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Schikaneder –
The turbulent love story behind The Magic Flute
A romantic musical comedy about the actor, singer, director,
writer and impresario Emanuel Schikaneder and his wife, Eleonore Schikaneder.






„The turbulent love story behind the magic flute“

The multi-talented young actor, singer, poet, director and theatre manager, Emanuel Schikaneder, is a hit with audiences right from the word go. His on-stage charisma is equalled only by the force of his charm off-stage - women throw themselves at him by the score. But it is only Eleonore who manages to win his heart, and from then on the two make a brilliant couple, on stage as well as off. It seems that nothing can stop the meteoric rise of Emanuel and Eleonore Schikaneder. They found their own theatre troupe, entertaining audiences from Augsburg to Vienna. Their flair for theatre and feel for what audiences want brings them gales of applause wherever they perform. Soon their fame precedes them wherever they go. Schikaneder is now able to achieve his greatest theatrical dreams as a director and his skilful mix of poetry and spectacle delights audiences across every social class.

Only one thing tarnishes the magic the couple share: Schikaneder’s constant infidelities. Eventually Leonore decides to go her own way and leaves with Johann Friedl, a young member of the troupe, to manage the “Theater auf der Wieden”, an enterprise that is not exactly crowned with success. To add to her misfortunes, her partner dies and she finds herself confronted with the choice between giving up her theatre or asking her not-yet-ex-husband, Emanuel Schikaneder, to run the theatre with her. Together they go on to create one of the greatest theatrical triumphs of all time.

The love they once shared is put to a new test: only if they can regain their trust in each other and work together, will they be able to recapture their lost theatrical magic and go on to still greater things. A balancing act begins between trust and turning away. This vibrant musical comedy combines romantic and comic scenes with serious and emotional moments, and transports us into the colourful and turbulent world of Viennese theatre at the end of the 18th century.

The love they once shared is put to a new test: only if they can regain their trust in each other and work together, will they be able to recapture their lost theatrical magic and go on to still greater things. A balancing act begins between trust and turning away. This vibrant musical comedy combines romantic and comic scenes with serious and emotional moments, and transports us into the colourful and turbulent world of Viennese theatre at the end of the 18th century.

Author / ComposerChristian Struppeck & Stephen Schwartz:
The architects of Schikaneder

Christian Struppeck

Christian Struppeck is Artistic Director of VEREINIGTEN BÜHNEN WIEN (Vienna, Austria).

He has worked in the entertainment industry for more than 25 years, initially as an actor and singer, later as a director, creative developer, author, producer, creative consultant and Artistic Director.

Christian Struppeck was Artistic Director and Head of Creative Development at Stage Entertainment Germany, responsible for the artistic quality of 23 big German musical productions, such as MAMMA MIA!, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, DISNEY’S AIDA, DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES, WICKED.

He is creator, co-writer and director of the hit musical comedy ICH WAR NOCH NIEMALS IN NEW YORK (“I have never been to New York”), based on the song catalogue of Udo Jürgens, one of the most famous European singer and songwriters.

Christian Struppeck furthermore developed, together with Andreas Gergen, the musical comedy DER SCHUH DES MANITU (“Manitou’s Shoe”) and the biggest Swiss musical success DÄLLEBACH KARI, which was awarded “Best Theatrical Production of Switzerland” as well as “Best World Premiere”. And he wrote and developed the musical version of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s famous play THE VISIT (performances in Austria, Switzerland and Japan).

His latest work SCHIKANEDER - THE TURBULENT LOVE STORY BEHIND THE MAGIC FLUTE with music by Stephen Schwartz (WICKED) and directed by Trevor Nunn (CATS, LES MISERABLES) has premiered on 30th September 2016 at the Raimund Theater in Vienna (Austria).

Stephen Schwartz

Stephen Schwartz is an American composer and lyricist, many of whose musicals have been performed in Austria and Germany. These include WICKED (DIE HEXEN VON OZ), DER GLOCKNER VON NOTRE DAME, GODSPELL, PIPPIN, THE BAKER’S WIFE, and CHILDREN OF EDEN. For film, he wrote the lyrics for Disney’s POCAHONTAS, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, and ENCHANTED, all with music by Alan Menken, and the songs for the DreamWorks animated feature “The Prince of Egypt”. In the classical music field, he wrote lyrics for Leonard Bernstein’s MASS and composed the opera, SEANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON, Mr. Schwartz has recently been given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Awards include three Academy Awards, four Grammy Awards, and a special Tony Award. A book about his career, “Defying Gravity,” has been released by Applause Books. For further information, Mr. Schwartz invites interested members of the audience to visit his Website at

Credits & Key Facts

World opening: 2016 Austria / Vienna (Raimund Theater/VBW)
Music & Lyrics: Stephen Schwartz
Book: Christian Stuppeck
Director: Trevor Nunn
Choreography: Anthony van Laast
Set and Costume Design: Anthony Ward
German Version: Michael Kunze
Musical Supervisor: Koen Schoots
Orchestration: David Cullen
Lighting Design: Paul Pyant
Sound Design: Gareth Owen




