Undine (Friedrich Baron de la Motte-Fouqué – E.T.A. Hoffmann)
Plot (the video provides an excerpt, 31 minutes)
Ι. (The interior of a Fisherman´s cottage with one window on the back wall)
The old fisherman´s family are worried about their foster daughter Undine, who hasn’t
returned home yet. Knight Huldbrand from Ringstetten, who has found refuge from a storm
with them, finds out, that they had a daughter sixteen years ago, who drowned in a nearby
lake when she was only one year old. Or possibly she was abducted by a water spirit,
because her body has never been found. Yet by a lucky coincidence, Undine was brought to
them on the same day. Even though she is very moody, they love her like their own child.
Knight Huldbrand declares, he will search for Undine.
(Night, lakeside with rocks and cascading waterfalls)
Undine fights with her uncle, the water count Kühleborn. He had warned her often enough
against the humans, but she had insisted on finding a mortal who would marry her, so that
she could get a soul. Huldbrand appears and Kühleborn vanishes with the water spirits into
the lake. Huldbrand is delighted by the beauty of Undine and feels magically attracted to
her. And Undine loves him as well at first sight. Huldbrand asks Undine to come with him
to his castle. Despite the warning cries from the depths of the lake, she accepts the
(Inside the Fisherman´s cottage)
The doting couple discovers the monk Father Heilmann in the Fisherman´s cottage, who is
on a pilgrimage. Huldbrand and Undine ask him outright to wed them. Since Undines
parents have no objections to it, the two of them get married.
Sunshine has banished the storm. Undine and Huldbrand set out to the castle Ringstetten.
Secretly Kühleborn, who is still worried about his niece, follows them.
ΙΙ. (Big square, surrounded by trees, in the imperial city, in the middle, a well)
Undine and Berthalda are taking a walk while talking. Berthalda, who Huldbrand had also
promised to marry recently, cunningly gains Undine´s trust in order to lift the secret of
Undine´s origin. She tells her, that the duke discovered her as a little foundling in a meadow
while he was riding, and took her back to his castle. Undine would love to know who her
real parents were.
Meanwhile Kühleborn climbs out of the well and warns his niece again. By the way, Undine
learns that Berthalda is the alleged drowned child of the fisher people.
(in knight Huldbrand´s accomodation)