WURZBURG, the 11th December 33.
I must confess to you, my only Rosalie, that your letter made a profound impression on me, coming, as it did, at a time when the sole reason for my silence toward you all had been a certain bashfulness as to how I was to step before you. Almost I had to assume that, after the sacrifices you dear ones had made for me, it would be extremely disagreeable to you to see their object unattained, and perhaps you might be angry with me even for the mode in which I gave you notice of the failure of that expectation. (1) Ah, I felt so strangely depressed when I thought of you all, and believed I guessed how you must picture to yourselves the reason for my staying on here, as to whose upshot you could not form the smallest notion yet. I cannot possibly describe to you how much that sort of apprehension tortured me, the greater its contrast with the feelings woken in me by my daily occupation with my opera. God, or rather yourself, be thanked ! your letter—how shall I call it ?—your wonder-working letter delivered me from many discomposures of the kind, although it caused me fresh disturbance on the other side; for, after once reading it, I couldn't work for two or three days. I meant to answer you right away—but—I was still short of my opera's last finale: the day before yesterday I finished it, and therewith my whole opera; it was exactly noon, and the bells in all the steeples rang 12 as I wrote Finis beneath it,—how much that pleased me!
So, dearest, the composition of my opera is finished, and I have only its last act left to instrument now! It is my somewhat pedantic mode of writing out my score as tidily as possible from the outset, that has most delayed me in the instrumenting of my work ;—if I am nice and industrious, however, I expect to have got through even this last stage of work at my opera in something like 3 weeks, and so be able to depart from here in about a month.
But how shall I describe to you the mood I've been working in of late? How I thought of you all with well-nigh every note—ah, of yourself !—and it was a feeling which often spurred me on indeed, but often also overwhelmed me so, that I had to stop work and seek the open air. That happened to me oft, but ever did I hold it for a glad presentiment; and how it has delighted me to find your letter bearing witness to an equal sympathy! Oh, God grant I don't deceive your joyful expectations! But that, that cannot be,—everything has flowed so from my inmost soul,—and they say a thing like that, you know, must likewise pass into the souls of others.
To-morrow there's to be a concert, for which I have been asked to give a couple of numbers from my opera. An amateur with a fine voice will sing Ada's grand aria [act ii.], and then a terzet from it will be rendered by her, Albert, and a young basso. The latter [terzet] joins on to the introduction of the 2nd act, and is the situation where Arindal returns to his kingdom with Morald and is welcomed by his sister Lora. The Chorus greets him as its King with cheers, which he checks, however, with exclamations of sorrow: "O cease these sounds of joy! They beat on me with fearsome omen ; alas, the mantle of my royal pomp is woven from my father's shroud!" He has been wafted from the dreams of Fairyland, finds his kingdom laid waste and in havoc, everything recalls his father's death through grieving for him, and added to it all is Ada's warning of the horrors still awaiting him this day,—thus bridging a path for the mood in which he will encounter Ada in the [act's] finale. Lora and Morald, on the contrary, feel uplifted by Arindal's return, and look forward to a happy issue of the battle. This mood is characterised by the new theme of the Allegro [con brio], the exultation of which moved Albert so at the rehearsal, as he assured me, that he let 16 bars pass by before he could go on singing. That miss was more agreeable to me, than if he had come in all right. Yet this is one of my least important numbers, to tell the truth; for instance, I have a terzet in the 3rd act where Arindal is aroused from his madness and comes to feel that it has vanished through his wife's appeal for help; where he is emboldened by the two fairies to set Ada free, till at last he picks up arms and rushes off in highest ecstasy to his wife's deliverance ;—from that I count on something more!
But why do I speak of all these things? 'Tis nothing but the yearning to inform you of just everything. My God, the time is not so distant now,—I shall soon be with you all—with yourself. I mustn't give way to the thought so entirely, though, or I shall be unable to write another word,—and I've such a lot still to tell you, if I could only get it all in trim! I'm in such an agitated state all day now,—last night again I got no sleep ;— but ah! what am I saying? I had to give up hope of restful nights long since; I'm thinking of you all the time—and—immodest fellow !—of my opera. . .—Of late I've dreamt a deal of all of you, of my arrival with you, and how I should be received by you all. Strange! my dreams of this sort have resembled one continuous climax :—in the first my reception among you was no great shakes—quite coldly casual,—later it already grew more genial—heartier ;—and now it's fashioned in my dreams exactly as I'd wish it in reality. I hope it doesn't mean anything ;—surely you all will be good to me, even though I have little deserved it at present.
