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Der Zauberer Sulphur...

[Image:Moving Theatre logo]Der Zauberer Sulphurelectrimagneticophosphoratus
The Magician Sulphurelectrimagneticophosphoratus

A magical farce with songs in 3 acts
By Johann Nestroy
Premiere: 17th January 1834
[Based on a parody of "Robert the Devil" by Ernst Raupach]

Funded by

Arts council of England

Austrian Cultural Forum

Herr von Pastetenberg, a rich landowner
Constantia, his wife
Robert, called the Devvil, their son
Sebastian Plumpsack, porter to Herr von Pastetenberg
Lisette, maid to Frau von Pastetenberg
Estate manager to Herr von Pastetenberg

Chevalier von Millefleurs
Frau von Spatz
Fräulein von Spatz, her daughter
Fräulein Maschen
Herr von Nix
Brumm, village magistrate
2 farmers, a friend of Robert, a servant, a musician

Walburgiblocksbergiseptemptrionalis, a powerful fairy
Sulphurelectrimagneticophosphoratus, a magician, her husband
Alib-Memeck, a rich man from the Orient (originally played by Nestroy)
Zaide, slaves from Alib-Memeck's palace
Hassan, Alib-Memeck's overseer
Indigo, a rich plantation owner in the East Indies
Emma, his daughter
Nelli, a negro slave in Indigo's service
Achmet, slave traders in the East Indies
Zerulla, Achmet's wife
The Kadi, plantation owners and workers, an Arab, a colonist, ladies and gentlemen, servants, friends of Robert, farmers, slaves, slave traders, soldiers, slaves of Alib-Memeck, Moors, genies, spirits, nymphs, tritons

The action takes place partly in Europe, partly in Asia, and is contemporary.

Act 1. [Chorus.] - Some farmers complain to Herr von Pastetenberg about the escapades of his son Robert, known as The Devvil. The father promises an improvement, but fears that the "weakness in his head" means he is no match for his son. His wife Constantia is worried about her son's behaviour because she is expecting her cousin Millefleurs from Paris, in whose honour she is giving a ball that evening. Robert has forced the maid Lisette's boyfriend, Plumpsack, who is also his father's porter, to work in his service. - [Song, Plumpsack: "How happy I was as a porter! But no more!"] - Von Pastetenberg and his wife now seek help from the rather foolish wizard Sulphur and the Fairy Walpurgi. Walpurgi promises to curb Robert if she is given a free hand, and the parents willingly agree. - [Chorus of Robert's friends] - Robert behaves disgracefully at the ball, and his friends are little better. At last Walpurgi appears with her retinue and demands a promise from Robert that he will reform his ways. Robert and his friends try to set fire to the fairies, but the latter keep vanishing and reappearing and scare Robert and his friends so much that Robert begs for forgiveness. But it's too late: Robert is condemned to destroy his own happiness and spend his life in slavery. Plumpsack, who has been developing a taste for the young master's vices, must accompany him.

Act 2. [Chorus of slaves] - A slave market in an East Indian colony. Plumpsack is bought by Hassan for Alib-Memeck, and Robert by the plantation owner Indigo. - [Chorus of slave girls] - Plumpsack is introduced to the phlegmatic Alib-Memeck and, claiming to be a soothsayer, is made an adviser to his new master. - [Aria, Fatimah: "Be still my fearful heart"] - Robert falls in love with Emma, Indigo's daughter. Walpurgi appears to him and tells him that Emma loves him in return. However, the terms of his punishment are that he must destroy their love. If he disobeys this order, he will be consumed by flames. She leaves him a magic wand. Alib-Memeck also hopes to win Emma as his wife, with Plumpsack's help. - [Song, Alib-Memeck: "Yes, Alib-Memeck is a Turk"] - Robert then saves Emma's life by killing a lion with his magic wand. In gratitude, Indigo grants him his freedom. But Walpurgi then forces Robert to claim that it was really Alib-Memeck who slew the lion. Robert is enslaved once more and Alib-Memeck is invited into Indigo's home. - [Chorus of slaves, slave girls and servants]

Act 3. Indigo is expecting his sister, Madame Joli and brother-in-law Monsieur Bijou from France. But when their ship lands they are abducted by Arabs. Indigo promises his daughter in marriage to anyone who can rescue his relatives, and Robert sees an opportunity to win Emma after all. With the aid of his magic wand he disguises himself in a red seaman's uniform. But on catching up with the Arab abductors, Robert realises that Indigo's relations have already escaped and are on their way back to Europe. - [Duet Fatima, Plumpsack: "Everywhere there are different customs, Vienna and Asia are chalk and cheese"] - A rumour now circulates that a man in red uniform has freed the captives. Walpurgi arranges for Alib-Memeck to find the uniform by accident, and on Plumpsack's advice he presents himself to Indigo as the rescuer. Meanwhile Robert has cunningly devised by use of his magic wand to present himself to Indigo alternately as Madame Joli and Monsieur Bijou. When he then appears as himself to demand the promised reward, Indigo refuses unless he can produce the red uniform as proof. Alib-Memeck then presents himself in the said uniform and Indigo hands over the reluctant Emma. Robert is in despair. But Walpurgi then conjures a happy ending. Declaring Robert's penance to be at an end, she unmasks Alib-Memeck's deception, and when Indigo learns the truth, Emma is given to Robert. Finally, Robert, Emma and Plumpsack meet Robert's parents and Lisette in Elysium. Robert assures them he is a changed man and in evidence presents Emma as their new daughter-in-law.


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