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Robert der Teuxel

[Image:Moving Theatre logo]Robert der Teuxel
Robert the Devil

Parody of a fairytale farce in three acts
By Johann Nestroy
Premiere: Vienna, 9 October 1833

Funded by

Arts council of England

Austrian Cultural Forum

Robert, called the devil
Bertram, his friend, servant to an evil magician
Sir von Goldfisch, a rich landowner
Miss Isabella, his daughter
Reimboderl, servant of Sir von Goldfisch
Liserl, his fiancé and a farmer’s girl.
Nagelberger, Gangelhofer, [Kranzelgruber,] friends of Robert’s
Der Innkeeper, of the devil’s mill.
A waiter
A beggar
Waiters, spirits, apparitions, furies, friends of Isabelle’s.

The action takes place in the countryside surrounding Vienna.

Act 1. [Chorus] Robert and Bertram are carousing with the shooting club, at Robert’s expense. Bertram gets annoyed at disparaging remarkes made about the devil, and conjures up a storm as revenge. Bertram’s greatest wish is to be evil, but he is not particularly adept at causing harm. [Chorus: Reimboderl]. Robert is in love with Isabella, but his behaviour is causing her father, Goldfisch, consternation. He tells a story of how Robert’s father sold his soul to the devil. [Chorus]. Reimboderl’s fiancé Liserl appears, with a letter for Robert that was from his mother, which Robert doesn’t bother to read. On Liserl’s suggestion, Robert writes a letter of apology for his behaviour, and she takes it to Isabella. Bertram tells Robert that Goldfisch has another husband in mind for Isabella, and suggests that he elope with Isabella. Robert can’t pay for the drinks he has bought at the shooting club, and so gambles the money he does have to try and win enough. Bertram sees to it with his magic, that Robert loses everything. [Chorus] Robert is arrested. [Chorus].

Act 2. Isabella reads Robert’s letter in despair, because her engagement to Gangelhof is due to announced that day. [Song: Isabella] Bertram’s master has given him the task of bringing Robert to hell – he is in fact Robert’s father, and would therefore particularly like to take him down there. Liserl overhears him talking to himself about this, and although she had fallen in love with him, vehemently rejects his advances. She is desperate to warn Robert, but Bertram threatens her with the death of her relatives. Bertram offers Reimboderl 1000 Gilders, if he will give up his claim to Liserl, and he willingly agrees. [Song: Reimboderl, Bertram] [Chorus].

Act 3. Reimboderl finds Bertram’s cloak and tries it on – and immediately an evil mood overwhelms him with the desire to beat up a beggar. When he takes the cloak off, he immediately returns to his usual self, and apologises to the beggar, giving him 3 ducats. When he sees Bertram, he realises that he is under the devil’s power. [Song: Bertram] [Chorus] Robert has been tricked into carrying out Bertram’s suggestion of stealing the golden tap from a bewitched barrel in the cellar. [Chorus] Robert however does come to realise that he is being tricked by evil forces, and throws the talisman away. Bertram reveals to Robert that he is his father, at which Robert decides to go with him. However, Liserl at that moment arrives to give Robert the message that Goldfisch will let him marry Isabella, if he agrees to have nothing more to do with Bertram. She shows Robert the letter from his mother, which warns him about Bertram. Bertram grabs hold of Robert, Liserl takes his other hand, and a tug of war ensues. Liserl manages to extract Robert from Bertram’s grip, but only when Reimboderl comes to her aid. At that moment, the clock strikes a quarter to 10 and Bertram sinks into the ground. [Chorus of good spirits]. Finally Sir von Goldfisch allows Isabella and Robert to marry, and Reimboderl takes Liserl back. [Chorus].


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