About this Recording
8.660280-81 - STRAUSS II, J.: Gottin der Vernunft (Die) (Groiss, Ma-Zach, Kumpfmuller, Equiluz, Cortes, Fodinger, Slovak Sinfonietta, Zilina, Pollack)
English  German 

Johann Strauss II (1825–1899)
Die Göttin der Vernunft

 

Operetta in Three Acts
Libretto by A.M. Willner and Bernhard Buchbinder

Comtesse Mathilde de Nevers, a beautiful young woman - Veronika Groiss, Soprano
Colonel Furieux, about 40 years old - Manfred Equiluz, Tenor
Captain Robert, about 30 years old - Kirlianit Cortez, Tenor
Bonhomme, local landowner, about 60 years old - Franz Födinger, Tenor
Ernestine, folk singer - Isabella Ma-Zach, Soprano
Jacquelin, caricaturist, 26 years old - Wolfgang Veith, Tenor
Susette, the Comtesse’s chamber maid - Eva-Maria Kumpfmüller, Soprano
Sergeant Pandore - Andreas Mittermeier, Baritone
Jacobins:
Chalais - Wolfgang Veith, Tenor
Balais - Nicolas Legoux, Baritone
Calais - Andreas Mittermeier, Baritone
Soldiers and officers, local men and women, girls at the Sisters of Chastity boarding school - Students from the Vienna Private University Conservatory

 

An Historical Note

On 3 and 4 December 2009, the first performances for 111 years of Johann Strauss II’s final operetta, Die Göttin der Vernunft (The Goddess of Reason), took place at the Fatra Palace of Arts in Žilina, Slovakia. For lovers of operetta, it is probably no overstatement to hail this work as the operetta discovery of the 21st century. Unequivocally, on the strength of the concert performances in Žilina, and now this Naxos recording of that same cast, henceforth it will be de rigueur for writers on Johann Strauss’s stage works to reassess their views of the composer’s canon of theatre compositions. Beyond any question, Die Göttin der Vernunft ranks alongside the very best of Strauss’s operettas, whilst revealing some notable artistic development over its more immediate predecessors. But what makes this final, brilliant flowering of Strauss’s operetta career so extraordinary is the ill-starred circumstances of its composition.

In its edition of 11 July 1896 the Vienna Illustrirtes Wiener Extrablatt newspaper advised its readers that “Johann Strauss is at present staying in Ischl for the summer […] and while there has started composing a new three-act operetta. The libretto for it is being written by A.M. Willner and Bernhard Buchbinder. Maestro Strauss, who has set about the work with great creative enthusiasm, intends to complete it for the autumn of 1897.” In the event, “the great creative enthusiasm” Strauss experienced with the project was short-lived, for a series of disagreements soon arose between him and his librettists. The operetta, Die Göttin der Vernunft, took its title from actual events during Robespierre’s Reign of Terror at the time of the French Revolution (1789–99), when over one million people died. The French politician, Pierre Chaumelle (1763–94), was a defining figure in the introduction of the anti-Christian atheistic creed, the Cult of Reason, which promoted the attainment of truth and liberty through the exercise of human reasoning. On 10 November 1793, Chaumelle organised a reportedly lurid and licentious inaugural ceremony, the Festival of Reason, centrepiece of which was the Goddess of Reason, represented by an actress “in the costume of Eve”, who was led into Notre-Dame Cathedral in triumphal procession. Although Johann had received the texts for the first three numbers of the operetta on, or about, 12 July 1896, Willner and Buchbinder did not submit their completed scenario to the composer until the beginning of the following month. Now able to read the entire plot for the first time, Strauss was seemingly reluctant to use this atheistic theme in Catholic Austria, especially in a tale that sought to juxtapose Offenbach-style burlesque with the anti-clerical and cruel days of the French Revolution. He immediately attempted to release himself from his agreement with the two librettists. Willner, a lawyer, left Strauss in no doubt that his failure to compose the operetta would be in breach of contract and vigorously pursued through the courts. With heavy heart, a disenchanted and ill-tempered Strauss saw the project through from start to completion in a mere eight months. Despite Willner’s encouraging comment (“On the day after the première, you will see how wrong you have been.”), Strauss’s almost dismissive handwritten note to his publisher at the end of the manuscript of the sublime Act 2 (No. 9) waltz duet (“Dear Mr Berté, finished at last! Should the duet fail, half of it would have sufficed”) indicates Strauss’s doubts as to the operetta’s chances of success. Apparently suffering from “harmless bronchial catarrh”, Strauss even stayed away from the operetta’s première before a capacity audience at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien on 13 March 1897. The theatre orchestra was instead conducted by Adolf Müller junior and Strauss was kept informed of each act’s reception by telephone.

