About this Recording
8.223592-93 - WEBER: Peter Schmoll und seine Nachbarn

Carl Maria yon Weber (1786–1826)
Peter Schmoll und seine Nachbarn


Among infant prodigies already remarkable in the first ten years of their lives for musicality and abilines as composer, Carl Maria von Weber (1786 -1826) undoubtedly belongs by the side of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. He had his musical grounding as a child from his father Franz Anton and travelled throughout Germany with his family as a member of the Weber Theatre Company. He had no education at school and in consequence learned as a boy the privanons, difficulties and joys of life in the theatre.

Weber’s father hoped to find among his many children a second Mozart. Franz Anton Weber, who had served earlier at Eutin as town-musician, with responsibility for the provision of suitable music for all festivals, undertook, as a violinist and double-bass player himself, together with Carl’s elder step-brother Fritz, the musical education of the boy, which only proceeded with difficulty. In Hildburghausen, where the family settled in 1796, Carl Maria von Weber had his first serious musical instruction from a young musician in the ducal chapel. Johann Peter Heuschkel was an accomplished and reliable teacher who took care with his gifted ten-year-old pupil. In October 1797 the family travelled to Salzburg, where they remained for a time, in view of the political changes resulting from the Napoleonic wars. Furthermore Carl’s uncle Fridolin, whose daughter Constanze had married Mozart in 1782, had lived there. In Salzburg there was a centuries old musical tradition. Michael Haydn, younger brother of Joseph Haydn and a leading Salzburg court musician, was impressed by the gifted boy and gave him lessons free of charge. Carl also sang with the choristers in performances at religious works. After the death of his mother in Salzburg in 1798, father and san resumed their restless wandering through the German principalities. A longer stay in Munich allowed lessons with Johann Nepomuk Kalcher, also a pupil of Michael Haydn. In Saxon Freiberg they sought a new home, with the hope of a first performance there of the romantic comic opera Das Waldmadchen (“The Forest Maiden”), which failed, in spite of the loudly expressed advocacy of his father. The failure occasioned extended diatribes from him in the press against the conductor and the critics. The dream of operatic success in Freiberg came to nothing and an exchange of letters in the newspapers there brought the Webers into some disrepute. Father and son, therefore, cut short their stay in Freiberg and an unsettled time followed. In November 1801 they returned again to Salzburg, where Franz Anton again entertained ambitious plans. His son should complete from memory a Mass that he had started with Kalcher in Munich and of which the manuscript had been burned, and dedicate it to the Prince-Archbishop von Colloredo. This was done, but Colloredo in the meantime had fled from Salzburg, in view of the political difficulties of the time. The Mass was considered lost, but in 1925 was discovered in the Salzburg archives. At this time Weber also wrote the charming Six petites pièces faciles for piano duet and his Douze Allemandes for piaNo.

Weber’s principal composition at this period, carried out under the supervision of his teacher Michael Haydn, was a stage-work, Peter Schmoll and His Neighbours. Carl Mario was now fifteen years old and, after the lack of attention aroused by his first attempts at opera, the lost Die Macht der liebe und des Weins (The Power of Love and Wine) and the opera Das Waldmadchen, hoped now for a real success. The novel of the same name by Carl Gottlob Cramer had appeared in two parts in 1798 and 1799 and had been reprinted many times. Cramer was in his day a best-selling writer and his serialised novel suited well the taste of the time. Two friends lose touch in the disturbances of revolution, find each other again and all ends happily with their children.

The Thuringian forestry offical Cramer strained events in his sequel, caught up in the feelings and sentiments of Nature. The idea of using the work as the basis for opera came from Franz Anton Weber. He expected from the adaptation of this successful literary piece a rapid and wide success for the Singspiel. Unfortunately the adapter Joseph Türk (or Türke), in other respects not entirely unknown as a librettist, stuck pedantically to the form of the original novel, rewriting the many coincidences of its plot in a libretto as undistinguished as it is banal, with its clumsy rhymes. Of the text only the parts set by Weber survive, demonstrating the wretched task that an opera composer then had to undertake. There were no competent German librettists at the time, the reason that the critical Beethoven was only inspired to write one opera, Fidelio.

