Friend Fritz





A lyric Comedy in three acts by PIETRO MASCAGNI



Text after ERCKMANN-CHATRIAN'S novel of the same name.





After the immense success of Cavalleria Rusticana, the first

representation of Amico Fritz was awaited with feverish impatience by

the whole musical world.



But the high-strung expectations were not fulfilled. Though many

pretended that the music was nobler and more artistic than that of the

author's first work, the success was by no means as great as Mascagni's

friends anticipated. In Vienna and Berlin it was even received with

partial coolness. But lo, the first representation in Dresden on June

2nd 1892 took place with a marked and decided success.



The artistically trained orchestra brought out to perfection all the

finesses, all the delightful shades of the music, and since that day

the opera has not failed to bring a full house.



The subject in itself is too simple for Mascagni's strong dramatic

talent, hence the lack of interest, hence the disillusion of so many.



Granting this, we cannot but admire the genius, which can compose an

opera so full of refined and noble sentiment, based on such a simple

plot.



No music more charming than the march, taken as well as the Pastorale

from a national Alsacian song, none more sweet and melodious, than the

Intermezzo and the cherry-duet. The finely depicted details in

the orchestra are a delight for musical ears.



The simple text follows strictly the French original.



Fritz Kobus, a well to do landowner receives the felicitations of his

friends on his fortieth birthday. At the same time his old friend

Rabbi David, as consumate a match-maker, as Fritz is an inveterate

bachelor receives from the latter a loan of 1200 francs which is to

enable a poor girl to marry her lover. Fritz gives it very graciously,

congratulating himself, that he is free from hymen's bonds.



He treats his friends to a hearty dinner, in which Susel, his tenant's

daughter, who comes to present her landlord with a nosegay of violets,

joins. Fritz makes her sit beside him, and for the first time remarks

the growing loveliness of the young maiden. While they are feasting a

gipsy, Seppel, plays a serenade in honor of the birthday, which makes a

deep impression on fair Susel. When the latter has departed, the

joviality of the company increases. Hanczo and Friedrich, two friends

laughingly prophesy to the indignant Fritz, that he will soon be

married, and David even makes a bet, which, should he prove right will

make him owner of one of his friend's vineyards. At the end of the

first act a procession of orphans hail the landlord as their benefactor.



In the second act we find our friend Fritz as guest in the house of his

tenant. Susel is sedulously engaged in selecting flowers and cherries

for her landlord, who, coming down into the garden, is presented

by her with flowers. Soon she mounts a ladder, and plucking cherries,

throws them to Fritz, who is uncertain which are the sweeter, the

maiden's red lips or the ripe cherries, which she offers him. In the

midst of their enjoyment the sound of bells and cracking of whips is

heard, Fritz's friends enter. He soon takes them off for a walk, only

old David stays behind with Susel, pleading fatigue. Taking occasion

of her presenting him with a drink of fresh water, he makes her tell

him the old story of Isaac and Rebecca and is quite satisfied to guess

at the state of her feelings by the manner in which she relates the

simple story. On Fritz's return he archly communicates to him that he

has found a suitable husband for Susel, and that he has her father's

consent. The disgust and fright, which Fritz experiences at this news

reveals to him something of his own feelings for the charming maiden.

He decides to return home at once, and does not even take farewell of

Susel, who weeps in bitter disappointment.



In the third act Fritz, at home again, can find no peace anywhere.

When David tells him that Susel's marriage is a decided fact he breaks

out, and in his passion downright forbids the marriage. At this moment

Susel appears, bringing her landlord a basket of fruit. She looks pale

and sad, and when Fritz sarcastically asks her whether she comes to

invite him to her wedding, she bursts into tears. Then the real state

of her heart is revealed to him, and with passionate avowal of

his own love, amico Fritz takes her to his heart. So David wins his

wager, which however he settles on Susel as a dowry, promising at the

same time to procure wives before long for the two friends standing

by.--





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