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Der Zar lässt sich photographieren, Op. 21 (1927)

Opera buffa in one act.
Libretto by Georg Kaiser.

Performance Information

From program of production in Vienna, 1996

Cover art for program of Vienna production, 1996.

Performance Information

English title: The Czar has his Photograph Taken
Cast: The Czar (baritone), Angèle (soprano) the Assistant (tenor), the Boy (alto), the False Angèle (soprano), the False Assistant (tenor), The False Boy (alto), the Leader (tenor) the Czar's Aide (bass), two detectives, conspirators, officers, policemen. Male chorus in pit.
Orchestra:;; piano, timp, perc; strings; on-stage gramophone (for recording of "Tango Angèle").
Duration: 60 minutes
Published Editions: libretto, Universal Edition, UE 8965
piano-vocal score (German-English), Universal Edition, UE 8964; tape recording of "Tango Angèle" available from publisher
Performance Rights and Rentals: USA, UK, BREV: EAMC
All other territories: UE
Authorized Translations: English -- Lionel Salter; Lys Symonette
Italian -- Bruno Maderna; Boris Porena
First Production: February 18, 1928, Leipzig, Neues Theater, Walter Brügmann, dir., Gustav Brecher, cond.

Guide to orchestration, territory abbreviations, and publishers' symbols.


The curtain rises on Angèle's photography studio in Paris. The telephone is ringing; from Angèle's end of the conversation, we learn that the czar (nation unspecified) wishes to be photographed. He plans to arrive almost immediately, so Angèle and her assistants rush to set up ("Und wehe dir"). The doorbell rings, but when they open it, a crew with guns confronts them. They aim to impersonate Angèle and her assistants in order to assassinate the czar ("Wer schreit?"). The conspirators disguise themselves and conceal a pistol in the camera. They inform Angèle that they arranged for the czar to come to her studio ("Wir haben auch die Briefe geschrieben"), and then gag her and her servants and drag them offstage. The doorbell rings. Two detectives enter and search the studio, but they fail to find the hidden gun. At last, the czar enters and begins conversing with the false Angèle as he wanders around the studio studying the pictures on the walls ("An allen Wänden"). The false Angèle directs him to sit in the chair ("Ich bitte dort im Sessel"), which he does after more dawdling. As soon as she has the camera in place, he shifts position ("Ich sitze nicht bequem"). She is frustrated, but she coaxes him back into position and begins to count to three. As she is about to shoot, he leaps up and suggests that they trade places ("Erlauben Sie, dass wir die Rollen tauschen"). The false Angèle resists, but the czar begins fiddling with the camera anyway ("Vergessen Sie den Zaren"). Finally she pretends to accede, but then she leaps out of the chair as the czar counts three. Increasingly desperate, she tries to get him back in the chair as he tries to kiss her ("Mein Herz, mein Herz!"). He sits, and she counts again. The czar's manservant enters and warns the czar of a plot against him just as she is ready to shoot ("Nachricht von der Polizeipräfektur"). The false Angèle is terrified, but the czar is unconcerned ("Erschraken Sie? Ich bin's gewohnt") and continues his efforts to seduce her. Finally she gets him back in the chair, but once again he jumps up to photograph her ("Sitzen Sie mir schnell"). They set to chasing each other until the manservant enters once again to say that the plotters have been tracked to that very studio. The false Angèle places a record on the gramophone, and they dance ("Tango Angèle"). She convinces the czar to hide by saying she is about to undress and give in to his desires. The other conspirators enter and they escape in confusion. As they exit, Angèle and her assistants enter and remove their gags. She discharges the gun as the police pound on the door, which masks the noise ("Was war das?"). At last, as the curtain falls, the czar has his photograph taken.


Capriccio CD 10 147 (reissued on Capriccio C7184) Barry McDaniel, Marita Napier, Carla Pohl, Kölner Rundfunkorchester, Jan Latham-König, cond.