A quintet of Liebeslieder Singers enter, vocalizing at first, and then beginning a nostalgic musical waltz that blends fragments of the later score (“Night Waltz”). The curtain opens on the main characters dancing a surrealistic waltz of their own, their partners frequently changing. Fredrika Armfeldt, thirteen years old, sits with her grandmother, the elderly Madame Armfeldt, who is playing solitaire and has instructed Fredrika to watch for the “night to smile”. The night smiles three times, she says. Once for the young, who know nothing, once at the fools who know too little, and once at the old who know too much.
We are now at the home of Fredrik Egerman. Henrik, Fredrik’s son, is practicing cello and Anne, Fredrik’s young wife, teases him for his “gloomy” music and the severe books he reads from seminary. Fredrik enters, presenting theatre tickets for Anne, who is ecstatic to get to see the famous Desiree Armfeldt perform. Henrik complains to his father about constantly
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