Carl Maria von Weber: Oberon

Romantic opera in three acts

James Robinson Planché
after Oberon by Christoph Martin Wieland
and the 13th-century French romance Huon de Bordeaux

12 April 1826, London (Covent Garden)

OBERON (Tenor)
TITANIA (Actor/Dancer)
PUCK (Mezzo soprano)
SHERASMIN (Baritone)
REZIA (Soprano)
FATIMA (Mezzo soprano)
Two MERMAIDS (Mezzo soprano)

Spoken Roles:

faries, ladies, knights, guards, slaves, mermaids etc.




Let me recount how my master, Oberon, the elf king, was reconciled with his wife Titania through the love of two mortals.


A garden in Oberon's fairy kingdom, full of beautilul flowers in glorious bloom. Oberon is lying asleep among the flowers, surrounded by a tableau consisting of sprites and fairies, who, as the singing begins, hardly move at all. At the beginning of the chorus, the elves appear and group themselves in different positions next to the sprites. All are wearing wreaths of lilies on their heads and carrying lilies in their hands.


singing quite softly
Light as fairy foot can fall,
Pace ye Elves your Master's hall.
All too loud the fountains play! Too loud!
All too loud the Zephyrs sigh! Too loud!
Chase the noisy gnat away!
Keep the bee from humming by!
Stretch'd upon his lily bed,
Oberon in slumber lies,
Sleep at length her balm hath shed
O'er his long unclosed eyes.

Oh! may her spell as kindly
Bring peace to the heart of the fairy king!

Light as fairy foot can fall,
Pace ye Elves your Master's hall!
All too loud the fountains play!
All too loud the Zephyrs sigh!
Too loud! Too loud! Too loud!

Droll and Puck rush in

to the elves
Begone! don't stand around idly.

contemplating Oberon with great concern
Why does Oberon look so sad in his sleep?

His sorrow is so deep that all smiles are drowned in it.

Even now?

Yes, my dear Puck. However innocently it all started. Queen Titania found spring more beautiful than autumn. A few nights ago she was praising autumn above all else for its beautiful colours. 'You are as inconstant as all women are', rejoined Oberon. And smiled.

He ought to have said 'as inconstint as a man', my dear Droll.

Indeed, that was precisely Titania's reply. 'As inconstant as a man!'

Or - like people, Droll.

I hope that people are wiser and love each other with more intensity than they fight. Otherwise … ah, my dear Puck, I’d rather not say.

Otherwise what?

Otherwise great misfortune will descend upon our entire elfin kingdom, for Oberon and Titania have sworn a terrible oath. They will not love each other again until two mortals can show, as it were, that they were both right after all.

But where are such people to be found?

That's the trouble.
That's why the king sighs in his sleep.

And yet you are in such good humour?

Sighing gets you nowhere.
I’ve already started the search.

And now you're coming to tell the king?

Yes …  but not a word. Only when Oberon himself starts to talk about it …

Puck makes a gesture of disappointment

But it looks to me very much as though …

Oberon getting up, as if waking from a disturbing dream


Fatal vow! - Not even slumber can thy
Victim's torture tame!
Of my woes it swells the number,
Of my wrath it feeds the flame!
Still I burn, and still I anguish,
Doubled in my dream I feel
Every pang of waking anguish,
But no balmy wounds to heal,
Fatal vow! - Not even slumber
Can thy torture tame!
Of my woes it swells the number,
Of my wrath it feeds the flame!
Fatal vow!

Droll and Puck approach respectfully

speaking with a deep obeisance
Allow us, great king …

now fully awake
Ah, my Puck! And you, my good friend Droll …

Merely your servant, great king.

But the cleverest …

We try, dear master. I’ve been looking all night. From east to west, from pole to pole.

Have you found them already?

I’ve merely made a start. He is in one place, she's in another, with half the world between them. He is a knight at the court of the Emperor Charles, and his name is Huon of Bordeaux. She is Princess Rezia, daughter of the grand Caliph Harun al Raschid. If these two prove as constant to each other, beyond all bounds, as we must assume, then your oath fulfilled and then … well, you know, great king.

Then Titania will return to me.

But Titania will only concede that the oath is fulfilled when the proofs are as hard as the fight.

Still more searching?

First they must find each other. But then they must lose each other again, and then find each other again, without wavering from the other. Huon has passed by our magic wood with Sherasmin, his squire. I didn't have to do much to contrive that. A few dancing sunbeams, a whispering voice, and I had drawn him behind me as I wanted. You'll soon see him, great king.

Huon and Sherasmin approach.

It came like a song from the air. Her voice!

Do tell me at last, your Honour, who this mysterious 'she' is. This is an unnecessary vexation. A sweetheart without a name! A beauty one may not see. A bride of whom one but dreams. I would have picked one for myself long before this, whom I could have in front of me …

He whose love is truly deep is blind to all … until he finds his true love.

I don't know the depth of your feelings, your Honour. Mine are in my gullet and belly. I'm so hungry I could weep, and thirsty!

Don't von hear, Sherasmin, how everything resounds and rings.
And suddenly I feel very sleepy.

He sinks down.

likewise lying down
I smell a good roast. The crackling is crisp and brown. And the good wine …
falls asleep

Dear bride …

In the middle of the background, flower-petals float upwards forming a ring of flowers which gradually reveal a Persian gazebo. Rezia sits in the middle, a lute in her hand.


