Tsar and carpenter

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Work data
Title: Tsar and carpenter
Original title: Czaar and Zimmermann
Peter the Great as a carpenter

Peter the Great as a carpenter

Shape: Comic opera in three acts
Original language: German
Music: Albert Lortzing
Libretto : Albert Lortzing
Literary source: Georg Christian Römer: The Mayor of Saardam, or The two Peter,
Mélesville , Eugène Cantiran de Boirie and Jean Toussaint Merle : Le bourgmestre de Sardam ou Les deux Pierre
Premiere: December 22, 1837
Place of premiere: City Theater Leipzig
Playing time: approx. 2 ½ hours
Place and time of the action: Saardam in Holland in 1698
  • Peter the First , Tsar of Russia, as a carpenter under the name Peter Michaelow ( baritone )
  • Peter Ivanov, a young Russian, journeyman carpenter ( tenorbuffo )
  • van Bett, Mayor of Saardam ( bass )
  • Marie, the mayor's pretty niece ( soprano )
  • General Lefort, Russian envoy (bass)
  • Lord Syndham, English envoy (bass)
  • Marquis of Chateauneuf, French envoy (tenor)
  • Widow Browe, carpenter ( old )
  • An officer (speaking role)
  • A council servant (speaking role)
  • A bridal couple (silent roles)
  • Carpenters, residents of Saardam, Dutch soldiers, magistrates, guards, officers, sailors ( choir , extras)
  • ballet

Zar und Zimmermann is a comic opera in three acts by Albert Lortzing , who not only composed the music, but was also his own librettist . With its musical numbers separated from one another by spoken dialogues, it is formally based on the French Opéra-comique . The world premiere took place on December 22nd, 1837 in the Leipzig City Theater . The historical model was the trip of Tsar Peter I, known as the Great Embassy .


In 1697, the Russian tsar Peter the Great traveled incognito to Zaandam (here, as in the play, called "Saardam") to take a look at the Dutch shipbuilding industry in particular . He rented a small house, but his pseudonymity was soon discovered and he had to move to Amsterdam . In 1703 he founded the city of Saint Petersburg . In 1717 he traveled again to the Netherlands and also visited Zaandam again.

first act

Tsar Peter I works as a journeyman carpenter at the shipyard in Saardam under the name Peter Michaelow, in order to familiarize himself with the techniques of shipbuilding. He befriends Peter Ivanov, a Russian deserter who is also a journeyman carpenter. The inflated and incompetent mayor van Bett learns that the tsar is supposed to be in his city. But Van Bett comes to the wrong view that Peter Ivanov is the tsar. The latter in turn became engaged to van Bett's niece Marie.

General Lefort, the Russian envoy, informs his monarch of unrest that has broken out in Russia. The situation is serious and requires his presence. The tsar then orders that preparations be made for his journey home. The situation of the tsar becomes complicated because the ambassadors of England and France , Lord Syndham and Marquis de Chateauneuf, respectively, are trying to identify him and win him over to their political goals. In contrast to Chateauneuf, who has recognized that Peter Michaelov is the tsar, Lord Syndham, like the mayor, thinks Peter Ivanov is the tsar.

Second act

The son of the shipyard owner Browe celebrates his wedding. Everything of rank and name is loaded. Peter Ivanov is urged by the English ambassador to enter into an alliance with his country; Understandably, however, he falls on deaf ears. Suddenly a Dutch officer and soldiers enter the inn. Because it has often happened that experienced shipyard workers were lured away by strangers, the government now wants to find out who is behind it. Van Bett interferes vigorously and one after the other accuses the foreign ambassadors, who are all present incognito, of dark machinations. However, these can prove their innocence. In the end, van Bett is convinced that Peter Michaelow, i.e. the tsar, is a potential poacher. The theater is enough for this. He pounces on the mayor, and a big tussle ensues.

Third act

In order to be able to receive the high ruler of Russia with dignity, van Bett rehearses a cantata of homage written by him and the cantor with some citizens of his city. His niece is deeply saddened that her beloved Peter should be the tsar because the wedding could not take place because of the difference in class. When she pours out her heart to the real tsar, he comforts her and announces a happy ending.

Events are precipitous: the government has closed the port and so Peter I cannot leave. His friend Ivanov comes to his aid. At yesterday's wedding feast he received a diplomatic passport from the English ambassador, which he is now giving to the Tsar. As a thank you for this, he receives a sealed letter from him, which he is only allowed to open in an hour.

Van Bett arrives with his choir to flatter the supposed tsar with words full of anointing, humility and morality. Peter Ivanov is relaxed about everything. Quite surprisingly, the news arrives that the Tsar is just about to leave the city on board a Russian ship. With a proud chest, Peter Ivanov reads out his friend's letter: "I hereby give my consent to the marriage of the Imperial Supervisor Peter Ivanov to the niece of the weak-headed mayor ..."



The orchestral line-up for the opera includes the following instruments:

Musical highlights

  • Appearance aria of the mayor: "O sancta Justitia" with the refrain "O, I am clever and wise, and I am not deceived"
  • Romance of the Marquis de Chateauneuf: "Farewell, my Flemish girl, against my will I have to go"
  • Rehearsal of the cantata with van Bett's solo "Hail be the day on which you came to us"
  • Song of the Tsar: "Once I played with a scepter, with a crown and a star"
  • Wooden shoe dance (ballet music)

Work history

The subject used by Lortzing had already been used ten years earlier for a cheerful opera, Il borgomastro di Saardam ( Melodramma giocoso in two acts with music by Gaetano Donizetti on a text book by Domenico Gilardoni ). Like Lortzing's libretto, the one for Donizetti's opera goes back to the French play Le bourgmestre de Saardam ou Les deux Pierre (1818).

At the premiere in the Stadttheater Leipzig sang:

role Pitch Premiere on December 22, 1837
Peter the Great baritone Karl Becker
Peter Ivanov tenor Albert Lortzing
Van bed bass Gotthelf Leberecht Berthold
Marie soprano Caroline Günther-Bachmann
Marquis de Chateauneuf tenor Joseph Wilhelm Swoboda
Widow browe Mezzo-soprano Caroline Günther-Bachmann
General Lefort bass Pogner
Lord Syndham bass Heinrich Richter

Film adaptations


  • Tsar and Zimmermann, or: The Two Peter. In: Georg Richard Kruse : Albert Lortzing (= Famous Musicians. Life and Character Pictures with an Introduction to the Works of the Masters. Volume VII). Harmonie, Berlin 1899 ( online in the Internet Archive ).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Jürgen Schläder : Tsar and carpenter. In: Piper's Encyclopedia of Musical Theater . Volume 3: Works. Henze - Massine. Piper, Munich / Zurich 1989, ISBN 3-492-02413-0 , pp. 558-562.