Cover to 1968 RecordingDer Bettelstudent

Operetta in three acts; Libretto - Friedrich Zell & Richard Genée


Krakow, 1704. Poland is under the rule of the unpopular Saxon king, August II. Any number of members of the Resistance movement are in prison, but DukeAdam, the leader of the rebels, is still at large.


We find ourselves in the courtyard of the prison in Krakow. Holding sway in a dismal office is the jailer Enterich, a somewhat stupid, but also wily, Saxon who, although not malicious, nonetheless knows how to achieve personal advantage by means of his position.

Filled with longing for their husbands, the wives of the prisoners press into the office. Enterich cannot refuse their request and permits them to see the men - but not without first thinking of himself and pocketing the best of their presents. The prisoners have just barely been let out of their cells when an indignant uproar against the accursed Saxon rule starts up. Tempers rise still more when two Saxon officers, Major von Wangenheim and Lieutenant von Schweinitz, appear. Enterich quickly chases the prisoners back into their cells. For all that, the two officers are not at all interested in the angry people, but simply in the latest society gossip. They openly express their malicious glee over the fact that their colonel, Ollendorf, was snubbed by the young Polish woman Laura and that she, moreover, gave him a powerful slap in the face with her fan.

There he is now, the sad hero of the story: "lhm ist manches schon passiert, aber so etwas noch nicht" (Many a thing had already happened to him, but nothing like this). That is why he hatches a plan of revenge. His scheme is to fit out a young prisoner with clothes and money; the man then, in the role of the wealthy Prince Wybicki, is supposed to turn the head of the lovely Countess Laura. It should not be too difficult a task since Countess Palmatica, Laura's mother, must urgently stave off bankruptcy by finding a rich son-in-law. There are plenty of enterprising young men in the prison.

Enterich is able to present two suitable candidates right away: the students Symon and Jan. The Saxons feel so confident that they not only release the relatively harmless beggar student Symon but also Jan (who had been arrested as a political agitator) because a Prince Wybicki, in accordance with his rank, would be entitled to have a secretary. Everyone sets out for the Spring Fair. Ollendorf's plan of revenge against beautiful Laura begins to take its course.

The scene changes.. The Spring Fair on the festively decorated Ring Square in Krakow.A motley crowd in cheerful mood is celebrating the opening of the fair. Countess Palmatica, of course, is also present, together with her two daughters, Laura and Bronislava. The three women's characters are established in their entrance trio: Palmatica is arrogant and high-flown, Bronislava quite natural, fond of sensual pleasures, especially of eating, and then there is Laura to whom no man seems good enough because she is too proud and lofty. When, however, word comes about the wealthy Prince Wybicki and his plans to marry in Krakow, Mother Palmatica and her daughter Laura, in particular, can barely conceal their hopes and curiosity.

Symon - now completely a nobleman - enters as Prince Wybicki, gallantly and valiantly. The ladies fall for him on the spot. With amusement and malicious pleasure Colonel Ollendorf, Major von Wangenheim and Lieutenant von Schweinitz observe how the proud countesses promptly take the bait. Symon sings a song in praise of the beautiful Polish women.
Palmatica is delighted by the Prince who, in turn, pays court to her daughter Laura. Bronislava, on the other hand, is more attracted to the smart secretary. When Symon proposes to Laura, she is only too willing to marry the wealthy prince. Everyone is pleased by the rapid and happy course ofevents, even if for quite differing reasons.


A richly appointed salon in the palace of Countess Palmatica Novalska. Palmatica gives her daughter sound advice for her approaching marriage with Prince Wybicki. It is all unnecessary since Laura already knows exactly how to "break in" a husband. While Laura thus intends to train her future spouse, her younger sister, Bronislava, is just simply and uncomplicatedly in love with the Prince's secretary. With a kiss their bond is "consecrated for all times".
Symon, however, has serious problems. What until now had been only in fun has suddenly become the real thing for him, for he has fallen in love with Laura. So he seeks advice from Jan, but he, in turn, has other things on his mind. Jan is not a student at all. He is Count Opalinski, the captain who aided Duke Adam in preparing for the Polish uprising. He ardently tries to rouse enthusiasm in Symon for the liberation of their country, but the Student Beggar has little interest in political goings-on, and at the moment only cute Laura occupies his thoughts. Shy and embarrassed, he attempts to confess his true origin through all kinds of allusions. Yet the real truth never passes his lips.

In his inner conflict he picks up a pen to write and tell her everything. At this point, however, things begin to happen in rapid succession. Ollendorf, cursing, appears with his officers. Countess Palmatica comes for Prince Wybicki to take him into the banquet hall to meet the nobility gathered there. Before he rushes into the hall, Symon gives Palmatica his letter for Laura. The Saxon officers, who know from Symon what is in the letter, persuades the old Countess not to pass it on to Laura until the next morning, for the letter supposedly concerns only something about the dowry, in other words, something material that could only spoil the poetic atmosphere of the fête. The Countess is promptly taken in by the story. The bridal chorus is heard in the background, and, amidst shouts of joy from all sides, the bridal couple proceeds to the church.

In the meantime Ollendorf has learned who the political agitator Jan really is and hits upon the idea that Jan could well deliver Duke Adam into his hands! He tries every tactic he can to persuade Jan to do so. When he finally offers Jan the handsome sum of 200,000 florins, Jan accepts. Jan, or more correctly, Captain Opalinski, needs precisely this amount to be able to bribe the Italian commandant of the citadel, for, if the latter no longer offers resistance, the citadel can be stormed and all of Krakow taken. Ollendorf feels certain of the success of his plan.

