Opera in three acts
of the opera
Scene 1. Gyulafehérvár (Alba Iulia) 1619.
In her imprisonment, Anna Báthory sees an apparition of her late aunt,
Elisabeth Báthory, who has come to cast the curse of the Báthorys upon her.
After she disappears, judges enter to announce verdict upon her: all her wealth
will be taken into custody, and her life is only saved by the order of the
prince of Transylvania, Gábor Bethlen. The wife of the prince, Zsuzsanna Károlyi
bursts into the cell. When the two women are left alone, Zsuzsanna banishes
Anna Báthory into Polish exile, promising a worthy funeral for her dead brother
and former prince, Gábor Báthory in exchange. Anna bows to her will, but she
doesnt renounce her love to Gábor Bethlen. Zsuzsanna grants her a safe leave
from the dungeon, but in their anger, both women condemn each other.
Scene 2. Sárospatak,
1619. A tranquil autumn morning in the castle of
the Rákóczis. The young György Rákóczi and his wife, Zsuzsanna Lórántffy are
celebrating the third anniversary of their loving marriage. Zsuzsanna is
expecting their child, and the couple is grateful to God for having found each
other. Their fest of joy is interrupted by the arrival of Gábor Bethlen, the
prince. He brings a message: the protestant nobility of Hungary have commissioned Rákóczi to unite
with Gábor Bethlens Transylvanian armies, join the allied Hungarian forces and
march to the help of the Czech protestants in their fight against the Habsburgs.
The war is on, for freedom of religion and independence of the state. The
arriving armies will proceed in the morning.
prince goes to rest, he opens his heart to György Rákóczi. He is tormented by
sorrow for his deceased children, and concerns for his ill, depressed and
jealous wife. Alone again, Gábor Bethlen steps out on the loggia, and sees Anna
Báthory appear in the palace garden. He has to fight his own yearning desire as
the woman tries to entice him with her love. The prince rejects her, and Anna
Báthory leaves, disappointed.
György Rákóczi says gentle farewell to his
wife under the starry night sky, for he will have to leave with the armies the
next morning. The love wows of two hearts united is accompanied by the solemn
words of Bethlen, wowing eternal faith to the freedom and rise of the Hungarian
Scene 1. Kassa, 1620.
As he scores victory upon victory on the battlefield, the Hungarian nobility
elect Gábor Bethlen as their king. Bethlen accepts the title, but not the
crown. He talks about his plans and political objectives in a grand
celebration, and he calls the aristocracys attention to the utmost priority:
cooperation between all Hungarians. He appoints György Rákóczi as the captain
of Upper-Hungary. The King and the Queen are left alone at the end of the ball,
and their discussion turns into an furious argument. Bethlen approaches his
wife with tender love, but Zsuzsanna seems to have lost all control in her
jealousy and illness, and drives him away. After he leaves, Zsuzsanna Károlyi
suffers a sudden paroxysm, and she calls for Zsuzsanna Lórántffy. The two women
find a sister in each other. The young woman of happy marriage and strong faith
grants solace to the Queen in her last minutes. Zsuzsanna Károlyi, forgiving
and forgiven in the words of the last prayer, with soul at peace, passes away
between the embracing arms of Zsuzsanna Lórántffy.
Scene 2. Gyulafehérvár,
1625. Old and tired, having renounced from his title as King, Gábor Bethlen
has to engage in political marriage. Catherine, the sister of the palatine of Brandenburg
seems the most eligible choice. He doesnt know, though, that Anna Báthory was
eavesdropping when he asked György Rákóczi to go and bring the young bride to
him. Anna shows herself after Rákóczi is gone, scolding Bethlen for not taking
her as a wife. The prince puts an end to their predicament and has Anna chased
away by his guards, setting his hounds loose on her.
Scene 3. The edge of the forest, raging
storm. Anna Báthory stumbles from the woods, and
falls to the ground in total exhaustion. Her aunt, Elisabeth Báthory appears in
her last, mortal vision, blaming her for the misfortune in her life, not having
heeded her advices. Her phobias escalate into insanity and only death frees her
from her torments.
Catherine of Brandenburg, the young wife of the prince is flirting with the
married István Csáky, notorious for his seductions, while the rest of the
palace is anxiously expecting the arrival of the mortally sick Gábor Bethlen.
The old prince arrives on the litter-throne carried by his escort. In his last
will, Gábor Bethlen appoints a task to György Rákóczi which is incompatible
with the principles of the nobleman, and Rákóczi leaves, denying the errand.
For the sake of the unity of Transylvania,
Bethlen speaks a few words on behalf of Catherine. When he is left alone at
last, he dies peacefully, praying to God. His soul is united with the eternally
loving soul of Anna Báthory in heavens.
Catherine of Brandenburg is intimidated by the obligations
of ruling a country, and runs away with István Csáky - thus it happens that the
aristocracy offers the throne of Transylvania to György Rákóczi.
© Ars et Sanitas