The Wives of Henry VIII
The court of Henry VIII, sultry with eroticism and filthy with scandal and betrayal. A venue for fraud and deceit, slander and valid accusations, legitimate and groundless lawsuits, and of great – and sometimes fatal – amusement. The unbridled and mortally dangerous monarch was „in his heart of hearts” a poet and a composer of music. In the mirror of his plans, decisions and choices appear five different women, the king’s happily married – or resting in eternal happiness – wives: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard. The programme features the people of the royal court as well as Henry VIII’s own musical compositions and poems, masterworks by the poets attached to the courts, excerpts from Shakespeare’s plays, as well as selections from Romantic operas and contemporary music.
The singers are trampling over each other for positions in the company and attempting to squeeze as much cash as they can out of the director, who is (naturally) in a financial pickle and wondering what to perform at the theatre: “Put your hand on your heart: is it not true that the worst pieces bring us the most money, and masterpieces leave the auditorium empty?” A “patron” of Madame Silberklang promises to furnish the director with funds if he signs his favourite singer. The ladies indulge in a “singing competition”, with each of them delivering a bravura aria to show off their vocal virtuosity, and while both sing about serious subjects, each attempts to “out-sing” their rival. Then, in a trio, they hysterically try to surpass each other’s coloratura’s in order to prove which of them is the prima donna.
Before leaving on a journey, Ben is paying a visit to Lucy, the object of his affection, and he's secretly got a big plan in the works: he's going to ask for the girl's hand in marriage. Whenever he gets to the big moment, however, the telephone rings, leading to a lengthy session of chattering on the part of his beloved. Out of desperation, Ben even attempts to sever the telephone cord, but in the end still doesn't manage to ask the momentous question: he has to leave in order to catch his train. Shortly after he departs, Lucy's telephone rings again. It's Ben. By calling from a telephone booth, he's finally able to ask Lucy to marry him, and she happily agrees. A love duet ensues – via telephone.