The dyer and his twin brother

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Title: The dyer and his twin brother
Genus: Farce with singing in three acts
Original language: German
Author: Johann Nestroy
Literary source: “Le brasseur de Preston” , opera by Adolphe Adam
Music: Adolf Müller senior
Publishing year: 1840
Premiere: January 15, 1840
Place of premiere: Leopoldstadt Theater
Place and time of the action: The action takes place in the first act and partly in front of a Schencke in the mountains, sometimes in a distant market a mile off spots in zweyten Act in the station square Gränz-gendarmerie, in the 3 th   Act on the nearby castle of the Marquis Saintville
  • Kilian Blau , dyer, who has a twin brother
  • Hermann Blau , sergeant at the Gränz-Gensd'armerie, the other twin brother
  • Weather, smart, bang , sergeants of the Gränz-Gensd'armerie
  • Sturm , commoner, Hermann's servant
  • Gertrud , his wife, sutler
  • Anselm , senior journeyman at Kilian Blau
  • Mamsell Roserl , brought up in Kilian's house [Kilian's bride]
  • Master Klopf , a coppersmith
  • Herr von Löwenschlucht , chief forest master
  • Cordelia , a sister
  • Peter , his servant
  • Marquis Saintville
  • Waldau , chief director at Marquis
  • Grummer , castle inspector at the Marquis
  • Thomas , gardener at Marquis
  • von Dornberg , head of a section of the Gensd'armerie
  • an orderly
  • Jean . Servant of the Marquis
  • Martin , servant at Kilian Blau
  • Gentlemen, guests and servants at the Marquis's castle, guests at Master Kilian's

The dyer and his twin brother is a farce with singing in three acts by Johann Nestroy . The play was written in 1840 and was performed for the first time on January 15 of the same year "for the benefit of Nestroy" in the Leopoldstadt Theater in Vienna .


While Sergeant Hermann is known among his comrades for his thirst for adventure, his shy brother Kilian cannot bring himself to propose marriage to his Roserl. Only the arrival of the guests forces him to speak, but then Sturm, Hermann's servant, arrives and asks Kilian to fetch his brother from across the border because he is late on a love affair with Cordelia. He is threatened with demotion or even execution if he does not appear for roll call. But Kilian returns from Löwenschlucht without having achieved anything, as he mistook him for Hermann and set the dogs on him. When they see him, the other sergeants believe that Hermann has returned and that before he can clear up the misunderstanding, he is already in his uniform.

“You would have taken the joke too far soon! [...] Just made quickly the commander of the message! " (II. Act, 7 th  Scene)

Löwenschlucht has discovered Hermann's trail and wants to duel with him. Kilian is arrested because of his disobedience, but before he can look forward to escaping the duel and fight with the smugglers, his comrades ask him to go at Dornberg. Desperately he complains to Roserl:

"Oh you are used to the balls; but us; I'll plessiert, Roserl, I know it certainly, I will in the back plessiert. " (II. Act, 18 th  Scene)

He has to go into battle, where his horse runs away with him and he therefore gallops into the middle of the smugglers' gang. Because of this bravery, he was to be promoted and commanded to the castle of the Marquis Saintville.

Kilian learns from Dornberg that he has been appointed officer and at the same time that he is to take on a very dangerous post. Löwenschlucht absolutely wants to marry him to Cordelia, a postponement of the mission is refused and Kilian is supposed to marry Cordelia stante pede. At the last moment, Hermann appears and steps in for his brother. Roserl and Kilian are happy, only Peter, who is in love with Cordelia, is desperate:

"Now I want to drink, drink until I umfall against noise, which alone can sustain me." (III. Act, 25 st  Scene)

Factory history

The theater bill for the premiere read: "The plot is copied from a French original" . This meant the opera Le brasseur de Preston ("The Brewer of Preston") by Adolphe Adam , whose libretto Adolphe de Leuven and Léon-Lévy Brunswick wrote. This opera was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on October 3, 1838. The historical-romantic milieu of the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie's invasion of Scotland was replaced by a modern, bourgeois one by Nestroy, the war became the hunt of border gendarmes on a smuggler gang and the characters of the main characters have also been greatly changed. The rich brewer Daniel Robinson became the dyer Kilian Blau, and his brother, a dashing lieutenant, became the sergeant in the gendarmerie. The person of the servant Peter, who is in love with Cordelia, was new. The linguistic melody of the text had practically no resemblance to the original, with Nestroy placing particular emphasis on the difference between Kilian's Viennese-civil speech and the pathetic-military manner of his brother and his comrades.

