Oberon © beyond | Herwig Zens


Which is the more faithful sex? Men or women? One married couple has fallen out so badly over this age-old question that they now eat at separate tables and sleep in separate beds. The only thing that might answer the question and reconcile them is a test. But this quarrelling couple are no normal husband and wife: they are Oberon, king of the fairies, and his wife Titania, and as we know from William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream a quarrel between these two can have disastrous consequences for nature: it snows in summer, rains in sheets, and the entire harvest is ruined. The royal couple now intend to live apart until they find a pair of lovers who are genuinely true to each other in every situation. Oberon quickly regrets the separation from Titania, and it proves vital to find such a faithful couple as quickly as possible. To this end, he manipulates the noble knight, Huon of Bordeaux, who is as handsome as he is brave, and the charming caliph’s daughter Rezia by means of visions with the result that they fall in love with each other even though they are thousands of miles apart and have never seen each other. For Oberon with his magic powers it is no problem to bring the central European knight and the Oriental princess together — both geographically and physically. But that is just the start of the actual task: with the help of his house sprite Puck, Oberon exposes the young couple to innumerable trials to test their fidelity. They are shipwrecked, and Rezia is abducted by pirates and sold to a lecherous emir. Huon, placed under a spell at the emir’s court, is exposed to beguiling attempts to seduce him on the part of the emir’s wife. Despite all these adversities, the couple remain steadfast in their fidelity to each other. Repulsed and deceived by his wife, the emir rages and sentences the troublesome couple to be burned at the stake. At this crisis, Oberon ends the test and saves Rezia and Huon from being burned to death. The couple’s true love, maintained until death, proves that women and men are capable of fidelity in equal measure and the royal fairy couple can patch up their differences. Under their protection, Huon and Rezia begin a new life at Charlemagne’s court.