One night in Venice

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Work data
Title: One night in Venice
Shape: operetta
Original language: German
Music: Johann Strauss
Libretto : Camillo Walzel and Richard Genée
Literary source: Le Château trompette by François Auguste Gevaert
Premiere: October 3, 1883
Place of premiere: New Friedrich-Wilhelmstädtisches Theater , Berlin
Playing time: about 3 hours
Place and time of the action: Venice around the middle of the 18th century
  • Barbara Delaqua ( soprano )
  • Duke Guido von Urbino ( tenor )
  • Annina, fisherman's daughter ( soubrette )
  • Caramello, Duke's personal barber ( Tenorbuffo )
  • Pappacoda, macaroni cook ( baritone )
  • Senator Bartolomeo Delaqua, husband of Barbara ( bass )
  • Ciboletta, maid at Delaqua ( old )
  • Agricola Barbaruccio (old)
  • A herald (baritone)
  • Six Senators' Wives (Sopranos and Elderly)
  • Senator Barbaruccio (actor)
  • Senator Testaccio (actor)
  • Constantina Testaccio, his wife (actress)
  • Enrico Piselli, Naval Officer (actor)
  • Centurion, a Page (actress)
  • Balbi, a servant (actor)
  • Peppino, a boy (child role or actress)
  • Cavaliers, guests, musicians, servants, senators and their wives, mask wearers, gondoliers, sailors, fishermen, people ( choir , ballet and extras)

A night in Venice is a “comical operetta ” in three acts by Johann Strauss . The libretto comes from Camillo Walzel (pseudonym: Friedrich Zell) and Richard Genée . On October 3, 1883 , the premiere took place in the New Friedrich-Wilhelmstädtisches Theater in Berlin. The operetta lasts just under three hours. The action takes place in Venice around the middle of the 18th century and is a disguise and mix-up comedy with confusions of love between two stands . In 1923 it was considerably reworked by Erich Wolfgang Korngold , another version is by Walter Felsenstein (1954), the original version is only rarely performed.


According to a well-known anecdote, which has not been proven, Friedrich Zell and Richard Genée are said to have had two text books to choose from for a new operetta: A Night in Venice and The Begging Student . Johann Strauss chose the first book; Karl Millöcker's career began with the other . Like many other Viennese operettas , the libretto is the adaptation of a French opéra-comique (hence the name "comic operetta"): Le Château trompette (1860) by François-Auguste Gevaert . A plagiarism allegation from Paris showed, however, that such secondary uses were no longer as unproblematic as a generation before.

Because Strauss' wife had started a relationship with Franz Steiner , the director of the Theater an der Wien , Strauss did not want the operetta to be premiered there and accepted the offer from Berlin. The premiere in Berlin was a failure. That was partly due to the confused plot, but partly also to the underlying texts: The later head motif of the "Laguna Waltz" had, for example, the text The cats are gray at night, it sounds tenderly meow , which the premiere audience to the loud " Meow "animated.

For the first performance at the Theater an der Wien, the play was therefore reworked, especially this text was eliminated and to look at the existing melody Oh how so wonderful, all the lovely women of Genée are written. In this way, the work was brought to a demonstratively acclaimed performance.

The best known musical numbers are the lagoon waltz and the gondola song . The Viennese Venice fashion later reached its climax in the Venice theme park in Vienna .


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


The operetta takes place during the Venice Carnival in the mid-18th century.

first act

Image: Square on the Grand Canal

Duke Guido von Urbino is known in Venice for the fact that he doesn’t miss anything when it comes to women. Especially during the carnival he is eager to cheat on his wife with another beautiful woman. To this end, he invited the city's senators and their wives to a masked ball. But because the senators know what the lecher is up to, they have decided to leave their wives at home. Bartolomeo Delaqua even goes one step further: he wants to accommodate his wives during the ball in the monastery outside the city and take their maid, Ciboletta, with him as an accompanying person. Duke Guido heard of this plan. The racy Barbara, of all people, shouldn't take part in his party? This must be prevented under all circumstances, as she is the object of his desire this year! He hasn't seen her yet, but what people say about her has piqued his curiosity.

Caramello is not only Guido's personal barber, but also his factotum, which has helped him so often in embarrassing situations. He is given the task of tracking down Barbara Delaqua and bringing her to his palazzo.

The beautiful Barbara, on the other hand, has absolutely no desire to obey her husband's plans. Rather, she is also out to have fun during Carnival. In such emergency situations she usually changes clothes with the fisher girl Annina in order to slip into her role. They have an old friendship with Annina, after all they both had the same wet nurse as babies. Barbara has an admirer her husband doesn't know about. It is his nephew, the charming naval officer Enrico Piselli. She wants to enjoy the carnival with him today.

Caramello has found out that a gondolier is supposed to take Delaqua's wife to the monastery. So he gives the young man a substantial sum of money, and Caramello has already become the gondolier who has been ordered. Now it is easy for him to bring beauty to his lord and master.

Second act

Image: State Hall in the Duke's Palazzo

On arrival at the palazzo it turns out that Caramello has made a mistake; for the girl in the gondola is not the senator's wife, but the fishing girl Annina, whom he knows all too well. After all, he has promised her marriage several times, but always pinched when things were going to get serious. And now he should introduce Annina as Barbara Delaqua to his master? Caramello doesn't feel good about it; but he sees no other way out. With jealous looks he notices that his girlfriend is making a brilliant figure in the role of the senator's wife, and she herself flirts with her role with relish. The Duke is also fooled and is delighted with the perky person. However, he does not manage to be alone with the loved one for even a minute.

