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Donauweibchen, Das (‘The Nixie of the Danube’)locked

  • Peter Branscombe

Extract

Singspiel (‘romantisch-komisches Volksmärchen mit Gesang’) in three acts by Ferdinand Kauer to a libretto by Karl Friedrich Hensler , ‘after a legend from prehistoric times’; Vienna, Theater in der Leopoldstadt, 11 January 1798.

Ritter Albrecht, attended by his timid comic servant Käsperle, is hunting in the forest while travelling to celebrate his nuptials with Countess Bertha. By the Danube he meets, and at first does not recognize, a beautiful girl – Hulda, the Nixie of the Danube, with whom he had spent a night of love five years before, after she had sheltered him from a storm. Hulda and their daughter, Lilli, of whose existence Albrecht had known nothing, strive by means of disguises and apparitions to win Albrecht’s love, but he goes through with his marriage to Bertha, trying in vain to deny Hulda her demand for three nights of his love each year. A feature of the play is the series of 11 disguises in which Hulda appears, with or without her daughter. The work ends with a tableau: Hulda disappears into a grotto with Albrecht, to the consternation of the bride and assembled guests....

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