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Das Haus der Temperamente

[Image:Moving Theatre logo]Das Haus der Temperamente
The House of Temperaments

A farce in 2 acts
By Johann Nestroy
Premiere: 16th November 1837

Funded by

Arts council of England

Austrian Cultural Forum

Herr von Braus (Tumult), a wealthy man of independent means
Robert, his son
Walburga, his daughter
Herr von Fad (Insipid), a wealthy man of independent means
Edmund, his son
Agnes, his daughter
Hutzibutz, a haberdasher
Schlankel, a barber and hairdresser (originally played by Nestroy)
Herr von Trüb (Sad), a wealthy man of independent means
Guido, his son
Irene, his daughter
Herr von Froh (Glad), a wealthy man of independent means
Felix, his son
Marie, his daughter
Isabella, her maid
Herr von Sturm (Storm),
Herr von Schlaf (Sleep),
Herr von Schmerz (Pain),
Herr von Glück (Joy), all men of independent means from Strasburg
Frau von Korbheim
Herr von Finster (Dark)
Frau von Nachtschatten (Nightshade)
Jacob, servant to Herr von Sturm
Nanette, a maid, and Susanne, a cook, both in the service of Herr von Braus
Babette, a maid,
Gertrud, a cook,
Cyprian, a servant, all in the service of Herr von Fad
Lisette, a maid,
Brigitte, a housekeeper,
Margarethe, a cook, all in the service of Herr von Trüb
Therese, a cook,
Sepherl, a kitchen maid, both in the service of Herr von Froh
Nadl, a tailor
Leist, a cobbler
Doctor Krims
Doctor Krams
Stern, all friends of Froh
Four notaries; guests at a ball; musicians; porters.

The action takes place simultaneously in two rooms of the first floor and two rooms of the second floor of the same house.

The House of Temperaments consists of four apartments occupied by four families of very different temperaments. Upstairs live the choleric Herr von Braus with his daughter Walburga and son Robert, next door the phlegmatic Herr von Fad with Agnes and Edmund. Downstairs live the melancholic Herr von Trüb with Guido and Irene, and next to them the sanguine Herr von Froh with Felix and Marie. During the play every character acts in accordance with his or her temperament. Each of the four fathers (Braus, Fad, Trüb and Froh) plans to marry off his daughter to an old friend from Strasburg: Sturm, Schlaf, Schmerz and Glück, like themselves men of independent means, and similar to themselves in temperament (Braus/Sturm, Fad/Schlaf, Trüb/Schmerz, Froh/Glück). Their daughters have different ideas and, unbeknown to their fathers, have chosen their lovers from within the house. Irene loves Felix, Agnes loves Robert, Marie loves Guido and Walburg loves Edmund. Their attempts to outwit their parents and marry each other are complicated however by the rivalry between Hutzibutz the haberdasher and Schlankel the barber. Schlankel, jealous of Hutzibutz's position as favoured go-between for the lovers, throws a spanner in the works: the young couples' plots are discovered, and the fathers are placed in the embarrassing position of having to explain why each considers his neighbour's son to be an unsuitable son-in-law.

In Act 2 Hutzibutz and Schlankel bury their differences and, with the maid Isabella (with whom Schlankel is infatuated), decide to join forces for the good of the young couples. A complicated plot is hatched. The fathers are lured out of the house, whereupon the four bridegrooms arrive from Strasburg and each is directed to the wrong apartment, where he finds waiting for him a young bride of a markedly different temperament to his own. The girls go along with the plan and easily win the older men's affections. The fathers return and, unaware of the swop, are surprised both at how much their childhood friends have changed and how different in temperament they have become from the choleric/phlegmatic/melancholy/sanguine young man they knew in Strasburg. Things turn sour as the clash of temperaments takes effect. A engagement party lovingly arranged for his daughter by the cheerful Herr von Froh is abruptly cancelled by the (wrong) bridegroom, the miserable Herr von Schmerz, who invites instead his gloomy friends Finster and Nachtschatten. Conversely, the melancholy Herr von Trüb is appalled to find his apartment, a shrine to his deceased wife, invaded by the cheery guests of Herr von Glück, who compounds the felony by pointing out that in Trüb's portrait of his dead wife, which he has been gloomily working at for years, she should be wearing black, not white. Hutzibutz promptly comes to the rescue with a tin of black shoe polish. The switch of intended partners is discovered when von Sturm's servant Jacob arrives asking for his choleric master and is directed to the sleeping von Schlaf. But the Strasburg friends have taken to their respective "brides" and refuse to change back to their supposedly temperamentally more suited brides. Through a series of contrivances in which Hutzibutz and Schlankel adopt various disguises, Robert, Edmund, Guido and Felix manage to endear themselves to their prospective fathers-in-law as more suitable marriage partners than the Strasburg friends, and all ends happily except for the Strasburg quartet and for Schlankel, who discovers that the maid Isabella, who has been stringing him along to enlist his help in the plot, is actually in love with Hutzibutz.


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