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Gypsy Princess
Act1 English
Act1 German
Act2 English
Act2 German
Act3 English
Act3 German


A sitting-room on the first floor of the Hotel Winkelbaum in Vienna. Not a luxury establishment, but regularly patronized by the aristocracy, particularly when in Vienna unaccompanied by their wives, Stage right and left, tables and chairs. Stage centre, rather up -stage, table with three chairs and a telephone on it. The telephone must have plenty of flex attached to the receiver.
It is after midnight, some 15 minutes after the end of Act 2. There are sounds of gipsy music, clinking glasses, voices etc. as if from a bar downstairs. Exits up-stage centre and both sides of stage.

Enter PORTER, oldish, rather seedy, cockney accent followed by BONI and SYLVA, dressed just as they were when leaving the Villa at the end of Act 2. All up-stage centre.

Scene 1


PORTER:       If yer want a quiet chat, sir, this is yer best bet. Make yourself at ‘ome my Lord. Make yerself at lome my, er, Lady (SYLVA and BONI fling themselves exhaustedly into chairs at one of the tables. PORTER stands expectantly beside BONI) It’s a real pleasure to ‘ave yer’Ighness back sir. Same as it always was to ‘ave ‘is Grace yer father in times gone by. ‘E was always such a generous gentleman, was yer father. (BONI takes the hint at last, tips him) Oh! thank yer, sir - no need for that!


(SYLVA  gives a deep sigh.)

BONI:             (Gives an even deeper one. Lights a cigarette, takes two puffs. Looks grumpily at SYLVA) Feeling better?


SYLVA:                     (Unconvincingly). Much better.






BONI:                         I hate to criticize, but your behaviour was like an audition for the Mad Scene from “Lucia’.


SYLVA:                     (Shrugging her shoulders) 0 la la, that’s the way I am!


BONI:                         0 la la, but it’s not the way I am! I’m as innocent as a new-born lamb, and thanks to you I’m up to here in the mint-sauce! I’ll be the laughing-stock of Viennese society!


SYLVA:                     (Rests her elbows on the table, looks him calmly in the face.) Are you trying to quarrel with me?


BONI:                         (Instantly pacified.) Of course not. But did you have to stage a three act drama? What was poor old Edwin supposed to do? You can’t do much more than ask a girl to marry you.


SYLVA:                     But it was Countess Kanscianu he wanted to marry! He was ashamed of me!

BONI:                         Nonsense! When chaps are ashamed they turn crimson. Edwin was as white as a sheet.

SYLVA:                     You’re sticking up for your old friend. You’re such a good soul! (She quietly starts to cry)

BONI:                         Oh! come on, you know I can’t bear to see a woman cry! (Gets up, blows his nose, throws himself into a chair on the opposite side of the stage.) Now look what you’ve done! (Weeps loudly and trumpets into his handkerchief)

Scene 2


(Enter FERI up-stage centre. Cigarette in his mouth, top-hat at an angle on his head, cloak with collar turned up, hands in the pockets of his cloak, in his right hand the handle of his cane, thrust deep into the pocket. Comes whistling down the steps, spots BONI, then SYLVA, stops in his tracks, looks from one to the other, laughs delightedly)

FERI:                          Jaj marnam! Am I seeing things? Boni, Sylva! (They look round, their crying changes to laughter, they leap up)


SYLVA:                     Feri, dear, dear Feri!


BONI:                         (At the same time as SYLVA) My dear old fellow!


FERI:                          (Jumps in the air with delight; BONI and SYLVA spin him round.) Sylva, the one and only! (Embraces her.) You look terrific! Boni, my lovely lad! (Embraces him) You look appalling! What the devil are you doing here? You’re supposed to be in America!


BONI:                         We, er, had to cut the tour a little short. But come to that, what are you doing here?


FERI:                          I’m on a mission.


SYLVA:                     A what?


FERI:                          A mission - as official protector of maidenly virtue. just you wait! (Hurries to upstage exit, calls as if downstairs) Juliska, Aranka, girls! Look who’s here!


