(Black Forest Girl)

an operetta in 3 acts by August Neidhart. Music by Leon Jessel.

Produced at the Komische Oper, Berlin, 25 August 1917, with Gustav Charlé (Blasius Römer).
Produced at Haslingers Volksbühne, Vienna, 1946.



In the heart of the Black Forest stands the cathedral town of St Christoph, and there in his music room, Blasius Römer, the cathedral music master, is seated at the harmonium practising for the following day's festival of St Cecilia. Though grey-haired and widowed, he still considers himself young at heart and, as he contemplates the festivities of the following day, he moves over to the piano and turns his music into the strains of a merry waltz. his young housemaid Bärbele joins in the merriment as she brings in Römer's coffee.

Römer's daughter, Hannele, comes in, announcing that she has brought with her two young men who have arrived in the village for the festival celebrations and have had difficulty finding accommodation. They announce themselves as itinerant musicians named Hans and Richard and Römer, greeting them warmly as members of his own profession, has Bärbele prepare food and drink for them. In fact the two are not musicians at all. Hans is on the run from the enthusiastic attentions of a young lady named Malwine von Hainau, and Richard has joined him in an escape from the city life of Berlin. Their opinion of women seems indeed to have struck rock-bottom but, drawing on his somewhat longer experience, Römer assures them that women are not all that bad.

The resourceful Malwine, meanwhile, has managed to follow Hans to St Christoph. She has put up at the local inn, the 'Blue Ox', and has been brought by the landlord to the home of the church organist. Besides his musical interests, Römer has a fine collection of traditional peasant dresses, and Malwine is keen to borrow one for the festivities the following day. Inevitably, she runs into Richard and, amused at his pretence of being a musician, she begins to tease him and set her cap at him, despite his warning that she is playing with fire.

Romance seems to be rife in the village just at the moment. The landlord himself has a daughter, Lorle, who has for some time been walking out with a lad called Theobald but, when she comes to Römer to practise her solo for the following day, she confesses her disappointment that Theobald seems more inclined to devote himself to writing poetry than to settling down to married bliss. At last Hans and Malwine come face to face. She reminds him of all the happy times they have had together, but he merely reproaches her for toying with him. Hans tells her that he is in love with someone else, but Malwine refuses to believe him and tells him that at the following day's festivities he will dance with no one but her.

Meanwhile, at Malwine's instigation, young Bärbele has also been loaned one of Römer's folk costumes for the following day. As a poor servant girl she has never before been to a dance and, in the moonlight, she tries out a few steps with her own shadow. She is very excited and seeks to share her excitement with Römer, the only person in the village who ever pays any real attention to her. She puts her arms around his neck and kisses him. She does it in all innocence, but Römer mistakes it for a sign that she returns the amorous feelings he cannot help himself feeling towards her.


In the courtyard of the 'Blue Ox' the following day everything is ready for the festival of St Cecilia. The children of the village are having some fun mocking the village recluse, an impoverished old woman called Traudel, whom they accuse childishly of being a witch until Römer comes along and breaks up their cruel game.

Old Traudel is Bärbele's aunt, and Römer tells her of his feelings for the young girl. Her kiss the previous evening has made him feel years younger, but Traudel laughs at the idea of a man of his age considering marriage with a young woman. Römer refuses to be put off, even when Bärbele herself comes along and apologises for her over-exuberance.

When the revellers gather for the festivities, Richard is enchanted at the sight of Hannele, Lorle and Malwine in their peasant costumes. He likens the sight to the joys of Paris and waxes enthusiastic over the delights of the black forest girl. When Bärbele comes to join the group, shining with pride in her pretty costume, the other girls merely taunt her for being a jumped-up servant girl.

Richard partners off with Malwine and begins to tell her the story of his amorous conquests, whilst stressing that he has never found a girl quite like her, and Bärbele, fearing that she is destined to spend the festival on her own, again turns to Römer. As the violins are being tuned for the dancing, she asks him to dance with her, but the musician feels inhibited by the status of his position and will risk only a few surreptitious steps.

