Giuditta (operetta)

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Work data
Title: Giuditta
Shape: Musical comedy in five pictures
Original language: German
Music: Franz Lehár
Libretto : Paul Knepler and Fritz Löhner-Beda
Premiere: January 20, 1934
Place of premiere: Vienna State Opera
Place and time of the action: Southern Italy and Libya around 1930
  • Giuditta ( soprano )
  • Captain Octavio ( tenor )
  • Anita, a fisher girl ( soubrette )
  • Pierrino, a fruit dealer, Anita's lover ( Tenorbuffo )
  • Manuele Biffi, Giuditta's husband (Bassbuffo)
  • Lieutenant Antonio, Octavio's friend (bass)
  • Edward Lord Barrymore, one of Giuditta's admirers (speaking role)
  • The Duke of ***, another admirer of Giuditta (speaking role)
  • The Duke's Adjutant (speaking role)
  • Ibrahim, owner of the "Alcazar" establishment (speaking role)
  • Professor Martini (bass)
  • Lolitta, a dancer (speaking role)
  • The landlord Sebastiano (speaking role)
  • Two street singers (tenors)
  • A dancer
  • Two waiters
  • A fisherman
  • Doorman
  • Citizens, officers, soldiers, guests, dancers, musicians ( choir and extras)
Program sheet, first performance January 20, 1934
Performance of Giuditta at the Seefestspiele in Mörbisch 2003

Giuditta is an operetta in five pictures. It is the last operetta that Franz Lehár composed. He himself called his work a "musical comedy". The libretto was written by Paul Knepler and Fritz Löhner-Beda . It premiered on January 20, 1934 in the Vienna State Opera . Jarmila Novotná played the title role, Richard Tauber sang the male lead , and the composer was the conductor.


Two flutes, a piccolo, two oboes, an English horn, two clarinets, a bass clarinet, two bassoons, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, a bass tuba, a harp, a celesta, timpani and strings.


place and time

The operetta is set in southern Italy and in Libya , which was then occupied by Italy, in the 1930s.

First picture

Marketplace in a southern Italian port city

Giuditta is married to the much older Manuele and is bored in her marriage. She inherited her fiery temperament from her mother, who was once a celebrated dancer. She would like to break out of her marriage. It is therefore very convenient for her to be approached by the young officer Octavio. It's love at first sight for both of them. When Giuditta also hears that Octavio has been posted to North Africa, her mother's home country, she leaves her husband and takes Octavio on the next ship to Libya.

Second picture

Magnificent garden in Libya

Giuditta and Octavio enjoy life to the full in a villa by the sea. But the happy life is soon interrupted when Octavio receives the marching orders. Giuditta tries to blackmail him by threatening him that she will not wait for him if he leaves her now.

Third picture

Tent camp in North Africa

Octavio is lovesick. He toyed with the idea of ​​deserting in order to be able to stay with his beloved Giuditta. His friend Antonio speaks to his conscience and tries to comfort him. Ultimately, reason triumphs with Octavio. He takes the marching orders.

Fourth picture


Giuditta has found a job as a dancer in a night club in Tripoli. She leads a dissolute life and gives herself to countless male acquaintances. Now it is the big game hunter Lord Barrymore who can endure them with his wealth.

Octavio has now ended his military career and tracks down Giuditta in the establishment. However, his hope that he could win the beauty over again is doomed to failure.

Fifth picture

Bar in a European luxury hotel

In the last five years, Octavio's longing for Giuditta has completely cooled off. He now works as a bar pianist in a hotel and earns just enough to keep himself afloat. As luck would have it, fate steers Giuditta's path into this very bar. She is accompanied by a veritable Duke, her umpteenth lover. Suddenly her passion for Octavio flares up again, but he is a broken man and doesn't want to know anything more about her.

Style and reception

As with other later works by Lehár, Giuditta lacks the happy ending that is otherwise typical for the entertainment genre of operetta , because Lehár and his librettists attempted to interweave the operetta with elements of the great opera . The result is a hybrid that is actually no longer an operetta, but can also not be called an opera, even if the work was ennobled in this respect by the premiere location of the Vienna State Opera , where many great operas were first performed. Despite this stylistic ambivalence, Lehár also came up with an abundance of beautiful melodies, above all Octavio's song Friends, Life is Worth Living , the song of the title heroine Meine Lips, they kiss so hot , two indestructible catchy tunes, which are also repeatedly spoken by the greatest tenors or Sopranos are performed in concerts. The instrumentation is often reminiscent of Puccini . The song Friends, Life is Worth Living was used by Peer Raben in Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Berlin Alexanderplatz as a prelude and cynical commentary on Franz Biberkopf's living conditions.