It is interesting for us that Weber’s opera deals with the theme of French émigrés, who had left France in 1789 at the outbreak of the Revolution and had settled in various parts of Germany. Many were unhappy with their situation, once the fear of death by the guillotine had faded. Others felt themselves unlucky since for family or financial reasons they were now dependent on other people, for whose help they were grateful, while depressed by its necessity.

The treatment of the plot in Cramer’s novel is interlocked and ill-suited to dramatisation. People who have fled from France seek each other, many of them returning, changed by the dangers of revolution that they meet and altered in both name and appearance. This goes on until they meet again. Türk based his treatment on the events of one day and dealt with the reunion of a separated family. The form of the opera is that of the German Singspiel, with spoken dialogue. The original text of the dialogue was lost after the first performance.

In a letter of recommendation written in Salzburg on 2nd June 1802 Michael Haydn sought to support his pupil and a possible performance of the work: With true pleasure I attended yesterday an informal rehearsal of the opera Peter Schmoll and His Neighbours, composed by my beloved pupil Herr Carl Maria von Weber, and cannot do otherwise than bear appropriate witness with honesty and my own judgement and absolute assurance that this opera is written bravely and perfectly according to the true principles of counterpoint, with much fire and delicacy, and that the text is set entirely suitably and that the composer himself is at the same time one of the most distinguished keyboard-players of the present time, and therefore find it equitable and just to recommend this dear pupil of mine to the best attention of the whole musical world.

In this early work Weber shows his lightness of touch and facility, bringing to life the cardboard figures of the plot with cheerful and graceful melodies. In particular the basso buffo part of Hans Bast is well done, comic, reflective and contributing to the general reconciliation. The five principal roles Bast, Schmoll, Minette, Karl and Martin, are plausibly characterized in their arias and ensembles in the best Singspiel tradition.

Those hearing this little opera should compare it with other early compositions by Weber. All of them are preparatory studies for his later goal, the creation of German romantic opera. The later style is suddenly evident in this or that rhythmic idea, this or that clearly formulated melody. Musicologists have found Weber’s score for this opera inexperienced and harmonically clumsy. In spite of all understandable evidence of immaturity, bearing in mind Weber’s hitherto inadequate education, this composition confirms his potential talent as a composer for the stage. In Peter Schmoll we find by the side of melodies of folk-song type a treatment of orchestral colour that later appears in masterly fashion in Der Freischütz. The main and fundamental features of Weber’s musical language can be heard, the dramatic and vivid use of instruments, the simple yet attractive management of singing parts. Weber later made a concert arrangement of the overture, which, unlike the complete work, has remained in orchestral repertoire until our own time.

In spite of all criticism the original score shows great dramatic gifts and for a fifteen-year-old composer it is a quite extraordinary work. It is solid in construction and the characteristic use of certain keys, so highly developed in Der Freischütz, is here expressively evident. The fundamental tonality of the opera is E-flat major, the key of the Overture, the Introduction (Terzetto No. 1) , the false aria of Hans Bast (No. 12) , both Finales and the great love duet (No. 9) .Three other numbers are in B-flat major. The only sharp keys are D major for the Blindman’s Buff Terzetto (No. 2) and the Quartet (No. 17) and A major for the Terzetto (No. 6).

The talent of the born opera-composer appears throughout, breathing life into Cramer’s characters, into Peter Schmoll himself. There is only one female role in the whole opera, Minette, a lyrical soubrette, and, as the music soon shows, pointing more to Annchen than to Agatha. Weber knows rather less how to deal with Karl, a lyrical tenor. He is not the only composer, particularly in Germany, who finds difficulty in the expression of upright, heroic and noble feelings without a touch of cliché. The musical treatment, however, is felicitous and points to a real ability for dramatic effect and variety.