O, why art thou sleeping, Sir Huon the brave?
A maiden is weeping on Babylon's wave!
Up! Up! gallant knight, ere a victim she falls!
Guienne to the rescue! 'tis beauty that calls!

waving his wand

The rows of flowers close again and the vision fades away.

looking around
Help, Master Huon! Where are we?
goes and shakes him
Wake up! Get up!

defends himself, still half asleep
Leave me alone …
Lovely image!
at last he wakes fully
But what was that?

looks suspiciously round
Were we really bewitched after all? You have to be prepared for anything in this strange place.

So the torment of seeking comes to an end …

It's a fine kind of magic that brings nothing to life for either of us.

appears before them, followed by Puck and Droll
Don't be afraid. I'm your friend, Master Huon of Bordeaux.

You know me?


And we know that you are here looking for the woman who is predestined for you. Because you have not found her in France, you have crossed the sea.

I would cross all the seas of the world.

That you will still have to do.

But that will be with her whom you long for …

Who can make such promises?

with dignity
I am Oberon, the elfin king.

Nothing but fine words and good advice. You don't get fat on that!

What more would you ask of us?

Advice is no use to me if it doesn't tell me where to get going. Tell us that, sir! Then we'll collect the bride and all that goes with her.

You'll he satisfied, merry fellow.

He waves to the back. Two elves bring Huon a horn on a cushion, while two more genies approach Sherasmin: on their cushion is a golden goblet.

Take the horn, Huon of Bordeaux.

Whenever you blow gentöy upon it, Huon, a distant magic will immediately come to your aid. If you blow with all your breath, then you call upon Oberon himself.

Ah, I understand. Only he finds complete love who gives himself completely to it.

Then what am I supposed to do with the goblet … ?

Drink from it whenever you need to.

In that case, I shall always be needing to.
takes it and drinks
That's splendid. I feel three times as bold already. Come, drink
with me, spry spirit!
Goes behind Puck. Puck gives him the slip.

On we go, Sherasmin! What are you waiting for now?
goes on ahead
Or don't you want to come any more, now that it's getting serious?

taking a quick draught
To the ends of the earth, Master Huon. Set up like this … Why, I'd risk any war …

Fairies, sprites and elves appear, forming groups and dancing. Huon of Bordeaux stays up front on the right side. Oberon is amidst the fairies, sprites and elves. Sherasmin is on the left up front.


Honour and joy to the true and the brave,
A friend they shall find in the Elfin king!
But oh! to the traitor, the coward, the slave,
For ever the Fairie's curse shall cling!
Honour and joy to the true and the brave!
Honour and joy! 

to Oberon
Deign, fair spirit, my steps to guide!
To the foot of the Unbeliever's throne!
There let my arm, and my heart be tried!
There! There be the truth of thy Huon shown!

The sun is kissing the purple tide
That flows round my Fairy bow'rs:
Oft must be set in those waters wide
Ere mortal knight from their shore could ride
To Bagdad's distant tow'rs!
But lo! I wave my lily wand!
And Bagdad is before thee.

In the middle of the background, flower-petals float upwards, forming clusters as in a flower garden lit by the evening sun and surmounted by the banks of the Tigris, the city of Bagdad can be seen.

Can I trust my startled sight:
Yes, the gilded domes are there
In the last bright sun beam glowing
And the river broad and fair
Swiftly to the sea is flowing!
But where, alas! is she? -
Who sheds love's own light upon my slumbers!
Is that form for ever fled?
Hush'd for aye those magic numbers?

Fear not! Sir Knight, fear not!
But bold in glory's chase go forth,
The living maid in Babylon embrace!

He inconspicuously disappears amongst the fairies and elves

Speed! Huon! Speed! Love and renown
Soon shall thy courage and constancy crown!
Speed! Huon! Speed! Love and renown
Shall thy courage crown!

Deign, fair Spirit, my steps to guide
To the Unbeliever's throne!
There let my arm and my heart be tried!
Deign, fair Spirit, my steps to guide
To the Uiibeliever’s throne
There let my arm and my heart be tried!
There be the truth of thy Huon shown!
Deign to guide me! Fair Spirit!

Fairies, sprites and elves disperse and vanish. Oberon's bank of flowers sinks from view; the flowers disintegrate and petals flutter in all directions revealing a scene of Bagdad in the evening sun.

A road from Oberon's magic wood to Bagdad.

entering with Droll and Huon; he is a few steps ahead of them
Come on, Master Huon! That' enough clever talk.
I'm hungry!

And your goblet?

That's just it: Drinking like this really requires a foundation for the stomach.

I’ll give you one more word of advice before you proceed, Huon.

How I shall gain Rezia?

You have long possessed her heart. All you have to consider now is how best to win her from the Caliph's palace.
hands him and Sherasmin two priceless coats
Wear these coats. Then you will be able to enter the palace unhindered and mingle with the great around the Caliph.

But we'll keep our swords to hand under the coats! And when no‑one expects it, we'll break in.

You are only two against countless numbers. But if things get bad, use the horn.

Will Oberon really appear if we call him?

Certainly! But one thing you must not forger: that the next day may bring graver trouble.

Trouble, when Rezia is mine for ever? What happiness should I then lack?

You must first discover where your fortune grows.

From your magic?

No, Huon, much rarer.
From your suffering!

