Danny’s deathbed confession. Hardress’ marriage with Anna Chute is prevented and he recognizes the Lily of Killarney as his lawful wife.

Benedict’s ” Brides of Venice ” and ” The Gypsy’s Warning ” have been forgotten but ” The Lily of Killarney ” still has occasional performance. The score is elaborate for light opera but is interspersed with Irish melodies which lend it distinctive character and, at the same time, the charm of naturalness and simplicity. Among the numbers are Hardress’ song “A Bachelor’s Life; ” the serenade ” The Moon has raised her lamp above ; ” the old Irish melody, “The Cruisheen Lawn ” (” Little Jug”) ; the duet of Anna Chute and Hardress, “The eye of love is keen;” Danny Mann’s song, “Colleen Bawn;” Myles’ lullaby, ” Your slumbers, och soft as your glance may be; ” the trio of Eily, Myles and Father Tom, “Blessing on that Rev’rend Head ” and Hardress’ ballad ” Eily Mavourneen, I see thee before me.”