Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Email Password  
Not a subscriber yet?  
Keyword Search
  Classical Music Home > Opera Libretti

Opera Libretti

Beethoven | Bellini | Berg | Berlioz | Bizet | Cavalieri | Cavalli | Clerambault | Debussy | Donizetti | Falla | Gluck | Gounod | Granados | Hallstrom | Handel | Hartke | Haydn | Kalman | Leoncavallo | Mascagni | Massenet | Mercadante | Meyerbeer | Monteverdi | Mozart | Pacius | Petitgirard | Portugal | Puccini | Purcell | Rachmaninov | Rossini | Sacchini | Strauss Johann II | Verdi | Wagner Richard | Wagner Siegfried | Walton | Weber
Duke Magnus and the Mermaid
Title Page
Act I
Act II
Title Page
Act I
Act II

Duke Magnus and the Mermaid


Act I

A forest by the shores of LakeVättern.
It is morning, and the fishermen are preparing for their day’s work.

Fishermen’s Chorus

Let us hasten away in our boat
On the blue, surging billows;
Our smiling path
Is illuminated by the gold of morning!
Soon the blue waves
Will wash over the fragile vessel:
Give us then good fortune,
O morning! – be gracious to the fishermen!

A Fisherman
May such large, sparkling fish
Come out of our net!

A Woman
May we lose not a single one of our catch,
Promise us that, O mermaid!

The Men
We shall then take our catch
To Vadstena Castle,
To honour the prince with our booty,
For he pays us handsomely!

The Women
And we shall watch over our homes
And spin our flax,
And when you return
The cottage will be clean and nice!

Now hurry to the boats, all of you,
And pay heed to the time!
The morning winds summon you
And fortune favours those who persevere!

All (while the men are hurrying to the boats, climbing
in, casting off and disappearing behind the hill)
Let us hasten away in our boat! (etc.)
(After the song is over, the women leave in various directions.)

[The fisherman Peder and his wife Ingrid remain on the shore. Peder is bitter: he lost everything when the Crown seized Vedstena monastery. Scornfully he tells of Duke Magnus, who has visions in the form of a mermaid who tries to entice him down into the depths. Peder has also noticed how the Duke looks at his daughter, Anna. His plan is to make the Duke marry Anna.]

Our olden, golden age
Will gently return,
If only we do not hesitate
To try our hand at a dispute!

Just consider your actions in advance,
In this way you will ruin us!
Do we not enjoy a calm and happy life
In our cottage, without conflict?

In constant need and danger,
With the memory of bygone days
And comfortable abundance, –
Does it make a poor man weak or faint?

Not for a single day
Have we been without meagre bread!
Therefore consider…

No, no!
I shall not hesitate!
Our olden, golden age (etc.)
Just consider your actions in advance!

It must indeed be the gloomy Monk
Who has put such thoughts in your head.
But be careful!

Be silent, woman, be silent!

Do not follow his path:
He’ll make a fool of you!

No, the Monk is a holy man,
And one can heed his words blindly!
He will get revenge for me
On the man who brought me into this sad condition!
King Gösta’s son, held in the fetters
And the church’s victory, without the sword,
That would be a result that’s worth the effort!

Old fellow, be careful,
Do not follow the Monk’s path:
He’ll make a fool of you!

Be silent, woman, be silent!
Quiet, woman! Stop this owl’s hooting!

It shows the fear that’s in my heart!

Our olden, golden age (etc.)
Just consider your actions in advance
Do not follow his path:
He’ll make a fool of you!

But hold your tongue for everyone’ sake,
Or else you will get your punishment!

Fear will not hold my tongue,
No, old man, no!
But, thank God, I remember the time
When you were more gentle!

Peder (sternly)
Mind your own business!

Don’t forget that pride goes before a fall!
(She enters the cottage.)

[Now the Monk enters, to meet Peder. As a Catholic, the Monk has also lost authority and social esteem. He and Peder lay their plans: the feeble-minded Duke will become infatuated with the beautiful Anna, whereupon the Monk will lead her – and the Duke with her – back into the Catholic faith. In this way the Catholic church and the monastery will regain their power. Peder asks for the Monk’s blessing.]

