The curtain rises on the market square of Speisesaal where Ernest Dummkopf's acting troupe is rehearsing for a production of the Greek tragedy Troilus and Cressida. Beneath the theatrical veneer, a conspiracy is afoot among the thespians to overthrow Rudolph, the Grand Duke. Ludwig, the Company comedian, who is engaged to Lisa, the Company soubrette, admonishes everyone that it is forbidden to allude to the conspiracy without first exchanging the secret sign.
Ludwig, meanwhile, inadvertently betrays the conspiracy. A plan is conceived whereby Ludwig and Ernest will fight a statutory duel and the winner will denounce the loser to the Grand Duke. They draw cards and as Ludwig wins, he goes off to tell the Grand Duke of the conspiracy.
Unaware of the intrigue surrounding him, Grand Duke Rudolph prepares for his wedding to the Baroness von Krakenfeldt. The Baroness reveals that Rudolph was betrothed in infancy to the Princess of Monte Carlo, which poses a problem for both couples.
In the meantime, Ludwig approaches the Grand Duke in order to reveal the plot and finds him greatly agitated. Ludwig hatches a plan by which a statutory duel will be rigged and Rudolph will lose. Ludwig becomes the new Grand Duke. However, Julia, the prominent "English" actress of the troupe, points out that according to her contract she is required to play the part of the Grand Duchess. Lisa is disconsolate, but the show must go on and Ludwig is carried around the stage triumphantly.
As the curtain rises on Act II, Ludwig gloriously presents his plan to manage the Grand Duchy. The Baroness arrives, announcing that Ludwig is required to assume all of the late Duke's responsibilities, including the Baroness herself, and everyone goes off to celebrate the wedding of Ludwig and the Baroness.
Meanwhile, the Prince and Princess of Monte Carlo arrive on the scene. The Princess, finding that Ludwig has taken over all of the extinct Grand Duke's responsibilities, happily asserts a prior claim to marriage over the other Grand Duchesses. The company prepares for yet another wedding! At this moment Rudolph and Ernest appear, denouncing Ludwig as an imposter. A legal oversight is revealed and all is happily resolved.
August 29, 2011