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The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein

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The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein

by Henri Meilhac

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

Candidate for Adaptation? Not Likely


The first act opens with a grand review of the army of the duchy, commanded by the pompous General Boum, at which the Duchess is present. In its ranks there is a recruit, known by the name of Fritz, who has already aroused the General’s jealousy by his attentions to Wanda, a peasant girl. He continues still further to add to this jealousy when the Duchess, attracted by his good looks, singles him out for her regard and promotes him to the post of corporal. When she learns of his relations to Wanda, she raises him to the rank of lieutenant, evidently to separate him from Wanda by the new elevation. The review over, the Duchess studies the plan of a pending campaign against a neighboring enemy. She summons General Boum in the presence of Baron Puck, her court chamberlain, Prince Paul, a feeble and neglected suitor of the Duchess, and Lieutenant Fritz, who is now her special body-guard, and asks him for his plan of campaign, which he states, much to the disgust of Fritz, who declares it to be sheer nonsense. The Duchess then asks the latter for his plan, and is so much pleased with it that she appoints him general and raises him to the rank of baron, much to the discomfort and indignation of the others.


A Duchess continually promotes a lowly soldier through military and society ranks, initially as a result her liking his looks, but then for increasingly implausible reasons.  Several different sequences of events, but they all are fairly unrelated to each other, making for a rather ambling unstructured source.


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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