Jürgen, the landlord of the inn, starts the village's traditional 'ladies' choice'. The girls are lined up on one side and the boys on the other and the girls go light-heartedly to make their choice. Malwine chooses Hans, who at first refuses but, when the landlord tells him that custom decrees he must accept, he does so. Then it is Malwine's turn to play hard to get and she finally ends up dancing with Richard.

Bärbele has gone to choose Römer, but she has once more been driven away by the other girls, who are now calling her, too, a witch. When Hans declares that he will dance with her, he unleashes an almighty tumult. As the town takes sides, lamps are smashed and, in the moonlight, a general scuffle takes place. Blood is spilled, much of it that of a belligerent visitor from Berlin named Schmussheim, and Richard sinks, black and blue and battered, into Malwine's arms. As the clock strikes midnight, Jürgen finally restores order and declares the festivities at an end.


Inside the village inn, Lorle is sitting at her window, with the sun streaming down on her. She is longing for Theobald to show her some interest, but suddenly a bunch of roses flies through her window and she rushes happily out to join her lover.

The loutish Schmussheim appears sporting both a considerable hangover and a bodyful of physical injuries and announces that he intends to return to Berlin at once. By now Richard and Malwine have decided that they are meant for each other and, with Hans's blessing, they too intend to return to Berlin, together. Schmussheim volunteers to go with them, and they invite him to be a witness at their wedding, declaring that any longer-term addition to their twosome should come from starting a family. Whether it be a boy or a girl, they don't mind.

Meanwhile, after a sleepless night, Römer has finally made up his mind to marry Bärbele. However, he has received a letter telling him that her father has died and left her a fortune and he fears that this might make people think that he is marrying her for her money. He does not dream that Bärbele has no interest in marrying him anyway. Her heart lies with Hans, and Römer finally has to accept that his case is hopeless and that his dreams of regained youth were misguided, as he generously gives Bärbele and Hans his blessing.

Taken from Ganzl's Book of the Musical Theatre

Musical Numbers

  1. Einleitung (Mädel aus dem Schwarzenwald)
  2. Harmonium-Melodram
  3. O Caecilie, o Caecilie - Blasius, Bärbele
  4. Wir wandern durch die weite Welt / Wir sind auf der Walz / Das ist der rechte Musikus - Hans, Richard, Blasius, Bärbele, Hannele
  5. Ach, die Weiber sind ein Übel / Die Weibsleut', die sind eine Brut - Richard, Hans, Blasius
  6. Mein Fräulein, ach, ich warne sie / Lockende Augen holder Sirenen - Richard, Malwine
  7. Orchester-Reminiszenz (Lockende Augen)
  8. Muss denn die Lieb' stets Tragödie sein - Malwine, Hans
  9. Melodram und Lied (Lockende Augen)
  10. Ha, da ist ja mein Tänzer / Ei, du lieber Schatten, tanz doch mit mir - Bärbele, Blasius
  11. Die Hex', die Hex' - Chor, Blasius
  12. Flink durch's kleine Städtele / Mädel aus dem Schwarzenwald - Bärbele, Hannele, Lore, Malwine, Richard, Chor
  13. Polka - Orchester
  14. Ich liebte manche Frau schon / Malwine, ach Malwine - Richard, Malwine
  15. Alle werden sie sich drehen / Erklingen zum Tanze die Geigen - Bärbele, BlasiusDialog und Polka
  16. Wenn die Sonn' am Himmel lacht / Prügelszene / Nachtwächterlied - Bärbele, Hans, Richard, Blasius, Chor
  17. Wenn der Mensch schon 30 ist / Es kann ein Bub' sein, es kann ein Mädel sein - Malwine, Richard, Schmusheim
  18. Erklingen zum Tanze die Geigen (Finale) - Bärbele, Richard, Blasius


  • Blasius Römer, the cathedral music master
  • Hannele, his daughter
  • Bärbele, his maidservant Jürgen, landlord of the 'Blue Ox'
  • Lorle, his daughter
  • Malwine von Hainau
  • Hans
  • Richard
  • Old Woman Traudel
  • Schmussheim, a Berliner
  • Theobald
  • Musicians and country folk