Arabella is a lyric comedy or opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

 in 3 acts by Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

 to a German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Hugo Laurenz August Hofmann von Hofmannsthal ; , was an Austrian novelist, librettist, poet, dramatist, narrator, and essayist.-Early life:...

, their sixth and last operatic collaboration. It was first performed on 1 July 1933, at the Dresden
Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area....

 Sächsisches Staatstheater
The Semperoper is the opera house of the Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden and the concert hall of the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden . It is located near the Elbe River in the historic center of Dresden, Germany.The opera house was originally built by the architect Gottfried Semper in 1841...


Performance history

The opera made its debut in the UK on 17 May 1934 at London's Royal Opera House
Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", after a previous use of the site of the opera house's original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The...

. Two decades later, on 10 February 1955, it was given at the Metropolitan Opera
Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company, located in New York City. Originally founded in 1880, the company gave its first performance on October 22, 1883. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager...

 in New York with Eleanor Steber
Eleanor Steber
Eleanor Steber was an American operatic soprano. Steber is noted as one of the first major opera stars to have achieved the highest success with training and a career based in the United States.-Biography:...

 in the title role. The opera has appeared on the Met repertory for 55 performances since that date. However, while it is not frequently given, it will be presented as part of the 2012 festival season in a new production by the Santa Fe Opera
Santa Fe Opera
The Santa Fe Opera is an American opera company, located north of Santa Fe in the U.S. state of New Mexico, headquartered on a former guest ranch of .-General history:...



Role Voice type Premiere cast, July 1, 1933
(Conductor: Clemens Krauss
Clemens Krauss
Clemens Heinrich Krauss was an Austrian conductor and opera impresario, particularly associated with the music of Richard Strauss.-Biography:...

Arabella soprano
A soprano is a voice type with a vocal range from approximately middle C to "high A" in choral music, or to "soprano C" or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which usually encompasses the melody...

Viorica Ursuleac
Viorica Ursuleac
Viorica Ursuleac was an important Romanian operatic soprano.Viorica Ursuleac was born the daughter of a Greek Orthodox archdeacon, in Chernivtsi, which is now in Ukraine. Following training in Vienna, she made her operatic debut in Zagreb , as Charlotte in Massenet's Werther, in 1922...

Zdenka, her sister soprano Margit Bokor
Count Waldner, their father, a retired cavalry officer bass Friedrich Plaschke
Friedrich Plaschke
Friedrich Plaschke was a Czech operatic bass-baritone. From 1900 to 1937 he was a member of the Dresden Hofoper. He also appeared as a guest artist with companies in the United States, the Bayreuth Festival, and at the Royal Opera House in London....

Adelaide, their mother mezzo-soprano
A mezzo-soprano is a type of classical female singing voice whose range lies between the soprano and the contralto singing voices, usually extending from the A below middle C to the A two octaves above...

Camilla Kallab
Mandryka, a Croatian landowner baritone
Baritone is a type of male singing voice that lies between the bass and tenor voices. It is the most common male voice. Originally from the Greek , meaning deep sounding, music for this voice is typically written in the range from the second F below middle C to the F above middle C Baritone (or...

Alfred Jerger
Matteo, a young officer tenor
The tenor is a type of male singing voice and is the highest male voice within the modal register. The typical tenor voice lies between C3, the C one octave below middle C, to the A above middle C in choral music, and up to high C in solo work. The low extreme for tenors is roughly B2...

Martin Kremer
Count Elemer, one of Arabella's suitors tenor Karl Albrecht Streib
Count Dominik, another baritone Kurt Böhme
Kurt Böhme
Kurt Böhme was a German bass.He was born in Dresden, Germany, where he studied with Adolf Kluge at the Dresden Conservatory. He made his debut in 1930 in Bautzen as Kaspar, one of his most important roles further on...

Count Lamoral, a third bass Arno Schellenberg
The Fiakermilli, belle of the Coachmen's Ball coloratura
Coloratura has several meanings. The word is originally from Italian, literally meaning "coloring", and derives from the Latin word colorare . When used in English, the term specifically refers to elaborate melody, particularly in vocal music and especially in operatic singing of the 18th and...