He vanishes. Huon and Sherasmin look surprised and thoughtfully after him. Then Huon, going on, takes new courage.


From boyhood trained in tented field!
The lance to lift, the mace to wield,
And still with banner broad to ride,
Where wildest roared the battle tide,
Girt with my father's sword,
Proud of my father's name,
The only mistress I adored
My only passion: Fame! fame! fame!
A milder light, a gentler beam,
Is shining over life's broader stream,
For beauty's smile is soft'ning now,
The crimson glare of glory's grow.
Sweet as the breath of eve,
Bright as its star above,
A fairer form may ever weave
Thy rosy fetters: Love! love! love! -
But though with new feelings my bosom may thrill,
Its first born emotion reigns paramount still,
Life without love, were a desert for me,
But life without honour, I live not to see!

A splendid hall in the palace of Harun al Raschid in Bagdad


Haste, gallant knight o haste and save thy
Rezia from the yawning grave!
For round this hand the worm shall twine,
Ere linked in other grasp than thine!
Yes, my Lord! My joy, my blessing!
Rezia lives for thee alone!
On this heart his signet pressing,
Love hath claimed it for thine own,
Yes, its core thine image beareth
There it must for ever burn!
Yes, its core thine image beareth
Like the spot the tulips wear
Deep within its dewy urn!
Yes, my Lord! My joy, my blessing!
Rezia lives for thee alone! -

comes rushing in, full of joy
Joy, we are rescued in the hour of need!
Joy, he is found, the knight is ours indeed!

Found? Where? Sweet Fatima, quickly tell!

To old Namounua's cot, as evening fell,
He came by fate directed, by fate directed!
There, he heard thy dream, as I had told her,
Word for word,
And vowed with glowing cheek
And flashing eye, to rescue thee or die!

Said I not? said I not?


Ah! Happy maid!

Near me is my own true knight!

Near thee is thy knight!

Ah! Happy maid!

Near me is my own true knight!

Near thee is thy knight!

Ah! happy maid! Ah! happy maid!
Hope hath not my/thy heart betrayed.
Love hath read the dream aright,
Hope hath not my/thy heart betrayed.
Ah happy maid, a happy maid!

Near me is my own true knight!

Near thee is thy knight!

Ah, near me is my own true knight!
Near thee is thy knight!
Hope hath not my/thy heart betray'd!
Near me is my own true knight!
Near thee is thy knight!
Love hath read the dream aright
Hope hath not my/thy heart betray'd!

Hark! Lady, hark! On the terrace near,
The tread of the Harem guard I hear,
And lo, thy slaves that tither hie,
Show that the hour of rest is nigh!

Rezia and Fatima come forward and give each other signs of their secret agreement. The slow music of the Janizary drifts over the terrace. Mesru, the portly captain of the Harem Guard comes waddling in with them. The thirty men watc hing from the terrace take up place behind the source of the music.

Now the evening watch is set!
And from every Minaret
Soon the muezins call to prayer
Will sweetly float on the quiet air,
Here no later must we stay
Hence to rest, away, away!

The full moon rises, flooding the Hall with light.

O my wild exulting soul,
How shall I thee control?
Far too well my burning cheek
And kindling eye thy tumult speak.
Ere thy rapture they betray
Let me hence, away, away, away!

Here no later must we stay
Hence to rest, hence to rest!
Now the evening watch is set
And from every Minaret
Soon the muezins call to prayer
Will sweetly float on the quiet air,
Hence to rest, hence to rest,
Away, away, hence to rest, away, away!

The music of the Janizary slowly moves away.


A splendid hall in the palace of Harun al Raschid in Bagdad. Harun al Raschid is seated on his throne, surrounded by Babekan and the lords of the realm. Bodyguards  are posted right and left. Servants, with crossed arms, stand before the throne.

Glory! Glory! Glory! Glory!
Glory to the Caliph, to Harun the just!
Bow ye true believers before him to the dust!
Woe betide the Infidel, who dares the Caliph's might,
When on the breeze he floating sees, the shadow and the night!
Glory! Glory! to the Caliph, to Harun the just!

bending on his knee before the Caliph
Great ruler of all the faithful! Your daughter Rezia is not only the child of the wisest prince in the world. She is also your  most beautiful maiden. I can hardly contain my impatience ...

You are clever and courteous, prince Babekan. You will soon be king of Persia, and then you are the mightiest of our friends. But women acknowledge another power: that of love.

I will do everything possible to incline Rezia's heart towards me.

Then exert your head, Prince Babekan! How we can make it easy for our Rezia to follow you as her master.
Be inventive ...

I shall not demand her like booty, even the most precious. No, it shall be ...

laughingly interrupting
... or at least it shall appear ...

... as though she were making a free choice! Just challenge her to go up to the man to whom she gives herself in love. Then she will find it easier to want ...

... what she must. Your really are clever, Babekan!


During the dance, Huon and Sherasmin enter the splendid hall of the palace, dressed as an Arab prince and his servant, just in time for Rezia's choice of husband. Rezia first takes a few steps towards Prince Babekan. But suddenly, as if led by an invisible  power, she turns to the other side and approaches Huon. Huon and Rezia have found each other!
The Caliph and Prince Babekan see their plan foiled. But just as they are about to have Huon and Sherasmin seized by the palace guard, Huon blows Oberon's magic horn.
Immediately the assailants are overcome with a profound torpidity - Huon and Rezia escape to the palace garden. And Sherasmin, the rascal, has meanwhile not neglected to awaken the beautiful slave Fatima with a kiss.

