About this Recording
8.225346-48 - WAGNER, S.: Schmied von Marienburg (Der) [Opera] (Schneider, Broberg, PPP Music Theatre, Strobel)
English  German 

Siegfried Wagner (1869–1930)
Der Schmied von Marienburg, Op. 13 (1920) (The Blacksmith of Marienburg)

 

Opera in Three Acts
Text and Music by Siegfried Wagner
Marienburg and its Environs, 1410

Heinrich Reuß von Plauen, Commander of Schwetz, later the Grand Master /A hermit  - Marek Kalbus, Bass-baritone

Michael Küchmeister von Sternberg, Marshal of the Order - Till Schulze, Baritone
Alfred von Jungingen, Nephew of the Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen - Anton Leiß-Huber, Lyric tenor
Helwich von Hartenstein, belonging to the Kulm Lizard League - Christoph von Weitzel, Baritone
Muthart, Blacksmith of Marienburg - Karl Schneider, Heldentenor
Frau Madaldrut, his mother - Anne Wieben, Alto
Wanhilt, his wife -  Maacha Deubner, Soprano
Martin, his journeyman - Johannes Föttinger, Tenor
Winelib, an orphan - Therese Glaubitz, Soprano
Willekin, a townsman - Ralf Sauerbrey, Character baritone
Friedelind, his daughter - Rebecca Broberg, Soprano
Grete, her nurse - Anna Wawrzyniak, Mezzo-soprano
A Marienburg gatekeeper - Antoine Godor, Bass-buffo
The lame wanderer - Johann Winzer, Character tenor
Urte, Muthart’s maidservant - Dinah Berowska, Soprano
A lad - Michael Gann, Tenor
An inn-keeper - Patrick Ruyters, Bass

Knights of Marienburg, Peasants, Shepherds, People: Berowska, Föttinger, Gann,
Glaubitz, Godor, Ruyters, Stefanie Schwaß, Wawrzyniak, Wieben

PPP Music Theatre Ensemble, Munich
Baltic Philharmonic Orchestra, Gdan´sk • Frank Strobel
Musical Assistant: Quentin Hindley

From the stage production directed by Peter P. Pachl at the Filharmonia Gdan´sk
Publisher: Musikverlag Max Brockhaus, Remagen

 

The Opera

Siegried Wagner’s opera Der Schmied von Marienburg had its first performance at the Municipal Theatre in Rostock on 16 December 1923 and was performed in the 1928/29 season. In 1931 and 1932 the opera was given at the Brunswick Regional Theatre, in Königsberg in 1934/35, in Stuttgart in 1935 and at the Berlin State Opera in 1938. A proposed performance in 1929 at the Waldoper in Zoppot, near Danzig (Gdan´sk), was not realised. The first Polish performance was on 28 June 2008 as a co-production between the Munich pianopianissimo-musiktheater and the Polish Filharmonia Baltycka in Gdan´sk.
Peter P. Pachl

Siegfried Wagner - Biographical Notes

Siegfried Wagner was born in 1869 at Tribschen near Lucerne, the illegitimate son of Richard Wagner and Liszt’s daughter Cosima, former wife of Hans von Bülow and later to be Wagner’s second wife. He was educated privately at home until his father’s death in 1883, later studying music with Engelbert Humperdinck in Frankfurt. He turned from music to architecture after 1890, at first at the Berlin Polytechnic and then in Karlsruhe. It was here that he came under the influence of the Wagner conductor Felix Mottl. A voyage to India and China in 1892 with his English friend Clement Harris persuaded him to return home to spend four years as an assistant at Bayreuth under his mother, Hans Richter and Julius Kniese, a preparation for his future rôle as producer, director and conductor of the Festival. In 1896 he conducted The Ring and in 1901 staged The Flying Dutchman. The latter year brought the birth of Walter Aign, who later claimed to be the illegitimate son of Siegfried Wagner, born to the wife of the Bayreuth minister Karl Wilhelm Aign, in whose name he was registered. Walter Aign was later employed at the Bayreuth Festival. Cosima Wagner suffered a slight stroke in 1903, finally handing the administration over to her son, who took charge of the Festival from 1906 until his death in 1930. His marriage in 1915 to Winifred Marjorie Williams, 28 years his junior and mother of his four children, brought domestic difficulties, with a fundamental difference between his liberal views and the strongly German nationalist tendencies that she had acquired from her adoptive parents, which later brought her to align herself with the National Socialists, seemingly sharing with them a view of her husband as weak.

