Franz Lehar

The Count of Luxembourg


 

The Count of Luxembourg is an operetta in two acts with English lyrics and libretto by Basil Hood and Adrian Ross, music by Franz Lehár, based on Lehár's three-act German operetta Der Graf von Luxemburg which had premiered in Vienna in 1909. Lehár made amendments to his Viennese score to accommodate the two-act adaptation. He also interpolated into the score three new pieces: a waltz that he had written for a commemorative performance of Der Graf in Vienna; a song from his first operetta, Wiener Frauen; and a Russian dance from the opera Tatjana.
 

The Count of Luxembourg opened at Daly's Theatre in London on 20 May 1911 and ran for a successful 345 performances, followed by a UK tour. The operetta starred Lily Elsie, Huntley Wright, W. H. Berry and Bertram Wallis. The opening night was conducted by Lehár and attended by King George V and Queen Mary. The Times particularly praised the singing and dancing of Elsie and Wallis, as well as Lehár's music, though the paper judged the story to be thin and improbable. 
 

he Count of Luxembourg - Morpeth Operatic 1994

Der Graf von Luxemburg Operette von Franz Lehár
Musikalische Leitung: Hans-Peter Preu
Inszenierung:Horst Otto Kupich
Bühnenbild:Stefan Wiel
Kostüme:Ella Späte
Choreographie:Steffen Fuchs
Rene, Graf von Luxemburg: Kay Frenzel, Guido Hackhausen
Fürst Basil: Michael König
Gräfin Stasa Kokozow: Silke Richter
Armand Brissard: Michael Axelsson, Andreas Petzoldt
Angèle Didier: Anna Erxleben, Nathalie de Montmollin
Juliette Vermont: Judith Hoffmann, Christina Poulitsi
Mentschikoff, Notar: Norman D. Patzke
Pawlowitsch, Botschafter: Fred Bonitz
Pélégrin, Standesbeamter: Hagen Erkrath
Wirt: Peter Schmuhl

 

Synopsis

 

The Grand Duke Rutzinov may not marry Angèle, an opera singer with whom he is infatuated, unless she bears a title. He therefore arranges for the penniless bohemian spendthrift, Count René, to marry a lady whose face he is not to see, and to agree to a divorce in three months. For this the Count receives the sum of £20,000 (half a million francs). As she will then bear a title, Rutzinov can then marry her. At the wedding ceremony, at the studio of Rutzinov's artist friend Brissard, the Count and his mystery bride are separated by a canvas – but when they touch hands to exchange the rings, they fall in love.
 

Months later, Angèle gives a party at which the Count attends. They are immediately attracted to each other, but not knowing that they are already husband and wife, they believe their romance is hopeless. To prevent things from going further, Rutzinov announces his engagement to Angèle. But Brissard notes that the Count has not yet divorced and reveals that the two are still married. Secretly delighted, Angèle denounces the Count's act in marrying for money. The Count storms off angrily. Meanwhile, Rutzinov decides to marry a Russian countess instead, and the Count comes into some money, which he uses to pay Rutzinov back the £20,000. But he is miserable without Angèle and eventually tells her that he loves her. All ends happily.

 

Franz Lehár (30 April 1870 – 24 October 1948) was an Austro-Hungarian composer. He is mainly known for his operettas, of which the most successful and best known is The Merry Widow (Die lustige Witwe).
 

Lehár was born in the northern part of Komárom, Kingdom of Hungary, Austria-Hungary (now Komárno, Slovakia), the eldest son of Franz Lehár (senior) (1838–1898), an Austrian bandmaster in the Infantry Regiment No. 50 of the Austro-Hungarian Army and Christine Neubrandt (1849–1906), a Hungarian woman from a family of German descent. He grew up speaking only Hungarian until the age of 12. Later he put an acute accent above the "a" of his father's surname "Lehár" to indicate the vowel in the corresponding Hungarian orthography.
 

While his younger brother Anton entered cadet school in Vienna to become a professional officer, Franz studied violin at the Prague Conservatory, where his violin teacher was Antonín Bennewitz, but was advised by Antonín Dvořák to focus on composition. However, the Conservatory's rules at that time did not allow students to study both performance and composition, and Bennewitz and Lehár senior exerted pressure on Lehár to take his degree in violin as a practical matter, arguing that he could study composition on his own later. Lehár followed their wishes, against his will, and aside from a few clandestine lessons with Zdeněk Fibich he was self-taught as a composer. After graduation in 1888 he joined his father's band in Vienna, as assistant bandmaster. Two years later he became bandmaster at Losoncz (in contemporary East Slovakia), making him the youngest bandmaster in the Austro-Hungarian Army at that time, but he left the army and joined the navy. With the navy he was first Kapellmeister at Pola (Pula) from 1894 to 1896, resigning in the later year when his first opera, Kukuschka (later reworked as Tatjana in 1906), premiered in Leipzig. It was only a middling success and Lehár eventually rejoined the army, with service in the garrisons at Trieste, Budapest (1898) and finally Vienna from 1899 to 1902. In 1902 he became conductor at the historic Vienna Theater an der Wien, where his operetta Wiener Frauen was performed in November of that year.


He is most famous for his operettas – the most successful of which is The Merry Widow (Die lustige Witwe) – but he also wrote sonatas, symphonic poems and marches. He also composed a number of waltzes (the most popular being Gold und Silber, composed for Princess Pauline von Metternich's "Gold and Silver" Ball, January 1902), some of which were drawn from his famous operettas. Individual songs from some of the operettas have become standards, notably "Vilja" from The Merry Widow and "You Are My Heart's Delight" ("Dein ist mein ganzes Herz") from The Land of Smiles (Das Land des Lächelns). His most ambitious work, Giuditta in 1934 is closer to opera than to operetta. It contains the ever popular "Meine Lippen, sie küssen so heiß" ("On my lips every kiss is like wine").
 

Lehár was also associated with the operatic tenor Richard Tauber, who sang in many of his operettas, beginning with a revival of his 1910 operetta Zigeunerliebe (de) in 1920 and then Frasquita (de) in 1922, in which Lehár once again found a suitable post-war style. Lehár made a brief appearance in the 1930 film adaptation The Land of Smiles starring Tauber. Between 1925 and 1934 he wrote six operettas specifically for Tauber's voice. By 1935 he decided to form his own publishing house, Glocken-Verlag (Publishing House of the Bells), to maximize his personal control over performance rights to his works.
He died aged 78 in 1948 in Bad Ischl, near Salzburg, and was buried there.



 

Franz Lehár
(1870-1948)