Hide Articles List

16 articles on this Page

UP AND DOWN THE CASTLE.

THE PARIS EXHIBITION.

BLODWEN: A WELSH OPERA.

News
Cite
Share

BLODWEN: A WELSH OPERA. DR. JOSEPH PARRY'S NEW WELSH OPERA. Dr. Joseph Parry, the gifted author of the above opera, has in this instance entered a department of musical art which has hitherto been entirely avoided by Welsh composers. It is a matter for some sur- prise that the Principality, which is so rich in other kinds of music, should have been until now com- pletely destitute of operatic writing. A musical people, such as the Welsh unquestionably are, capable of appreciating and developing this kind of dramatic music, mightreasollably have been expected to produce something in this line sooner. Dr. Parry and the late lamented poet of Llanbrynmair were, m an eminent degree, happy in their choice of a theme. Nothing could be more appropriate than that the first Welsh opera should be composed to a subject endowed with national characteristics, and a more fitting subject could hardly have been chosen for elaboration than an interesting incident in Welsh history in the reign of King Honry Bolingbroke in the 14th century. The characters in the opera are— Bloclto,ern (the title role). daughter of Rhys Gwyn, a. Welsh warrior, sut-posed to have fallen in battle Ellen, daughter of Lady Maelor Lady Maelor, of Maelor Castle; Sir Hywel Ðdu, the Knight of Snowdon Castle; The Messenger of Lady Maolor; Arthur o'r Benvyn, a Welsh warrior lolo, a bard Rhys Givyn, Montes, Soldiers, Huntsmen, Castle. "keepers, &c., &c. The opera consists of 41 numbers, divided into three acts, which are sub-divided into two scenes each. The opening scene is laid in the castle of Maelor, which has for some time been the scene of great activity and unusual preparations. It is the eve of the marriage of Ellen to Arthur o'r Benvyn. Lady Maelor is intently viewing the numerous bridal presents which have been bestowed upon her happy child. The arrival of Sir Hywel Ddu and his fair adopted Bwchuf:1i on a visit to Maelor is impatiently awaited. Suddenly the messenger announces their arrival, upon which Lady Maelor greets them in a neat seiig, and the attendants in the distance are heard manifesting their regard for Arthur and Ellen in a prettily written chorus to the following words On the wall, above the chamber Where sweet Ellen sleeps at night, Let 11 make a heart of lilies, Interspersed with ruses bright; Let us blerul in onrige blossems Names of two that will be one; And withpu that sacred figure Fix the blended names anon. The bard, followed by a retinue of well. wishers, then enters the apartment, and Arthur and Ellen receive the homage of those assembled. In the second scene the locality is unchanged. The nuptials of Ellen-and Arthur have been consumma- ted In the festive hall, where gaiety an. reigned supreme, they are surrounded by devotea friends. In this scene_ occurs a beautifu^_ g waltz—an exquisite piece of writing 'TJ,a think, is certain to attain immense popularity. I he time is well marked by all the parts in succession, while the melody is at once both catching and effec- tive. To return to the plot. The sun of evening, fast approaching the horizon, poured in its golden good upon the assembled guests, whose mirth had already reached its climax, when a number of Plan- tagenet soldiers present themselves outside the ramparts, and demand the keys f the castle. Little heed was, however, paid to Henry's henchmen by the imperious Lady Maelor, who bade them return with this, her scornful reply- Go and tell youi- haughty sovereign That the freeborn sons of Wales, Sheltered by their loftv mountains, Treat Iris threats as idle tales Look upon the wavinp: crayon On'the tower plantt d high, It will lead ogaill tovicilry A. it. did in days gone by. A firm and spirited little chorus to the above lines, supposed to Too sung by the castle attendants, brmgs the first act to a close. The opening scene of the second act is laidm front of Maelor Castle. On the lawn, in the grey of morn, while the hunters are preparing for the chase, lolo enters, and from the appearance of the heavens pre- phesies that troubles are impending. SirHywell Ddu, who does not join the hunters, in a subdued tone sings the following1 ditty to Bladwen- My Blodwen is blithe as the morning, And chaste as the rays of the sun. She needs not the spurious adorning Which other vain dalusels IJut on; The pines on the mountain may perish, The flowers may droop on the plain, But this fond assurance I cherish. The titect aaectiun will flourih My Blodwen shall BU.dwen for ever remain. From an adjacent arbour Blodwen overhears the sentiments of love exprossed by the smitten knight, and eventually a scene of mutual declaration of aSoetion taflea place. The preparation for the chase are abruptly terminated by the appearance of the messenger upon the scene. Verifying the predictions of Ialo, he declares that King Henry's legions are marching upon :the fatherland, and concludes, by uttering, in the name of the Prince, a call to arms in defence of home and country. Sir Howell and Arthur cheer one another in a duet of martial music, He fouows:- The martial spirit, which of old Defied-the Roman legions, Though Ions allay'd is taking hold Of dll the mountain regions The call to arms is promptly greeted With fervent shouts, where'er repeated; Around tur Prince the warriors rally- A countless thrcng From hill and valley:— A-countlese throng. Following this we have a capital soldier's -chorea with the genuine ring about it, written for two tenors and two basses. It is a composition full of spirit and enthusiasm, coupled with an expression of faith in the interposition of Divine Providence in behalf-of right against might, and is arranged