Die drei Pintos
Die drei Pintos is a comic 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...

 of which Carl Maria von Weber
Carl Maria von Weber
Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber was a German composer, conductor, pianist, guitarist and critic, one of the first significant composers of the Romantic school....

 began composing the music, working on a libretto
A libretto is the text used in an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata, or musical. The term "libretto" is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as mass, requiem, and sacred cantata, or even the story line of a...

 by Theodor Hell
Theodor Hell
Theodor Hell was the pseudonym of Karl Gottfried Theodor Winkler , a court councillor in Dresden from 1824, who was the centre of literary life through his work as editor, translator and critic...

. The work was completed about 65 years after Weber's death by Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler was a late-Romantic Austrian composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation. He was born in the village of Kalischt, Bohemia, in what was then Austria-Hungary, now Kaliště in the Czech Republic...


Composition history

In 1821, Theodor Hell
Theodor Hell
Theodor Hell was the pseudonym of Karl Gottfried Theodor Winkler , a court councillor in Dresden from 1824, who was the centre of literary life through his work as editor, translator and critic...

 developed a drama called The Battle for the Bride, with a story taken from Der Brautkampf (1819) by Carl Seidel. Hell gave his friend Weber the text, but Weber disliked the title and changed it to Die Drei Pintos ("The Three Pintos"). The title comes from the protagonist, Don Pinto, who is impersonated by two other characters in the course of the opera.

Weber began composing the score and worked at it off and on from then until 1824, but other work including Euryanthe intervened and it remained incomplete at his death (in 1826). All that existed, so far, were a number of coded fragments of music: 7 sketches for 17 numbers, and a total of bars scored out of an eventual total of 1700 bars.

Weber's bereaved family made a number of unsuccessful attempts to have Die Drei Pintos completed, but eventually his widow Caroline took the draft to Giacomo Meyerbeer
Giacomo Meyerbeer
Giacomo Meyerbeer was a noted German opera composer, and the first great exponent of "grand opera." At his peak in the 1830s and 1840s, he was the most famous and successful composer of opera in Europe, yet he is rarely performed today.-Early years:He was born to a Jewish family in Tasdorf , near...

, a composer, and friend of Theodor Hell. For some reason, Meyerbeer did nothing and — 26 years later, just before Caroline died — the fragments were returned to her untouched. Her son Max then approached various composers seeking one who would finish the opera, but he was advised to "give up".

After Max's death in 1881, his son Carl (Carl senior's grandson) inherited the composer's musical estate, and vigorously continued the task of trying to find someone to complete the opera. He eventually encountered the 26-year-old Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler was a late-Romantic Austrian composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation. He was born in the village of Kalischt, Bohemia, in what was then Austria-Hungary, now Kaliště in the Czech Republic...

, who was working as second conductor at the Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

 Stadttheater for the 1886-87 season. Mahler was keen to help, and became a regular visitor at the Webers' residence (ostensibly to deal with operatic matters though he was also enamoured of Carl's wife Marion; Carl tried to ignore that situation as best he could).

In the spring of 1887, Mahler cracked C. M. von Weber's code, unscrambled the drafts and instrumentalized the existing fragments in accordance with Weber's wishes. A further 13 musical numbers were needed in addition to the existing 7, and Mahler went ahead and composed this music himself, based on Weber's themes. It was decided that the original shape of the opera should be kept: a dialogue with musical numbers. However, the interlude music between Acts I and II (Pinto's dream) and the two-part finale of Act III were written by Mahler, although still based on Weber's leitmotif
A leitmotif , sometimes written leit-motif, is a musical term , referring to a recurring theme, associated with a particular person, place, or idea. It is closely related to the musical idea of idée fixe...

s and themes
Theme (music)
In music, a theme is the material, usually a recognizable melody, upon which part or all of a composition is based.-Characteristics:A theme may be perceivable as a complete musical expression in itself, separate from the work in which it is found . In contrast to an idea or motif, a theme is...


