The Two Peters


In three acts by LORTZING.

This charming little opera had even more success than Lortzing's other

compositions; it is a popular opera in the best sense of the word.

Lortzing ought to have made his fortune by it, for it was soon claimed

by every stage. He had composed it for Christmas 1837 and in the year

1838 every street-organ played its principal melodie
. But the

directors paid miserable sums to the lucky composer. (F. e. a copy of

the work cost him 25 thalers, while he did not get more than 30 to 50

thalers from the directors.)

The libretto was composed by Lortzing himself; he took it out of an old


Peter, Emperor of Russia, has taken service on the wharfs of Saardam as

simple ship-carpenter under the assumed name of Peter Michaelow. Among

his companions is another Peter, named Ivanow, a Russian renegade, who

has fallen in love with Mary, the niece of the burgomaster Van Bett.

The two Peters being countrymen and fearing discovery, have become

friendly, but Ivanow instinctively feeling his friend's superiority, is

jealous of him, and Mary, a little coquette, nourishes his passion.

Meanwhile the ambassadors of France and England, each of whom wishes

for a special connection with the Czar of Russia, have discovered where

he must be, and both bribe the conceited simpleton Van Bett, who tries

to find out the real Peter.

He assembles the people, but there are many Peters amongst them, though

only two strangers. He asks them whence they come, then takes aside

Peter Ivanow, cross-questioning him in vain as to what he wishes to


At last, being aware of Peter's love for Mary, he gives him some hope

of gaining her hand, and obtains in exchange a promise from the young

man, to confess his secret in presence of the foreign nobleman.--The

cunning French ambassador, the Marquis de Chateauneuf, has easily found

out the Czar and gained his purpose, while the phlegmatic English Lord,

falsely directed by the burgomaster, is still in transaction with

Ivanow. All this takes place during a rural festivity, where the

Marquis notwithstanding the claims upon his attention finds time to

court yet pretty Mary, exciting Ivanow's hate and jealousy. Ivanow

with difficulty plays the role of Czar, which personage he is supposed

to be as well by Lord Syndham as by Van Bett. He well knows that he

deserves punishment, if he is found out on either side. The

burgomaster, getting more and more confused, and fearing himself

surrounded by spies and cheats, examines one of the strangers after the

other, and is of course confounded to hear their high-flown names; at

last he seizes the two Peters, but is deterred from his purpose by the

two ambassadors. They are now joined by a third, the Russian General

Lefort, who comes to call back his Sovereign to his own country. In

the third act Van Bett has prepared a solemn demonstration of fealty

for the supposed Czar, whom he still mistakes for the real one, while

the real Czar has found means to go on board of his ship with the

Marquis and Lefort.--Before taking farewell, he promises a pass-port to

Ivanow, who is very dubious as to what will become of him.

Meanwhile Van Bett approaches him with his procession to do homage, but

during his long and confused speech cannon-shots are heard and an usher

announces, that Peter Michaelow is about to sail away with a large

crew. The back-ground opens and shows the port with the Czar's ship.

Everybody bursts into shouts "Long live the Czar!" and Ivanow, opening

the paper, which his high-born friend left to him, reads that the Czar

grants him pardon for his desertion and bestows upon him a considerable

sum of money.