(Girls’voices start off-stage.)

Scene 3


GIRLS:                       (Enter dancing girls from the Orpheum) Who can it be? Who is it, Feri? etc. etc. Sylva! Sylva! (Rush up to her and kiss her.)


SYLVA:                     What a wonderful surprise!


(Girls spot BONI, rush at him)


GIRLS:                       Boni, Boni, have you brought me a present? etc.

FERI:                          They’ve got a week’s contract, round the corner in
                                    the Apollo - starts tomorrow.

SYLVA:                     (Laughing) And what role are you playing?


FERI:                          I came along in a paternal capacity - because
they’re all in love with me! Oh, Sylva, people are
going to sit up in Budapest when they hear you’re
back at the Orpheum!

SYLVA:                     I’m not coming back.

& GIRLS:                   What? Why on earth not? etc. etc.

SYLVA:                     I’m getting married.

ALL:                           0h!

FERI:                          And who are you marrying?

BONI:                         (Quickly) Edwin!

GIRLS:                       (Clapping their hands) You are? Coo, isn’t that
                                    lovely! That’s wonderful! A fairy-tale romance!
                                    etc. etc.

SYLVA:                     It’s not true. It’s him (Pointing at BONI, everyone
                                    bursts out laughing.)

FERI:                          That would be the biggest mistake of your life.

BONI:                         Precisely!

FERI:                          You need him like an elephant needs a grand piano.

BONI:                         Bravo!

FERI:                          Why do you want to get married? Come back to the theatre!

SYLVA:                     No, that’s over!

FERI:                          (To BONI and the girls) You leave her to me. We’ll see what Uncle Feri can do about this. (Exeunt girls, laughing, with BONI.) (FER1 takes SYLVA’s hand, very tenderly). It’s still hurting isn’t it, that Edwin business? (SYLVA remains silent.) I can understand you - I went through it all myself But it’s not a reason to throw away the whole future - you musn’t do that. Love may have turned your life upside down, but you’re an artist: your singing will put it straight again. Come back to the theatre. That’s your home, that’s where you belong! When you stand up there on that little stage, and you look down onto the audience, and suddenly everything goes quiet, and everyone’s glass is lifted - to you - and when you start to sing, and all hearts fly out to you - especially the men’s - then all the pain will slip away and you’ll become once again what you always used to be - a little songbird, marvellous, with happiness in your throat and happiness in your heart. Then you’ll be Sylva again - our Sylva!


SYLVA:                     Oh Feri, you heavenly man!


FERI:                          (Opens his arms to her, she lays her head on his chest, sobbing.) Come back! You will - won’t you?


SYLVA:                     It’s all been spoilt, Feri. I can’t!


FERI:                          You can! (Runs to exit upstage.) Boni, come up here, and bring those gipsies with you!


SYLVA:                     I mean it, Feri. I really do.


(Enter BONI and gipsy musicians)


FERI:                          We’ll see about that. Come on Zigeuner,  give us a tune with some fire in it, something to make the blood race! (Hands the primas a banknote.) (To BOM.) Sylva needs one last little push!



Come Zigeuner, take your bow And let that fiddle sing Child of night call up the devil, Make the rafters ring! Where’s the tune that laughs and cries? Where’s the tune that sobs and sighs? Where’s the tune to set the aching heart on fire Where’s the tune to touch the chords of deep desire?

Strike up Zigeuner, Drive our sorrows away, Play gipsy, play Till night has turned into day. Fortune’s a lady who does not like to wait, And tomorrow may be too late!

A FERI:                      Strike up Zigeuner,
                                    Drive our sorrows away.
                                    Play gipsy, play
                                    Till night has turned into day,
                                    Who knows how long this sad old world will
                                    And at least we are still alive!


