Chocolate Soldier, The
Composer: Straus, Oscar 1870 - 1954
Bernelle / Carstairs
Following his hugely popular Ein Walzertraum (1907), Oscar Straus’ Der tapfere Soldat (The Gallant Soldier – also, The Chocolate Soldier) opened the following year in Vienna, and was a considerable success. SYNOPSIS: 1885. Serbia and Bulgaria are at war, and the wife and daughter of the Bulgarian Colonel Popoff are missing their menfolk – the Colonel himself, and Major Alexius Spiridoff, who is engaged to the daughter, Nadina. When a young Serbian soldier, who carries only chocolate in his ammunition pouch, stumbles into their lives, the lonely women are all very taken with him. They help him to escape the clutches of the Bulgarian forces. However, when the war is over, and the Bulgarians’ menfolk have returned, things grow complicated. The Serbian soldier (Bumerli) comes to return the clothes he used to escape, and he is invited to stay for the wedding of Nadina and Alexius. Bumerli confesses to Nadina that it is his love for her that has drawn him back. He cannot bear to see her married to another, and goes to leave. When the story of Bumerli’s previous visit to the house is revealed, Alexius is furious with Nadina, and she in her turn declares that she no longer loves him. When Bumerli returns, he is challenged to a duel by Alexis, who is hoping that he will be too cowardly to accept. Alexius comes round to the idea he would be happier with Mascha, Nadina’s cousin, and any doubts that Bumerli would not make a good husband for Nadina are dispelled by the revelation that he is the son of a wealthy Swiss businessman. All ends happily.