Flauto Solo


D'Albert's new attempt at an opera secured an even greater success than

his "Departure", which is still constantly given at the Dresden Opera.

"Flauto Solo" had a brilliant first night performance in Dresden in

August 1906, both because of the unusually charming music, which is a

masterly imitation of the compositions in vogue d
ring the Roccocco

period, and also for its remarkably clever libretto. The latter

required no little ingenuity, since it is a medley of no less than

three languages.

The fact, that Flauto Solo contains a plot, which is founded on

history, renders it doubly attractive. Anyone acquainted with German

history at the time of Frederic the Great will not fail to recognize

him and his testy father under the assumed names of the young prince

and the reigning head of the house.

The opera is at the same time an amusing parody of the two great

schools of music of the age, that is, of German and Italian musical art.

Fuest Eberhard, the reigning prince and his son, Prince Ferdinand are

perpetually disagreeing, not only because of their radically opposite

dispositions, but because the parent is a champion of German music,

while his son is absolutely devoted to everything Italian.

The two prime favourites at court are two musicians, a German named

Pepusch, and an Italian, Maestro Emanuele, who take turns at conducting

the court orchestra. Naturally there is constant rivalry between these

two, particularly since Pepusch composed the so-called "Schweine Canon"

(hog-canon), for the gratification of Prince Eberhard. Taken literally

this song of the Hogs is a quartette, which skilfully reproduces the

various forms of grunting characteristic of these animals. To reward

Pepusch for his composition, Eberhard wishes him to become his wayward

son's tutor instead of Maestro Emanuele. The latter encourages the

young prince in his fondness for all things foreign and his violent

dislike of everything German.

At the beginning of the opera, Prince Eberhard laments over his son's

fondness for the flute to Pepusch, till an orderly abruptly summons him

to take command of the troops.--

Before going he shouts to Pepusch, that if Prince Ferdinand fails to

appreciate the "hog-canon", he had at least better make the "cannon"

his instrument instead of the flute.

Left to himself Pepusch goes into the concert pavilion, and picks up

his music.--Peppina, a famous primadonna, makes her appearance without

perceiving the German conductor. Soon she begins to sing and is quite

terrified, when Pepusch joins in. A lengthy conversation ensues and

Peppina is not long in expressing her contempt for the song of the

hogs.--When Pepusch confesses himself to be the composer thereof, she

lapses into the Tyrolese dialect of her childhood. Both she and

Pepusch declare their allegiance to the German and Italian schools of

music, but nevertheless they are highly pleased with each other.

Suddenly the sounds of a flute are heard, which cause Pepusch to run

away and Maestro Emanuele to run forward, warning Peppina, that the

young Prince is close at hand. The Italian is filled with jealousy,

when he hears of the primadonna's meeting with Pepusch and begins to

make violent love to her.--

She makes fun of him and finally Prince Ferdinand puts an end to the

scene. He plays several quick runs on his flute, and addresses himself

chiefly in the French tongue, for which he has a weakness, to his

favourite Emanuele.

Peppina has concealed herself behind some trees. Prince Ferdinand

relates how he has received orders from his father to inspect the

regiment, but that he made Pepusch take his place. A few minutes later

Pepusch turns up and admits, that he has not carried out Prince

Ferdinand's command.

The young Prince then confides to Pepusch, that he has made

arrangements for a grand fete which is to take place that same evening,

to which he has invited a large and select company. All this Pepusch

knows already from Peppina. But when the Prince invites him to take

part with a performance of his "hog-canon", he is beside himself,

knowing well that Emanuele insinuated this idea to the Prince, simply

to expose him to ridicule. The Prince however insists, and when he

goes away, Peppina comes out of her hiding place and shares Pepusch's


Vainly Pepusch tries to find some new musical motive, to enhance his

quartette's effect, when suddenly Peppina begins to sing.

Involuntarily he grunts an accompaniment. All at once he starts and

exclaims "Ah, now I have it". After embracing Peppina he hurries away.

The primadonna gets up too, but runs right into old Prince Eberhard,

who calls out "What! A woman in my royal domains! Who is it?!"

Peppina, unintimidated replies: "I am a Tyrolese singer and who are

you?" When the prince tells her who he is she retorts: "Nonsense,

Prince Eberhard is away at the manoeuvres." When she has charmed

the old prince sufficiently by her marvellous trills and scales she

tells him, that although she has all Italy and France at her feet she

cares most of all for the good opinion of Prince Ferdinand, young

though he is.

Prince Eberhard is half pleased, half angry, and complains, that there

is never praise for any one save his son. Drawing forth a note, he

shows her, that he is informed of the evening festival, which is to

take place in his absence. Hearing this, Peppina informs him of the

plot, which has been meditated against poor Pepusch, and intimates,

that the whole thing is owned to the false Italian Maestro, who wants

to make the German composer a laughing stock for the foreign guests,

who are expected not only to hear the famous flute playing of Prince

Ferdinand, but especially herself, the famous Primadonna. She is to be

engaged for the Vienna opera by a Viennese count, coming expressly on

her account. Hearing all this, Prince Eberhard first flies into a

passion, but soon he calms himself and tells Peppina to be without fear

for Pepusch's future, as he, Eberhard, will not fail to be present at

the soiree.

When Pepusch appears, he finds the two executing a droll dance

together. Peppina seizes the prince's hand and tells him that she and

Pepusch are in love with one another. All three vow, that they will

give the audience a surprise at the fete, Pepusch saying his will be

the "Flauto Solo".

Preparations for the festival are carried on with the aid of all kinds

of decorations during which Pepusch is busily employed finishing his

new composition.--Prince Ferdinand arrives followed by his suite,

receiving his guests gracefully. After having presented Pepusch he

commands him to conduct his chef d'oeuvre. Pepusch, taking out a score

of music, announces, that a young pig was born during the night,

necessitating a Solo flute. He hands the Prince the melody, intimating

that the great Maestro Emanuele should play it. Much to Emanuele's

disgust, Prince Ferdinand takes Pepusch's part in the quarrel, which

the Italian attempts to bring about.

Suddenly the old Prince arrives and orders his son to perform Pepusch's

new melody on the flute. Prince Ferdinand unwillingly obeys, and plays

the solo part so splendidly, that the audience breaks out into endless


Prince Ferdinand cordially begs Pepusch's pardon for his injustice and

calls his new composition a real master piece. Pepusch is however

honest enough to admit, that the melody, which he first heard Peppina

sing, was originally Emanuele's idea, upon which the guests cheer both


Prince Eberhard, on the other hand, praises his son's skill on the

flute most highly and admits, that Prince Ferdinand will as a ruler in

all probability become as great a virtuoso, as he has proved himself a

great artist.--

Pepusch and Emanuele call for Peppina, the great Italian

primadonna.--She appears on the steps wrapped in a long cloak,

but when she throws it off, she shows herself in her native Tyrolese

costume; she sings in dialect, and goes through all her charming native

songs and "Jodls", to the delight of all her hearers. Prince Eberhard

promises to grant any wish of Peppina's, while Prince Ferdinand does

the same with Pepusch.--

Finally Prince Ferdinand joins Peppina's and Pepusch's hands, while the

old Prince announces that the two shall henceforth play "Flauti due" by

being married, and appointed musicians of his court for the rest of

their lives.--