Der Vogelhändler, Karl Zeller

Title Der Vogelhändler
English Title The Bird Seller
Composer Karl Zeller
Librettists Moritz West and Ludwig Held
Language German, Dutch translation available
Genre Operetta (three acts)
First performance 10 January, 1891, Theater an der Wien
Time of action Eighteenth or nineteenth century
Place of action

On the Rhine, Germany (Rheinpfalz),

  1. A village
  2. A hall in the Elector’s palace
  3. The palace park
Main parts
  • Electress Marie, soprano
  • Christel, soprano
  • Baroness Adelaïde, contralto or mezzo-soprano
  • Adam, tenor II
  • Count Stanislaus, tenor I
  • Baron Weps, bass or baritone
Prominence of chorus Large

2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani/percussion, strings

Special demands

The work requires two mixed choirs to do justice to the music. Amateur-groups sometimes call in the help of fellow-societies.

Full score and orchestral parts Available
Level Not difficult
Length About 2½ hours (three acts)

Der Vogelhändler is one of the most popular works in the German repertoire. The music, well-known, is charming and witty: Adam’s entrance-song, the Rhine-waltz, evergreens like Ich bin die Christel von der Post and Schenkt man sich Rosen in Tirol, the professors’ duet, it is all brilliant and rightly popular.


Adam, a Tyrolese bird seller, is in love with Christel, post-girl in a village on the Rhine. Christel intends to get Adam a good job by presenting a written request to the Elector. However, the man who receives her is not the Elector, but a certain Count Stanislaus. When Adam finds out that his Christel has had a private interview with this gentleman, he draws the wrong conclusions and begins to show an interest in Marie, a girl he has recently met, not realizing that she is the Electress in disguise. The result is confusion. Adam, against his will, gets a job at court (the professors who are to examine him on his suitability have been bribed), and Christel is to marry Count Stanislaus, to the annoyance of Adelaïde, an aged baroness, who had singled out the handsome count for herself. Christel, however, still loves Adam. The latter overhears a conversation that makes him understand everything. He makes it up with Christel. Adelaïde also finds a husband; she marries, not Stanislaus, but the old Baron Weps.

Costumes Courtiers, country-folk in Rheinland-Pfalz costume, Tyrolese
Link Wikipedia

< La Vie Parisienne | Track | The Yeomen of the Guard >

Tags: Zeller | Knoppers