Cover to Studio Cast RecordingDer Rastelbinder

(The Tinker)

Operetta in Prologue and 2 Acts

(Music by Franz Lehár: Book and lyrics by Victor Léon) (1902)

Carltheater, Vienna 20 December, 1902


Lehár's first great theatrical success features no aristocrats, but village folk from Slovakia, and Pfefferkorn, the humorous, matchmaking Jewish pedlar Janku leaves his village aged ten to become an apprentice tinker, after the traditional child-betrothal to Suza, his eight-year-old sweetheart. Their paths cross later in Vienna, where Janku, now 24 and successful, is engaged to his employer's daughter, and Pfefferkorn brings Suza there to work and to find her soldier sweetheart Milosch. Thanks to Pfefferkorn, all entanglements from the past are happily resolved. The Slavonic-tinged score includes the still-famous 'Wenn zwei sich lieben' and Pfefferkorn's 'Das ist einfache Rechnung'.


The prologue is set in a Slovakian village near Trencsin, twelve years before the main action of the play.

As the chorus is introduced we learn of the social reality of a Carpathian village around 1900. It becomes clear that even children have to seek their livelihood in foreign countries. This is also the case with the twelve-year-old Janku. He is the foster-child of the tinker Voitech and is also supposed to learn this trade by travelling. In keeping with an old tradition, he is engaged by his foster parents to their daughter, the eight-year-old Suza, prior to his departure, so that he will not be without a wife on his return. His departure is particularly difficult for Suza, since her beloved brother has to begin his wanderings as an orphan and entirely without money. She tries to beg a silver guilder for Janku from the rich peasant Blacek, the father of her playmate Milosch, who of course does not have to leave home. While Blacek refuses her offer to work to pay back this sum during the next years, the Jewish onion dealer, Wolf Bär Pfefferkorn, lends her the desired coin against even though he is not doing very well at all: his clothing and boots are shabby. In addition to giving her the guilder, he also gives the children advice to take on their way: "There is a simple calculation, my child, never forget that a good deed brings you interest - now that is a just profitl."

Act I

Twelve years later in Vienna. Janku has become Schani and has been transformed from a Slovak into a Vienna resident and from a tinker's boy into a hard-working tinsmith's apprentice who not only runs the business for his master Glöppler but also is soon supposed to take it over. For Master Glöppler has gone into politics and would like to make a career of it as soon as possible and thus to retire from the tinsmith's trade. It is good that his daughter Mizzi has set her eye on the smart apprentice and felt her feelings reciprocated by him. And so nothing actually stands in the way of the union of business and family.

The action begins on the day of the planned engagement, on which Janku's friend, Milosch, is celebrating his discharge from military service. After three years of duty at the Vienna Uhlanenkaserne, he would like to return to his Slovakian hometown, where his bride Suza is yearningly waiting for him. Suza? Yes, it is the same Suza to whom Janku was engaged as a child. In his eagerness for assimilation, he has forgotten her completely, as well as his whole Slovak background. Even Mizzi, his current fiancée, has confided to him that a Slovak would not be her taste! Janku thus prefers to regard himself as a Viennese child, according to the book, with everything that goes along with it.

Janku is rid of this illusion when Pffeferkorn suddenly comes bursting in with Suza. It is not only Janku-Schani who now finds himself confronted with the fact of the child engagement of so many years ago – but also Suza. She loves her Milosch so much that she wanted to come to Vienna at any price just to be near him. On the pretext of finding work there as a domestic servant, she has persuaded Pfefferkorn to take her along. And since a servant girl is actually being sought in the Glöppler home, Pfefferkorn immediately introduces her as such – just as he had once arranged for lodgings for Janku with the tinsmith. Pfefferkorn, too, has ulterior motives, since he assumes that Suza very much wants to see Janku and vice versa. The reunion arranged by him then turns out not completely to live up to his expectations. The young people, engaged as children, are anything but enthusiastic. They do not remember each other and would prefer not to know anything of one another's existence.

For his part, however, Pfefferkorn is completely mistaken in his interpretation of the embarrassment on the part of Suza and Janku. It is not loving shyness but complete dismay – both are dumbfounded. Pfefferkorn, who has no idea of the confusion that he has caused, thinks that he can better introduce Suza to the big city by teaching her urban ways.

