Die stumme Serenade (English: The Silent Serenade) is a comic operetta by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. It's the story of a Neopolitan dressmaker who's in love with his famous actress client, and the hijinx that ensue.

The work was composed in 1946; according to this summary on All Music, it received "universally bad reviews." As a result, it isn't a terribly well-known work and isn't performed often. According to the Royal Conservatory of Music, it had never been performed in Canada until the Conservatory's Glenn Gould School mounted it as a showcase for some of its voice students in late 2013.


Act I: Sylvia Lombardi, a famous actress, alerts her household to the fact that a man had entered her room, kissed her and tried to abduct her. The scandal captivates Naples, and the prime minister, who's engaged to Sylvia, vows that the culprit will be hanged. He's also distracted by the fact that someone planted a bomb underneath his bed, and he wants that culprit hanged as well.

The police find a mask from the salon of dressmaker Andrea Coclé in Sylvia's bedroom. Andrea is in love with Sylvia, one of his clients, but doesn't know how to express his feelings to her. When the police arrive to ask about the mask, they surmise that Andrea is the would-be abductor. Andrea says he never tried to abduct Sylvia, but that he merely went to her garden and that his heart and soul sang a "silent serenade" to her. Sylvia is flattered by the attention, so he goes along with it. This gets him arrested and thrown in jail.

The prime minister has pressured his police chief to find the bomber by the end of the day. Just as the chief is fretting about this, he comes across a priest who tells him that the king is looking to perform an act of mercy before he dies to increase his chances of getting into heaven: he wants to pardon the bomber. The police chief talks Andrea into confessing to both the abudction and the bombing, since he would be pardoned that way. Andrea is skeptical, but after the quality of the kiss in a "reconstruction" of the abduction proves that Sylvia is in love with him, he agrees.

Act II: Andrea is put on trial and is found guilty. He is given the chance to have dinner with Sylvia as a last request and they profess their love for one another. The police chief rushes in to announce that the king has died before he could finalize Andrea's pardon; it looks like he's going to be hanged after all. But the townspeople oust the prime minister and Andrea, considered a hero for trying to depose him via the bomb, is appointed to take his place.

It looks like everything's worked out for our heroes, but Andrea frets over whether Sylvia would still love him if she knew that he was neither the bomber nor the attempted abductor. He confesses to not having planted the bomb, and she is relieved. But he's not sure how to tell her that while he's in love with her, he didn't storm into her bedroom in an attempt to seduce her. He also misses his old life as a dressmaker.

A local anarchist, who's been namedropped throughout the operetta as the original bombing suspect, storms into Andrea's new office and demand he relinquish the role of prime minister. He planted the bomb, he said, so he's the real hero who should be in charge. Andrea is more than happy to oblige, but all the shouting leads to a shriek from the adjoining room where Sylvia is resting. She sleepwalks in, dreamily talking about Andrea having come to take her away. Andrea realizes that there was no abductor — Sylvia had been dreaming of him all along. Everyone is happy. And scene.

There's also a subplot involving a newspaper reporter and one of Andrea's employees falling in love.


Some of the songs are definitely catchy, though the English translation I heard featured some awkward lyricism (including a very out-of-place cucumbers reference). Still, if staged well, it could make for an entertaining evening in the hands of a good cast.


Korngold's The Silent Serenade
Die stumme Serenade 

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