The Monk
Go! Hear your Lord’s message!
Sancta Maria
May spare you
From the abyss of heresy!
Go! Hear your Lord’s message!
Go! To destroy
The peace of the serpent’s spawn,
And you shall thereby
Inherit Heaven!
You will see the saints
Smiling at you benignly:
Onward, then! Avenger! –
Gloria tibi Domine!
Gloria tibi sancte!
Salve te Domine!

(The Monk exits to the left and, after he has left, Peder goes into the cottage.)

[Lisa, a friend of Anna’s happened to hear the conversation between the Monk and Peder. She dislikes the Monk’s advice.]

The time is already over, thank God,
When nuns used to walk in rows
To pray Ave with sighs and shrieks, –
In freedom we praise our creator,
Amid roses and lovely foliage.

God bless King Gösta, who sent his messenger
To dismiss the monks’ father!
For the veils and woollen attire were laid aside.
And maidens were dressed in silk for their weddings,
Amid roses and lovely foliage.

I was not made to be a nun, to be sure,
I am much too merry for that!
And here, in my solitude, I can admit
That – if the right man comes along - I shall wed him,
Amid roses and lovely foliage.

Who was the right man that you mentioned?

Oh, Ulf! You scared me so!

Are you really so bashful
When it’s about your friend?
If you gave me a little kiss,
You would be faithful!

Lisa (jumps aside)
No, thanks! No kisses!
Dear Ulf, that’s not possible yet!
My mother has said that one should dread them
More than the Russians, to be sure!

Your mother is old, and she forgets
That she was also young once!

My mother is old, and therefore
She can judge worldly matters wisely!

Ulf (tenderly)
Was I not the right man, then?

Lisa (mischievously)
I’ll let you know next time!

Ulf (intending to leave)
Oh! You’re so heartless!

Lisa (tenderly)
Ulf! (aside) I’m sure he’ll stay!

Ulf (hesitantly)
So farewell, then!

Are you leaving already?

Yes, I have no reason to stay.

Lisa (smiling)
No reason?

No, none at all,
Because you no longer love me!

Lisa (tenderly)
Ulf! (aside) I’m sure he’ll stay!

Ulf (happily)
You called me back?

If you would like me to be your wife,
Then so be it, and I hope you also like
My slightly capricious nature!

Yes, I love you very much!
(He embraces and kisses her)

A little occasional bickering
Intensifies the flame of love,
And joins the hearts together more warmly!
For all the ill feeling a moment ago
Was extinguished with a kiss,

[Lisa’s fiancé, Ulf, has hurried away from the preparations for the Duke’s hunting party. He now comes to report that he has been appointed cook to the Duke. Now, therefore, he and Lisa can be married in the autumn! They see Sir Brynolf coming; he looks depressed. Ulf is sure that Brynolf is in love. They do not want to disturb him and leave together.]

Wherever my foot alights upon the land
On these beautiful shores,
I see her image, just her image!
She hovers, carefree,
Pn the gentle wave,
She smiles in the mild forest!

In the golden courtrooms
There are many rosy girls who communicate
With glances as well as with words;
But they do not hold any attraction for me,
I can only belong to you,
My Anna, on this earth!

Quiet! Didn’t I hear his voice?

It’s her! What bliss for my heart!
Oh Anna! Oh Anna! Come here to me,
And give me comfort!

Oh what bliss, what joy,
To be able to hold you tight1

My longing heart,
Now you are comforted,
All the pain is now forgotten
In your throbbing chest!

Yes, forgotten is all the pain
In the throbbing chest!
Oh, what joy
To be able to hold you tight!
What bliss, what joy
To be able to hold you tight!

Oh what bliss, what joy,
To be able to hold you tight1

[In Brynolf’s arms, Anna has for a moment forgotten the difference in their social positions. Now, though, she comes to her senses and asks Brynolf to forgive her. He assures her that he is not concerned that she is only a fisherman’s daughter. He is convinced that his father, Sten Åkeson, will allow Anna to become his wife. Brynolf returns to the hunting party, and Anna remains alone.]

I played as a child by the blue waves,
And they sang for me already then!
And therefore I have always loved them too,
These beautiful, restless little waves!
It is said that falsehood’s home is in the waves
But I have never believed that tale,
For the waves bring back peace with their flowing,
And they give rest to the restless friend,
When it has become dark in the forest.

