Young Edwin, son and heir to Prince Lippert-Weylersheim, has fallen deeply in love with Sylva Varescu, the incomparably beautiful cabaret singer in Budapest, and cannot bear to let her leave to tour America tomorrow. When his cousin, Captain Baron von Rohnsdorff, arrives to summon him to return to active duty in Vienna, he is reminded of the promises he made at home. His family are desperate to announce his official engagement to his childhood sweetheart, Countess Anastasia Eckenberg, and Rohnsdorff has even brought one of the announcement cards they have prepared. Edwin wants nothing to do with his family anymore, and immediately summons a lawyer and witnesses so that he and Sylva can be married on the spot, much to Sylva’s amazement. It comes as little surprise to find that it was all a charade, when her manager, Boni, shows her the announcement card: Edwin was not free to marry, so the contract is void. She leaves to tour America intent on making the world love her.
Back in Vienna, the Lippert-Weylersheim’s are holding a grand ball, intending to finally make the announcement of their son’s engagement. Things do not completely go to plan when two unexpected guests arrive: Count Bonifazius Kancsianu (Boni), and his wife, the Countess (Sylva), who many remark looks like a wonderful cabaret singer they know. Sylva has a plan to get Edwin to commit to their original contract, but when she finds out from several sources that he is ashamed of her, she tears the contract in pieces. In the meantime, Boni has fallen madly in love with the straight-talking ‘Stasi’, Edwin’s future wife, and she is somewhat taken by his witty tongue, and his professions of devotion to her. With his old friend Feri, they set about untangling these relationships so that everyone ends up with the right person.
In true operetta style, this fabulously funny story is interspersed with lots of waltzes, as well as the raucous choruses that are characteristic of the genre. With its happy ending and some beautiful gypsy-melodies, it is no surprise that Die Csárdásfürstin remains one of the most popular operetta’s in the canon today.