Three old boxes

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Work data
Title: Three old boxes
Shape: operetta
Original language: German
Music: Walter Kollo
Libretto : Herman Haller and Rideamus
Premiere: October 6, 1917
Place of premiere: Berlin
Place and time of the action: Potsdam after 1800
  • Charlotte Krüger ( soprano or soubrette )
  • Klaus Kersting ( tenor )
  • Auguste, cook at Krügers (Soubrette)
  • Cornelius Hasenpfeffer, Sergeant (singing comedian)
  • Ursula Krüger (soprano or soubrette)
  • Three friends of Ursula Krüger ( mezzo-soprano )
  • Four "wallflowers" (soprano and alto )
  • Brigitte (strange old woman)
  • Rittmeister von Treskow (actor)
  • Ladies, children, officers, soldiers ( choir and extras)

Three old boxes is an operetta in a prelude and three acts by Walter Kollo . The libretto was written by Herman Haller . Rideamus aka Fritz Oliven contributed the lyrics . It premiered on October 6, 1917 at the Theater am Nollendorfplatz in Berlin .


Two flutes , two oboes , two clarinets , two bassoons , three horns , two trumpets , three trombones , a harp , percussion and strings


The operetta takes place in Potsdam at the beginning of the 19th century.


Image: Salon in the Kruger Villa

The young Charlotte Krüger is longingly waiting for her lover, the trainee teacher Klaus Kersting, who has announced his visit to her today. She believes he wants her long overdue marriage proposal make. In this she is bitterly disappointed when Kersting finally arrives; for the sole purpose of his visit is to say goodbye to her. He has signed up to the army and will go to war with it.

first act

Image: Salon in the Kruger Villa

Ten long years have now passed. Klaus Kersting made a career in the army. He returns from the war as a captain . With him is his friend Cornelius Hasenpfeffer, who is still what he was at the beginning of the war: a sergeant . Together they go to the apartment of the two sisters Charlotte and Ursula Krüger in Potsdam. Auguste, the cook, also lives in their house. Cornelius Hasenpfeffer had promised marriage before the war began.

Strangely enough, Klaus Kersting is surprised that his Charlotte is no longer as young and crisp as it was when he last saw her. And Cornelius Hasenpfeffer is no different when he looks at his fiancée. The two sisters and their domestic help, however, do not remain hidden from what is going on in the men's minds. They therefore give them a basket after they have been invited by the soldiers to tomorrow's regimental ball.

As soon as the "three old boxes" are among themselves again, they decide to take part in the ball now despite the fact that they are not.

Second act

Image: Ballroom in the regimental casino

The festive ball has started. An elegantly dressed young lady attracts Kersting's interest, and that is what she intends to do. The lady is none other than Charlotte Krüger. With all the finesse of female art, she managed to look a few years younger. Klaus Kersting invites you to dance. When he asks her about the “resemblance” to Charlotte, the lady pretends to be her niece “Dörthe”, who only arrived in Potsdam yesterday evening to visit her aunts. "Dörthe" knows perfectly how to get the feelings of the "strange" man going. But when he demands a kiss from her, she lets him know that she only came here to find a suitable young man and not an old cracker like him. Kersting resigns and falls into melancholy.

In the meantime, Cornelius Hasenpfeffer turns out to be a real killer, so that his fiancée decides to watch him carefully in case the marriage he has long promised should come again.

Third act

Image: Back in the Kruger Villa

The next day, Klaus Kersting and Cornelius Hasenpfeffer reappear in the apartment of the “three old boxes”. In a conversation with Charlotte, it soon becomes clear to Kersting that yesterday she was thoroughly fooling him, because the two Krüger sisters have no niece at all. But his heart is again aflame for Charlotte. When the two hear how the cook Auguste and her Cornelius are already making wedding plans, they too think about when they should step in front of the altar. Only Ursula, the older of the two sisters, is left behind once again.


Marching songs, happy waltzes and cheeky couplets dominate the typical Berlin operetta. The most famous of them are as long as the old trees are still in bloom on Unter'n Linden, nothing can overcome us, Berlin remains Berlin and oh yeah, what are the men stupid , two songs that have become popular hits and are still demanded in wish concerts today become. Other musical highlights are:

  • What use is love to the girl?
  • You golden locks, you blue stars
  • A bud becomes a flower and a flower wants to mature
  • Three old boxes that go to the ball
  • Waltz did it to me

Sound carrier

CD at EURODISC (recording from 1993) with Barbara Schöne , Regina Klepper , Hermann Prey , René Kollo , Christiane Vetter and the German Film Orchestra Babelsberg under the direction of Roland Seiffarth

Web links