With malicious glee, he now expects to enjoy his revenge on Laura right at the wedding feast that is to follow. To the festive ringing of bells, the newly married couple comes out of the church. iz Roaring festivities begin, and Ollendorf, encouraged by the others, breaks into a drinking song. A mazurka is danced. But hapless fate runs its course. As orchestrated by Ollendorf, the jailer Enterich and a group of scruffy prisoners appear and crow: "Symon is the Beggar Student, the vagabond that everyone knows... " The wedding guests are appalled. Ollendorf, however, is triumphant: "Oh, I kissed her only on the shoulder, and now the blow with the fan is paid back."


In the background the indignant wedding guests are heard leaving Countess Novalska's palace. Only Bronislava fails to take the matter tragically. She is simply a bit annoyed that the feast has come to such an abrupt end and that she has not yet even eaten. Jan fanatically pursues his revolutionary plans. Symon, who is now completely broken, is just the right man for his plans, for he needs a fall guy to pawn off on Ollendorf as Duke Adam so as to receive the 200,000 florins. Nothing matters to poor Symon anymore anyway, so he sticks the wallet containing the Duke's papers into his pocket and proceeds into a new adventure.

Ollendorf demands that Jan deliver the Duke to him. Jan cleverly understands how to strengthen Ollendorf in his assumption that Symon is in reality the Duke. The wedding guests, with Palmatica at the head, make Symon the target of their attacks: swindler, imposter, beggar student. Excitement, turmoil! Now Ollendorf thinks he can play his second trump card. Pointing to Symon, he declares loudly and clearly, "Duke Adam Kasimir is the prisoner standing here. " Suddenly the rejected son-in-law is again a duke, and, moreover, one of their own! Amid the general confusion Laura appears. The proud countess has become a loving wife who is willing to share every plight that befalls her Symon. Now Symon can laugh in the face of all dangers.

Just as the Saxon colonel Ollendorf is about to lead the alleged Polish duke to the citadel, shouting and cries of "vivat" are heard in the background, coming from the citadel. Saxon officers rush in and exclaim that the citadel has fallen into the hands of the Poles and that Duke Adam has led the rebels. "But Duke Adam is still standing here," says the astonished Ollendorf to himself. Yet his eyes have been opened to realise that, in the end, he is the one who has been outwitted. The couples in love - Symon and Laura, Jan and Bronislava - embrace, extremely happy. Poland is free!

Translation. E. D. Echols


PALMATICA - Countess Nowalska
LAURA - Palmatica's daughter
BRONISLAWA - Palmatica's daughter
OLLENDORF - Colonel, Commander of Krakow
JAN - Captain Count Opalinski


Musical Numbers



  1. Ach unsre Lieben sperrte man ein
    Introduction - Chorus
  2. Und da soil man noch galant sein - Ach ich hab' sie ja nur auf die Schulter geküßt
    Entrance song - Ollendorf
  3. Die Welt hat das genialste Streben
    Entrance Duet - Symon - Jan - Chorus
  4. O Juchheissa, hurra! Die Messe beginnt
    Chorus & Ensemble
  5. Einkaufe machen sollten wir eigentlich
    Entrance Trio - Laura - Bronislawa - Palmatica
  6. Das ist der Fürst Wybicki
  7. Bravo! Bravo! Es geht ganz famos
  8. Ich knüpfte manche zarte Bande
    Ensemble & Song - Ollendorf - Laura - Bronislawa - Symon - Jan - Palmatica - Chorus
  9. Du bist die Seine? - Höchste Lust and tiefstes Leid - Bei solchem Feste
    Finale Act 1 - Palmatica - Laura - Symon - Bronislawa - Ollendorf - Jan - Enterich - Chorus


  1. O Einen Mann hat sie (hab' ich) gefunden
    Trio - Palmatica - Bronislawa - Laura
  2. O Durch diesen Kuß sei unser Bund geweiht!
    Duet - Jan - Bronislawa
  3. Soll ich reden, darf ich schweigen? - Ich setz' den Fall
    Duet - Symon - Laura
  4. Glückliche Braut! Dir strahlet hell das Leben
    Ensemble - Symon - Ollendorf - Palmatica - Jan - Laura - Chorus
  5. Mit Geld and guten Worten
    Couplet - Ollendorf
  6. Klinget, Feierglocken, klinget!
  7. Trinkt uns zu, trinkt uns zu
  8. Tempo di Mazur
  9. Heidahi, heidaha! Sind wer och nich invidiert...
  10. Ach, ich hab' sie ja nur auf die Schulter geküßt
    Finale Act II - Ollendorf - Symon - Enterich - Laura - Bronislawa - Palmatica - Jan - Chorus


  1. Lumpen, Bagage, Bettelstudent!
  2. Der Fürst soil nur ein Settler sein
    Introduction - Bronislawa - Chorus
  3. Ich hab' kein Geld, bin vogelfrei
    Couplet - Symon
  4. Still, man kommt! - Dort steht der Patron!
  5. Die halbe Stunde ist vorbei
  6. Jetzt lach' ich jeglicher Gefahr
    Ensemble - Ollendorf - Palmatica - Symon - Jan - Laura - Bronislawa - Chorus
  7. Befreit das Land! Geknüpft das Band!
    Finale Act III - Symon - Laura - Bronislawa - Jan - Palmatica - Chorus



Der Bettelstudent Starring Rita Streich, Renata Holm, Hermann Prey, Nicolai Gedda & Gerhard Unger
- EMI Studio CMS 7 69678 2