Opera Scotland

Alfonso und Estrella

Music
Franz Schubert (born Vienna, 31 January 1797; died Vienna, 19 November 1828)

Text
Franz von Schober

Source
Original.

Premières
First performance: Weimar (Hoftheater), 24 June 1854.
First UK performance: Edinburgh (Usher Hall), 7 September 1968 (concert).
First performance in Scotland: As above.
Scottish Opera première: N/A.

Background
This was an attempt by Schubert and his friend Schober to concoct a romantic opera as a distinct development from his several earlier operatic compositions, which were singspiels with spoken dialogue. Of these, Die Freunde von Salamanka has enough good music to make the loss of the dialogue regrettable. There are many pages of beautiful music in Alfonso, but there is little sense of dramatic structure, and it is difficult to imagine the work being staged successfully. Even Fierrabras, his last opera, also a large-scale medieval romance, shows some improvement, but it is clear that Schubert, great as he was, lacks the instinct for drama through music.

Main Characters
Froila, deposed King of Leon (baritone)
Alfonso, Froila’s son (tenor)
Mauregato, usurper King of Leon (baritone)
Estrella, Mauregato’s daughter (soprano)
Adolfo, a general in Mauregato’s service (bass)

Plot Summary
Mauregato has seized the throne of Leon from the rightful king, Froila. Twenty years later, Froila and those few who remained loyal to him continue to live happily in exile in the mountains. His son Alfonso has had his royal lineage concealed from him. Mauregato continues to rule Leon, with the help of his followers, including Adolfo, his general. Adolfo loves Mauregato’s daughter Estrella, and considers marriage to her to be the just reward of his loyalty. Estrella is not happy at this proposal, and in order to delay matters, Mauregato introduces a condition, that the man who marries his daughter will be the man who brings him a particular gold chain. He knows that this chain of office is still retained by Froila, thus making recovery difficult. When she is out with a hunting party, Estrella bumps into Alfonso, and they fall in love. When she returns to court, her father is delighted to see the love token Alfonso has given her, which is the very chain he has coveted. Adolfo foments a revolt, and during the course of the fighting, Estrella is separated from her father’s forces and falls into the hands of Adolfo, who attempts to rape her. She is saved by the arrival of Alfonso and his men, who defeat the rebels. Mauregato abdicates in favour of Froila, who in turn passes the throne to Alfonso and Estrella amid general rejoicing.

The Cast

Adolfo
 a general in Mauregato's service
Alfonso
 Froila's son
Captain
 of the Guard
Estrella
 Mauregato's daughter
Froila
 deposed King of Leon
Maiden
 
Mauregato
 usurper King of Leon
Youth
 

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