A village in Alsace
Late 19th century
Fritz Kobus, a wealthy land-owner and confirmed bachelor, is celebrating his birthday. The rabbi David predicts that the obstinate Fritz will soon marry. Two other bachelor friends, Federico and Hanezo, drop by. Then Suzel, the daughter of one of Fritz's tenants, arrives with a birthday bouquet. The gypsy boy Beppe is heard playing the violin: he too has come to greet Fritz and honor his kind nature.
After Suzel leaves, David slyly comments that she is bound to get married soon. Fritz protests that she is just a girl, and David bets that marriage is also in Fritz's future, with Fritz's vineyard as the wager. The scene ends with a chorus of orphans who have also come to greet our friend Fritz, their generous benefactor.
an orchard near Suzel's house
Suzel sings a medieval ballad, and Fritz enters, complimenting her on her singing. Suzel picks cherries and throws them down to Fritz, who is captivated by her charm. Fritz's friends arrive and beckon him to join them for a stroll around the countryside, but David feigns fatigue and stays behind with Suzel. Suzel offers him a drink, and David remarks that her kindness brings to mind the biblical story of Rebecca and Eleazar.
When Fritz returns, David tests him with the tale of having found a suitable husband for Suzel. Fritz is upset by the news, and, overwhelmed with emotion, runs off without a word of farewell to Suzel, who is confused and distraught over his sudden departure.
Fritz cannot forget Suzel, and Beppe attempts to comfort him with a song written under the influence of unhappy love. Left alone, Fritz retreats into the realms of his own dreams and lamentations. David comes to tell Fritz that Suzel's marriage has been decided on, and Fritz loses his temper, saying that he will forbid the bans.
Suzel, pale and sad, enters with an offering of fruit. Fritz asks if she is really to be married, and Suzel begs him to save her from a match she does not desire. Relieved, he finally reveals his love for her, and the two sing of their future bliss. David has won his bet, and he bestows the vineyard upon Suzel as a dowry. All rejoice and wish the couple well.