It would be unreasonable to expect deep psychological meaning from a composer still in his boyhood and Türk’s contribution is also inadequate. Nevertheless Peter Schmoll shows a sure musical instinct stemming from German folk-music and fitting perfectly Peter Schmoll and his friends.

On the other hand many other things remind us of the debt of romantic opera to the French opera comique. The picture of the comfortable bourgeois family, whose lives are turned upside down by the dispositions of fate, the political ferment in the background, the vicissitudes of events—these are only some of the common factors that are also found in Peter Schmoll and that are still further developed in romantic opera, basic features that  are distinctly found at a higher level in Der Freischütz. Naturally this work is formally in the tradition of the German Singspiel, but also, if indications of the tradition of a Dittersdorf, Muller or Schenk appear, Peter Schmoll demonstrates a young rising talent that will deliberately free itself from this tradition. Not only because of the rich signs of an individual musical personality only a few composers show such a preference for the unmixed harsh sound of wind instruments—but also in melody there appears a certain impatience with traditional farms and clichés, as in the taste far mare elegant, deeper, mare brilliant music, such as Weber later wrote. A number of touches suggest that the composer will not long be satisfied with established dramatic situations. Peter Schmoll stands at the beginning of a road that leads to Oberon and Der Freischütz.

The first performance of the completed opera was intended to take place in 1802 in Augsburg, where Carl’s step-brother Edmund was director of music. When the day of the performance was delayed, father and son set out on a concert tour of North Germany. In the spring of 1803 Carl Maria von Weber returned to Augsburg and the first performance took place in March, without any particular success, as Weber remarked in his autobiography. The opera Peter Schmoll subsequently found no place on the German stage, after the performance in Augsburg, and in the twentieth century there have been various reconstructions and revivals, the first in Lübeck in 1927 and later in Freiberg. Far the guest performance in Freiberg by the Dresden State Opera in 1943 Hans Hasse wrote new dialogue and diverged in his complete new text from the original song texts of Türk. This version, in February 1944, was one of the last premières of the Semper Opera before the end of the war. The opera was mounted at the Bielefeld State Theatre in May 1955 together with Abu Hassan. A concert performance at the Dresden State Opera in 1980 followed. In 1963 there appeared a new edition of Peter Schmoll, published by Peters, with new dialogue by Willy Werner Göttig based on the speech style of the year 1800, without touching the original song texts. This version has been used for the present recording, with abridgement of the spoken dialogue.

Jürgen Gauert
English translation by Keith Anderson


A rich sixty-year-old banker called Peter Schmoll lives with his nineteen-year-old niece Minette and his old factotum Hans Bast in a country-house, near a village. Peter Schmoll has fallen in love with Minette and eventually proposes marriage, but she is in love with the young Karl Pirkner. The French Revolution and the troubles of war have torn the family apart.

One day there appear with the peasant Niklas, purveyor of vegetables to the house, two men, one young and the other old, purporting to be father and son. Actually they ore Martin Schmoll and Karl Pirkner, who after years of searching have found where Peter Schmoll and Minette have settled. From here on there are various misunderstandings, until the final reconciliation, when nothing stands any more in the way of the marriage of Karl and Minette.


