Paganini (operetta)

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Paganini is an operetta in three acts by Franz Lehár . It was written in 1925 with texts by Paul Knepler and Bela Jenbach . Lehár erected a monument to the violin virtuoso Niccolò Paganini . The premiere took place on October 30, 1925 in the Johann Strauss Theater in Vienna. The German premiere took place in January 1926 with Richard Tauber (Paganini) and Vera Schwarz (Anna Elisa) at the German Art Theater in Berlin. Franz Lehár's third and final creative phase began with this work. The previous operetta Clo-Clo , in favor of which he interrupted the composition of Paganini , was still dominated by the lively and happy operetta. Paganini is the first of several operettas by the composer, all of which have no happy endings and which were tailored to the tenor Richard Tauber.

The people

  • Maria Anna Elisa , Princess of Lucca and Piombino ( (mezzo) -soprano ), sister of Napoleon
  • Prince Felice Bacciocchi , her husband
  • Niccolò Paganini ( tenor )
  • Bartucci, his impresario
  • Count Hédouville, general in Napoleon's service
  • Marchese Giacomo Pimpinelli, Chamberlain of the Princess ( Buffo )
  • Countess de Laplace, lady-in-waiting
  • Bella Giretti, prima donna at the Princely Lucca Opera ( soubrette )
  • An innkeeper, Corallina, hostess, gentlemen and ladies of the court, dancers, country folk, soldiers, servants, smugglers, prostitutes

place and time

Principality of Lucca, early 19th century


Act 1: The action begins near the village of Capannori near Lucca, where Paganini is currently guesting on a concert tour. With his music and his virtuosity on the violin he makes a great impression on the residents of the village. At the same time, Princess Anna Elisa, a sister of the French Emperor Napoleon I, is on a hunting trip in the same area. She also happens to hear Paganini's violin playing. The young princess, who lives in an unhappy marriage and is betrayed by her husband, Prince Felice, longs for an adventure for her part. Paganini comes in handy. She gets to know him, but does not yet reveal herself. As it turns out, Paganini is not allowed to appear in Lucca because he is said to have killed a man in a duel. Paganini wants to leave indignantly and refuses to justify himself. Then the prince appears in person and confirms the ban on appearing. Now Anna Elisa campaigns for Paganini with her husband and has the ban lifted. The artist is enthusiastic and captivated by the charm of his patroness. At the same time, he learns who she really is. As a result, an affair develops between the two.

2nd act: ballroom in the castle of Lucca. Paganini has been the princess's lover for six months now. Of course, there is resistance to this relationship. The prince is not very enthusiastic about this affair. In addition, Paganini also approaches the prince's lover. So he already has two reasons to get rid of it. Paganini's impresario Bartucci is also against the artist staying in Lucca. He is of the opinion that Paganini should conquer the whole world with his music. For these reasons Anna Elisa is very concerned about the continuation of their relationship. Then a messenger arrives from Paris who brings her an order from her imperial brother, according to which Paganini is damaging the reputation of the imperial family and, with the termination of his relationship with his sister, has to leave the court of Lucca. The princess initially refuses to obey her brother's orders. But when she learns of the emerging connection between Paganin and Bella, the prince's mistress, she finally separates from him. An arrest planned out of jealousy prevented her at the last minute. Paganini now draws his own conclusions from the events and flees Lucca.

3rd act: In a smuggler's tavern on the border of the principality. Paganini wants to quickly leave the principality with the help of the smugglers and flee across the border to other countries. Before that happens, both Ella and the princess appear in the tavern. Paganini has now decided to renounce the world of women and only live his art. Anna Elisa, who in any case only came to say goodbye, finally released him.


The operetta was a great success, thanks to Lehár's music as well as the great tenor Richard Tauber. It was well suited for radio broadcasts, recordings and films and thus achieved a high level of awareness. Over the years and decades, the demand for the work has decreased. Even so, it is still performed occasionally to this day. Various musical numbers can often be heard at concerts even today.

