Arabella
  • Richard Strauss. Lyrische Komödie in three acts. 1929–32.
  • Libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal.
  • First performance at the Staatsoper, Dresden, on 1st July 1933.
CHARACTERS
Arabella soprano
Zdenka, her younger sister soprano
Count Waldner, her father, a retired cavalry officer bass
Adelaide, her mother mezzo-soprano
Mandryka, a Croatian landowner baritone
Matteo, a young officer tenor
Count Elemer, a suitor of Arabella tenor
Count Dominik, a suitor of Arabella baritone
Count Lamoral, a suitor of Arabella bass
The Fiakermilli, belle of the coachmen’s ball soprano
Fortune-teller soprano

The fortunes of the Waldner family now depend on the marriage of Arabella to a rich husband. Her younger sister Zdenka is disguised as a boy, but loves one of Arabella’s suitors, the young officer Matteo. Arabella has no interest in him, nor in her three other noble suitors. She is attracted, however, by the young Mandryka, nephew of her father’s old comrade, a rich if eccentric landowner to whom Count Waldner had offered his daughter. At a ball she is now in love with Mandryka, who seeks her hand in marriage. Matteo is disconsolate, but Zdenka reassures him, giving him what she claims is a key to Arabella’s room, overheard by Mandryka, who now dances with the Fiakermilli, the pretty belle of the ball. Matteo duly visits the girl he thinks to be Arabella, in fact Zdenka, and the latter eventually reveals the truth, when Matteo and Mandryka are on the verge of fighting a duel. All ends happily.

Arabella is the last collaboration between Strauss and Hofmannsthal, who died before any revision of the second and third acts was possible. Set in Vienna in 1860, it centres in part on the characteristic coachmen’s ball of the second act, the whole opera a counterpart to Der Rosenkavalier, the obverse to the grandeur of that opera in its relatively impoverished setting. The opera evokes a world still redolent, however, of the past, the fading glories of Habsburg Vienna.