Amazing articles on just about every subject...

Robert Le Diable

( Originally Published 1899 )

ACT I. — The stage represents the Lido and Port of Palermo. Several splendid tents are in the shade of some trees. On the right of the stage, Robert (tenor) and Bertram (bass) are seated at a table, attended by esquires and many pages. Opposite is another table at which knights are seated. All are carousing, and the effect is already visible. They sing a drinking chorus, Allegro bacchanale, in praise of wine, women, and play. Robert and Albert interject phrases agreeing with the sentiments expressed. Albert and another knight comment on the splendour of Robert's arms and followers. Who can he be ? What is he doing in Sicily ? Another suggests that he has come to attend the tournament given by the Duke of Messina. Robert drinks to the noble company, and they return thanks and then repeat their rollicking chorus.

Albert directs attention to an arriving band of pilgrims and jongleurs. They must hail from France, from Normandy ! The word attracts Robert's attention. "Your ungrateful country ! " mutters Bertram in his ear. Robert calls the leader, Raimbaud (tenor), and gives him a purse to sing something. Raimbaud will sing the story of his young liege duke, Robert the Devil. The knights repeat the name in awe. Robert is a bad lot, devoted to Lucifer, and banished from his own country for his evil deeds.

At this Robert draws his dagger, but Bertram whispers to him to control himself. So he tells Raimbaud to begin, and the chorus is listening. A ritournelle of horns precedes his ballad, Fadis régnait en Normandie, which he sings to the attentive company, who interject laughing jests and mockery as the various points are made. They learn that in Normandy once ruled a valiant prince whose beautiful daughter Bertha was cold to all men until an unknown Prince arrived at the court and subdued the heart of the proud beauty. Fatal error ! They say he came from the realm of darkness, — a demon in human shape ! The knights are hugely entertained, but the minstrel proceeds. The issue of the union was Robert, the terror of the country, who quarrelled with husbands, and eloped with wives. If ever he comes here, shepherdesses beware! He has the face and form of his father and, like him, is a devil ! Half in awe and half in jest, the knights repeat the last words in chorus. This is too much ; Robert loses all control, Allegro con moto ; he rises and declares himself, ordering his followers to hang the insolent minstrel. Albert and the other knights are astounded, and Raimbaud falls upon his knees, begging for mercy. Robert grants him an hour for prayers. Raimbaud pleads that he has just arrived and on a solemn mission to Robert from Normandy with his betrothed. His betrothed ! Perhaps she is beautiful ? In that case Robert is not hard-hearted. Bring her here ; she shall plead for her lover, and then the other knights can have her! They are delighted. He is deaf to all prayers, fills up his goblet and starts the Bacchanalian chorus again.

Robert's pages bring in the lady, struggling and protesting. The chorus admires her, and she prays for mercy. The chorus is obdurate. Raimbaud must be punished, — she is too handsome. She kneels before Robert in supplication, and he recognizes his foster-sister, Alice (soprano), and recalls his promise. The chorus mockingly asks if he forgets that the best of life consists in love and wine and play. Robert is furious at the taunt ; but he is firm in protecting the trembling girl, and menaces the knights, who depart with Raimbaud. Robert now asks what Alice is doing in Palermo. She brings him a message from his dead mother ! Robert is shocked. Alice goes on to tell him that his mother told her to go and be his good angel, for an infernal power was seeking his ruin. Meanwhile in Heaven his mother would ever intercede for him. This romance, Va, dit-elle, mon enfant, is full of sweet and tender feeling. Its harmonies possess great interest and distinction. Robert is greatly affected, and Alice kneels to present his mother's will, which he is to read when he feels worthy. He feels unworthy to receive it. Alice must keep it awhile. He is overwhelmed with grief and hopeless love for the Princess of Sicily, who returned his passion. Robert tried to carry her off in defiance of her father and the nobles who aspired to her hand. In the conflict he would have fallen but for a faithful friend, Bertram, who came to his aid. From that hour he has not seen the Princess. Alice says that Isabella will be true, and suggests that he should send a letter : she will take it. Robert calls his secretary, who enters with writing materials, and Robert dictates. How can he ever repay Alice ? She suggests that he can order a priest to unite her and her beloved Raimbaud that very day. Robert will see that it is done ! He seals the letter with the hilt of his sword and delivers it to her. She utters a cry of terror as Bertram enters, and asks who that dreadful being is. In her native village there is an altar-piece representing Michael overthrowing Satan, and Bertram is the image of the latter. Robert laughs at her folly and wishes her a happy bridal. She kisses his hand and retires, shrinkingly avoiding Bertram, who then teases Robert about his interesting visitor, scoffing at the word " gratitude." Robert resents his insinuations, and rebels against his influence, which is always for evil. Bertram protests his affection, which Robert hopes may be shown in future advice for good. Bertram immediately suggests that they cast dice with the knights who are now returning. The music closely follows Bertram's hypocritical tears and the changing moods of the two. They challenge the knights to the gaming table today, as in the tourney of the morrow. The knights eagerly accept, and will begin the game with a local song of the port of Sicily. The finale now begins Allegro brillante with a captivating Siciliana, 6 fortune, à ton caprice. Robert then starts with his gay, " Gold is a chimera." Servants bring in a table, round which the knights gather, and the chorus proceeds, interspersed with Robert's song and Bertram's defiance of Fortune in a separate quatrain. Robert successively loses one hundred and five hundred gold pieces, and then his jewels and plate. Bertram mocks him at each loss to the strains of the Siciliana, which finely contrast with Robert's anger. 'What is the use of so much baggage, anyhow ? The winners further exasperate Robert by chorusing his own, " Gold is a chimera," with which he began the game. The orchestra accompanies each rattle and cast of the dice with original and effective music. Robert now stakes his horses and arms, Bertram again mockingly repeating Robert's song of the foolishness of those who would hoard gold. Robert loses : he is in despair, but Bertram reminds him that their friendship is still left. He is sent to deliver over the stakes, while Robert rages against his victorious adversaries. He will have revenge ! The chorus tries to calm him, but he grows violent. They draw their swords and advance upon him. Having lost his, he seizes a bench and bran-dishes it. Bertram, who has returned, interposes, and the curtain falls.