The twelve completed operas of Siegfried Wagner are very different from those of his father, although he followed the latter’s example in writing his own libretti. The subjects chosen reflect, perhaps, the interests of Humperdinck, often based on fairy-tales or magic in a world that echoes the stories of the Brothers Grimm. His first opera, Der Bärenhäuter, was first staged in Munich in 1899 and won considerable contemporary popularity. Der Schmied von Marienburg was the last of his operas to be completed.

The Blacksmith of Marienburg - The Historical Background

The story, as we already gather from the title, is set in the Middle Ages, in Marienburg in Poland (formerly West Prussia) in the year 1410. Siegfried Wagner, however, does not offer a depiction of historical details of the lives and loves of knights, a picture of the heroic German past, or of German nationalism. He builds his work on two levels, taking a historical event, the battle of Tannenberg in 1410, the Polish war of liberation, as a starting-point, to characterize the social and political situation of the time, and secondarily showing how individuals behave in the then-existing social system.

Prussia at the time was under the Knights of the Teutonic Order, handed over in 1226 by the Golden Bull of Rimini to the Grand Master Hermann von Salza, and in 1234 placed under the Pope. The development of the Order goes back to the master of the Bremen cathedral chapter, Albert von Appeldern, Bishop of Riga, who in 1201 founded a religious order of knights, the Order of the Brethren of the Sword. By 1230 Livonia and Courland were conquered and began to be colonised and ‘christianised’ and in 1237 the Brethren were united with the Teutonic Order. The original reason for the establishment of these conglomerates of priests and warriors was the religious and political ambition of the Catholic Church to compel people to acceptance of the doctrine of salvation. The Crusades in the Middle East had won some success by the end of the twelfth century. After the fall of Acre, however, in 1291, the Teutonic Order turned its attention to eastern Europe, with the intention of converting Prussia and the Baltic regions and, incidentally, extending German territories. By 1236 Hermann von Salza had completed the conquest of Prussia and fiercely fought campaigns continued into Livonia and Courland and then into Lithuania. From 1309 the capital of the Teutonic Order was Marienburg and other cities were established in the region, as settlers followed the victorious Knights. In 1410 the Knights were defeated at Tannenberg, but Marienburg was successfully defended by Heinrich von Plauen, who became Grand Master and in 1411 made peace with Poland. By this time the strict rules of the order had led to resistance by some members and to defections, and Heinrich von Plauen’s attempts at reform led to his deposition in 1413 and ten years of imprisonment. The Order was later to surrender Marienburg to Poland, transferring its headquarters to Königsberg, and finally losing its power. The Eidechsenbund (Lizard League), of which Helwich von Hartenstein is a member, was formed in 1397 against the Knights of the Teutonic Order.
- English version adapted and abridged from the note by Rupert Lummer

Notes on Der Schmied von Marienburg

Analogies were soon sought between Der Schmied von Marienburg and the contemporary situation, with perceived references to Hindenburg and a parallel between Marienburg and Bayreuth, with the blacksmith as Siegfried Wagner and the forge as Wahnfried, the Wagner family home. The new opera came at a difficult time. The preceding work, Das Liebesopfer, was never set, although the autobiographical protagonist ‘Wernhart’ (suggesting ‘becoming hard’) was the precursor of Muthart in Der Schmied von Marienburg. Composition of the latter went slowly, but there was good news in the birth of Siegfried Wagner’s first son, Wieland, known by the nickname Huschele. The event is reflected in the new opera, where Muthart’s mother, an echo of Cosima Wagner, remonstrates with her son over his liberal attitude and urges him to father a child. Doubts about the paternity of Huschele have their parallel in the relationship of Muthart and Wanhilt and of Willekin and Friedelind, and dialogue between the hermit and Willekin brings to mind the allegedly false entry in the Bayreuth Church register of Karl Walter Aign as the father of Siegfried Wagner’s illegitimate son.

