The Two Grenadiers





In three acts by ALBERT LORTZING.



Text adapted from the French.





After a long interval of quiet Lortzing's charming music seems to be

brought to honor again and no wonder.--The ears of the public grow

overtired, or may we say over-taxed by Wagner's grand music, which his

followers still surpass, though only in noise and external effects;

they long for simplicity, for melody. Well, Lortzing's operas overflow

with real, true, simple melody, and generally in genuine good

humour.--For many years only two of his operas have been performed,

viz, "Undine" and "Czar and Zimmermann".--Now Hamburg has set the good

example, by representing a whole cyclus (seven operas of Lortzing's),

and Dresden has followed with the "Two Grenadiers."



The opera was composed in the year 1837 and is of French origin and

though its music breathes German humour and naivete, the French

influence may be felt clearly. The persons show life and movement, the

music is light-hearted, graceful and truly comic.



The scene takes place in a little country-town, where we find Busch, a

wealthy inn-keeper, making preparations for the arrival of his only

son. The young man had entered a Grenadier regiment at the age of

sixteen, ten years before, so the joyful event of his home-coming is

looked forward to with pleasure by his father and sister Suschen, but

with anxiety by a friend of hers, Caroline, to whom young Busch had

been affianced before joining his regiment.



Enter two young Grenadiers from the regiment on leave, the younger of

whom falls in love with Suschen at first sight. However as the elder

Grenadier, Schwarzbart, dolefully remarks, they are both almost

pennyless and he reflects how he can possibly help them in their need.

His meditations are interrupted by the arrival of the landlord, who,

seeing the two knapsacks, and recognizing one of them as that of his

son, naturally supposes the owner to be his offspring, in which belief

he is confirmed by Schwarzbart, who is induced to practice this

deceit, partly by the desire of getting a good dinner and the means of

quenching his insatiable thirst, partly by the hope of something

turning up in favour of his companion in arms, Wilhelm. As a matter of

fact the knapsack does not belong to Wilhelm at all. On leaving the

inn, at which the banquet following the wedding of one of their

comrades, had been held, the knapsacks had inadvertently been exchanged

much to Wilhelm's dismay, his own containing a lottery ticket which, as

he has just learnt, had won a great prize. The supposed son is of

course received with every demonstration of affection by his fond

parent, but though submitting with a very good grace to the endearments

of his supposed sister--the maiden, with whom he had fallen in love so

suddenly--he resolutely declines being hugged and made much of by the

old landlord, this double-part being entirely distasteful to his

straightforward nature. Nor does his affianced bride, the daughter of

the bailiff, fare any better, his affections being placed elsewhere,

and their bewilderment is only somewhat appeased by Schwarzbart's

explanation that his comrade suffers occasionally from weakness of the

brain.



In the next act Peter, a youth of marvellous stupidity and cousin of

the bailiff, presents himself in a woful plight, to which he has been

reduced by some soldiers at the same wedding festivities, and shortly

after Gustav, the real son appears on the scene. He is a manly fellow,

full of tender thoughts for his home. Great is therefore his

surprise at finding himself repulsed by his own father, who not

recognizing him, believes him to be an impostor. All the young man's

protestations are of no avail, for in his knapsack are found the papers

of a certain Wilhelm Stark, for whom he is now mistaken.--When silly

Peter perceives him, he believes him to be the Grenadier, who had so

ill-treated him at the wedding, though in reality it was Schwarzbart.

Gustav is shut up in a large garden-house of his father's; the small

town lacking a prison.



In the third act the Magistrate has found out that Wilhelm's papers

prove him to be the bailiff's son, being the offspring of his first

love ----, who had been with a clergyman, and who, after the death of

the bailiff's wife is vainly sought for by his father. Of course this

changes everything for the prisoner, who is suddenly accosted

graciously by his gruff guardian Barsch, and does not know what to make

of his mysterious hints.



Meanwhile Caroline's heart has spoken for the stranger, who had

addressed her so courteously and chivalrously; she feels that, far from

being an impostor, he is a loyal and true-hearted young fellow and

therefore decides to liberate him. At the same time enter Wilhelm with

Schwarzbart, seeking Suschen; Peter slips in for the same reason,

seeking her, for Suschen is to be his bride. Gustav, (the prisoner)

hearing footsteps, blows out the candle, in order to save Caroline from

being recognized and so they all run about in the dark, playing

hide and seek in an infinitely droll manner. At last the bailiff,

having heard that his son has been found, comes up with the

inn-keeper.--The whole mystery is cleared up, and both sons embrace

their respective fathers and their brides.





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