Although a few critics railed against the libretto’s questionable subject matter—“can one disguise a blood-red guillotine with flowers?”, asked the Neue Freie Presse—today the tale, which pokes fun at religion, the aristocracy, morality and the army, seems quite innocent: even the three Jacobins are portrayed as harmless clowns, a parody of the bloodthirsty representatives of this Reign of Terror. Moreover, compared with the dire libretti of some earlier Strauss stage works, that of Die Göttin der Vernunft is surprisingly good and much of its humour has stood the test of time. Predictably, the censor made numerous cuts to the original libretto and prescribed just how ‘revealing’ could be the “barefoot up to the neck” costume worn by the Goddess of Reason, a rôle created by the delightful Julie Kopácsy-Karczag.

The first night reviews, for the most part complimentary, nonetheless spanned the compass of opinion from the exceedingly enthusiastic to the downright disparaging. With such utterly captivating vocal waltzes as “Schöne, wilde Jugendzeit” (CD 1/[11]) and “O Nachtigall, es ist die Liebe!” (CD 1/[10]), it is incomprehensible to us today how the critic of the Wiener Rundschau could declare that “the hits in waltz form, keenly awaited by the audience at the première, did not appear”, or that the reviewer for Vienna’s Deutsche Zeitung felt moved to observe: “Inventiveness and power of execution have both deserted the aged composer; what is left only succeeds in a few places in rising above banality.” In contrast, the journalist for the Deutsches Volksblatt was unequivocal in his praise for Die Göttin der Vernunft, trenchantly proclaiming that it “showed great freshness of spirit, an inexhaustible inventiveness and the richness of melody which, even today, are still characteristic of Maestro Strauss in spite of his 72 years. […] Here Strauss is apparently making an effort—more than in his most recent works (‘Waldmeister’ and several others)—to deliver operetta into the arms of comic opera, and there are many features in it which point directly to the Father of German comic opera, the immortal Mozart. […] The score is carefully worked, which was not always the case in earlier works by this composer; many instrumental and harmonic subtleties, beautifully crafted ensemble passages and highly effective finales show that Strauss has taken the business seriously with the purpose of producing more than mere shallow operetta music. […] The ‘Goddess of Reason’ ought to reign over the repertoire of the Theater an der Wien for a long time.” In fact, the operetta survived a total of 36 performances at the theatre that year, before disappearing from the repertoire.

If Der Carneval in Rom (1873) is Strauss’s “polka opera” (as he himself dubbed it), then Die Göttin der Vernunft is assuredly his ‘march opera’. There are certainly mature and heart-touchingly beautiful waltz songs that stir the emotions and set the body swaying, but the true motive force behind Die Göttin der Vernunft is the march—and what marches! “Im Kriege ist das Leben voll Reiz und wunderschön” (CD 1/[4]), “Der Schöpfung Meisterstück ist der Husar” (CD 1/[4]) and “Wo uns’re Fahne weht” (CD 1/[13]) are amongst the most exuberant and stirring Strauss melodies in march tempo, whilst the jaunty Act 3 march-quartet “Vorwärts, greifet zu” (CD 2/[5]) is a number that lodges itself with maddening immediacy in the brain. Ernestine’s Act 2 (No. 13) Carmagnole, “Gavott’, Musett’ und die Bourée” (CD 1/[15]), too, is a highly infectious march, which the Hamburgischer Correspondent felt “recalls the most stylish period of the Maestro’s youth”.

The fortuitous series of events that allows us to enjoy Die Göttin der Vernunft today is a story of endeavour. Professor Christian Pollack located the manuscript full score and parts of Die Göttin der Vernunft in the Theater an der Wien archives, now housed in a basement room at the Austrian National Library. They were in a very poor condition and completely unplayable in that form. Thereupon began six months of intensive work, as Christian Pollack sorted and sifted the handwritten material, removing pages inserted from the later Reiche Mädchen (1909) revision by Ferdinand Stollberg, and transcribing the music from all 2,000 images he had photographed. Professor Pollack calculates that fully one-third of the huge amount of music Strauss composed for Die Göttin der Vernunft was discarded before the opening night, with more numbers being cut immediately afterwards. (After the dress rehearsal, the critic and composer Richard Heuberger implored conductor Adolf Müller junior: “Cut, cut, cut! The 1st act is too long by a good 20–25 minutes, the 2nd by at least a quarter of an hour.”) Besides furnishing the overture for the operetta’s 25th performance on 6 April 1897 (only after which the operetta’s piano/vocal score was published by Emil Berté & Cie), Strauss additionally provided the march-quartet “Vorwärts, greifet zu” (CD 2/[5]) and equipped Colonel Furieux with an Act 2 waltz aria, “Schöne, gold’ne Lieutenantszeit”—later transferred to Bonhomme with the lyrics changed to “Schöne, wilde Jugendzeit” (CD 1/[11]). For this present Naxos recording, Christian Pollack has reconstructed the score as it would have been heard on the opening night, with the additional items Strauss composed for the 25th performance. In an age when, regrettably, we have become used to new ‘musicals’ containing, at best, two or three memorable numbers, we can only continue to marvel at Strauss’s remarkable musical invention—even when his heart was not in it.

