Die Csárdásfürstin (The Csárdás Princess; translated into English as The Riviera Girl and The Gipsy Princess) is an operetta in 3 acts by Hungarian composer Emmerich Kálmán, libretto by Leo Stein and Bela Jenbach (de). It premiered in Vienna at the Johann Strauß-Theater (de) on 17 November 1915. Numerous film versions and recordings have been made. The operetta is widely beloved across Europe, particularly in Hungary, Austria, Germany and the former Soviet Union, where it was adapted into a popular film. It is arguably Kálmán's most successful work.
Kálmán Die Csárdásfürstin Deborach Riedel, Anson Austin; Australian Opera, Richard Bonynge, 1990
Sylva Varescu soprano
Edwin Ronald tenor/baritone
Countess Stasi soprano
Count Boni Káncsiánu tenor
Feri von Kerekes bass
Leopold Maria bass
Oberleutnant von Rohnsdorff bass
Die Csardasfürstin - Imre Kalman
Silva Varescu - Anna Moffo
Edwin Ronald - Rene Kollo
Stasi - Dagmar Koller
Boni - Sandor Nemeth
Princess Marie-Louise - Iren Psota
Prince Leopold - Karl Schonbock
The Symphonie-Orchester Kurt Graunke
Conductor Bert Grund
Juan Diego Florez & Anna Netrebko sing "Sylva ich will nur dich" from Die Csardasfurstin by Kalman
Place: Budapest and Vienna
Time: shortly before the out-break of the First World War
Silva Varescu, a self-sufficient and professionally successful cabaret performer from Budapest, is about to embark on a tour of America. Three of her aristocratic admirers, named Edwin, Feri and Boni, prefer her to stay. Edwin, unaware that his parents have already arranged a marriage for him back home in Vienna, orders a notary to prepare a promissory note of his expected marriage to Silva within ten weeks. Silva then leaves on her American tour, and Edwin leaves for peacetime military duty.
Just at the time this promissory note is about to expire, Silva visits Edwin's palace in Vienna, pretending to have married Boni as her entrée into his family's society. Edwin is about to be engaged to Stasi, who does not care for him and wishes only an arranged marriage. Boni falls in love with Stasi and Edwin regrets not keeping his promise to Silva sooner. However, Edwin makes the faux pas of informing Silva that his parents would accept Silva only if she pretends to have been divorced from Boni and therefore already entered society via an earlier marriage. Edwin's father separately informs Silva that if she marries Edwin without first having achieved noble rank through some other route, her role in society could be merely that of a Gypsy Princess. Silva realizes that she is better than they and has a brighter future than they have. She purposefully embarrasses Edwin and his father, turning her back on them and leaving in the presence of their assembled friends.
The act is set in a Viennese hotel to which Feri has accompanied the cabaret troupe from Budapest, who is about to sail on another American tour with Sylva. As everyone shows up and recognizes each other, Feri recognizes Edwin's mother as a retired cabaret singer from Budapest whose star once shone prior to Sylva's time. Edwin's mother joins the two couples, Sylva/Edwin and Boni/Stasi, all unwittingly heading to safety on this American tour.
Emmerich Kálmán (24 October 1882 – 30 October 1953) was a Hungarian composer of operettas.
Kálmán was born Imre Koppstein in Siófok, then in Austria-Hungary, on the southern shore of Lake Balaton, in a Jewish family. Kálmán initially intended to become a concert pianist, but because of early-onset arthritis, he focused on composition instead. He studied music theory and composition at the National Hungarian Royal Academy of Music (then the Budapest Academy of Music), where he was a fellow student of Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály under Hans Kössler.
His early symphonic poems Saturnalia and Endre es Johanna were well-received, although he failed to achieve publication. He also composed piano music and wrote many songs: a song cycle on poems by Ludwig Jacobowski and a song collection published under the title Dalai.
However, the popularity of his humorous cabaret songs led him towards the composition of operettas. His first great success was Tatárjárás – Ein Herbstmanöver in German, meaning Autumn maneuver, although the English title is The Gay Hussars, which was first staged at the Lustspieltheater in Budapest, on 22 February 1908. Thereafter he moved to Vienna, where he achieved worldwide fame through his operettas Der Zigeunerprimas, Die Csárdásfürstin, Gräfin Mariza, and Die Zirkusprinzessin.
Kálmán and Franz Lehár were the leading composers of what has been called the "Silver Age" of Viennese operetta during the first quarter of the 20th century. He became well known for his fusion of Viennese waltz with Hungarian csárdás. Even so, polyphonically and melodically, Kálmán was a devoted follower of Giacomo Puccini, while in his orchestration methods he employed principles characteristic of Tchaikovsky's music.
Despite his Jewish origins he was one of Adolf Hitler's favorite composers. After the Anschluss, he rejected Hitler's offer to become an 'honorary Aryan' and was forced to move first to Paris, then to the United States, settling in California in 1940.
Following his emigration, performances of his works were prohibited in Nazi Germany. He emigrated back to Vienna from New York in 1949 before moving in 1951 to Paris, where he died.