Frank Wedekind Monologues

The Tenor (Duhring)

Duhring says

No, you don’t understand. You could not understand. How could you, the favorite of fortune, you understand what fifty years of bootless work means? But I will try to make you understand it. You see, I am too old to take my own life. People who do that do it at twenty-five, and I let the time pass by. I must now drag along to the end of my days. Please, sir, please don’t let these moments pass in vain for me, even if you have to lose a day thereby, a week even. This is in your own interest. A week ago, when you first came for your special appearances, you promised to let me play my opera for you. I have come here every day since; either you had a rehearsal or a woman caller. And now you are on the point of going away. You have only to say one word: I will sing the part of Hermann -and they will produce my opera. You will then thank God for my insistance…. Of course you sing Siegfried, you sing Florestan -but you have no rôle like Hermann in your repertoire, no role better suited to your middle register.

The Tenor (Gerardo)

Gerardo says

You may believe that, but nobody else does. We artists are merely a luxury for the use of the bourgeoisie. When I stand there on the stage I feel absolutely certain that not one solitary human being in the audience takes the slightest interest in what we, the artists, are doing. If they did, how could they listen to “Die Walküre,” for instance? Why, it is an indecent story which could not be mentioned anywhere in polite society. And yet, when I sing Siegmund, the most puritanical mothers bring their fourteen-year-old daughters to hear me. This, you see, is the meaning of whatever you call art. This is what you have sacrificed fifty years of your life to. Find out how many people came to hear me sing and how many came to gape at me as they would at the Emperor of China if he should turn up here to-morrow. Do you know what the artistic wants of the public consist in? To applaud, to send flowers, to have a subject for conversation, to see and be seen. They pay me half a million, but then I make business for hundreds of cabbies, writers, dressmakers, restaurant keepers. It keeps money circulating; it keeps blood running. It gets girls engaged, spinsters married, wives tempted, old cronies supplied with gossip; a woman loses her pocketbook in the crowd, a fellow becomes insane during the performance. Doctors, lawyers made….

(He coughs.)

And with this I must sing Tristan in Brussels tomorrow night! I tell you all this, not out of vanity, but to cure you of your delusions. The measure of a man’s worth is the world’s opinion of him, not the inner belief which one finally adopts after brooding over it for years. Don’t imagine that you are a misunderstood genius. There are no misunderstood geniuses.