Siegfried Wagner had increasing problems with the young wife he had married, the orphan Winifred Williams, who had imbibed extreme nationalist German ideas from her adoptive parents, the Klindworths. In the opera two aspects of her appear, first as the orphan Winelib, serving as nurse to a small child, and then as a young mother, Wanhilt. Winifred saw to it that Cosima Wagner acknowledged the continuation of the dynasty in having her photograph taken with the baby on Wieland’s first birthday. She assumed increasing importance not only as the mother of four children but also through her relationship with Adolf Hitler. In 1918 her second child, a daughter, christened Friedelind, was born and she has her counterpart in the opera, sharing a name and nickname with the heroine of the opera. Friedelind Wagner, her father’s favourite daughter, later rejected her mother’s political beliefs and emigrated to the United States, with the help of Toscanini, and did much to promote her father’s music.

When Alfred von Tirpitz, who had been responsible for building up the German navy, started a new right-wing Fatherland Party, Winifred Wagner became a member, while her husband finally refused to join, in spite of initial hesitation. Muthart, in the opera, is similarly divided in his mind. He had accepted Wanhilt, pregnant with her illegitimate child. When a letter arrived for Wanhilt from Helwich, the child’s father, he had intercepted it, since he did not believe in Helwich’s honesty. When, however, Helwich later turned up himself and Wanhilt vouched for this radical underground fighter, Muthart helped him escape from Marienburg. In this way Muthart revealed to the enemy a secret passage into the city. Finally, having taken upon himself the various elements of guilt, he perishes for a system in which he himself no longer believes.

Siegfried Wagner’s operas are frequently related to his other dramatic works. The third act of this opera recalls the first, which was most often performed in the composer’s lifetime, Der Bärenhäuter (The Man in the Bear’s Skin): suddenly the Devil, in the form of the ‘lame wanderer’, faces the blacksmith. Richard Wagner’s Wotan and the Wanderer often signified his alter ego, and the ‘lame wanderer’ represents the alter ego of the blacksmith. Muthart outwits him—therefore himself—while striking ‘a giant nail in his foot’, and causing the burning of his smithy, the destruction of his work-place. Like Hans Kraft in Der Bärenhäuter with the sleepers on the Plassenburg, so Muthart now wakes the sleeping Teutonic Knights before the assault of the Lizard League. However, the differences in both operatic plots are revealing: in the first opera the young Hans Kraft finally celebrates and wins his beloved. The relatively aging Muthart in Siegfried Wagner’s thirteenth opera follows the mother and girl Winelib only ‘hesitantly’; he seems to exert exceptional strength in mastering the feelings in his heart.

While the Devil in Der Bärenhäuter is the Devil from German fairy-stories, in The Blacksmith he appears as a symbol of the conflict between duty and denial, between what is emotionally right and the restraints of existing society. Here the Devil sings no longer, as in Der Bärenhäuter, Op. 1, in Banadietrich, Op. 6, and in An Allem ist Hütchen Schuld, Op. 11, as a baritone, but as a character tenor, counterpart of the heroic tenor of the title rôle. The ‘lame wanderer’, a traumatic figure, is the Mephistopheles of Goethe’s Faust transformed.

While Mephistopheles is ‘a part of that power that always wills evil yet creates good’, Muthart as a real reflection of his alter ego is, as it were, ‘a part of that power that always wills good and yet achieves evil’. Muthart’s trauma brings about the fire in his smithy and, unlike Hans Kraft in the first act of Der Bärenhäuter, finally brings about the ruin of his human and social existence. His last act for the existing system, sounding the alarm for the Teutonic Knights, brings his death.

