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Das Quodlibet verschiedener Jahrhunderte

[Image:Moving Theatre logo]Das Quodlibet verschiedener Jahrhunderte
Potpourri of Various Centuries

Melánge of scenes and characters from several plays, in three parts, with a prologue.
By Johann Nestroy
Premiere: Vienna, 12 May 1843
The second two parts of the play are lost.

Funded by

Arts council of England

Austrian Cultural Forum

A. The Theatrical Lodgers
Schiffl, a weaver
Susanne, his wife
Lorbeerstamm, lead actor
Puff, comedian, both part of an ensemble at a provincial theatre
Dürr, a poet
B. Quodlibet in the gothic style with Chinese emblems
Hanns, servants
A knight

Joan of Arc
Don Juan
Johann Herzig, a servant from Vienna
Panpau, a Mandarin
Sao, businessman
Peki, his daughter
Philipp II., King of Spain
Duke von Alba
Count von Lerma
Duke von Medina Sidonia, Admiral
Altoum, the fabulous emperor of China
Turandot, his daughter
Zelima, a slave of Turandot’s
Zin-tsung, Tschao, Hiau-Toung, Oa-Ung, doctors
Don Carlos, a Spanish infant
Mandarin and Chinese people, knights.

Prologue: The Theatrical Lodgers
The lead actor, Lorbeerstamm, and comedian, Puff, live together in one room, and learning and reciting their lines at the same time, almost come to blows. Susanne enters and tries to calm them down – she would like to get rid of Puff, as she isn’t at all enamoured of his repetoire, but since he always pays his rent on time, has no grounds for doing so. By contrast, Lorbeerstamm almost never pays his rent, and Susanne refrains from demanding it. Susannne’s husband, Schiffl sees things quite differently; Lorbeerstamm’s smooth talk has no effect on him. Asking what the argument was about, Schiffl manages to rekindle it, with Susanne supporting Lorbeerstamm and Schiffl supporting Puff. Puff ends the argument with a peace offer of a glass of wine. Schiffl comes up with an idea, which he proposes to the poet, Dürr. In return for waiving his rent, Schiffl would like him to come up with a medley of old plays put together for the local theatre. At first Dürr refuses, but when Schiffl gives him 30 Gilders he agrees to have something ready by the next morning.

Part One: ‘Quodlibet’ in the gothic style with Chinese emblems
Steffel and Hanns work together at an iron-forge. Hanns says ‘I do as my master commands without thinking twice about it’. Hence when a knight rides too close to the forge, smoking, in spite of their warnings, Steffel and Hanns don’t hesitate in throwing him into the furnace. Nor does Joan of Arc hesitate in taking out her sword and attacking a black knight she meets. This leads Don Juan, who has sworn her his love, to reject her, swearing he will never marry. Meanwhile at the castle of Madrid, Alba is interrogating a stranger, Käsperle the clown, who claims he was suddenly transported there through the air on a lion. He is ordered to stay in the hall until they come to a decision about his fate. While Käsperle is waiting, he meets Philipp, the king of Spain, and introduces himself as the Marquis of Posa. Philipp however sees through his lies, and calls the guards. At that moment, a messenger arrives with the news that Phillip’s son Carlos has fallen in love with Princess Turandot. He must now solve three riddles, in order to gain her hand in marriage. If he gives the wrong answer, he will have his head chopped off. Philipp sends Käsperle to help Carlos. In the great hall of the palace of Peking, Turandot shows him the three picture puzzles he must solve. Whilst Carlos has no idea even how to begin to solve them, Käsperle does so with ease.

The text of the remaining two parts is lost.


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