Senator Delaqua and his wife are registered as new guests. The Duke is confused at first, believing that the latter has long since been there. Annina, however, appeases him: she herself is the right one. The Duke's companion was only the maid Ciboletta. But this seems to have pepper in its blood. She is about to approach the master of the house. Her intention is to get a job with him for her lover, the macaroni cook Pappacoda. This, in turn, does not suit Delaqua at all. After all, he only took her with him so that she could ask the Duke to be an administrator for him.

Third act

Image: On St. Mark's Square

In the meantime, the festival company has moved its carnival bustle from the Palazzo to St. Mark's Square. Senator Delaqua is amazed when he sees his dear wife strolling there on the arm of his nephew Enrico Piselli. Actually she should still be in the monastery! Outraged, he confronts her. And how does the elegant lady get out of the mess? She just pretends to her husband that the gondolier had taken her to the wrong destination against her wishes, that he actually wanted to kidnap her. The dear Enrico, however, noticed this and freed her from the fatal situation. That's why he too had to be grateful to Enrico.

When Senator Delaqua now presents his real wife to the Duke, the Duke is amazed; after all, she is the third lady that Barbara Delaqua is supposed to be today. Be that as it may, he has found Annina such a great liking that he really wants to have her around him permanently. Since she is apparently in a relationship with Caramello, he quickly appoints him as his administrator. In this way, Annina will inevitably turn up in the Palazzo frequently. And if Caramello is prevented from taking care of his girlfriend by an assignment from him, then perhaps there would still be the opportunity ...

Versions and arrangements

The version of the world premiere has already been changed for the first performance in Vienna. This also includes the overture, which, compared to the “Berlin version”, which can hardly be heard, was partly newly composed by Strauss (“Vienna version”) and is still played in it today. However, for years the publisher offered the variant of Korngold's arrangement of 1923, which was considerably thickened in the instrumentation and shortened by a third of the music compared to both versions.

Nevertheless, the dramaturgical deficiencies were not and could not be eliminated so easily.

Nevertheless, the work was played over and over again, but now mostly in arrangements. The best known of the time was that of Carl Hagemann in Mannheim in 1916.

The most famous of these arrangements in Western Europe comes from Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1923). In connection with a media debate about the alleged decline of the Viennese operetta , as part of the conservative party, he edited the play in 1923 for the Theater an der Wien. The tenor Richard Tauber was given a star role in it. This version has been played frequently at the Vienna Volksoper until recently and is more present on sound carriers than the original. Korngold thickened the instrumentation and added musical numbers that did not belong to the original inventory. The best-known of these inserted pieces is the tenor song Greetings to me, du holdes Venezia , the adoption of which from the Simplicius could only be conclusively proven in the 1970s.

In Eastern Europe, Walter Felsenstein's (1954) arrangement was played much more frequently. Unlike the arrangement by Korngold, this stuck to the original more clearly and avoided the numbers from other Strauss operettas that Korngold had incorporated. However, in the original arrangement by Felsenstein, the overture was eliminated (which, however, was mostly played by the theaters anyway), the piece was reduced to two acts (which meant the omission of some music numbers) and above all the figure of Annina as a self-confident and emancipated woman moved into focus.

In the opinion of Fritz Racek and the Strauss researcher Hans-Ullrich Barth, the numerous adaptations also reduced the original to a torso, "... diluted or musically distorted, reduced in value".

Well-known music numbers

Despite the arrangements, the musical inventory of the operetta is one of the most famous works by Johann Strauss:

  • Greetings to me, you lovely Venetia (comes from the Korngold processing 1923, originally from the Strauss operetta Simplicius )
  • Welcome my friends
  • Come into the gondola, my darling, just get in
  • To be loyal, that doesn't suit me (only according to the Korngold version 1923, originated from the original song by Annina What chance gave me, deleting the middle section, transposing it half a tone lower and changing the two introductory bars as the only original work by him , Annina's original song is no longer available in the Korngold version)
  • Suddenly I feel so peculiar ("Schwipslied", based on the Korngold version of 1931, a text underlay for the Annen Polka (op. 117), not original)
  • Oh, how wonderful to look at are all the lovely women, but if you want to trust someone, then, friend, you will rely on sand.
  • All masks where fun, where madness and lust reign!
  • So be happy, be blessed, Venezia, Pappacoda is here!

Musical re-use

Independent works by the composer were then created based on motifs from this operetta, which are marked in his catalog raisonné with the opus numbers 411 to 416. These are the following works:

Film adaptations

The work has been filmed several times:


Individual evidence

  1. a b c Christian Pollack : Get rich with Johann Strauss . In: Deutsche Johann Strauss Gesellschaft (Ed.): New Life - Mitteilungsblatt , Issue 26 (1999), pp. 23–24. ISSN 1438-065X 
  2. Kevin Clarke : "The Waltz Awakens - The Negroes Escape". Korngold's operettas (adaptations) from One Night in Venice 1923 to the Silent Serenade 1954. In: Arne Stollberg (Ed.): Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Wunderkind der Moderne or the last romantic? edition text + kritik, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-88377-954-6 , pp. 235–260 (can also be read on the Internet ).
  3. Ulrich Barth: The original is always better! - Experiences with “One night in Venice” . In: Deutsche Johann Strauss Gesellschaft (Ed.): Flugschriften , Issue 1/1975, pp. 21–24. (Appears today by the same publisher as New Life , ISSN  1438-065X ).
  4. Entry at , accessed on August 24, 2020.

Web links