SYLVA:                     Play, oh play a soothing song
                                    To mend a broken dream,
                                    Any song you like as long
                                    As love is not the theme.
                                    Where’s the tune to stop the heart
                                    Tear the pain and grief apart,
                                    Where’s the tune to show me heaven after hell?
                                    Play and let the Csárdás weave it’s magic spell!

Strike up Zigeuner,
Drive our sorrows away,
Play gipsy, play
Till night has turned into day,
Fortune’s a lady who does not like to wait,
And tomorrow may be too late!

& FERI:                      Strike up Zigeuner,
                                    Drive our sorrows away,
                                    Play gipsy, play
                                    Till night has turned into day.
                                    Who knows how long this sad old world will
                                    And at least we are still alive!

BONI:                         What’s the point of people moping
                                    In this vale of tears?
                                    We’ll have all moved on elsewhere
                                    In roughly fifty years!
                                    Why should life be sad and grey?
                                    Let it be a cabaret!
                                    So bring on the dancing girls and pink champagne!
                                    Maybe we shall never have a chance again!
& FERI:         
Strike up Zigeuner,
                                    Drive our sorrows away,
                                    Play gipsy, play
                                    Till night has turned into day.
                                    Who knows how long this sad old world will
                                    And at least we are still alive!


(Exeunt all, stage centre.)

Scene 4


(Enter PORTER and EDWIN by one of the side entrances)

PORTER:                   This is where I left’im, yer’Ighness.
If you’ll’ang on ‘ere,
I’ll see if I can track ‘im down.

(PORTER exits stage centre, EDWIN paces up and down like a caged lion. Enter
BONI stage centre)

BONI:                         Hullo Edwin! I ddidn’t think you’d pick up much sleep. But could I do with some! (Yawns)

EDWIN:                      (Brusquely) Where’s Sylva?

BONI:                         (Evasively) She’s, er, having a cup of coffee with Feri.


EDWIN:                      With Feri?

BONI:                         Yes, he’s in the hotel too. Rather jolly, isn’t it? (Yawns hugely)


EDWIN:                      (Furiously) jolly? Now listen, Boni, don’t think you’re going to get away with this! A childhood friend, a man I’d have trusted with my life - ever since I was so high! But you go and show Sylva that blasted engagement notice! You’re the man who ruined everything! Then you come bursting into our house and put on some farcical comedy turn! What the hell do you think you’re up to? (During this tirade BONI has gradually fallen fast asleep on hisfeet, his chin sinking slowly onto his chest. With his final words EDWIN grabs BONI’s lapels. BONI wakes with a start)


BONI:                         (Shrieks) Help!


EDWIN:                      Why did you pass Sylva off as your wife?


BONI:                         I didn’t!


EDWIN:                      (Yells) What?


BONI:                         She passed me off as her husband - different kettle of fish.


EDWIN:                      (Visibly restraining himself from doing BONI some violence.) If you weren’t such a hopeless fathead ... !

BONI:                         Now Sylva wants me as a husband. I’m supposed to marry your wife when I’m in love with your flancée. Do I have to swallow that? (Shakes EDWIN.) I’m to marry a girl who has a husband who’s engaged to a fianc& whom I want to have as my wife. Do I have to swallow that? (Shakes EDWIN) The person I want to marry has a fianc~e with a wife who wants me as herhusband-and do 1 have to swallow that? (Shakes EDWIN)


EDWIN:                      Boni!

BONI:                         Let go! How dare you shake me like that?
BONI:                         (Loftily) You must learn to take turns!

(Enter PORTER, stage centre.)

PORTER:                   (Showing to BONI a visiting card.) ‘Scuse me, m’Lord - there’s an elderly’Ighness what wants a word with yer. (Exit PORTER stage centre.)

BONI:                        Oh crikey! Look who’s here!
(Shows the card to EDWIN)

EDWIN:                      My father! I don’t want to see him!

BONI:                         (Pointing to one of the side exits) You pop off that way. I’ll fight a rearguard action. (Exit EDWIN)


Scene 5

(Enter PRINCE, stage centre.)


PRINCE:                     (Very agitated.) Has Edwin been here?

