Cover to 1997 studio cast recordingPAGANINI

An operetta in 3 acts: libretto by Paul Knepler and Béla Jenbach; Music by Franz Lehár:

Johann Strauss Theatre, Vienna - 30 October, 1925
Lyceum Theatre, London; adaptation by A. P. Herbert and Harry Dexter. - 20 May, 1937
New Professional Version by David Kram and Dennis Olsen

The first Lehár operetta written for Richard Tauber's voice, and thus the beginning of a unique composer/artist partnership that produced six of Lehár's finest works. Set in Italy in 1806, the story tells of the legendary violinist's romance with the sister of Napoleon. Yet another wonderful Lehár score, including the delightful "Girls Were Made To Love And Kiss". Plenty of chorus work, and many small parts, both male and female.



Act I

Paganini, accompanied by his impresario, Bartucci, visits the small Principality of Lucca, whereupon the townspeople are given a chance to hear his diabolically tempting violin playing. The opinions of the villagers are divided regarding this "musical sorcerer" on the violin. The women are all hypnotised by his playing. The men, however, are quite sceptical, wishing he'd go to the devil.
The exalted town mayor, Pimpinelli, orders a meal for the Hunting Society and her royal highness, Anna, in the village tavern. Pimpinelli turns up his nose at the thought of the Princess having chosen an ordinary public house to dine.
Napoleon's sister, who can afford anything she desires, hears Paganini's playing from a distance and is immediately enraptured. Paganini appears, graciously throwing coins to the townspeople and praising his native country.
The Princess, who was first intoxicated by Paganini's violin playing is now captured by the artist's charm. No sooner as the way seems clear for Paganini, Impresario Bartucci excitedly proclaims that the Prince has issued orders forbidding Paganini's Lucca concert. Paganini is so vexed by this irrational decision that he begins packing his suitcase.
Pimpinelli encounters the beautiful Bella Giretti, prima donna of the Royal Opera House. She is currently the Prince's mistress but she is always ready to flirt with a suitable admirer.
A second meeting between Anna Elisa and Paganini is interrupted by several passers-by.
Prince Felice arrives with his huntsmen but an argument develops between the royal couple over Paganini's cancelled concert. The sly Anna Elisa threaten to announce publicly the affair between the Prince and Bella if he refuses to allow Paganini's concert to go ahead. The Prince is left with no other choice than to lift the ban.

Act II

In the ensuing six months, Paganini has been appointed court conductor and musical director of Lucca's opera. The artists have got together to play a card game call chances. Overcome by his passion for playing cards, Paganini gambles away his priceless Stradivarius. The winner, Pimpinelli, promises to return to him the violin if Paganini will confide his secret to conquering women. When given the advice Pimpinelli becomes ambitious in hoping to reach his goals with this successful recipe. Meanwhile Paganini has compose a love song for his sweetheart, Anna Elisa.
No woman is safe in Pimpinelli's presence and he yet again tries his luck with the lovely Bella - but without success.
The court gossip flowers - rumours concerning the Princess' affair have even spread a far as Paris. Her brother Napoleon is enraged and dispatches Graf Hedouville to Lucca with the king's orders: Paganini is to leave town immediately! In a rage the Princess demands that these orders are nullified - she refuses to be separated from her lover.
In spite of his indisputable love for Anna Elisa, Paganini still has eyes for other women, for example, Bella. Unsuspectingly he succumbs to her charms and dedicates to her the love song originally composed for Anna Elisa. Bella triumphs!
As the Princess is about to command the prima donna to leave the court, Bella shows her Paganini's love song. Anna Elisa swears vengeance and orders Graf Hedouville to place Paganini under arrest - during the concert - which is just beginning.
The entire court is full of suspense and surround Pimpinelli, thinking he can shed a little light on what is going on.
Paganini is warned by Bella but ignores her words. He begins playing with such a passion that Anna Elisa forgets her anger and falls in love again. She pledges her love to him before the entire court and leaves the hall with him.


The setting is the smuggler's tavern - The Rust Hobnail - where the smugglers gamble and drink their time and money away. A knock at the door is heard: Pimpinelli and Bella ask for lodging for the night. At the same time, another unexpected guest appears - Paganini! He is to be smuggled across the border by the gang at midnight. Suddenly, the impresario Bartucci appears. Paganini reassures him that his one and only love is his violin. He remains steadfast as Bella again tries to delude him. If she can't win her famous violinist, she'll have to settle for Pimpinelli - better the Mayor than no man at all!
The Princess, disguised as a street singer, has followed Paganini. She starts a frivolous song but Paganini immediately recognises her voice. He takes his leave of her, however, assuring her that "No other woman stand between us, but I must, nevertheless, go alone because I must remain alone."

Musical Numbers (original version)

  1. Violin Solo
  2. Mein liber Freund, ich halte viel auf Etikette - Anna Elisa, chorus
  3. Schönes Italien, erst gedenk ich dien … - Paganini
  4. So jung noch, und schon ein großer Meister - Anna Elisa, Paganini
  5. Feuersglut lodert heiß in meinem Blut - Anna Elisa
  6. Niemals habe ich mich inteeressiert - Pimpinelli, Bella
  7. Finale Act 1
  8. Introduction - Wenn keine Liebe wär' - Bella
  9. Gern hab' ich die Frau'n geküßt - Paganini
  10. Deinem süßen Rosenmund - Paganini
  11. Launisch sind alle Frau'n, alle Frau'n - Bella, Pimpinelli
  12. Sag' mir, wieviel süße, rote Lippen - Anna Elisa, Paganini
  13. Ich kann es mich fassen, nicht glauben - Anna Elisa
  14. Finale Act II
  15. Liegen um Mitternacht - Chorus
  16. Hat man den Kopf von Sorgen voll - Beppo, Chorus
  17. Melodram und Reminiszenz - Paganini
  18. Jetz beginnt ein neues Leben - Pimpinelli, Bella
  19. Wo meine Wiege stand - Anna Elisa
  20. Finaletto - Anna Elisa, Paganini

Musical Numbers: (version by Kram / Olsen)

    1. Violin Solo
    2. L'Empereur Napoléon - Anna Elisa
    3. Bella Italia - Paganini
    4. Boundless Feeling - Anna Elisa
    5. The Devil's Price - Anna Elisa
    6. Pimpinelli, bel signor - Pimpinelli, Bella
    7. Finale Act I
    8. La Dolce Vita Calls - Bella,Pimpinelli, Paganini, Chorus
    9. Girls Were Made to Love and Kiss - Paganini
    10. In a Golden Dream - Paganini, Anna Elisa
    11. Let Your Hair Down and Kick Up Your Heels - Bella, Pimpinelli
    12. Love Live Forever - Anna Elisa
    13. Who Could Love More Than I? - Anna Elisa, Paganini
    14. Finale Act II
    15. Ah, che vita romantica - Chorus
    16. Melodrama and reminisence - Paganini
    17. You'll Take Me to the Opera - Pimpinelli, Bella
    18. Who'll Sing Along With Me Tonight? - Anna Elisa
    19. Finaletto - Anna Elisa, Paganini


3 female, 8 male

Anna Elisa - soprano
Paganini - tenor
Bella - soprano
Pimpinelli - tenor
Felice - tenor
Bartucci - speaking role


flute, oboe, 2 clarinets, bassoon, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, percussion, harp, strings. Professional Version: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, 2 mandolins, percussion, celeste, harp, strings, solo violin Amateur Libretto available on hire only