AcT II. — An apartment in the royal palace, with a gallery at the back overlooking the open country. Isabelle is alone, complaining of the vanity of human grandeur. Everything is hers but peace of mind. Her father, the Duke of Messina, has disposed of her hand without consulting her heart, and Robert abandons her ! Thus the sad recitative. Her aria, En vain j'espère (Andantino), is quite ornate, in the Franco-Italian style, and sympathetically describes her desolation. A group of girls now enters with petitions, followed by Alice. Their chorus, " Let us fearlessly approach," tells how the Princess delights in deeds of kindness. Alice is timid, but finally delivers her document also. Isabelle is greatly agitated. How she longs to see Robert again ! The chorus dwells on her goodness and departs. In the meanwhile Robert has entered and stood aside. Alice retires and encourages him to approach the Princess. He does so and asks her to accept his repentance. Isabelle ironically echoes his last words. Let her not be angry with his transgressions : he will die if she does not pardon him ! Gradually she relents. It is a fine and expressive duo and is suddenly interrupted by the sound of a trumpet. Isabelle asks anxiously if he hears it. He is in despair: he has lost his arms ! Isabelle has already thought of that ; and pages bring in a full suit of armour to Robert's deep gratitude. Now their hearts are full of joy and hope, and the duo ends brilliantly. Isabelle then departs. Then through the gallery at the back pass Bertram and the Prince of Granada, whom Isabelle is to marry, together with a Herald-at-Arms to whom Bertram points Robert out. The latter is vowing to overcome his rival in the warlike sports about to open. " If I permit ! " mutters Bertram. Robert intends to slay his enemy in the fight. The Herald enters and delivers the Prince of Granada's defiance to mortal combat, which Robert eagerly accepts and accompanies him to the wood, where his rival awaits him.

The Duke enters, leading Isabelle, and followed by a brilliant court of lords, ladies, and attendants. Bertram, Alice, and Raimbaud follow, and then six bridal couples and a concourse of people. There is a beautiful chorus and ballet. The people sing bridal greetings, and offer felicitations and homage. The ballet continues, and a pas de cinq, in which the oboe is noticeable, is introduced with the various movements, Moderato, Allegro moderato, Maestoso, Allegro leggiero, and Presto. This is full of life and gaiety. Then the Master of Ceremonies enters and announces that the Prince of Granada demands the honour of being armed by Isabelle for the tournament. She demurs, but her father orders compliance ; and the Prince advances with his banner, and a splendid retinue of pages and esquires, who sing praises in his honour, while their lord is being armed. Four drums are struck for the theme, and the basses and tenors unaccompanied produce a noble effect. Alice anxiously comments on Robert's absence, in an aside to Raimbaud, who doubts not his appearance. Bertram exultingly says to himself, " All is safe, Robert will not come !

