Here's a piece of writing that Gather readers might find interesting. It's a little trifle of no special literary interest -- except for its author: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
If it had just been unearthed, I suppose it could be ballyhooed as a Unique Mozart Find, just in time for his 250th birthday year in 2006. As it is, scholars have long been aware of the existence of this little fragment of a play (four pages long), although I’m not aware of previous translations into English.
It shows us a conventional “lover” type, his conventional low-comedy servant, and their two sweethearts; both of the two women have been transformed by some kind of magic. (The cast of characters includes a witch, but Mozart didn’t get far enough with his play to include her.) If Mozart had continued writing it, no doubt we’d see the two men undergo some kind of ordeal that would restore the two women to their normal shape, hence the work’s title: The Test of Love.
If you’re familiar with Mozart’s operas, it’s possible to see some intriguing parallels, especially in the master-servant relationship that shows up again and again in the operas. Is this a specific allusion to The Marriage of Figaro or The Magic Flute? Probably not – more likely it’s just one more deployment of a theme that’s been standard fodder for comedies through the centuries. As someone once said, when the servant class disappeared, it was a gain for society, but a huge loss for literature.
If The Test of Love is no masterpiece, it can still be read for fun, which was probably Mozart’s motive for writing it in the first place. It has some of the same qualities which you’ll find in the letters he wrote to his family (and which also show up in Amadeus) – salacious double entendres, and a manic linguistic exuberance, which is hard to capture, even in a translation better than mine. (It seems as though there have to be previous translations out there – does anybody know?)
THE TEST OF LOVE
A Comedy in Three Acts
Herr von Dummkopf
Rosaura, his daughter
Trautel, her maid
Leander, lover of Rosaura
Wurstl, his servant
Herr von Dumpling, lover of Rosaura
Slinzkicotinzki the Witch
A Female Dwarf
[Scene: A pleasant spot, with two houses similar in appearance, one on either side.
We hear the sounds of snorting, such as a horse would make, and the blowing of the posthorn. Wurstl enters, pushing a wheelbarrow with Leander in it. He snorts and blows the posthorn.]
WURSTL [dumping Leander out of the wheelbarrow] Here we are.
LEANDER [getting up from the ground] You clumsy fool, what do you think
WURSTL Unhitching the wagon.
LEANDER You infernal ass! Throwing your master around like that! I wouldn't
be surprised if I had broken an arm and a leg. I have a mind to give you a
good thrashing. -- However, luckily for you, my wish to see my dearest Rosaura
again -- to embrace her -- is too great to let me spend any more time with a fool, Mr. von Wurstl, such as you.
WURSTL My dear cur. . .
LEANDER What, you idiot? -- Dear cur? You mean, Sir.
WURSTL Er, yes -- "Sir," -- that was a slip of the tongue. Well then, my
dear c-- --sir, that is, don't hold it against me. I wasn’t being clumsy, I was being hard-working. My desire to get you here expeditiously was so expediting,
that out of sheer expedition, I didn't know whether to throw you this way, or
LEANDER I'll expedition you! You are the biggest donkey I have seen in my
whole life. Very well, this time I’ll forgive you. But the next time. . .
WURSTL Next time I'll do it even better.
WURSTL Naturally! If I did it badly today, next time I'll have to do it
LEANDER All right, all right. Now go and get ready, so that once again I
may have the happiness of seeing my dearest, my most admirable Rosaura. Quickly
now, knock on the door. But -- the deuce! -- which house is it? The one on the
right, or this one on the left? I've now been away for three whole years, and
I can no longer tell the two houses apart to know which is the right one.
WURSTL Holy moley, me neither. Quod est faciendi, what are we going to do?
LEANDER I'm not sure myself. I wouldn't like to go to the wrong place. You
know what, Wurstl? Go listen at both houses, and see if you can't hear a
woman's voice like the bewitching voice of my beautiful Rosaura.
WURSTL That's a good idea. When my Trautel talks, I can tell right away.
She has a voice like a cow-bell. – Now let’s get down to work!
[He goes to both houses and sniffs.]
LEANDER Oh Rosaura! How I long for the joyous moment when I will see you ,
embrace you again. Now Wurstl, can you hear anything? --What the devil are you
doing? Why are you sniffing around like that?
WURSTL Can't you be quiet? If my Trautel is in one of these houses, I'll
sniff her out. I still remember her smell exactly. But be quiet as a mouse,
otherwise I'll lose the scent, and then. . . .
LEANDER Just be quick about it.
WURSTL [sniffing at the right-hand house] P. U. -- does something ever
stink! That's not it. [Sniffs at the left-hand house] Aha! What a heavenly sweet
fragrance! Yes, yes, you come from my dear Trautel! Now, that I've sniffed
you, I'd like to see you too. [Knocks.] Trautel, come on out -- dear little
GIANTESS Here I am. What is it that you wish, sir?
WURSTL [shrinking back] Ye cats, she's gotten big! [To the Giantess] Um --
is that you .. or is that not you?
GIANTESS Yes, my darling Wurstl, it's me, your sweet faithful Trautel! Come,
let me embrace you. [Embraces him.]
WURSTL Yeow! Just don't love me too much, you'll crush me to death. You
used to be such a tiny little thing, so small, and now you're a regular haystack.
Tell me, whatever happened to make you shoot up all at once like that?
GIANTESS Well, I'll tell you the story right now, darling Wurstl. Listen.
LEANDER My good Trautel -- it's rather difficult for me to call you by that
name, since it is almost impossible for me to think that you're Trautel, the
chambermaid of my adored Rosaura. But I will bend every effort to believe it, and to
call you -- Trautel. So, I beg of you, dear Trautel, save your story for another
time, and instead, ask my lovely Rosaura to come out. For I must see her,
speak to her, embrace her, and -- whatever.
GIANTESS Very well. You shall see her forthwith. Oh, what a happy moment that
will be! But here she comes now! -- Well, go up to her.
LEANDER But where? I see nothing.
WURSTL Me neither.
GIANTESS Right there. -- Be careful. Oh, now you've stepped on her.
[The female dwarf cries and screams like a small child.]
LEANDER I'm very sorry -- but -- heavens, this can't be my Rosaura --
WURSTL That 's a little doll, is what that is.
DWARF But it is I, my dearest: your faithful Rosaura -- but
perhaps not your beloved Rosaura.
LEANDER Ah, now I recognize you! Even if you, in your outward shape, are no
longer what you were -- yet in your sentiments you are still the same.
WURSTL Boss! Yours has gotten littler, but mine has gotten bigger -- ergo,
mine is choicer.
LEANDER Yes, but yours is too big.
WURSTL Yours is too little.
DWARF Leander, my dear one, I am not surprised that you are disappointed to
see me in this tiny form. Yet I would wish that you put an end to your
surprise, and regard me once again as my beloved and gentle Leander.
LEANDER Rosaura, my angel, you do me a great wrong. Permit me, as proof of my
invincible faithfulness and love, to place a kiss on your hand -- your
beautiful little hand. [Kneels and kisses her hand.]