Pamela Dellal, mezzo soprano


uncommon intelligence, imagination and textual awareness...



Love in Schlossberg Village - PLOT SYNOPSIS

Love in Schlossberg Village – A Folk opera based on music of Johannes Brahms
Scene: Schlossberg, a small German village                                                                 Time: early 19th century

On a beautiful early summer day, the villagers gather in the town square to celebrate the season and the promise of love (Himmel strahlt, Röslein dreie). The boys and girls set up their household tasks in the square, while the girls begin to talk about their dreams of love (Fragen). The two wealthiest sisters in town, Gretchen and Therese, sing a song about their close relationship (Die Schwestern), and Gretchen regales the group with her ideas about dominating men (Salome). Her friends back her up (Ein Gems auf den Stein) and tease the boys (Hüt du dich), while they secretly envy her confidence. Meanwhile, the impoverished Emilia and her little sister Charlotte are isolated and sidelined. Charlotte longs to be among the popular girls (Mädchenlied), but Emilia cautions her that being in love with someone brings it own worries (Lieber Gott, du weisst) Her group of friends sympathize with her (So lange Schönheit).

Hans bursts into the midst of the girls, trying to shake Emilia out of her funk (Mein Mädel hat einen Rosenmund) and singing about the pleasures of love (Wisst ihr). Other boys sing about the girls they like: Franz is dreaming about Therese (Mir ist ein schön brauns Mädelein) and Joseph has noticed Marthe (Sonntag). Sigmund, a poet and a loner, is dazzled by Gretchen (O liebliche Wangen).

The young folk disperse, while all the townspeople re-enter the square to wish each other good night at the end of the work day (O schöne Nacht). After all is quiet, little Friedrich slips outside to play with building blocks (Wille, wille, will). He is interrupted by a group of girls who boisterously disrupt his play, leaving him distraught among his ruined tower. Charlotte runs in and chases the girls away, and cheers Friedrich up by telling him a fairy-tale (Dornröschen). They leave together.

As Gretchen and Therese stroll towards their house, they run into Franz. He freezes as he sees Therese, and Therese seizes the opportunity to impress her sister by mercilessly mocking him (Therese). As Franz leaves, Sigmund enters the square to visit Gretchen. He pleads at her window to be let in, while she airily dismisses him (Vergebliches Ständchen). Hans enters and strolls towards Emilia’s house and also requests to be admitted (Guten Abend). When she hesitates, he threatens to leave her and she desperately gives in to him. All along, Gretchen has been watching from her 2nd floor window!


Word has gotten out about Emilia and Hans. As the villagers gather to discuss the latest gossip, Emilia enters the square and everyone bursts out in mockery (Nein, es ist nicht auszukommen). Emilia tries to find Hans in the crowd, but he avoids her. Eventually, she finds him and pleads with him to remain true to her at this moment (Kommt dir manchmal). He pushes her away, while Gretchen catches his eye and they begin a flirtation (Wie komm ich denn). Gretchen watches all this and enters her house. Sigmund also watches the brutal treatment of Emilia, and Gretchen’s callous abandonment of him (Wo gehst du hin). He follows Gretchen and Hans as they leave together.

Emilia comes back into the square to weep her heart out (Liebesklage). Her mother Lise follows her and tries to comfort her (Sommerabend). She persuades her to rest, and sings a lullaby (Wiegenlied). After she leaves her alone, Sigmund enters and sees Emilia. He calls out to her, but she rejects his friendship (Trost im Tränen). Then he approaches her, tenderly offering himself (Erlaube mir). She looks closely at him, realizing that he is sincere and different from Hans (Dein blaues Auge). As they understand that they are falling in love, they begin to discuss what this might mean, as Lise observes the developing relationship (Von ewiger Liebe). Emilia affirms her resolve to cling to Sigmund despite any gossip, and they run off together.

The villagers gather for a summer evening dance party (Brauner Bursche, Rede Mädchen). Charlotte and Friedrich, good friends now, burst in and play a game with a ladybug (Marienwürmchen). Then Hanne and Marthe shyly approach Joseph, and Marthe and Joseph finally connect with each other (Wie des Abends). Franz and Therese have an argument over whether they will stay at the party (Der Jäger und sein Liebchen). As the party continues (Wenn so lind) Sigmund and Emilia enter, glowing with happiness. As he publicly pledges his fidelity to her by placing a wreath on her head, the villagers surround them with congratulations (Kleine Hochszeit-Kantate).
© Pamela Dellal, 2013