What you write me about the acceptance and [proposed] representation of my opera at Leipzig completely suits me, and I thank you for your pains and forethought. I really think it will all work out,—nay, I don't merely think,—I hope it, and should be greatly frightened at an undeception of my hopes! But tell me, among other things you write me that Hans Heiling is taking so well, and goes on filling the house ;—I must confess, this news has been extremely disagreeable to me, in a certain sense. We have given that opera here as well, and by all means I find the music very pretty too, especially the single pieces; but in no other opera of Marschner's have I met so entire a dearth of total effect. I can't make it out, but he has let the best effects pass unexploited what sort of things are those for act-ends ;—what unmelodiousness in the choruses! In the 2nd finale he treats the culminating point of the whole: "He springs from the realm of gnomes and dwarfs, and is the mountain-spirits' prince!" so slovenly, and brings off so little climax, that one would imagine some thing of no sort of consequence was going on. In short, not a single number is arresting,—which, I must admit, might almost betray me into vain hopes for my own opera!
It is distressing that things should be like that with your lady singers,—I much need a reliable voice and emotional acting,—something after the Devrient pattern wouldn't come amiss. From what I know of the Gerhardt as yet, her voice might doubtless prove too weak,—though her having been good as Alice [Robert], as you say, has given me hope. Above all, it will be necessary that Eichberger should remain, for the tenor has indisputably the biggest, and certainly also a grateful part ;—if he were to leave, it would be of infinite harm to me! Albert is very fond of this part, and would be bound to excel in it ;—perhaps [that may happen], should he take a starring turn at Leipzig.
Upon the other things you tell me, dearest Rosalie, let me be silent for the present ;—it all affected me too disagreeably, and has wounded me too acutely, for me to be able to discuss much of that sort with you yet; I shall soon be with you all, and pride myself upon a certain gift now which at least will lighten some of your forebodings, and rob good Mother of many a—crotchet! Yet I thank you for those communications,—the source they flowed from, your loving trust, honours me much! — — —
How is Mother, and how are you all ? — — Ah, but I shall soon see all of you again! Really, I'm a thorough spoilt child; every instant pains me, when I'm absent from your fold! I hope we two, my Rosalie, may be a deal together in this life yet! Do you agree? For the rest, I'm infinitely glad that everything is standing well with all of you,—give the others my best love, and don't let them dread my arrival. It will be about a year, I've been away from you ;—God grant it may have borne good interest!
— —I perceive I'm winding up my letter most irregularly ; ascribe it to the perpetual unrest and agitation which possess me now, particularly when I think of you all and my future! Everything is mixing itself up before my senses, and it's highest time my opera were ended, or my objectivity would have a poor look-out. God willing, however, I shall have finished in 3 to 4 weeks,—then forth to you!
Albert is writing also,—how glad I am that he is relieving me of a duty I can only think of with alarm! I can do no more than beg you all most sincerely for your kindness and indulgence in every way! Good Lord, I'm only 20 years of age as yet!— —
—Remembrances to all once more, and heartiest of all to my good Mother; and tell them a lot about their Richard, who gives them so much care and trouble. But yourself—you remain my good angel, my only Rosalie; remain it aye !—Thy
RICHARD.[The beginning of 1834 Richard returns to the family fold, where he spends the next few months in vain attempts to get Die Feen mounted by the Leipzig manager, one F. S. Ringelhardt. Early in June, however, he sets out on a pleasure-trip, as guest of his well- to-do chum, T. Apel.—TR.]
(1) Evidently regarding that Zurich conductorship which Glasenapp informs us that Rosalie was so anxious for her brother to accept in the September just past; see Life of R. Wagner, i, p. 166.—TR.