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Zar und Zimmermann

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Title: Zar und Zimmermann  
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Subject: 1837 in music, Opera in German, Frank Beyer, Soubrette, Kroll Opera House, Elisabeth Schumann, The opera corpus, List of compositions by Carl Czerny, Geraldine Ulmar, Gustav Neidlinger
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Zar und Zimmermann

Zar und Zimmermann (Tsar and Carpenter) is a comic opera in three acts, music by Albert Lortzing, libretto by the composer after Georg Christian Römer's Der Bürgermeister von Saardam, oder Die zwei Peter, itself based on the French play Le Bourgesmestre de Sardam, ou Les deux Pierres by Anne-Honoré-Joseph Duveyrier de Mélésville, Jean Toussaint Merle, and Eugène Centiran de Boirie. In 1956 it was adapted into a film in East Germany, The Czar and the Carpenter. Gaetano Donizetti had set the same story in his 1827 opera Il borgomastro di Saardam.

Performance history

The opera was first performed at the Stadttheater in Leipzig, on December 22, 1837. Lortzing's most successful and enduring work, it is still regularly performed in German-speaking countries.


Role Voice type Premiere cast, December 22, 1837
(Conductor: - )
Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia baritone Karl Becker
Peter Ivanov, young Russian carpenter tenor Albert Lortzing
Van Bett, burgomaster of Saardam bass Gotthelf Leberecht Berthold
Marie, daughter of van Bett soprano Caroline Günther-Bachmann
Marquis de Chateauneuf, French ambassador tenor Joseph Wilhelm Swoboda
Widow Browe, master carpenter mezzo-soprano Caroline Günther-Bachmann
General Lefort, Russian ambassador bass Pogner
Lord Syndham, English ambassador bass Heinrich Richter


The action takes place in Saardam, Holland, in 1698.

Peter the Great of Russia, disguised as Peter Michaelov, a common laborer, is working in a shipyard in the Dutch town of Saardam, to learn shipbuilding techniques for his navy. He befriends a fellow Russian also working in the yard, Peter Ivanov, a deserter from the Russian army. Peter Ivanov is in love with Marie, the niece of Van Bett, the Burgomaster of Saardam. Tsar Peter is told of trouble in Russia, and decides to return home.

Van Bett has been told to find a foreigner named Peter in the shipyard. The English ambassador, Syndham, and the French ambassador, Chateauneuf, have both heard the rumor of Tsar Peter's disguised presence and are looking for him, which convinces Van Bett that "Peter" is an important man. But in confusion, he identifies the wrong Peter. Chateauneuf recognises the real Tsar, and concludes an alliance with him. Syndham is fooled and presents Peter Ivanov with a passport.

Van Bett, very confused, salutes Peter Ivanov with an elaborate ceremony. Peter Ivanov gives the passport to Tsar Peter, who uses it to leave quietly, having first blessed Peter Ivanov's marriage to Marie, and appointed him to a high office in Russia.


Hermann Prey, Peter Schreier, Gottlob Frick, Erika Köth; Chor des Leipziger Rundfunks, Staatskapelle Dresden Dir. Robert Heger. 1966 EMI.


  • Amadeus Almanac
  • Anderson, James, The Complete Dictionary of Opera and Operetta, Wings Books, 1993. ISBN 0-517-09156-9
  • Brown, Clive (1992), 'Zar und Zimmermann' in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, ed. Stanley Sadie (London) ISBN 0-333-73432-7

External links

  • Libretto in German at Opera Guide
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