Ellice Illiard
A fortune-teller soprano Jessyka Koettrik
Welko, Djura, Jankel, Mandryka's servants spoken Robert Büssel,
Robert Schmalnauer,
Horst Falke
Hotel Porter spoken Ludwig Eybisch
A chaperone, three card players, a doctor, a waiter silent
Coachmen, waiters, ball guests, hotel residents


The beautiful but proud Arabella is the daughter of the Waldner family, who face financial ruin unless Arabella marries a rich husband. Arabella hopes to marry for love, not money; but when a loving suitor unexpectedly appears, her happiness is threatened by a web of misunderstanding and deception.

Act 1

In a hotel in Vienna

Countess Adelaide has her fortune told. The fortune teller predicts Arabella will marry a man from far away, but that trouble may be in store. The Waldners have a second daughter, Zdenka, but since they can hardly afford two daughters marrying, they have dressed her as a boy, whom they present as "Zdenko." Zdenka is actually in love with Matteo, a penniless officer who loves Arabella. To prevent him from committing suicide, Zdenka writes him love letters she signs with Arabella's name. Zdenka reproaches Arabella for her unsympathetic treatment of Matteo, but Arabella says that she is hoping for the "Right Man," to whom she can give her heart completely. Meanwhile, Arabella is wooed by three suitors: Elemer, Dominik and Lamoral, and she acknowledges that she may have to accept one of them, but she has fallen in love at first sight with a stranger she has barely passed in the street.

Count Waldner, in dire straits, has written all his friends for financial help, to no avail. Waldner was hopeful for an answer from an old and immensely wealthy Croatian friend of his named Mandryka; he had even sent him a portrait of Arabella, in hopes of a marriage. A visitor arrives and Count Waldner is surprised to see that it is his friend Mandryka, however, a different man enters, who turns out to be the nephew, also named Mandryka. His uncle is dead, and as his only heir, he has acquired his fortune, the letter and portrait. From seeing the portrait, he has fallen in love with Arabella. He offers to marry her and gives Waldner money.

A carnival ball is to be held that night. Matteo asks "Zdenko," his supposedly male friend, when he will receive another letter from Arabella; "Zdenko" answers that he will have one that very evening at the ball. Arabella continues to muse about the strange man she had noticed, but when Count Elemer arrives to be her escort for the evening, she tries to banish these thoughts and look forward to the excitement of the ball.

Act 2

In a ballroom

Arabella meets Mandryka, who turns out to be her fascinating stranger. Mandryka tells her about his life and his country's customs, in which young women offer their fiancés a glass of water as a token of agreeing to be married. Mandryka tells Arabella that she will be mistress of all the things he owns, and that she will be the only thing that will be ranked above him besides the Emperor
An emperor is a monarch, usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife or a woman who rules in her own right...

 himself; Arabella finally agrees to marry him, saying, "I give myself to you, for eternity," the couple are very happy and Mandryka agrees to Arabella's request that she be allowed to say farewell to her maidenhood, during which she thanks her suitors for their interest in her and bids them goodbye.

Meanwhile, Zdenka gives Matteo a letter with the key to the room next to Arabella's, saying that it is Arabella's room and promising that Arabella will meet him there that night. Mandryka overhears this conversation and, mad with jealousy and disappointment (although he at first tried to evade these feelings), raises a commotion, flirting with the Fiakermilli, the ball's mascot
The term mascot – defined as a term for any person, animal, or object thought to bring luck – colloquially includes anything used to represent a group with a common public identity, such as a school, professional sports team, society, military unit, or brand name...

. Since Arabella is nowhere to be found, the Waldners insist that he meet Arabella to talk things out, and they head for the hotel.

Act 3

A lobby in the hotel

A passionate orchestral prelude depicts the love-making of Matteo and Zdenka.

