The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Oberon, or the Elf-King's Oath

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OBERON, OR THE ELF-KING'S OATH, romantic English opera in three acts by Carl Maria von Weber, libretto by James R. Planché, first represented at Covent Garden, London, 12 April 1826. The libretto is founded on Villeneuve's romance, ‘Huon of Bordeaux’ and Sotheby's translation of Wieland's poem ‘Oberon.’ It was Weber's last work. The keynote of the whole is the picture of the mysteries of elf-land and the life of the spirits of air, earth and water, and through the hazy atmosphere of elves and spirits are discerned the outlines of two contrasting themes — Western chivalry and Oriental life.

Reiza's aria, ‘Ocean thou Mighty Monster,’ in the second act is frequently sung on the concert stage by dramatic sopranos. The charming overture beginning with a horn solo also has frequent independent performance. Mendelssohn, Gade, Schumann and Wagner have all drawn inspiration from this sublime and dreamy work.

The original autograph score is in the Royal Library, Petrograd, having been presented by Max von Weber to Alexander II in 1855.

The opera was translated into German by Theodor Hell and given in Leipzig in December 1826; in Vienna, 20 March 1827, and in Berlin, 2 July 1828. It was given in Paris in German without success in 1830 and in French with success in 1857. Oberon was first sung in New York, 9 Oct. 1829. It was given in Italian at Her Majesty's, London, 3 July 1860, with recitatives by Sir Julius Benedict, and this version was given in Philadelphia, 9 March 1870. ‘Oberon’ was revived in London, 7 Dec. 1878 and in New York at the Metropolitan Opera House, 28 Dec. 1918, in a new revision by Arthur Bodansky, who conducted the work. Consult Upton, Standard Operas (Chicago 1897), and Musical America (New York), 4 Jan. 1919.