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An unfinished Opera composed in 1847
IN the spring of 1847. Mendelssohn began an Opera to a libretto by Geibel, on a subject bringing in the popular German legend of the Loreley, the siren of the Rhine who lured men to destruction. In November, when only part of the First Act had been completed, the Composer died.
The story of the Opera, so far as Mendelssohn worked upon it, is as follows :-
Lenora, whose father is an innkeeper on the banks of the Rhine, meets a huntsman one day and falls violently in love with him. The huntsman, who returns her passion, is none other than the Count Palatine, but he conceals his rank. An old and trusted servant of the Count who discovers the secret attachment persuades him to forsake Lenora, since he is already betrothed to a Princess. The Count consents, but, at what he resolves must be his final meeting with Lenora, he is so carried away by his love for her that, at parting, he cannot find courage to tell her that he is saying farewell for ever. As he leaves her. the sound of evening bells is heard and a distant chorus of female voices chanting the Ave Maria.
(1). When the first scene opens, Lenora is listening devoutly to the chanting. She then sings herself, while the voices are gradually lost in the distance.
(2). The next section of the Opera has no bearing either upon the Ave Maria which precedes it, or on the finale to the First Act, the only other scene that Mendelssohn completed. It is a vintage song for male voices which the composer evidently wrote to add colour to some rural picture.
(3). In the final scene we are told, in a choral section, of the Fays of the Rhine and of their magic powers. Lenora, now deserted by her lover, appears bemoaning her fate- and-in despair summons the spirits of the Rhino to her aid. They listen eagerly to her cries for vengeance, and agree to endow her with beauty irresistible with which she may ensnare her false lover and all men. In return, Lenora must deliver her soul into the power of the Fays and become wedded to the Rhine. Lenora, in a frenzy, readily agrees to this Faust-like bargain, and casts into the stream the bridal ring, once a cherished gift from her lover, but now the seal of revenge.


Emily Broughton

6LV Liverpool

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This data is drawn from the Radio Times magazine between 1923 and 2009. It shows what was scheduled to be broadcast, meaning it was subject to change and may not be accurate. More