Operetta in three acts
Libretto: Leo Stein & Bela Jenbach
Music: Emmerich (Imre) Kálmán
Premiere: Johann Strauss Theater, Vienna, 17th November 1915 under the musical direction of Arthur Guttmann
Cast: Mitzi Günther, Karl Bachmann, Susanna Bachrich and Josef König
Arguably Kálmán’s most successful work, Die Csárdásfürstin (The Gipsy Princess) is still one of the most popular of all operettas and it receives performances the world over. This charming story explores the love affair between an aristocratic gentleman and a sultry cabaret singer. With its mix of serious subjects, witty dialogue and a memorably vibrant score, Die Csárdásfürstin is a gem from the operatic oeuvre that is as fresh today as it was almost a century ago.
Popular arias and ensembles:
Ganz ohne Weiber
Heia in den Bergen
Machen wir’s den Schwalben nach
Tazen möcht ich
Tausend kleine Engel singen
Place: Budapest and Vienna
Time: shortly before the outbreak of the First World War
Act I: Sylva Varescu, a successful cabaret performer from Budapest, is about to embark on a tour of America. Three of her aristocratic followers, Edwin, Feri and Boni, would prefer her to stay. Edwin, unaware that his parents have already arranged a marriage for him back home in Vienna, orders a notary to prepare a promissory note of his expected marriage to Sylva within ten weeks. Sylva leaves on her American tour and Edwin leaves for peacetime military duty.
Act II: Just as the promissory note is about to expire, Sylva visits Edwin’s Palace in Vienna, pretending to have married Boni as her entree into his family’s society. Edwin is about to be engaged to Stasi, who does not care for him and wishes only an arranged marriage. Boni falls in love with Stasi and Edwin regrets not keeping his promise to Sylva sooner. However, Edwin makes the faux pas of informing Sylva that his parents would accept Sylva only if she pretends to have been divorced from Boni and therefore already entered society via an earlier marriage. Edwin’s father separately informs Sylva that if she marries Edwin without first having achieved noble rank through some other route, her role in society could be merely that of a Gypsy Princess should she go through with the marriage, Sylva realises that she is better than them and has a brighter future than them. She purposefully embarrasses Edwin and his father, turning her back on them and leaving in the presence of their assembled friends.
Act III: Feri has accompanied the cabaret troupe from Budapest to Vienna just before the troupe prepares to leave on another American tour with Sylva. Feri recognises Edwin’s mother as a retired cabaret singer from Budapest, whose star once shone prior to Sylva’s time. Edwin’s mother decides to join Sylva, Edwin, Boni and Stasi on the trip to America. All of them are, however, unaware that this trip will, effectively, save their lives due to the outbreak of the war after the assassination of the Crown Prince!
Watch this video: Csárdásfürstin Medley
(1) Yvonne Kenny, Michael Roider, Marko Kathol, Karl-Michael Ebner, Mojca Erdmann; Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Slovak Philharmonic Choir/Richard Bonynge - Naxos 8.660105-06
(2) Anneliese Rothenberger, Niccolai Gedda, Olivera Milajakovic Chorus of Bavarian State Opera, Symphonieorchester Graunke/Willy Matthes – EMI 5661702
(3) Anna Moffo, Rene Kollo, Dagmar Koller, Sandor Nemeth, Laszlo Mensaros, Zoltan Latinovic; Symphonieorchester Graunke/Bert Grund (Film version directed by Miklós Szinetár) DG DVD - 0734206
(4) Deborah Riedel, Anson Austin, Roger Lemke, Roxane Hislop, Graeme Ewer, Robert Gard & Heather Begg; The Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra/Richard Bonynge (in English) DVD Opus Arte Faveo - OAF4018D
Instrumentation: 2 (2 dbl Picc).2.2.2 / 184.108.40.206 / Perc / Hp / Cel / Str
Translation by Nigel Douglas
Instrumentation: 2 (2 dbl Picc). 2.2.2. / 220.127.116.11. / Timp / Perc / Cel / Hp / Str
Music by Emmerich Kálmán Adapted and arranged by Ronald Hanmer with a new book by Phil Park
Instrumentation: 18.104.22.168 / 22.214.171.124 / Perc / Hp / Str (126.96.36.199.1)