Muthart, a figure representing the composer, wins acknowledgement from those who have survived, but this posthumous justification rests on ignorance. If the Grand Master had known that it was Muthart who had betrayed the knights’ secret passage, he would surely not have set on his head the helmet of the dead Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen.

At the first performance on 16 December 1923 in Rostock, and also in most subsequent performances, perhaps also in Brunswick in 1929, the overture to the opera was cut—not on dramatic grounds, but because the publisher Max Brockhaus had issued the overture independently from the opera and here, as still today, the orchestral material of the opera is provided without the performance material for the overture. The overture the themes of the great second finale, the ‘rock-like oath’ of the knights on the existing system and against the invocation of Satan. The remote relationship of the Marienburg theme with the Valhalla theme has certainly led to the particular popularity of this overture with Wagnerians and was also the reason for Hans Tietjen’s recorded performance of it in 1936 with the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra. This provides some confirmation that Siegfried Wagner used the Marienburg as a theatrical metaphor for the Bayreuth Festival Theatre, which was for its part often compared with Valhalla.

The Friedelind scenes include far better, harmonically varied music, and show that the composer’s heart was in freedom, unconventionality and a manifesto for free love. The Friedelind of the plot—as an illegitimate child—is not only a love child, she is also the only one who can convincingly oppose hidebound morality: ‘Everything is holy that the heart commands!’

Siegfried Wagner’s finest opera text Walamund, Op. 17, the setting of which was still not completed during the composer’s lifetime and was destroyed after his death by his widow, survives only as a libretto. In this opera it explains, among other things, why lies—contrary to the German proverb—in no way have short legs:

‘To the joyful victory / come, thou Goddess, Lying! / They say you had short legs, / it is not true. Foolish cry! / lasting centuries, let it be truth the fool believes in! / See only, see! Now she smiles so sweetly and gently, / Now she looks gravely, like an image of God.’

The theme of lying preoccupied Siegfried Wagner already as a child in his drama Die Lügner (The Liars) and then throughout his whole work, yet in none of his music dramas is there so much lying as in The Blacksmith of Marienburg, with Muthart’s lying and perjury that misleads also his dependents, his journeyman Martin, his mother Madaldrut, the orphan Winelib and the gatekeeper. Lying in Marienburg—and this means lying in Bayreuth—seems to be the rule.

An anonymous self-published brochure ‘A Lie about Bayreuth. Personal experience of Wahnfried. By an admirer of the art of Richard Wagner’, issued in 1924, clearly equates ‘lies’ with ‘secrets’ or ‘forbidden subjects’, since it deals with Siegfried Wagner’s seduction of young men, of which it suggested some future account. Lies continue with the later portrayal of Siegfried Wagner, on his own admission cosmopolitan, antimilitaristic and philosemitic, as the complaisant husband of an actively national socialist wife. Based on this the website of a German Wagner Society even publishes a photograph with the caption ‘Adolf Hitler and Siegfried Wagner’, a deliberate falsehood; the photograph in fact shows Adolf Hitler and Julius Streicher.

In his ‘Table Talk’ Adolf Hitler says of Siegfried Wagner that the Jews had left him high and dry; he did not know the operas—apart from Bärenhäuter, which he had seen at the Opera in Linz when he was young. The Blacksmith of Marienburg, which Hitler also did not know, ‘should be his best’. From this it is clear that Hitler, contrary to his declared and often demonstrated affinity with the art of Richard Wagner, had no relation with that of his son. There were possibilities of seeing Siegfried Wagner’s operas in the period of the Third Reich and in Berlin. That Hitler consequently avoided them—for instance the anniversary performances of the Berlin State Opera—accorded with his friendship with the composer’s widow, who, after her husband’s death, prevented, wherever she could, the performance of his operas. On the other hand Hitler would, through his visits to the opera, have sanctioned, as it were, the art of Siegfried Wagner for the Third Reich as conforming with the system, which in no way was the case.