Performance history

Mahler had been an admirer of Weber, and in this way he succeeded in creating a complete opera which was premiered at the Neues Stadttheater, Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

 on 20 January 1888, with Mahler conducting. 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...

 admired the work, but appears to have changed his opinion after his mentor Hans von Bülow
Hans von Bülow
Hans Guido Freiherr von Bülow was a German conductor, virtuoso pianist, and composer of the Romantic era. He was one of the most famous conductors of the 19th century, and his activity was critical for establishing the successes of several major composers of the time, including Richard...

 panned it; like Bülow, the influential critic Eduard Hanslick
Eduard Hanslick
Eduard Hanslick was a Bohemian-Austrian music critic.-Biography:Hanslick was born in Prague, the son of Joseph Adolph Hanslick, a bibliographer and music teacher from a German-speaking family, and one of his piano pupils, the daughter of a Jewish merchant from Vienna...

 was also critical.

After Mahler's death (1911) Die drei Pintos gradually disappeared from regular production. Although it is rarely produced nowadays, the "Intermezzo", composed entirely by Mahler based on melodies by Weber, hints at the flute calls (echoed by other wind instruments such as the oboe and bassoon) in the slow section of the first movement of Mahler's Symphony no. 1.

Performances are rare. There was a production at the John Lewis Theatre in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 on 10 April 1962 and a concert performance at the Edinburgh International Festival
Edinburgh International Festival
The Edinburgh International Festival is a festival of performing arts that takes place in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, over three weeks from around the middle of August. By invitation from the Festival Director, the International Festival brings top class performers of music , theatre, opera...

 in 1976. The American première, given by the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is a summer opera festival held in St. Louis, Missouri. Typically four operas, all sung in English, are presented each season, which runs from late May to late June. Performances are accompanied by the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, which is divided into two...

, took place on 6 June 1979, and in June 1997 a concert performance was given as part of the Vienna Festival
Vienna Festival
The Wiener Festwochen is a cultural festival in Vienna that takes place every year for five or six weeks in May and June.The Wiener Festwochen was established in 1951, when Vienna was still occupied by the four Allies...

. In January 1998, seven fully staged performances in a new production conducted by Geoffrey Moull
Geoffrey Moull
Geoffrey Moull is a professional conductor and pianist.- Education :Geoffrey Moull was born in London, Ontario, Canada and studied conducting with Kirill Kondrashin, Sergiu Celibidache and Martin Stephani...

 were given by the Bielefeld Opera
Bielefeld Opera
The Bielefeld Opera is the venue of Städtische Bühnen Bielefeld in Bielefeld, Germany. It is a Dreisparten Haus , offering plays, music , and ballet...

 in Germany. In February 1998, three performances in English were given in a fully staged production by Opera Omnibus in Haslemere
Haslemere is a town in Surrey, England, close to the border with both Hampshire and West Sussex. The major road between London and Portsmouth, the A3, lies to the west, and a branch of the River Wey to the south. Haslemere is approximately south-west of Guildford.Haslemere is surrounded by hills,...

, England. In October 2003, there were six performances of a new production at the Wexford Festival
Wexford Festival Opera
The Wexford Festival Opera is an opera festival that takes place in the town of Wexford in South-Eastern Ireland during the months of October and November.-Festival origins under Tom Walsh, 1951 to 1966:...

. In 2010, the Bronx Opera Company will give the New York staged premiere in English. In March 2011, there were four performances by UCOpera at the Bloomsbury Theatre near University College London
University College London
University College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and the oldest and largest constituent college of the federal University of London...



Role Voice type Premiere cast
20 January 1888
(Conductor: Gustav Mahler)
Don Pantaleone Roiz de Pacheco, a nobleman bass
Bass (voice type)
A bass is a type of male singing voice and possesses the lowest vocal range of all voice types. According to The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, a bass is typically classified as having a range extending from around the second E below middle C to the E above middle C...

Bernhard Köhler
Don Gomez de Freiros, a nobleman 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...

Jacob Hübner
Clarissa, Don Pantaleone's daughter 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...

Emma Baumann
Laura, Clarissa's maid 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...

Josefine von Artner
Don Gaston de Viratos, a former student tenor Charles Hedmondt
Ambrosio, Don Gaston's servant 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...