CD 1

Act I

After the Overture (1) the curtain rises. The scene is a park in front of an old country-house. The year is about 1800. Peter Schmoll and Hans Bast complain, while Minette is happier with her situation (2). Schmoll finds it unbelievable that people should steal and rob as they do and that right should always be an the side of the mob, sentiments with which Hans Bast agrees, but Minette sees no reason to complain in such a beautiful place, far only love brings happiness. The thief has flown, with the ready money, Schmoll rages, as Bast tries to calm him and Minette thinks all will be well. Schmoll continues his tirade: if he caught the thief, he would give him a hiding. Bast tells him it is no use complaining, and in any case he has saved quite enough, a suggestion that angers Schmoll still further. Minette, meanwhile, is left to herself, as long as the other two are arguing. Schmoll declares himself master in his own house, and Bast had better keep quiet. As the latter suggests, he can still think what he likes. (3) In the following conversation Bast asks Schmoll why he is so angry and Minette adds that it is no use dwelling on the past. Bast begs him to calm himself, but Schmoll refuses to be calm. Minette annoys Bast by remarking that it is stupid far two old men to go on quarrelling about nothing. Bast objects to the word old, but Schmoll acknowledges that they are not young any more, but he has saved a tidy little sum from his interests as a banker in France, enabling him to buy the house. Minette agrees that it is a beautiful house, but so remote that her father, whom she has last in the Revolution, will never find them there. What use is a father, Schmoll asks, since she has him. Minette still longs to see her father, Bast supports her, and Schmoll finally tells them bath to be quiet.

(4) In the following aria Peter Schmoll declares himself master of his own house: what he says, goes, and he will brook no opposition, except from Minette, whom he loves, although no-one knows: he is an old fool, and love robs him of sleep, falling for his own niece, and driving him mod. A man, though, is never too old to marry, but what should he do? Tell her? Ask her? She is bound to say no in the end, and make fun of him. He must see what happens, though nothing burns as fiercely as hidden love, known to none. (5) Minette, in the conversation that follows, tells Schmoll that she wants to go and buy vegetables from the peasant Niklas. He thinks it unsuitable for her to go alone without him, but she pleads for his permission, only this once. Never, says Schmoll. Why does she want to wander round far and wide, when he is there, the best company for her? Naturally, she assures him, he is the best uncle she could have. He is about to speak openly to her, but she interrupts, telling him that she knows how fond of her he has been since she was a child. But now, Schmoll says, she is grown up, a beautiful girl, and he loves her not as an uncle but as a man, if she would be his wife. Minette exclaims at this, and he asks her to think the matter over. The proposal has been so sudden and she must think. He tells her to reflect, until he comes back, but alone she wonders how to tell him that her heart belongs to another.

In her Romanze (6) Minette declares that the heart of a girl that really loves has only one true love, on whom her happiness depends. Always she remembers that first kiss, when she gave her heart to him in love: she will be true to him till death. Never will she forget that first happiness. (7) She is in tears, as Bast interrupts her, suspecting love as the cause. He is right, but he knows only the half of it, he loves her, but she does not love him. Bast tells her that it is not for her to cry but for the man. But, she replies, the one who loves her is the master of the house, a situation that Bast finds comical. For Minette, however, it is tragic, since she loves another, Karl. Bast recalls that at the outbreak of war Karl was a soldier and that no-one has heard of him since, but Minette, since that first kiss, is pledged to him and expects his return. Bast tells her not to despair, since miracles can happen.

A duet follows between Minette and Bast (8). Minette welcomes Bast’s true friendship and urges him always to be honest with her. Bast tells her to think matters over. They must find some clever trick to help her. Minette has been in love, since that first kiss, but Bast will help her. She sings of her love, how she could see her own image reflected in the bright light of his eyes: never will she forget him! Never can she forget him! Her heart beats for him, through good and ill, and she will do everything for their happiness together, by trickery. Bast wonders what to do, since he is not so clever, and how tactfully to bring the old man round. Should he tell the truth? Must he tell the truth? The best way is to find some trick, to help the young lovers. (9) Whether she likes it or not, Bast tells her, she must pretend to love Schmoll, humouring him at least until Karl comes back. What happens if he wants to kiss her, she asks. Then, Bast advises, say “Not until after the wedding, uncle dear”, bidding her go now to practise her part as a sulky bride. Niklas comes in, and wishes Bast good morning. Bast asks him how business is going, and Niklas, in true peasant style, complains that the rain has drenched everything, and then the sun has killed everything off.

Niklas sings an ariette of complaint (10): I am a poor dog! Life is bitter for me! I am a small-holder! And yet I have my health! My hens lay eggs, without me bothering! There are the peas and beans, and the price of salad makes me desperate. Work makes man, and in the old peasant style I take the highest prices. I am quite fit, and not such a poor dog! (11) He breaks off to greet Minette and tell her he would rather bargain with her over two pence than with Herr Schmoll.