The chorus of the whole assembly then inspirits the valiant cavaliers to the fight for the love of glory, honour, and the love of their lady. Eight heralds-at-arms, within, now sound the signal for the combat, and the chorus take it up. Isabella then descends the steps of the throne and sings, " Hark, the trumpet sounds ! good knights to the lists ! " But where is Robert ? Alice shares her anxiety, and Bertram watches them in exultation as the brilliant procession starts for the lists.

AcT III. — The wild and gloomy mountain crags of St. Irene, with an ancient ruined temple in the foreground. On the right is an entrance to subterranean caverns, and on the left a columned cross. Bertram and Raimbaud appear; the latter has come to meet Alice. Bertram recognizes the Norman troubadour, and congratulates him on being alive. Raimbaud explains his appearance in that spot. If only he were not so poor, what happiness his union with the penniless Alice would be! Bertram gives him a purse : he is enraptured. Bertram despises Raimbaud : so he too can make men happy when he likes ! The buffo duet, Ah l'honnête homme, then begins. Bertram shows a lot of effective irony in his repetitions of Raimbaud's extravagant phrases of gratitude. Then in the recitative, he tells Raimbaud how foolish he is to marry. For his part, he would wait and choose from each pretty face. Now he is rich, they will all be willing ! Raimbaud is persuaded, and departs without waiting for Alice. Bertram exults over another victim he has led astray, as he prepares the materials for incantation and the fires of Hell gleam for the first time in the music. He reflects that his own fate is approaching. Thunder mutters underground, and darkness creeps over the scene. He trembles. The king of the fallen angels awaits him ; he hears the hellish mirth of the demons and their frenzied dance, a few bars of which in waltz time, where the viola is conspicuous, dominate the final notes of his recitative. Then from the mouths of the caverns rises the infernal chorus in B-minor, 3/8, in which the demons call to each other to forswear Heaven and join in dark revels. The accompaniment is scored for piccolo, trumpets, cornets-à-pistons, trombones, bass tuba, triangles, and cymbals. The chorus, Ah ! célébrons le jour, is sung in the distance through speaking trumpets to produce a more weird effect. Savage and strident chords in the accompaniment mark the fury of the dread phantoms. Then Bertram cries, a Oh, Robert, my sole remaining joy and comfort, for thee I have braved the wrath of Heaven, and will now brave the Fiend ! " The chorus sings praises to its master the Prince of Darkness, while Bertram repeats his determination and then hurries into the mouth of the cave, the recesses of which are lurid with the flicker of the infernal flames. After twelve bars of mighty uproar, the tempest that has been raging gradually dies away, till on the basses pianissimo the thunder merely mutters in the distance. The lowering sky gradually clears up to a gentle ritournelle of the wind instruments, and Alice is seen slowly ascending the mountain to meet her betrothed. She calls him, but echo only answers. Can he keep her waiting for him in this lonely place ? To keep up her spirits she sings lively couplets, Quand je quittais la Normandie. A holy hermit told her she should be united one day to the most faithful of lovers. She prays to the Virgin for protection for her love. The heavens suddenly grow dark again and distant subterranean thunder growls. She looks apprehensively towards the mouth of the cavern, and asks what it means. Heaven protects her ; it can be nothing ! She resumes her romance. But the noise increases, the earth trembles beneath her, and she is about to run away when voices howl, " Robert ! Robert ! " She stops in surprise; perhaps some danger threatens him; she will listen and observe ! She approaches an aperture, and calls on the aid of the Almighty as the flames flash among the rocks. In choked accents she kneels and prays that He who has often made a helpless maiden an instrument of divine anger and vengeance may protect her. Then she looks into the gaping rock, recoils, screaming with horror at what she sees, and falls fainting at the foot of the colossal cross, while the cry of the infernals, "Robert ! Robert ! " is repeated. Bertram, pale and disordered, comes forth. In despair he cries that his doom has been pronounced. He loses his son forever, unless Robert pledges his soul to him this very night ! Alice is slowly reviving and repeats, " At midnight ! " and then, in suffocated tones, " Oh, misery!" Who spoke ? Bertram looks about him and discovers her. He assumes kindness, and in the following duet tries to find out how much she has seen and heard. The double basses are very effective here, revealing the underlying mischief in the questions of the fiend. Alice's anguish is expressed in the figures on the clarinets and flutes and the awe-inspiring tremolo of the strings. The terrified girl denies all knowledge. This entire passage is pianissimo. Now in savage joy, 12/8, the orchestra breaks out with his triumph at having his prey secure, while Alice shrinks and shudders with freezing blood. Their feelings are marvellously contrasted in the duet. Now Bertram wants her to love him, but she recoils and embraces the cross. Aha ! she knows him then ! His fury explodes. Let her breathe a word of what she knows, and that moment shall be her last ! Heaven is with her : she does not fear ! Her lover dies also ! and all her kindred to boot ! Then he taunts her, and again asks if she has seen anything. She again denies it, and, as Bertram renews his threats and warnings, she sees Robert approaching, plunged in profound thought. In a beautiful trio, she grieves that she cannot warn him; Bertram rebels against the part he has to play in tormenting one he loves ; and Robert broods on all that he has lost, reflecting, however, that, though all else fail, Bertram will be true. Bertram motions Alice to retire ; she goes, but rushes back with fresh courage. Bertram says, " Speak out, in the name of your father, your betrothed —" In agony, she departs as Robert asks what ails her, and receives a jesting reply. Robert wants to know what is to be done. He is dishonoured and ruined, Bertram has sworn to help him. Yes, and he will do so ! He explains how a snare was set for Robert to keep him away from the tournament, wandering in the forest. His rival used infernal arts, and must be met with similar weapons. He may gain a talisman of unlimited power by plucking a branch from a tree that grows on the consecrated ground of the tomb of Saint Rosalie. Has he the courage ? Robert is indignant, Si j'aurai le courage, and in a stirring duet proclaims the bravery of the knights of his country, Des chevaliers de ma patrie. They tremble at nothing, but this is sacrilege ! " What, trembling already ! " In spite of Heaven, Robert will dare it, and Bertram will be there before him.

