aus dem Zauberreiche
play with Song, Dance and Tableaux in 2 acts (a parody with song and
in 3 acts)
Scene 1 (Prologue: Banishment) Pumpf the magician is delirious with joy at the prospect of his son Longinus returning home after an absence of 5 years. But Longinus’ former teacher Nocturnus reproaches Pumpf for not allowing him to accompany the young man on his travels, and for failing to use magic to keep himself informed of his son’s progress. If Longinus has developed into a good-for-nothing, Pumpf will only have himself to blame. Longinus arrives (Aria: “Father, I am home, it is a day of celebration”). But almost immediately, Longinus admits that he has debts, and Pumpf realises that Nocturnus’ warning was all too prescient. It is Pumpf’s dearest wish for his son to marry Urania, but she is horrified when Longinus tells her about his reckless way of life without a trace of remorse. To make matters worse, he admits to lusting after 300 women, of whom Urania is one. Unimpressed, she refuses to consider him as a husband. Pumpf now begs Nocturnus for help. Rather than punish Longinus, Nocturnus proposes to improve him: by banishing him from the magic realm until he has learned his lesson. He is to live on earth as a good-for-nothing for 30 years. Longinus is delighted by this idea. In the magic realm, years will fly by like days. Nocturnus explains the conditions: Longinus should first spend 10 years on earth as a good-for-nothing. He may then choose whether to remain a further 10 years. If he does, he must then see out the full 30 years’ exile.
Scene 2. Longinus is nephew to the wealthy widow Frau von Bretnagel. Adolph, bookkeeper to the banker von Eisenkopf, is in love with his master’s daughter Albertine, but she is to marry Longinus the very next day, despite her best attempts to persuade her father to call off the match with someone she has never even met. The widow appears with her nephew in tow, and he makes a bad first impression by treating Albertine like a child. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Jacob and Emma are quarrelling. Longinus’ arrival has made Jacob jealous, but Emma promises to be faithful (Aria: “You men are such difficult creatures”). Longinus turns up in the kitchen with Heinrich, his aunt’s servant, who is plotting to scupper the wedding by ensuring that the bridegroom doesn’t turn up. Longinus immediately starts making advances to Emma and, to calm Jacob, Heinrich suggests a trip to the local tavern. Next morning, before the horrified eyes of the wedding party, Longinus is ejected from the tavern blind drunk, and the banker in a fury decides that Albertine shall marry Adolphe. Longinus is then banished from the widow’s house, though she promises to forward his inheritance. Among the wedding guests is Nocturnus in disguise, who informs his former protégé that he cannot yet return to the magic realm, since barely a year has passed since his exile.
Scene 3. Nine years later. Longinus, now 34 and an actor, turns up in a sorry state at an inn, and encounters a theatre director, in whom he fails to recognise Nocturnus. He proceeds to tell him that he has been an actor for nine years but has just been sacked for punching the director. The disguised Nocturnus refuses to give him another job, so Longinus tells his story: of being sent packing by his wealthy aunt with his share of the inheritance (100,000 talers), and of spending all the money in one year in Paris in the company of his servant Heinrich, who has now become a capitalist. Longinus is still not ready to return to settled ways. He opts to continue his disorderly way of life for another ten years. Nocturnus reminds him: "These next ten years you are free to choose. The final decade will be your punishment."
Scene 4. Heinrich and Lisette, now 20 years older, own the Golden Anchor hotel. Heinrich is proud of having duped Longinus out of his money 19 years before. For the last 3 years Longinus has been in his employ as a casual labourer, and is still no nearer to changing his way of life. Adolph, by now a rich banker, his wife Albertine and their daughter Therese have come to stay at the hotel. Longinus, now 44 and embittered, is dismissed by Heinrich for damaging the hotel's reputation through shady business deals. A young man about town, Pflastertritt, asks Longinus to arrange a tete-a-tete for him with Therese. Longinus sees an opportunity to avenge himself on Adolph for stealing his bride and her inheritance and get out of a financial difficulty at the same time. He arranges a meeting between Pflastertritt and Therese, then alerts her parents, who rush off to protect their daughter. Longinus uses the opportunity to steal from Adolph, but the theft is found out and Longinus is arrested. The scene is transformed and Nocturnus appears, observing that everything is proceeding as he planned, and that Longinus will spend the next 10 years on earth. Crepontes reports that Pumpf is furious at his son's continuing descent into ignominy, but Nocturnus stands firm. \
Scene 5. Longinus, now 54 years old, is a street sweeper, thin, miserably dressed and plagued by regrets. Suitably chastened, he finally returns to the Magic Realm and is overjoyed to see his father and his bride Urania. There would be far fewer young rascals in the world, he says, if they knew how their lives would turn out in 30 years time. Final aria and chorus: "Youth is wasted on the young."
The Plays of Johann Nestroy. A directory of synopses prepared by Julian Forsyth & Zoe Svenson.
Funded by the Austrian Cultural Forum and Arts Council England. © Moving Theatre 2004