Arabella enters the lobby and comes across Matteo. As Arabella is in love with Mandryka and Matteo is in love with Arabella and thinks it was she with whom he had just made love, in a darkened room, their conversation is at once confused and emotional. The Count and Countess and Mandryka arrive at this moment, helping further the misunderstanding. After Mandryka accuses Arabella of infidelity and plans to go back to his land, Zdenka rushes in, no longer in disguise and in her negligee (making it clear that it was she who slept with Matteo). She declares her intention to drown herself for such a disgrace. The situation is finally cleared up. Matteo learns that the letters were forged by Zdenka and that it was her and not Arabella in the room. Surprisingly, he suddenly realizes that he is in love with Zdenka, whom he agrees to marry. Mandryka is left to ruminate on his indecorous and boorish behaviour, thinking it has lost him Arabella as his wife. Arabella asks his servant to bring her a glass of water, and Mandryka thinks she has requested it for her refreshment. Arabella goes upstairs and Mandryka, grieving and blaming himself, stays downstairs. However, afterwards Arabella comes down the stairs and, seeing that he has stayed and having pardoned him, offers him the glass of water, signifying reconciliation and marriage. They happily kiss and Arabella goes up the stairs to her room.

Instrumentation (music)
In music, instrumentation refers to the particular combination of musical instruments employed in a composition, and to the properties of those instruments individually...

  • Woodwinds: 2 flute
    The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

    s, piccolo
    The piccolo is a half-size flute, and a member of the woodwind family of musical instruments. The piccolo has the same fingerings as its larger sibling, the standard transverse flute, but the sound it produces is an octave higher than written...

     (doubling on 3rd flute
    The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

    ), 2 oboe
    The oboe is a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family. In English, prior to 1770, the instrument was called "hautbois" , "hoboy", or "French hoboy". The spelling "oboe" was adopted into English ca...

    s, English horn, 3 clarinet
    The clarinet is a musical instrument of woodwind type. The name derives from adding the suffix -et to the Italian word clarino , as the first clarinets had a strident tone similar to that of a trumpet. The instrument has an approximately cylindrical bore, and uses a single reed...

    s, bass clarinet
    Bass clarinet
    The bass clarinet is a musical instrument of the clarinet family. Like the more common soprano B clarinet, it is usually pitched in B , but it plays notes an octave below the soprano B clarinet...

    , 3 bassoon
    The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family that typically plays music written in the bass and tenor registers, and occasionally higher. Appearing in its modern form in the 19th century, the bassoon figures prominently in orchestral, concert band and chamber music literature...

    s (3rd doubling on double bassoon)
  • Brass
    Brass instrument
    A brass instrument is a musical instrument whose sound is produced by sympathetic vibration of air in a tubular resonator in sympathy with the vibration of the player's lips...

    : 4 horns, 3 trumpet
    The trumpet is the musical instrument with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpets are among the oldest musical instruments, dating back to at least 1500 BCE. They are played by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound which starts a standing wave vibration in the air...

    s, 3 trombone
    The trombone is a musical instrument in the brass family. Like all brass instruments, sound is produced when the player’s vibrating lips cause the air column inside the instrument to vibrate...

    s, bass tuba
    The tuba is the largest and lowest-pitched brass instrument. Sound is produced by vibrating or "buzzing" the lips into a large cupped mouthpiece. It is one of the most recent additions to the modern symphony orchestra, first appearing in the mid-19th century, when it largely replaced the...

  • Other: timpani
    Timpani, or kettledrums, are musical instruments in the percussion family. A type of drum, they consist of a skin called a head stretched over a large bowl traditionally made of copper. They are played by striking the head with a specialized drum stick called a timpani stick or timpani mallet...

    , harp
    The harp is a multi-stringed instrument which has the plane of its strings positioned perpendicularly to the soundboard. Organologically, it is in the general category of chordophones and has its own sub category . All harps have a neck, resonator and strings...

    , strings
    String orchestra
    A string orchestra is an orchestra composed solely or primarily of instruments from the string family. These instruments are the violin, the viola, the cello, the double bass , the piano, the harp, and sometimes percussion...

External links

  • Recording of "Mein Elemer" by Lotte Lehmann
    Lotte Lehmann
    Charlotte "Lotte" Lehmann was a German soprano who was especially associated with German repertory. She gave memorable performances in the operas of Richard Strauss, Richard Wagner, Ludwig van Beethoven, Puccini, Mozart and Massenet. The Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier was considered her greatest...

     in MP3
    MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III, more commonly referred to as MP3, is a patented digital audio encoding format using a form of lossy data compression...

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