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Music Text

Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halevy; English version by Charles Lamb Kenney (E)

Scoring

3S,3A,4T,2Bar,B; chorus;
2(II=picc).1.2.1-2.2.2.0-timp.perc:SD/BD/cym/tgl/tamb-strings

Abbreviations (PDF)

World Premiere
4/12/1867
Théâtre des Variétés, Paris
Company: unknown

Roles

JULIA, grand duchess Soprano
FRITZ, grenadier Character Tenor
PRINCE PAUL Tenor
BARON PUCK Tenor or Baritone
GENERAL BUMM Buffo Bass
BARON GROG Tenor or Baritone
NEPOMUK, the grand duchess's adjutant Tenor or Baritone
WANDA, a farming girl Soubrette Soprano
Court ladies, servants, soldiers, peasant women mixed chorus
Time and Place

Gérolstein, 19th century

Synopsis

The grand duchess makes the fusilier Fritz a general because she is in love with him, and she makes him a fusilier again because he wants to stay faithful to his Wanda. This striking example of favouritism made Parisians not only think of the Tuileries and of the Palais d’Hiver but reminded them also of comic scenes from small German states… In short, the operetta mocks everything that calls for mockery: court gossip in the newspapers, instances of haunting in castles and, not least, the cold countenances of diplomats. The score manages to release the magic in things, with Offenbach’s bright music succeeding wonderfully in exposing both the bombast of the military and the pomposity of the autocrats. And to whom are these absurdities revealed? They are shown to the active minds of modern metropolitans who are made to laugh at them. Throughout the opera, the enlightened minds of good-natured, sensible people are played off against dull political institutions and methods which appear antiquated and ready for dismantling. The grand duchess is a genuine Paris girl who is not easily tricked and gracefully cheats her dumb adorer, Prince Paul. And Fritz, a boy of the same nature, remains insensitive to courtly glamour and wins a battle with his mother wit which General Bumm would have lost.
Siegfried Kracauer

Moods

Comic, Poetic

Subjects

History, Politics, Relationships, Society




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