Opera Profile: Carl Maria Von Weber’s Final Work ‘Oberon’

By David Salazar

“Oberon” is an opera in English by Carl Maria von Weber.

The work had its world premiere on April 12, 1826, just two months before the composer’s death. Weber was actually advised by his doctor against taking on the opera and the composer actually went to great lengths to learn English so that he could follow the libretto. It ultimately destroyed his health, leading to his dismay.

The work, despite performances around the world in the early going, never quite managed to become a repertory staple.

Brief Plot Summary

Oberon and Titania have had a quarrel, with Oberon vowing never to reconcile with his wife until a pair of humans are found who can be faithful despite dealing with temptation.

Puck informs Oberon that Sir Huon has been ordered to go to Baghdad, slay the man on the Caliph’s right hand, and then wed the Caliph’s daughter. Oberon decides that the knight and the princess are the ones who will help him in his attempts to reconcile with Titiana.

He conjures a vision of the Reiza, the caliph’s daughter for the knight and his squire Sherasmin. On their way, Huon and Sherasmin save Prince Babekan, who is actually betrothed to Reiza. Huon learns that Reiza has also had a vision of him.

Reiza confides to her attendant that she only wants to marry the knight in her vision.

Just before Reiza is to be married to Babekan, Huon and Sherasmin burst in and kill Babekan and flee with the Princess and her attendant. Puck invokes spirits to destroy Huon’s ship, but he and Reiza survive.

A pirate ship abducts Reiza. Huon attempts to save her, but is injured. Oberon tells Puck to take Huon to Tunis. There, he is taken to the harem of Almanzor where he is captured by the Emir and sentenced to death. Reiza tries to save him, but winds up also fated for the same death. At the climax, Oberon and Titania appear and save the lovers.

Watch and Listen

Check out this recording featuring Birgit Nilsson and Plácido Domingo. This was in fact the first commercial recording in German.

And here is another starring Jonas Kaufmann.


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