Shows D

A month later things have developed in a not unexpected way. Maria is falling in love with Rudi. Prince Charles is aware of the situation but he hides his discomfort under sarcastic teasing, particularly when Ruth attempts disastrously to become a Viennese gentleman and to dress himself in what he conceives to be the fashion of the town. Maria confides her growing feelings to her teacher, Frau Kurt, as they join in a duet from Rudi's score to the operetta in which Maria is to star. At the first night of the new operetta, gossip is aflame about the new composer and the prima donna.. Prince Charles pours scorn on the gossips and proudly confirms that Maria will sup with him after her premiere as she has always done but, as the curtain rises for the last act, he receives a message: the lady begs to be excused. On the stage of the Theater an der Wien, Rudi Kleber's operetta Lorelei climbs unstoppably to success as Charles's star equally inexorably declines. In Maria's apartment, after the show, Rudi is a little drunk with wine and success, but also with feeling. He asks Maria if she loves him as he loves her and she answers whole-heartedly, yes. He asks about Charles, and Maria assures him that the affair between them was over long ago. As the lovers kiss, Charles enters. With pointed charm he congratulates Rudi on both his successes. He is going to England, so he has come to collect his clothes: his dressing gown which Rudi is wearing and his other things which he remembered when he was here last night. Charles was here, in Maria's rooms last night? Maria cannot deny the truth of his words and to the bewildered Rudi it seems that Maria has lied to him. In a turmoil of wine-stained emotion he leaves the apartment, leaving Maria and Charles together. Tearfully Maria taxes Charles with destroying the first real love of her life and the Prince, his own cause equally destroyed, departs. But Rudi has overheard Maria's profession of love and he returns. Maria tells him that Charles had indeed been there the previous night: to ask her to wed him, or to say goodbye. It was goodbye. As the two lovers embrace to the strains of 'I Can Give You the Starlight', the act ends. ACT 2 It is three years later, 1914, in a chalet in the Tyrol. Much has happened in the intervening time. Rudi has become internationally known, and he and Maria have lived happily together, but through all that time he has not asked her to marry him. He remembers his vow to little Grete, now in school in England, and he will neither break it nor betray it. tn-dy-rcd2Maria feels deeply the socially unacceptable position she is in and she cannot help being hurt by Rudi's reticence where marriage is concerned. There is no doubting his love, though. It shines through his music for her, and tells her in its words what he cannot yet say to her more clearly. Grete returns to Austria, no longer a schoolgirl but a beautiful young woman. Rudi's friend Franzel is lovestruck, and Rudi himself is delighted to have his little girl back. Maria is less delighted. She is jealous, and before long a quarrel born of that jealousy builds up. He storms out and she pens a note to the still faithful Charles Metterling. The quarrel is soon mended, but the note cannot be recalled. When Charles arrives, Maria pours out her troubled heart to him. The nature of her relationship with Rudi keeps her in a perpetual state of tension and the advent of Grete has brought those tensions to an unbearable pitch. Grete entertains the artists gathered in the house for a gala performance with a little English musical comedy song but, when she has finished, Maria asks Rudi to send everyone away. She can take no more and she must speak to him alone. Rudi asks her to wait upstairs for five minutes. Now he can fulfil his promise to Grete. She will be the first woman to receive an offer of marriage from the great Rudi Kleber. She will refuse, of course, but what a triumph it will be. Rudi does it properly, bended knee and all and, as he does so, Maria, standing quietly in the shadows on the stairs', listens. Without waiting a moment longer, she leaves the house in distress and so she does not hear the rest of the scene: Grete's delighted refusal which at last leaves Rudi free to ask Maria to marry him. When Grete goes out of the room, he plays the refrain of 'My Dearest Dear', the agreed cue for Maria to come