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[Image:Moving Theatre logo]Lohengrin

A musical dramatic parody in 4 scenes
By Johann Nestroy
Premiere: 31st March 1859

Funded by

Arts council of England

Austrian Cultural Forum

Hans the Just, Duke of Vogelfingen
Elsa von Dragant
Pafnuzi, Elsa’s brother and her heir
Mordigall von Wetterschlund, a knight
Gertrude, a Dutch witch, Mordigall’s wife
Knights of the future with their wives, including some from the past
Ladies, pages, trumpeters of the future

Scene: The action takes place in the past and in spite of the future, on the river banks of the mountains of Holland (sic).

Act 1. Hans the Just asks the Knight Mordigall what has happened to his ward, Prince Pafnuzi. Mordigall at first pretends not to know, then, prompted by his wife Gertrude, claims the Prince has been murdered by his sister Elsa. The seemingly innocent Elsa denies this, but Mordigall is unrepentant and throws down the gauntlet as a challenge. However, none of the knights is prepared to fight on her behalf. She is about to give up hope when an unknown knight appears, having arrived in a cart drawn by a sheep. This knight will take up the challenge for her as long as she promises to marry him if he is victorious. Elsa is only too happy to agree, but must also promise never to ask him about his identity or his origins. The knight defeats Mordigall but nobly refrains from killing his opponent. As the crowds cheer, Mordigall and Gertrude slip away, vowing revenge.

Act 2. Mordigall and Gertrude blame each other for what has happened. Gertrude decides to use her magic powers to gain revenge. She appears to Elsa humble and repentant, but claims that her defeated husband is still a better man than Elsa’s Unknown Knight. She also hints that the newcomer may himself be responsible for Prince Pafnuzi’s disappearance. Gertrude and Mordigall both press her to make her husband reveal his identity.

Act 3. Alone with her husband, Elsa admits that she wishes she could call him by his name. He gently reminds her of her promise. She persists, stirring him to anger, but then Mordigall bursts in with four knights. Elsa quickly hands her husband his sword and he kills Mordigall with one blow.

Act 4. The Unknown Knight now demands from Hans the Just that he be allowed to divorce Elsa, as she has broken her promise. Everyone is agog to know his identity, and he finally relents: he is Lohengrin, one of the 12 Knights of the Holy Grail. The Grail is in a Magic Castle, visited once a year by a Magic Vulture. It is time for him to go there to claim the Grail. Elsa and Hans both beg him to stay, but Lohengrin points out that his Cart and Sheep are ready for his departure. Gertrude now taunts Elsa that her husband is abandoning her, in a cart drawn by her brother the Prince, whom she has turned into a sheep. The Vulture appears, the Sheep is turned back into a Prince, Gertrude stabs herself, Elsa faints dead away, and the Vulture draws Lohengrin’s cart away to the Magic Castle and the Holy Grail.


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