Minette, Bast and Niklas now sing together (12). Bast tells Niklas to show them what he has in his basket, if it is tasty enough: they have very delicate palates, and do not want cabbage and spinach. Niklas brings only the best vegetables, freshly picked from his own land: if you buy from Father Niklas, you will be laughing, he sells good wares for good money: the cook will not regret it! Minette asks if the asparagus is tender: it would go well with sauce hollandaise, a poem in itself. Niklas assures her that it is tender, exquisite in flavour, like butter, a very poem. It must go down like butter, Bast adds, otherwise it stays on the plate, but once in the mouth it is o poem, an expensive, fine poem. Niklas has the second verse of the poem in his basket, a side of ham, that tastes so good, and fresh-laid eggs. They then sing all together of Father Niklas and his good cheap wares. (13) Niklas tells them they have bought enough for a fine midday meal, and Schmoll, joining them, tells Bast to take the stuff to the kitchen: he has been thinking about Minette, and wants to make life as pleasant as possible for her. She tells him that she knows that he wants the best for her, to which he suggests immediate marriage. She asks for more time, since one day she might be able to love him.

As Schmoll and Minette go in, the voice of Karl is heard (14). He sings to his beloved Minette, seeking the protection of love in his predicament: he has sought her everywhere, to join her in happiness. Now he wonders if he is coming to the end of his search, as love leads him on, and recalls the kiss that united them for ever. He begs the god of love to guide him to his beloved, and hopes that she may now be near, so that he may embrace her once more. (15) He has lost count of the years he was in the war, but Bast tells him to be gone: they want no beggars there. Karl tells him he is wrong: he has work. So he can see, says Bast, with his tattered coat and beard: who does he work for? Father Niklas, says Karl, and Niklas joins in, agreeing. Bast asks his name, and is amazed to hear that this is Karl Pirkner, back from the war. Karl announces himself as Minette’s betrothed, and the old man with him, he tells Niklas, is her father. Bast exclaims that Minette will be delighted, but Karl says that Schmoll must not know that they are here.

Left alone, Bast racks his brains in his ariette (16). Now he must use diplomatic tricks and turns, be very careful, and help the two of them. He must be diplomatic and silent as the grave, that is clear, diplomatic in word and deed, and, remembering his promise, be clever and use his head. (17) Niklas hurries back, having forgotten his basket in his excitement. Bast says that the return of Karl will shake things up in the house. Fraulein Minette will be out of herself for joy, Niklas adds. And Peter Schmoll for woe, Bast rejoins, telling him that the old fool is in love with his niece and has proposed to her. Minette joins them, sad at her situation, and Bast repeats his complaint about Schmoll, master of the house, so that only what he wants can happen. Now things will not be so bad, Niklas suggests, and Minette asks him what he means. Now your father has come back, Niklas tells her, and Karl too, Bast adds. Minette cannot believe it, but Bast assures her that he was there not half an hour before, a surprise for her. She tells him that Schmoll must know nothing of it: Bast must promise her that the secret will be kept.

Minette, Niklas and Bast sing a final trio (18), Minette demanding secrecy and threatening to cut Bast’s ears off, if he reveals anything: he must be silent and dumb, something that he should not find hard. Bast and Niklas swear secrecy, Minette repeats her demand, and Bast lyrically praises sweet longing, gentle hope, the sight of Heaven opening. Minette asks for help in her plans, which the other two promise, a sworn band of three.

