Operetta in three acts by Johann Strauss
Actually “Prince Methusalem” was supposed to be an operetta for Paris. Inspired by the successful French version of “Indigo and the Forty Thieves” in the Seine metropolis as well as by preparations for the French-language premiere of his “Fledermaus,” Johann Strauss set about writing his first work directly for the French stage. To satisfy the tastes of a Parisian public, a French comedy by Jérôme Albert Victor van Wilder – who worked on the French adaptation of “Indigo” – and Delacour was to serve as the libretto of “Prince Methusalem.” With the Paris premiere in mind, Strauss began setting the French text to music.
But things in fact turned out quite differently. Negotiations having come to naught with the theatres in Paris, Strauss’s newest operetta finally saw its hugely successful premiere on January 3, 1877 at Vienna’s Carltheater The composer used texts by Matthias Karl Ludwig Treumann for the German-language premiere. Treumann was an exceptional connoiseur of the Paris theatre scene and was influential in getting Jacques Offenbach to come from the Seine to the Danube.
The world premiere was a particular success for Johann Strauss. Its satirical plot was unusual for him: Actually, it’s all quite simple for the two rulers of Rikarak and Trocadero. Prince Methusalem of Rikarak is supposed to marry Pulcinella, daughter of the King of Trocadero, uniting their lands and ensuring their future. But reality is more complicated. Methusalem and Pulcinella not only fall in love with each other, they begin to have designs of their own. And these, alas, are completely different from what their fathers had in mind. When, on top of this, the people of both lands begin to revolt, the two sovereigns find themselves in an awkward situation indeed...
“Prince Methusalem” shows Johann Strauss at the height of his musical powers. Yet never were his marvelous melodies as splendidly saucy as they are here. Wit and humour are skillfully dosed in amusing couplets, which even today have lost none of their bite.
(Translation: David Burnett)
shorttime changes in the evening’s cast possible due to illness and force majeure