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Overture, "Oberon"

Carl Maria von Weber
(1786-1826)



"Oberon" was written in 1826, two acts of it in Germany and the last in England. The story upon which it is founded appears in a collection of French romances under the title of "Huon de Bordeaux." It is substantially as follows: Oberon, the Elfin King, having quarreled with his fairy partner, can never be reconciled until he finds two lovers constant to each other under all circumstances. Puck ranges the world in quest of them. the two lovers are Sir Huon, a young knight of Bordeaux, and Reiza, daughter of the Caliph of Bagdad. The story relates their trials and temptations, through all of which they remain constant, thereby securing the forgiveness of Oberon. The overture is characteristic of the opera and opens with an Adagio sostenuto of fairy music with the magic horn of Oberon summoning the fairies. A few notes lead to a short passage from a fairy chorus in the flute. A march theme is then given out, played in the Court of Charlemagne, and introducing the hero, which is twice answered in the muted strings. The fairy music continues until a fortissimo chord in full orchestra leads to the Allegro, the subject of which is taken from the quartet in the opera, "Over the Dark Blue Waters." The horn call is heard again, whereupon the clarinet gives out the theme of Sir Huon’s song, "From Boyhood trained," followed by a passage from Reiza’s magnificent scena, "Ocean, thou mighty Monster," and a reference to the chorus sung by the spirits when they are directed by Puck to raise the storm which wrecks the lovers’ bark. The conclusion of the overture is of the most tumultuous and brilliant character. As a complete work it is one of the most remarkable combinations of fantasy and technical skill in modern music.





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