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Alles will den Prophet’n seh’n

[Image:Moving Theatre logo]Alles will den Prophet’n seh’n
Everyone wants to see The Prophet

A Farce with songs in 3 Acts
By Johann Nestroy
Premiere: 4th May 1850

Funded by

Arts council of England

Austrian Cultural Forum

Liborius Knollich, Mayor of Neftingen
Berta Veronika Rosenblüh, proprietor of a hotel
Eduard Braun, merchant
Kilian Sitzmeyer, jeweller (originally played by Nestroy)
Nanett, her maid
Falk, alias Müller, a master thief
Maus, a thief
Rollberg, a police inspector
Friedrich, head waiter,
Anton, waiter, both in Madame Rosenblüh’s Hotel
Herr von Glanzbach, gentleman of means from the provinces
Frau von Glanzbach
Andolin, her children
Bombardon, formally regimental bandleader in the Dutch army
Tenors, basses, prima donnas, hairdresser, wardrobe attendant, ladies and gentlemen, waiters, servants, guards, police

Scene: Madame Rosenblüh’s hotel in a small provincial town.

Act 1. Madam Rosenblüh's hotel is booked out because Meyerbeer's opera "The Prophet" is being performed at the local theatre. The Mayor, Knollich, warns the proprietress to watch out for a gang of thieves that has been seen hanging about town and is led by a "robber genius" against whom she must be particularly on her guard, a man currently operating under the name "Müller". He tells her that police headquarters have put an experienced officer on the case who will shortly check into the hotel in the hope of arresting this ringleader.
A new guest arrives, Knollich has a look at his passport and concludes it is the police officer in question, called Rollberg. The hotel is full, but Rollberg charms Madam Rosenblüh (lit. Roseblossom) into vacating her own room to accommodate him. He entrusts her with money and papers for safekeeping, and she explains that her bureau containing the guests' valuables will be moved to an adjacent room.
Another guest arrives and noisily demands a room. Madam Rosenblüh gradually recognizes him as her former suitor, Kilian Sitzmeyer. 25 years ago she had a choice between marrying him or the now deceased hotelier Rosenblüh. Sitzmeyer doesn't attempt to hide his disappointment at the way his former love has aged, and is apparently under the impression that he hasn't aged at all. Nonetheless Madam Rosenblüh takes a fancy to him when she learns that he has inherited a fortune and is now a wealthy jeweller. Rollberg pricks up his ears at this, especially when Sitzmeyer reveals that he is carrying some very expensive diamonds. Rollberg urges him to give them to the proprietress for safe-keeping but Sitzmeyer prefers to keep them about his person.
Gabriele and her maid Nanett arrive at the hotel disguised as men, and register as "Eduard Braun and his servant". Gabriele has left home because her father and her fiance, the said Eduard Braun, refused to let her travel to see "The Prophet". Gabriele is annoyed that the room booked for her servant has been given to Sitzmeyer. She is astonished and alarmed when another man walks in and demands to be given a room. Despite the wig and false beard she immediately recognizes him as her fiance Eduard Braun. When the head waiter Friedrich apologises that they are fully booked, he asks if Gabriele would be willing to share a room. She hurriedly declines and walks off, but Eduard thinks he may have recognised her, and now bribes Friedrich with 6 ducats to find him a room for the night.


Act 2. Sitzmeyer is worried by talk of thieves, but Madam Rosenblüh reassures him that there is a policeman in the hotel. The hysterical Glanzbach family then pester him to use his influence with the Mayor to get them best seats for the opera. To cap it all, he discovers he will have to share his room with Eduard, who gets rid of the Glanzbachs and makes himself comfortable on the sofa, which he pushes against the door as it cannot be locked. This hardly reassures Sitzmeyer as it means he cannot get out and a thief can climb in the window. His hopes of a good night's sleep evaporate when Eduard pulls out a dagger and jokingly refers to himself as "Müller". Sitzmeyer lies anxiously in his bed while Eduard thinks of Gabriele, whom he suspects of chasing after a tenor in the opera. When he thinks Sitzmeyer is fast asleep he removes his wig and false beard. But Sitzmeyer sees him do it and immediately tries to flee. Eduard assures him that he is not a murderer, but simply a man in search of his fiancee, but Sitzmeyer is convinced he is sharing a room with a real life robber. When Eduard is asleep he climbs out the window with his diamonds, only to meet Rollberg coming up the other way. He is relieved to meet a policeman and alerts him to the rascal asleep on the sofa. Rollberg generously offers to take care of the diamonds but Sitzmeyer prefers to give them to Madam Rosenblüh.


Act 3. Not surprisingly, everyone is convinced next morning that the man in the wig and false beard is the ringleader of the gang. He is to be arrested as soon as he returns from his walk. Meanwhile Friedrich is interrogated. Rollberg relieves him of the 6 ducats, explaining they may be needed as evidence. Sitzmeyer now claims that his wallet has been stolen. Eduard returns from his walk and is interrogated by Rollberg and Knollich. He is found to have Sitzmeyer's wallet, which he claims to have found on the floor. When the suspect gives his name as "Eduard Braun", the confusion is complete. Rollberg takes charge of the wallet and Eduard's valuables and orders both Eduard Brauns to be detained in their hotel rooms until the opera performance is over. Just as they are about to set off to the theatre, another guest walks into the hotel and announces himself as police inspector Rollberg. He explains that he was taken ill en route and spent the night in Eisenquell, where a thief stole his money and identity papers. The other Rollberg doesn't turn a hair, but coolly suggests that as he is Rollberg, the newcomer must be Müller, the thieves' ringleader. When Madam Rosenblüh goes to fetch the papers he had given her for safekeeping, she discovers that someone has tried to break into her bureau. The thief is caught. It is Maus, a member of the gang. He is interrogated by the assembled party and testifies that the newcomer is indeed his fellow thief, Müller, while the other man he recognizes as police inspector Rollberg. Both Rollbergs protest their innocence, but at that moment Gabriele enters and Eduard recognizes her behind the disguise. He immediately removes his own wig and beard and declares that he is not Eduard Braun, but an imposter. Knollich is about to have him arrested, but is puzzled when the other Eduard Braun protests that, on the contrary, he is the imposter, and then faints, and is tenderly borne from the room by the other Eduard Braun and the newcomer accused of being Müller. Nanett is now forced to explain. She can testify that the three people in question are Eduard Braun, his fiance Gabriele Rollberg, and her father police inspector Rollberg. Falk, alias Müller, who has successfully impersonated a policeman until the real one arrived, now has to think quickly to avoid arrest. He takes the Mayor aside, apologises for the deception, and explains that he is really the composer Meyerbeer and had travelled to this town incognito to see the performance of his opera. Knollich is stunned, promises not to reveal this stupendous piece of news until after the performance, and insists on taking the composer to the opera as his guest.
At the end of the performance Falk manages to steal one of the costumes to help him make a getaway. Unfortunately it is that of the title role, and an enthusiastic public, who have been waiting at the stage door to pay their compliments to the Prophet, insist on carrying their hero back to his hotel in triumph. There he is recognised and arrested by Rollberg. Eduard and Gabriele are reconciled, and Sitzmeyer is accepted second time around by Madam Rosenblüh.


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