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Ein Walzertraum (A Waltz Dream) is an operetta by Oscar Straus with a German libretto by Leopold Jacobson and Felix Dörmann, based on the novella Nur der Prinzgemahl (Only the Prince Consort) by Hans Müller-Einingen from his 1905 book Buch der Abenteuer (Book of Adventures).

The young Jacobson presented Straus with a libretto for Ein Walzertraum at a coffee house in the Vienna Pratermarker in 1906. Straus was inspired by the text and completed the work within 12 months for its premiere in spring 1907.

Performance history

It premiered on 2 March 1907 at the Carltheatermarker in Viennamarker.

English adaptations

Following the success of the operetta in Vienna, productions of the work were mounted for premieres at the Chestnut Street Opera House in Philadelphiamarker on 6 January 1908, in New York Citymarker on 27 January 1908 (with an English libretto adapted by Joseph Herbert), and in Londonmarker on 28 March 1908 at the Hicks Theatremarker (adapted by Basil Hood, with lyrics by Adrian Ross, starring Gertie Millar and later Robert Evett and Arthur Williams). Lily Elsie and Amy Evans starred in the 1911 revival at Daly's Theatremarker.

The international success of the operetta exceeded Straus's expectations, and special praise was reserved for the famous waltz theme from Act Two. Straus later arranged various numbers from the operetta and included the graceful main waltz theme into a new concert waltz. The piece made Straus's international reputation, touring internationally after the Vienna, New York and London runs and enjoying many revivals. Cyril Ritchard made his debut at age 19 in the piece in Australia.

The operetta did not remain as popular over the decades as Straus' The Chocolate Soldier, but a number of modern productions have been mounted. In 1991, Ohio Light Opera produced the work, and in 1992, Light Opera Works of Illinois mounted a production.


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 2 March 1907
(Conductor: )
Joachim XIII, the Prince of Flausenthurn bass
Princess Helene, the Prince's daughter soprano
Count Lothar. the Prince's cousin tenor
Lieutenant Niki, Helene's lover and then husband tenor
Lieutenant Montschi baritone
Friederike von Insterburg, the chief-lady-in-waiting contralto
Wendolin baritone
Sigismund baritone
Franzi Steingruber, conductor of the ladies' orchestra soprano
Fifi spoken
Annerl spoken
Eduard spoken


Act One
In the fictional state of Rurislavenstein, the scene opens in the glittering and the splendour of the Prunksaal des Schlosses Hall of the Prince of Flausenthurn. Princess Helene and Lieutenant Niki of the Army had earlier became lovers and soon were married in the splendid hall whereupon the father of the Princess, Joachim decided the apparent heir to his throne. In spite of this, Lieutenant Niki appeared to be sceptical of the prospect of being a Prince as it was not financially beneficial nor does it come with the elevated status which he sought. The marriage has also raised a few eyebrows among the courtiers as Niki was just a common soldier and the choice of marriage has been a hasty one. Niki also distanced himself from the Prince's favour when the former acknowledged the hasty marriage and raised suggestions for a separate bedroom from the newly-wed Princess. It also appeared to the dismayed Prince that Lieutenant Niki favours his hometown of Vienna rather than the interests of the State. Lieutenant Niki then chooses to leave the palace secretly with his comrade Lieutenant Montschi for a pleasurable evening in the Beer-Garden. Through this troubled backdrop, a scheming Count Lothar, who is envious of Niki hatches a plan of betrayal.

Act Two
At the Garten der Wirtschaft, Niki meets Franzi, a ladies' orchestra leader and is attracted to her. Franzi, apparently, has also had her heart won by him just as quickly as her criteria is that only a true Wienerin (Viennese) can do so. By the scheme of Count Lothar, the Prince and Princess Helene was also present at the same venue with the chambermaid Friederike von Insterburg. The Count also has eyes for Franzi, however, she gives him the cold shoulder. By that instance, Princess Helene and Franzi meets and the Princess gladly wants to know the Wienerin who has won her heart. The main waltz theme of the Walzertraum plays and Niki dances with the Princess Helene. Franzi, who watches the entire scene with a broken heart realises that Niki was actually the husband of the Princess.

Act Three
Back at the Prunksaal des Schlosses Hall, Princess Helen discovers Niki's unhappiness at the marriage. It transpires that Niki longs for the Viennese customs which he grows up with. An immediate change of environment was implemented, including a change of dress code, furniture and even the meals. A new chambermaid schooled in the Viennese customs was also installed to take charge of the domestic matters. Niki, as expected, warms down to the new surroundings which comes close to his heart and soon willingly accepts Princess Helene without restrictions although he clearly misses the pretty Franzi. Franzi, however, wisely renounces her affection for Niki and all ends happily ever after.

Musical numbers (English adaptation)

  • Overture
Act I — Festival Hall in Prince Joachim's Castle at Flausenthurn.
  • No. 1 — Opening Chorus — "Our hearts are filled with glee and festive loyalty, our Princess weds today!"
  • No. 2 — Song — Friedericke, Sigismund and Chorus — "A maiden whom Cupid had not cajoled, of icy mold, distrait and cold"
  • No. 3 — Entrance March and Hymn — "The trumpets blare! Let's welcome the happy pair!"
  • No. 4 — Song — Niki — "Some men are born to rule the land, and purple robes they don them"
  • No. 4a — Exit March
  • No. 5 — Duet — Helene and Friedericke — "Our vows exchanged we're plighted, forever linked by Fate"
  • No. 6 — Terzette — Friedericke, Niki and Joachim — "What a misfortune, woeful disgrace! It is too late our steps to retrace"
  • No. 7 — Duet — Niki and Montschi — "The soft summer twilight was fading, I sat in the garden alone"
  • No. 8 — Duet and Finale Act I — "My dearest love, why leave me all alone! For you I wait with anxious heart and true"

Act II — Garden Salon.
  • No. 9 — March and Girls' Chorus — "Come, love, don't be shy, kissing time is nigh"
  • No. 10 — Song — Franzi and Girls — "You may search the world around, nowhere will you find melody and beauty both"
  • No. 11 — Duet — Niki and Franzi — "I beg you believe, sweetest maiden, that the love your charms inspire"
  • No. 12 — Terzett — Helene, Franzi and Friedericke — "I am seeking for information that you, I'm sure, can quickly supply"
  • No. 13 — Buffo-Duet — Lothar and Franzi — "Sweet music, so the poets say, maintains a universal sway" (4 verses)
  • No. 14 — Finale Act II — "It is shameful! Sad mishap! Your father, caught in a trap"

Act III — Drawing Room in the Castle at Flausenthurn.
  • No. 15 — Entr'acte Gavotte
  • No. 16 — Trio — Niki, Lothar and Joachim — "Oh, these bores! I wish they'd leave me"
  • No. 17 — Duettino — Friedericke and Franzi — "I am an humble lassie / I am a courtly dame"
  • No. 18 — Finale Act III — Niki and Helene — "Music at night gives me thrills of delight, sweet visions of bliss realizing"


Film versions included releases in Finland (1926) and Poland (1931). It was made into a 1931 Ernst Lubitsch film entitled The Smiling Lieutenant, starring Maurice Chevalier and Claudette Colbert. In 1969, a German television production was made.


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