Indeed in the present opera a baritone confirms the great epoch of the Teutonic Knights, the command of Hermann von Salza, and warns of the failings and decline of modern times. But this true spokesman is the townsman Willekin, a violent-tempered murderer of his own wife, who also maltreats his step-daughter Friedelind and wants also to kill her.

The reported judgement of Hitler on The Blacksmith of Marienburg, probably after the Berlin staging in 1939 through the composer’s friends and pupils, was nevertheless absurd in view of the actual performance. For the plot of the opera to pass as tolerable for the ideology of the Third Reich there were cuts, transpositions, and inserted spoken passages for the new staging at the Berlin State Opera. Critics were now looking for operas that were in accordance with the prevailing ideology, the ‘steely romanticism’ of Joseph Goebbels. The Blacksmith of Marienburg could be presented as a stage work sufficiently in accordance with the principles of the Third Reich, dealing with the battle of Tannenberg in 1410.

English abridgement of Peter P. Pachl’s Hier lügen sie Alle: Notes on Siegfried Wagner’s Der Schmied von Marienburg: Keith Anderson

 

Synopsis

CD 1

[1] Overture

Act I

[2] In a dark cellar tavern, colourfully decorated for a masquerade, Friedelind meets her lover, Alfred von Jungingen, the nephew of the Grand Master of the Knights of the Order. Alfred is bound by a vow of chastity as a knight, and has come disguised in order to see Friedelind. Friedelind has brought with her Wanhilt, the wife of Muthart the blacksmith, because a stranger urgently wishes to speak with her. It is Helwich von Hartenstein, disguised as a beggar. Recognising his voice, Wanhilt starts to leave, but at this moment Willekin, Friedelind’s stepfather, enters the room to take Friedelind home and strikes her lover Alfred in the face.

[3] Alfred, bleeding from the forehead, manages to escape and flees to Muthart the blacksmith. Alfred asks him to help cover up the fact he broke his vow of chastity. Muthart gives Alfred armour and tells him to ride to the Nogat, and then pretend that he was thrown from his horse there. Muthart will send his apprentice out to find him.

[4] The gatekeeper arrives. Muthart sends his apprentice to the river under a pretext. Muthart forces the gatekeeper, whom Alfred had drugged with wine, to pledge silence. Martin returns and says he has found Alfred, thrown by a horse. Muthart, Martin and the gatekeeper go to the river.

[5] Madaldrut, Muthart’s mother, dislikes Wanhilt’s baby, which is taken care of by the orphan Winelib. After Muthart, Martin and the gatekeeper carry Alfred in, and the women tend his wounds.

[6] Madaldrut asks her son what his wife is up to. They were supposed to go to church together. She criticizes Muthart for having married Wanhilt when she was expecting a child from another man. Madaldrut demands her own grandchild.

[7] Wanhilt, who had claimed she had to take care of a sick friend during the night, returns home. The gatekeeper arrives while she is having breakfast with Muthart, Madaldrut, Martin and the two apprentices. He reports that Willekin had questioned him angrily, but that he swore he did not know anything. Wanhilt faints and is carried into the next room when the conversation turns to the mysterious knight of the Lizard League of Kulm. The gatekeeper suspects the knight is being kept hidden by the innkeeper of the noisy guesthouse where there is gambling. Martin asks Madaldrut to put in a good word for him with Winelib, but she says that Winelib does not return his love. Drum rolls announce the loss in battle of the Knights of the Order. Ulrich von Jungingen, for whom Muthart has just finished making a new helmet, has fallen. Muthart grumbles over the unfairness of Heaven, but Madaldrut interprets the defeat as a sign that something in the Marienburg has caused God’s anger. The cause of His anger must be eradicated. While the Kyrie eleison is heard, Madaldrut urges her son to go with her to church.

