The story of the cycle and the characters assigned to some of the songs are derived from a close reading of the text and the music and are subject to interpretation.
The cycle opens with the bounding enthusiasm of Wilhelm, who is infatuated with Elwina  and even more enamored of love itself . Ida enters, despondent over a lover who has abandoned her . As she wanders through a grove of alderwood she appears to Wilhelm as if in a vision . The two meet, Wilhelm  then Ida  proclaim their happiness. The tryst continues as Wilhelm urges Ida to look to the stars where a far greater power resides . The liaison is short-lived, however: Wilhelm discovers Luisa singing to the stars  and is lured away by her . Ida succumbs to the longing that seems deemed to be her fate  while Wilhelm continues his escapades with his new mistress  . The cycle comes to a parenthetical caesura as all three characters sing a trio in praise of the evening .
The final episode begins, once again, with Wilhelm praising love . At this point though, Wilhelm's description of the evening takes on an unaccustomedly dark tone . This unease proves prophetic as events take a tragic turn. The ever-distraught Ida sings of her torment  and decides to take her own life , while Luisa swears fidelity even as Wilhelm betrays her . Wilhelm's final appearance finds him pining for yet another woman, Rosa, who is absent  and who has also taken her life in the face of her lover's insincerity . In the end, Wilhelm is devastated and alone, a victim of his own fickle heart.
© Morten Solvik 1997 and 1999
|Updated: 17 December 1999||Kosegarten|