Gräfin Mariza

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Gräfin Mariza (Countess Mariza) is an operetta in three acts composed by Hungarian composer Emmerich Kálmán, with a libretto by Julius Brammer and Alfred Grünwald. It premiered in Vienna on 28 February 1924 at the Theater an der Wien.

English adaptations[edit]

As Countess Maritza, it made its New York debut on 18 September 1926 at the Shubert Theatre, in an adaptation by Harry B. Smith, and with interpolated music by other composers, playing 318 performances.[citation needed] The show was staged by J. C. Huffman.[1] Since the 1981 production by the Lubo Opera Company of New Jersey, however, most American productions have been straightforward English translations of the original, with Kálmán's music intact.

As Maritza, it opened in London at the Palace Theatre on 6 July 1938.

A major London revival by New Sadler's Wells Opera opened at Sadler's Wells Theatre in February 1983, with a new English book and lyrics by Nigel Douglas (who had previously starred at the Vienna Volksoper, and directed the 1983 revival) starring Marilyn Hill Smith (Maritza), Ramon Remedios (Tassilo), Laureen Livingstone (Lisa), Lynn Barber (Manja) and Tudor Davies (Zsupan) conducted by Barry Wordsworth. A recording of highlights was released in 1983 by That's Entertainment Records TER 1051.

Roles[edit]

Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 28 February 1924
(Conductor: )
Countess Mariza soprano Betty Fischer
Prince Populescu baritone Richard Waldemar
Baron Kolomán Zsupán, landowner of Varaždin tenor Max Hansen
Count Tassilo of Endrödy-Wittemburg tenor Hubert Marischka
Lisa, Tassilo's sister soprano Elsie Altmann
Karl Stefan Liebenberg bass
Princess Božena Guddenstein zu Clumetz contralto
Penižek, her valet spoken Hans Moser
Tschekko, an old butler of Mariza's
Berko, a gypsy
Manja, a young gypsy soprano
Village children, guests, dancers, gypsies, peasant boys and peasant girls

Synopsis[edit]

Poster for a 1941 Stockholm production.
Place: Hungary
Time: Around 1924.

Act I[edit]

At the castle of the countess Mariza

Act I begins on the terrace of a castle with an adjacent park. Countess Mariza spends much of her time in the city, so she trusts her rural estate to her bailiff — Count Tassilo, who is operating under the name of Török. Tassilo hopes to earn a dowry for his sister Lisa — she doesn't know about the impoverishment of the family. He rather likes his service: he has never seen his mistress, just sends her the rents, and the servants and peasants treat him well. But this idyll is to come to an end: prince Populescu, an old Don Juan, comes and announces that countess Mariza will follow to celebrate her engagement there. Suddenly, she appears: A gorgeous, lively, but also a capricious young woman, who wants to disclose and celebrate the engagement with Baron Kolomán Zsupán. All guests have already arrived, but the engagement is only a fake, she secretly confesses to a friend, to get rid of her admirers.

She invented a fiancée for herself, based on the recollection of Strauss' operetta, The Gypsy Baron. She announces that he was delayed by some business, and the engagement party will go on without him. But then, suddenly, he appears! Baron Zhupan read about his own "engagement" in the papers, and decided to come. He meets Mariza and they sing a duet together–"Do not laugh, Mariza, but marry I should". Mariza introduces her "fiancé" to the guests and they all go out to the park. There they surprise sad Tassilo, who sings an aria "Auch ich war einst ein feiner Csárdáskavalier"/"Komm, Zigány" ("In the Spring Stillness a Gypsy Sings Afar"), which he ends with a czardas. Both Mariza and the guests see it, and Mariza orders him to repeat it. He refuses, and the angry countess announces that he is fired.

The guests are leaving the estate to go to the town, and get dissipated in cabarets. Mariza meets a young gypsy named Manja who predicts that she will be very happy in love. "One moon will pass over this Earth and Mariza will find her happiness", she sings. Mariza refuses to go and stays on her estate. She stops Tassilo from leaving and apologises. She repeats the refrain of his aria "Komm, Zigány" ("Hey, gypsy"), and their duet ends Act I.

Act 2[edit]

Scene 1: Mariza's estate park

Visitors came to visit Mariza. Lisa, Tassilo's sister, who does not know that he is a manager here, and Zsupan, who came to visit his "fiancée". They like each other and Zhupan repeats twenty times that if he didn't love Mariza, he would have dreamed about Lisa tonight. Tassilo is surprised and happy to meet his sister. In a duet "Schwesterlein, Schwesterlein" ("Come Here and Sit Down"), they recollect their childhood.

Scene 2: A parlour in Mariza's house

A month of her solitude has passed; guests are coming. They make fun of Tassilo. He writes a letter to his friend, to tell him that he endures a lot, but Lisa is his only close relative, and he will endure everything for her dowry. He stops writing it abruptly when Mariza comes in. Together, they sing a duet, a confession of love–"My Tender Friend!" Populescu tells Mariza that he saw her manager in the park with a pretty girl, and he finds the unfinished letter where Tassilo speaks about a dowry. Mariza does not know that Tassilo has a sister, so she sees him as a dowry-hunter. The finale of the Second act is a dramatic scene with an aria "Hey, Mariza, be calm, hey, Mariza, endure this pain", chaffing of the guests, perplexed Tassilo... Mariza humiliates and insults him, and throws him out. Lisa comes, runs towards her brother, and they leave together. Mariza understands that she's made a mistake.

Act 3[edit]

The next morning Zsupan proposes to Lisa in the park. They sing a merry duet together–"A Lad Loved a Lass". An old aunt of Tassilo arrives, who announces that she has bought back Tassilo's estate from his debtors and left it to him. Tassilo comes to Mariza to report the estate conditions. They reconcile. Two couples end the operetta by singing together–"Time Passes but Love Does Not Wait."

Recordings[edit]

Kalman: Gräfin Mariza, Wiener Opernball Orch.

  • Conductor: Uwe Theimer
  • Principal singers: Izabela Labuda (Mariza), Martina Dorak (Lisa), Ryszard Karczykowski (Tassilo), Moritz Gogg (Zsupán)
  • Recording date:
  • Label: Camarata, CD CM 660-1

Films[edit]

There are a number of film versions of the operetta, including : Gräfin Mariza (1932), directed by Richard Oswald with Dorothea Wieck and Hubert Marischka; Gräfin Mariza (1958), directed by Rudolf Schündler with Christine Görner and Rudolf Schock; Gräfin Mariza (1974), directed by Eugen York with Ljuba Welitsch and René Kollo.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hischak, Thomas S. (2006-01-01). Enter the Playmakers: Directors and Choreographers on the New York Stage. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-5747-6. Retrieved 2014-05-30.