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Der Affe und der Bräutigam

[Image:Moving Theatre logo]Der Affe und der Bräutigam
The Ape and the Bridegroom

A Farce with Songs in 3 Acten
By Johann Nestroy
Premiere: Vienna, 23rd July 1836

Funded by

Arts council of England

Austrian Cultural Forum

Lord von Flachkopf, an estate owner
Bertha, his daughter
Lisette, her chambermaid
Herr von Mondkalb, an estate owner
Karl Maria Tiburtius Hecht, his servant
Magister Geistreich
Buxbaum, Lord von Flachkopf’s gardener
Genofeva, his daughter
Tigerzahn, Owner of a Menagerie
Faust, his helper
Wilhelm von Föhrenthal, son of a gentleman from the city
Constantius Immerzorn, a representative of the law
Grall, witnesses
Blasius, official
Christoph, Servants to Lord von Flachkopf
Mamok, an ape
Lord von Wellnagel
Lady von Stein
Sophie von Nordthal, her niece
Lord von Morgenthau
Lord von Abendroth
Guests, servants, watchmen

The action takes place in Lord von Flachkopf’s residence and the surrounding area.

Act 1. Wilhelm has been entertaining Flachkopf, Bertha and the rest of the company with some magic tricks, which impress them so much they believe he must be a sorcerer. Afraid of his supernatural powers, Flachkopf decides to show this friend of his son’s the door, especially as he has shown an interest in Bertha. Bertha is meant to be marrying Mondkalb, whom she has never met, and whose arrival is expected any minute. It takes a good deal of effort for Wilhelm to demonstrate that her superstitions regarding his abilities have no foundation. Flachkopf tells a disturbed Mondkalb about his encounter with the ‘black sorcerer’, as well as the love this sorcerer bears for Bertha. Both men are nevertheless sure that Bertha will choose Mondkalb (a man as old as her father) over Wilhelm. Bertha is desperate to acquire an ape for her menagerie – and Flachkopf suggests Mondkalb give her one as a present. [Song: Hecht]. Apes are not easy to come by, and so Mondkalb decides that he will himself dress up as one. [Song: Genofeva]. Meanwhile, Tigerzahn the menagerie owner, along with his helpers, is searching for the main attraction of his menagerie, an ape, which has escaped. [Chorus]. Wilhelm has gone to a nearby inn to ponder his next move. Before he goes he decides to send his beloved Bertha a letter. While he is doing so, he comes across Mondkalb, now disguised as an ape, who introduces himself as Bertha’s bridegroom. Wilhelm reveals himself to be Mondkalb’s rival, decides to exploit Monkalb’s fear his supposed magical powers. He claims that he he is indeed a socerer, and threatens to turn Mondkalb into a real ape. In response to Mondkalb’s pleading, he agrees not to, with the injunction that Mondkalb must not make any human noise, and must stay in his costume until Wilhelm says he may reveal himself, and resigned, Mondkalb agrees. Bertha takes Mondkalb for a real ape, and is extremely pleased with her present. On leading Mondkalb (in ape disguise) out of the room, the real ape, Mamok, jumps unnoticed into the room. [Chorus].


Act 2. [Chorus] In the meantime, Mondkalb’s disappearance has begun to cause consternation. Bertha plays with her ape, and is surprised by the alteration in its behaviour, without noticing that it is not Mondkalb but Mamok the real ape. Mamok escapes out of the window, after breaking a perfume bottle, and Mondkalb, who knows nothing of his ‘doppelgänger’, is punished for it. Although Bertha is very pleased with her present, she would rather give the ape back than marry Mondkalb, but Flachkopf is determined she marry him. Bertha confesses that she is in love with Wilhelm, which infuriates Flachkopf. He manages to convince her however that Wilhelm is a ‘sorcerer’. Left to himself, Mondkalb manages to write a letter to Flachkopf, telling him of his predicament. Meanwhile, Genofeva is hoping that Mondkalb’s servant, Hecht, who has been making eyes at her, will save her from having to marry Blasius. Out of gratitude for Hecht’s help, she promises to marry him. Hecht who takes the ape for the disguised Mondkalb, and asks him for his blessing. Whilst Genofeva thinks Hecht must be mad to talk to an ape, Hecht is surprised by the ape’s strange reaction. [Duet: Hecht, Genofeva]. Lisette brings Bertha a letter from Wilhelm, in which he asks her to meet him at the garden gate, so he can give her important news. After some hesitation, Bertha agrees to meet him. While she is away, Mamok steals a diamond necklace from her room. Flachkopf discovers what has happened and immediately calls the police. [Chorus]. Mondkalb manages to leave his letter for Flachkopf to discover, but at that moment, he is caught by Tigerzahn and his helpers, who all assume he is the escaped ape. Flachkopf finds the letter and is horrified, resolving to do what he can to help him return to human form. Wilhelm tells Bertha that his father has agreed to meet Flachkopf and persuade him to agree to the marriage. Their conversation is interrupted by Flachkopf, who is accompanied by Immerzorn, a representative of the law. Immerzorn (the name means ‘always angry’) accuses Wilhelm of having turned a person into an animal, and stealing a diamond necklace. They are interrupted by the appearance of Mamok, with the diamond necklace. Immerzorn generously offers to lighten Wilhelm’s sentence, if he revokes his spell over Mondkalb there and then. Wilhlem attempts to do so, but of course, as it is the real ape, his pretend ‘magic’ makes no difference. Immerzorn leads the perplexed Wilhelm away.

Act 3. Genofeva and Hecht try and persuade Buxbaum, Genofeva’s father, to put a stop to Genofeva’s planned marriage with Blasius, but Buxbaum refuses – he does try to persuade Blasius to give up his claim to Genofeva, but Blasius is determined to see the marriage through. Hecht advises Genofeva that it would be best to resign themselves to fate, but in spite of his obvious indifference, Genofeva is determined to marry him. [Quodlibet: Hecht]. Before Wilhelm’s imminent court appearance, Bertha bribes Blasius to let her speak to him. She still believes that he is a sorcerer, but deciding he has been punished enough, admits her love for him. Wilhelm and Mamok are brought in front of the judge together. While everyone is waiting for Flachkopf to arrive, Genofeva uses the opportunity to ask Immerzorn whether he can declare her marriage contract with Blasius invalid. Immerzorn cannot however find any irregularity. Mamok suddenly rips the contract out of the vindicated and triumphant Blasius’s hand, and thereby invalidates the contract by damaging it. Nothing they can do during the course of the trial can extract a word from the ape, which everyone takes for Mondkalb. Tigerzahn arrives to request a licence from Immerzorn, but leaves his ape in the cage. Flachkopf promises to let Wilhelm marry Bertha if he revokes the spell on Mondkalb. Wilhelm urges the ape to show his real self, and to everyone’s astonishment, the ‘enchanted’ Mondkalb replies from the cage. Mondkalb is let free in no time and Mamok is put in his place. Mondkalb admits that the enchantment was only ever threatened, letting Wilhelm off the hook vis á vis his apparent magic skills. Bertha and Wilhelm are overjoyed however that Flachkopf keeps his word, and allows them to be married.


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