Carl Maria von Weber


Opera in three acts, in Hungarian, with Hungarian and English surtitles
Carl Maria von Weber was commissioned to write a new opera by Covent Garden in 1824, and although his physician warned him that the journey might be too much of a strain for him, Weber felt that his family's financial situation was more important and accepted the invitation. The London intendant offered the composer two subjects: Faust and Oberon. The premiere enjoyed overwhelming success, but the laboured rehearsal process had taken an even greater toll on his health, preventing him from returning to Germany afterwards, or ever. Despite the difficult circumstances and the lack of time, this opera is considered to contain Weber's loveliest melodies.
This co-production promises to be the novelty of the season, one that has the Hungarian Opera of Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca) bringing Oberon back to Budapest after a long hiatus in a production directed by György Selmeczi.
Act 1
Scene One
The fairy king, Oberon, and his wife, Titiana, are quarreling about which are more steadfast in love: men or women. Since they cannot agree, they agree not to reconcile until one of them finds a pair of lovers who do not fail to keep their vow of fidelity in spite of all dangers and obstacles. Puck, the fairy king's favourite spirit servant, relates to his master the story of  Huon de Bordeaux, one of Charlemagne's knights. Envious of the knight's triumphs, Charlemagne's son Prince Carloman  waylaid Huon, who nevertheless successfully managed to defend himself. Afterwards, Huon challenged his foe to a duel, in which he slayed the prince. The enraged monarch has since given the knight a nearly impossible mission, tantamount to banishment. He may only return to his court if he journeys to Baghdad. There, he must kill the courtier sitting to the left of the caliph, Haroun al Rachid, and win over – and marry – Reiza, the caliph's daughter, who is betrothed to the man Huon must kill. His interest aroused by what he has heard, Oberon agrees to the mission. Puck then sends Huon and Reiza to sleep, where they glimpse each other in their dreams and fall into undying love with each other. Huon awakens and, enchanted by the vision, is ready to depart for Baghdad immediately. Through his fairies, Oberon dispatches a magic horn to the knight to protect him if he gets into trouble. By planting his magic lily in the mud, he also ensures that Huon will reach Baghdad in safety together with his faithful companion, Sherasmin.
Scene Two
Fatima, Reiza's slave girl and confidant, tells her mistress that the knight is already in the palace. As evening descends and the muezzin's call to prayer is heard, the caliph's daughter happily prepares to meet the hero.

Act 2
Scene One
The Baghdad court is preparing for a splendid feast. Tonight, Reiza will be presented to her betrothed, Prince Babekan, the caliph's favourite courtier. Already considering himself to be both her husband and the caliph's future successor, the prince confidantly dismisses the servants. The caliph also arrives, but scarcely have they taken their places at the table when Huon and Sherasmin appear. The former turns to Reiza and tells her that he has journeyed from a distant land just for her, and he will only depart together with her and wishes to become her husband. Reiza answers him with a shy glance, but Babekan draws a sword. Huon is the quicker of the two and slays his competitor. He then blows on the magic horn he received from Oberon, which allows him to flee safely together with Reiza, Fatima and Sherasmin.
Scene Two
For Fatima and Sherasmin, their brief acquaintance is enough for them to fall head over heels in love with each other, and so it is two amorous couples that are getting ready to board the ship that will take them to Ashkelon and the Frankish Empire.
Scene Three
Oberon is pleased that the two couples have made it to sea, but before he allows them to unite forever, he intends to submit them to a few tests in order to prove their steadfastness. At his command and aided by the spirits of the land, air and sea, Puck summons up a great wind that snatches the ship like a helpless puppet, sending it foundering against the rocks by the coast. 
Scene Four
Huon and Reiza find themselves cast away on a deserted island. After giving thanks for reaching safety, Huon sets off in search of food. In his absence, Reiza entreats the ocean to quell and give them shelter so that she and Huon, her chosen one, can make it to a friendly land together. As if in answer to her prayer, a sail appears in the distance. But the ship has not come to bring help. Instead, pirates appear on the deck and, reaching the shore, immediately notice the solitary girl. They capture her and take her to their ship to sell her as a slave. Hearing her cries for help, Huon returns and attempts to fight the overwhelming force. Defeated, he is knocked unconscious on the sand. The pirates abandon the knight to his fate and continue on their way. Oberon appears. He pities his agent for having to prove his fidelity and perserverence in such cruel trials, but cannot alter his decision. Addressing Puck, he makes him swear to be the hero's guardian. At Oberon's command, the spirit sends the knight into a deep sleep lasting seven days. During this time, the pirates reach Tunis, together with Reiza. As Huon slumbers, nymphs emerge from the water and, together with the fairies, hold a magnificent celebration for Oberon's entertainment.

Act 3
Scene One
On another island not far away, Fatima and Sherasmin have also fallen into the clutches of the pirates. Along with Reiza, they are sold to Almansor, the emir of Tunis. Although the emir makes a gift of the couple to his superintendant, Ibrahim, he decides to keep the caliph's daughter for himself and confines her in his harem. Meanwhile, Puck whisks Huon to the garden of the emir's palace in Tunis, where he awakens from his sleep. The first people he meets are Fatima and Sherasmin, who tell him that Reiza is also in the palace. He resolves to free his beloved by any means necessary. As they speak, Reiza is thinking of the hero of her dreams with a heavy heart, believing that he is lost forever. Huon is also observed by Roshana, the emir's wife, who immediately falls in love with the handsome man. She sends harem ladies to beguile him, but Huon fends off their approaches. Even gifts and promises are not enough to sway him from his purpose. His attempt to reach Reiza is noticed by the emir, and the intruder is apprehended and sentenced to death. Reiza pleads with her captor to show mercy to Huon, telling him that the knight is really her betrothed. Almansor, however, cannot be dissuaded. In fact, since the girl has rejected his amorous advances, he sentences her to death as well. Just as they are about to be led to the stake, Oberon's magical horn is blown, and the emir and all his underlings in the palace involuntarily start spinning in a ceaseles dance. Seating Reiza and Huon on a cloud, the watchful Puck rescues Reiza and Huon and flies them straight to Oberon and Titiana. The fairy king and queen welcome the couple: they have stood beside each other and, having proved the existence of true love, are worthy of each other's hand. 
Scene Two
Along with Sherasmin and Fatima, Huon and Reiza arrive in Charlemagne's palace safe and sound. The monarch forgives the knight and commands that a dual wedding be held immediately.

Featuring Zsuzsa Tőtszegi and Tamás Jakab


James Robinson Planché
Hungarian lyrics
Lajos Csákovics
Hungarian prose
Péter Demény
György Selmeczi
Melinda Jakab
Costume designer
Gyula Lőrincz
Costume designer
Andrea Ledenják

Jan. 14, 2018


2018. January 14., Sun, 19:00

Oberon - a Kolozsvári Magyar Opera vendégjátéka