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Music Text

Libretto by Charles Nuitter and Etienne Tréfeu; original German version by Julius Hopp; new German version by Harald Kunz with dialogues by Andreas Meyer-Hanno; new English version by Charles Lamb Kenney (lyrics) & Richard Duployen (dialogue) (F,G,E)


5S,5T,2B,4speaking roles; chorus;

Abbreviations (PDF)


Boosey & Hawkes / Bote & Bock

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.


World Premiere
Kurtheater, Baden-Baden
Conductor: Jacques Ofeenbach
Company: Singers of the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens, Paris / Kurorchester Baden-Baden

World premiere of version
Company: .


PRINCE RAPHAEL, his son Tenor
SPARADRAP, Raphael's educator Speaking role
CABRIOLO, director of a company of tightrope walkers Bass Baritone
ZANETTA and REGINA, his daughters Sopranos
PAOLA, his sister Mezzo Soprano
and others
Time and Place

At a fair; on the terrace of a manor house; in a hall of Prince Kasimir's palace. Middle of the 19th century.


Harmless and boisterous as the plot may be, it still derives from one basic idea: a poor, merry company of tightrope walkers suddenly becomes rich but cannot control its longing for the old vagabond life. The poor company of travelling entertainers, glittering with trumpery, whom we see at work drawing up the curtain, is depicted with a fresh realism. The second act is a funny opposite of the first one: the whole family of tightrope walkers strutting as the new "lordships" in the splendid castle gardens of the villa, dressed up with ridiculous elegance. Despite all the luxury, the good people are awfully bored. "Do you believe, Papa," Regina asks the old man who plays a cavalier, "that I do not notice you sneaking into the garden at night to do somersaults? And did you not climb onto the ropes hung up for clothes and then secretly eat fire in the kitchen only yesterday?" (Eduard Hanslick)



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