CD 2

Act II

The second act opens with an aria from Minette (1) .She sings of her happiness, as her loving heart beats with joy, rejoicing, her sorrows now forgotten. She waits now for her beloved friend, with whom she will soon be united, held fast in his arms. How long must she wait? Love and loyalty give courage, and she longs for her lover’s kisses, all at last well, after the sad period of waiting. The sun shines again from the blue sky and happy songs can be heard in the flower-decked fields. Her heart is happy, moved by love, and joyful alone is the heart that loves. Love brings happiness and anxiety, sorrow and pain are forgotten. (2) She is joined by Schmoll, who is glad to see a young girl dancing for joy. She has every reason to be happy, Minette tells him. Then she should not dance alone, Schmoll answers, but she tells him that dancing might not come so easily to him and they should instead play a game. Schmoll hopefully suggests o game of forfeits, but Minette prefers Blind Man’s Buff, with Bast.

Minette, Schmoll and Bast now join together in a trio (3) .Bast, in an aside, tells the old fool to play Blind Man’s Buff and wait in vain for the Blind Man’s kiss. Schmoll tells Minette to blindfold him, while Bast sees the comic outcome of this childishness. Minette blindfolds Schmoll and tells him that he must first catch her before he gets a kiss. Bast remarks on Minette’s agility and Schmoll’s lack of it. Catch me, then, calls Minette, while Schmoll’s aim is to kiss the girl. Bast teases Schmoll, and Minette is confident that she can avoid her uncle, and again Bast is caught, only to tell Schmoll that it is only Bast and not Minette. Bast takes his turn as Blind Man, teased by Minette, telling him to go straight ahead, but to mind the wall. Bast catches Schmoll and demands a kiss, thinking he has caught Minette, and Minette says they should both be blindfold. Bast would be happy to give up, but Schmoll wants to go on, and all goes according to Minette’s plan, as Schmoll still seeks the reword of a kiss, which he will never have. (4) Schmoll declares that he loves Minette and she is teasing him, proof of her affection. Bast attempts to remonstrate, since Minette is only nineteen, but Schmoll points out that he is a man and well to do. Bast wonders if Minette is willing and tells Schmoll that she has said nothing directly, but he can tell from her shining eyes. Schmoll thinks all is going well and resolves to fix the wedding-day. Bast adds, aside, that Schmoll will have a surprise.

In an ariette (5) Bast sings of the capacity of men for deception; fair ladies and fine gentlemen must be deceived. The bigger the lie, the better, and the one who lies has more from life, yet truth will out. Deception must be polite, but not too feeble, not too coarse, not too fine. This is how love will triumph. Good friends, lie and humbug, it is an art. What he has to say is all too true. If everyone told the truth, everything would always be in the open, but this seldom happens. He often wanders what it is all about. Is deception just a joke?

You can be caught and compromised, and someone tells him that a minister lies. But that is not true, and yet it is clear as day. Lying, then, good friends, is an art. (6) Schmoll has other ideas, musing that if he has never been a breaker of hearts, yet this time he will conquer a girl’s heart: it is a glorious thing, to be loved.

Schmoll continues in an aria (7).To be loved is a glorious feeling, nothing like it on earth. It gives an old man new energy and makes us young again. Love is an elixir that can rejuvenate and has succeeded with him. Love also makes us dumb, dwelling always in Elysium. He does not know what he will do, now he is no longer the old Peter Schmoll. He would like to leap like a horse. Love burns in his heart, the sweet pangs of fate. He has won the prize and now at last is loved. (8) He sees Minette coming, and now he must seize his chance, and asks her if she still wants to take a walk. That would be fine, she answers. Schmoll tells her they will go with the new man from Niklas’s in a carriage through the woods. Would that earn him a kiss? Certainly, says Minette. At once? he asks: a little advance is a good thing, and he bids her wait for him. Minette thinks what would happen if her uncle only knew who Karl was. At this point Karl comes in and the lovers meet again.

