219) Carl Maria von Weber Abu Hassan
Topic: 219) Abu Hassan 1973
Many thanks to Bob again.
Recorded in Munich, September 1973
Abu Hassan, a favourite of the Caliph of Bagdad, is heavily in debt. In order to reverse his fortunes he devises a plan to send his wife to the Caliph's wife, Zobeide, to announce his (Hassan's) death, for which she will receive 50 pieces of gold and a piece of brocade. After Fatima has set off, creditors enter Abu Hassan's house to collect money but are tricked and pacified with words which Omar, the richest creditor, is made to believe Fatima has spoken, so Omar agrees to pay all the creditors.
Fatima returns with the presents from Zobeide and Abu Hassan prepares to visit the Caliph to try a similar story about his wife in order to get out of him. While he is out, Omar reappears and demands a kiss from Fatima, but the husband returns. Omar hides in an adjoining room, and the husband and wife enjoy his fear of being discovered.
Now Mesrur, a messenger from the Caliph appears, to see if Fatima really is dead, as both the Caliph and his wife want to know who it was who died, and if both, who died first. Mesrur, seeing Fatima lying on the divan, her husband in apparent distress at her side, runs back to let the Caliph know. He has only just gone, when Zobeide's nurse runs in on a similar errand; this time it is Hassan who feigns death, while Fatima is all tears and lamenting.
Finally the Caliph and his wife are announced. Hassan and Fatima throw themselves on the divan, covering themselves, as if dead. The Caliph now offers 1,000 gold pieces to anyone who will tell him, which of them died first. Hassan revives and throws himself at the Caliph's feet, saying: "It was me - I died first!", asks for a pardon, as well as the gold. Fatima does likewise, and the Caliph pardons them both. Omar, having paid off Hassan's debts in the hope of winning Fatima's heart, is sent away in disgrace.