VIKTORIA AND HER HUSSAR
Book by Alfred Grunwald and Dr Fritz Löhner-Beda from the Hungarian by Emerich Földes. English book and lyrics by Harry Graham. Music by Paul Abraham
Stadtheater, Leipzig - 7 July, 1930
Palace Theatre, London (adapted by Harry Graham) - 17 September, 1931
The show opens in Siberia in the aftermath of World War I where Stefan Koltay is under sentence of death for being a counter-revolutionary. His batman's violin becomes the price for their escape.
The Japanese Garden of the American Embassy in Tokyo is the scene of the impending wedding of Count Ferry Hegedüs, brother to Countess Viktoria, and Lia San. Countess Viktoria and her husband, the Ambassador John Cunlight are being posted to St Petersburg. The sadness of their parting contrasts with the wedding celebrations. It to this setting that Koltay and his batman Janczi have come. These two have come to the embassy because Viktoria and Stefan are old friends and he saw her earlier in the ambassador's car. When the ambassador appears, Koltay introduces himself as Captain Czaky, an Hungarian citizen. He tells the ambassador that he and Janczi have escaped imprisonment in Siberia and seek diplomatic protection. As his wife is Hungarian, Cunlight readily agrees to the request. What he does not know, however, is that Viktoria and Stefan had pledged everlasting fidelity to each other in their earlier lives. The wedding of Ferry and Lia San takes place and Viktoria and Stefan come face to face.
Cunlight has been posted to St Petersburg and Koltay and Janczi accompany him. Janczi is homesick for Hungary and Doroszma but Koltay says they will only return home if Viktoria goes with him. At a reception Viktoria tells Koltay that he could be recaptured by the Russians at any time and should leave. He tells her that it was only the thought of being with her that kept him going through war and imprisonment - and yet here she is, the wife of another! She tells his that he had been posted as being killed when his regiment had been wiped out in battle. It is obvious that she still loves him but when the Russians enter the embassy he is determined to leave without her.
A year later in the town of Doroszma it is the celebration of the grape harvest. There is an age-old custom that on the day of the wine festival there shall be three weddings. Janczi and his love Riquette will form one couple, Ferry and Lia San will be the second (Japanese marriages are not recognised in Doroszma). Viktoria will form half of the third couple but will it be a renewal of marriage to Cunlight or to Koltay?
Cast of Characters:
- and original London Players
plus chorus of Servants, Japanese Guests, Hungarian Peasants, etc.
Scenes and Settings:
ACT II.—Reception Room in the American Embassy, Petrograd.
ACT III.-A Vineyard in Doroszma, Hungary.