CD 2

Act II

[1] Friedelind has escaped Willekin and fled to the hermit for help. Willekin intends publicly to accuse Alfred. She confides sorrowfully that she is unable to love Willekin as her father, and hopes that the secret her mother confessed to her maid Grete while dying in childbirth was that Willekin is really not her father. Grete told her that Friedelind’s mother’s only friend became a hermit, suffering painfully from the feeling of guilt for her mother’s death and that he wears a lock of his beloved’s hair hidden on his breast. Friedelind suggests that he, the hermit, also must have chosen solitude because of his broken heart.

[2] Grete, the maid, has followed Friedelind to warn her that Willekin has discovered her escape. She also brings a letter from Alfred in which he urges Friedelind to forget him in face of the army’s defeat and his uncle’s death. Friedelind begs the hermit to rush to the fortress and change Alfred’s mind, when Grete sees Willekin approaching. Friedelind hides herself in the cellar.

[3] Grete tells Willekin that Friedelind has run off to Danzig with her lover. Willekin fears that his plans to denounce arrogant Alfred have been destroyed. Friedelind’s fear of rats, however, betrays her hiding-place in the cellar. Willekin feigns sudden weakness in order to trick the hermit away from guarding the door and thus manages to reveal Friedelind’s hiding-place. Willekin denounces Friedelind and accuses the hermit of procuration. Furious, Willekin stabs the hermit with a dagger when the latter refuses to let Friedelind go. The hermit takes Willekin’s weapon away, and makes him swear by the Cross that he will not hurt Friedelind. Willekin swears it, and then rushes off to denounce the Knights of the Order. The hermit collapses through loss of blood. In helping him Friedelind discovers the lock of her mother’s hair on the unconscious man’s breast and is filled with joy.

[4] On the square in front of the Marienburg, Muthart explains how the army’s defeat of the Tannenberg was caused by the treacherous Lizard Knights of Kulm. Willekin complains to the Commander of Schwetz, Heinrich Reuß von Plauen, that his only child was kidnapped by a Knight; he hit the kidnapper on the head, but was not able to recognise him. Willekin looks at the surrounding knights and accuses Alfred. But Muthart, the gatekeeper, Martin, Madaldrut and Winelib all swear that Muthart’s story of Alfred having been thrown by a horse is true. Willekin also accuses Wanhilt of adultery, for she was also at the masquerade. When the commander demands that Willekin ask Muthart for forgiveness, Willekin swears that Alfred has seduced his daughter. The five counterwitnesses, however, swear that they have told the truth. This leads to Willekin being accused of perjury, bound and taken off to prison.

[5] Muthart puts the newly forged helmet on the head of the dead Ulrich von Jungingen. Michael von Sternberg recommends that Commander von Schwetz be instated as the new leader of the Marienburg. He lauds the old Order’s ideals which valiantly defy Satan. The Holy Virgin’s banner is raised, and all renew their pledge to the fortress’s doctrine.

CD 3

Act III

[1] Willekin curses the treacherous “Blacksmith of Honour” as he is led by Muthart’s house in chains. Helwich, disguised as a beggar, looks for Wanhilt, longing to see his child. He asks her if she has received the letter in which he had explained his sudden departure, naming friends she could stay with until he returned. Wanhilt, who had never had this letter, breaks into tears. Helwich urges her to flee with him and to save herself and her child, for the situation is dangerous. Wanhilt hears Muthart coming, but it is too late for Helwich to escape.

[2] Wanhilt lies that the beggar has brought her a letter from her mother, who is doing poorly. Muthart thanks the beggar and gives him some money. He also offers him something to eat. When the beggar does not take off his hat, Muthart becomes suspicious and tears it off; Helwich’s wig falls to the ground. Muthart wants to know why he is travelling in disguise, and—since he comes from Kulm—if he is perhaps a Lizard Knight. Helwich admits that he belongs to that Order. Wanhilt defends him; he is a childhood friend. He was forced to join the Kulm Order and is no enemy of the Marienburg. Trusting Wanhilt, Muthart does not turn Helwich in to the authorities. The gates have already been locked, but he does not want the stranger to stay with them. Wanhilt suggests that Helwich escape through a secret tunnel in the cellar. Muthart fights his suspicion that the stranger will betray the tunnel to the enemy, and shows Helwich the way.

