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(Strauss: Friedenstag). Bar. Commandant of a besieged city and husband of Maria. In the Citadel the soldiers are gathered. They have run out of ammunition. The townspeople are all starving. An officer suggests that they bring up more ammunition from the cellars down below, but the Commandant has other ideas. He has received a message from the Emperor, asking them to resist at all costs. The people send a deputation begging him to surrender and put an end to their hunger and misery. He tells them he agrees to their demands, but in reality he knows that rather than surrender to the enemy, he will blow up the fortress in which they are gathered, even if it means they will themselves die. His wife, Maria, joins him. She is much younger than he and loves him dearly. He does his best to persuade her to escape to safety, but she is determined to stay with him. As a soldier brings him the fuse to set fire to the arsenal below, bells ring out as a sign of peace. The enemy commander, the Holsteiner, leads his troops into the citadel. Thinking they come as the enemy, the Commandant draws his sword, but Maria intervenes to prevent any more fighting. Peace now reigns as the two commanders embrace and the rejoicing begins. Aria: Ihr Alten habt … mir treu gedient (‘The oldest of you … have served me faithfully’); duet (with Maria): Maria, du? (‘Maria, is it you?’). Created (1938) by Hans Hotter.

Subjects: Opera.

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