It looks as though you liked that? Let's do it again.
kisses her again

takes hold of him and drawing him along

Whither, fair child?

To Rezia and your master.

Densely-grown  garden behind the Caliph's palace

tenderly embracing Fatima
That's a charming progress! One kiss turns you from a statue into a tender sweetheart, a second kiss makes you faithful already. Where will we be with the tenth and the hundredth kiss?

You're full of nonsense!

Oh ... now at last I've found some sense in this whole oriental adventure! Since I have such a beautiful piece of nonsense in my arms.

You haven't said whether you love me?

Whether I love you? Wait a bit.
acts as though he has to think about it
When someone asks you if you like the wine? What would you do? You'd taste it! That's what I'm doing! I'll taste you.
kisses her

And whether I love you? Don't you want to know?

I don't get heated about things I don't know. But I do know what makes me heated. Anyway - I've just thought of something terrible.
releases her

What's the matter, Sherasmin?

Perhaps you only love me in Bagdad because you've always been shut up in the harem?

clinging to him
Don't worry. When I love, I am true.

Oh. Then only liars are coquettes ...


A lonely Arab maid,
The desert's simple child,
Unskilled in arts by which 'tis said,
Man's love may be beguiled,
A lonely Arab maid,
The desert's simple child,
Like some uprooted flower, am I,
Upon a river flung,
To float a little hour, then die!
Unheed as I sprung.
But if thy friendly hand
Should lift me from the tide,
And bear me to some distant land,
To bloom thy bosoms pride,
O sooner from his darling rose
The nightingale shall roam,
Than I disturb that heart's repose
Which love hath made my home.

That's all very nice, Fatima. But before love can give you a new home we shall have to go home.

Rezia and Huon approach from the other side in great haste.

Quick, Sherasmin! We must get to the ships before they all wake up!

drawing Fatima behind him
High time we got out of the dust before they throw us into the dust ...

Askalon! My homeland!

Oberon signals to Droll to follow him, then both vanish into the darkness.

in high spirits
To Askalon! Gracious Princess Rezia, and you, my friend Fatima, do you know what that means? To France we go!


Over the dark blue waters,
Over the wide wide sea!
Fairest of Araby's daughters,
Say, wilt thou sail with me? Say!

Were there no bounds to the water,
No shore to the wide wide Sea!
Still fearless would Araby's daughter
Sail on through life with thee.

On board then! - On board then, on board then!
While the skies are light,
And friendly blows the gale,
Our hearts are as true as our bark,
And bright our hopes as its sunlit sail,
On board, on board!
While the skies are light!
On board, on board! while friendly blows the gale,
On board, on board!

A rock-strewn landscape. It is dark. Only Puck is recognizable.

Solo, Chorus and Storm

waving the lily wand with bewitching gesture
Spirits of air, and earth and sea!
Spirits of fire which holy be!
All, that have power over wind and wave,
Come hither, come hither, my Spirits so brave!
Whether ye be in the cavern dark,
Lighted alone by the diamonds spark,
Or beneath the waters deep,
Where the prisoned pearl doth sleep,
Or in skies beyond the one,
Mortal eyes do look upon!
Or in the womb of some groaning hill,
Where the lava stream is boiling still,
Spirits wherever you chance to be,
Come hither, come hither, come hither to me!
I charge ye by the magic ring
Of your faithful friend the Fairy king!

The spirits of the Air, Earth, Water and Fire, together with Sylphs and fairies clad in many-coloured costumes, hurry past from all sides; the spirits of fire carry flaming torches. Puck is in the middle. The spirits dance around him.

We are here! We are here!
Say, what must be done?
Must we cleave the moon?
Must we darken the sun?
Must we empty the Ocean up?
Speak! Speak, we have power to do this and more!

Nay! Nay! your task will be at most,
To wreck a bark upon this coast,
Which simple Fairy may not do,
And therefore have I summon'd you!

Naught but that?
Ho ho! Ho ho ho! Ho ho ho ho ho!
Lighter labour none we know,
Wind and waves! Obey the spell!
Hark! 'tis done! Farewell, farewell!

Thunder and lightning. Puck and the spirits disappear from where they came. It becomes dark. The rocky countryside gradually fades away. Illuminated by the flashes of lightning, a bleak rocky coastline slowly appears. The sombre darkness of a storm. On the right is an outcrop of rocks, behind which a path leads upwards. Thunder and lightnings rages over the water and a wrecked ship is driven from right to left.

Storm music


Ruler of this awful hour!
Spare, o spare yon tender flow'r!
If thou must strike, oh, let thy thunder
Fall on me, on me! The wretched cause of all!
Spare, o spare yon tender flow'r!
Ruler, of this awful hour, spare!
Oh spare yon tender flow'r, spare!

awakes slowly

Rezia! You are alive!

getting up
Where are we, Huon?

The storm has destroyed our ship and we have been driven here by the waves.

Why do you not call our friend Oberon?

I’ve lost the horn. But …
turns to the right
I’ll look out from the next hill. Perhaps there are people living near here. Or I could fetch water and fruit.