© 2011 Peter Kemp, The Johann Strauss Society of Great Britain
Peter Kemp wishes to thank Professor Christian Pollack, Tomas Jelinowicz and Peter Eustace for their valuable assistance with the above historical note.

 

Synopsis, based on the original libretto, edited by Professor Christian Pollack

The operetta takes place in the French town of Chalons near the border with Germany at the time of the French Revolution, during Robespierre’s Reign of Terror in 1794.

CD 1

[1] Overture

Act I

Army headquarters

[2] No. 1 Introduction: Women’s Chorus
Bitte sehr, Herr Offizier (Please, Sir)

Local girls and women are trying to get work with the army as camp followers. They offer to do everything required by the rules, and even beyond the bounds of duty. Sergeant Pandore is insulting them, as he writes down their names. The choice, according to army tradition, will be made by the captain.

Colonel Furieux enters. He is an arrogant officer with no sense of humour, who wants to order everybody about and is always angry.

[3] No. 2 Entrance Song: Furieux
Soeben hab ich inspiziert die Mannschaft (I have just inspected the men)

Colonel Furieux has just inspected his troops and did not find anything out of order, not a single button missing, no speck of rust, and no incident reported. This makes him angry and he is about to explode. He brags about his successes with women, which cannot be ascribed to the uniform alone. Molten lava is his blood and he is as gentle as sizzling coal.

Jacquelin, a caricature artist on the run for his political caricatures, has been living in Paris with the folk-singer Ernestine, and together they are planning to escape from France. The bored officers are looking forward to meeting Ernestine. Jacquelin is trying to obtain passports for her and for himself, but Furieux refuses until he meets Ernestine. He is losing patience with Ernestine’s delayed arrival, and threatens to execute Jacquelin tomorrow if she does not arrive today. Jacquelin explains that Ernestine has been temporarily engaged by a theatre director in Paris as the ‘Goddess of Reason’.

[4] No. 3: Chorus of Women and Officers
Kommt her, kommt her! Frohe Klänge Militär! (Come here, come here, joyous military sound!)

The women sing: ‘Come out, everybody, the army is here! Throw away your books; you will learn world history here! Young heroes are here’. Officers: ‘Where we go, where we stay, beautiful girls look at us …what is better than to stand here as heroes…the enemy is blonde, the enemy is brunette, the whole company falls on its knees, struck by Cupid’s arrow’.

No. 3a Entrance Song: Captain Robert
Den Säbel an der Seite, das Herz am rechten Fleck (His sabre at his side, his heart in the right place)

‘With his sabre at his side, his heart in the right place, luck as a companion, and faster than lightning in love, …he laughs at danger and never breaks his promise, because he never promises anything—such is the Hussar. The masterpiece of creation is the Hussar’.

[5] No. 4 Entrance Song: Bonhomme
In meinem Schloss behaglich saß ich (I was sitting cosily in my castle)

‘I was sitting cosily in my castle, crouched like a hare in a cabbage field. I did not write letters, did not read newspapers, had no opinion for or against. The doctor has ordered me not to strain my brain.’

Bonhomme’s motto is not to get involved in politics, but an upsetting thing has just happened to him. In Paris he came across a cheering drunken crowd surrounding a carriage on which stood the singer Ernestine, ‘barefoot up to the neck’ as the Goddess of Reason. One drunk cried: ‘Whoever is a true patriot will marry Ernestine!’ People asked Bonhomme who he was; he cried: ‘A true patriot!’ and the crowd promptly mock-married him to Ernestine. Bonhomme managed to run away from her; now he hopes she will not find him.

Three Jacobins, the revolutionary secret police, are looking for Jacquelin.

[6] No. 5 Terzettino: The Jacobins Chalais, Balais and Calais
Wir sind die Jakobiner! (We are the Jacobins!)

‘We are the three Jacobins; should someone upset us, he must run away. If somebody looks suspicious to us, we spare neither friend nor foe. We have not found any traitor yet, but we trust no one. In these awful circumstances we play three-handed card games to cheer ourselves up. We are Jacobins, loyal servants of true freedom, that is, what is now called freedom’.

