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A musical comedy in 5 scenes; book and lyrics by Paul Knepler and Fritz Löhner; Music by Franz Lehár,

Vienna Staatsoper - 20 January, 1934; Volksoper, 18 October, 1951


The story tells of the Army officer Octavio and his consuming love for Giuditta, a passionate spitfire, who leaves him because he refuses to desert the colours for her; their chance meeting several years afterwards comes too late, though they realise how much they have lost. The opulent score contains some memorable songs and duets, most particularly Giuditta's "On My Lips Every Kiss Is Like Wine".


Scene 1

In the market-place of a Mediterranean town two street singers are perform¬ing to the accompaniment of mandolins and a hurdy-gurdy. Pierrino, a fruit seller, enters calling his wares and leading a small donkey pulling a barrow full of produce. He has decided to give up his business and, after disposing of all his stock, he auctions off his barrow. Finally, he turns to his faithful donkey, Aristotle, bids him a fond, tearful farewell, and sells him also to the purchaser of the barrow. Then he calls to his girlfriend Anita, a fisher girl, and checks with her that all is prepared for the ship they are to catch that evening. Their plan is to earn their living as touring performers in North Africa. Pierrino asks whether her parents know that she's leaving, but Anita explains that, as one of thirteen children, her departure will scarcely be noticed. They are in high spirits and free of cares at the prospect of their adventure.

Manuele emerges from his house with a bird in a wooden cage that he has just made for a local dignitary. He plans to spend the money he receives for it on his young wife, Giuditta, on whom he dotes and for whose benefit he keeps up his hard work. It is clear that Giuditta's beauty is widely admired. 'Isn't she too beautiful for you?' the innkeeper Sebastian asks undiplomatically. Just then a group of officers arrives led by Captain Octavio and Lieutenant Antonio. Their ship has put into port for the evening prior to sailing for manoeuvres in Africa, and they have come to sample the inn's well-known wines. Octavio is a man full of the joys of life, and most particularly partial to the pleasures of a beautiful woman.

As the officers go to leave, Giuditta's voice is heard singing plaintively. Octavio is enchanted, and he watches as she comes out onto her balcony, sighing for the true love she has never enjoyed. Suddenly Giuditta spots Octavio gazing at her and, when he asks her why there are tears in her eyes, she sadly tells him how she yearns to leave her dreary life and sink into a sea of love. Octavio cannot restrain himself from passionately telling her of her beauty. He begs her to spend with him the short time before his ship sails but, when she insists that her husband will return at any moment, he impulsively urges her to come away with him. It is an invitation that she is unable to resist.

When Manuele returns, Octavio treats him to a glass of wine and chats with him about his voyage to Africa, but Manuele is disturbed when he hears Octavio enthusiastically breathing Giuditta's name. He jealously questions his wife and she reacts angrily, accusing him of treating her like a captive bird, locked in one of the cages that he makes. As Manuele hurries into the house, Giuditta symbolically goes to the birdcage hanging on their wall, lets the bird loose and, watching it fly off, she looks heavenwards and expresses her own longing to fly away. Giuditta has departed in the direction of the harbour, when Manuele appears on the balcony calling for her. He is already regretting his harsh words and is determined to make it up to her by buying her a present.

A contingent of soldiers passes through, marching to the harbour, followed by Anita and Pierrino, knapsacks in their hands. Manuele returns with.a present of a coral necklace for Giuditta, but he becomes anxious when be discovers that she is nowhere to be found. A ship's siren is heard in the distance, as the Aurora prepares to sail for Africa. Then Manuele spots the empty birdcage, just as a fisherman runs up to report that he has seen Giuditta on board the ship with Octavio. Manuele takes a few helpless steps in the direction of the harbour, calling his wife's name and holding the coral necklace helplessly in his hand.

Scene 2

Anita and Pierrino arrive at Octavio's villa in a small garrison town on the north coast of Africa. Their happy plans all went awry and now they are broke and have come to see if Octavio and Giuditta can give them work. They are a little hesitant about ringing the bell, but when eventually they do they get no answer. Love seems to have made Giuditta and Octavio deaf to the world. Finally Giuditta appears at the door and, when the pair relate their unhappy story, she offers to give Anita a job while Pierrino returns home to set up his old trade again. Then he will come back to many her.