The scene changes to a cloister of the ruined abbey in moonlight. Through arcades to the left is seen the burial-ground dotted with tombstones. At the back is the statue of Saint Rosalie with branches trailing over it. Bertram enters. In an incantation, Nonnes qui reposez, he summons from the other world the nuns whose shameful lives profaned these altars dedicated to purity. Let those who made pleasure reign in virtue's halls forsake for an hour their marble sleep, fearing not the wrath of an immortal Virgin, since it is the Lord of Hell himself who calls and who, like them, is condemned to eternal woe. Let them hear his voice and arise ! Lights like ignes fatui begin to dance about the tombstones and flicker on the treble instruments. The sepulchres open, and the nuns, wrapped in their cerements, come out and advance, while unearthly music of trumpets, muffled strokes on the gong, and two bassoons accompanies the resurrection. They exhibit no signs of life nor intelligence beyond that of mere automatic motion as yet. By the tomb of Saint Rosalie they halt as if incapable of further progress. Gradually their eyes open, their limbs move naturally, and, but for their mortal pallor, they assume the appearance of living beings. The moon-light floods the stage. Bertram cries, " Ye daughters, once of Heaven, now of Hell, obey your master ! " A knight approaches to pluck the magic branch. If he falters, their charms must allure him to fulfil his promise by hiding the abyss to which his steps lead. The nuns signify obedience to his will and he departs. The instinct of their former passions now begins to reanimate them. They are delighted at mutual recognition. Hélène, their superior (danseuse), invites them to profit by the opportunity and abandon them-selves to pleasure. They gaily consent, and take from their several sepulchres the goblets, dice, etc., with which they killed time in their lifetime. Some make offerings to an idol, while others crown themselves with cypress-chaplets and divest themselves of their winding-sheets to engage in a dance which quickly assumes a Bacchanalian character. The orchestral voices here are piccolo, flutes, oboes, clarinets, and a triangle, lightly played.