Exit quickly

Recitative and Ocean Aria

Ocean! thou mighty monster!
That lies curled like a green serpent, round about the world!
To musing eye thou art an aweful sight,
When calmly sleeping in the morning light;
But when thou risest in thy wrath,
As now, and fling'st thy folds around some fated prow!
Crushing the strong ribbed bark as if it were a reed!
Then, Ocean, art thou terrible indeed.

The waves become increasingly calm and bright.

Still I see thy billows flashing!
Through the gloom their white foam flinging,
And the breaker's sullen dashing
In mine ear hope's knell is ringing.

A few rays of the evening sun, hitherto obscured by the darkness of the storm, break through the clouds.

But lo! methinks a light is breaking
Slowly over the distant deep,
Like a second morn awaking
Pale and feeble from its sleep.

The waves continue to abate.

Brighter now, behold! 'tis beaming!
On the storm, whose misty train
Like some shatter'd flag is streaming
Or a wild steed's flying mane.

The evening sun sheds its full glory across the sky.

And now the Sun bursts forth, the wind is lulling fast,
And the broad wave but pants from fury past!
Cloudless over the blushing water,
Now the setting sun is burning,
Like a victor red with slaughter,
To his tent in triumph turning.

The sea becomes quite calm and the clouds part.

Ah! per chance these eyes may never look upon
This light again!
Fare thee well, bright orb, forever,
Thou for me wilt rise in vain! -

The sun sets and a ship glides past from right to left.

But what gleams so white and fair,
Heaving with the heaving billow?
'tis a seabird, wheeling there over some
Wretch's wat'ry pillow!
No! it is no bird, I mark!
Joy! lt is a boat, a sail!
And yonder rides a gallant bark,
Unimpair'd by the gale! Oh transport!
My Huon, haste down to the shore!

Removing her veil, sbe signals with it to the ship.

Quick, quick for a signal, this scarf,
This scarf shall be waved!
They see me! They answer! They ply the strong oar!
Huon! Huon! Huon!
Huon! my husband, my love, we are saved!
We are saved! We are saved!

She is about to go out towards the left.

But Rezia is wrong: it is a pirate ship! Not the hoped-for rescue but a new and sore trial is approaching. The pirates seize Rezia and drag her onto the ship. Abdallah, the leader, intends to sell her as a slave to his master Almansor, the Emir of Tunis. Huon, beaten down by the pirates and severely wounded, remains on the shore. Then, across the sea, in a mussel boat drawn by two swans, Oberon appears …

Oberon's Arrival

The boat floats to the shore, the elfin king climbs out and bends
down over Huon, who lies there as if lifeless.

It grieves me.

I think you want to help him again so soon?

Yes, great king. But by the same token I beg you not to spare him further sufferings. For only thus can he achieve the goal.

For seven days he shall lie in a dream; then I will bring him to Tunis. There he shall wake up in the palace garden, restored to health and strength.

In body! but his heart must suffer …

Yes, until he weathers the final test … And now let us go home.

May I suggest something else, great King? You must put something else right.

Here by the sea?

Yes, just here, if you don't mind. You stirred up the sea on account of the lovers. Please allow me to devise a sea play for your faithful elves, too, and set it in motion.

nods acquiescence
Very well, my clever Droll.

Droll waves his lily wand from side to side. Mermaids rise from the depths swaying backwards and forwards. Puck appears amongst them a approaches Droll.

Look, the mermaids! Oberon, your kingdom begins!

Oh! 'tis pleasant to float on the sea,
When the wearied waves in a deep sleep be!
And the last faint light of the sun hath fled!
And the stars are mustering overhead!-
And the nights breeze comes with its breath so bland,
Laden with sweets from the distant land!
Oh! 'tis pleasant to float and sing,
While ever our dripping locks we wring!

Oberon and Puck retire upstage

O 'tis pleasant to float on the sea
When nothing stirs on its breast but we!
The warder leans at the twilight hour
Over the wall of the time worn tower.
And crosses himself and mutters a prayer
Then listens again to the witching air!
O 'tis pleasant to float and sing
While ever dripping locks we wring!

coming forward
Master! say! our toil is over!
May we dance upon this shore
And a merry burden bear
To the mermaid's ditty rare?

Better soon thy zeal hath won,
I will stay and set it.

waving their lily wand
Hither! Hither! ye Elfin throng!
Come, dance on the sands to the mermaids' song!
Hasten and prove to the Nymphs of the sea!
That the spirits of earth can as jocund be,
Come as lightly, and look as fair,
As blossoms that sail on the summer air,
Hither! Hither! Hither! ye Elfin throng,
Dance on the sands to the mermaids' song!

Mermaids rise from the water and go ashore; from all sides, above and below, the Nymphs, Sylphs, elves and fairies appear, and last of all, the spirits of the air descend from above with transparent stars.

Who would stay in her coral cave,
When the moon shines over the quiet wave,
And the stars are studding the dark blue arch,
Through which she speeds on her nightly march?
Merrily, merrily let us sail!
Over the sea by her light so pale,
Over the sea let us sail by her light so pale
Merrily, merrily let us sail!
Who would stay in her coral cave,
When the moon shines over the quiet wave,
And the stars are studding the dark blue arch,
Through which she speeds on her nightly march?
Merrily, merrily let us sail!
Let us sail over the sea by her light so pale!
Merrily, merrily let us sail!

Who would sleep in the lily's bell
When the moon shines over wood and dell,
And the stars are studding the dark blue arch,
Through which she speeds on their nightly march?
Merrily, merrily let us dance!
Along the banks by the bright ornaments,
By the bright ornaments we dance!
Merrily, merrily we dance!

