Der Talisman
Der Talisman
© Christina Baumann-Canaval

Der Talisman

Johann Nestroy

Farce with singing in three acts with music by Christian Auer

Premiere: 18 March 2023 / Salzburg State Theatre

Synopsis

A shining light in red – that’s Nestroy’s protagonist Titus Feuerfuchs, who quickly grasps the principles on which society operates and who, after his surprising rise and his unsurprisingly fast fall, takes his happiness into his own hands.

Titus Feuerfuchs is a tramp who dreams of making a big career and being socially accepted – but his red hair (also hinted at in his name, which translates as “fire fox”) makes him an outsider in any private or professional context. The red-haired goose-keeper Salome knows just how he feels, but Titus is unaware of her interest in him, because he is fully preoccupied with his desire to rise to a higher status. Suddenly, his life takes an unexpected turn: He rescues the vain hairdresser Marquis from a precarious situation and receives a black wig as thanks. With his new hair colour, he becomes an object of desire for three competing widows. Chameleon-like, Titus repeatedly changes his hair colour and his personality to make a rapid career in the palace. But it is only once Titus lets go of his talisman that he finally finds happiness. “Der Talisman” is a dazzling, light-hearted story of appearances and realities. For the social advancement of Titus, his manipulative charm and the “Sunday clothes” of his eloquence are even more important than his various “magic wigs”.

With his highly musical farce, Nestroy, the “first German satirist” (Karl Kraus), expresses ironic criticism of his time in a timeless manner. He mocks opportunism, as widespread then as it is now, greed and the discrimination against minorities – and shows us what ridiculous coincidences can sometimes lead to bliss or disaster.

Nestroy (1801–1862) created the role of Titus Feuerfuchs for himself: At the 1840 world premiere of his farce “Der Talisman”, the author himself played the red-haired outsider who employs wigs to rise in the so-called high society. But the clever protagonist with comical talents is soon unmasked and his fortunate coup threatens to become a tragedy.

Musician, composer, pianist and musical theatre producer Christian Auer composed the music for the Salzburg version of “Der Talisman”. Bernd Liepold-Mosser is active as a writer and director in theatre, movies and TV. He teaches at the University of Klagenfurt and is the artistic director of the Klagenfurt Festival. He has repeatedly been nominated for the Nestroy Prize for his work as a director.