Oberon (Weber)

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Work data
Title: Oberon
The enchanted forest

The enchanted forest

Shape: Romantic opera in three acts
Original language: English
Music: Carl Maria von Weber
Libretto : James Planché after Christoph Martin Wieland
Premiere: April 12, 1826
Place of premiere: Royal Opera House Covent Garden, London
Playing time: approx. 2 ½ hours
Place and time of the action: France, the Orient, and a Fairy Kingdom,
around 800 AD
  • Oberon, Elf King ( tenor )
  • Titania, Oberon's wife ( silent role )
  • Hüon von Bordeaux (original: Huon), Duke of Guienne (tenor)
  • Scherasmin (original: Sherasmin), Hüons Knappe ( baritone , also tenor)
  • Harun al Raschid, Caliph of Baghdad ( speaking role )
  • Rezia (original: Reiza), his daughter ( soprano )
  • Fatime (original: Fatima), Rezia's confidante ( mezzo-soprano )
  • Puck, Elf, Oberon's subservient ghost ( Alt )
  • Droll, Elfe (speaking role, added later for the German premiere by splitting the role of the puck)
  • Two sea girls (soprano)
  • Babekan, Persian Prince (speaking role)
  • Almansor, Emir of Tunis (speaking role)
  • Roschana, Amansor's wife (speaking role)
  • Abdallah, pirate (speaking role)
  • Charlemagne (speaking role)
  • Harem guards, gardeners, slaves, ghosts, nymphs, servant guards, entourage of the caliph and Charlemagne

Oberon, or The Elf King's Oath ( Oberon, or the oath of the Elf King ), Jähn's catalog raisonné J. 306, is a romantic opera in three acts by Carl Maria von Weber . The libretto is by James Planché based on Christoph Martin Wieland 's romantic heroic poem of the same name in the English translation by William Sotheby from 1798, including some details from Shakespeare's Midsummer Night 's Dream and Storm . Weber composed the opera between 1825 and 1826. The first performance took place on April 12, 1826 under the musical direction of the composer at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London .

The German premiere took place on December 23, 1826 in Leipzig . One arrangement by Gustav Mahler was first performed in Hanover on December 25, 1924, another by Walter Panofsky on May 11, 1968 in Munich. In 1994 Martin Mosebach wrote a new libretto: first performance in 1995 at the Frankfurt Opera under the musical direction of Hans Zender , world premiere of the revised version in 2009 in the Theater Freiburg under the musical direction of Patrick Peirre in the production of Michael Kloss and Manfred Roth .

History of origin

Carl Maria von Weber was in the summer of 1824 after his return from a relaxing stay in Marienbad by Charles Kemble , the director of Covent Garden , the offer to compose an opera for London. He had to decide whether he would rather compose Faust or Oberon . Although Weber was in bad health at this time and suffered from tuberculosis , he accepted the composition and chose Oberonstoff, unsuspecting, as the literary sheet on the Rheinische Flora wrote after his death that his first fairy opera would be his swan song in the land of the elves should.

For a foreboding letter to Friedrich Wilhelm Gubitz

"Dear friend, I am earning a fair amount of money in England, I owe it to my family, but I know very well - I am going to London to - die there."

Not only is there no evidence. Weber noted all of his letters in his short-form diary, and there was no corresponding entry there. He also contradicts everything we know of Weber's last few months, for example that on his stopover in Paris on the way to London he discussed commissions for future operas and that in London he postponed the planned trip home after the serious warning signs of his illness.

As with the Euryante , Weber had to struggle with adversity in his last opera Oberon , which concerned the libretto . Planché, the English lyricist, sent act by act piece by piece. Weber was therefore unable to get an overall impression of the libretto at the beginning. Weber criticized politely but firmly the extremely large number of speaking and silent people, and above all the omission of music in crucial, action-bearing moments. “The layout of the whole thing is quite alien to my ideas and maxims. All of these things deprive our Oberon of the title of an opera and will make him unsuitable for any other European theater, which is a very bad thing for me, ”Weber wrote (in English) to Planché in London.

It was not until 1986 that the English original was staged on the European continent under the musical direction of John Eliot Gardiner at the Lyon Opera House. Despite its great success, Oberon was only brought to the stage in edited versions in the following decades, especially in Germany, where the aesthetics and structure of the much more popular Weberian Freischütz make it difficult to access his last opera in its actual form.


first act

Oberon and his wife Titania argue about who is more volatile: man or woman. Oberon has sworn that he will only love Titania again when a human couple has found each other who, despite all earthly dangers, have shown their loyalty to one another. Oberon sends the elven Puck out to roam the human world. Puck reports to Oberon that the knight Huon of Bordeaux killed Prince Karl, who is a son of Charlemagne. Charlemagne only gave Huon his life under one condition. Hüon has to travel to Baghdad to attend the wedding of Rezia, the daughter of Caliph Harun al Raschid. During the wedding supper he is supposed to kiss Rezia and kill her husband. Huon agrees and moves to Baghdad with his squire Sherasmin.

Oberon feels sorry for the brave knight and puts him to sleep in which the beautiful Rezia appears to him. When Hüon wakes up, Oberon hands him a magic horn. If this sounds, he is protected from all dangers. The squire receives a gold cup that refills as soon as it is raised to his lips. Oberon leads both of them to Baghdad with his wand.

Second act

Once in Baghdad, Hüon takes part in the wedding, kisses Rezia and kills her husband Babekan. Since Hüon struck the magic horn before his act, everyone in the ballroom was frozen by a spell. Hüon is able to escape with his squire Sherasmin and Rezia, as well as their confidante Fatime. They drive back to France in a ship provided by Oberon. Oberon warns the four of a possible breach of loyalty. In order to test the lovers Hüon and Rezia, Oberon capsizes the ship. They are washed up on a deserted beach, where Rezia falls into the hands of pirates who sell them to the Emir Almansor in Tunis.

Third act

The four companions find themselves as slaves in the palace of Almansor in Tunis. The Emir Almansor has fallen in love with Rezia and threatens her with violence if she does not return his love. Roschana, the wife of the emir, fell in love with Huon for her part. She promises him the throne in case Almansor kills. When Roschana tries to seduce Huon, the two are surprised by Almansor. Since Rezia refuses to have Almansor's will, she and Huon are said to be burned at a stake. Just as the execution is about to take place, Oberon appears and breaks off the trial. The love of the two for each other has shown that a couple can be true to each other in all situations. Oberon can now reconcile himself with Titania. As a gift, Oberon and Titania combine the two lovers, Hüon and Rezia, as well as Fatime and Scherasmin. Charlemagne gives life to the brave knight Huon, because he successfully completed his task at the court of the caliph in Baghdad.


Web links

Commons : Oberon  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Solveig Schreiter: The libretto for Carl Maria von Weber's Oberon. Dissertation from the University of Music Carl Maria von Weber Dresden, 2013, p. 104 ( online, PDF ).
  2. ^ Karl Laux: Carl Maria von Weber , Reclam Biografien, Reclam, Leipzig, 1986, p. 202.
  3. ^ Review of the German Oberon text book by Theodor Hell .
  4. ^ Hermann Gehrmann , Carl Maria von Weber , Verlagsgesellschaft für Literatur und Kunst, Berlin, 1899, p. 88.
  5. CM v. Weber's letter to James Planché dated February 19, 1825 .