Der Kuhhandel

Operetta in two acts.
Book and lyrics by Robert Vambery.
Texts arranged by Reinhard Palm

Available for stage performances only in a version with libretto revised by Robert Vambery and music completed and edited by Lys Symonette.

Drawing by Hein Heckroth from playbill cover of 1935 English adaptation.


The Caribbean island of Santa Maria is the target of an unscrupulous arms dealer, who manages to sell a shipment of weapons to the pacifist president. He then stirs up the neighboring nation, which prepares to invade in order to defend itself. To make sure the war goes forward, the arms dealer organizes a coup in Santa Maria. Meanwhile, the rush to war is resisted by Juan, a humble peasant, whose cow is confiscated so the government can pay for the war effort. Sentenced to death, he is saved by the fact that none of the purchased weapons actually works. This discovery effectively halts the threat of war, Juan gets his cow back, and all ends happily, as the bad guys flee the island.


Performance Information

English title: Horse-Trading
(First performed in English adaptation as A Kingdom for a Cow.)


Orchestra: 2.1.2 (alto and ten. sax). 1;; harp, guitar (banjo, bass guitar), organ or harmonium (accordion), timp, perc; strings.
Duration: full evening

Principal productions

Capriccio 60 013-1
Capriccio 29110

Eberhard Büchner,
Lucy Peacock,
Christian Schotenröhr,
Walter Raffeiner,
Oskar Hillebrandt,
Kölner Rundfunkorchester,
Jan Latham-König, cond.
Act I
  1. Auftrittslied des Generals (General Garcia Conchaz) - Schockschwere Not!
  2. Terzettino (Prasident Mendez, Ximenez, Leslie Jones) - Du lieber Gott was machen wir
  3. Zweite Ansprache des Präsidenten (Prasident Mendez) - Vortreefflich! 
  4. Der Mädchenraub (Juan Santos, Emilio Sanchez, Madchen, Juanita Sanchez) - Ich wohne auf der anderen Seite des Flusses
  5. Der Madchenraub (Juan Santos, Juan's Mother, Emilio Sanchez, Juanita Sanchez) - Ich muß jetzt gehn
  6. Juans Lied (Juan Santos) - Seit ich in diese Stadt gekommen
  7. Seht, wie die Sterne strahlen (Ximenez, Prasident Mendez, General Garcia Conchaz)
  8. Lied des Gerichtvollziehers (Gerichtsvollzieher, Juan Santos, Chorus) - Triffst du mich abends
  9. Quartett (Emilio Sanchez, Juanita Sanchez, Juan's Mother, Juan Santos) - An das Volk von Santa Maria
  10. Reprise (Juan Santos, Juan's Mother, Emilio Sanchez, Juanita Sanchez) - Ich muß jetzt gehn
  11. Finale Erster Akt (Ximenez, Prasident Mendez, Minister, Redakteur, Leslie Jones, General Garcia Conchaz) - Der Herr General

Act II

  1. Fandango (General Garcia Conchaz) - Weiß fällt aufs Feld der Schnee
  2. Juans Lied - Ich habe eine Kuh gehabt
  3. Finale Zweiter Akt (All) - Finale. Was, du glaubst?
Phoenix 803 (DVD) Coproduction du Volksoper de Vienne et Phoenix Edition
Ursula Pfitzner (Juanita Sanchez)
Dietmar Kerchbaum (Juan Santos)
Michael Kraus (Mr. Jones)
Carlo Hartmann (Président Mendez)
Wolfgang Gratschmaier (Ximenez)
Rolf Haunstein (Général Garcia Conchaz)
Joseph Forstner (Emilio Sanchez / Ministre von Usqua)
Regula Rosin (Juans Mutter / Odette)
Chœur & Orchestre du du Volksoper de Vienne
Direction Christoph Eberle
Mise en scène : David Pountney
Décors & costumes : Duncan Hayler