with signal ability. The scene, on the eve of departure to the field of battle, is rendered pathetic and effective by the introduction of an air expressive of Ellen's grief at parting from her husband. Blodwen, who is also overwhelmed with sorrow, following the example -set by Ellen, fastens a favour upon the example -set by Ellen, fastens a favour upon the breast of her betrothed, repeating as she does so the song already sang by Ellen. This scene, which is one of the beat a,rranged;inthe work, terminates with a chorus of Welsh soldiers. In the-next scene a messenger from the field of battle arrives with discouraging news of the dire conflict. Although Arthur and Sir Hjitmll have distinguished themselves by their valour, there are but faint hotpes that victory will crown their efforts. A further elaboration of tnis.episode terminates the second act. It might be accepted as a proof that the libretto and music have been skilfully treated when we find the interest gradually increasing with the develope- ment of the Ifiot, and culminating in the concluding ,act. There is no anti-climax—the interest of the libretto is not permitted to flag, and the effect the sausic is kept unbroken throughout; and the eaimax is appropriately withheld until the conclusion of the last act is approaching. But to return to the tfeeme. Arthur, mortally-wounded, has been conveyed isaeJt to the castle, where lie lies under the tender care of his youthful spouse. Calm, and even joyful, m the midst of agony, :he 'breathes the song he sang to his devoted Ellen when he departed for the fray; and while the last words of the song are yet on his lips, he draws hiaexpirmg breath. Then comes a solemn funeral chorus of appropriate ic wedded to appropriate words. Blodwen, anxious for the fate of Sir ihywell, in a song invokes the passing breeze to carry her some tidings of her absent lover. The words -of this song are exqaisitive in their tenderness and appropriateness, and-it is only want of space that preclude them from this notice. The mingled anxiety and sense of abject loneliness on the part of Blodwen develop into intense anguish Qa being in- formed by Iolo that the Welsh have been van- quished, acad that Sir Hywell Ddu has been made jwisoner. # The scene has changed "-—it is a dismal cell m Chester Cattle, in which the gaHaxt knight of Ssoowdon Caatle lies incarcerated. Blodwm; Lady Maelor, and Lolo have had permission to visit him on the eve of execution. The condemned Sir Hywell, singing his faiewell song to Blad-wen, returns to her the favour, once of pearly whiteness, but now dis- coloured with the gore of the fallen. While the knight imparts the last kiss upon the lips of the bethrothed, violent knocking is heard at the nmfcstvo prison doors. A stranger, of imposing mien, enters excitedly, and demands to be shewn to Sir HyiveCs cell. Iolo meanwhile geeks to know the stranger's name, who, to the astonishment of all, ia found to be no other than Rhys Gwyn (Blod'it'e.n:,S father), who was supposed to have been slain 20 yesu-s previous J to this. A scene of inexpressible joy follows this happy dlscovery-Blodwen rushes into her father's arms, and he in turn embraces her with paternal affection; Iolo and Lady Maelor stand bySa blank aatonishment, and the unhappy knight watches the scere with the utmost bewilderment. It is only when the first blnah of excitement has ^anewhat abated that R^V* Gu-yn has time to oomnumieate the joyous tidings of which he is the bearer. The king had died, and to mark the mournful day, ifc had been decreed that all prisoners should receive free pardon! The prisoners are liberated—the prison doors are thrown wide open—the excited multitude rush in with shouts of joy; and the opera terminates with a spirited jugal chorus, into which the pred omi- nant strains of a popular Welsh march have been skilfully and effectively introduced. Such, briefly, are the salient points of the pioneer Welsh opera. It would manifestly be impossible to crowd into the limited space at our command any. thing like an adequate description of the stirring points with which the libretto teems, based, as it has been, upon an eventful era in the history of the oft- repeated efforts of the Welsh to retain their indepen- dence. The words, written originally in Welsh verse by the late Mynyddog, have been rendered into English by Professor Rowlands, M,A., and we are glad to be able to bear testimony to the skilful manner in which he has achieved a somewhat difficult task. The opera, which will soon be pub- lished in a volume, is thus furnished with Welsh and English words, which cannot but greatly enhance the value of the work, and enlarge the circle of those likely to peruse it. The music is of moderately difficult character, and has been carefully written. It is, unquestionably, by far the most important work hitherto composed by Dr. Parry, and is, more- over, one calculated to reflect great credit on its talented author. Having heard the majority of the choruses rendered by the Representative Choir, under the conduetorship of the composer, we venture to affirm that they do not lack the requisite elements of permanent popularity. "Blodwen" will form part of the programme of the Welsh Representative Choir's forthcoming concerts at Aberdare, Ponty- pridd, Cardiff, Newport, Bristol, London, and Cam- bridge. It is also to be performed by Dr. Parry's own choir at Aberystwyth, at the desire of the local Masonic Lodge, and under the patronage of the leading families of the county of Cardigan.

---LAMPETER.

TRE'RDDOL.

LLANILAR.

TREGARON.

Advertising

A WORD FOR DUMB ANIMALS.

PENILLION

CARDIGAN EISTEDDFOD.

--------------NORTH CARDIGANSHIRE…

Advertising

Cambrian Railways.

Manchester and Milford Railway

Advertising