The God of the sea appears in a chariot surrounded by water spirits adorned with aquatic flowers and sea weed; water nymphs approach from right and left carrying sheaves of flowers in their hands. The flowers and blossoms suddenly burst into a blaze of light.


Palace garden of the Emir Almansor in Tunis. At the left front, a large shrub with a seat in front. Sunrise. Sherasmin digging, and working as a gardener. The gardening clothes are comic in effect: he appears not to be used to them. Fatima approaches slowly from behind. She comes to a halt a few paces behind Sherasmin and is amused by the sight.

claps his hands
You do look lovely, Fatima.

Do I? I was afraid you wouldn't like me any more.
she turns round
Even without my veil and jewels?

Now I can begin to see what you are really like, my love. Your lovely mouth, your soft cheeks … your dainty breast … and all over … very appetising!
He becomes very amorous

drawing back a little
If anyone comes …

So what?
We're only slaves, after all.

Don't you mind that any more?

Why should I? Our ship was wrecked … that was a pity. Then we were found by another ship and fished out dripping wet. That was lucky

Then we found it was a pirate ship …

That was a pity. Bot did that mean they starved or maltreated us? No. You can only get a good price for plump fowl and lustrous pheasants. The same applies to well-fed slaves, That was lucky, too.

But then they displayed us in the Tunis slave market …

That was a pity.
But then the Emir's gardener bought us …

interrupting quickly
That was lucky.

Wrong! That was chance. But the fact that they left us together and that the gardener happened to decide on a couple and that we stayed together - don't you see that that was really lucky.

They kiss repeatedly.

releasing herself
But we've lost Oberon's horn and the goblet …
That's a pity.

Then we shall have to depend on ourselves. That's lucky again. Because love will find a way, and that's just the point. Finding, and still more, seeking. For if they fished Huon and Rezia out as they did us, those two will seek each other out as they did before. Then one day we shall all be together again. Wait and see.

Then we can go home.

To Marseille, Fatima.

No, to my home! You've grown well accustomed to the heat by now. And the food.

Without roast mutton - well, I might be persuaded about that. But without wine, Fatima …

Is wine everything? You've no idea how beautiful it can be in Arabia.


O Araby! Dear Araby,
My own, my native land!
Me thought I cross'd the dark blue sea,
And trod again thy strand,
And there I saw my father's tent,
Beneath the tall date trees:
And the sound of music and merriment,
Came sweetly on the breeze;
And thus to the lightly touch'd guitar,
I heard a maiden tell,
of one who fled from a proud Serdar,
With the youth she lov'd so well!
Al, al, al …
Though the night start be high! Al, al, al …
‘tis the morning of love for my Yusuf and I,
Though the flow’rs of the garden have clos'd ev'ry one,
The rose of the heart blooms in love's rising sun!
Al, al, al … Soon will Zeenab be far
from the drear Anderun of the cruel Serdar!
Al, al, al …
Al, al, al …
'tis the night of his steed, al, al, al …
O prove my good barb thou art worthy thy breed!
Now over the salt desert we fly like the wind,
And our fears fade as fast as the turrets behind!
Al, al, al, al! We the frontier have won,
And may laugh at the Lord of the drear Anderun!
Al, al, al …

Aha! If you think you're the only ones to have a jolly time, you'll gape when you take a walk with me along the banks of the Garonne …

What will your friends say about the dark-skinned woman you've brought home?

They'l pay you gallic compliments and make eyes at you. But I shall not allow them to go any further than that, mark my word!…


On the banks of sweet Garonne
I was born one fine spring morning,
Soon as I could run alone,
Kicks and cuffs and tumbles scorning,
Shirking labour, loving fun,
Quaffing wine, and hating water,
Fighting every neighbour's son,
And courting every neighbour's daughter,

Abruptly and angrily, Fatima leaves Sherasmin

Oh the days that I have known,
On the banks of sweet Garonne!
Oh the days that I have known,
On the banks of sweet Garonne,
On the banks of sweet Garonne!

On the waves of Bundemir,
First I saw the sunbeams quiver,
There I wander'd year by year,
On the banks of that fair river,
Roaming with my roaming race,
Where so e'er the date tree lur'd them,
Or a greener resting place,
Pasture for their flocks ensur'd them.
Never knew I grief or fear
On the banks of Bundemir!

Times have alter'd, mistress mine!

Fled is fortune's sunny weather,
We are slaves! slaves!

But why pine, while, my dear?
We're slaves together!
Let's be merry, as we're true!
Love our song and joy the chorus,
Dig and delve, and hill and coo,
As Eve and Adam did before us!

Let's be merry as we're true,
Love our song and joy the chorus;
Dig and delve, and hill and coo,
As Eve and Adam did before us.

A chariot of blossoms in which Droll brings Huon into the Emir's garden floats down from above and sets itself gently on the on the ground.

bending over Huon with great concern
Wake up, Huon! And if you find yourself utterly forsaken, without arms or horn, then wake up fully, to yourself. Prove the power of your love. Save yourself and Rezia - save Oberon's happiness.

He vanishes in the same way that he appeared.

waking a few moments later
Where am I? Alone? Abandoned by all?
Rezia! Ah, God only knows where she is …
He runs to the rear
No horn! No Oberon!

