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Carl MILLÖCKER (1842-1899)
Der Bettelstudent (The Beggar Student) Operetta in three Acts (1882)
Symon Rymanowicz - Mirko Roschkowski (tenor)
Jan Janicki - Erwin Belakowitsch (tenor)
Countess Palmatica - Linda Plech (mezzo)
Laura - Cornelia Zink (soprano)
Bronislava - Adriane Queiroz (soprano)
Colonel Ollendorf - Henryk Böhm (bass)
Enterich - Olaf Plassa (baritone)
Onuphrie - Rupert Bergmann (bass)
Piffke - Alexander Voigt (tenor)
Puffke - Ulrich Milde (tenor)
Count Bogumil Malachowski - Steven Scheschareg (bass)
Eva - Franziska Stanner (mezzo)
Major von Wangenheim - Rui Dos Santos (tenor)
Cavalry Captain von Henrici - Michael Zehe (bass)
Lieutenant von Schweinitz - Yuri Dmytruk (bass)
Kornett von Richthofen - Alexandra Joel (tenor)
Lieutenant von Rochow - Dirk Lohr
Innkeeper - Bernd Ander
Mörbisch Festival Chorus and Orchestra/Uwe Theimer
rec. Mörbisch Lake Festival, Mörbisch, Austria, 30 May - 3 June 2013
OEHMS CLASSICS OC 432 [77.03]

Millöcker’s Der Bettelstudent was premiered at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien on 6 December 1882. It had a large cast, colourful costumes and lavish settings and proved to be a triumph - one of the most popular Viennese operettas. Its initial run at Theater an der Wien span two years. It was a big hit in Berlin too and elsewhere in Germany but was less successful in London. According to Richard Traubner, writing in his history of operetta, it has been revived since its original productions, but its popularity appears to be concentrated in Northern and Eastern rather than Western Europe.
 
Der Bettelstudent, set in Saxon-occupied Poland, in 1704, has an improbable plot. The proud and cocky Colonel Ollendorf has been spurned in love. In fact when he dared to kiss the impoverished Countess Laura’s shoulder, she hit him with her fan. He seeks revenge and desires to disgrace her, and her family. Ollendorf forces two students who have been arrested for their politics to accomplish his plans. One is Symon - who is really a nobleman - who has to disguise himself as a millionaire prince to court and win Laura; the other is Jan who is to pose as Symon’s secretary to woo Laura’s sister Bronislava. Needless to say they all fall in love and marry and Ollendorf’s dastardly plan is negated.
 
This is a Mörbisch Festival production. Mörbisch is a picturesque town on Lake Neusiedl in Northern Burgenland some 70 km from Vienna. The Festival has built a considerable reputation over the last twenty years for its nurturing of classical operetta. Oehms has built its operetta catalogue from this source including Zeller’s The Bird Seller OC 220; Kálmán: The Gypsy Princess OC 201, Gräfin Mariza OC 337; Lehár Land of Smiles OC 221; Count of Luxembourg OC 570; Tsarevich OC 770; Merry Widow OC 530; Giuditta OC 310 and Benatzky The White Horse Inn OC 715.
 
The 20-page dual language (German and English) CD booklet could have been more helpful. Too much space is devoted to the Festival organisation and the Bettelstudent artists and not enough about the operetta’s intricate plot or a clear indication of who is singing what, when - the track-listing on the tray back sheet is in German only and is confusing at times.
 
This operetta sparkles and I would love to see it as a DVD. The numbers often delight, especially in Act II - but none are particularly memorable - well not to this reviewer’s ears. Act I has the waltz song ‘Oh, I only kissed her on the shoulder’ (anticipating the boorish Baron Och’s waltz song in Der Rosenkavalier first performed in 1911) sung nonchalantly by Colonel Ollendorf. Symon’s song in praise of Polish women was a hit and is sung with great pride and enthusiasm, by Mirko Roschkowski. The three ladies - the two sisters and their mother - sing strongly and expressively especially Linda Plech as the mother, Countess Palmatica and Cornelia Zink as Laura. Act II is effervescent throughout with Jan and Bronislava’s love duet ‘By this kiss’ so affecting; especially its climactic entreaty “Love Me! Love Me!” Another love duet between Symon and Laura, this time more playful, ‘Let us pretend …’ also enchants.
 
A pleasing performance of Millöcker’s most successful operetta.
 
Ian Lace
 




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