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The Beggar Student

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The Beggar Student

by Camillo Walzel

Genre: Operetta
Format of Original Source: Plot summary
Recommended Adaptation Length: Two Hours

Candidate for Adaptation? Not Likely


The first act of this tuneful opera opens in the city of Krakow. General Ollendorf, the military governor, is in a rage because he has been repulsed by Laura, daughter of the Countess Palmatica, to whom he has showed some unwelcome attentions. To avenge what he considers an insult, he conceives the idea of dressing some poor and low-born young fellow in the finery of a prince, and passing him off as such upon the Countess and her daughter, trusting that their poverty will induce them to accept the impostor. After such a marriage his revenge would be complete. He finds his accomplice in the military prison. Symon Symonovicz, a vagabond Polish student, is ready to play the gentleman, and only insists on taking along with him Janitsky, a fellow prisoner, to act as his secretary. The plot is successful. The Countess and her daughter, who have been living for a long time in genteel poverty, are dazzled by the finery and prospects of the suitor, and the act closes with the betrothal of Symon and Laura.


Once highly popular, this storyline doesn’t translate well for a modern audience.  Probably best to leave this one on the operetta shelves.


A word of caution: This plot summary was written by 19th-century literary critic George Upton, who often mixes personal opinion with summation. You would be advised to consult the original source material, if the general plot appeals to you.


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