Zigeunerbaron, Der (‘The Gypsy Baron’)
- Andrew Lamb
(‘The Gypsy Baron’)
Operette in three acts by Johann Strauss to a libretto by Ignaz Schnitzer after the novel by Mór Jókai; Vienna, Theater an der Wien, 24 October 1885.
The action takes place in the mid-18th century. Sándor Barinkay (tenor) returns to his native Temesvár after 20 years’ exile due to his father’s associations with the former Turkish rulers. He has meanwhile followed a catalogue of unlikely occupations (‘Als flotter Geist’). The Royal Commissioner, Conte Carnero (baritone), calls the local pig-farmer Zsupán (tenor buffo) to witness the deed that will restore Barinkay’s lands to him, but Zsupán has been too busy with his pigs to learn to read or write (‘Ja, das Schreiben und das Lesen’). Zsupán is anyway none too pleased at Barinkay’s return, since he has been making free use of Barinkay’s land for farming. Still, in the interest of getting his hands on the treasure reputedly buried on the land, he is happy to encourage Barinkay’s interest in his daughter Arsena (soprano). Arsena nevertheless declares that she will marry nobody lower than a baron. Barinkay is now attracted by the singing of the gypsy girl Sáffi (soprano) (‘So elend und so treu’), and he is welcomed by a bunch of gypsies as their lost leader. When he thus presents himself to Arsena as a ‘gypsy baron’, she rejects him afresh, and he immediately pledges allegiance to Sáffi....