During a feast at Glöppler's house, it turns out that Wolf Bär Pfefferkorn was born in Vienna and thus can yodel! It turns out, however, that the feast is intended for the engagement of Mizzi and Schani-Janku. The yodelling Jew is left speechless, since he still firmly believes in the childhood promises of his charges. To Schani's horror, Pfefferkorn announces to the whole party that Janku is already promised to Suza. Milosch, Mizzi, and Glöppler are shocked. The friendly company becomes anything but with the Viennese bemoaning the disgrace brought upon them and wishing to rid themselves of this riff-raff as the curtain comes down on Act 1.

Act II

It is obvious that all these misunderstandings have to be cleared up, and as quickly as possible.

No necessity, no matter how rigid, can ordain that such a misunderstanding not be cleared up. The disappointed Milosch has fled back to barracks in order to re-enlist. He is followed by Janku and Pfefferkorn. Pfefferkorn tries to make up for what he has ruined for all his good intentions. To this purpose, the two comrades. have sneaked into the barracks, but they are caught and are taken for members of the reserve. Pfefferkorn is shorn of his splendid hair and tries to ride backwards on a horse. Suza and Mizzi are also looking for Milosch in the barracks, are also discovered, and disguise themselves in uniform to the delight of all those concerned.

Meanwhile, Janku has found Milosch and explained everything to him. Suza and Mizzi have also long since made up. The childhood engagement is broken with all parties in agreement, so that the simple proverb of the shorn Pfefferkorn has now been made good: "A good deed brings you interest; that's a just profit!"

Stefan Frey

CAST ( Principals: 4 Female, 5 Male, 3 Children, SATB Chorus)


  • Milosch Blacek, rich peasant
  • Milosch, his son, 12 years old
  • Voitech, a tinker
  • Babuschka, his wife
  • Suza, their daughter, 8 years old
  • Janku, their foster child, 12 years old
  • Wolf Bär Pfefferkorn, onion dealer
  • Vaclawek, peasant
  • Kropatschek, peasant
  • Milosch's male and female servants, peasants, tinker boys


  • Glöppler, master tinsmith
  • Mizzi, his daughter
  • Janku, his assistant
  • Wolf Bär Pfefferkorn, onion dealer
  • Suza, servant girl
  • 2 choristers at Ronacher
  • Gisa Lisa
  • Lori Flori T
  • Jumplowics, sergeant
  • Baron Grobl, corporal
  • Ritter v. Streckenberg, patrol leader
  • Milosch, corporal
  • A man
  • Schweller, corporal
  • A private/orderly/reservist
  • 1st and 2nd soldiers on leave
  • A trumpeter/musician
  • Knopperl

Uhlan soldiers on leave and reservists, Glöppler's relatives and friends

Scenes and Settings:
  • Prologue: 12 years earlier than Act 1 - Slovakian village near Trencsin in Hungary (Slovakia).
  • Act 1: Vienna, in Glöppler's shop.
  • Act 2: Immediately after Act 1, in an Uhlan barracks.
Sheet music cover MUSICAL NUMBERS
  1. Ouvertüre


  1. Introduction - Chorus/Milosch - Der Slovak
  2. Kinderchor und Duettino - Suza/Janku - Da kommen schon Rastelbinderbuben
  3. Entréelied des Pfefferkorn - A jeder Mensch, was handeln tut
  4. Finale: Also jetzt wird Adjes gesagt?
  5. Lied. Das is a einfache Rechnung [Pfefferkorn]

Act 1

  1. Introduktion - Mizzi/Janku - Ich danke sehr, ich danke sehr
  2. Duett - Janku/Milosch - Na, ich wünsch Dir alles Glück!
  3. Entrée der Suza - Ach endlich, endlich heut'
  4. Erinnerungs-Terzett - Pfefferkorn/Janku/Suza - Denkt's nur nach, denkt's nur nach
  5. Lied. Ich bin ein Wiener Kind [Janku]
  6. Duettino. Wenn zwei sich lieben - Suza/Milosch
  7. Quadrille - Pfefferkorn/Suza - Hauptsach is beim Ball nobles Benehmen
  8. Finale: Guten Tag, Herr Onkel!
  9. Wiener Lied - Mizzi/Janku - Hast es net g'sehn
  10. Galopp - alle - Ihr Gesindel, so ein Schwindel

Act 2

  1. Einleitung zum Trompetensignal
  2. Lied mit Chor: Die beiden Kameraden - Janku - Ein Infant'rist von Numm'ro vier
  3. Gavotte. - Suza/Mizzi - Die Männerkleider, ach, sie passen leider nicht
  4. Orchesterzwischenspiel
  5. Schlussgesang - Suza/Janku/Pfefferkorn - Das is a einfache Rechnung

Orchestra: 2222/423/Perc/Hp/Strings

Language Versions: Fl. G