Verlobung in San Domingo, Die (‘The Betrothal in San Domingo’)
- Erik Levi
(‘The Betrothal in San Domingo’)
Opera in two acts with a prologue and interlude by Werner Egk to his own libretto after Heinrich von Kleist ’s story; Munich, Nationaltheater, 27 November 1963.
The action takes place on the island of San Domingo during the slaves’ violent uprising of 1803. Christoph von Ried (tenor), an officer in the French army, seeks food and shelter for himself and his relatives at a settler’s lonely house. He is welcomed with feigned friendliness by the mulatto Babekan (contralto) and her light-skinned daughter Jeanne (soprano) who have been instructed to detain him there until the return of the Negro house-owner Hoango (baritone). Then Christoph is to be brutally murdered, a fate that has befallen other white people who have come to the house. However, Jeanne, enamoured of Christoph, plans to save him. Surprised by the premature return of Hoango, she is forced to bind the sleeping Christoph to his bed and then claim that she is trying to prevent him from escaping. In answer to a secret summons by Jeanne, Christoph’s relatives take over the house and free him. Believing that he has been treacherously deceived by Jeanne, Christoph shoots her as she rushes towards him....