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Music Text

Libretto by the composer after the novel by Robert Michel (Cz,G)

Scoring

Major roles: S,2M,A,3T,hBar,Bar,B;
minor roles: 2T,B; chorus; children's chorus;
3.2(II=corA).2.2-4.3.3.1-timp.perc:cyms/BD/3tgl/carillon/tam-t/glsp/SD/xyl-cel-2harp-mand-strings

Abbreviations (PDF)

World Premiere
2/28/1931
Bayerische Staatsoper, München
Conductor: Hans Knappertsbuch
Company: with Elisabeth Feuge, Fritz Krauss, Luisa Willer

Roles

OMER AGA Bass
RAMAJA, his wife Mezzo Soprano
RUKEJA, their daughter Soprano
MUSTAFA AZIMBEGOVIC, known as the White Bey High Baritone
JUSUF AZIMBEGOVIC, known as the Black Bey, his younger brother Tenor
MUHARMI Mezzo Soprano
OLD ALIJA Baritone
MOTHER HATIDZA Contralto
A FARMER FROM LJUBUSKI Tenor
THE MUEZZIN Tenor
Time and Place

1910, in the Herzegovinan city of Mostar

Synopsis

Azimbeg’s family is cursed: the youngest son is shunned by women of every generation. Rukeja, however, is still single, and therefore a possible match, especially as the marriage broker Hatidža declares that only a bey (or nobleman) is worthy of her. Mustafa, Azimbeg’s elder son (known as the White Bey), already has two wives, but no matter – Rukeja is not averse to the idea of becoming the third. Then she hears a distant voice singing and falls in love with it… Jusuf, the younger son, known as the Black Bey, is furious. A new road is being built next to his tower, which has to be pulled down. He is advised to lodge an appeal. Mustafa entreats Rukeja before the wedding and threatens to visit another girl if she refuses him. She tells Hatidža about his behaviour. Jusuf writes his appeal and gives it to Alija to deliver. Rukeja recognises the beloved voice, but Jusuf has gone before she can identify the owner. Alija orders the village lads to sing, so that Rujeka may discover which of them it is. Even Jusuf agrees to sing, enchanted by Rujeka’s beauty, but tells her that if she rejects him he will kill her. Then the Muezzin calls and he goes into the mosque. Hatidža puts on Rukeja’s clothes and tricks Mustafa into marrying her. Rukeja brings Jusuf a letter informing him that he can keep his tower. He sings at last, and she recognises the beloved voice. She is not afraid of the curse; love will overcome.

Moods

Dramatic, Romantic

Subjects

History, Relationships




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