Vienna, 1789, the Theater auf der Wieden: on the death of her lover, Johann Friedel, Eleonore Schikaneder inherits the management of the theatre, but as a woman she is not permitted to run it on her own. After rejecting a buy-out by a rival, Karl Marinelli, she has only one option remaining – to join forces with her not-yet ex-husband Emanuel Schikaneder, whom she left years before. Eleonore rejects the idea out of hand, to the despair of her ensemble. Eleonore starts to explain how everything began and why she never wants to see Emanuel again. Her story begins 14 years earlier: as a young woman, Eleonore joins Franz Moser’s famous troupe of actors. The charismatic lead actor and playwright, Joseph Johann Schikaneder, is instantly smitten by the intelligent young woman and sets his cap at her. The attraction is mutual, but Schikaneder is so obviously a Casanova that Eleonore initially rejects him.

During a ballet class, the ensemble gossips about Schikaneder and Eleonore. It is obvious that they are head over heels in love. When Franz Moser retires, following the death of his beloved wife, Schikaneder takes over the troupe with Eleonore’s support. She agrees to marry him. In honour of his bride, Schikaneder decides to adopt a new first name, one that matches hers perfectly - Emanuel. They make a perfect couple, not only in their private life but on stage. The illustrious stars of the troupe, they whirl from town to town and from one success to the next. Eleonore’s friend, Barbara Gerl, tells her that her husband is having an affair. It is evidently not his first, but this time Barbara considers it “serious”. Eleonore refuses to listen.

Over the years, she has learned to turn a blind eye. Johann Friedel, a shy young author and actor, who has fallen hopelessly in love with Eleonore, both comforts and woos her, but she rejects his advances. Emanuel wins Eleonore over with his grand plans for both a permanent theatre and an opera in German, a complete novelty for the time. However, when her husband’s naive young lover, Maria Anna Miller, confronts her with the fact that she is expecting his child, Eleonore is deeply hurt. She turns to Johann for comfort and persuades the sickly young man to run away with her and open their own permanent theatre in Vienna. Maria Anna informs Emanuel of his wife’s departure, but when she realises that Emanuel will never marry her, she also leaves him. Emanuel is deeply shaken by Eleonore’s abandonment, but is unable to admit it to himself. Eleonore and Johann, Emanuel and Maria Anna all look forward to a new beginning, while Emanuel’s ensemble despairs over the break-up of the troupe.

Without Eleonore, Emanuel and his troupe are plagued by failure. His opera about a hot-air balloon flight is a flop and he throws money about. Eleonore and Johann suffer similar difficulties in Vienna. They take over the Theater auf der Wieden, but Johann lacks Emanuel’s willingness to take risks, which the troupe badly needs. In Regensburg, Emanuel begins an affair with the wife of the Prince and narrowly escapes arrest by fleeing the city overnight. In Vienna, Johann, already in ill health, has worn out his strength and dies in Eleonore’s arms after making her promise not to give up the theatre. Back in the Vienna of 1789, the ensemble is deeply moved by Eleonore’s story and everyone understands why she has no desire to take her husband back. However, there is one small problem – Barbara has already sent for Emanuel. The wounds of the past immediately lead to a violent quarrel. In the end, though, Emanuel and Eleonore admit to themselves that in the current situation they need each other. They agree to keep their relationship purely a business one, but continue to fight like cat and dog, and the troupe’s financial difficulties get worse. Outside the manager’s office, Barbara, Emanuel‘s friend Benedikt Schack, and Josepha Hofer, the diva of the troupe, discuss who can best calm the pair down. When Karl Marinelli renews his offer for the theatre because he needs a second venue for a new opera, Emanuel takes it as a personal challenge and claims that he is also working on a major new opera. Marinelli departs, uttering threats. Eleonore’s outrage at Emanuel’s empty boast is short-lived. The pair are soon bursting with ideas for a completely new kind of opera that will revolutionise theatre. They manage to convince Josef von Bauernfeld – to whom they already owe a great deal of money – to finance the show.

At the first rehearsals, the ensemble has nothing good to say about the new opera. Some of them even threaten to leave – until they hear an orchestra play part of the score for the first time, and are entranced. The dress rehearsal is rudely interrupted by two officials - Karl Marinelli has informed the authorities that Emanuel is employing more than the permitted number of candles. Since Emanuel cannot afford to pay the fine, the officials order that the theatre be closed. The ensemble leaves the building. Even Eleonore leaves without a word. Marinelli is triumphant, Emanuel is devastated. He believes he has now lost his wife forever. But Eleonore returns and uses her favourite memento of Johann – a valuable necklace – to pay the fine. Just as she admits to herself that Emanuel will always be more to her than a “business relationship”, she catches sight of him embracing his former lover, Maria Anna Miller. Horrified, Eleonore decides to leave at once, determined that from now on she will live her own dreams without anyone else. But Maria Anna dissuades her. She explains she has come back because she is too poor to feed her son. She wants to leave him in the care of Emanuel and Eleonore. Eleonore allows Maria Anna to stay along with her son. Emanuel and Eleonore are reconciled. On the opening night, they revel together in the huge success of their new opera - “The Magic Flute”.