Opera Scotland

Beggar Student The Beggar Student; Der Bettelstudent

Music

Karl Millöcker (born Vienna, 29 April 1842; died Baden, 31 December 1899)

Text

F Zell and Richard Genée.

Source

Based on elements from two  plays, Les Noces de Fernande (1878) by Victorien Sardou, and The Lady of Lyons (1838) by Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

 

Premières

First performance: Vienna (Theater an der Wien), 6 December 1882.

First performance in UK: London (Alhambra), 12 April 1884.

First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Royal Lyceum Theatre), 20 November 1884.

Scottish Opera première: N/A.

 

Background

Only one of Millöcker's works has survived in modern performance, and that only in the German-speaking world. Yet it enjoyed instant success wherever it was first performed, including its early Carl Rosa tour. Its style is elegantly tuneful, with a number of characteristic Polish dance melodies as well as the inevitable waltzes. The plot is a historical romance.

 

Main Characters

Palmatica, Countess Nowalska, an impoverished aristocrat (mezzo-soprano)

Countess Laura, Palmatica's elder daughter (soprano)

Countess Bronislawa, Palmatica's younger daughter (soprano)

Simon, the Beggar Student (tenor)

Jan Janitzky, Simon's friend (tenor)

Colonel Ollendorf, Governor of Cracow (bass)

Enterich, Prison Governor (baritone)

 

Plot summary

The location is Cracow in 1704, a Polish city under Saxon occupation. A plot is under way for Poles to revolt against their Saxon overlords. Ollendorf, the Governor, has fallen out with Countess Palmatica, due to the failure of his courtship of her daughter Laura. He conceives a plot whereby her two daughters will be courted by a pair of impoverished students, who, for the ruse, are to impersonate appropriate suitors, an aristocrat and his secretary. He recruits for this purpose a pair of young political prisoners from the prison, who will be given their freedom in return for taking part in the plot. At a fair the two couples are introduced, quickly become attached, and, since Ollendorf is providing the funds, are able to celebrate by eating and drinking lavishly.

Simon writes a note to Laura confessing the deception, but it is intercepted by Ollendorf and the marriage goes ahead. At the celebrations Ollendorf exposes the deception, to the horror of the bystanders. Jan, to gain time to help the coup attempt, persuades Simon to claim to be Duke Adam, leader of the coup, so that Jan can get the large reward for exposing him. This reward was a bribe provided by Ollendorf which Jan has already used to further the cause of the rebels. As Ollendorf announces the Duke's arrest and imminent execution, word comes of the success of the coup by the genuine Duke. The Governor is able to surrender, and Jan is able to reveal Simon's genuine identity - and genuine title.

The Cast

Colonel Ollendorf
 Governor of Cracow
Conrad Malitzki
 Count Opalinski, ADC to King of Poland
Ensign Rochoff
 a Saxon officer
Laura
 Palmatica's elder daughter
Lieutenant Henritz
 a Saxon officer
Lieutenant Richtoffen
 a Saxon officer
Major Wagenheim
 a Saxon officer
Onuphrie
 a servant
Palmatica
 Countess Nowalska
Schnapps
 Head Gaoler in the Citadel
Simon Romanovitch
 the Beggar Student
Stephania
 Palmatica's younger daughter
Wurst
 a restaurant keeper

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