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Music Text

Libretto by Eugen Rittelbusch (G)


2S,M,A,6T,5Bar,3B,non-singing role; mixed chorus; ballet;
On-stage: string quartet

Abbreviations (PDF)



This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.


World Premiere
Hessisches Landestheater, Darmstadt
Rolf Prasch, director
Conductor: Karl Friderich
Company: unknown


MEISTER JOHANNES, the leader of the stonecutters' guild Lyric Baritone
JAKOB VON MELEM, a silk dealer in Frankfurt Bass
JUTTA, his daughter Lyric Soprano
HILDEGARD, his niece Lyric Soprano
GOTTFIRED VON KÖLN, a sculptor Lyric Tenor
BARTHOLOMÄUS VAN DER HELST, a rich trader Baritone
MOHAMMED, his servant, a moor Buffo Tenor
GRETH, housekeeper in Melem's house Mezzo Soprano
THE RED DIETER, a subverter and swindler Buffo Bass
THE BLACK KASPAR, a bandit Bass
THE HUNGERLIES, an egg-seller Contralto
THE MAYOR of Frankfurt Tenor
Two Stonecutters Tenors
The leader of the Spoon Fools non-singing role
Folks, children, maids, city soldiers, craftsmen, fools chorus
Time and Place

Medieval Franfurt before 1500


Melem, a tradesman from Cologne, has settled in Frankfurt and built himself a house near the Römerberg, the city's central square. Following the old tradition, the house is to be given an emblem. As he explains during the inauguration ceremony, Melem has exchanged a vow with his friend van der Helst, who once had saved his live, according to which the son of the one shall marry the daughter of the other. Years have passed, and now the younger van der Helst is on his way to Frankfurt to woo the beautiful Jutta, Melem's daughter. But Jutta is secretly in love with the sculptor Gottfried of Cologne, who is rejected by her father. On the road, young van der Helst is attacked and half-killed by bandits. One of them reads in the victim's papers about the purpose of his journey and decides to take the wooer's place. In Frankfurt, the bandit makes a grand entry and orders no less than three statues from the stonecutter, for his future father-in-law to make his choice for the new house. But during a market scene he is recognised by the Hungerlies, a market woman, as her former husband who ran away several years before.

In the meantime, van der Helst has been found by Gottfried who is also travelling to Frankfurt. After his convalescence, both continue on their way together. Jutta's cousin Hildegard and the stone cutter co-operate to create the funniest situations in order to unravel things, to expose the swindler, and to unite the lovers. The final scene in front of the Römer, Frankfurt's historic town hall, shows the punishment of the bandit and the erection of the emblem, created by Gottfried, that wins him Jutta's hand. Van der Helst approaches Hildegard instead. When the emblem appears – a Madonna with Jutta's features – all join in a solemn hymn to St Mary. (W. Kleinschmidt)


Comic, Poetic, Romantic

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