He turns in the middle of the stage and moves slowly forwards. Sherasmin entering from the other side. Huon benumbed by surprise as soon as he recognizes him.

stops similarly. Then quietly to himself
I'm not surprised! No, I'm not surprised.

Sherasmin! Dear, loyal Sherasmin!

hurries up to him. Embraces him.
Dear, dear master!

A gardener, Sherasmin! If only the people on the Garonne knew …

They would be surprised.

enters from the left and is happily surprised to find Huon with Sherasmin
Our dear master …

Yes, Fatima, hale and hearty! If he had been next to us in the slave market yesterday, the gardener wouldn't have paid half as much for the pair of us. And we'd still be on sale today, like stale rolls.

The gardener would have made a bad buy. What use to him a poor unfortunate, whom no earthly power could restore to the man he once was?

joining in
We can soon put that right, master Huon.

Impossible, my good Fatima. Only Rezia could comfort me. And Rezia was abducted.

Now there's a surprise in store for you!

I'm not surprised. No, nothing surprises me.

You have some news of Rezia?

All the ships which crossed the sea after we were wrecked were pirate ships. So Rezia was undoubtedly taken by pirates.

Yes! Buccaneers took her away from under my very eyes.

Then the rumours are true. The pirates are reported to have brought an Arab princess to the Emir, and the Emir is said to have locked her up in his best pavillion.

I am the happiest of men and at the same time …

I know … and the unhappiest at the same time. That's what love is like.

Rezia is only a hundred paces away, and I im weak and powerless.
wrings his hands
Whatever can I do?

That's dear!
First we must talk to the gardener. He'll keep you here to work. And then we start our adventures all over again, and we can change over in a flash when necessary. No-one will catch us out because we can disguise ourselves so quickly and well …


And must I then dissemble?

No other hope I know.

But let the tyrant tremble,
Unscathed he shall not go!

He and Sherasmin retire a few steps for consultation with each other.

In the foreground
Viewless spirit, of pow'r and light,
Thou who mak'st virtue and love thy care,
Restore to the best and the bravest knight,
The fondest and fairest of all the fair.

Huon and Sherasmin come forward

Spirit ador'd, strike on our part,
Bless the good sword and the faithful heart!

Spirit ador'd, strike on our part,
Bless the good sword and the faithful heart!

A colonnade in Emir Almansor's palace in Tunis. Rezia reclines on a couch in the foreground.


Mourn thou, poor heart, for the joys that are dead!
Flow ye sad tears for the hopes that are fled,
Sorrow is now the sole treasure I prize,
As Peris on perfume, I feed on its sighs;
And bitter to some as its fountain may be;
'tis sweet as the waters of Gelum to me.
Ye that are basking in pleasure's gay beam,
Ye that are sailing on hope's golden stream,
A cloud may come over ye, a wave sweep the deck,
And picture a future of darkness and wreck!
But the scourge of the desert o’er my heart hath past,
And the tree that is blighted fears no second blast!ALMANSOR
enters from the first side door on the right, approaches Rezia and says in wheedling tones
How can you be so sad when you are so beautiful, Rezia? You only have to signal with your finger to have everything one envies in a woman …

Only one thing would make me happy. And that you cannot do!No mortal can awken the dead.

Then at any rate keep hold on life.

Huon holds me fast …

Just find out first whether I'm not stronger?
He takes hold of her. Rezia resists.

enters from the left and approaches the Emir
Shall we put her on board again and sell her in Sicily? I’ll gladl change her for one who is less obstinate.

You're a gross blockhead, Abdallah. Can't you see what passion she has? I'm well pleased. Today I’ve had the first foretaste of her capacity to love.
We must be patient …

Almansor's wife Roshana is much less patient at the course of our love-story. She has seen the handsome slave Huon working in the palace garden, and has fallen passionately in love with him. She sends Abdallah to tell him secretly that a lovely noblewoman wishes to see him, and tells him how he can reach Roshana's room from the garden without attracting attention. Believing this to be a signal from Rezia, Huon hurries into the palace. But instead of Rezia he encounters Roshana, who declares her love to him. When Huon protests that he loves only one woman in the world, Rezia, and that nothing can tempt him, Roshana tries to ensnare him.

Choir, Solo and Ballet

dancing girls and slaves
For thee hath beauty decked her bower!
For thee the cup of joy is filled,
O drain the draught and cull the flower,
Ere the rose be dead and the wine be spilled!

Hence! Hence! The flowers ye proffer fair,
Poison in their fragrance bear,
And the goblet's purple flood
Seems to me a draught of blood!

He tries to free himself, but Roshana restrains him.

When woman's eye with love is bright
Canst thou shun its witching light?
Bearest thou the heart to flee,
When her white arms circle thee?
Bearest thou the heart to flee,
When her white arms circle thee?

There is no beauty in woman's eye,
When it burns with unholy brilliancy,
'tis like the glare of the sightless dead,
When the soul which should kindle their orbs hath fled.
There is no charm that can yield delight
In the wanton's hand be it never so white,
Sooner its fingers should o'er me stray,
When the worm hath eaten the flesh away!

He tries to disentangle himself from Roshana’s hold, but before he can, the dancing girls surround him, thus preventing him from fleeing.

