Cover to cvast recordingDie Perlen der Cleopatra

Cleopatra's Pearls

Operetta in three acts: libretto by Julius Brammer & Alfred Grunwald. Music by Oscar Straus

Theater an der Wein 17 November, 1923


Berlin Version (1924)

Act I

We open with the sun rising over the Nile. The ensuing chorus praises the dawning day. Charmian, lady-in-waiting to Queen Cleopatra, announces that the queen has awoken The action is situated not only in the first century B.C. but also in the present. Cleopatra's overhasty decisions about the life and death of her fellow human beings are examined. Pampylos, Cleopatra's prime minister, ponders the same theme. From his words it becomes apparent that Cleopatra enjoys a Viennese breakfast with hot chocolate and fresh viennese croissants. This breakfast is served because of the rhyme on Kipfel, croissants, and Zipfel by which Cleopatra is fond of grabbing her subjects – and this represents the first verbalization of the erotic double-entendres prevailent in the action.

The ambiguity reaches a first climax as a group of ladies clings to Beladonis. This Syrian prince, who has come to the Nile as an ambassador, tries to communicate to the girls Thais and Lais that the love play, of which they cannot get enough, also has to have its end. They are so fascinated, however, by his little love flute, the playing of which brings a blush to the cheeks of the girls and women. Beladonis calls on the god Pan, who offered Daphne natural champagne from flower goblets. Meanwhile Pampylos briefs Prince Beladonis about Cleopatra's habits.

Trumpets announce the queen's entrance. Cleopatra declares her unhappiness with her lot and proceeds into her longing for a little Egyptian flirtation. She wishes for an exhilarating experience that will restore her health.

Pampylos announces the Syrian ambassador to Cleopatra as the possible fulfillment of her wishes. Pampylos, knowing his queen as he does, interprets her horoscope much the way she would like to hear.

The Roman legionary, Silvius, returns from Rome to the Egyptian camp with a message from Caesar. He is the lover of Cleopatra's lady-in-waiting, Charmian, who professes a deep sensuous love of Silvius for Charmian and her passion for the strong Roman.

The queen, whose body has already been anointed for the planned amour with Beladonis, receives the Roman soldier to whom she becomes attracted. Silvius actually wants to ask Cleopatra for her permission to take Charmian home, but he succumbs to her seductive charms. Cleopatra names him commander of her palace.

The tearful Charmian, who knows what will happen, is consoled by Be!adonis and Pampylos. The two men, referring all too clearly to themselves, encourage Charmian to look for another lover.

We move to Cleopatra's boudoir where Silvius admits to the queen that Charmian is his lover. Cleopatra refers to Charmian's physical imperfections and sends Silvius off to her, only then immediately to call him back. Cleopatra dissolves one of her love pearls in red wine and gives it to Silvius to drink. The act ends with the consummation of the sexual act on which the curtain falls.

Act II

The River Nile has almost dried up. Pampylos calms the people, indicating that Cleopatra has already gone to the god Ptah to make the Nile rise again.

Pampylos stirs up Silvius's jealousy against Cleopatra's other lovers as a trumpet fanfares announce the queen's arrival. Cleopatra communicates the greetings of the god Ptah. The story of her saving deed, of the sacrificial kiss with the young, handsome priest Radamos on a stone bench. Cleopatra almost laughingly claims that she has done this deed only for her people and for the good of her country. At Cleopatra's intervention much indeed does rise – and not only the Nile.

Beladonis is still waiting for his audience with Cleopatra. On Pompylos' recommendation he spends his time with the female pupils of the love conservatory of Memphis.

Silvius jealously calls the queen to account and asks what he is should Cleopatra also want to command his thoughts.
Cleopatra replies indicating that he is her love slave, that he has the chance to win her heart as king, and she prophesies to him that someday, when she orders him to depart, he will agree that he had a wonderful time. She tells him that a woman's heart is like a golden lute on which he must find the skill to play.

Kophra, the leader of a planned uprising against Cleopatra on behalf of Ptolemy, understands how to exploit Silvius' jealous feelings. Kophra incites Silvius against Cleopatra. Silvius outdoes the exhortation of the conspirators in his resolve to remove Cleopatra's crown from her head and to make her his slave. The queen's principle of sovereign rule is now presented by Kophra reinterpreted as Cleopatra's demise.

Silvius freely repeats his resolve to revenge, which he has just decided to carry out. Now, however, in his imagination, he sees himself in the role of the ruler over Cleopatra, who is begging him for mercy, no longer as a queen, but as a weak woman.

Cleopatra praises the love life of King Tutankhamen and his hundred wives.