The premiere was a great success. It was broadcast live by 120 radio stations. Among the guests at the premiere were many celebrities from politics, business, the nobility and other areas of society. Well-known musicians such as B. Emmerich Kálmán and his wife were present. The press echo was huge and the criticism was mostly good. However, there were also critical voices. Giuditta was nevertheless a great success internationally. It was also given in open air performances. According to stage statistics from 1935, the work was in second place behind Wagner's Fliegender Holländer , ahead of all other great operas and operettas. Over the years, the work's popularity declined significantly. Today the operetta is only played occasionally. However, some music numbers are always an integral part of concert programs.

Music numbers

The following music numbers of the operettas, which also correspond to the score, are taken from the booklet of the CD of the label CPO mentioned below:

No. 1 prelude (orchestra) & ensemble scene: O mia cara Donna Emilia (street singer, Pierrino, choir)

No. 2 We don't care (duet: Pierrino, Anita)

No. 3 Every day nothing but toil and hardship (duet: Manuele, host)

No. 4 friends life is worth living (song: Octavio, later choir and Antonio)

No. 5a In a sea of ​​love - most beautiful of women (song and duet: Giuditta, Octavio)

No. 5b O Signora, O Signorina (scene: Octavio, landlord, Manuele)

No. 6 Finale I My little bird - Far across the sea - Mr. Captain, the way is far - We don't care (all)

No. 7a Two who love each other forget the world (duet: Pierrino, Anita)

No. 7b Reminiscence: Most Beautiful of Women (Song: Octavio)

No. 8 As beautiful as the blue summer night (duet: Octavio, Giuditta)

No. 9a Finaletto (Finale II) Reminiscence: Two who love each other forget the world (Scene: Pierrino, Anita)

No. 9b Intermezzo (orchestra)

No. 10 Our home is the desert - How did Giuditta take the news - Leave these thoughts (Chorus, Antonio, Octavio)

No. 11 You are my sun (song: Octavio) (dedicated to Richard Tauber)

No. 12 Finale III Giuditta what are you doing here - You are my sun - Trumpet signal - Tempo di marcia - and that should be love - The curl falls on the forehead (Scene: Octavio, Giuditta, choir, Antonio)

No. 13a I would like to sink completely into a sea of ​​love (song: Giuditta, choir)

No. 13b Polonaise (orchestra)

No. 14 I'm not beautiful - yes love is like a rocking board (song and dance: martini)

No. 15 I longed so much for my homeland - if the moon looks late in the evening (duet: Anita, Pierrino)

No. 16a I don't know myself - My lips they kiss so hot (Song: Giuditta with choir)

No. 16b Giuditta ... you are the most beautiful woman (Barrymore, Giuditta)

No. 17a Finale IV Like about the sun ball - beautiful like the sun - my lips kiss them so hot (scene: Octavio, Martini, Barrymore, Giuditta, choir)

No. 17b Prelude to the 5th picture (orchestra)

No. 18a Most beautiful of women, began the song (song: Octavio)

No. 18b Dialogue & Reminiscence Our song - Who is playing?

No. 19 Scene: Octavio You? - I've seen you often (Giuditta, Octavio)

No. 20 Finale V Thank you beautiful Giuditta - most beautiful of women (Herzog, Giuditta, Octavio)

Sound carrier

Giuditta was recorded several times on record or CD. There are only two examples mentioned here:

  • In 1985 a record was released on the EMI label , which has also been available on CD since 2013. The Münchner Rundfunkorchester and the Münchner Konzertchor play and sing under the direction of Willi Boskovsky . The soloists included Edda Moser , Nicolai Gedda , Brigitte Lindner, Martin Finke and Ludwig Baumann .
  • In 2012 the label CPO released a CD recording of the operetta. The Munich Radio Orchestra played again under the direction of Ulf Schirmer . The Bavarian Radio Choir sang. The soloists included Christiane Libor , Laura Scherwitzl and Nikolai Schukoff .


  • Norbert Linke : Franz Lehár, rororo Verlag, p. 108ff
  • Reclam's operetta guide

Web links

Contemporary press reports