De Argeloze (The Guileless)


chamber opera in three acts
based on a story by Voltaire
themes: collision between and integration of cultures and religions,
corruption, self-sacrifice
and of course love


In this opera the instruments not only play accompaniment, but also have equal importance as the singers. On the other hand an equal level regarding ensemble play is required from the instrumentalists as from the singers (which is common practice in chamber music). In the scene play they are expected to be present on stage and when necessary take an active part in the drama. The hurdy-gurdy (an instrument through the ages both attracted and rejected by the church) has a symbolic function in relation to the innocence of Argeloos. He too is attracted and rejected by the church. The casting of this opera has been kept relatively small in the view of cost reduction. There is no need for a separate choir; the singers who are on stage will sing as a choir when required. The musical setting tries to underline and enhance Voltaire's story; therefore integration in a new society and culture is one of the important elements in this work.


First act

On the beach

A landscape with dunes, just visible are the towers of a monastery. In the foreground a beach, through the dunes leads a path to and from the cloister.


Terzet: Ontmoeting op het strand

Argeloos washes ashore on the beach and meets Mr. Kerkeboon and his sister.

Terzet II

After some confusing debates they invite Argeloos to come and join them home.

Tussenspel, Octet der Vragenstellers

Several people arrive at the scene, who have no relevance to the action, but each and everyone of them has an opinion on Argeloos.

Tussenspel, Octet der Vragen

So does ms. Sintliefs, a well bread young girl. Everyone is talking to another, until Argeloos creates order in the chaos.

Aria van Sintliefs

Ms. Sintliefs describes her adoration for the fair stranger in an air.

Octet III

Argeloos sees the girl and is lost at first sight.

Terzet der Fanatici

The others dispute on the belief of Argeloos.

Octet IV, Tussenspel


Argeloos is persuaded to be baptized, is no longer a "pagan" and with this loses the first bit of his innocence.

Terzet III

Argeloos remains at the beach. Two French soldiers arrive, followed by an Englishman and two English soldiers.

Kwartet van de toekijkende soldaten

On his own, Argeloos beats the English, besung by the onlooking soldiers.

Terzet IV

The Kerkeboons re-appear and recognize Argeloos as a descendant of their relative, who had gone to America. So Argeloos is now a distant relative of the Kerkeboons.

Ariaatje van Vreugde van Argeloos

Argeloos sings an air of joy, in which he testifies of his love for Sintliefs.

De ontvoering van Sintliefs

All the others also re-appear, and the Bailiff tells that Sintliefs was already promised to his son. The Bailiff kidnaps Sintliefs with violence, and Argeloos decides -in line with his guilelessness- to turn to the King for justice and to get permission to marry Sintliefs.


Second act

At a hotel near Paris

At one side is just visible the entrance to the hotel; furthermore we see a terrace in green shelter. At the other side is a quiet land road that leads to the main road.

Elegie van Argeloos

Argeloos sings about his fate.

Aria van de eerste en de tweede Hugenoot,
Duet van de Hugenoten

Two Huguenots sing about the corruption at the court.

Duet van Argeloos en de Jezuïet

A Jesuit hears everything and shines his light on the matter.

Verklaring van de Jezuïet

Meanwhile he betrays Argeloos, who is then captured and led away to the Bastille.

Kleine Aria van Sintliefs

Then Sintliefs arrives, who has escaped the Bailiff.

Aria van de secretaris

Now she is waylaid by the Secretary of the Minister.

Duet van onbegrip
Intermezzo van de Audiënten

Two audients of the King perform a little play,

Duet van Sintliefs en de secretaris

while a third shows Sintliefs that the only way to rescue Argeloos is by losing her honour with the Secretary.

De klacht van Sintliefs

Sintliefs complaints her fate in an Air but eventually gives in.

Terzet van de Achtervolgers

Promptly after Sintliefs and the Secretary have left, the Kerkeboons arrive together with the Bailiff. They, too, are in search for Argeloos and for Sintliefs. They take a rest and have a drink at the terrace of the inn.


Third act

In a cell in the Bastille

A rather luxurious room. Lots of books and other materials for study are lying about. In a corner a small stairs lead to another space. Gordijn is sitting at a table, fumbling around in a book but in the meantime looking at Argeloos.

Duet van Gordijn en Argeloos

Argeloos had been put in a cell, which he shared with an older man, who listened to the name of Gordijn. This vital man had two important properties: he could listen, and he could endure misery.

Lof van Gordijns eenzaamheid

Gordijn sings about his loneliness in an Air

Duet van Gordijn en Argeloos II

Argeloos tries to explain to him what his encounters were, but as he did not know himself why he was brought hither, he could say little about it.

Aria van de Twijfel van Argeloos

Argeloos sings in another Air about his doubts on the civilization that he has landed upon.

Duet van Gordijn en Argeloos III

At that moment the governor of the prison personally comes with an unexpected message.

De Gouverneur met de brief

Sintliefs had achieved a safe-conduct for Argeloos by her sacrifice, and he would be allowed to leave the prison with her.

Liefdeslied van Argeloos

Argeloos does not understand what she has sacrificed for him and proposes that she may also try for the freedom of his friend Gordijn.

De Gouverneur met de brief II

Sintliefs hears this and faints.

Duet van de Gouverneur en de Cipier

A warden enters with the Kerkeboons to set Argeloos free.

Liefdesliedje van Argeloos II

Argeloos sings a love song for her.

Duet van Sintliefs en Argeloos

In shame about her own conduct she dares not tell the good news herself, and therefore has asked the governor to bring the message.

Terzet met het verzoek van Gordijn

Gordijn suddenly understands what Sintliefs has done and asks her not to sacrifice herself for his sake.

Duetje van de gouverneur en Argeloos

Argeloos understands nothing of all this and steps outside. The Governor is persistently ignorant and talks only of himself.

Klein duetje van Sintliefs en Gordijn

Gordijn and Sintliefs sing a duet.

Kwartet "De dapperste aller vrouwen"

Sintliefs’ courage is sung upon, but still not everyone understands what she has done.


In the end all are gathered in the cell again,

Aria - De bekentenis van Sintliefs

and the disgrace of Sintliefs comes to light.

Kwartet - Ik kan alleen gelukkig zijn met jou

Now Argeloos understands and sings her praise.

De Gouverneur komt met een nieuwe brief

Argeloos is set free.

De dood van Sintliefs

While Sintliefs dies in shame, Argeloos acquires an officer's job in the King's army and is completely integrated in his new society.




Cast (several roles are double casted, to keep the
total number of singers down to nine):

1st act 2nd act 3rd act
  Sintliefs   maid-servant, fem. audient Sintliefs   soprano  
  ms. Kerkeboon   waitress   ms. Kerkeboon   mezzo soprano  
  Argeloos   secretary   Argeloos   lyrical baritone  
  mr. Kerkeboon   Jesuit   mr. Kerkeboon   basso-buffo  
  Englishman, narrator landlord, narrator Gordijn, narrator basso profundo  
  Bailiff, English soldier I Huguenot I, Bailiff governor   character tenor  
  Bailiff's son, French soldier I audient I,   assistant I   buffo-tenor  
  Bishop, English soldier II Huguenot II   warden   character baritone  
  tax man, French soldier II audient II   assistant II   bass-baritone  
  Instrumental requirements:  

flute and piccolo
oboe and English horn
double bass
hurdy gurdy


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