Zaubergeige, Die (‘The Magic Violin’)
- Erik Levi
(‘The Magic Violin’)
Opera in three acts (six scenes) by Werner Egk to a libretto by the composer and Ludwig Andersen after Franz, Graf von Pocci ’s fairy drama of 1868; Frankfurt, Städtische Bühnen, 22 May 1935 (revised Stuttgart, Württembergische Staatstheater, 2 May 1954).
Act 1 opens in a peasant’s hut. Kaspar (baritone), a farm-servant, is fed up with life. He leaves his fiancée Gretl (soprano) to seek fame and fortune in the outside world. On his journey through the forest Kaspar gives his last three coins to a Beggar (low bass), who is instantaneously transformed into Cuperus, ruler of the elemental spirits. In return for such generosity Cuperus grants Kaspar his wish to own a magic violin on the condition that he renounces love and conceals the pact from anyone else. After Cuperus disappears Kaspar has the opportunity to demonstrate the powers of his magic violin when he encounters the shady merchant Guldensack (bass) and hypnotizes him with the beauty of his playing. Two vagabonds, Fangauf (tenor) and Schnapper (bass), take advantage of the situation and rob the unconscious Guldensack of all his money. But when the merchant awakens he believes that Kaspar was the culprit....