- David Charlton
Zauberoper in three acts by E(rnst) T(heodor) A(madeus) Hoffmann to a libretto by Friedrich Heinrich Carl de la Motte Fouqué after his own story Undine (1811) Berlin, Königliche Schauspiele, 3 August 1816.
Act 1 opens on a stormy night. Undine (soprano) has fled from the hut of her poor foster-parents, a fisherman (bass) and his wife (mezzo-soprano). As the knight Huldbrand (baritone) shelters from the storm, he learns how Undine was adopted in infancy when the fisherman’s own daughter disappeared into the waters. Surrounded by other water spirits, the powerful spirit Kühleborn (bass) warns Undine against humankind. But she meets Huldbrand, and the couple fall in love. They are blessed by Heilmann (baritone), a priest, to Kühleborn’s annoyance. Undine reveals to Huldbrand that she too is a spirit; moreover, she will return to the waters, or even kill Huldbrand, if he loses faith with her. But they decide to be married....