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Music with Ease > 19th Century German Opera (except Wagner) > The Barber of Baghdad - Cornelius


The Barber of Baghdad
(German title: Der Barbier von Baghdad)
An Opera by Peter Cornelius


Opera in two acts. Words and music by Peter Cornelius. Produced: Weimar, December 15, 1858.

CHARACTERS

THE CALIPH………………………………….. Baritone
BABA MUSTAPHA, a cadi………………….. Tenor
MARGIANA, his daughter…………………… Soprano
BOSTANA, a relative of the cadi…………….. Mezzo-Soprano
NURENDDIN………………………………… Tenor
THE BARBER………………………………… Bass


Act I. Nureddin is ill, very ill his servants say. They must know very little of such youthful illnesses. Margiana calls the invalid in a dream. Margiana is the medicine that can cure him, Margiana, the marvelously glorious daughter of the mighty Cadi, Baba Mustapha. And see how health reanimates Nureddin’s limbs, when Bostana, a relative of the cadi, approaches and brings the sweet news that Margiana will wait for her lover about noon when her father has gone to prayers in the mosque. But the latter, in order to appear properly, needs above everything else a barber. And Bostana appoints -- "O knowest thou, revered one, I find for you a learned one -- the greatest of all barbers, Abdu Hassan Ali Ebe Bekar. He is great as a barber, a giant as a talker, swift his razor, a thousand times quicker his tongue.





Act II. A magnificent room in the Cadi’s house. What a stirring, harmonious picture. Margiana, Bostana, and the cadi rejoice: "He comes! He comes! Oh, delightful pleasure. Of course the covetous old cadi is not thinking of young Nureddin but of the rich old Selim who wants to have Margiana for his wife. A mighty chest full of rich gifts, so he announces. But the cadi goes off full of dignity to prayers in the mosque. And now Nureddin comes. How happy the couple are. But is not that the barber approaching with his love-song? "O Allah, save us from the flood of his talk" -- no, rather save us from the cadi who suddenly comes back. The screams of a servant, whom he is punishing with a bastonade by his own hand, announce his arrival. There is only one escape. Quickly the chest is emptied and Nureddin gets in. Then the barber with Nureddin’s servant. Abdul Hassan Ali Ebe Bekar leaves no customers in the lurch. He who screamed can only be Nureddin whom the furious cadi has murdered. Bostana advices him to drag forth the chest; the cadi opposes. The wild clamour brings, in crowds, the people of Bagdad who hear rumours of a murder. Finally the caliph comes too. What is in the chest? Nureddin’s corpse, says the barber; Margiana’s dowry, answers the cadi. The chest is opened. The cadi is right, for Nureddin is not a corpse but only in a swoon because he was nearly smothered, but he is without doubt Margiana’s dowry and he will become so publicly. A cadi cannot lightly oppose the wish of a caliph. The barber is seized but is ordered by the caliph to be taken to his palace to entertain him with stories.





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