The Jacobins leave, the Countess and her maid Susette arrive. Sergeant Pandore wants to see their passports, which they do not have. People are crying: ‘She’s an aristocrat!’ Bonhomme recognizes the Countess as the daughter of his former employer. Jacquelin is disappointed; he was hoping for Ernestine, otherwise he will be executed the next day. The Countess tells Bonhomme that she must get over the border. Bonhomme comes to her aid by declaring her to be the expected prima donna, Ernestine.

Colonel Furieux enters and announces that a Countess will arrive in Chalons and must be apprehended. Jacquelin introduces the Countess to him as his Ernestine. Furieux is suspicious: the Countess looks too intelligent and proper for a Goddess of Reason. Bonhomme asks her to sing a vulgar revolutionary street song to prove that she is a good republican.

[7] No. 6 Entrance Song: The Countess
Ein Lied? Ein Lied? (A song? A song?)

The Countess starts singing nervously about her studies in a boarding school, where they sang church songs in Latin to an organ accompaniment. Susette and Bonhomme urge her to sing something more convincing. She then sings of Bibi, her dog: everybody in Paris knows him and he is so popular that all turn their heads when they see him. But Bibi is faithful only to her.

The officers are laughing; they would gladly change places with Bibi. Furieux is pleased but still suspicious. Jacquelin explains Robespierre’s use of the Goddess of Reason.

[8] No. 7 Explanation: Jacquelin
Robespierre, der lose Schäcker durch Vernunft regiert allein (Robespierre, the scoundrel, governs solely by Reason)

‘Robespierre’s practical application of Reason for the people is to display a folk-singer, a cancan virtuoso, as the Goddess of Reason. Enthusiastic crowds drawing her carriage, her costume is not too long and not too wide, it stays in fashion at all times, it has no buttons and no wrinkles, only the Greek Graces give it the right cut’.

Everybody is applauding; Furieux invites the Countess to a dinner with the officers.

[9] No. 8 Finale I: Everybody
O glaube uns, charmantes Kind (Believe us, charming child)

The officers are ready to make sacrifices to her if the Countess reveals herself to them in the Goddess’s see-through dress, but she is shy. Susette, Bonhomme, and Jacquelin warn her not to be shy; there is terrible danger in being discovered. The Countess declares that she herself will choose her cavalier. Every officer is sure it will be him, and all, except for Captain Robert, stand up in a line—but she chooses the Captain. Furieux is livid and orders Robert to leave immediately to keep watch outside the whole night.

The real Ernestine arrives. Jacquelin rejoices, but Ernestine ignores him.

No. 8a Entrance Song: Ernestine
Als Direktrice ward ich ernannt soeben vom Konvent (I have just been appointed headmistress by the Convention)

‘The Convention has appointed me headmistress. I have a brand new education plan. No books, no maps, no libraries, only practical things. I will bring you quickly to the objective: a woman must understand her man and wrap him around her little finger’.

She shows a letter which empowers her to name a delegate of the Convention from Chalons, and names Bonhomme as the delegate. When she hears that the Countess is misrepresenting herself as the Goddess of Reason, she accuses her of fraud. Bonhomme saves the Countess by confirming, as the delegate of the Convention, that she is the Goddess.

Act II

The garden outside the Sisters of Chastity boarding school

Captain Robert sees the sleeping Countess among the rose bushes and kisses her.

[10] No. 9. Duet: Captain Robert and the Countess
Wo bin ich? Ach, ist es ein Traum? (Where am I? Oh, is it a dream?)

The Countess asks where she is; she feels like the Sleeping Beauty. Robert asks for another kiss, but she refuses. They sing about a nightingale’s song of love and happiness.

Bonhomme has not slept all night and is worried about getting involved in politics; he has to marry Ernestine, and worries about the beautiful Countess. He was happy all alone in his castle.

[11] No. 9a Solo Waltz: Bonhomme
Schöne wilde Jugendzeit (Beautiful wild time of youth)

Bonhomme remembers his beautiful wild youth, full of happiness and girls; every girl had a place in his heart. The happiness of youth will never return.

Ernestine comes out and sees Bonhomme with the Countess. She gets upset and the two women have an argument.

[12] No. 10 Argument: Ernestine and the Countess
Sie sind in meinem Garten (You are in my garden)

They accuse each other of immorality. Ernestine asks the Countess what she is doing in the garden of the Sisters of Chastity, which is only for chaste women, while the Countess questions the source of Ernestine’s popularity. They almost get into a fight, but each concludes that the other one is not worth it.

Furieux comes looking for the Goddess, sees the Countess and makes amorous advances towards her. Robert appears and goes to her aid. The two officers get into a dispute. Furieux orders the Captain to leave Chalons immediately with his squadron, but the Goddess must stay. Robert despairs that she is lost to him. Women enter asking again to be hired as camp-followers. According to tradition, the Captain must decide. Robert decides: he chooses the Countess. Furieux is once again furious, but has to accept the old military custom. The Countess swears allegiance to the army.

