February 17, 1927 | Metropolitan Opera
The King's Henchman
Composer:Deems Taylor
Librettist:Edna St. Vincent Millay
In the hall of Eadgar, king of England, a group of lords and ladies are entertained by the singing of Maccus. Eadgar is trying to arrange to marry Aelfrida, daughter of Ordgar, Thane of Devon, but affairs of state prevent him from visiting her himself; instead, he sends his henchman Aethelwold to find out if she is beautiful or not, despite Aethelwold's protest that, never having loved, all women are alike to him. On the way, he and Maccus are lost in a thick fog. Aethelwold lies down and sleeps as Marcus goes looking for food. Aelfrida enters; she hopes by means of magical incantations to avoid marrying the man her father has chosen for her. As she finishes her spell, a beam of moonlight falls on Aethelwold. She awakens him with a kiss, and he loves her at once. Aethelwold soon learns who she is, though; and while Aelfrida is fetching her serving-woman, he tries to flee, but Maccus prevents him. Aethelwold sends Maccus back to the king to tell him Aelfrida is not fair enough for him, and to seek blessing for his own marriage to her. Some months later, Aelfrida, now married to Aethelwold, is disappointed that they are still living in her father's house, while her husband is frustrated that she is so busy with the household. They decide to leave that night for Flanders. Before they can leave, though, Maccus arrives to tell Aethelwold that Eadgar has arrived to visit them. Aethelwold confesses his treachery to his wife, who, although angry that she has lost her chance to be queen of England, agrees to make herself ugly to conceal Aethelwold's trick. The King arrives; as he greets Aethelwold, Aelfrida appears, having made herself as beautiful as she could. The king realizes Aethelwold's treachery and confronts him with it; his retainer, remorseful, stabs himself. The king orders that he be buried with all the honor due his rank.

Title Information

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Approximate Runtime (hh:mm)

Musical Style
Influenced by Wagner, Puccini, and Debussy; use of leitmotifs, chromatic writing; melodious, picturesque

Original Cast
Lawrence Tibbett (Eadgar)
Edward Johnson (Aethelwold)
Florence Easton (Aelfrida)
Merle Alcock (Ase)
William Gustavson (Maccus)
George Meader (Dunstan)
Louis d'Angelo (Ordgar)
Arnold Gabor (Thored)
Max Bloch (Hwita)
Max Altglass (Gunner)
George Cehanovsky (Cynric)
Joseph Macpherson (Brand)
Millo Picco (Wulfred)
James Wolfe (Olsac)
Henriette Wakefield (Hildeburh)
Grace Anthony (Ostharu)
Louise Lerch (Godgyfu)
Dorothea Flexer (Leofsydu)

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