Johann Nepomuk Nestroy • Lumpazivagabundus
The Evil Spirit Lumpazivagabundus or The Dissolute Cloverleaf
Extravaganza with songs by Johann Nestroy (1801–1862)
Co-production with the Burgtheater Wien
Print programme (PDF)
Matthias Hartmann, Director
Stéphane Laimé, Sets
Victoria Behr, Costumes
Andreas Erdmann, Dramaturgy
Karsten Riedel, Tommy Hojsa, Bernhard Moshammer, Music
Peter Bandl, Lighting
Florian Teichtmeister, Leim
Michael Maertens, Zwirn
Nicholas Ofczarek, Knieriem
and Maria Happel, Mavie Hörbiger, Katharina Knap, Max Mayer, Michael Masula, André Meyer, Benjamin Martin, Branko Samarovski, Hermann Scheidleder, Stefan Wieland, Peter Wolfsberger
as well as Sophie Christine Behnke, Amrei Keul, Florenze Schüssler, Larissa Semke, Genet Zegay, Aaron Friesz, Johannes Hoff, Noah Saavedra, Sebastian Radon
A play of incisive topicality. The sons of the magic kingdom are afflicted with the plague of profligacy. Brought before the throne of the fairy king, they cheerfully admit that they’ve already squandered most of their fathers’ inheritance, don’t give a damn about the rest and intend to carry on spending like there’s no tomorrow. The fairy king asks them what they’re going to do when they’ve blown the lot. Then they’ll run up debts. And when they can’t pay their debts? They’ll happily go to prison.
To comfort their despairing fathers the king proposes a compact: if these wastrels promise to mend their ways, he’ll enlist the aid of Fortuna to restore to them the original amount of their squandered inheritance. Ha ha! cackles the evil spirit Lumpazivagabundus (who’s behind this whole plague of profligacy): “He thinks he’s going to make them rich again, but they’ll just become even worse rogues.” Fortuna has no power over Lumpazivagabundus: “Those who are my real devotees don’t really pay her much heed – if fortune strikes once, they throw it down the drain, and if it strikes twice, they treat it with contempt.” Fortuna is not one to take humiliation like that. So she makes a wager with Amorosa, the goddess of love: she will demonstrate her power on three mortals who have succumbed to gambling, drink and lechery – that is, all the temptations of Lumpazivagabundus. This is where the real heroes of the play make their appearance. Zwirn (= thread) the tailor, Leim (= glue) the carpenter and Knieriem (= knee-strap) the cobbler: the dissolute “cloverleaf” or trio of the title. Together they buy a shared ticket in the lottery and win 100,000 taler. Now Fortuna’s wager comes into play. Karl Kraus wrote of Johann Nestroy: “How did it come about that such an intellect was buried: […] I believe he writes still. He, Johann Nestroy, cannot support the fact that everything has remained the way it displeased him. Posterity repeats his text and is ignorant of him, […] it disproves and confirms the satire.”
Translated by Elizabeth Mortimer
There’s something wrong up in the sky,
The comet’s tails have gone awry;
One comet travels, never tired,
His driver’s license long expired –
That vagabond will be our ruin
The world’s collapsing pretty soon.
But never mind, the case is stated,
Down here we see: our end is fated.
"Rules are rules", but the reckoning’s due,
Your credit’s used up, and all but a few
Of the sheep have been shorn, it’s really touching
That we’re left with the crap while Big Brother’s watching;
We fear the end, yet to hope we’re clutching.
In any case, the world is ending,
In any case, the world is ending.
Translated by Susan Nieschlag