Minette and Karl sing a duet (9). She rests in his arms, while he glories in his unending happiness, now Fate has shown them its merciful favour. No power can part them, Minette sings, now they are united in loyalty: Karl has come back to her for ever. Their fate has changed to the purest happiness, he adds, as the two express their love for one another. This is comfort to their troubled hearts, true and no dream, and they are united for ever. Karl adds his own thoughts. With her only can he be happy; he is for ever hers and swears to be true to her. He gives her his whole being, and she responds by pledging her own faith to him. (10) Minette tells Karl that she knew he would come back one day to rescue her from her loneliness and explains how when they had lost her father in their terrified flight from France, her uncle Peter had taken her to his house, where he has carried on his business as a banker. Money- making was always important to him, Karl remarks, he had no mind far anything else. That has changed, Minette tells him, for Schmoll is in love. Old Schmoll? , exclaims Karl. Yes, Minette tells him, and today he has declared his love for her and proposed marriage. Karl is not worried, since he will not give her up, and in any case she now needs her father’s permission, which he will seek at once, suiting the action to the word. That is just like men, Minette observes. They swear not to leave you and a few minutes later they are gone. Niklas now ushers in Martin Schmoll, who asks to be left alone with his daughter.

In his aria (11) Martin Schmoll sings of his finding again in that place his brother and his child. After many years alone, he is now overjoyed and willingly resigns himself, now sorrow is no more. He had the courage of his hopes in the bitterest times and now all has turned out well. Men should never grumble, since they are in the hands of God. Rare are the ways of Fate, and man knows them not. The lord’s path is a winding one, lit by the light of grace. Oh my brother! Oh my daughter! What happiness to find you. I embrace you once again in my arms, and joy returns, he continues. (12) Martin Schmoll then takes his daughter in his arms, and she is happy to find again her father and her future husband. Karl, he tells her, is a good fellow and he has nothing against the marriage, a declaration that Karl, who has rejoined them, is happy to hear.

In a trio (13) Minette, Karl and Martin Schmoll celebrate their reunion. Martin Schmoll gives the pair his blessing, which Minette welcomes, tied to her lover by the bonds of love, as Karl too declares. Love, Martin Schmoll asserts, is the highest happiness on earth and ties the bond of marriage. One day he will be a grandfather and that will be the greatest happiness. Karl is Papa, Minette is Mama, and the little grandchild is so tiny, and then the sun will shine a hundred times brighter than today: that is how the world goes, from children come grown up people. Karl echoes the thought, and sings of the rings that he and Minette have now exchanged as pledges of their love. The old man tells them they must always be true in love, if they want to be happy, united in the hard times of life by love and faith: their struggles once over, the sun soon shines again. Fortune cannot be trusted, they alone can work their own happiness: honour must be kept and virtue. (14) Minette then tells her father that it would be better if Peter Schmoll did not yet know of their return. It might be too much for him, Karl adds, to see his brother and the bridegroom of his bride. Martin Schmoll questions this last, and Minette draws him aside, saying she will explain everything to him.

Alone for the moment, Karl sings a recitative and aria (15). He has now reached his goal and the burning longing of his heart is stilled. Now he will have rest and a dear girl will be his wife. His little bride is fair, as fair as the sun and from her eyes shine the delights of love. He is hers, and she his, her gentle heart belongs to him. He goes on to sing of his love for Minette, with love that is the happiness of life. For her alone his loving heart beats and love is the highest good: who loves not, lives not. It is love that gives courage to the heart and raises us to the stars. What feeling stirs the breast, for the love of a true woman is the highest pleasure! Love has a wonderful magic power that makes us forget the troubles of the world and protects us in a dream, a beautiful dream. With love every day is Sunday and the heart beats full of joy. Love has brought him mat day the most beautiful, most wonderful day of all. In short, he is in love. (16) Rejoining him, Minette tells him that her father has gone to rest. If she is as caring a w[e, as she is a daughter, Karl assures her, then he has won the greatest prize. He has that in any case, she modestly replies.

Karl and Minette now sing a duet (17), hymning the sweet delights of love, for now they will be happy. When storms are abroad, he will hold her hand, and she has no fear of sorrow, while they are together. (18) Their happiness is interrupted by Peter Schmoll, who wants to know what is going on. A kiss of betrothal, Karl tells him. Impossible, Schmoll cries, with my future bride. Wrong, Karl replies, Minette is his. You are wrong, Schmoll declares, she is his bride and he is master of the house. Now Bast joins them, asking what the shouting is about, and Schmoll bids him get rid of Karl immediately: out with him!

