Feldern, a young architect
Bumml, his servant
Stockmauer, a landlord and investor
Netti, Sali, Mathilde, Pauline, Cilli, Tini, Zenzi, all seamstresses
Klettner, a merchant
A clerk of court
Scene: A beautifully furnished room with doors centre, right and left.
his aunt, the widow Stiegenberg, is away, Feldern and his servant
Bumml may live in her apartment. Each has arranged a rendezvous.
But Stockmauer has Feldern placed under house arrest for not paying
debts. Stockmauer is confident that the aunt will pay her nephew’s
debts on her return, but he is keen to teach Feldern a lesson for trumping
him regularly in love, especially as Stockmauer currently has two relationships
on the go and is anxious that it shouldn’t happen again.
To pass the time, Feldern decides to lure women to his aunt’s apartment
by designing a poster advertising for milliners to help widow Stiegenberg.
Bumml is given the job of copying the poster and distributing it around
town, but decides to change “milliners” to “seamstresses” in
the hope of seeing his girlfriend Sali, who is a seamstress by profession.
Soon afterwards, Netti comes to enquire about the advertisement and meets
Bumml, who has disguised himself as a chambermaid and is calling himself
Rosa. Netti decides to return with all her colleagues so they can present
themselves to the widow. – [Chorus of seamstresses] – Seven
seamstresses, including Sali, now present themselves to Feldern, who
has also donned women’s clothing. To provide work for the girls
the two men tear up some of the aunt’s blouses. In trying to make
progress with the girls they keep getting in each other’s way,
so they agree to divide the seamstresses into two groups. Feldern takes
three, and Bumml four, though Sali is not in his group. – [Chorus
of seamstresses] – While Feldern is considering which two girls
to send away so he can concentrate on one, Netti bursts in, for the
other group has just discovered that Rosa is a man. Feldern turns Bumml
of doors, where he bumps straight into Stockmauer, but continues to
play the role of the innocent chambermaid. Stockmauer sees an opportunity
to get his own back on Feldern and begins seducing Rosa, but is intrigued
to discover that there are even more girls inside. Alas, not only is
the object of his attentions male, but he discovers his two girlfriends
in the apartment. The girls are amazed when the widow also turns out
to be a man. Stockmauer generously decides to treats everyone to dinner.
Only Bumml is slightly frustrated that so many interesting new friendships
have remained just that.