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About the Operas

Die Herzogin von Chicago (1928)

by  Emmerich Kálmán

The story revolves around Miss Mary Lloyd, who makes a bet with her fawning circle of girlfriends, the "Eccentric Young Ladies Club", as to which of them can buy the most expensive thing in Europe, because they are so wealthy that they can buy anything. Meanwhile, back in the bankrupt state of Sylvaria, Prince Sándor Boris and his ministers are trying to keep the natives happy while the king is off to Monte Carlo. Then, as now, there is nothing like a royal wedding to please the locals. The prince makes a marriage pact with his old pal, Princess Rosemarie of Morenia, but there is no love between them.


Mary arrives in Budapest, where she meets who she thinks is the prince, while the real prince has been pretending to be an aide-de-camp. She, of course, prefers the aide, and there is chemistry between them at the nightclub, though the prince prefers Viennese waltzes, and Mary prefers the Charleston. Later, in Sylvaria, Mary arranges to buy the royal palace, and is shocked to learn the true identity of her friend the "aide". She decides that, having bought the palace, she must also have "the prince that goes with it".


Bondy and the prince's promised bride fall in love and, despite themselves, Mary and the prince do so, too, though they still debate the relative merits of their favorite dances. But when the prince reads a letter that Mary wrote to her father, he gets the impression that she is merely buying him, and goes back to his older engagement.


Back in Budapest, we learn that Bondy and Princess Rosemarie have eloped. The King of Sylvaria arrives with two Parisian floozies and tries to romance Mary (Sylvaria needs her money), but she, though amused, is not interested. But everything is saved when an American producer announces that he wants to make a movie about Mary and the prince, but cannot do so until the story has a genuine, American-style happy ending. The two compromise on a slow foxtrot.

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