Now Minette, Schmoll, Karl and Bast join in a quartet (19) in which they can each express their feelings. Schmoll is agitated: to the Devil with him, he shouts, off with him, rascal, robber, murderer, thief! Karl attempts to speak, but Schmoll interrupts, bidding him hold his peace, if he values his life. Karl attempts again to speak, but Schmoll will have none of it: Karl is o scoundrel, a gallows-bird with no manners, and if he does not make off, he will have the dogs on him. You have no dog, Bast reminds him, with Minette’s agreement, and Schmoll’s assent. Then he will call the police and Karl will be thrown into prison, where no shouting will help him. Schmoll had just arrived in the nick of time to save Minette from this white-slave-trafficker. Minette interjects that this is all too much, but Karl does not know what to say, since Schmoll continues to rage, threatening the lock-up and bread and water, the only way to deal with crooks. Bast attempts to intervene, since jealousy has mode Schmoll mad, and urges his master to listen. Minette addresses him: dear Uncle Schmoll—He is no crook, no thief, no wicked thief, interrupts Bast, but an honourable man. Look at him, cries Schmoll. Only a robber has a beard like that and such bad manners. Karl explains that his beard is false, but the truth is that he is betrothed to Minette and has come from a distance; he is no thief, but her betrothed. (20) They are now joined by Martin Schmoll, who tells Peter Schmoll that his voice is as loud as it used to be many years ago. The latter is amazed and delighted to find his brother again, one he had never hoped to find once more, and at once offers him a place in his bank, so that they can between make enough money for themselves and for his wife. When did you marry? , asks Martin Schmoll, to be told that his brother intends to marry Martin’s daughter in the coming days. Karl interposes his own claim to Minette, and Martin talks of the time when he and his brother were separated and how Peter has been her reliable protector. Minette adds that Peter Schmoll has been the best uncle a niece could ever want, and Peter himself adds that he has protected Martin’s daughter, so that when they are married… Minette, however, interrupts with a declaration of her love for Karl. Now at last Peter Schmoll agrees, since it is the cleverer who gives way. She can take her Karl, and he will remain a bachelor. But now, for the wedding, they must all go into the town and open the bank there again. Schmoll and Schmoll, Minette announces. That will be a business, Bast adds.

The six of them, Minette, Peter and Martin Schmoll, Bast and Karl, now joined by Niklas, embark on the finale (21). Karl and Minette sing of their happiness and love, while Peter Schmoll is at first disgruntled, but his brother is delighted to have found him and his daughter again, while Bast calls it luck and Niklas congratulates the lovers and awaits the wedding banquet, for which both Schmoll brothers are now eager. Peter Schmoll addresses his niece. Things have turned out differently and it is no pleasure for him to be a bachelor, but all the same he will put a brave face on it and be happy for the two of them, and bestow on them his paternal blessing. This he proceeds to give them, talking, as his brother remarks, like a clergyman and forgetting that Martin Schmoll is Minette’s father. Have I no rights over our child? , Schmoll demands, but is pacified by his brother. Karl and Minette pledge their love for each other, with the blessing of Schmoll and Schmoll, Peter convinced of the wisdom of giving way. Niklas and Bast wish the pair all happiness, and the whole party sing together in joy, praising love, without which life is nothing: he only lives, who loves, and this is the aim of all human endeavour, for love to bring happiness to the heart. The man who has reached fifty without loving is a poor fellow, a very poor fellow. Fall in love at twenty, when you are still young, then love will give you the energy you need. Do not do as Herr Schmoll did. That, announce Niklas, Martin Schmoll and Hans Bast, was the story of Peter Schmoll. They all join together to declare that everyone should learn from it.

Jürgen Gauert

Close the window