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Princeps Transsylvaniae
Princeps Transsylvaniae

 

 

 

Princeps Transsylvaniae

Opera in three acts

 

Libretto by

Magda Győri

 

 

 

The plot of the opera

 

Act I.

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 doesn’t 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 Bethlen’s 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.

Before the 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 people.

 

Act II.

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 aristocracy’s 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 doesn’t 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.

 

Act III.

Gyulafehérvár, 1629. 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”

 

 

 

 


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