Presently they see Robert approaching, and break off, hiding behind the columns and tombs. He advances with hesitating steps. The solitary and dark place of tombs daunts him. He tries to pluck up courage, and sees the talismanic branch, and goes to pluck it ; but in the image of the saint he sees the features of his own mother when angered, and his resolution is destroyed. He is about to depart, when the nuns, fantastically and gorgeously garbed as in life, leave their hiding-places and surround him. They tender a goblet and dance around him with alluring gestures (the Drink Seduction). The music (thirty-five bars) is most seductive and characteristic, at the end of which Robert refuses the wine. Hélène incites the nuns to wilder licence, approaches Robert and tries to entice him with all kinds of wiles (fifteen bars). He gazes at her with admiration (five bars), accepts the cup from her hand and drinks (ten bars). The nuns circle about him in the mad whirl of a Bacchanalian orgy, and draw him insensibly nearer to the branch (thirteen bars). Now there is a pause, the music changes from common time to 3/4, and Robert slowly approaches the branch, while the nuns laugh gleefully to each other as he is about to pluck it (six bars). Suddenly he recoils in terror (three bars and pause), and then the nuns take counsel for four anxious bars. Now the second part of the ballet (the Seduction of Gaming) begins. Hélène and the nuns again try to arouse his passions. Dancing around him, they lead him to where gold and dice are laid out (fifty bars). There they greedily gamble (twenty-five bars). Robert, who at first joined in, retires in disgust when he sees their avarice. (The dice rattle in the orchestra as they did in the first Act.) Hélène, who notices this, draws him back and plays with grace and restraint (eighteen bars). After another pause, she again leads him gradually towards the branch, while the nuns laugh among themselves (seven bars). Robert again shrinks back in terror (three bars). A pause, and the nuns again take counsel for twelve bars. The third section of the ballet now begins (the Seduction by Love) in which the violoncello has a conspicuous part. The nuns all dance enticing figures, till, at the twenty-third bar, Hélène joins in with an independent pose and displays her utmost graces and alluring gestures for twenty-eight bars, when Robert is conquered. He is permitted to steal a kiss, while she points to the branch he must break off. Intoxicated with passion, he snatches the talisman to a low rumbling in the orchestra that ends in a roar like the crack of doom. The earth trembles, the thunder crashes, lightning flashes, and all the elements are unchained. The nuns throng about Robert in wild disorder, but he breaks through them, shaking the branch. The graceful female forms lose vitality and fall away. Demons, spectres, and monsters spring up, crowd the cloisters, and hunt the vivified corpses back into their sepulchres, there to be their prey. The shapes of hell then sing a triumphant chorus of success. Robert is theirs !

AcT IV. — Isabelle in her apartments is surrounded by her ladies who are tiring and adorning her for her nuptials. In a chorus they praise her charms. Isabelle suddenly sees Alice and recognizes her. Did she not grant her petition earlier in the day ? Yes ! She was gracious. If Isabelle only dared question her ! Then aloud, she says, " Perhaps you are leaving us to-day with Robert ! " Alice explains that she must see her lord this evening. In this letter she must show him the last proof of maternal love, of which he is no longer worthy ! But that is Isabelle's duty ! Ah ! how she pities him ! What menaces him ? Alice is about to explain, when Isabelle silences her for the present : people are coming. The whole court enters. In a chorus they celebrate the fortune of love and victory.

Albert enters, with rich offerings of jewels from the Prince of Granada. The chorus is repeated, while all slowly retire into the background as the Prince in person appears descending the staircase. Robert comes in unperceived. He bears the magic branch, and its power is felt, for all put their hands to their brows as if they had received a stunning blow, and begin to sing in greatly subdued tones. The nearer he approaches, the more the voices die away, till at last they are silent, and the whole company are charmed into a sort of mesmeric sleep, to the strokes of four drums pianissimo.

The Princess sinks on a seat. Robert advances, soliloquizing on the power of the branch that delivers the help-less Isabelle into his hands on her wedding-night. Her cries cannot bring help now ! He gloats over her beauty, and breaks the spell that dulls her senses. She awakes and shudders at his glances. What does his presence mean ? What caused this deathlike slumber ? She appeals to Heaven for protection. He takes unholy joy in her trouble. She says some awful power must be swaying him from his honour. Yes, he acknowledges, the evil spirit that he now controls will soon work his rival's doom ! She taunts him for not having met that rival boldly in the lists that day. This makes him furious ; he warns her not to provoke him ; she and all are in his power now. She prays again for protection for herself, and that Robert may be restored to his right mind. Then she pleads with him to go, but he is deaf to her entreaties. Then she sings her beautiful appeal, Robert, toi que j'aime, which at last prevails. The first part of this long duet is full of dramatic expression musically, and remarkable for the imitation of the principal figure by a triplet accompaniment of the basses. Isabelle''s cavatina in F-minor is accompanied by the harp and cor anglais, which pathetically imitates the voice. It is full of charming melody in the major and of highly enhanced effect by the very great power of the orchestral accompaniment at the close. She kneels to him and her tears conquer. He breaks the magic branch. The doors open of themselves, and the brilliant company in the gallery beyond gradually rouse from their trance, and in a soft chorus ask one another what has happened. They see Robert, and the instruments as well as the voices express their amazement. Albert indignantly begins the final stretta in E-major, with an exceedingly melodious theme, and the imitations of the ten vocal parts are worked out with marvellous skill. They incite one another to arrest the ravisher, and he defies them all. Isabelle wails that it is for her sake that he will die at dawn, and Alice and Raimbaud are greatly troubled, for the odds are too great against him. Valour would be in vain. Robert breaks his sword and precipitates himself among the knights, while Isabelle sinks fainting on the couch, and Alice falls on her knees in prayer. The Presto molto in 6/4 is of great fire and energy.