[3] Wanhilt talks with Urte the maid, and asks her what became of the letter she should have long ago given her. Muthart returns before Urte can explain.

[4] Muthart looks in the Bible for discussion of perjury, when a limping wanderer arrives who wants his feet shod. Noticing Muthart’s choice of reading, the wanderer points out the scandals of the Old Testament. Muthart tells the wanderer to go to the smith who shoes horses, but the wanderer lets himself be known as the personification of Muthart’s bad conscience, as the Devil. He ruled day and night before God did. Muthart urges him to create a human out of clay and to breathe life into him. The Devil succeeds at the former, but not the latter. He will not allow himself to be forced away. First Muthart has to justify not only his perjury but also the interception of the letter to his wife. Muthart says that he had to swear the oath in order to protect the fortress from shame, and if Willekin should suffer for perjury although innocent, Willekin will thus atone himself for that for which he has not yet been punished, such as his wife’s (Friedelind’s mother’s) death. Muthart claims to have kept the letter from Wanhilt to protect her from future torment with a man who would certainly seduce and lie to her again. Despite attempts to get Muthart’s attention, Wanhilt remains unobserved and is able to hear Muthart’s monologue. The limping wanderer turns a ring on his finger and becomes invisible. Wanhilt asks Muthart if what she has just heard is true. Desperate, she intends to run off with her baby, but is unable to find it.

[5] Winelib arrives with the baby in its carriage. Muthart tells her to put the baby to bed and go, but she would rather stay because of a dream she had. She leaves when Muthart insists she go home.

[6] The limping wanderer shows up again at the spot where he was last visible. He tells Muthart to turn around the statue of the Madonna, because he will not be able to leave otherwise. Additionally, Muthart should trust him completely; he has no other choice anyway, since Wanhilt is denouncing him everywhere for perjury. Muthart shoes the wanderer’s horsefoot, as desired, and drives a nail into it so deeply that the Devil cries aloud. The Devil’s blood bursts into flames and sets the smithy ablaze. Muthart holds Wanhilt’s dead child in his arms amidst the ruins.

[7] Wanhilt publicly accuses Muthart of not only committing perjury and hiding the letter, but also of killing her child. When Muthart comes to defend himself before the Grand Master of the Marienburg, Alfred rushes to his defence and claims that Muthart swore the oath in order to save him and the fortress’s respect. Friedelind takes responsibility for Alfred’s offences, removing Alfred’s armour and declaring he was not born to be a saint. Alfred asks the Knights to free him from his vows. The Grand Master grants his wish, and Friedelind leads Alfred to her dying father, the hermit, so that he can give them his blessing. The Grand Master believes that Muthart’s good heart led him astray. Muthart alone must come to terms with his own conscience concerning what he did with the letter.

[8] Madaldrut insists that she has always said there is nothing more foolish than a good heart. Muthart should go on a pilgrimage until his guilt is appeased. Winelib comes by with Wanhilt, who would like to bid farewell. Madaldrut scorns her, and Muthart avoids meeting her eyes. Martin the apprentice has come as well, before leaving, and asks Winelib to go with him. She intends to stay with Muthart and Madaldrut. Madaldrut finds the undamaged statue of Maria in the ruins. She interprets this as a sign that she may go out into the world with her son. Madaldrut, Winelib und Muthart turn to leave.

[9] Muthart hears noises coming from the cellar door. Armed members of the Lizard League have penetrated the secret path, having been informed by Helwich. Muthart runs to wake the knights. The knights win the battle, but Muthart falls. He dies pleading with the Saviour and the Virgin Mary to protect the fortress. The sun rises as the Grand Master of the Marienburg places on Muthart’s head the helmet which Muthart had made for the hero Ulrich von Jungingen.

English version by Rebecca Broberg

 

The German libretto can be found at www.naxos.com/libretti/225346.htm.


Close the window