[13] No. 11 Allegiance: The Countess, Robert, All
Bitte sehr, Herr Offizier (Please, Sir)

They sing about service in the army in good and bad times; where the flag flies, they will go and fight.

In distress, Jacquelin takes out his sketchbook and Furieux sees his name on it, the wanted caricaturist on the run. Afraid and to save his life, Jacquelin admits that the Countess is not his folk-singer. Furieux realises that she is the aristocrat he has been ordered to arrest.

Jacquelin is alone with Ernestine. He is ashamed of what he has done. He asks her if she still likes him and remembers the times when they were happy together.

[14] No. 12 Duet: Jacquelin and Ernestine
Als ich noch war Grisette (When I was still a grisette)

They reminisce about the days when they lived together in the Latin Quarter of Paris, were poor but happy and celebrating every day.

[15] No. 13 Finale II: All
Nun denn—ich bin’s—ich leugne nicht! (Well then—I am so—I do not deny it!)

Furieux accuses the Countess of being an aristocrat. Robert stands by her. Furieux denounces him as a traitor, for Robert is really a marquis, and wants to arrest them. Ernestine jabs Bonhomme in the ribs to make him do something. Bonhomme gets into a mock rage and, as a delegate of the Convention, declares that he is arresting the two and is taking them away to his castle to ensure the severest punishment. Furieux knows that this is a trick to save them and protests. Bonhomme threatens to arrest Furieux. People declare that they are the Supreme Court and will decide. Ernestine saves the moment by jumping on a table crying, ‘I am the Goddess of Reason’; she raises her dress to show a see-through gown, and declares she will sing the revolutionary song La Carmagnole. She sings of ‘the latest fashions in music, dancing and clothes. It is a great period of history, but a crazy one. If you do not keep up with fashion by dancing the Carmagnole, you risk losing your head.’

CD 2

[1] No. 14 Entr’acte

Act III

In Bonhomme’s castle near Chalons

[2] No. 15 Introduction and Solo Waltz: The Countess
Hoch, dreimal hoch des Hauses Herr! (Cheers, three cheers to the man of the house!)

‘Today is today, abandon your worries, nobody knows what tomorrow will bring, therefore drink, and do not ask about anything; it is not prudent. Live and love, that is enough’.

Bonhomme complains that the aristocrats ate all his food and the whole day were drinking his own wine to his health. He never realised there were so many aristocrats in France. Ernestine runs in, her dress is torn.

[3] No. 16 Song: Ernestine
Über Felder, über Hecken, en carrière halbtotd gehetzt (Over fields, over hedges, chased at a gallop until half-dead)

Ernestine came to Chalons to inspire people to greater happiness and excitement. She put on the Goddess’s costume and stood up in it at the market. All the men were excited, only the women were angry. It all ended in shame, but she cries to the end: ‘Vive la patrie!’ The girls from the boarding school led the whole garrison astray, and one day she did not find a single girl in the school. The youngest one is dancing the Carmagnole across the whole country. Disaster! Her mother and father are suing. But she still cries: ‘Vive la patrie!’

Furieux enters, looking for aristocrats, and meets Susette. Furieux declares that every married couple should keep a book where, throughout their lives together, they would write their mutual complaints.

[4] No. 17 Duet: Susette and Furieux
Sind jung die Gatten noch an Jahren (When the married couple is still young)

Early in marriage there is nothing much to write, as most transgressions are indiscreet. Later on he writes: ‘I am glad you are by my side, but you snore like a rat’. She writes: ‘You too’. After having four children, the husband writes: ‘Let’s have a pause’. She: ‘One more time’. Towards the end of their lives she asks: ‘If you had a second chance, who would you choose?’ He writes: ‘You, again you’.

Ernestine gives the passports, which Jacquelin has obtained for her and himself, to Robert and the Countess, who says to Robert: ‘And now forward across the border. Let’s go for it!’

[5] No. 18 Quartet: The Countess, Ernestine, Bonhomme, Robert
Vorwärts, greifet zu, nur immer frisch gewagt! (Forwards, grasp the opportunity, just seize the day!)

‘Forwards with courage, let luck not run away; when it knocks on the door, seize it right away. When love steals in like a thief, let it straight into the heart’.

Robert marries the Countess, Ernestine marries Jacquelin, and Susette marries Bonhomme. The Countess remarks that everything has ended up well. Ernestine gives the credit to the God of Love, but Captain Robert has the last word: ‘Oh no, it is the luck of the Hussar!’

[6] No. 19 Closing music (Finale III): All
Der Schöpfung Meisterstück ist der Husar (The masterpiece of creation is the Hussar)

All sing in praise of the Hussars.