Octavio's voice is heard in the background and Giuditta confesses to Anita how much she is in love. For them, at least, the rash decision was the right one. Octavio is disturbed, however, by a report from his lieutenant that the regiment may have to move on. He determines to keep this news from Giuditta and hurries the man away. When Giuditta reappears, they swear their love for each other. He declares that she is as beautiful as the blue summer night, while she responds that she finds every day as beautiful as a lovely fairytale dream.

Giuditta has promised to put Pierrino up for the night and has offered him and Anita an attic room. However, since Anita insists that nothing improper should take place before they are married, Pierrino has to take alternative accommodation in the servants' quarters. When Giuditta and Octavio are out of the way, he looks enquiringly up at Anita in her attic, puts a ladder up to her window and scrambles up into her waiting arms.

Scene 3

It is late evening and the military encampment is lit by moonlight and lamps as the soldiers sing of their eternal lot—marching through the barren, hot desert by day, finding female company at an oasis by night. Octavio has still not told Giuditta that they are due to move off, and, he thinks of their parting with despair, convinced- that she will not remain faithful to him. 'Her father a Spaniard, her mother a Moroccan dancer. African blood flows in her veins—southern, hot blood. You should see her dance! In her dancing you can see the whole wild, sensual heat of the south.'

Despite all Antonio's efforts to, reassure him, Octavio declares that he cannot bring himself to leave Giuditta, and the soldiers' singing echoes his thoughts on the fickleness of womankind. as Octavio wonders at the way two people who were strangers yesterday can today be helplessly bound up together.

He grabs his cloak and kepi and is about to move off when Giuditta appears in the lamplight. She has been waiting for him at the villa, becoming more and more worried. Now he tells her that he must leave her The regiment is moving on She accuses him of having tired of her and will not listen when he tries to make her understand that he must do his duty. She tells him that:he must prove his love by coming away with her and, as she speaks, her pleading begins to,have its effect on him. He presses her to him and, when the trumpet sounds, he pretends not to hear it. Antonio comes to tell him that it is time to go, but Octavio declares that he cannot. Finally his sense of duty reasserts itself and with death in his heart, he marches off. Left alone, Giuditta, in a frenzy of frustrated passion, breaks down in dreadful weeping.

Scene 4

Parted from Octavio, Giuditta has decided to become a night club dancer and she appears in the Alcazar night club of a large North African city, winning tremendous applause with her sensuous dance routine. In the middle of it all, she lapses for a moment into a In the middle of it all, she lapses for a moment into a trance, remembering her parting from Octavio, but she recovers to acknowledge the audience's ecstatic acclaim. She is the greatest success the night club has had in years.

Backstage, Anita helps her change, as Ibrahim, the proprietor, comes up with a large bouquet of flowers. They are from Lord Barrymore, an extremely wealthy Englishman and one of Ibrahim's best customers, who is anxious to take Giuditta out to supper.

The floor-show continues with a comedy number by the night club's eccentric master of ceremonies, 'Professor' Martini. He has written it himself, and it is about the ups and downs of love, with the refrain 'Yes, love is just like a see-saw!' .

The cabaret over, the audience are left to enjoy themselves at the bar or in the private rooms. Pierino enters the club, somewhat abashed at surroundings that are so unfamiliar to him, and one of the club's dancers, Lolitta, approaches him and'suggests that he buy a bottle of wine for the two of them. They have little time to get to know each other before Anita arrives.

She is thrilled to see her beloved, especially when Pierrino tells her that he has bought back Aristotle, resumed his trade, and is now ready to get married. Excitedly they contemplate their future together.

The arrival of Lord Barrymore has the night club personnel falling over themselves to make  him at home. Ibrahim has even purchased for his lordship a pearl necklace with which to reward Giuditta's favours. Lord Barrymore kisses Giuditta's hand, and Professor Martini encourages her to tell them the secret of her magical effect on men.

