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Mendacious Romance


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'Mendacious Romance'

an opera in three acts

 

Composer: Norbert Németh (1975- )

Libretto: Magda Győri (1952- )

 

   The opera titled Mendacious Romance was written in 2001.

   In 2002 the libretto was translated into Italian by Dóra Várnai with the title Romanza mendace and as a result the opera became comprehensible for an international audience as well.

   By the summer of 2003 a promotion film was made, which gives a cross-section of the opera titled Mendacious Romance and introduces the author. Parts of the opera are performed with a piano accompaniment. The film has a Hungarian, an English and an Italian speaking version. A cross-section performance of the opera was given on August 29, 2003 at Ercsi Eötvös Napok (Ercsi Eötvös Days) with the participation of a symphonic orchestra and opera singers. The CD containing selections from this concert and the piece Commemoratio is published in the 2004 (© Convention Budapest Ltd., Ars et Sanitas , 2004.).

 

   The music of Mendacious Romance faithfully reflects the 'ars poetica' of the author, which says that music can only achieve its purpose if it reaches the audience through touching their thoughts as well as their hearts and souls. Mendacious Romance is modern music but it is also a treasury of harmonies and melodies which are intertwined with fascinating acoustic combinations and with the vigour and overflow of the musical form. Any time or place can serve as a background for the plot and the message of the opera as the emotions and problems outlined and the comic and tragic situations arising from them are both global and timeless.

 

 

     About 'Mendacious Romance'

 

   'The operatic literature of the 20th century broke away from traditions in the sense that, instead of relying on conventional librettos or great classical dramas, it turned to playwrights who were both original thinkers and significant writers for novel dramatic ideas to be used for the new operas. Genuinely talented dramatists like Mallarmé, Ramuz, Menyhért Lengyel or Béla Balázs became librettist for Debussy, Stravinsky, Honegger and Bartók. As a result it was impossible to use the term 'libretto' any longer. On the other hand, there is no other domain of modern music where tradition exercises such a strong influence as in stage music, however original or bold-hearted it may be.

   While taking part in the preparation and creation of the opera titled 'C'est la guerre' by Emil Petrovics I  also had the opportunity to experience how perplexing it is to solve the dilemma of the script and how difficult it is to give this script a valid musical representation.

   This is the reason why I found reading Magda Győri's script so fascinating. Although I am fully aware of the fact that the fate of an opera is written in its music, every author knows how much depends on the choice of a dramatic piece or how grave a risk they run when they have the script written.

   Magda Győri's libretto opens up new prospects from scene to scene for the creative imagination of the composer and she is not afraid to make use of operatic forms and ideas strongly rooted in tradition. I am greatly interested in how the libretto is translated into music and how it is realised on stage. This is why I am looking forward to it …'  (Miklós Hubay, 2001.)

 

   'The first opera of Norbert Németh, the gifted medical doctor and composer, is extraordinarily rich, colourful and multifarious music as far as melodic ingenuity is concerned. In his music, written for Magda Győri's modern libretto representing the eternal problems of love, faith, seduction and deception lyrical, dramatic and character scenes alternate with each other in a refined manner. The music of 'Mendacious Romance' follows in the wake of romantic traditions and it is generated by overpowering emotions: it truthfully represents the quivers of the human soul depicting it on a wide scale from struggling with grief to feeling turbulently overwrought.'  (László Bartal, 2002.)

 

 

 

Norbert Németh

Mendacious Romance

(Hazug románc)

 

Opera in three acts

 

Libretto by

Magda Győri

 

Homage to the opera of the 19th Century

 

 

Persons:

 

Julia, Richard's young widow.....................mezzo-soprano  

Veronica, Julia's niece.............................mezzo-soprano  

Anna, old widow...................................................alto  

Rafael, Anna's nephew.........................................tenor  

Walter...........................................................baritone  

Pierre, Walter's hireling, head of assassins...............tenor  

Carlo, assassin..............................................baritone  

Raul, assassin...................................................bass  

Philip, inn-keeper....................................baritone buffo  

 

Citizens, contractors and prostitutes clowns,

drummers and dancers of circus believers for Vespers.

 

Happens at the turn of the century in a Mediterranean town.

 

© 2003 Németh Norbert, Győri Magda, „Ars et Sanitas” Bt.  All rights reserved!