© 2011 Tomas Jelinowicz, with kind help from Peter Kemp and Peter Eustace
Note: We would like to thank The Johann Strauss Society of Great Britain (www.johann-strauss.org.uk) for their encouragement and financial support for this recording.

 

Arrangements from the Operetta Die Göttin der Vernunft

Up until 1897, it had been Johann Strauss II’s customary practice to arrange dances and marches from the abundant melodies in his stage works. By so doing, he had been able to maintain a presence in the world’s ballrooms and concert venues after turning his attention full time to the composition of operetta. However, Die Göttin der Vernunft (1897) marked a departure from this routine. So disillusioned had Strauss been with having to compose this operetta’s score under threat of legal action (see the accompanying Historical Note), that it has yet to be determined whether, on this occasion, he himself troubled to arrange all the customary separate pieces from themes in the operetta. Indeed, five of the six works were announced by the publisher, Emil Berté & Cie, only in editions for piano. The one exception was the march Wo uns’re Fahne weht! Op. 473, which was also issued in an arrangement for full orchestra. Significantly, three of the dances advertised by the publisher—Da nicken die Giebel. Polka-Mazurka; Frisch gewagt. Galopp and Die Göttin der Vernunft. Quadrille—never appeared in print. (These works are shown below with their allocated opus numbers in parentheses.) It was generally presumed that if Johann had actually made these arrangements himself, they had probably perished at the hands of Eduard Strauss when he burned the Strauss Orchestra’s musical archive in 1907. In 1994, however, the manuscript piano scores of the missing three dance pieces were discovered by Professor Christian Pollack in private hands in Switzerland. While their exact provenance remains unknown, it is evident they somehow came into the possession of the Austrian conductor Felix Weingartner (1863–1942), who gifted them to the present owner. Each bears a pencilled opus number (474, 475 and 476 respectively) and is signed at the end “RR”—the initials of the arranger and conductor Rudolf Raimann (1861–1913), who was earlier commissioned by Emil Berté & Cie to prepare the piano reduction of the complete operetta Die Göttin der Vernunft for publication. Still more revealing are manuscript additions in Raimann’s hand at the conclusion of the Da nicken die Giebel score, reading (in translation): “Vienna, 14 March 1898. Correct transcription and execution of the draft by A. Müller jun.”. Although this statement appears only on the first of the three scores, the clear inference is that the actual selection and ordering of melodies for all three pieces was the work of Adolf Müller junior (1839–1901), who had conducted the première of Die Göttin der Vernunft.

Note: the musical analysis below, including the numbering of the vocal items, follows the score reconstruction by Professor Christian Pollack used for this Naxos operetta recording.

[7] Heut’ ist heut’. Walzer (Today is today. Waltz), Op. 471 (orch. L. Babinski)
Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra • Johannes Wildner
Recorded at the House of Arts, Košice, Slovakia, in April and May 1991

At the Strauss Orchestra’s last concert of the 1896/97 season in the Vienna Musikverein on Sunday 28 March 1897, the composer’s brother, Eduard, conducted the first performance of this new waltz, shown in the printed programme as “Heut’ ist heut’, Walzer from Joh. Strauss’s operetta ‘Die Göttin der Vernunft’. (Orchestral arrangement by Eduard Strauss.)” Two months later, on 29 May 1897, Eduard conducted the orchestra in the British première of the waltz at his evening concert at London’s Imperial Institute, where the programme again read: “Arranged for Orchestra by Eduard Strauss.” Regrettably it seems that Eduard probably destroyed this arrangement when he consigned the archive of the Strauss Orchestra to the flames of a furnace in October 1907, and Professor Ludwig Babinski has therefore orchestrated the version on this present recording from the printed piano edition. The first piano edition of the waltz bears Johann’s “most amicable” dedication to the portrait painter, Leopold Horowitz (1838–1917), whose magnificent pastel drawing of the composer had been completed in 1896. The waltz’s principal melody (theme 1A) is taken from Bonhomme’s Act 2 (No. 9a) solo waltz “Schöne, wilde Jugendzeit”.

[8] Nur nicht mucken! Polka française (Just don’t moan! French polka), Op. 472 (arr. E. Peak)
Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra • Christian Pollack
Recorded at the House of Arts, Košice, Slovakia, in November 1992