O turn not away from the banquet of bliss!
O lose not a moment so precious as this,
Remember the sage, who sung o’er his repast:
How pleasant were life, if a shadow could last!
Then mortal he happy, be happy and laugh at the wise
Who know life's a shadow yet wait till it flies!
For thee hath beauty decked her bw’r,
For thee the cup of joy is fill'd,
O drain the draught and cull the flower,
Ere the rose be dead and the wine be spilled!
O drain the draught, and cull the flower!

Huon breaks free from Roshana and tries to escape-but too late: Almansor discovers him; Slaves take hold of him, and the Emir condemns him to death: he is to be burned at the stake. Huon's fate appears to be sealed. A great pile of wood is set up in the market place of Tunis.

A crowd gathers, eager to see the spectacle, including Sherasmin and Fatima, while the Emir and his train have taken their places on a platform - Rezia, veiled, is at his side. Then Abdallah pushes through the crowd …

A Place in Tunis

Noble Master! I must speak to you. Just a word!

A leader's every word means action. And if I were you, Abdallah, I wouldn't make me act now. It could be the worse for you.

Action! But that is precisely what I do want, noble prince. Something needs to be settled.

Not here and not now.

Right here and right now. You shall not get off so easily, Emir.
Waves to the pirates, who have come with him. They set down three great chests before the Emir.
These three chests were thrown up on the shore today by the tide.

Everything washed up by the sea belongs to me.
bending over the 2nd and the 3rd chest
Jewels! In both chests! Poor Abdallah! What would you and your sailors do with them? You can hardly have your ears pierced and wear rings in them.
continues searching
But, look here! There's something for you, Abdallah.
He lifts Oberon’s horn out of the chest
A splendid artifact.

A toy trumpet!

How well you conceal your mind. A connoisseur and man of the world like yourself! You go to all the great markets. Sicily, Rome and Greece. You know perfectly well that this is a priceless piece. You could exchange it everywhere for mountains of gold.
throws him the horn
Take the horn, Abdallah, before I regret this arrangement.

Would you like me to play a tune in your honour?

Do as you like. But take care that you keep your head on your shoulders long enough to play your tune …

I understand, great Emir. And I’ll go.
He goes through the crowd. As he passes Sherasmin, he yields to a sudden whim and tosses it to Sherasmin.
There, you can have this paltry trash.

catching it deftly
Worthless thing! But I’ll take it.

But it's … the magic horn.

Keep up the pretence, Fatima, the pretence.

stands before his chair and commands
Bring the slave whom I sentenced to death. And tie him to the stake.

Palace guards bring Huon forwards, bound. As they lead him past the platform, Rezia leaps up and turns pleadingly to the Emir.


turning to her
What do you want, Rezia?

pointing to Huon
Mercy - for this man.

He broke into my harem und must atone his infatuation for Roshana. Why is he any concern of yours?

He is Huon, my husband,
He must not die!

Would you share his fate, even though he has deceived you?

I'd rather die a thousand times with him than live without him.

Now you shall hear how little he deserves this foolish loyalty.
He beckons him
Come here, slave!

turning towards him
Would you speak to me, Emir of Tunis?

Mark my words, slave. I am setting you free! Abdallah will take you to some point on the shore of your native land. And Rezia will stay with me. You return as a free man and can marry whomsoever you will.

I have never loved anyone but Rezia, and I would gladly die with her if I may not live happily with her.

He leaps onto the platform and embraces Rezia

shouts joyfully
We are a single product of the creator's hand. Nothing can separate us!

very angry
Let the fire put that to the test. To the stake with both of them!

As Almansor exclaimes these words, the crafty Sherasmin puts the magic horn to his lips, and with the first note, everyone begins to dance.


Hark! What notes are swelling!
Hark! whence that wondrous sound,
Hark! every foot compelling
In merry dance to bound!Hark! Hark!

Re-joice! Re-joice! 'tis the horn of power!
They dance in the court! They dance in the tow'r!
They dance in the garden, they dance in the hall!
On the ocean beach and the city wall!
A second and loudest blast shall bring,
The donor himself, the Fairy King!

Sherasmin blows the horn louder. Lilies and palm trees appear on all sides. In the middle of the Palace of Blossoms, Titania, in the arms of Oberon slowly floats upwards on a large globe.

Hail! faithful pair! Your woes are ended!
Your friend in turn you have befriended!
His pledge redeem'd by you hath been,
Again in love he clasps his Fairy Queen.
Swift as the lightning's glance, brave knight behold!
I bring thee and thine to thy native France,
And the palace of thy king!
Kneel at his feet, with the bride thou hast won,
Europe shall ring with the deed, thou hast done.
Now! For ever I break the spell,
With the grateful Fairy's last farewell!
Farewell! Farewell!

Oberon’s palace of blossoms disappears upwards. Change of scenery. One can now see the throne room of the Emperor Charlemagne. A festive procession of courtiers. Huon and Rezia are on the right of the throne.

But now let us quickly make for a ship, before these fools have a choice to get at us again! And then, to the throne of our Emperor!



Behold! Obediant to the oath he swore,
Huon is kneeling at thy feet once more,
For by the help of heaven he hath done the daring deed,
And from Caliph won this lovely maid,
By every peril tried the heiress of his throne!
And now thy vassal's bride!

Hail to the knight with his own good brand,
Who hath won a fair bride from the Saracen's hand.
Hail! To the maiden, who over the sea
Hath followed her champion so faithfully.
By bards yet unborn of the tale shall be told,
Of Rezia the lovely and Huon the bold!