For Nestroy, the template was only the basis for grossly exaggerating the people and situations. The daring Hermann ( "My motto is: Only Danger!" ), The vengeful Löwenschlucht, the exaggerated, sweet sentimentality of the "33-year-old innocence" Cordelia - all satirically exaggerated caricatures - is contrasted by the simple, sympathetic, if shy Kilian, who can hardly offer marriage even to his beloved:

"The eloquence of Schneider, which is to clothe feelings into words, I did not 'but the tailor [...]" (I. Act, 4 th  Scene)

But although Kilian is a rather passive hero, he decently solves the problem of helping his brother and sparing him the impending punishment.

Nestroy occupied himself with the piece for a long time and created some varied preparatory work for it. Although the novel Kriegerische Abentheuer eines Friedfertigen (1811) by Heinrich Zschokke (1771–1848), which is frequently mentioned by contemporary critics, does not contain a direct reference, Tschokke's title character, the scholar Ferdinand, has similarities in his pacifist attitude in the midst of the turmoil Napoleonic Wars with Kilian.

Johann Nestroy played the two twin brothers Kilian and Hermann Blau, Wenzel Scholz played Peter the servant, Alois Grois played Sergeant Schlag. As with the Sepherl in the fateful Faschingsnacht Mamsell Roserl of - was the "sweet girl" - as this role type later called Eleonore Condorussi played, this time not quite as sweet, but rather quite resolut.Heinrich Zschokke

Roserl clearly expresses her attitude to life:

"Bey's men gives no human nature because if you know it, so you learn s' as brutes know." (I. Act, 13 th  Scene)

An original Nestroy manuscript with a cover sheet containing the title and list of persons as well as four of the original five sheets of text (the penultimate one is missing) has been preserved; also three other original manuscripts with individual scenes and couplets .

The original score by Adolf Müller is also still available.

Contemporary reception

The contemporary criticism was very positive, almost enthusiastic, there were only a few critical voices.

On January 17, wrote Heinrich Joseph Adami in the Wiener Theater Zeitung of Adolf Bäuerle (no. 15, pp 62-63) quite positive (after Nestroy had requested by letter on January 13, Bäuerle to him by very evil-minded critic Tuvora "from the To exclude judgment of my piece. " ):

“Nestroy's newest farce, even if it is not one of its most excellent, and open to criticism from some quarters, contains not a little of the excellent. […] A mass of wit, satyrs, piquant ideas, and comical punchlines, especially in all those scenes in which Nestroy himself is engaged, keeps the listener in almost uninterrupted laughter, and a lot of attention is required from these blow after blow not to overhear any subsequent conversations, and to understand his relationship immediately. "

The humorist's criticism of January 17 (No. 13, pp. 51–52) Nestroy once again used a French model is not entirely understandable, since most Viennese authors used this source at the time. The diverse relationships between Paris and Vienna as well as the vitality of Parisian theater life, which benefited from the much friendlier censorship, were reason enough for this. In addition, French was the most widespread foreign language in German-speaking countries at the time.

The reception in the Wanderer on January 17 (No. 15, pp. 58–59) also sounded enthusiastic , which reported:

"The day before yesterday, the friends of the local comic muse in this house were once again prepared for a real party."

Even the collector, who was sometimes quite critical of Nestroy, noted on January 20th (No. 11, pp. 43–44):

"It has now been a full nine months that Nestroy, the most important of our folk poets, presented the local posse with his thoroughly successful 'Faschingsnacht' [...] but also time enough for Nestroy to create a mature work."

Later interpretations

Otto Rommel notes that this work belongs to the long series of mixed-up comedies that began with Plautus' Menaechmi (The Two Twins) in Roman antiquity (Rommel apparently erroneously names Terence as the author!). The piece by Nestroy was enthusiastically welcomed as proof of the “unrivaled talent of the author” (quote).