The title of this polka derives from the text of the Act 1 (No. 4) entrance song of the landowner, Bonhomme: “Nur sich ducken und nicht zucken, / wenn ein scharfes Lüfterl weht, / lieber schlucken und nicht mucken, / bis es glatt vorüber geht.” (‘Just take cover and don’t twitch if a sharp little breeze blows, rather swallow and don’t moan until it has passed by.’). This number also provides opus 472 with the whole of its principal melody (themes 1A and 1B). As early as 14 March 1897—the day after the première of Die Göttin der Vernunft—Eduard Strauss complained to his brother Johann that he (Johann) had left it too late to make the dance arrangements from the new operetta: “in 2–3 weeks all the [concert] halls will close. And by the time May comes round, the public will have forgotten it”. The French polka Nur nicht mucken! was, as a result, published only in piano edition. During the summer of 1897, however, the work appeared on the programmes of several military bands in and around Vienna, in arrangements made by their respective bandmasters. This Marco Polo/Naxos recording features the arrangement made especially for The Johann Strauss Society of Great Britain in 1992 by the English conductor and arranger, Edward Peak. The first performance of this arrangement took place on 31 July 1992 at Goldsmith’s College, London, with the Viennese Orchestra of London under Jack Rothstein.

[9] Wo uns’re Fahne weht! Marsch (Where our banner flies! March), Op. 473
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra • Michael Dittrich
Recorded at the Concert Hall of Slovak Radio, Bratislava, Slovakia, in December 1993

In its lengthy first-night review of Die Göttin der Vernunft, the Fremden-Blatt newspaper particularly praised Captain Robert’s Act 1 entrance song (No. 3a) at the head of his troops: “Der Schöpfung Meisterstück ist der Husar” (‘The masterpiece of creation is the Hussar’). Upon the appearance of Captain Robert (played by Karl Streitmann) the Fremden-Blatt critic observed: “It goes without saying that he does not miss the opportunity to sing a lively soldiers’ song. The next day it will be sung throughout Vienna in imitation of him, for a march tune (in F major) of such stirring, popular drive, of such crisp verve, has not been heard from the operetta stage for a long time”. In due course this melody took its place alongside two other themes from Die Göttin der Vernunft when, with a youthful vigour which belied his 71 years, Johann Strauss raided the score of his operetta to create one of his most exuberant and glorious marches—Wo uns’re Fahne weht! The brisk and snappy work does not appear in any programme by the Strauss Orchestra, but it swiftly entered the repertoire of Vienna’s numerous military bands. As such it was left to the band of Infantry Regiment No. 84 (the 2nd Vienna ‘House Regiment’), under Bandmaster Johann Müller, to give the first performance of Wo uns’re Fahne weht! on 5 May 1897 at the restaurant ‘Zum wilden Mann’ in the Prater, during a concert of Richard Wagner’s music!

[10] Da nicken die Giebel. Polka-Mazurka (The nodding gables. Polka-mazurka), (Op. 474) (arr. C. Pollack)
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra • Christian Pollack
Recorded at the Concert Hall of Slovak Radio, Bratislava, Slovakia, on 8 December, 1994

The polka-mazurka Da nicken die Giebel takes its title from the text of the Act 2 (No. 12) duet sung by the folk singer Ernestine and the caricature-artist Jacquelin: “Da nickten die Giebel, / die Dächer so traut, / es grüssten die Thürme mit uraltem Haupt.” (‘The gables nodded, the so familiar roofs, the towers greeted us with their ancient heads’). The melody accompanying these lyrics appears as the first theme (2A) of the polka’s trio section. Emil Berté & Cie never published the polkamazurka Da nicken die Giebel and this present recording has been arranged from Rudolf Raimann’s piano score (see above) by Christian Pollack, who referred extensively to the instrumentation of the incomplete manuscript full score of the operetta Die Göttin der Vernunft. The polka’s trio section, for example, is a note for note instrumental transcription from the operetta’s full score, except that theme 2B has been transposed and rhythmically altered. The first performance of this polka-mazurka, in Christian Pollack’s orchestration, took place on 8 December 1994 in the Concert Hall of Slovak Radio in Bratislava.

[11] Frisch gewagt. Galopp (Seize the day. Galop), (Op. 475) (arr. C. Pollack)
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra • Christian Pollack
Recorded at the Concert Hall of Slovak Radio, Bratislava, Slovakia, on 8 December, 1994

The title of the exuberant galop Frisch gewagt derives from the challenge by the landowner Bonhomme to the Countess Mathilde Nevers in the Finale of Act 1 (No. 8) that she should escape courageously from danger: “Courage, / nehmen Sie doch an. / Nur frisch gewagt.” (‘Take courage. Just seize the day.’). The sources of the thematic material used for the Frisch gewagt. Galopp are taken from Ernestine’s breathless Act 3 (No. 16) aria “Über Felder, / über Hecken, / en carrière halbtodt gehetzt, / denn ich wurde, / welcher Schrecken, / ach, als Göttin abgesetzt.” (‘Over fields, over hedges, chased at a gallop until half-dead, for, how frightful, I have been deposed as a goddess.’) and the Act I Chorus of Women and Officers (No. 3): Hussars’ Chorus, “Im Kriege ist das Leben voll Reiz und wunderschön” (‘In war life is full of charm and wonderful’). Emil Berté & Cie never published the galop Frisch gewagt and this present recording has been arranged from Rudolf Raimann’s piano score (see above) by Christian Pollack, who referred extensively to the instrumentation of the incomplete manuscript full score of the operetta Die Göttin der Vernunft. The galop’s trio section, for instance, is a note for note instrumental transcription from the operetta’s full score, except that themes 2A and 2B have been transposed. The first performance of this galop, in Christian Pollack’s orchestration, took place on 8 December 1994 in the Concert Hall of Slovak Radio in Bratislava.

