Stella (Goethe)

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Title: Stella
Genus: Tragedy
Original language: German
Author: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Publishing year: 1816
Premiere: January 15, 1806
Place of premiere: Weimar
  • Stella
  • Cecilia
  • Lucie
  • Fernando
  • Postmaster

Stella is a tragedy in five acts by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe . Originating from the first version from 1775 between 1803 and 1805, the piece was premiered on January 15, 1806 in Weimar. It was printed in 1816.


first act
In the post office

Cecilia meets with her daughter Lucie in the town of woman Baroness Stella one. The reason: The travelers hope that Lucie will be employed by Stella. Before meeting Stella for the first time, the two ladies learned a lot about the baroness from the informative postmaster. Eight years ago, the gentlemen bought the manor on site. The baroness, beautiful as an angel, was very young at the time, not more than sixteen years old . Her child soon died. Suddenly it was said: “The gracious Lord is gone.” It is rumored that they were never married and that he should have kidnapped them . The travelers go to their rooms.

As luck would have it, officer Fernando has arrived from the theater of war. He helped suppress the dying freedom of the noble Corsican . Now he monologues: Stella! I'm coming! Don't you feel my approach Coincidental is the almost simultaneous arrival of the three travelers. Fernando immediately gave his reason for travel when he started to speak on his first appearance. Lucie comes down to the table and Mother stays in the room. Lucie meets Fernando at the table. During the meal, he learns sympathetically from the young girl why she is there and what she intends to do. Lucie is taken with the interlocutor: This is a wonderful person!

Second act

Lucie and Cäcilie make their first visit to Stella. Cäcilie must find out from Stella's mouth about the dead child Mina, about Stella's terrible despair . Stella leads Cäcilie and Lucie into her cabinet because she wants to show the visitor the portrait of the child's father. Cäcilien gaze falls on the picture, and a god escapes you ! Cäcilie recognized her husband Fernando, who left her and Lucie. The person portrayed looks very familiar to Lucie too: I have to tell you, today I ate over there with an officer in the post office who looks like this gentleman. - Oh, it is himself!

Stella can hardly believe it and is dazed with happiness. She wants to be alone until her lover arrives and sends the visitors away.

In private, Cecilia has to confess to her daughter: The expected - beloved! - This is my husband! - It's your father! This is now the second coincidence - Lucie, of all people, sought employment from her father's lover, also supported by her mother. Cäcilie, the good soul, wants to get out of the center of the tragedy right away, wants to flee - as far away as possible with the next extra mail .

Third act

Stella throws Fernando around the neck and calls out: Dear! - you were gone for a long time! - But you are there! She is so limitlessly happy, but then also a little realistic: have n't I, I've gotten older? Isn't it, misery has brushed the bloom from my cheeks. But her lover has come. That's lucky. But there is still reality. Stella, the angel, the beautiful child , unknown to herself and the world , was abducted by Fernando to the manor and simply left alone. Stella forgives: God forgive you, who made you so - so flighty and so faithful! Well, Fernando is not loyal at the moment, but Stella is just as loyal a soul as Cäcilie. Only concerned with her own happiness, she turned the two petitioners away. Now she thinks about it. Let Fernando fix it: talk to them, Fernando! - Right now! now! - Make the mother come over.

Fernando really wants to bring his mother over and has to realize that he has his wife Cäcilie in front of him. This recognition process doesn't happen that quickly. With it goes the story of the failed marriage. It is riddled with self-reproach from the wife. Cäcilie was not an entertaining companion ... He [Fernando] is not guilty! But Fernando, the flighty one , pleads guilty. And the dashing military goes one step further: Nothing, nothing in the world should separate me from you. I found you again Cäcilie has to state succinctly: Found what you weren't looking for! When Lucie throws herself at the found father's neck, the die seems to have been cast. Fernando wants to leave Stella and travel with his family: I want to break away from her [Stella] .

Fourth act
Hermitage in Stella's garden

It is difficult for Fernando to break loose again. Stella eagerly awaits her lover. Fernando comes and does not come out with the truth, but says to Stella: The old woman [Cäcilie] is a good woman; ... she wants to leave. Fernando does not pour Stella pure wine.

But Cäcilie took Fernando's word at face value and ordered three seats in the stagecoach. Now you sit on packed suitcases and wait for Fernando; send out for him. And then the procrastinator Fernando cannot help it:

Stella, you are everything to me! Stella! I leave you!

he calls coldly . Stella faints. Lucie and Cäcilie make sure everything is right. When Stella comes to, her Cecilia says: I am - I am his wife! Stella blames herself because she Lucie's father and Cecilia's husband robbed , but admits then that she is innocent. Nevertheless it tears her heart apart , she starts with a scream and escapes.

