Die Tragödie des Teufels (The Tragedy of the Devil) - Synopsis

Peter Eötvös: Die Tragödie des Teufels. Cora Burggraaf, Topi Lehtipuu, Ursula Hesse von den Steinen Peter Eötvös: Die Tragödie des Teufels. Elena Tsallagova, Heike Grötzinger, Annamária Kovács, Statis Peter Eötvös: Die Tragödie des Teufels. Georg Nigl

Die Tragödie des Teufels (The Tragedy of the Devil)

Peter Eötvös (Musik), Albert Ostermaier (Text)


Scene 1: Prologue in Heaven

Lucifer is tired of fighting and reflects about the boring life he has led since he was cast out of Heaven. He is still locked in conflict with God, the rivalry between them remains unsolved. The five people who have been allocated to him, The Skelton, The Strugatzi, The L, The Arkanar and The Boris, all experience the same feeling of emptiness that he does. Lucifer again challenges God to a fight, using Adam as the scapegoat. He is convinced that he can now, finally, win and infect Adam with evil so that all the world will realize the mistakes God has made in his creation. God gives Lucifer a female companion; apparently, like Eve, she has been created out of a rib of the man. Lucifer calls her Lucy, The Boris calls her Lilith. Lucy urges Lucifer to call on Adam and Eve in Paradise. It is up to her to bring the story to a conclusion.

Scene 2: In Paradise/The Fall of Man

In Paradise, Eve has just eaten of the forbidden fruit. Her initial euphoria, however, soon turns into gloom when she realizes that the scenery she has so far seen as idyllic is actually cheerless. Eve loses her heart and Adam fails in his attempt to absorb the heart thus set free. The result is the creation of the Adam’s apple. Lucifer and Lucy appear and explain the world to Adam and Eve. Fears, unknown bodily functions and needs such as sweat and thirst are the consequences of the fall of man and the acquisition of a consciousness which has broken with God. While Adam still believes he will find salvation in Eve, she is already striving towards undreamt of freedom. Eve, Lucifer and Lucy convince Adam to jump through the mirror and leave his previous image of himself behind.

Scene 3: In the Desert

Adam and Eve are wandering alone through the desert, weak, thirsty and hungry. Adam goes in search of water. The Boris appears and tries to conquer Eve with a few drops of water. Skelton appears and argues with him about Eve. Lucifer and Lucy observe the scene, bored, and meet the dervish-like The Arkanar. The Rumata, beings who are attached to the earth, remind them of the secret of the earth.

Scene 4: The Pact

Lucifer lays down the rules for their impending virtual journey: if Adam succeeds in showing him a better world he will be allowed to keep his soul. If, however, he despairs of the world he will belong to the devil and will be integrated by him in his devilish system of exploitation. Lucifer shows Adam two pills: one will enable him to be part of the world, the other to find redemption. He has, however, to earn it first.

Scene 5: Phosphor City, Pyramid Hotel

Adam, in the person of a ruling figure, comes across the lonely The Jeriko, who is looking for lost happiness but merely receives scorn from Lucifer. The Arkanar, in the guise of a revolutionary, demonstrates to people their own imagined world. Adam prevents The Arkanar from being killed by Lucifer and sees himself as a generous ruler. This feeling turns out to be extremely empty. The Rumata proclaim the blindness of man who cannot escape his fate.

Scene 6: Athens

A political meeting, presented by Lucy: Lucifer and his men have instigated a demonstration against Adam in the figure of Miltiades, a military commander. The Rumata are present as elected representatives. Lucy pretends to be Kimon, the son of Miltiades, is taken hostage and tries to kill himself. When Eve attracts everyone’s attention to herself she is also abruptly declared to be a hostage. Adam returns, a defeated commander, but people expect victories from him in return for the years of deprivation. Adam learns that freedom is nothing but a fallacy and that it is ultimately immaterial on which side one fights.

Scene 7: Rome

A funeral procession catches Adam’s attention; a struggle breaks out about who should give the corpse a last kiss, a kiss which will bring the plague on everyone. Lucy kisses the corpse, who turns out to be The Jeriko and bursts into hysterical laughter. Eve tries in vain to prevent Adam from giving the deadly kiss in order to save their love. The Rumata describe scenes of the end of the world and religious mania.

Scene 8: Baghdad

Adam, in the person of a crusader knight, is in chains; his only companion is a drunken Arkanar whose behaviour, however, so displeases Lucifer and his four men that they take him prisoner. Adam is freed. The Arkanar is ill-treated by Eve in the person of a soldier, which she obviously enjoys. Adam sees his picture of Eve destroyed.

Scene 9: Shop

Adam sees a world which enables people to take on any identity they wish, human or animal. The Jeriko is in charge of this department store of identities. Whilst the body functions as a machine, the head transmits signals of happiness. Adam still believes in the healing power of love but he has already become integrated in the system as a victim of his unconscious fantasy. Eve thinks that the fall of man can be reversed by the grace of God. But shortly before the devil’s work can be completed, a virus attacks the regular course of events and the system collapses.
Lucifer senses for the first time that his plan might fail.

Scene 10: The Roof of the World

In order to rescue Eve, Adam tries to escape from the devils with her in a flying machine. Lucifer and Lucy are afraid they will lose their power over Adam because he is acquiring ever more devilish characteristics. The two devils argue about themselves and fear for their existence.

Scene 11: Desert (Adam’s Dream)

Adam demands that Lucifer should kill Lucy in order to be able to give himself into his hands. He succeeds in getting Skelton, Boris, L and Strugatzi on his side but they cannot kill Lucy. Lucy reveals her true identity: she is Lilith, a demon and Adam’s first wife, who was his equal and now wants him back. Lucifer is forced to realise that he has now become superfluous and swallows the second pill which were meant for Adam.

Scene 12: Beyond Eden

Adam tries to put an end to himself and with him mankind. Eve wants to prevent him from doing this and reveals that she is pregnant. Lucy urges Adam to kill Eve and their child in order to start a new race with her. Adam kills Eve. The Rumata see no place for a new life any longer. Lucifer feels betrayed by everyone.