[12] Die Göttin der Vernunft. Quadrille (The Goddess of Reason. Quadrille), (Op. 476) (arr. C. Pollack)
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra • Christian Pollack
Recorded at the Concert Hall of Slovak Radio, Bratislava, Slovakia, on 8 December 1994

On 23 January 1898 the Fremden-Blatt newspaper carried a preview of the forthcoming Architekten-Ball (Architects’ Ball), to be held on 24 January 1898 at the Sophienbad-Saal in Vienna, and reported that “Johann Strauss has dedicated a quadrille to the Committee”. The identity of Strauss’s quadrille dedication was only revealed on the night of the ball and it caused a good deal of interest. In its evening edition of 26 January 1898 the Fremden-Blatt reported: “Johann Strauss dedicated to the Committee a quadrille: ‘Göttin der Vernunft’, which contained charming melodies and received tempestuous applause, all the more since it was played very precisely by the band of the Deutschmeister Regiment [Infantry Regiment No. 4] under the direction of Kapellmeister [Wilhelm] Wacek.”

Was Strauss himself responsible for compiling the Göttin der Vernunft. Quadrille from melodies in his operetta score? Or, as seems more likely, was it assembled on his behalf from Emil Berté & Cie’s published piano/vocal score by Adolf Müller junior (see above) or Kapellmeister Wilhelm Wacek? Another possibility is that Müller made the initial selection of themes and that Wacek arranged them for performance by his band at the Architects’ Ball. Yet, despite its success, the quadrille remained unpublished and found no place in either the repertoire of the Strauss Orchestra or, as far as can be traced, any other civilian or military ensemble. This present recording of the Die Göttin der Vernunft. Quadrille has been arranged from Rudolf Raimann’s piano score (see above) by Christian Pollack, who referred extensively to the instrumentation of the incomplete manuscript full score of the operetta Die Göttin der Vernunft housed in the Austrian National Library in Vienna. The themes presented in this quadrille are drawn from all three acts of the operetta.

[13] Die Göttin der Vernunft / Reiche Mädchen (Rich Girls) - Divertissement for full orchestra, Op. 160 (arr. O. Fetrás)
Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra • Christian Pollack
Recorded at the House of Arts, Košice, Slovakia, in February and May 1998

Emil Berté & Cie, publishers of Die Göttin der Vernunft, issued two potpourris of its melodies arranged for piano: these were announced on 16 March 1897. Later, they also published potpourris for full and reduced orchestra, but regrettably it proved impossible to locate copies for this present recording.

After Strauss’s death in 1899, the score was resurrected, arranged by Oscar Stalla (1879–1953) and married to an entirely new libretto by Ferdinand Stollberg (also known as Felix Salten, the pen name of Siegmund Salzmann, 1869–1945). The resulting new three-act operetta, Reiche Mädchen (Rich Girls), opened at Vienna’s Raimund-Theater on 30 December 1909, enjoying considerably more success than Die Göttin der Vernunft. Among the arrangements from the new operetta which were issued by W. Karczag & C. Wallner, the publishers of Reiche Mädchen, was an orchestral potpourri which masqueraded under the rather grandiose title of Divertissement für grosses Orchester (Divertissement for full orchestra). This was compiled and arranged by Oscar Fetrás (the nom de plume of the Hamburg conductor, composer, Strauss enthusiast and collector Otto Faster, 1854–1931), best-known for his waltz Mondnacht auf der Alster (Moonlight on the Alster, 1888). Fetrás’s tasteful arrangement, with its rich instrumentation clearly betraying the influence of Franz Lehár, reflects the changing instrumental styles between the so-called ‘Golden’ and ‘Silver’ ages of Viennese operetta. Since Die Göttin der Vernunft and Reiche Mädchen are almost thematically identical works, Fetrás’s Divertissement more than adequately serves the purpose of allowing us to hear music from Johann Strauss’s last operetta, arranged in the form of an orchestral potpourri.

Notes © 2011 Peter Kemp, and edited by him from his original texts for Marco Polo’s J. Strauss Jr Complete Recorded Edition and On Stage with Johann Strauss. Orchestral Potpourris Vol. 2.


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