Fifth act
Stella's cabinet

Stella vacillates between hate and love: I hate you! ... Dearest! Dearest! Fernando is in a bind: these three best female creatures on earth - miserable through me - miserable without me! - Oh, even worse with me! Cäcilien's attempt to solve the problem no longer helps. Lucie tells the mother that Stella probably took poison. When Fernando then saw Stella's appearance and her “ I” was heard in the end , he withdrew and shot himself. Stella sinks and dies.

First version

Title vignette for Goethe's Stella. To the final scene. Cäcilie leads Stella back to Fernando. Engraving by Daniel Chodowiecki

The first version is called “Stella. A play for lovers in five acts . Goethe finished the writing in April 1775. The piece was premiered on February 8, 1776 in Hamburg and printed in the same year.

The first version differs from the second in the finale. Although Stella and Fernando did not die a love death together in the tragedy of 1806 , they committed - each for themselves - suicide with poison or with a handgun. The story turned out completely different in 1775. The young Goethe allowed himself a polygamous version, which may not have appealed to the more morally strict citizens among the audience: When the curtain fell, Stella, Cäcilie and Fernando wanted to stay together with Lucie according to the motto of an apartment, a bed and one Grave .


Goethe was probably inspired by the story of the Knight of Equals . His tombstone in Erfurt Cathedral shows the knight with two women. According to the legend, the knight was taken prisoner during the crusade . A sultan's daughter fell in love with him, gave him freedom and fled with him to Thuringia. His little problem of having his savior at his side in addition to his wife, he solved by successfully asking for legitimation from the Holy See .


"It is infinitely valuable to me that you love my Stella ... It is not a piece for everyone."

- Goethe's letter to Sophie von La Roche from 1775

"My Stella has arrived printed, you should have a copy too."

- Goethe's letter of January 29, 1776 to Charlotte von Stein

"He [Goethe] spoke ... about Stella , whose earlier ending was by no means, not consistent, not tenable, actually just a dropping of the curtain."

- Friedrich von Müller about a conversation with Goethe on October 11, 1823


“The other day his old Stella was given; he turned the drama into a tragedy. But there was no approval. Fernando shoots himself and you can't feel sorry for the cheater. It would have been better if he had [only] let Stella die; but he took it very badly when I reprimanded this. "

- Charlotte von Stein 1806
  • Aesthetes accuse the play of formal weaknesses, and moralists repeatedly invoke moral grounds against the play. Nevertheless, it turned out to be "eminently playable to this day."
  • Wilhelm Wilmanns compares two figures - the Stella with the Belinde from La Morale du monde ou Conversations by Scudéry (published in the 1680s).


  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Poetic Works, Volume 4 . Pp. 405-447. Phaidon Verlag Essen 1999, ISBN 3-89350-448-6 .
Secondary literature
  • Richard Friedenthal : Goethe - his life and his time. Pp. 168-169. R. Piper Verlag Munich 1963.
  • Manfred Brauneck , Gérard Schneilin (Ed.): Theater Lexikon. Terms and epochs, stages and ensembles . Pp. 278-279, pp. 1065. Reinbek 1992, ISBN 3-499-55465-8 .
  • Nicholas Boyle : Goethe. The poet in his time. Vol. 1: 1749-1790. Pp. 256-257. Munich 1995, ISBN 3-406-39801-4 .
  • Marianne Willems: Stella. A show for lovers. About the connection between love, individuality and artistic autonomy. In: Enlightenment. Interdisciplinary yearbook for research into the 18th century and its history of impact , Vol. 9, No. 2 (1996), pp. 39–76.
  • Gero von Wilpert : Goethe-Lexikon (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 407). Kröner, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-520-40701-9 .
  • Karl Otto Conrady : Goethe - life and work. Pp. 266-270. Düsseldorf and Zurich 1999, ISBN 3-538-06638-8 .
  • Katja Mellmann, Güte - Liebe - Gottheit: A contribution to the clarification of the 'utopian' content of Goethe's "Stella" , in Enlightenment 13 (2001), 103-147.
  • Elisabeth Frenzel , Sybille Grammetbauer: Substances of world literature. A lexicon of longitudinal sections of the history of poetry (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 300). 10th, revised and expanded edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-520-30010-9 .

Radio plays


  • Ernst Krenek : [First] monologue of Stella , concert aria for soprano and orchestra op. 57a (1928). Vienna: Universal Edition.
  • Aribert Reimann : "It was the look that tore me to ruin." Second monologue of Stella from the play of the same name by Johann W ?? olf ?? gang by ?? Goethe for soprano and ?? piano (2013). Mainz: Schott, 2014, ISMN 979-0-001-15939-5.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Frenzel pp. 299-302
  2. Wilpert p. 383
  3. Wilpert p. 1020
  4. ^ Wilhelm Wilmanns: Goethe's Belinde . Goethe Yearbook , Volume 1 (1880), pp. 155–173: Digitized