THE GRAND-DUCHESSE DE GEROLSTEIN
Operetta by Jacques Offenbach
Rapid rise, fast fall – who hasn’t heard of that? Grenadier Fritz knows about it, anyway. He starts as a private in the regiment of Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein, who instigates wars for her own amusement. In no time at all, Fritz is promoted to general, but his sovereign has more than just than a military interest in him. General Fritz is victorious, in a war that is never actually fought. But he soon finds himself demoted, since he refuses to fall for the advances of his man-mad ruler, staying true instead to his beloved Wanda. Not only the Grande-Duchesse is at loggerheads with him, however, but a prince with designs to marry her, her minister, and a former general as well, all of whom fear a loss of influence. It’s no wonder then that they team up against him, concocting intrigue on top of intrigue.
“La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein” became an incredible hit after its premiere during the Paris World Fair of 1867. Librettists Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy directly addressed the events of their day – which caused them a bit of trouble with the censors, what with their allusions to German particularism, the expansionist policies of Prussia and its attendant wars with the Hapsburg Empire and Denmark, as well as alleged references to the love affairs of Catherine the Great of Russia. And yet audiences were captivated by these subtle critiques of current events. Even leading politicians did not want to miss a performance in Paris, thinking perhaps they’d find themselves in it.
Offenbach himself considered it essential to work with modern and timely lyrics. It was with this in mind that dramaturge and translator Bettina Bartz was commissioned to create a brand-new German version of the text.
shorttime changes in the evening’s cast possible due to illness and force majeure