Schön is die Welt
(How Fair the World)
A re-working of Endlich Allein - (Music by Franz Lehár: Book and lyrics by Ludwig Herzer and Fritz Löhner. *English by Adam Carstairs) - (1931)
Crown Prince Georg arrives at an alpine resort to meet his fiancee and Princess Elizabeth. However, on the way he stopped to help a girl, whose name he did not discover, mend a puncture and fell madly in love with her. He announces to his father that he will not marry Princess Elizabeth because he loves another. After a dramatic right spent by our unwitting hero and heroine on a mountain because of an avalanche, everything turns out right when Georg discovers that his heart's desire is, in fact, Princess Elizabeth.
In the lounge of the Hotel des Alpes, in a Swiss mountain resort, an orchestra is playing and guests are dancing, but the hotel manager and the major-domo to the Duchess Maria Branckenhorst are not interested in the music. They are looking out of the windows with anxious faces. They are expecting a visit from the King of a small but significant European country and his son, Crown Prince Georg, and the major-domo is impressing upon the manager the importance of the King remaining incognito during his stay.
The reason for the meeting and its attendant secrecy is that a marriage has been arranged between the Crown Prince and the Princess Elisabeth von und zu Lichtenberg, the Duchess's niece. It is a marriage of convenience and its object is to relieve Prince Georg's country's dire financial situation through the dowry that the Princess will bring, but Elisabeth, with no thoughts for the mercenary side of marriage, is contemplating the love that lies before her with a mixture of excitement and trepidation.
When the King arrives, it transpires that he and the Duchess Marie had once been lovers and they still retain great affection for each other. Travelling with the King is his adjutant, Count Sascha Karlowitz. Sascha has been married secretly to a fiery South American dancer, Mercedes del Rossa, but he has not been able to inform his King of this detail because he has several times asked the King for permission to marry and been refused. Hence Sascha and Mercedes are compelled to meet furtively and to save their ardour for a nocturnal rendezvous a quarter of an hour before bedtime.
When the Crown Prince arrives, he shatters his father by announcing that he has changed his mind about marrying. He is a fun-loving young man, and he wants for a little longer to make the most of the world that he finds so beautiful and enjoyable.
By chance, the Prince and Princess Elisabeth meet and, though they are unaware of each other's true identity, it happens that they are by no means strangers to each other. They met once when the Prince stopped to help Elisabeth mend a puncture on a mountain road. They are delighted to see each other again, and their mutual interest in mountaineering leads them happily to plan an alpine climb together the following day.
Mercedes, meanwhile, has decided to take matters into her own hands over gaining the King's approval for her marriage to Sascha. She determines to see what a little sex appeal can do and, since the King is undoubtedly a man with an eye for a pretty face and figure, he is perceptibly taken by her dusky charms when the dance orchestra strikes up and she performs a tempestuous tango. So taken is he, in fact, that he decides she is far too good for a mere officer, and would probably do better with a King.
One way and another, everyone has been diverted from the original purpose of the gathering, but Crown Prince Georg and Princess Elisabeth—both still unaware of each other's identity—are looking forward eagerly to their mountain excursion on the morrow.
The following day, high on the mountain, the two mountaineers are pressing on upwards, stimulated by the superb view and by each other's company. It is clear that they already have budding feelings of love for each other. They are feeling in need of a rest when they come upon a mountain hut. It is remarkably well equipped, with such comforts as a cooker, food and radio, and Princess Elisabeth volunteers to cook a meal. While she is doing so, Georg stands outside the hut, pondering his situation. No matter what his father may say or wish, there is no doubt in his mind that his companion is the only girl for him.
Elisabeth produces a delicious meal of scrambled eggs, ham, bread and fruit, washed down with ice-cold water from a mountain stream. Then, when they have eaten, they switch on the radio and, when they find that it is broadcasting dance music, they dance together. However, the music is interrupted by the broadcast of an S.O.S. reporting that the Princess von and zu Lichtenberg has been missing since daybreak. According to the radio, the Princess is wearing a brown skirt and green blouse and has been seen in the company of a young man in climbing kit. Prince Georg looks at her in disbelief as it dawns on him who his companion is.