AcT V. —The cloisters of the cathedral of Palermo. A procession of monks in unison solemnly invites sinners hither. The guilty may find sanctuary, and the Virgin will watch over them. A priest announces that the people are thronging to the altar to return thanks for the preservation of their beloved Princess. The monks slowly enter the cathedral, where the organ is playing to a fine five-part chorus of divine praise. Robert enters, followed by Bertram, who is complaining of being forced to come here. Robert chose it because it is inviolable. 'When Bertram had rescued him, he sought out the Prince of Granada, but fate was against him. Even his dagger failed him ! Bertram explains that he still stands by Robert, who so foolishly broke the branch that was to secure to him the lady who now is his rival's. How can Robert regain her ? There is only one means. Whatever it is, Robert accepts ! Then let him sign a solemn bond pledging himself to Bertram and his ! Certainly, provided Robert is revenged ! At this point the solemn strains of the organ are heard again. Robert is agitated ; they remind him of his youth when his mother prayed for him, and he weeps. Distant choral singing from the cathedral and the intoning of the priests at their solemn service now reaches the pair. Robert is touched by the divine harmony, and feels his heart softened. Midnight is approaching, and Bertram is alarmed, and redoubles his efforts, protesting his devotion, while the service continues. A fine four-part chorus of nuptial-blessing for two fond hearts swells out, reinforced by the orchestra as accompaniment to the two voices, while Bertram excites Robert's jealousy. Bertram reminds him that his rival and the woman he loves are within the cathedral awaiting the nuptial-blessing. He is goaded to madness, and accuses Bertram of being also leagued against him. Then in a passionate aria, Fe t'ai trompé, je fus coupable, Bertram reveals himself. He reminds Robert of Raimbaud's ballad that morning. (The orchestra supplies reminiscences.) The story was true, and he is the fiend-father. To unite his son to his own fate, he abuses his senses, and excites him to evil. Robert's rival, the Prince of Granada, is only a phantom, one of Bertram's minions. He shall disappear, and Hymen shall be Robert's minister, if he will only comply and, before midnight strikes, sign the immutable bond that shall eternally unite their fates. The word has gone forth. Bertram must lose the companionship of his beloved son, and return to his dread abode unless the pact is sealed !

Robert's filial affection is excited. He will not abandon Bertram. " Hell is the strongest ! " Alice hears and trembles at the terrible words, as she enters with tidings of comfort. Bertram harshly asks her business. With ill-suppressed horror she tells her foster-brother that, thanks to Heaven that watches o'er him, the Prince of Granada and his brilliant suite cannot pass the sacred threshold. Of course Robert knows that already ! Moreover, the Princess awaits him at the altar ! Bertram tries to dismiss her and lead his son away. Alice disregards his strenuous efforts, and asks Robert if he would forget his vows and abandon his love. Robert vacillates, but is submitting to Bertram's importunities. Now a powerful trio begins with an interesting 'cello accompaniment in B-minor followed by a sweet melody in B-major. Alice produces his mother's will, which Robert reads to an impressive chromatic trumpet accompaniment. The voice from the tomb 1 tells him that maternal love watches over him in Heaven, and en-treats him not to heed the counsels of the evil being who betrayed his mother. Bertram appeals to him : can he hesitate ? Alice repeats the words of the testament to an orchestral crescendo of extraordinary effect. Robert is torn by conflicting emotions. Bertram and Alice on either side seize his arm and try to drag him away. While he still vacillates, midnight strikes, to the extreme joy of Alice and to the ruin and despair of Bertram. Thunder rolls, flames leap on the instruments, the demon disappears. Robert is saved, and sinks, overcome by his emotions, while thick clouds envelop the scene and are gradually dissipated, revealing the interior of the cathedral. Robert leads Isabelle to the altar, while a solemn and sublime chorus of the assembled multitude and of invisible spirits praises God.

Home | More Articles | Email: