LE TRIBUT DE ZAMORA Barre de navigation


( Creation in the Opera, on April 1-st, 1881)

Situation : Les Asturies, au nord de l'Espagne, Xe siècle.






















le roi



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 dinars d'or").


Acte III. A large room in Ben-Saïd's palace.
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 palace.
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 unhurt.

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To write:

Sapho - La Nonne sanglante - Le médecin malgré lui - Faust - Philémon et Baucis - La colombe
La reine de Saba - Mireille - Roméo et Juliette - Cinq-Mars - Polyeucte - Le tribut de Zamora