Franz H. Mautner calls this farce the counterpart to the fateful Faschingsnacht , because it is the second to deal with honor and with it marks the beginning of the so-called classic antics.

Jürgen Hein is particularly concerned with the couplet texts :

“Nestroy's specifically new couplets have only been found since 1840, for example in the plays 'The Dyer and His Twin Brother', ' Der Erbschleicher ' and ' Der Talisman '. With these pieces, the actual training of the 'farce with singing' begins. "

This is connected at the same time with an "intensification of satirical social criticism and differentiation of the game world."

Louise Adey Huish notes that for personal reasons , Nestroy had not written anything for a long time before the Därber was written - the new piece was therefore "enthusiastically received by the news-addicted audience" . That is why it was presumably hardly the subject of critical discussion at the time; only in the 20th century would it have been “largely dismissed as a cheerful comedy of language” . However, that did not prevent it from being classified as a fluctuation that definitely deserves to be taken seriously.


  • Helmut Ahrens : I'm not auctioning myself off to the laurel. Johann Nestroy, his life. Societäts-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1982, ISBN 3-7973-0389-0
  • Fritz Brukner / Otto Rommel : Johann Nestroy, Complete Works. Historical-critical complete edition, volume ten, published by Anton Schroll & Co., Vienna 1927.
  • Louise Adey Huish: Johann Nestroy; Pieces 16 / I. In: Jürgen Hein / Johann Hüttner / Walter Obermaier / W. Edgar Yates : Johann Nestroy, Complete Works, Historical-Critical Edition. Deuticke, Vienna 1999, ISBN 3-216-30333-0 .
  • Franz H. Mautner (Hrsg.): Johann Nestroys Komödien. Edition in 6 volumes, Insel Verlag , Frankfurt am Main 1979, 2nd edition 1981, 3rd volume. OCLC 7871586 .
  • Otto Rommel: Nestroys Works. Selection in two parts, Golden Classics Library, German publishing house Bong & Co., Berlin / Leipzig / Vienna / Stuttgart 1908.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Louise Adey Huish: Johann Nestroy; Pieces 16 / I. P. 32.
  2. ^ Louise Adey Huish: Johann Nestroy; Pieces 16 / I. P. 47.
  3. ^ Louise Adey Huish: Johann Nestroy; Pieces 16 / I. P. 32.
  4. ^ Table of contents in Louise Adey Huish: Johann Nestroy; Pieces 16 / I. Pp. 279–306 (in French with facsimile of the Paris premiere); German table of contents pp. 102-107.
  5. The libretto for Adam's opera Der Postillon by Lonjumeau comes from the two authors
  6. ^ Franz H. Mautner (ed.): Johann Nestroys Komödien. P. 358.
  7. here in the sense of "having no guts", don't be brave
  8. ^ Louise Adey Huish: Johann Nestroy; Pieces 16 / I. P. 12.
  9. ^ Louise Adey Huish: Johann Nestroy; Pieces 16 / I. P. 22.
  10. Manuscript collection in the Vienna City Hall , shelf marks IN 33.335, 33.334, 3231, 2566.
  11. Music collection of the Vienna Library in the City Hall , shelf marks MH 746.
  12. ^ Louise Adey Huish: Johann Nestroy; Pieces 16 / I. Pp. 108–130 (for the entire chapter on contemporary reception )
  13. Der Humorist, magazine for jokes and seriousness, art, theater, sociability and custom , editor Moritz Gottlieb Saphir from 1837 to 1862.
  14. Helmut Ahrens: I am not auctioning myself off to the laurel. Pp. 212-216. (for the entire section "factory history")
  15. ^ Otto Rommel: Nestroys works. S. LV.
  16. ^ Franz H. Mautner: Nestroy. Heidelberg 1974, pp. 241-246.
  17. Jürgen Hein: Game and satire in the comedy Johann Nestroys. Bad Homburg / Berlin / Zurich, 1970.
  18. ^ Jürgen Hein: Johann Nestroy. (Melzer Collection, Volume 258) Stuttgart 1990, pp. 77-79, 82.
  19. ^ Louise Adey Huish: Johann Nestroy; Pieces 16 / I. P. 1.