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Zampa der Tagdieb

[Image:Moving Theatre logo]Zampa der Tagdieb
oder Die Braut von Gips

Zampa the Idler
or the Plaster Bride

Farce parody in 3 Acts
By Johann Nestroy
Premiere: Vienna, 26 June 1832

Funded by

Arts council of England

Austrian Cultural Forum

Zampa, chief of the slackers
Paphnuzzi de Salami, son of a sicilian Salami factory owner
Guckano, a rich macaroni manufacturer
Camillerl, his daughter
Damian, the slacker gang’s businessman
Ritti, Camillerl’s trusted chambermaid
Dandoli, head worker at the macaroni factory
Clarina, queen of the day, a fairy
Obscurus, ruler of the night
A worker at the macaroni factory

Camillerl’s friends
Paphnuzzi’s friends
Thieves, workers, nymphs, Slackers

The action takes place not far from the sea, during a period of hostility between Clarina and Obscura.

Act 1. Out of sheer joy at her impending marriage to Paphnuzzi, Camiller gives lots of her clothes to her friends, to Paphnuzzi’s chagrin. He exorts her to be more careful with money, even though he has large debts she is paying off for him. Their wedding day arrives, but her father has gone off to the inn, where he is danger in falling in with a bunch of slackers. Paphnuzzi soothes Camiller by telling her that Zampa, the chief of the slackers, has been put in prison. Paphnuzzi receives a message to go and meet someone in the woods, and he leaves Camillerl after she reassures him that she will be all right on her own, as the house is under the protection of the fairy Clarina. After her chambermaid, Bianca, was maltreated by her lover, and died of a broken heart, the family erected a statue to her, and therefore the fairy protects the house. Paphnuzzi is upset to hear this story, and tells how his brother had had an affair with the chambermaid, and had left her – and that no one has seen him since. [Song: Camillerl, Paphnuzzi]. After Paphnuzzi has left, Zampa arrives and demands she marry him instead of Paphnuzzi. When she realises who he is, and hearing that her father is in his power, Camillerl faints, whilst Zampa orders the celebrations to begin. Zampa makes fun of the statue, and puts a ring on its finger. To everyone’s horror, the statue won’t let him have the ring back – Zampa insists it is just a trick, and demands a drinking song. Afraid, everyone sings, but inspite of themselves, all the songs start happy and end sadly. Eventually Zampa threatens to destroy the statue unless everyone cheers up. At this, the statue grabs him by the hair from behind, and grey clouds descend. The clouds part and written in flames the words “ this is the revenge of a chambermaid” appear.

Act 2. Zampa remains unperturbed by further supernatural signs that he should leave Camillerl alone. Meanwhile, Brigitta has managed to free Paphnuzzi from the slacker gang, he comes to see Camillerl, who admits that the rumours are true, that she is to marry someone else, without telling him why. Paphnuzzi is distraught at this news [song: Paphnuzzi], but preparations for the wedding are underway, and although Camillerl begs the fairy Clarina for her help, nothing comes of it. Bianca’s ghost, the plaster bride, appears once again to Zampa, ripping off his coattails and showing him the ring she took from him. Ignoring the warning and inspite of his torn attire, Zampa is determined to press ahead with the wedding. Paphnuzzi stumbles in, and just after him, Danoli, who has caught a slacker with a letter from Clarina the fairy to Zampa, in which she gives her permission for him to marry Camillerl as long as he leaves the service of her enemy Obscurus and serves her instead, warning him never to break his word. Clarina then appears and witnesses the marriage – Camillerl falls into a faint in horror, and seeing the plaster bride – unseen by anyone else – beside Clarina, Zampa likewise passes out. [Chorus].

Act 3. Since Obscurus’ most important servant has now gone over to the enemy, Clarina, Obscurus offers to make peace with her. Clarina says he will return Zampa to Obscurus the moment Zampa breaks his word. [Song: Clarina]. Camillerl is unhappily living as Zampa’s wife. Hearing Paphnuzzi singing below, she lets him climb up to her room. Zampa arrives and she hides Paphnuzzi in an alcove. Zampa has had the statue pulverised and thrown into the sea, and thinks he no longer has anything to fear from the plaster bride. At the wedding, Zampa promised to grant her her first request, and Camillerl hopes this will be her saving. She requests of Zampa that he take another room, and that he ask her permission before coming to see her, to give her the chance to refuse to see him. Zampa furiously refuses to grant her wish, despite his promise. He asks her whether it is his name that displeases her, and suggests she call him by his other name, Salamucci. On hearing this, Paphnuzzi realises that Zampa is in fact his long lost brother and lets out a cry. This gives away his hiding place, and Zampa makes no bones about handing Paphnuzzi over to his band of slackers with instructions to kill him. A fight ensues, and Zampa is about to shoot Paphnuzzi, who has returned, disguised as the plaster bride, when Obscurus appears to reclaim Zampa and punish him for breaking his word, by throwing him into the mouth of a volcano. Zampa suggests a worse punishment would be to be married to a strict wife, and at that moment, the living Bianca, the ‘plaster bride’, stands before him. Zampa agrees to marry her, meaning that there is now no longer anything to prevent Camillerl and Paphnuzzi marrying as well.


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