SCHÖN IS DIE WELT (How Fair the World) A re-working of Endlich Allein - (Music by Franz Lehár: Book and lyrics by Ludwig Herzer and Fritz Löhner. *English by Adam Carstairs) - (1931) SYNOPSIS Crown Prince Georg arrives at an alpine resort to meet his fiancee and Princess Elizabeth. However, on the way he stopped to help a girl, whose name he did not discover, mend a puncture and fell madly in love with her. He announces to his father that he will not marry Princess Elizabeth because he loves another. After a dramatic right spent by our unwitting hero and heroine on a mountain because of an avalanche, everything turns out right when Georg discovers that his heart's desire is, in fact, Princess Elizabeth. STORY Act 1 In the lounge of the Hotel des Alpes, in a Swiss mountain resort, an orchestra is playing and guests are dancing, but the hotel manager and the major-domo to the Duchess Maria Branckenhorst are not interested in the music. They are looking out of the windows with anxious faces. They are expecting a visit from the King of a small but significant European country and his son, Crown Prince Georg, and the major-domo is impressing upon the manager the importance of the King remaining incognito during his stay. The reason for the meeting and its attendant secrecy is that a marriage has been arranged between the Crown Prince and the Princess Elisabeth von und zu Lichtenberg, the Duchess's niece. It is a marriage of convenience and its object is to relieve Prince Georg's country's dire financial situation through the dowry that the Princess will bring, but Elisabeth, with no thoughts for the mercenary side of marriage, is contemplating the love that lies before her with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. When the King arrives, it transpires that he and the Duchess Marie had once been lovers and they still retain great affection for each other. Travelling with the King is his adjutant, Count Sascha Karlowitz. Sascha has been married secretly to a fiery South American dancer, Mercedes del Rossa, but he has not been able to inform his King of this detail because he has several times asked the King for permission to marry and been refused. Hence Sascha and Mercedes are compelled to meet furtively and to save their ardour for a nocturnal rendezvous a quarter of an hour before bedtime. When the Crown Prince arrives, he shatters his father by announcing that he has changed his mind about marrying. He is a fun-loving young man, and he wants for a little longer to make the most of the world that he finds so beautiful and enjoyable. By chance, the Prince and Princess Elisabeth meet and, though they are unaware of each other's true identity, it happens that they are by no means strangers to each other. They met once when the Prince stopped to help Elisabeth mend a puncture on a mountain road. They are delighted to see each other again, and their mutual interest in mountaineering leads them happily to plan an alpine climb together the following day. Mercedes, meanwhile, has decided to take matters into her own hands over gaining the King's approval for her marriage to Sascha. She determines to see what a little sex appeal can do and, since the King is undoubtedly a man with an eye for a pretty face and figure, he is perceptibly taken by her dusky charms when the dance orchestra strikes up and she performs a tempestuous tango. So taken is he, in fact, that he decides she is far too good for a mere officer, and would probably do better with a King. One way and another, everyone has been diverted from the original purpose of the gathering, but Crown Prince Georg and Princess Elisabeth—both still unaware of each other's identity—are looking forward eagerly to their mountain excursion on the morrow.