(Strauss: Intermezzo). Sop. Wife of the conductor Robert Storch and mother of young Franz. She has an apparently shrewish nature, in contrast to her rather placid husband. In fact, she complains to her maid Anna, she would prefer it if Robert would sometimes be more masterful and less gentle with her, and she would then respect him more. Now he is about to leave for a concert engagement in Vienna and she and Anna are doing his packing. All the time she grumbles—either he is at home too much instead of having a normal job to go to every day, so he gets under her feet, or, as now, he leaves her by herself at home to look after their son and handle all the household bills and responsibilities. No sooner has he left than the telephone rings and a friend invites her to go skating. On the toboggan run she bumps into the young Baron Lummer. Blaming him at first for the accident, she changes her attitude when she realizes who he is and she goes dancing with him at a nearby inn. She helps him find suitable and cheap lodgings but he soon asks her for money to help him with his studies. He must wait for that kind of help, she says, until her husband returns. A letter arrives for Robert, which Christine opens. It is couched in affectionate terms, asks for tickets for the opera, and suggests they meet afterwards, and is signed Mieze Maier. She at once assumes the worst, sends Robert a telegram accusing him of being unfaithful and announcing that she will divorce him. She talks to their son, telling him how much better a person she is than his father. She visits her solicitor and starts divorce proceedings. At home she starts to pack all her things, having sent Baron Lummer to Vienna to try to discover the identity of the unknown Mieze Maier. Then Stroh arrives, ready to explain the whole misunderstanding. Delighted that it is all sorted out and eagerly awaiting her husband's return, Christine nevertheless greets him coldly, implying that the mistake was all his in the first place. To her astonishment—and secret delight—he rounds on her and tells her exactly what he thinks of her behaviour, before storming out of the room. The Baron arrives and Storch comes in, pretending he is jealous of Christine's relationship with Lummer. But she soothes him with the news that she is bored with the younger man and his demands for money. Christine and Robert are now free for a great reconciliation. Duet (with Robert): Es ist sicher kein Gaune (‘I'm sure he's no crook’). Created (1924) by Lotte Lehmann.
Legend has it that Pauline Strauss did not know the subject of her husband's latest opera until she attended the première. Lotte Lehmann had spent time at the Strauss house, studying Pauline's way of talking and moving and it was clear that the opera was based on reality. There had indeed been an episode in 1902 when Pauline had threatened divorce. Her husband had received a letter from a lady which was meant for another conductor. It was hardly a loveletter, being couched in quite formal terms and asking for some opera tickets, but Pauline assumed her husband was having an affair and went to see her solicitor. In recent years the more famous exponents of the role have been Hanni Steffek, Elisabeth Söderström, Lucia Popp, and Felicity Lott. See also article by Dame Felicity Lott.