Once God the Father commanded the billows
To reproduce everything in their reflection:
Every hour the water changes its shape
But in the depths it is nevertheless not cold
For the heart that is tormented all over the earth
Is healed by the kiss of the waves’ mouth,
And still, in the quiet evening hour,
The light can be seen rising like a flame from the lake
Though it has become dark in the forest.

[Anna disappears, the Duke arrives with a hunting party.]

Huntsmen’s Chorus
Onward across the land and through forest
The forest’s wild creatures cross
Our path!
We trap the fleet-footed deer,
Without swift lances! –
Wherever our gaze is directed,
May your fair maidens
Greet us with green garlands,
When our ‘halloo’ resounds!

[Sten Åkeson, the Duke’s lord high constable, is worried about the Duke’s health. He attempts to speak to the Duke, but the Duke demands to be left alone; he needs rest. Uneasily, the others leave him.]


Give me back my former peace,
Extinguish my flames of longing.
Give me back my heart’s happiness,
Make me carefree, as I was before!
Fair maiden, oh, step aside,
And give comfort to my tormented mind;
Hear me, gentle queen of the waves,
Come to me and grant me peace!
Tell me, tell me, where can I find peace?
Where shall I find peace?
But, quiet! Did I not hear an answer?
It came from the shore! Oh!
Come again
In your shimmering attire,
O splendid, ardent,
Blossoming bride!
Am I to see you
Controlling the billows?
Oh yes, you are close by!
I hear music
That bewings the soul,
And I am blessed! –
Come again, come again,
Oh come, oh come!
In your shimmering attire,
That my pounding heart
May find its bride!

Anna (on the lake, glides gently along in a boat, near the hill)
And the King’s son walked along the verdant shore
And the mermaid sang across the waters:
‘I shall willingly extinguish the fire that consumes you,
Come down to me in the distant blue land,
I shall kiss you so peacefully.
Come, son of the King, come to my longing breast
Beneath the waves!’

‘I have a shimmering palace of crystals
Which is enthroned in splendour beneath the waves!
And you will barely have taken a single step in its halls
Before pain and sorrow disappear like mist,
And your yearning spirit will be joyful!
Come, son of the King, come to my longing breast
Beneath the waves!’

Yes! Yes, I’m coming!

Anna (disappears behind the hill)
Come, son of the King, come to my longing breast
Beneath the waves!’

Magnus (jumps up on the hill)
Yes! I shall say farewell to my torment!
(He leaps off the hill into the lake: a cry of distress is heard from.) Anna

Scene 12

Peder (with Ingrid, from the cottage)
What was that cry I heard?

It was Anna’s voice!

Sten, Brynolf, Huntsmen
What cry of anguish was borne by the wind
To a breast struck by amazement?

God! What a terrible sight!
Our prince has fallen into the clasp of the waves!
What a terrible thing!
I shall rescue him,
If I fail, you will never see me again!
(He leaps into the lake.)

What anguish, what horror!

Peder (aside)
I may well be furious with indignation;
Shall victory thus
Slip through my hands?

O God, keep our prince
From all danger!

Sten (to himself)
Assuredly, a trap
That somebody set for him!

(They all hurry down to the shore, looking uneasily and with tense expectation to the left.)

The Monk (who becomes visible at this moment in the wings on the left, pointing triumphantly towards the lake)
So, may all the heretics
Be defeated by death!
Triumph! Heaven’s revenge
Will come to you all!
(Brynolf is seen with the Duke. They are helped up onto the shore.)

Sten (kneeling at Magnus’s side)
He is alive! He is breathing!
May our prayers intermingle
With profound joy,
And rise up devoutly
To Heaven on high.

Peder (aside)
He is alive! He is breathing!
May my hatred now intermingle
With jubilant joy!
My revenge will not be delayed,
Oh! Now I am satisfied!

The Monk (in the wings to the left, unseen by the others)
He is alive! He is breathing!
But soon will come joyfully
The dawn of the day
When all the heretics
Will be defeated by the avenger,
To the delight of the saints!

All (busying themselves around the Duke)
He is alive! He is breathing!
May our prayers intermingle
With profound joy,
And rise up devoutly
To Heaven on high.


Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group