The grand, operatic finale of Act II begins. Silvius openly engages in opposition against Cleopatra. Thinking this is peculiar, she calls for her bodyguard and the Nubians. Silvius announces that in an hour Ptolemy will rule in that very place. Cleopatra makes a plea for her life. Silvius answers her plea indicating that he would like to see her at his feet.

Cleopatra tries to spin Silvius into a web of happy memories. She is almost able to move Silvius to kiss her, but then a fanfare sounds. Silvius interprets this as the arrival of Ptolemy and now is ready to protect Cleopatra with his body. However, it is the counter-revolution of Cleopatra's loyal servants, led by her prime minister Pampylos, that now approaches. Cleopatra has the ringleaders arrested. Silvius in particular is to be placed in heavy chains.

Cleopatra thanks Pampylos for calming the murmuring crowd. Pampylos again directs Cleopatra's interest toward Beladonis. Cleopatra immediately reacts with her hope for a little Egyptian flirtation. Pamplyos presents Prince Beladonis to the queen. Cleopatra sends her servants away. Cleopatra dissolves a love pearl in a glass of red wine


The farewell audience of Beladonis has been initiated by Pampylos. Cleopatra has made generous use of his love flute. Beladonis thanks Cleopatra for the gift of the Bay of the Sea of Erebria

Cleopatra pardons Silvius, permitting him to return home with Charmian. Silvius bids farewell to Egypt. Pampylos announces that a fleet of Romans, commanded by Mark Antony, has put into port.

The Romans make their entrance. In his address Mark Antony declares Egypt a Roman province. He threatens to make Cleopatra surrender. Cleopatra charms him. It is Cleopatra herself who drains the cup of wine in which she has dissolved the love pearl. .


  • Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt (Soprano)
  • Prince Beladonis (Tenor)
  • Victorian Silvius, Roman Officer (Tenor)
  • Pampylos, Minister (Baritone)
  • Charmian, Lady-in-Waiting to Cleopatra (Soprano)
  • Iras (Soprano)
  • Kophra (Tenor)
  • Marcus Antonius - Commander of the Roman Army

Musical Numbers

Act 1

  1. lntroduktion (Charmian, Iras, Pampylos & Choir) Osiris größer aller Götter
  2. Auftrittslied: Meine kleine Liebesflöte (Beladonis und Mädchen (Nein, meine sehr verehrten Damen
  3. Chor und Auftrittslied: Mir fehlte nichts als ein kleiner ägyptischer Flirt (Cleopatra & Chor) Heil dir, Cleopatra, du große Königin!
  4. Duett: Die Liebe ist doch nur ein süßer Schwindel (Cleopatra, Pampylos) Ich fühle mich plötzlich so freudig bewegt
  5. Duett: Ich bring' mein Herz dir zärtlich entgegen (Silvius, Charmian) Mir klopft das Herz
  6. Szene & Duett: Cleopatra (Cleopatra, Silvius, Pampylos (Du bist sehr stark und wohlgebaut
  7. Terzett: Hier im gelobten Lande (Charmian, Beladonis, Pampylos) Ach Charmian, ach Charmian
  8. Finale I (Cleopatra, Silvius) Immer einsam und allein

Act 2

  1. Introduktion (Pampylos & Chor) O Land der Pharaonen
  2. Chor, Ariette & Ensemble: Fur euch allein musst es geschehen (Cleopatra mit Chor) Strahlend wie die Sonnengötting
  3. Ägyptischer Marsch: Ja hier am Nil und bei den Pyramiden (Beladonis, Pampylos & 6 Mädchen) Hier in dem Lande des klassischen Styles
  4. Duett: Ja so ein Frauenherz (Cleopatra, Silvius) Du bist der Liebessklave
  5. Ensemble (Kophra, Silvius & Männerchor) Ist man Soldat hier in Ägypten
  6. Aria (Silvius) Zu meinen Füßen will ich sie nur einmal sehn
  7. Couplet So war ich bin Cleopatra (Cleopatra & Chor) Der König Tutankamen
  8. Finale II (Cleopatra, Silvius, Beladonis, Pampylos & Chor) Nun ist's genug

Act 3

  1. Musikalische: Szene Meine kleine Liebesflöte (Cleopatra, Pampylos, Beladonis) Erhab'ner Stern des Ostens
  2. Reminiscenz und Melodram (Silvius) Ich bring' mein Herz dir zärtlich entgegen
  3. Marsch (Auftritt der Römer)
  4. Buffo-Duett: Ach, Anton, steck' den Degen ein (Cleopatra, Marc Anton) Wenn ich in Rom durch die Straßen spazier'
  5. Bühnenmusik und Finaletto (Cleopatra, Marc Anton) Immer einsam und allein