 

 

   The plot of the opera

 

Act 1

   The scene is the cemetery on the hillside near the town and in the background the facade of a church can be seen. It is late in the afternoon and the faithful are flocking for the evening prayer. Three men are drawing stealthily near each other from three different directions: the assassins, Pierre, Carlo and Raul. They accomplished an assignment a couple of months ago and they expect to receive their reward for it in the inn of the town, where they would be waiting for the man who gave the assignment. The three men leave in the direction from which they came. More and more light illuminates one of the graves and Julia, the young widow by the grave. The sounds of the Vespers filter out of the church. Julia is mourning her deceased husband, Richard. An old widow, Anna arrives with her nephew, Rafael. The two women share their pain. Anna feels sorry for Julia so she keeps secret the name of the man who killed both of their husbands. The young widow inconsolably falls down on her husband's grave. Anna leaves rather than dig deeper into her anguish. Rafael stays, admits his affection for Julia and offers her his protection. The young widow refuses. Rafael, feeling disillusioned, leaves Julia alone. The widow leaves for home feeling scared of life and frightened by the shadows of the cemetery growing dark. The sounds of the Magnificat burst out filling the church.

 

 

Act 2

   The scene is the main square of the town. On the right you can see the terrace of the inn, which is open. The square is full of people, and contractors and prostitutes are enjoying themselves on the terrace of the inn. The citizens of the town are waiting for a travelling circus to arrive. Messengers from the circus come: clowns, drummers and dancers invite people for the evening performance. Rafael, Pierre, Carlo and Raul are also on the terrace. Philip, the inn-keeper is busily engaged in serving his guests. Walter arrives. The citizens start cheering because the show at the circus begins. They leave hurriedly while the contractors and the prostitutes stay in the inn and have a good time. Rafael would like to stop Julia who is rushing home from the cemetery across the square but Veronica reaches Julia ahead of him. Rafael leaves feeling miserable. Veronica tells Julia enthusiastically about being truly in love for the first time in her life and then she leaves flitting away. Julia is about to go on but Walter goes up to her. Julia comes more and more under his influence without realizing it. Philip, the inn-keeper asks the intoxicated company to leave his place. The summer night falls, the inn becomes empty and the romance of Julia and Walter arrive at a turning point. Philip leaves them. Julia cannot resist Walter any longer and goes away with the man. The light of the Moon and the stars mysteriously cover the town.

 

 

Act 3

   The scene is Julia's room. Several months have elapsed. When the curtain goes up Julia is lying on her bed and she is crying miserably. The clock of the church nearby strikes a quarter of an hour. Veronica is sitting in the middle of the room and she is paring an apple. She is trying to console Julia but she sends her away. Julia, left alone, accuses herself for her unfaithfulness as she is pregnant with Walter's baby. Walter has not been in the town ever since but now he arrives unexpectedly. He came to this part of the country again and now the first one to visit is Julia. He intends to win the widow's favour again but she coldly refuses him. Walter leaves offended. Julia holds Richard's picture against her heart. She has no idea who to turn to in her despair. The church clock strikes half an hour. Julia goes up to the window wondering whether to go to the church for some womanly advice when she catches sight of Anna. Trusting the wisdom of the old widow she invites her up. Anna enters the room and Julia desperately pours out her heart telling Anna about her unfaithfulness to her husband's memory, about her pregnancy, her agony and disgrace. Anna reacts in an unexpected manner when Julia implores her help so desperately. She could never have a child and on becoming a widow she was left to live a secluded life. She wickedly tells Julia that it was Walter who killed Richard. Julia falls on the ground losing consciousness. Anna steps over her scornfully and leaves. The church clock strikes three quarter of an hour. Walter is driven back to Julia by his conscience and his desire. He rushes up to the unconscious woman and his face brightens when he notices that the woman is pregnant.  When he touches her growing abdomen she regains her consciousness and she cries out: Murderer! The baby to be born makes Walter conceited and he carelessly brushes aside any accusations. Not realising the woman's distress he demands that she should choose between her deceased husband and him, the father of her child. In her dark despair Julia resolutely grabs the sharp paring-knife. All goes dark and the scene is filled with pealing of the church bell. The clock strikes a full hour.

 

© 2003 Németh Norbert, Győri Magda, "Ars et Sanitas" Bt.  All rights reserved!





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