She explains that she hardly knows, but she does her best to describe the chemistry that seems to occur within her whenever men are close to her. Lord Barrymore assures her that she is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen and that he is wildly in love with her and, giving an order for supper and champagne to be served, he leads Giuditta away into a chambre separee.

During the evening, a new customer arrives. It is Octavio. He has deserted, is in civilian clothes, and asks just to be left alone. Lolitta's attentions have no interest for him, but he shares his wine and cigarettes with Martini and, apparently oblivious to the unrestrained goings-on of the night club, asks him about Giuditta. Can Martini find her and tell her that there is someone here to see her? He reflects on the way that Guiditta has filled his thoughts ever since they parted, but he is shaken from his reverie by the sound of laughter and of Giuditta's voice as she and Lord Barrymore emerge from their private room. As Lord Barrymore hangs the pearl necklace around her neck and escorts her to his car, Octavio watches, unseen and wholly wretched.

Scene 5

Four years later, in a private room of a fine hotel, two waiters are laying the table for a private supper for a Duke and Giuditta, now a famous dancer.

The Duke's adjutant arrives to see that all is in order, and he summons the pianist to tip him off as to the Duke's musical tastes. The pianist is Octavio. As he awaits the guests' arrival, he lingers again over the torment of his broken love for Giuditta and, when their arrival is announced, he disappears into the alcove and begins playing melodies from Giuditta's past. She looks behind the curtain and springs back at the sight of Octavio.

Octavio tells Giuditta how he has seen her dancing and singing, and how he saw her being escorted by Lord Barrymore, but when Giuditta assures him that he is still the one she really loves, he tells her that love no longer means anything to him. Giuditta entreats him, but Octavio is a broken man. When the Duke comes to join the dancer, he goes back to the piano and plays. Giuditta responds mechanically to the Duke's advances, and soon she asks to be taken home. Octavio carries on playing until the waiter, arriving to put out the lights, tells him that the guests have gone. Then he closes the piano, takes his hat and slowly leaves.

Musical Numbers

  1. Du mein schwarze Donna Antonia
  2. Halli! Hallo! Ihr Leute!
  3. Uns ist alles einerlei
  4. Alle Tag' nichts als Müh' und Plag'!
  5. Freunde, das Leben ist lebenswert!
  6. Liebestraum, du ewiger Liebestraum
  7. In einem Meer von Liebe
  8. Schönste der Frauen
  9. Weit übers Meer
  10. Herr Kapitän, der Weg ist weit von hier bis Navarra
  11. Zwei die sich lieben vergessen die Welt
  12. Schönste der Frauen
  13. Schön wie die blaue Sommernacht!
  14. Zwei, die sich lieben vergessen die Welt
  15. Uns're Heimat ist die Wüste
  16. Wirst du aber scheiden müssen
  17. Du bist meine Sonne
  18. Giudittal Was machst du hier?
  19. Du bist meine Sonne
  20. In die Stirne fällt die Locke
  21. Wiest du aber scheiden miissen
  22. Ja, die Liebe ist so wie ein Schaukelbrett!
  23. Meine Lippen, sie kiissen so heist?
  24. So wie urn den Sonnenball
  25. Schaut der Mond
  26. In einem Meer von Liebe
  27. Schönste der Frau'n
  28. Octavio! Octavio! Du?
  29. Ewige Glut, verflucht ist mein Blut


3 female, 8 male

Manuele Biffi
Giuditta, his wife
Octavio, a Captain
Antonio, a Lieutenant
Eduard Barrymore
A Duke
The Duke's adjutant
Ibrahim, proprietor of the Alcazar night club
Professor Martini
Pierrino, a fruit seller
Anita, a fisher girl
Lolitta, a dancer
Sebastiano, a landlord

Officers, soldiers, villagers, dancers, guests, musicians, waiters


3 flutes, 3 oboes, 3 clarinets, 3 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, 3 percussion, harp, strings

New English translation by Adam Carstairs