Hansel And Gretel
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( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Princess Fedora Romazov.
The action of the beginning of the opera takes place in St. Petersburg at the house of Count Vladimir Andrejevich, captain of the guard. The servants are making merry in the parlors. They are well aware of their master's dissolute habits and do not look for his return before the dawn, especially as this is his last night of freedom, his wedding to the handsome young widow, the Princess Fedora Romazov, being set for the morrow. The retainers laugh as they suggest the ease with which he will dissipate her mil-lions and enumerate his extravagant and questionable tastes.
They are surprised by a call from the Princess herself, who comes to seek her fiancé on some important matter. Dimitri, the groom, departs hurriedly in the hope of finding the count at his club, and Fedora, meantime, fondly examines the apartment and delights in it because of its association with her lover. It is apparent that she knows nothing of his dissolute life. She seizes his photograph from a bracket and kisses it, eulogizing the nobility of the original and voicing her belief that a new life will begin for her on the morrow.
But as she waits absorbed in happy dreams, the count is brought in mortally wounded. The house speedily fills with officers, doctors and priests. Vladimir dies and Fedora is wild with grief. Suspicion fastens on Count Loris Ipanov and search is at once begun for him. Fedora swears solemnly by the cross to avenge his death.
The scene of the second act is laid in Paris. The Princess Fedora is holding a brilliant reception. Among the gentlemen who surround her is Loris, whom she has tracked to the city and infatuated. She feels that she has him at her mercy but, to her chagrin, finds that she does not hate him as she should. She begins to hope that her suspicions are wrong and that he is innocent. In his presence, Fedora announces that she returns to Russia on the next day. The prospect of losing her drives him to an impassioned declaration of love. He admits that he cannot bring her honor for he is proscribed for implication in the murder of Vladimir. It is a terrible moment for Fedora. Her vow of revenge bids her pursue her advantage and draw from him a confession; her heart fears to know the truth. He asks her if she loves him, and when she gives a breathless affirmative, he says " Yes, I killed him." Promising on the next day to bring proof that he was justified, he leaves.
Before his return the net has been spread for him. A letter has gone to the Russian Government ; guards stationed in the garden are to whistle when all is ready and Fedora shall dismiss him and send him down; the Russian ship on the Seine will be his prison.
He comes. He tells her that Vladimir, his professed friend, had seduced his wife who afterwards died. He shows her letters which not only prove the truth of this, but Vladimir's utter perfidy to Fedora on the very eve of their wedding. The guards whistle below. Fedora gasps at the sound of the signal. It is late. Loris says he must go. She urges him to stay. He reminds her of the world and its bitter tongue. She says she does not care and turns the key in the door.
In the third act, Loris and Fedora are enjoying the delights of her villa in the Bernese Alps. Their happiness is almost childlike in its simplicity. They swing, they gather flowers. Loris leaves Fedora a moment to go for his mail. While he is gone she learns that her incriminating letter has resulted in the arrest and execution of his brother, and the death of his mother, whose heart has broken under the cumulation of tragedy. When Loris comes back he opens a despatch announcing his pardon. The thought of return to mother, brother, friends and country, and the realization that now it is in his power to honor Fedora, fills him with joy. Then he opens the letter which preceded the despatch and learns of the irreparable loss that has been his, and that it has been brought about by an unknown woman in Paris. He begs Fedora to help him bring to justice the fiend who has betrayed him. Faltering she pleads the cause of this erring woman, who might have loved Vladimir. Finally he sees it all: she is the woman! He flings her down and is about to kill her but even in her despair she thinks to save him. She has, foreseeing some dénouement like this, poured the poison from a cross she wears into a cup of tea. She drains it at a gulp and receives before she dies the pardon of the broken-hearted Loris.