Sound carrier

In 2009 a complete recording of the operetta was made: the Munich Radio Orchestra and the Bavarian Radio Choir played and sang. Ulf Schirmer was in charge of overall management . Soloists included Kristiane Kaiser, Eva Liebau and Zoran Todorovich. The CD was released in 2015 on the CPO label . An older recording from 1977 with the Bavarian Symphony Orchestra and the choir of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich under the overall direction of Willi Boskovsky was released on CD on the Cologne Collection label . Anneliese Rothenberger , Friedrich Lenz , Nicolai Gedda , Benno Kusche and Heinz Zednik participated in this recording .

Music numbers

The following music numbers are taken from the booklet of the above-mentioned recording from 1977, which also correspond to the composer's score:

  • No. 1 violin solo & orchestra
  • No. 2 My dear friend, I believe in etiquette (performance song by Anna Elisa with choir)
  • No. 3 Beautiful Italy (Song of Paganini)
  • No. 4 What I think, what I feel (Duet Anna Elisa - Paganini)
  • No. 5 Such a man is worth a sin (Song of Anna Elisa)
  • No. 6 With women on you and you (duet Pimpinelli - Bella)
  • No. 7 Finale I (All)
  • No. 8 Introduction: If there were no love (Bella, Paganini, Pimpinelli, choir)
  • No. 9 I was happy to kiss the women (Song of Paganini)
  • No. 10 Your sweet rose mouth (Duet Anna Elisa - Paganini)
  • No. 11 Once I want to do something foolish (Duet Bella - Pimpinelli)
  • No. 12 Nobody loves you like me (Duet Anna Elisa - Paganini)
  • No. 13 Love Heaven on Earth (Song of Anna Elisa)
  • No. 14 Final 2 (All)
  • No. 15 Neapolitan song and dance: At midnight all citizens lie snoring in their sleep (chorus)
  • No. 16 Schnapslied: When you waste your last money (Beppo - Choir)
  • No. 17 Melodrama & Reminiscence: Yes, I love my violin forever (Paganini)
  • No. 18 We go to the theater (dance duet Bella - Pimpinelli)
  • No. 19 I don't know where my cradle was - Who wants to be my darling today (song and tarantella by Anna Elisa)
  • No. 20 Finale III (Finaletto) You fled - You must not belong to any woman (Anna Elisa - Paganini - Bartucci)


The last creative phase of the composer begins with Paganini . The following works, Der Zarewitsch , Friederike , The Land of Smiles and Giuditta mark a departure from the earlier form of the dance operetta . These works, beginning with Paganini, are more dramatic in both music and text. The actions remain without a happy end and the music reaches another dimension and approaches the opera. This was also in line with Lehár's intention, who once began his career as a stage composer with two (unsuccessful) operas and who initially found it difficult to come to terms with his existence as an operetta composer. Only the success of the Merry Widow reconciled him with this genre. With Giuditta he finally achieved a world premiere in an opera house. The way there began with Paganini . The collaboration between Lehár and the celebrated opera tenor Richard Tauber is also worth mentioning. In the operettas of his last creative phase, as I said since Paganini , the composer consciously wrote songs that suited the tenor and that significantly increased the popularity of both.

Film adaptations

The operetta was filmed in 1934 by EW Emo under the title Gern'm I kissed the women . Eugen York filmed Paganini in 1973 for ZDF . Actors were Antonio Theba (Paganini), Teresa Stratas (Princess Anna Elisa), Johannes Heesters (Prince Felice Bacciocchi), Dagmar Koller (Bella Giretti), Peter Kraus (Pimpinelli), Fritz Tillmann (Conte Carcasona), Wolfgang Lukschy (Count Hedouville) .


  • Norbert Linke : Franz Lehár. Rororo-Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 2001, p. 81ff
  • Reclam's opera and operetta guide, 15th ed. 1978, operetta section, pages 152–155

Web link

Individual evidence

  1. On the origin cf. the memories of the publishing director of Ed. Strache-Verlag, Victor Wögerer (born April 6, 1868 in Vienna). Victor Wögerer: How Lehar came to »Paganini« . In: Neues Wiener Journal, November 5, 1925, pp. 5-6. on-line
  2. Gladly have I kissed the Frau'n (1934) in the Internet Movie Database (English)
  3. Paganini (1973) in the Internet Movie Database (English)