Opera Scotland

Gipsy Love Zigeunerliebe; Gypsy Love

Music

Franz Lehár (born Komorn, 30 April 1870; died Bad Ischl, 24 October 1948)

Text

Alfred Maria Willner & Robert Bodansky

First English version: Basil Hood (Book) & Adrian Ross (Lyrics).

 

Premieres

First Performance: Vienna (Carltheater), 8 January 1910.

First Performance in UK: (London (Daly's Theatre), 1 June 1912.

First Performance in Scotland: tbc 1913.

Scottish Opera premiere: n/a.

 

Background

While nothing by Lehár ever really rivalled The Merry Widow in popularity, several of his later pieces did enjoy periods of short-term success in Britain. Gipsy Love opened in London in 1912 and a national touring production was quickly mounted. It was still going the rounds of British theatres and entertaining large audiences when war broke out in 1914.

Musically, it is quite a sophisticated piece, very melancholy in tone, and with clear Hungarian influences throughout. In that respect it resembles the work of Kálmán on the one hand, while being probably the closest Lehár got to composing full opera.

The English language version, as was a common occurrence with continental operetta, took serious liberties with the libretto and the entire plot was significantly changed.

 

Main Characters

Dragotin, a Romanian aristocrat

Zorika, his daughter (soprano)

Józsi, a gipsy fiddler (tenor)

Jonel, a young officer (tenor)

 

Plot Summary

Zorika, daughter of a wealthy Romanian aristocrat, is expected to make a sensible marriage to a wealthy individual of similar status, and Jonel is a young officer put forward for her inspection. The prospect bores her rigid, and she follows local tradition by drinking water from the river Czerna, which has the reputation for granting visions of the future.

The second act is a dream sequence in which she runs off to marry a highly attractive gipsy violinist, Józsi, and over the course of two years with him she sees his worst aspects, as he is revealed to be a charming, cheating womanizer.. She wakes to the realisation that the life planned out for her is actually quite acceptable.

Subplots involve the courtship of Ilona, a sensible, intelligent woman, by a Kajetan, less well-endowed.

The English book, provided by the highly experienced and successful pairing of Basil Hood and Adrian Ross, rejigs things significantly. The 'dream' idea is abandoned, and the heroine really does run off with her gipsy lover. Zorika's name is changed, and she is called Sonia (just as Hanna Glawari had been a few years earlier), or sometimes, even more confusingly, Ilona. The name Zorika is then given to the minor character of a flirtatious gipsy girl. To create still more confusion, Ilona becomes a wealthy and somewhat liberal-minded English aristocrat called Lady Babby, who engineers the satisfactory (if not entirely happy) endings required.

The Cast

Andor
 an Innkeeper
Dancer 1
 
Dancer 2
 
Dimitreanu
 Kajetan's father
Dragotin
 a Nobleman
Ilona
 daughter of Dragotin
Jolan
 Dragotin's niece
Jonel
 betrothed to Ilona
Jozsi
 a Gipsy musician
Julese
 Ilona's nurse
Kajetan
 a shy young man
Lady Babby
 an English Lady
Marischka
 daughter of Andor
Randolph
 attendant on Lady Babby
Richard
 attendant on Lady Babby
Rollo
 attendant on Lady Babby
Zorika
 a Gipsy

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