Otto Schelper
Don Pinto de Fonseca, a young country squire bass Karl Grengg
Inez, the Innkeeper's daughter soprano Therese Rothauser
Innkeeper bass August Proft
Major-domo tenor
Chorus: students, villagers and servants of Don Pantaleone

Act 1

Don Gaston de Viratos is taking leave of his friends before leaving for Madrid, where he is set to become a government official and also hopes to find a bride. Inez, daughter of the innkeeper, tells him (by way of a warning) of the "romance of the lovesick cat Mansor", the song of a faithless lover who, despite burning lover's oaths, leaves his Zaide in the lurch.

Now Don Pinto de Fonseca, a foolish country squire, appears; he is also on his way to Madrid, to marry Donna Clarissa. The marriage has been arranged between the two fathers and he is worried about his first meeting with the girl, whom he has never met: how does one woo one's future wife? Gaston proceeds to teach him all the arts of the fiery lover — his servant Ambrosio having to play the part of the bride.

When Pinto, now exhausted, turns to food and drink, Gaston decides to save the unknown girl from this uncouth wooer: he makes Pinto drunk and takes from him the letter promising marriage. To the amusement of the other guests at the inn, Gaston and Ambrosio put the sleeping Don Pinto to bed, so that he can sleep off his drunkenness and they can proceed to Madrid.

Act 2

Don Pantaleone Roiz de Pacheco has assembled all his servants, and they are wondering why. He then appears himself, and announces the marriage of his daughter Clarissa to the son of a friend, Don Pinto. In the general joy which ensues, nobody notices Clarissa's despair: she loves Don Gomez de Freiros, and wants to marry no other. Her love has had to be kept secret, because Gomez was forced into hiding following a duel. Clarissa's servant Laura consoles and encourages her. She brings Gomez to the house secretly, and he is determined to defend his love with his sword.

Act 3

Laura and the servants are preparing the hall in Don Pantaleone's palace for the wedding. Gaston and Ambrosio discover Laura, whom Ambrosio succeeds in winning for himself. Gomez comes across Gaston, whom he takes to be Don Pinto; and he reveals to him his love for Clarissa. The false Pinto (Gaston) insists upon the rights of the stolen letter with its promise of marriage, and challenges Clarissa's lover (Gomez) to a duel. Gomez, anxious to avoid any insult, offers him satisfaction. However Pinto-Gaston generously releases the girl before Pantaleone's people come to greet the bridegroom, and they decide that Don Gomez will present himself as (that is, claim to be) Don Pinto to get around the plans of the bride's father.

Don Pantaleone is just bringing in his daughter, the bride, when the real Pinto enters the hall. Nobody believes his assurances that he is Don Pinto de Fonseca, and when he tries to show his bride the art of wooing learned from the student Gaston, he is ridiculed. He then notices Gaston and rushes at him so angrily that the latter has to threaten him with his sword. Don Pinto is thrown out, Gaston and Ambrosio are satisfied with the outcome of their adventure, and nothing now stands in the way of the marriage between Clarissa and Gomez.


  • Werner Hollweg, Hermann Prey
    Hermann Prey
    Hermann Prey was a German lyric baritone. He is most famous for lieder and for light comic baritone roles in opera.-Biography:...

    , Lucia Popp
    Lucia Popp
    Lucia Popp was a notable Slovak operatic soprano. She began her career as a soubrette soprano, and later moved into the light-lyric and lyric coloratura soprano repertoire and then the lighter Richard Strauss and Wagner operas. Her career included performances at Vienna State Opera, the...

     et al., Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
    Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
    The Münchner Philharmoniker is a German symphony orchestra located in the city of Munich. It is one of Munich's three principal orchestras, along with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Bavarian State Orchestra...

     conductor Gary Bertini
    Gary Bertini
    Gary Bertini was an Israeli conductor.-Biography:Gary Bertini was born Shloyme Golergant in Bricheva, Bessarabia, then in Romania, now in Donduşeni District, Moldova. His father, K. A. Bertini , was a poet and translator of the Russian and Yiddish Gary Bertini (Hebrew: גארי ברתיני) (born 1 May...

    (studio recording, RCA, 1976).
  • Gunnar Gudbjörnsson, Alessandro Svab, Barbara Zechmeister et al., Wexford Festival Opera Chorus, National Philharmonic Orchestra of Belarus, conductor Paolo Arrivabeni (live performance, Naxos, 2004).
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