LE TRIBUT DE ZAMORA|
( Creation in the Opera, on April 1-st,
Situation : Les Asturies, au nord de
l'Espagne, Xe siècle.
Act 1. A square in Oviedo.
A choir introduces Manoël and Xaïma, two lovers
who have to get married today; they share a strophique song
(dawn serenade: " O blanc bouquet de l'épousée
"). A brass band sounds the arrival of an Arabic delegation
representing the caliph Abderrahhman, led by Ben-Saïd.
He comes in Christian territory to demand the annual levy of
hundred virgins, stipulated in the treaty signed after the
defeat of the Christians at the battle of Zamora many years
ago. Xaïma recalls certain details of this battle,
hinting at the way the defenders sang a national anthem
going into defeat. Ben-Saïd struck by her beauty and
character, declares his love for her. Manoël intervenes
and warns him that he is going to marry Xaïma in the
coming hour. Ben-Saïd tells him not to be so confident,
but the lovers sing a duet on their future (duet: " Pourquoi
ce langage odieux? "). The king appears and announces that
the city of Olviedo has to deliver twenty virgins this same
day, his part of the annual levy. The name of the girls is
drawn and, among them are Iglésia and Xaïma
(finale: " Vous osez proférer "). Manoël and his
fellow countrymen, chased away, sing their national anthem.
Acte II. A lovely place on the banks of the oued
el-Kédir in front of Cordoba.
It's the anniversary of the victory of Zamora and a
celebration takes place. The lunatic Hermosa, captured in
the battle, joins the festivities. She is mocked, but
Hadjar, brother of Ben-Saïd, orders that she be left in
peace, quoting an aphorism of the Koran: " Consider as
saints the madmen, otherwise be cursed. " Hermosa compares
herself with a swallow who flew to heaven (scene and air: "
Pitié, car je ne suis qu'une pauvre hirondelle ").
The hundred virgins are brought in, in an elaborated
procession. Manoël, disguised as African soldier also
made the journey. Hadjar recognizes him at once as the
Spanish soldier who, in the fire of the battle, saved his
life by closing his wound. Hadjar suggests helping
Manoël with all the measure of his means. Manoël
explain to him that the virgins are going to be sold by
auction today and that he hopes to buy Xaïma's freedom.
Before the sale, Hermosa sees Xaïma and pretends
vaguely to recognize her; her remarks are pushed aside.
Hadja supplies to Manoël a big sum of money, but
Ben-Saïd's bid is nevertheless higher (finale: " A cent
Acte III. A large room in Ben-Saïd's
Xaïma is a part of the household of Ben-Saïd. He
tries to cheer her up by giving a ballet, following which he
asks her to accept his love (romance: " O Xaïma ").
Hadjar enters with Manoël and introduces him as the
Spanish soldier who saved his life. Ben-Saïd feels
obliged to offer to Manoël any of his possessions. It
is not material goods that Manoël desires but
Xaïma; Ben-Saïd is so offended by this request
that he orders his soldiers to seize him. Xaïma
interrupts by threatening to commit suicide and Manoël
is freed. Ben-Saïd warns Xaïma that his love for
her could turn around in blind hatred. Hermosa enters
raving, and begins to ask questions to Xaïma on her
past (duet: " De sa mort qui donc parle ici? "). They learn
that they were both present at the battle of Zamora; Hermosa
sings the national anthem and finds reason; they discover
soon that they are mother and daughter.
Acte IV. The gardens of Ben-Saïd's
Manoël returned to Ben-Saïd's palace, risking his
life to see again Xaïma (cavatina: " Que puis-je
à présent regretter? "). She appears and they
decide to commit suicide together (duet: " Manoël, sans
moi tu veux mourir? "). Hermosa intervenes and blames
Xaïma to want to leave when they have just been
reunited (romance: " Tu trouves donc "). Manoël and
Xaïma implore her forgiveness. Ben-Saïd tries
again to win Xaïma's heart and, as she does not respond
to his advances, he tries to force her (duet: " Lui!
Manoël, encore! "). Hermosa reappears and tries to
convince Ben-Saïd to let her daughter leave. Confronted
to his stubborn refusal, she stabs him. Hadjar and a group
of soldiers run up, but as they pull their swords around
Hermosa, Hadjar reminds them of the aphorism of the Koran.
Hermosa, Manoël and Xaïma is authorized to go away