Shows B

present, together with her two daughters, Laura and Bronislava. The three women’s characters are obvious from the outset: Palmatica is arrogant and high-flown, Bronislava quite natural, fond of sensual pleasures, especially of eating, and then there is Laura to whom no man seems good enough because she is too proud and lofty. When, however, word comes about the wealthy Prince Wybicki and his plans to marry in Krakow, Mother Palmatica and her daughter Laura, in particular, can barely conceal their hopes and curiosity. Symon – now completely a nobleman – enters as Prince Wybicki, gallantly and valiantly. The ladies fall for him on the spot. It is with amusement and malicious pleasure that Colonel Ollendorf, Major von Wangenheim and Lieutenant von Schweinitz observe how the proud countesses promptly take the bait. Symon sings a song in praise of the beautiful Polish women. Palmatica is delighted by the Prince who, in turn, pays court to her daughter Laura. Bronislava, on the other hand, is more attracted to the smart secretary. When Symon proposes to Laura, she is only too willing to marry the wealthy prince. Everyone is pleased by the rapid and happy course of things, even if for quite differing reasons. Magnanimously, Symon invites all of the Fair visitors – with Ollendorf ’s money - to the forthcoming nuptials. ACT TWO The act opens set in a sumptuously appointed salon in the palace of Countess Palmatica Novalska. Palmatica gives her daughter sound advice for her approaching marriage with Prince Wybicki. It is all unnecessary since Laura already knows exactly how to “break in” a husband. Whilst Laura intends to train her future spouse, her younger sister, Bronislava, is just simply and uncomplicatedly in love with the Prince’s secretary. With a kiss their bond is “consecrated for all time”. Symon, however, has serious problems. What until now had been only in fun has suddenly become the real thing for him, for he has fallen in love with Laura. So he seeks advice from Jan, but he, in turn, has other things on his mind. Jan is not a student at all. He is Count Opalinski, the captain who helped Duke Adam in preparing for the Polish uprising. He ardently tries to rouse enthusiasm in Symon for the liberation of their country, but the Student Beggar has little interest in political goings-on, and at the moment only cute Laura occupies his thoughts. Shy and embarrassed, he attempts to confess his true origin through all kinds of allusions. Yet the real truth never passes his lips. In his inner conflict he picks up a pen to write her everything. At this point things begin to happen in rapid succession. Ollendorf, cursing, appears with his officers. Countess Palmatica comes for Prince Wybicki to take him into the banquet hall to meet the nobility gathered there. Before he rushes into the hall, Symon gives Palmatica his letter for Laura. The Saxon officers, who know from Symon what is in the letter, persuade the old Countess not to pass it on to Laura until the next morning. The letter supposedly concerns only something about the dowry, in other words, something material that could only spoil the poetic atmosphere of the fête. The Countess is promptly taken in by the story. The bridal chorus is heard in the background, and, amidst shouts of joy from all sides, the bridal couple proceeds to the church. In the meantime Ollendorf has learned who the political agitator Jan really is and hits upon the idea that Jan could well deliver Duke Adam into his hands! He tries every tactic he can to persuade Jan to do so. When he finally offers Jan the sum of 200,000 florins, Jan accepts. Jan, or more correctly, Captain Opalinski, needs precisely this amount to be able to bribe the Italian commandant of the citadel, for, if the latter no longer offers resistance, the citadel can be stormed and all of Krakow taken. Ollendorf feels confident of success for his plan. With malicious glee, he now expects to enjoy his revenge on Laura right at the wedding feast that is to follow. To the festive ringing of bells, the newly married couple comes out of the church. Rousing festivities begin, and Ollendorf, encouraged by the others, breaks into a drinking song followed by a mazurka danced by the assembled company. But fate runs its course. As intended by Ollendorf, the jailer Enterich and a group of scruffy prisoners appear and crow: “Symon is the Beggar Student, the vagabond that everyone knows … “ The wedding guests are