BONI:                         Yes.

PRINCE:                     Where is he?

BONI:                         He’s, er, having a cup of coffee with ...

PRINCE:                     Is he all right? Nothing’s happend to him?

BONI:                         He’s fine.

PRINCE:                     Thank the Lord! (Rushes to telephone.)
Get me 1140!
Yes, and hurry!

BONI:                         (Writes the number down on his cuff. Aside.)

PRINCE:                     (To BONI.) What did he say?

BONI:                         Nothing very memorable.

PRINCE:                     (Into phone) Anhilte, is that you? This is me! God be praised, he’s here ... No, he’s all right, and I’ll be bringing him home. (Hangs up) (To BONI.) Without your idiotic theatricals the engagement would have gone through. Now that poor child Stasi is compromised for life!

BONI:                         Not a bit of it. The engagement can be announced today.


PRINCE:                     What’s that supposed to mean?


BONI:                         Just a moment! (Puts on his white gloves) I have the honour to ask your Highness for the hand of the Countess Anastasia.


PRINCE:                     You’re daft! Stasi’s in love with Edwin.


DONI:                         That requires elucidation. (Goes to the telephone, reads the number off his cuff.) 1140! Yes, and hurry!


PRINCE:                     Is this another of your damned jokes?


BONI:                         (Into telephone.) Hullo? It’s Count Kanscianu here. Would you please bring Countess Anastasia to the telephone? (To the PRINCE.) It sounds like a madhouse at the other end. (Into the telephone.) Countess? (He bows politely) Countess, I ... (Listens) Angry? I was afraid you might be, but believe me, I’m the innocent victim of... Please listen, I’m here with Prince ... no, the old one ... Sorry (Bows apologetically to the PRINCE.) ... just one little question, but promise not to fall over and bump your lovely head. I’ve just made a formal request for your hand in marriage. (Listens) Please don’t laugh, my whole happiness depends on it! What? Laughing for joy? ... Then you mean ... ? But you can’t mean that! ... You do? (Looks dazed, places receiver to his heart.) Then I’m the happiest man in the world! (Hangs up) Uncle-in-law, you may embrace me!


Scene 6


(Enter FERI, by a side entrance)

FERI:                          Boni, Sylva says will you please come and pack.

BONI:                         I’m not packing and I’m not leaving (To the PRINCE.) Don’t be misled - neither Sylva nor any other woman in the world has any claim upon me.

JULISKA:                   (Appears briefly upstage centre.) Boni darling, do hurry up!

(Waves to her, turns apologetically to the PRINCE) She doesn’t count! (To PRINCE) Back in a moment! (Exit)


Scene 7

FERI:                          Do I have the honour of speaking to Edwin’s Papa? (Introduces himself) Baron Ferencz Kerekes of Felsö-Mezötur and Also -Kirishaza. Known in Budapest as Feri.


PRINCE:                     Delighted. Leopold Maria, Prince Lippert-Weylersheim. (Bows)


FERI:                          Please forgive me if I’m poking my nose into family matters, but Edwin is a very dear young friend of mine, and I know the whole story.


PRINCE:                     So much the better. Then you’re bound to agree…


FERI:                          Forgive me, but I do not agree. When boy loves girl it’s Papa’s job to give in gracefully.


PRINCE:                     But nobody can demand of me that I accept a cabaret--singer as a daughter-in-law!


FERI:                          Why not? just the other day I bumped into old Lord Wessex while I was over at Ascot. His son and heir married a Gaiety Girl, and the old boy can’t keep his eyes off her. Or his hands come to that.


PRINCE:                     But dammit man, that’s England! Next you’ll be saying our young fellows should learn to play cricket!


FERI:                          Well, let me tell you something else. I’m not exactly out of the gutter, but when 1 was young I’d have given my right hand to have married High-Kicking Hilda from the Orpheum in Miskolcz.


PRINCE:                     Miskolcz?


