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Le Prophete
WE are prepared for a rustic scene by a prelude on the bagpipe. As the curtain rises, we see a Dutch landscape in the neighbourhood of Dordrecht with the Meuse in the background. On the right is a feudal castle ; on the left are dependent cottages and farm buildings ; and in the left foreground are sacks of wheat, rustic benches, tables, etc.
IN Lohengrin each Act has its prelude, or Vorspiel. The prelude to the first Act is constructed entirely upon the motiv of The Grail. It begins on high notes of the violins in eight-part harmony, and the four solo violins are used in such combination with the first, second, and third flutes and the first and second oboes as to produce enchanting harmony.
THE short prelude announces the terrible nature of the catastrophe that dominates all the scenes of frivolity and dissipation that lead up to it. On one of these scenes the curtain rises. It is a revel in the Duke of Mantua's palace. The dancing is accompanied throughout by orchestras on the stage.
La Traviata
ATER a short instrumental prelude, the curtain rises on a brilliant scene in the house of the beautiful Violetta Valery soprano), the reigning belle of Paris. She is receiving her guests.
THE short overture by its mysterious and somewhat gloomy character expresses Faust's dark thoughts and solitary brooding. Out of the heavy string passages a gleam of hope from the wood-wind arises. It ends with a few solemn and slow chords. The curtain rises. Faust (tenor) is alone in his study. The expiring lamp seems typical of his own sinking life.
Tristan Und Isolde
THE prelude to the first Act of Tristan und Isolde begins with a sad wail, The Confession of Love, a short theme on the violoncello, followed by The Desire, on the oboe, supported by two clarinets, the cor anglais, and two bassoons. This is four times repeated with significant rests between. Next comes The Glance, announced on the cello.
Die Meistersinger
THE overture is a majestic and superb composition. Heavy chords introduce the motiv of The Meistersinger on the full orchestra, and after it is worked up at some length, there follows the expressive and tender theme of Waking Love, on the flute and clarinet.
ACT I. — A short fugued introduction played pianissimo precedes the rising of the curtain and produces a feeling of vague mystery which will frequently be experienced throughout the work.
THE prelude to Carmen is built on several characteristic themes ; it is the sketch on which the colours of the picture are tried. Without preparation, on a rhythm, symmetrical and even hard, a fanfare bursts forth, — an almost vulgar figure, but joyous and dizzying: it is the fanfare of the bull-fight.
Das Rheingold
THE curtain rises on the rocky bed of the Rhine wrapped in greenish twilight. The water, blue above, is lighter, and flows to the right. In the centre, towers a conical peak around which the Rhine-daughter, Woglinde, is gracefully swimming, singing her watch-song. Her sisters, Flosshilde and Wellgunde, join her and sport among the crags.
Die Walkure
THE prelude opens with the motiv of the Tempest with gusts of wind, and rain pattering on the strings. At the 17th bar it is intensified by four more double basses. The flutes, oboes, clarinets, cor anglais, horns, and bassoons join in at the 37th bar, and at the 63d bar comes the big brass with the Incantation of the Thunder.
THE prelude opens with a soft tremolo on the drums and Reflection, on the bassoons. Muted cellos bring in Wotan's Rage, and the violas recall the "Amassing of the Treasure. Then for a few bars, the violas and 'cellos change parts with these two motive, while the cor anglais and bassoons give forth Bondage.
Die Gotterdammerung
PRELUDE. —Hail to the World appears in the opening bar and two bars later the bas-soon, clarinet, and bass-clarinet introduce The Rhine. This prelude is very short : the curtain rises at the eighteenth bar. It is night on the Walkyrie rock. A glow illumines the background. The eldest Norn lies under the fir-tree ; the second, on a bank of stone before the entrance to the cavern...
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