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Andrews University Department of Music
L'amico Fritz
April 4, 2009

Mascagni: L'amico Fritz (Friend Fritz)| Act I| Act II| Act III|

Pietro Mascagni(1863-1945)
L'amico Fritz

Setting – Alsace region in the 19th century

Fritz Kobus – young, wealthy, generous landowner and confirmed bachelor
Suzel – daughter of the steward on Fritz's farm in Mesànges
David – Rabbi, friend of Fritz and an irrepressible matchmaker
Federico & Hanezò – bachelor friends of Fritz
Beppe – gypsy, an orphan helped by Fritz's generosity
Caterina – Fritz's housekeeper
Chorus – Townspeople and Farmers



The dining room of Fritz's town house

On the morning of Fritz's birthday celebration, he awaits the arrival of his friends. The Rabbi, David, is the first to come, not only to greet him, but also with a request for dowry money for a poor young couple. Federico & Hanezò arrive and toast the joys of bachelorhood, while David expresses his determination to marry them all off.

Caterina announces the arrival of the shy Suzel who comes to offer her birthday greetings, a bouquet of violets. She sings of the flowers, "if they could speak, the shy daughters of the spring would express that they die happily in giving thanks to he who is so kind to the poor." Fritz thanks her and invites her to join them at the table. The conversation leads to talk of her father and the farm. Suzel conveys the word that her father hopes Fritz will visit soon, which he promises to do.

A violin is heard outside announcing Beppe’s arrival. He plays passionately, moving Suzel to tears. David asks Beppe to sing one of his gypsy airs and he complies with a song honoring Fritz's beneficence to many needy orphans of the area and sings of how as an orphan himself, nearly dying in a blizzard, was saved from death by Fritz.

Caterina reminds Suzel that her carriage is waiting to take her back to the farm. As she leaves, the men comment on her sweetness and charm and Beppe asserts that he sees love in her eyes. David urges Fritz to consider Suzel as a bride and an argument ensues, whereupon David chastises the whole lot for not taking marriage seriously. The more they protest the more David is determined to find wives for them. Fritz bets David on his vineyard in Claire-fontaine that he will not marry. The village band is heard accompanying the children and townspeople on their way to wish Fritz a happy birthday.

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The courtyard of the villa at the farm in Mesànges

It is dawn and Suzel is delighted to find that the cherries are ripe and ready to pick. The farm workers on their way to work in nearby fields are heard singing a sad song of unrequited love, "the lover who goes away never returns." Picking flowers for the house, Suzel sings a melancholic song about a knight to whom a common girl, such as herself, offered flowers. Fritz, awakened by her singing compliments her. They sing of the joy of the cherry tree, the birds, the flowers, and all the enchantments of spring.

A carriage is heard approaching. Fritz's friends have arrived and he offers to show them around the farm. David stays behind, protesting that the long ride from town has worn him out. He muses that Fritz seems to be thriving in the company of a certain young lady.

Suzel brings the Rabbi a pitcher of water and he is reminded of the Biblical story of Rebecca and Abraham's servant, Eleazar. He asks Suzel to narrate the story and draws parallels with their current situation. Shrinking in embarrassment, Suzel runs indoors as Fritz and his friends return from their exploration.

David again attempts to draw Fritz's attention to Suzel as a bride and another argument follows. Vexed, Fritz declares that he will return to town immediately, without David, but he is beginning to recognize that he has feelings for Suzel. For her part, Suzel is heartbroken that he is gone. The act closes with the peasant women echoing the refrain, "The lover who goes away will never return."


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Fritz's dining room in town

Alone in his dining room, Fritz cannot get Suzel out of his mind. The townspeople are heard getting ready to celebrate a wedding. Fritz rues the fact that love seems to be everywhere. Beppe arrives, and perceiving his dejection sings a song of his own tormented experience with love. Sending Beppe away, Fritz wonders if this thing called love really is a universal experience.

David wanders in blithely stating that Suzel's wedding has been arranged. He observes the effect this has on Fritz and they leave. Suzel sorrowfully enters the room with a basket of fruit singing of her love for Fritz and the despair of her situation. Fritz finds her and during the discussion of her supposed engagement they finally discover and acknowledge their mutual love.

The wily David enters along with the others declaring that he has won the bet and the vineyard. Fritz informs him that while the real winner of the bet is love, but that he gladly gives him the vineyard. David in turn offers it as a wedding present to Suzel. Caterina and Beppi applaud the rabbi. Fererico and Hanezò wonder what they will do without their bachelor friend, but David assures them that he will soon fix them up as well, and all join Fritz in singing of the enduring power of love.

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Program notes by Linda Mack. Copyright 2009.
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