FERI:                          It’s only a provincial town in Hungary, but Hilda fairly put it on the map. While I was badgering my father for permission to marry her, General von Palonay pinched her from under my nose. He couldn’t stand the pace, poor old chap -~ died on their honeymoon. I’d gone abroad to get over it and by the time 1 got back she’d been snapped up again - Count Geza Zentler it was that time.


PRINCE:                     (Who has been growing increasingly bored) What did you say? Count Zentler? Are you sure?


FERI:                          Absolutely. But poor little Hilda was really out of luck, because he was killed in a riding accident. After that I lost sight of her. But I still carry her picture -in fond memory. (Takes out a photograph and shows it to the PRINCE.)


PRINCE:                     (Aside) My God - my wife! (Sinks into a chair.)


FERI:                          Is anything the matter?


PRINCE:                     No, no ... I just need some air! (Hands picture back to FERI)


(Enter PRINCESS in a state of high excitement.)


PRINCESS:                Where is my son? Where is Edwin?


PRINCE:                     (Leaping up) I’m glad you’re here! I wish to speak to you!


PRINCESS:                (Aside) Oh my God! Feri!


FERI:                          (Aside) Hilda? (To the PRINCE) The Princess, I assume? (To the PRINCESS.) May I present myself? Baron Ferencz Kerekes of Felsö-Mezötur and Also-Kirishaza. I consider myself fortunate to have made your Highness’ acquaintance. (Kisses her hand, bows. As he leaves, he glances back at her, takes out the photo, tears it in half) There but for the grace of God ... (Exit)


PRINCE:                     (Aside) Thank the Lord he didn’t recognise her!


Scene 9

PRINCESS:                Stasi is waiting downstairs with the Count. Why are you making that idiotic face? What’s the matter with you?


PRINCE:                     I have one word to say to you - Miskolcz!


PRINCESS:                (With a gesture of horror.) Aah!


PRINCE:                     So, it’s true! Princess von und zu LippertWeylersheim, alias High-Kicking Hilda!


(The PRINCESS gives a cry of dismay.)

(PRINCE:)                  Now I understand what’s the matter with Edwin. It isn’t the boy’s fault - he’s a victim of heredity!


PRINCESS:                (Imploringly) Leopold Maria!

PRINCE:                     I withdraw my opposition. We’d better cut down my family tree, saw it into planks, and use them to build a stage!

PRINCESS:                Leopold Maria!


PRINCE:                     (With an imperious gesture to exit stage right, and in a voice of doom) Miskolcz! (Exeunt both, PRINCESS leading, head bowed, PRINCE’s arm still outstretched.)


Scene 10


(Enter STASI and BONI, stage centre)


STASI:                        What a night! I shan’t forget it in a hurry!


BONI:                         Nor me! The happiest of my life - so far!


STASI:                        (Laughing) You are funny!

BONI:                         That’s going to stop for a start. From now on I’m taking life seriously.


STASI:                        Please don’t. Stay the way you are.

BONI:                         On one condition - that you do too. When shall we get married?

STASI:                        I don’t want to fix a wedding day till I know everything’s all right with Edwin and Sylva.


BONI:                         You leave that to me. In the bringing together of loving hearts the world contains no greater master than yours truly. It shall be done tonight.


STASI:                        How?


BONI:                         That’s my secret. But consider yourself a married lady.




BONI:                         Glance around - what a bargain you’ve found! I suggest, little miss, that you give me a kiss. I’d have said, as we’re going to wed, You could risk it and lose your head.


STASI:                                    Let’s have less of the young Lothario. Shall we wait till I’ve seen the ring? And if you haven’t learnt, my friend, who wears the trousers, You haven’t learnt a thing!


BOTH:                                    That fellow Cupid
He’s not so stupid,
He makes us blind before he moves in for the kill.
So now we’re landed,
Completely stranded,
And ev’ry day is going to be more blissful still!





(Enter FERI, sees them embracing, coughs loudly.)

