Peter and Paul in the Land of Nod
More than just a Christmas Operetta
A story about love and redemption and the search by two young orphan boys for a place to call home.
Peter and Paul in the Land of Nod
Story by Fritz Grünbaum and Robert Bodanzky
English translation by Hersh Glagov and Gerald Frantzen
Scene 1- prologue- The show opens with Laborosa, the spirit of goodness and hard work, speaking about two orphan boys, Peter and Paul, who work as apprentices for a shoemaker named Kneipp. She is worried that boys have grown lazy and will succumb to the temptations of idleness. She warns that they are being tempted into a life of sloth by Schlendrianus, the evil spirit of laziness. Schlendrianus suddenly appears singing and boasting of how great it is to do nothing all day. He tells Laborosa that she will never succeed in taking Peter and Paul away from him. Schlendrianus bets Laborosa that he can lure them into being lazy and idle all day. Laborosa leaves, but vows that she will free Peter and Paul by teaching them love and kindness. The scene ends with the clapping of thunder and lightning as Schlendrianus sings and boasts that he is sure to win the bet.
Scene 2- Cobbler Kneipp’s Workshop. The scene opens up in a Cobbler Kneipp’s messy workshop. Peter and Paul are hard at work mending shoes. Master Kneipp, a troubled cobbler, sings of how hard it is to earn a living fixing shoes. Putting his shoes down and saying that he needs a rest, Cobbler Kneipp decides to go to the local tavern for a drink. He tells the two boys that he expects their work to be done by the time he comes back. The minute he leaves Peter and Paul stop working. They complain of how hard their life is and how they would love it if they could do nothing all day long. They both wish that they had a loving family as Master Kneipp and his wife do nothing but quarrel with each other. Peter tells Paul that the master hit him with a shoe. As he pulls up his sleeve Paul notices that Peter has the same birthmark that he does. They realize that they are long lost brothers. They decide that they should run away together. But before they can leave they hear the angry Mistress (Kneipps wife) approaching. Wasting no time they quickly hide under the table. The Mistress enters singing a lullaby to her young children Little Karl and Little Anna. She puts them to bed and then sits down and laments how hard her life is and what a louse her husband is. Suddenly she hears snoring and spies Peter and Paul under the table. She goes to fetch her broom. Master Kneipp, back from the tavern, stumbles into the room. The mistress bursts back in and starts hitting the master with the broom. Realizing that she is hitting him and not the boys, she leaves. Master Kneipp says that he really needs to change his ways. He angrily warns the two boys that he will get them, but feeling woozy, he goes to bed. The boys start to leave again. They take the master’s nice coat and hat and start to dance around the room. This wakes Master Kneipp up. As he comes out of his room the boys decide to hide and scare the Master by pretending to be a ghost and a devil. Frightened the master runs back to his room. The boys write a note saying they’re leaving. Master Kneipp returns with the Mistress. He spies the note and realizes that they have been tricked. Peter and Paul quickly climb out the window as the Mistress and master chase them with a broom. The Mistress and master argue and blame each other for chasing the boys off. The scene ends with the Mistress dumping a pot of glue on Master Kneipp’s head.
Scene 3- A traveler’s Inn- Peter and Paul arrive at a traveler’s Inn where the local peasants have gathered and are singing and dancing. Paul is worried that since they have no money they will be thrown out. Peter tells Paul not to worry as he has a plan. As they sit in the Inn they overhear Mr. Quant, a local peasant, telling a story about a place called the Land of Nod. It is a place where no one works and where the laziest and dumbest person is King. Peter and Paul decide that it is the perfect place for them, so they ask Quant how to get there. He tells them they can reach it on a moonlit night, much like the one tonight. The Innkeeper enters and tells everyone it is time to go home. Peter and Paul ask for a room but the Innkeeper says he can only offer them a bed of straw on the floor. The boys agree to pay him in the morning. Peter tells Paul that his plan is that they will sneak off in the middle of the night to the Land of Nod. The boys fall asleep. Schlendrianus enters through a crack in the wall. He boasts that the boys, who are talking in their sleep, are now his for sure. Laborosa appears and warns him that she won’t give up on them yet. They both exit. The boys wake up as they hear a noise. Kraps, a burglar, puts a ladder up to the window and sneaks into the Inn to rob it. Peter and Paul hatch a plan to push him into a trunk and use his ladder to climb out the window and run off to the Land of Nod. They trap him in the trunk. Paul yells for the Innkeeper to come quickly. The two boys climb out the window as the Innkeeper catches the thief. Triumphantly the Peter and Paul set off to the Land of Nod.
Scene 4: Rice Mountain. Peter and Paul, under the cover of moonlight, start on their journey to the Land of Nod. They sing of how wonderful it will be to have plenty of food and do nothing all day. They stop and carefully try to recall the directions that Quant gave them. Suddenly they come across Rice Mountain. Peter reminds Paul that master Quant said that they have to eat their way through Rice Mountain. Paul digs in and soon eats his way through the mountain. The boys have finally arrived at the Land of Nod.
