Grand Duchess of Gerolstein, The
Comic opera in three acts
Composer: Offenbach, Jacques 1819 - 1880
translation by Geoffrey Dunn
First performed in Paris in April 1867, La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein (The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein) is a satirical critique of unthinking militarism, and was banned in France after the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. SYNOPSIS: (Original version) Gerolstein, 1720. The Grand Duchess, who has been brought up by her tutor and prime minister, Baron Puck, has been betrothed to Prince Paul but does not find him to her liking. Owing to her being in an unhappy state of mind, the Baron starts a war to amuse her. The Duchess falls in love with handsome soldier Fritz, whose passions are his love for Wanda and his hatred of General Boum. The Duchess immediately makes Fritz a corporal, and he is eventually promoted to Commander-In-Chief, replacing the General, and sent to conquer the enemy. This Fritz accomplishes by making the whole opposing army drunk. The delighted Duchess finds herself more enamoured than ever, and hints at the possibility of his receiving other honours. However, Fritz makes it clear that he prefers Wanda to any such honours, and incurs great displeasure by asking permission to marry Wanda at once. Angry, the Duchess begins a conspiracy to assassinate Fritz on his return from his wedding ceremony. But just as everything is ready, she changes her mind, which is now busied with a new affair with Baron Grog. This latest romance is stalled, however, by the news that her beloved has a wife and four children. She decides to marry Prince Paul after all. Fritz is sent off on a false alarm to fight the enemy, General Boum is made happy by the restoration of his plume, Baron Puck is reinstated in the favour from which he had fallen, the Baron Grog is sent home safe to his family and Prince Paul is received again as a prospective bridegroom.