The two-act Singspiel Die Poststation, oder Die unerwartete Zusammenkunft was composed to a
libretto by Simon Friedrich Küstner (1745-1799), a Frankfurt Am Main merchant as well as a member of
the Frankfurter Stadttheater direction. While some literature states that Die Poststation was written for
Vienna, no primary sources confirm this. Küstner’s position at the Frankfurt theatre as well as the
survival of the score and performance material in Frankfurt, points to the 17 June 1794 performance in
Frankfurt being the work’s true premiere.
Premiere: Frankfurt Am Main 17 June 1794
by Daniel Bernhardsson
The plot unfolds in the inn of a mail station, where people of the town meet and strangers pass through on their journeys by mail coach. Johann, Cleanth's servant, sings about the hypocrisy of women, foretelling the scenario of the opera. He finds that women will do anything to get a man and in the end have no true virtue or loyalty. His words contain a prophecy, which is fulfilled as the stories of several couples unfold.
Witzreich, the poet, is wooing Melinde, Dorval's widow. Melinde believes that as a widow she is bount by the strictest duty to her deceased husband, but when Witzreich kneels before her, declaring his love for her, she weakens. The Marquis von Blutdurst is in love with the nurse Mademoiselle Agathe, but her guardian and her cousin, a laywer, oppose their union. Another young ouple, Cleant and Eleonore, are in a similar predicament. Their marriage is secret and Leonore's family has promised her hand in marriage to another. Eleonore begs Cleanth to take her away.
Meanwhile, Dorval, Melinde's husband, previously thought to be dead, suddenly returns. Dorval is soon told of Melinde's new relationship, and he wonders how his wife can forget him so quickly. Dorval and Johann devise a scheme to see if there is any fidelity to be found in Melinde. Johann believes that men are fools to trust the sense of women, but together they conclude that there must be faithful women somewhere and they intend to find out if Melinde is among them. Finally, unaware of Dorval's recent resurrection, Melinde give in to Witzreich when he threatens to commit suicide. They declare their eternal love for each other and the act concludes with their kiss.
Witzreich and Melinde rejoice in their love, bidding farewell to their unhappiness, when Carlin rushes in proclaiming, to everyone's shock that Dorval is alive. It was thought that he had drowned but a coach arrived at the station that very day from Orleans carrying a slave from Algiers. This slave followed Carlin home and once he had been shaved, resembled Melinde's husband exactly. Johann ironically exclaims that he can see how sorrowful Melinde must be about her husband, but unfortunately he is still alive. He explains that Dorval must now be bought out of slavery, and because he was a captain, it will cost a pretty penny.
Meanwhile the other two couples are eloping. The scene is dark and confused and they all find themselves lost in the woods. Johann has thrown things into absolute chaos by bringing along live, cackling chickens for food on the journey. Later, a group of angry relatives converges at Melinde's door at the Mail station. Strohkopf (Leonore's intended bridegroom) and Agathe's uncle and cousing stumble in, rudely rousing Melinde and Witzreich from their sleep. They apologize, saying that it was Mamsell Leonore they were seeking. They are positive they heard her voice there. The lawyer and the Marquis confront each other, threating to duel to the death, each wanting satisfaction, while the rest comment on the danger of the situation.
Melinde has seen Dorval in a dream lying sick and pale in chains, his eyes tired and his voice weak. In her dream they looked at each other, and she cried out for forgiveness and loosened his chains. She knows that she must fulfill her decision to be true to him. Dorval and Melinde are reunited and Dorval gladly forgives her. A mail-coach driver enters announcing that he has brought the remaining fugitives with him. The families of the eloping couples are so overjoyed to see them that all differences are forgiven and their marriages blessed. The mail coach driver announces that they should all be ready for their journey within the hour. Together they conclude that a Mail station is a microcosm of the whole world and everyone has a ticket to ride.
by Marisa Solomon
Scoring: 2 Fl, 2 Ob, 2 Bsn, 2 Hn, 2 Tpt, Timp & Strings
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