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Music Text

Libretto by the composer (G,E)


S,S(orM),T,2Bar,B; chorus;

Abbreviations (PDF)


Boosey & Hawkes

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.


World Premiere
Königliches Schauspielhaus, Berlin
Conductor: Karl Muck
Company: Königliches Schauspielhaus


IOLANTHE, his mistress Soprano (or Mezzo Soprano)
HEINRICH, a young woodcutter Tenor
PETER, a woodman Bass
ROSCHEN, his daughter, betrothed to Heinrich Soprano
A PEDLAR, with a bear Baritone
Peasants, Huntsmen Chorus (TB)
Chorus of Wood Spirits Chorus (SATB)
Time and Place

A forest in the Middle Ages


In the prologue, wood spirits sing of the peace of the eternal forest. The action begins on the day before the wedding of Röschen with the young woodcutter Heinrich. Peasants celebrate the happy event and buy trinkets from a pedlar to give to Röschen, who sings of her happiness. Suddenly a weird horn-call is heard: it signals the sinister Iolanthe, mistress of Rudolf, the local Landgraf. Heinrich comes to find Röschen, bringing with him a forbidden present: a newly killed deer, which they hide down the well. The lovers look forward to the morrow, and Röschen goes into her cottage. Iolanthe next comes upon Heinrich and, impressed with his good looks, attempts to lure him into her service. He refuses and she vows vengeance. Her chance comes when the deer is revealed in the well. Iolanthe forces Heinrich to choose between going with her, or suffering the penalty for killing the deer. He chooses the latter, and her huntsmen stab him. In the epilogue, the wood spirits resume their commentary on the transience of human concerns.


Poetic, Tragic

Recommended Recording

Natalya Romaniw, Claire Barnett-Jones, Robert Murray, Morgan Pearse, Matthew Brook, Andrew Shore / BBC Symphony Orchestra / BBC Singers / John Andrews
Resonus Classics RES10324

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