At the Opera in Munich. 16. June 2018.
By Henning Høholt.
ARABELLA in Munich.
It is allways a large arrangement to put up Arabella, at a stage in the western world of operaworld, and specially when we have to work with the big scenes of opera, such as the opera in Munich.
The Waldner family is on the verge of ruin, their fortunes are at a low ebb: Graf Theodor, the father, is a gambler and loses the last of their money at cards, his wife, Adelaide, pawns the last of the family jewels to have her fortune told. With their debtors breathing down their necks they have already moved into a hotel. The younger daughter, Zdenka, can only appear in public as Zdenko , wearing boys‘ clothes, as there is not enough money to pay for two daughters to be introduced into society in a manner befitting their rank. The family’s only hope in this situation lies in their beautiful daughter Arabella, who must marry a rich man.
She has enough admirers, Graf Elemer, Graf Dominik and Graf Lamoral for example, all of whom are competing for Arabella’s favour. Matteo, an officer, also thinks his chances are good as he has received a letter from Arabella. What he does not know is that the letter was actually written by Zdenka. She is in love with Matteo, but in her guise as Zdenko can only play the role of best friend and supporter of Matteo in his role as potential suitor for Arabella. Arabella knows that she must soon choose one of her suitors, if possible on the evening of the impending Fiaker ball, although she has not given up hope that the right man will turn up there and make all her doubts disappear. Only that morning she has seen a gentleman whose appearance has left a strong impression. This stranger turns out to be a very wealthy gentleman, Mandryka, whose uncle and namesake is a former comrade of Graf Waldner from a Slovenian regiment to whom, speculating about the old friend‘s wealth, he has written a letter containing a picture of his daughter, thinking the nephew might be a potential son-in-law, without knowing that his old friend is in fact already dead. Mandryka, however, has fallen in love with the picture and sets out in search of the Waldner family. Graf Waldner is delighted and has no hesitation in promising Mandryka his daughter’s hand in marriage. He plans to introduce them at the ball.
Arabella and Mandryka meet for the first time at the ball. They are immediately attracted to each other and become engaged without further ado. Arabella wants to say goodbye to her three suitors, who have her crowned queen of the ball by Fiaker Milli. Matteo, on the other hand, exerts pressure on his friend Zdenko, who then hands him the key to Arabella’s room and informs him that he can have a tête-à-tête there with his sister. Mandryka overhears this conversation and thinks that Arabella has been unfaithful. Shocked by such outrageous behaviour, Mandryka flirts with Fiaker Milli. Arabella’s parents, however, are sure that the misunderstanding can be quickly resolved.
Meanwhile Zdenka has spent the night, unrecognised, with Matteo. He cannot, therefore, understand why Arabella, with whom he thinks he has just been making love in her room, is so cold and heartless when they meet on the stairs of the hotel. Mandryka considers Matteo’s reactions to be proof of Arabella’s guilt and wants to break off their engagement. As Arabella insists that she is innocent, Graf Waldner challenges Mandryka to a dual. Only when Zdenka appears in women’s clothing is the misunderstanding cleared up, whereupon Mandryka arranges the engagement of Zdenka to the completely confused Matteo in order to save her honour. Everything is now in order as far as her parents are concerned, the scandal has been averted. Mandryka, ashamed of his outbursts of anger and accusations against Arabella, believes he has lost all claim to her affections. Arabella, however, after retiring to her room for a while, agrees, to his great surprise, to marry him.