(The Dollar Princess)
Music by Leo Fall. Lyrics by Adrian Ross. Book by A.M. Willner and Fritz Grünbaum, adapted into Englsish by Basil Hood.
Daly's Theatre, London - 25 September, 1909 (428 perfs)
Knickerbocker Theatre Broadway (Book and Lyrics by George Grossmith)
- additional numbers by Jerome Kern.
6 September, 1909 (288 perfs)
In the New York offices of the millionaire businessman John Couder, the typists are hard at work but Couder's daughter, Alice, complains about the way the girls dally with their young men at the expense of good time-keeping in the office. `Every girl should serve just one master, and yours is the typewriter,' she tells them. Alice takes pride in being a real self-made Yankee girl and she considers men as mere playthings.
Alice's father has a curious taste for employing impoverished titled Europeans and teaching them how to earn their living by daily work and among these unfortunates is Baron Hans von Schlick, whom Couder has taken on as his head groom. Hans has had to rebuild his life after falling on hard times at his castle on the Rhine but he makes it clear that he does not think too highly of Couder, the coal king, who treats his formerly aristocratic employees as ordinary lackeys. When Couder takes Hans to task for failing to turn up for Couder's morning horse ride, Hans boldly asserts that he will not turn up the next day either.
Hans has been teaching Couder's niece, Daisy, to ride, and the two of them have found it a most enjoyable experience. Hans, indeed, has developed amorous feelings towards Daisy, but she is only interested in their remaining just good friends. Their discussions are disturbed by the arrival of Fredy Wehrburg, an old friend of Hans. He has left Europe because his father, a wealthy coal-mine owner, wanted him to marry a local girl whom Fredy considered a silly goose and now he has come to take a job with Couder and, he admits to Daisy and Hans, to try to marry Alice, even though he knows her only by sight. Hans and Daisy warn him that Alice is a hard nut, but Fredy is not easily put off. He has never been a wayside rose, and he has always had a fancy for blonde plaits and blue eyes.
Alice gives Fredy the once over to see whether his background and character make him a suitable employee, and to test his attitude to having a young lady as his boss. She tests him further by flirting with him but, when she ends by asking him whether she appeals to him, Fredy replies, 'Absolutely not!'
Couder, a widower, has sent his nephew, Dick, to Europe to find a titled lady to act as hostess for him and Dick now returns with his father Tom, Couder's brother, and a young lady—all three of them full of enthusiasm for their trip. The young lady is in reality a cabaret singer named Olga Labinska but, to impress Couder, the three of them prefer to pass her off as Countess Olga Przibiczewska, a field-marshal's widow who has lost all her property through political disorder.
Couder summons the staff to meet this new lady of the house and the girls are suitably impressed but, when Hans and Fredy are introduced, they and Olga recognise each other immediately, for she is a former girlfriend of Fredy. Olga attempts to cover up by telling Couder that she met the two of them at a Court Ball in Berlin, but Fredy and Hans know it was more likely the Jardin de Paris or Maxim's. Olga backs up her assertion with some dance steps with Hans, and then she calls for champagne. Couder is dubious about allowing anything of this sort in his office until he is assured that it is the custom in Europe, but Alice and Daisy are rather put out by this lady who now has attracted the attention of Fredy and Hans. 'You can have your countess,' Daisy tells Hans, while Fredy, likewise taunted by Alice, detects what he hopefully sees as a sign of jealousy.
Olga is thoroughly enjoying her new-found status, and she expresses her happiness by performing a Cossack dance with some of her friends in the grounds of Couder's home. Alice, meanwhile, has appointed Fredy as her private secretary. They emerge from the mansion for a game of tennis, but the game seems more one of verbal banter and one-upmanship than anything else. Alice summons her servants to bring out a typewriter, and she tests Fredy's feelings towards her by dictating a letter to an imaginary lover. Neither of them is as yet prepared to admit the growing feelings they have for each other.
Couder has decided to call a family conference to announce his plan to marry Olga. He has been completely taken in by her, and Dick cannot bring himself to tell him the truth. With the future of his business concerns in mind, Couder is also anxious for Alice to marry and he is happy enough with Alice's preference for Fredy. The sole problem is that Fredy himself knows nothing about it.
Daisy, too, feels that she would like to marry, but her uncle considers her still too young, and Hans doesn't quite share Daisy's view that they should elope and yet maintain a pure, platonic, brother-and-sister relationship. Daisy proceeds to draw up her proposed marriage contract, which includes separate rooms, polite address of each other, and all the other ingredients of what seems like a Hansel and Gretel type of relationship.
Alice, convinced that absolutely anything is possible for dollar princesses for whom money is no object, changes into an elegant evening dress in readiness for the announcement of her engagement. First Couder announces to the assembled company his engagement to Olga but, when Alice steps forward to announce her own engagement and, to everyone's astonishment, identifies her fiancé as Fredy, the young man bids her farewell. Even fifty million dollars will not persuade him to marry someone who considers that a man should be her slave. 'You can never forget all your money,' he accuses the family, as Alice comes to the sad realisation that dollar princesses are really the poorest beauties in the world.
In the year since he walked out on the Couders, Fredy has set up home in the backwoods of Aliceville, Canada. He has acquired valuable oil properties and, amongst his assets, there is one bankrupt company called Smith & Co whose rights have been offered to Couder. Fredy is awaiting a visit from Couder, who knows nothing of Fredy's involvement with this company, to close a deal. Fredy sees this meeting also as an occasion to get Couder's forgiveness for Hans and Daisy. The pair finally eloped and they are at this very moment staying with Fredy in his log cabin.
The sound of a motor-horn signals the arrival of Couder, Olga and Alice, who take great pleasure m making hens, geese, horses, children and dogs flee as, their car approaches. Couder is astonished to see Hans, but delighted to learn that his niece is safe and in seventh heaven over her marriage. Delighted in turn with this reception, Daisy make it clear that their relationship is no longer just a Hansel and Gretel one. By contrast, Couder's marriage to Olga has not been a success, and he readily offers Hans half a million dollars to be rid of her. Hans is absolutely sure that, for half a million dollars, Olga would travel to the other end of the earth. It will be a problem easily solved.
When Couder meets the proprietor of Smith & Co, he is astonished to find it is Fredy and amazed to learn the extent of his wealth. Alice is equally astonished at seeing Fredy again. She attempts to hold aloof from him but, finally, she can no longer hide her feelings. Now that Fredy has shown he is in every way Alice's financial equal, there is no longer any bar to their love and everything can come to a tidy happy ending.
4 female, 5 male
John Couder, president of a coal combine
Alice, his daughter
Dick, his nephew
Daisy Gray, his niece
Hans Freiherr von Schlick
Olga Labinska, a cabaret singer
Tom, Couder's brother
Miss Thompson, a housekeeper
James, Couder's valet
Bill, a chauffeur
Typists, cabaret singers, guests, servants, porters
- A Boat Sails On Wednesday
- The Dollar Princess
- Hip, Hip, Hurrah!
- I can Say Truly Rural
- Lady Fortune
- Love! Love! Love!
- Love's A Race
- The Marquis of Jolifontaine
- My Dream Of Love
- Not Here! Not Here!
- The Riding Lesson
- A Self Made Maiden
- Then You Go?
flute, oboe, 2 clarinets, bassoon, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, percussion, harp, strings
Vocal Score and Libretto on hire only