The story of three of Wagner's most famous operas are beautifully retold in a simple and romantic fashion that is accessible even to grammar school age children. There are three stories altogether. Lohengrin is about a sorceress who casts a spell on a prince of Belgium in the days of Henry the Fowler. The Mastersingers of Nuremberg is a romance about a singer who wins the heart of a Nuremberg maiden, and the Flying Dutchman is about a merchant under the spell of the seas.
THE KNIGHT BENT LOW TO RECEIVE THE CROWN.
The stories which I have retold for you in this little book are not new. They are very, very old, and were known and loved by many people, both big and little, hundreds of years before Wagner was born. In the old far-off days there were very few books, and as each book cost a great deal of money not many people could afford to buy them.
But in these days there were plenty of stories even though books were few. And the best story-tellers were the minstrels or singers who wandered from village to village singing songs of love and of life and of war. And the people welcomed the minstrels gladly, and gave them food and lodging, and sometimes money in return for the new songs and tales they taught.
When the minstrel went away to the next village there was usually some one who could remember a great deal of what had been sung, and this he would tell over and over again in the long dark winter evenings till every grown-up man and woman knew by heart what the minstrel had sung.
And the old people told the tales to their sons and daughters, and the sons and daughters told them again to their little children, and so they were never forgotten but were handed down from father to son till the time came when they were written and put into a book.
Wagner is the latest of the minstrels, and he has told these stories once again and has written music to sing them to, and when you are old enough I hope you will learn to sing the songs which tell the stories as Wagner wished that they should be told.
|C. E. SMITH|