Suddenly they realise that they have paused too long at the hut and that it is getting late. What is more, there are signs of a storm coming up and Georg, as an experienced mountaineer, tells Elisabeth that in such conditions it would be dangerous to try to return to the foot of the mountain that night. Elisabeth threatens to make the journey alone but just then a thunderous noise is heard. 'What was that?' she cries, throwing herself into his arms. 'An avalanche!' he replies.
He calms her down but assures her that there can be no question of making their way down the mountain. They must spend the night in the hut. Elisabeth realises that the avalanche is not the only thing that has fallen. She has fallen in love. The young people declare their love for each other, and, as the weather eases and night comes, they settle down to pass the night—she inside and he on a bench in front of the hut.
Back at the Hotel des Alpes, the guests are clamouring around the manager seeking news and wondering whether they themselves may be in danger from avalanches. Fortunately the manager is able to reassure them over both their own safety and that of the Princess. An airman has seen her and her companion together on the mountain. Now speculation redirects itself towards the identity of the stranger who is with Elisabeth, and Mercedes stirs matters up by pointing to the scandal of the Princess spending a night alone with this unknown man. 'Whether rich or poor, love makes all humans the same,' she declares.
Suddenly, when everyone is occupied elsewhere, the Crown Prince and the Princess arrive quickly and quietly back in the hotel. They are so thirsty after their climb that the Prince slips into the bar and mixes them a swift before Elisabeth goes to find her aunt. The Duchess is understandably relieved at her niece's safe return but she is less happy about Elisabeth's insistence that she will not marry the Crown Prince. She is in love with her mountain companion. `Listen to me, Elisabeth!' the Duchess declares. `To be in love—fine! To go climbing mountains alone with a man—fine! To spend a whole night with him—very good! But to marry him—that is decidedly indecent!' But even in front of such practical advice, Elisabeth can only revel in her new found love.
The King is still wondering how he is to break to the Duchess the news that Georg is refusing to marry her niece when Sascha tells him who it was who passed the night on the mountain with the Princess. The King is so pleased with Sascha for this excellent piece of news that he immediately gives his approval to his adjutant's marriage to Mercedes, and the lady expresses her delight in typical style.
The Duchess now comes to inform the King of Elisabeth's decision not to marry his son, and the King retorts with some aspersions on a woman who would spend a night alone on a mountain with a man. Finally, however, the real identity of the lovers is revealed, and Georg muses that he went up the mountain to get away from the Princess Elisabeth and merely succeeded in finding her, as the two affirm the strength of their love for each other.
The synopsis follows the revised version as performed at the Theater an der Wien in 1931. The basic plot, broad structure and some of the music of Schön ist die Welt were taken over from Endlich allein but the characters were new, the libretto rewritten, and several new musical numbers added.
- In der Halle eines großen Hotels
- Sagen Sie, lieber Direktor
- Wie seltsam bewegt
- Ein gelbes Auto
- Mein Kind, du bist entzückend
- Majestät, Majestät, er kommt
- Bruder leichtsinn, so werd ich genannt
- Was seh' ich, mein wilder Jäger
- Ein Ausflug mit Ihnen
- Hallo Sascha
- Dort in der kleinen Tanzbar
- Also jetzt heraus mit der Sprache
- Blaues Meer ringsumher
- Auf Wiederseh'n
- Ja, was ist mit mir?
- Am nächsten Tag
- Jetzt mit der rechten Hand
- Jetzt geh' ich meinen Hausfrauenpflichten nach
- Liebste, glaub' an mich
- Bin schon fertig
- Wenn sie nicht wollen
- Was ist geschehen
- Am nächsten Tag im Alpenhotel
- Ich bin verliebt
- Ich zerbreche mir den Kopf
- Schön sind lachende Frau'n
- Ach, die heutige Jugend
- Liebste, glaub'
3 Female, 4 Male, SATB Chorus.
- Kronprinz Georg/Tenor
- Prinzessin Elisabeth/Sopran
- Herzogin Maria/Alt
- Graf Sascha/ Bariton
- Mercedes del Rossa/Sopran
- Sprechrolle Kronprinz Georg
- Sprechrolle Prinzessin Elisbath
Orchestra: 2222/4231/Perc/2 Mand/Banjo/Cel/Hp/Strings/Stage music
Language Versions: F. G. I