Scene 11


BONI:                         (Distractedly) Feri meet my wife. Wife meet my Feri.


FERI:                          My dear fellow - you don’t let the grass grow under your feet! (Kisses STASI’s hand.)


BONI:                         There’s no time for dalliance, you old reprobate. Cupid’s work must be done! Sylva will be here any moment, so clear the decks for action! (STASI leads FERI off, explaining as they go. BONI places up and down seeking inspiration. Gazes upwards) Let this be my finest hour! Here she comes!

(Enter SYLVA with PORTER.)

SYLVA:                     ... just get them onto the next train ... please!




(Exit PORTER by side entrance, with a mute appeal to heaven. SYLVA sinks into a chair.  BONI has taken up the telephone, stands with his back to SYLVA, other hand on telephone to prevent connection with operator.)

BONI:                         (Into telephone.) Edwin, what did you say? I beg you, Edwin, don’t do anything stupid! Everything can be put right! What was that? You can’t live without Sylva? (Shouting) For pity’s sake, put that revolver down!


SYLVA:                     Oh my God!


BONI:                         (In his excitement has inadvertently taken his hand off the telephone.) What do you mean at the next stroke it will be 3.4 1 ? Clear the line you fool! No Edwin, not you! Man, you look as pale as death. Listen, you’re too young to die. Your life is like a plant in bud. It may still shoot - no, cancel that last message! (His various attempts to turn and see how SYLVA is reacting result in him gradually getting wound up in the flex.) Edwin!


SYLVA:                     Let me speak to him! (SYLVA tries to take the receiver from BONI, but BONI struggles to prevent her.)


BONI:                         (To SYLVA) Stand back! A human life is at stake!


(EDWIN and FERI appear upstage centre. FERI takes in the situation and restrains EDWIN from interrupting.)

                                    (Into telephone.) Edwin, tell me, are we friends? Don’t point that thing at me! Edwin, Sylva is here and asks me to say - (To SYLVA) what do you want to say?


SYLVA:                     (Distractedly) What do I want to say? “I love you, I can’t live without you”.

BONI:                         She says she loves me and can’t live without me Edwin, what shall I tell her? What are your last words? (Listens intently to telephone.)

(EDWIN has walked up very quietly to SYLVA, and is standing behind her back)

EDWIN:                      (Gazing at SYLVA) That I love her and can’t live without her.


(SYLVA whips round in amazement, she and EDWIN embrace. BONI notices none of this)

BONI:                         (Still into telephone, very emphatically) Thank you!
(Hangs up, turns to extricate himself from the flex, sees
EDWIN yells in terror.) Aah! The late lamented Edwin! (STASI comes running in, straight to BONI recovers his poise, points magnificently to SYLVA and EDWIN.) All my own work! No when’s the wedding day?


STASI:                        Any day you choose!




(While the two couples begin the reprise of no. 12, FERI beckons to people off-stage, and the rest of the company gradually come on stage, congratulate the two couples and join in the singing. The PORTER enters carrying as much luggage as he can manage, FERI gestures to him to take it all back. By now the whole company is pouring on, probably using all three entrances, the PORTER makes a hopeless attempt to announce them to BONI, is caught up in the throng, and ends up sitting disconsolately on a pile of suitcases, surrounded by general jubilation)

EDWIN & BONI:                   I can hear the angels singing
“This is love”.
In my heart the echo’s ringing
“This is love”.
All my dreams of happiness
At last come true
For darling you belong to me
And I to you!


FULL COMPANY:               Senses reeling, what a feeling,
Bliss beyond compare,
Out of the window with sorrow
Good-bye care!
Tears are over, they’re/we’re in clover,
Ev’rything’s all right,
Somehow a miracle happened here tonight!


SYLVA & EDWIN:               I can hear the angels singing
“This is love”

STASI & BONI:                     In my heart the echo’s ringing
“This is love”

PRINCESS:                            All their dreams of happiness at last come true


FULL COMPANY:               So let the world just go to blazes, I love you!


End of Operetta



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