Der Bettelstudent

Der Bettelstudent (The Beggar Student) is an operetta in three acts by Carl Millöcker with a German libretto by Camillo Walzel (under the pseudonym of F. Zell) and Richard Genée, based on Les noces de Fernande by Victorien Sardou and The Lady of Lyons by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. However, the librettists added the element of combining love and politics to the French comedy plots. It premiered in Vienna in 1882. A German film adaptation, The Beggar Student, was directed by Georg Jacoby in 1936 and a West German film adaptation, The Beggar Student, was directed by Werner Jacobs in 1956.

Performance history

The work was performed first at the Theater an der Wien, Vienna, on 6 December 1882. It was a success and allowed Millöcker to retire from conducting. Johann Strauss II rejected the libretto in favor of A Night in Venice,[1] but Millöcker's work turned out to be an enduringly popular operetta, with over 5,000 productions.[2]

The piece played at the Thalia Theatre in New York City in 1883 and then in English at the Casino Theatre in 1883. It was revived in New York at least three times: in 1898 at the American Theatre, in 1899 at the American Theatre, and in 1913 at the Casino Theatre.[3] It was also performed in London at the Alhambra Theatre in 1884, in a four-act version.[4]

The operetta has been filmed at least four times – once in English (1931), and once as a silent film (1927). It has also been performed on German television. Recent productions in English include Ohio Light Opera (1996),[5] and Light Opera Works (1991).[6]


Role Voice type Premiere cast, 6 December 1882
(Conductor: Carl Millöcker)
Colonel Ollendorf, Commander of Krakow bass Felix Schweighofer
Symon Rymanowicz,[7] the beggar student tenor Alexander Girardi
Jan Janicki, a student tenor Joseph Josephi
Enterich, a jailer baritone Carl Adolf Friese
Piffke, warden tenor
Puffke, warden tenor
Richthofen tenor
Palmatica, Countess Nowalska mezzo-soprano Therese Braunecker-Schäfer
Laura Nowalska, Palmatica's daughter soprano Caroline Finaly
Bronislava, Palmatica's daughter soprano Lore Jona
Onuphrie, Palmatica's servant bass
Count Bogumil Malachowski,[8] Palmatica's cousin bass Alexander Guttmann
Eva, wife of Bogumil mezzo-soprano Lore Jona
Major von Wangenheim tenor
Lieutenant von Schweinitz bass Franz Eppich
Captain Henrici bass
Prisoners and their wives, soldiers, wedding guests chorus


Place: Kraków, Poland
Time: 1704

Act 1

Colonel Ollendorf seeks revenge against Laura Nowalska, who rebuffed him with her fan, offended by his advances. Laura's mother declares that only a Pole and nobleman can be her son-in-law. He releases a seemingly penniless student and his friend (Symon and Janicki) to pose as a millionnaire and his aide, to entice the bankrupt but venerable Nowalska family. Laura agrees to marry Symon, and Janicki falls in love with Laura's sister.

Act 2

The money that the colonel supplied to Symon is just about gone and he is no longer able to keep up the appearance of nobility. He and Laura have developed genuine feelings for each other and he struggles with the decision to tell her the truth. He writes a letter confessing the ruse. The colonel senses that the letter will end the plot, and convinces Laura's mother not to open it. When the wedding ceremony is over, the colonel reveals the truth about Symon, who is subsequently driven from the palace.

Act 3

Symon is contemplating suicide, when his friend Janicki reveals that he is a Polish officer and is part of a group of patriots who are planning to capture the citadel and to reinstate King Stanislaus. The Governor-General discovers that Janicki knows the whereabouts of the Polish grand duke and bribes him with 200,000 thalers to reveal his location to the Austrians. Janicki asks Symon to impersonate the grand duke until the money for his capture can be paid. The plot succeeds. In return, he is knighted by King Stanislaus and accepted by his wife and mother-in-law.

Musical numbers

Act 1
  • Ach unsre Lieben sperrte man ein: Introduction – Chorus
  • Und da soll man noch galant sein – Ach ich hab' sie ja nur auf die Schulter geküßt: Ollendorf (the "Kiss on the Shoulder" waltz)
  • Die Welt hat das genialste Streben: Entrance Duet – Symon – Jan – Chorus
  • O Juchheissa, hurra! Die Messe beginnt: Chorus & Ensemble
  • Einkäufe machen sollten wir eigentlich: Entrance Trio – Laura – Bronislawa – Palmatica
  • Das ist der Fürst Wybicki
  • Bravo! Bravo! Es geht ganz famos
  • Ich knüpfte manche zarte Bande: Ensemble & Song – Ollendorf – Laura – Bronislawa – Symon – Jan – Palmatica – Chorus
  • Du bist die Seine? – Höchste Lust und tiefstes Leid – Bei solchem Feste: Finale Act I – Palmatica – Laura – Symon – Bronislawa – Ollendorf – Jan – Enterich – Chorus
Act 2
  • O Einen Mann hat sie (hab' ich) gefunden: Trio – Palmatica – Bronislawa – Laura
  • O Durch diesen Kuß sei unser Bund geweiht!: Duet – Jan – Bronislawa
  • Soll ich reden, darf ich schweigen? – Ich setz' den Fall: Duet – Symon – Laura
  • Glückliche Braut! Dir strahlet hell das Leben: Ensemble – Symon – Ollendorf – Palmatica – Jan – Laura – Chorus
  • Mit Geld und guten Worten: Couplet – Ollendorf
  • Klinget, Feierglocken, klinget!
  • Trinkt uns zu, trinkt uns zu
  • Tempo di Mazur
  • Heidahi, heidaha! Sind wer och nich invidiert...
  • Ach, ich hab' sie ja nur auf die Schulter geküßt: Finale Act II – Ollendorf – Symon – Enterich – Laura – Bronislawa – Palmatica – Jan – Chorus
Act 3
  • Lumpen, Bagage, Bettelstudent!
  • Der Fürst soll nur ein Bettler sein: Introduction – Bronislawa – Chorus
  • Ich hab' kein Geld, bin vogelfrei: Couplet – Symon
  • Still, man kommt! – Dort steht der Patron!
  • Die halbe Stunde ist vorbei
  • Jetzt lach' ich jeglicher Gefahr: Ensemble – Ollendorf – Palmatica – Symon – Jan – Laura – Bronislawa – Chorus
  • Befreit das Land! Geknüpft das Band!: Finale Act III – Symon – Laura – Bronislawa – Jan – Palmatica – Chorus



  1. MMGuide reference
  2. Information about a number of popular operettas, including Beggar Student
  3. The Thalia Theatre and the American Theatre were different names for the Bowery Theatre
  4. Information from the Guide to Musical Theatre
  5. "1996 production". Archived from the original on August 28, 2006. Retrieved June 15, 2007.
  6. Light opera works
  7. sometimes called S. Symonovicz
  8. sometimes called Felinski
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