Opera Scotland

Magic Fountain

Tours by decade

1990s - 1 tour

1999 - Scottish Opera
Fully Staged with Orchestra

Tours by location

Frederick Delius (born Bradford, 29 January 1862; died Grez-sur-Loing, 10 June 1934)



First performance: BBC Broadcast, 20 November 1977 (Recorded July 1977).
First stage performance: Kiel (Landeshauptstadt), 2 December 1997.
First UK staging: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 20 February 1999.
First performance in Scotland: As above.
Scottish Opera premiere: As above.

The Magic Fountain was Delius’s second attempt at composing an opera, and was substantially completed in 1895. He sent the score to several German opera houses, but no performance materialised. In 1884, his father had sent him to Florida to manage a citrus plantation, in an unsuccessful attempt to steer him away from a musical career. His stays there, though brief, exerted an indelible effect on Delius throughout the rest of his career. The opera is in three short half-hour long acts (Scottish Opera performed it without an interval), and the music is immediately highly attractive. The characters are two-dimensional and the plot development clumsy, but the revival was well worthwhile.

Solano, a Spanish Nobleman (tenor)
Watawa, a young Indian girl (mezzo-soprano)
Wapanacki, an Indian Chief (bass)
Talum Hadjo, a Seer (baritone)
A Spanish Sailor (bass)

Plot Summary
The action takes place in the sixteenth century. Solano and his crew are becalmed at sea off the coast of Florida. While the men long for home, he dreams of a legend he has heard, of the Fountain of Eternal Youth. The men become much happier as a breeze springs up, but this joy soon turns to alarm as a full-blown storm develops. The ship is wrecked and Solano the sole survivor. He is washed up on a beach, where Watawa finds him. In spite of her hatred for all white men, since they had killed her own family, she has him carried to the village. When Solano has recovered, he tells Wapanacki of his dream, and the chief advises him to consult the seer who lives in the swamp. Watawa offers to act as guide, intending to kill him when the opportunity arises. She goes ahead to consult Talum Hadjo, and he suggests that she need not kill Solano, since the fountain’s water will prove fatal to anyone who goes there without preparation. Watawa is now filled with doubt about whether to kill him or let the fountain do it. She soon realises this is because she loves him. She explains all this to Solano, who is delighted, since he values her love even more highly in such circumstances. They fall asleep together, and the fountain now appears. They wake up, and Solano is delighted to see the fountain. However Watawa tells him of the seer’s warning. He does not believe her, but asks her to join him. She runs into the fountain and dies. Solano, his spiritual journey completed, joyfully follows her.

The Cast

 a Spanish Nobleman
Spanish Sailor
Talum Hadjo
 a Seer
 an Indian Chief
 a young Indian girl

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