Opera Scotland

Gipsy Princess Die Csárdásfürstin; The Gipsy Princess; The Gypsy Princess

Music

Emmerich Kálmán (born Siofok, 24 October 1882; died Paris, 30 October 1953.

Text

Leo Stein and Béla Jenbach.

 

Premieres

First Performance: Vienna (Johann Strauss Theater), 17 November 1915.

First Performance in Britain: London (Prince of Wales Theatre), 20 May 1921.

First Performance in Scotland: tbc.

 

Background

The Gipsy Princess was one of the most popular of Kálmán's operettas, packed with melody, and with a distinct Hungarian feel to it.

In Britain, it has been seen only rarely since the War. The English version launched in London in 1921 was a radical rewriting of the text by Arthur Miller and Arthur Stanley. This involved an exchange of names between several of the major characters, which can be confusing, as well as the introduction of a comic 'Englishman abroad'.

 

Main Characters (1921 English version in brackets)

Leopold Maria, Fürst von und du Lippert-Weylersheim (Edwin)

Anhilte, his wife (Anita)

Edwin Ronald, their son (Ronald)

Countess Stasi, their niece (Stasi)

Count Boni Káncsiánu, an impresario (Lord Boniface)

Sylva Varescu, a cabaret artiste 'The Gipsy Princess' (Sylva)

Leutnant Eugen von Rohnsdorff, Edwin's cousin (Eugene)

Feri von Kerekes, an elderly roué (Count Feri)

Mac Grave, an Ambassador (Margrave)

 

Plot Summary

Sylva is a successful cabaret artiste, giving her final performance at the Orpheum in Budapest before heading off for an American tour. An elderly admirer, Feri, is there, with Sylva's manager Boni, a young playboy aristo. They enjoy a free and easy lifestyle, and discuss Sylva's developing relationship with Prince Edwin. This seems doomed from the start as she wants to marry, but the gap in social class between an aristocrat and a performer makes marriage impossible.

When Edwin appears, Boni hands him a telegram from his father that orders him to return home immediately, abandoning Sylva. He has no intention of obeying, and wants Sylva to give up her travel plans and stay with him. His cousin Eugen now arrives, with an order for Edwin to return to his regiment - another ploy by his father to separate the lovers. An added complication is that Edwin is formally betrothed to his cousin Stasi, and that his parents have even had the wedding invitations printed. Edwin's response to this extra pressure is to bring in a notary to draft a formal offer of marriage. The act ends with Edwin and Eugen rushing off as everyone else celebrates with the delighted Sylva.

A few weeks later, in Vienna, at Prince Leopold's palace, preparations are in hand for the official announcement of Edwin's engagement to Stasi. They have always been friends, and she is aware of the complications over Sylva, and sympathetic. They recognize that they are not too keen on this long-arranged marriage. As Edwin and Stasi join the guests in the ballroom, more guests arrive, including Boni, who has brought Sylva as his partner for the evening, indeed posing as his wife, therefore with the rank of Countess. While everyone notices a resemblance between this new Countess and the famed Sylva Varescu, Prince Leopold accepts things at face value and leads her away to introduce her to his other guests. This allows Boni, who has been rather disgruntled, to meet Stasi. They find they get on well, and go off to dance.

Edwin and Sylva are left together in a very awkward situation, with Edwin rediscovering his love for her, while she learns of his formal engagement to Stasi. As Boni and Stasi return, she is clearly delighted with the charming Boni. However the old pairings are resumed, very formally and without enthusiasm. The old Prince takes Sylva and Edwin back to the ballroom, allowing Boni to declare his love for Stasi, who points out that his marriage is an obstacle. His assurance that this can be easily put right encourages her, and they return to the dance.

Edwin and Sylva resume their negotiations, but the awlwardness remains, as it is clear that Edwin still wants to hide the 'Countess's' real identity from his father. He now prevents his father from announcing his engagement as he is in love with the Countess. Stasi agrees to give him up, but Sylva, in frustration, now confesses that she is not married and not a Countess, but a singer with a marriage proposal from Edwin. As the young Prince at last adnits his love and proposes openly, she turns him down and walks out.

In their hotel in Vienna, recriminations proceed, with Boni complaining about Sylva's rudeness at the ball. She is still upset at Edwin's dislike of her lack of social standing. Boni and Feri are unable to talk her round and she runs off. As the other characters assemble, Feri solves the crisis when he recognizes the Princess, Edwin's mother, as an old flame who had herself been a singer. She had then married a Count, before, as a young widow, marrying her Prince. Leopold recognizes that he cannot prevent his son doing what he had himself done, and the way is open for the marriages of Edwin to Sylva and Boni to Stasi.

The Cast

Aranka
 a Variety Girl
Baroness Elsner
 
Cleo
 a Variety Girl
Commander von Billing
 a diplomat, section head
Count Boni Káncsiánu
 an impresario
Countess Stasi
 Prince Leopold's niece
Countess Tscheppe
 
Daisy
 a Variety Girl
Feri von Kerekes
 an old habitué of the Cabaret, known as 'Feri bácsi'
Hotel Manager
 
Juliska
 a Variety Girl
Kiss
 a Notary
Lieutenant Eugen von Rohnsdorff
 Edwin's cousin
Lord Boniface
 an English visitor
Mac Grave
 an Ambassador
Margrave
 
Mia
 a Variety Girl
Miksa
 Head-Waiter
Nitch
 a lawyer
Prince Edwin Ronald
 son of Prince Leopold
Prince Leopold Maria
 of Lippert-Weylersheim
Princess Anhilte
 Prince Leopold's wife
Rizzi
 a Variety Girl
Selma
 a Variety Girl
Solo Violinist
 in the cabaret
Sylva Varescu
 a cabaret artiste 'The Gipsy Princess'
Vally
 a Variety Girl
Vilma
 
Von Endrey
 a gentleman
Von Merö
 a gentleman
Von Szerény
 a gentleman
Von Vihar
 a gentleman

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2017

Site by SiteBuddha