Scene 5: The Land of Nod The scene opens up in the throne room of the King of the Land of Nod. The King (Schlampamprius) the palace guards and a group of pigs are all fast asleep. The six palace ministers are tip-toeing around the room so that they don’t wake up the King. They sing of how it is their duty to oversee the court and make sure that the King is not disturbed. They finish their song and go back to sleep. Pimpfl, the court jester, has been chasing a fly around the room. The fly lands on the King’s nose. Foolish Pimpfl swats the fly and wakes up the King. Enraged the King yells at Pimpfl and orders him to leave at once. But first he must get him a piece of cake and coffee. Pimpfl runs off to fetch the coffee and cake as well as the Queen. The King boasts of what a wonderful life is to be on the throne. His wife Galatea enters. She has brought the coffee and cake. She asks the King for her morning kiss. Reluctantly the King puckers up. He then takes a sip of his coffee and burns his tongue. He spits out the coffee and throws the cake on the floor and storms out of the room. The Queen follows. Peter and Paul enter with Schlendrianus who is disguised as a peasant. Schlendrianus explains to them that all they have to do to become citizens of Nod is act lazy and dumb. Schlendrianus exits. Peter and Paul look around the room and see food and toys all scattered all over. Peter picks up a toy saber and they soon start marching around the room singing. The guards join them. The King (Schlampamprius) enters the room followed by his courtier. He welcomes the boys and tells them that all they have to do become citizens of Nod is to win an eating contest. Pimpfl declares that he’ll be the challenger. They make their way to a table where they sit down and prepare themselves to eat. The King reads off a list of disgusting food for them to eat. He leaves and joins the boys at the competition. Schlendrianus enters and declares that these boys will finally belong to him. Laborosa appears and tells him that she won’t give up on the boys just yet. They both exit. The King returns with the entire court and praises Peter and Paul for winning the competition. He declares that after all that eating it is time for some entertainment and calls to bring in the ballet. The ballet performs eight different dances: a vegetable wedding, dance of the lucky mushrooms, dance of the piglets, chicken run polka, march of the guard, poppy flower dance, honey nymph waltz and an acrobat gallop. The King announces that all this dancing has made him hungry again. He orders Pimplf to get him some ham. Pimpfl tells him that he can eat more than that, so the King has him thrown in the dungeon. Peter and Paul, who are completely stuffed with food, tell the King that they can’t eat anymore and that they want to leave. The King tells them that is impossible so the boys decide to runaway. The King and the court chase the boys around the palace as the scene ends.
Scene 6: The Escape Peter and Paul have managed to get away from the Land of Nod, but know that the King and his court are still following them. They stop before a bridge. Paul is worried that they’ll soon be caught. Peter says he has a plan and pulls up a board on the floor of the bridge. Just then the King and his court come running in- they stop at the bridge as they can’t go across because of the missing board. Frustrated they turn around and head back to Nod. Schlendrianus appears and freezes the boys in their tracks. Owls and monsters circle the two boys. The boys are stuck and cry out for help. It gets colder and soon the boys fall asleep. Laborosa appears and tells the boys that they must give up their life of ease. If they work hard and promise to do what’s good she will save the boys. She frees them and the boys wake up and cheerfully run off to head back to the shoe shop. Schlendrianus, frustrated, appears again and says that they must not be free. Laborosa steps in and with a wave of her hand vanquishes him.
Scene 7: Christmas Eve at the Kneipp’s workshop All of the neighborhood children are at the Kneipp workshop helping decorate for Christmas Eve. The shop is much tidier. Some of the children are singing and playing blind man’s bluff. The song ends and the neighborhood children leave the shop. Master Kneipp and the mistress enter carrying presents for little Anna and little Karl. They talk of how happy they are and of how hard they work. Master Kneipp has given up his drunken ways and he and the Mistress no longer argue. They only wish that Peter and Paul were here. Little Karl and little Anna enter. They tell their parent’s that they’ve seen an angel outside. The parent’s tell them that the angel has brought gifts for them. Anna gets a little doll and Karl gets a new rocking horse. Karl, elated, jumps on his horse and starts to sing of how one day he will have a real horse. Suddenly there is knock on the door. Karl jumps off the horse and answers it. Peter and Paul walk in, but they are hard to recognize as their clothes are torn and tattered. They ask for some food. Master Kneipp and the mistress at first don’t recognize them, but suddenly realize that it is Peter and Paul. They welcome them back with open arms and tell them that they have changed their ways. The boys tell them that they are still afraid of the evil spirit Schlendrianus. There’s a knock on the door. Karl opens it and in walks Laborosa. She tells the boys that they are now finally at home and part of a loving family. Peace and harmony have been restored. Schlendrianus appears one last time but Laborosa ,with the help of little Karl, chases him away. Schlendrianus, defeated, goes back to his rock. Laborosa now tells the family she has brought a gift for them. She claps her hands and a large Christmas tree appears. All the neighbors and friends gather around the tree singing “the Spirit of Christmas is here at last.” The End