Skip To Content
Back to all works

Der Zar lässt sich photographieren, op. 21 (The Czar Has His Photograph Taken)

Opera buffa in one act. Libretto by Georg Kaiser.

Work Details


60 minutes

First Performance

18 February 1928, Leipzig, Neues Theater, Walter Brügmann, dir., Gustav Brecher, cond.

For information about licensing this work for use, see our online guide

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 (). 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 (). 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 (), 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 (). The false Angèle directs him to sit in the chair (), which he does after more dawdling. As soon as she has the camera in place, he shifts position (). 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 (). The false Angèle resists, but the czar begins fiddling with the camera anyway (). 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 (). 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 (). The false Angèle is terrified, but the czar is unconcerned () and continues his efforts to seduce her. Finally she gets him back in the chair, but once again he jumps up to photograph her (). 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 (). 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 (). At last, as the curtain falls, the czar has his photograph taken.

  • Cast

    • Singing Roles

      • 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
  • Instrumentation

    • 2 Flutes
    • 2 Oboes
    • 2 Clarinets
    • 2 Bassoons
    • 3 French horns
    • 2 Trumpets
    • 2 Trombones
    • Piano
    • Timpani, percussion
    • Strings
    • On-stage gramophone (for recording of "Tango Angèle")

Universal Edition, UE 8965

Piano-vocal score
(German-English), Universal Edition, UE 8964

Recording of “Tango Angèle” available from publisher

  • English

    • Lionel Salter
    • Lys Symonette
  • Italian

    • Bruno Maderna
    • Boris Porena

The Works of Kurt Weill

explore the works database

The Life & Career of Kurt Weill

Explore the Timeline
0:00 / 0:00

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.