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Work data
Title: Jessonda
Original language: German
Music: Louis Spohr
Libretto : Eduard Heinrich Go
Premiere: July 28, 1823
Place of premiere: kassel
Playing time: approx. 2 ¼ hours
  • Jessonda, widow of an Indian rajah (prince) - (soprano)
  • Amazali, whose sister - (soprano)
  • Dandau, Oberbrahman - (bass)
  • Nadori, young Brahmin - (tenor)
  • Tristan d'Acunha, Portuguese admiral - (baritone)
  • Pedro Lopez, his confidante - (tenor)
  • an officer of the rajah - (bass)
  • two Bajaderen (Indian temple dancers) - (soprano)

Jessonda is an opera with dance in three acts by Louis Spohr (1784-1859). The libretto in German comes from Eduard Heinrich Gehe . The first performance took place on July 28, 1823 in Kassel . The playing time is approximately 2 ¼ hours.


Former Portuguese possession of Goa at the beginning of the 16th century.

first act

His young widow Jessonda is supposed to follow the deceased, aged Raja into death. The ritual calls for their death by fire. The novice Nadori is supposed to prepare them for their fate. An officer of the rajah reports the attack by the Portuguese naval forces. The Brahmins trust the power of their Hindu gods. Jessonda has given up. She obeys the will of the priests. Amazali wants to save Jessonda and asks Nadori, who is on fire for Amazali, to help her.

Second act

Tristan joins the Portuguese. He is full of longing for his childhood sweetheart Jessonda. He meets the Bajad procession with her. He doesn't recognize her. Through Nadori he learns that it was Jessonda. An attempt at kidnapping fails because of the Upper Brahmans Dandau and a ceasefire agreed between Portuguese and Indians. Tristan withdraws. The preparations for the cremation ceremony continue.

Third act

Tristan resigned too. Nadori brings the message that Dandau wants to break the ceasefire and burn down the Portuguese fleet. Nadori is ready to lead Tristan and the Portuguese soldiers into the city.

While Dandau is about to offer the sacrifice, lightning strikes the statue of the supreme deity Brahma. The Portuguese storm up. Dandau resolutely pulls the dagger and leans on Jessonda, but Tristan can grab his lover at the last second. Finally, Nadori and Amazali are also united.

Origin and reception

The opera Jessonda is an idea of ​​Louis Spohr. He created it in 1822. He took the opera Der Freischütz by Carl Maria von Weber (1786–1826) , which premiered in Berlin in 1821, as a model. Like Richard Wagner (1813–1883) and later Richard Wagner , he tried to combine equal parts of language, music and theater in a “total work of art”. As a musical seeker of new territory, he took up Weber's draft of a playful, romantic opera. The result was a self-contained, well-composed work characterized by leitmotifs and a new German form of opera at the time.

The writer Eduard Heinrich Gehe took the play La Veuve du Malabar ou L'Empire des coutumes (1770) by Antoine-Marin Lemierre (1723-1793) as a template for the libretto .

With his opera Jessonda in particular, Spohr achieved a widespread effect that extended to other countries for over thirty years. The splendid furnishings, sensational optical effects, large ballet scenes, the effective use of the choir and the exotic scenery were very fascinating. After a performance in Leipzig he noted: “When I entered the orchestra, I was greeted with general cheers. […] The duet between Amazali and Nadori aroused the greatest, really furious enthusiasm. "

Opera is not part of today's repertoire . There is a sound recording of a 1985 performance in Vienna under the direction of Gerd Albrecht. The same conductor has again in 1991 with the Philharmonic State Orchestra Hamburg and u. a. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in the role of Tristan, his wife Julia Varady in the role of Jessonda and Kurt Moll in the role of Dandau.

Individual evidence

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