Arabella, Count Waldner´s beautiful daughter, is desired by many men: three countes are vying for her hand, and the young officer Matteo is also in love with her. Matteo´s hopes are nourished by Zdenka, who is very taken by him. Although she is Arabella´s sister, she is dressed as a boy, since the Waldner family is to impoverished to give both their daughters an appropriate social debut in Vienna. Arabella, however, wants to wait fort he right husband, and points out a stranger to Zdenka from the window. She has encountered him previously in the street, and he made a deep impresison on her. The stranger´s name is Mandryka, who has come to Vienna in response to Waldner´s letter to his deceased uncle oft he same name. Under pressure from his creditors, Waldner has written to his wealthy friend and former regimental comrade in Slavonia, enclosing a
picture of his daughter Arabella. The young Mandryka, sole heir to his father´s fortune, falls in love with the picture at first sight, and now asks Waldner for Arabella´s hand in marriage. Since he ist he right ma for her,m she gives him her word. However, she wishes to take leave of her unmarried life with a last dance at the Fiacre Ball. Zdenka slips the despairing Matteo an envelope which, she says, contains the key to Arabella´s room, where the latter will await him this very evening. Mandryka happens to overhear this conversations, and assumes that Arabella is being un-faithful to him. In the mean time, Arabella has returned from theball and meets Matteo in the foyer oft he hotel. Matteo, believing he has just held her in his arms in her room, cannot understand why she is now so unresposive. Mandryka now appears, accompanied by Arabella´s parents, and is convinced he has caught her red-handed. Suddenly Zdenka rushes in, now dressed in women´s clothing. It was she who received Matteo in the darkness of the hotel room: now she intends to drown herself in the River Danube. Ashamed of his behaviour, Mandryka now pleads with Zdenka on Matteo´s behalf. And his own happiness is also now certain: in keeping with the custom of her homeland, Arabella gives him a glass of pure, fresh water as a sign of her forgiveness.
Koproduktion mit der Hamburgischen Staatsoper