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Hans Heiling

Hans Heiling

Among all the ones produced by the German composer Heinrich Marschner's creative imagination, the character of Hans Heiling represents one of the most intricate artistic depiction of a “split-self”, doomed to never find its own identity. The libretto of this opera was outlined by the singer Philipp Eduard Devrient, who hoped his friend Mendelssohn would put it in music. However, he refused to do it because the subject of the story reminded him too much of Franco Cacciatore by Carl Maria von Weber. After some years, Devrient suggested an anonymous copy of it to Heinrich Marschner, who happily accepted it.

Synopsis Hans Heiling

ACT I
Hans Heiling ascends to the earth from where he lives in his home in the underworld. He brings a magic book and jewellery for Anna, the woman he loves and is intended to marry. When he shows the book to Anna, she is terrified by the book and asks him to burn it. Heiling burns the book and they renew their vows of fidelity. They then go to the village festival together, where there are many people drinking, dancing and singing at the tavern. Konrad, a hunter who's in love with Anna, joins them. Konrad asks Anna to dance. Hans Heiling objects angrily but Anna ignores him. Heiling is afraid that his bride doesn't love him.

ACT II
Anna leaves to go home through the forest and gets lost. She is worried because she understood she is in love with Konrad, but she is now Heiling’s bride. All of a sudden, the Queen appears and begs the girl to let go of her son, who is not a human being but a prince of the underworld. At the revelation, Anna faints. Konrad finds the unconscious girl and takes her home. Once again, Hans Heiling approaches Anna to win her over. However, the girl returns him the jewellery. In a rage, Heiling stabs Konrad and then runs away, laughing scornfully.

ACT III
Hans Heiling is tired and returns to the Erdgeistern. He finds out that Konrad is not dead and that Anna will marry him the next day. Heiling returns to the earth to take revenge. Konrad and Anna are getting married in the forest chapel. Following an old custom, they must now find each other while blindfolded. Hans Heiling steps in and seizes Anna’s hand, who pleads for mercy. Konrad rushes to help his wife; but, his knife shatters as he strikes Heiling. Heiling summons the Erdgeister to destroy all the people. The Queen appears and persuades her son to reconcile and Hans Heiling returns to the underworld.

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