The king and queen have grown old and the prince is still without a bride. One stormy night a girl appears bedraggled and grimy, claiming to be a princess. For the prince it is love at first sight – but what if the stranger is not the princess she claims to be? She must be put to the test, and what better way than by placing a pea between the mattresses of her bed. Because, of course, for a real princess, this would mean discomfort …
Ernst Toch was commissioned to write a short opera in 1927 for the chamber music festival of Baden-Baden, the leading centre of contemporary music at the time. The only thing the composer lacked was a brilliant idea for the libretto. According to legend, it was a friend of Toch, the sculptor Benno Elkan, who, reaching blindly into a bookcase, fished out a volume of Hans-Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. This fortuitous event led to one of the 20th century’s most musically compelling fairy-tale operas. The libretto by Elkan, with its sharp-witted and strikingly expressionistic, is a pleasure for both young and old. The work was premiered in 1927 along with Paul Hindemith’s »Hin und zurück«, Darius Milhaud’s »L’enlèvement d’Europe« as well as »Mahagonny« by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht.
Deutsches Hygiene-Museum Dresden
Musical fairy tale in one act by Ernst Toch after Hans-Christian Andersen. Performed in German. 6 years and older.
Running time 45 minutes
Premiere 26 Feb 2012