Opera Scotland

Lurline

Music

William Vincent Wallace (born Waterford, 11 March 1812; died Vieuzos, Hautes-Pyrenées, 12 October 1865)

Text

Edward Fitzball (1792-1873)

Source

German legend.

 

Premières

First performance: London (Covent Garden), 23 February 1860.

First performance in Scotland: To be confirmed.

Scottish Opera première: N/A.

 

Background

This work was composed on a far grander scale than Wallace's earlier ballad operas, and showed the influence of his travels in Germany not just on the subject matter, but on the music, where Mendelssohn, Weber and their contemporaries appear, rather than the Italian influences he had used earlier. As with the deliciously tuneful Maritana, the quality of the music is surprisingly high, but any chance of an authentic modern revival is destroyed by the impossible verbiage concocted by the librettist Fitzball. Bernard Shaw (writing in 1890) treated his work with unusual indulgence, describing the libretto merely as 'desperate trash - naked and unashamed nonsense'. He is less kind to Wallace's music. Many authors have tried to make sense of Weber's Oberon over the years, generally resulting in making Planché's original libretto seem a work of genius - perhaps Lurline would be more fertile territory for a rescue attempt of that kind.

 

Characters

Count Rupert, a young nobleman (tenor)

Guilhelm, his friend (tenor)

Rhineberg, the River King (bass-baritone)

Baron Truenfels (bass-baritone)

Zelieck, a Gnome enslaved by Rhineberg (bass)

Lurline, Nymph of the Rhine, Rhineberg's daughter (soprano)

Ghiva, the Baron's daughter (mezzo-soprano)

Liba, a Spirit of the Rhine (mezzo-soprano)

 

Plot summary

In his cavern on the Rhine, Rhineberg is told by his daughter, Lurline, that she has fallen in love with a mortal, Count Rupert. Ghiva is also attracted to Rupert, but, in spite of his castle and title, he is poor, so she rejects him. He is lured to the river and shipwrecked in a storm. Lurline saves him and takes him to the underwater kingdom where she lives. She supervises her father's treasury which consists of the wealth that has accumulated through all the shipwrecks. When she realises Rupert is upset at hearing a requiem sung in his honour up above, she decides to send him back, and persuades her father to let Rupert have some of the treasure to restore his fortunes. Rupert's return to the mortal world is duly celebrated, but he tells Ghiva that he now loves someone else,and she angrily rebukes him. Rhineberg, believing Rupert to have abandoned Lurline in favour of Ghiva, now sends his daughter up to see for herself. But she is instead convinced of Rupert's love, and that his new wealth is threatened by a conspiracy to steal it. She therefore summons up a storm to destroy the conspirators.

The Cast

Baron Truenfels
 
Count Rudolph
 a young nobleman
Ghiva
 the Baron's daughter
Guilhelm
 Rupert's friend
Liba
 a Spirit of the Rhine
Lurline
 a Nymph, Rhineberg's daughter
Rhineberg
 the River King
Zelieck
 a Gnome, Rhineberg's slave

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