copyright 2002 Michael Jacobsen
          and Danielle Sinclair

The Emperor's New Clothes
Comic Opera Pastiche for Youth in 3 Scenes

Based on a Classic Tale by
Hans Christian Andersen
Music by
W. A. Mozart
Written and Arranged by
Michael Jacobsen and Danielle Sinclair

Score: Vocal/Piano Accompaniment, 149 pp.
Difficulty: Advanced
Also available in arrangements for Chamber Ensemble (7 players) and Full Orchestra
Running Time: Approx. 1 hr. 15 min.

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The Emperor's New Clothes is a delightful and humorous tale about vanity, greed, and the search for the perfect royal suit of clothes.  The musical score was borrowed from the works of W. A. Mozart (The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, The Abduction from the Seraglio, and more.). It is set in the style of a Mozart opera and sung throughout. Most of the parts are suitable for children 10-12 years old, but the larger parts are better suited to students age 12 and up.  The piano part is accessible to advanced piano students.
Roles: (B=boy, G=girl, E=either)  Score also calls for a regular chorus of townspeople
Small (few lines)
Royal Herald (E)
Chorus Soli (B & G)

Medium (several solo lines and ensembles)
Tailor 1 (E)
Tailor 2 (E)
Tailor 3 (E)

Large (solos and ensembles)
Klaus Fettig (E)
The Emperor Leopold (B
)
Lady Konstanze (G)
Lord Chancellor (E)
Princess Rosamonde (G)
Johann Müller (B)

Synopsis of the Plot

Scene One: A Town Square Near the Royal Palace at a Time in the Distant Past.

In a state of excitement and anticipation, all of the townspeople have gathered in the square to read a newly posted announcement: The Emperor has decided to put on a formal ball in celebration of his ascendancy to the throne. All high and noble citizens have been invited and requested to appear in their very best attire. This is to be the fanciest formal ball ever held. As they huddle around the announcement eagerly discussing the event, a royal herald appears (pictured left in our 2000 production) and informs the crowd that the Emperor has offered a reward of 100 florins to the tailor who can make the most regal and beautiful suit of clothes for the Emperor to wear at the ball. On hearing this decree, three local tailors enter into a lively debate about which of them is sure to win. Witnessing this exchange is a wily swindler Klaus Fettig, who just happened to be passing through town. Fettig quickly formulates a plan to win the prize for himself. He spreads a rumor among the locals that a very great tailor would soon be arriving in town and was a sure bet to win the tailoring contest. One by one the gullible townspeople excitedly spread the rumor of this new tailor amongst themselves. As they go off, the Emperor's daughter Princess Rosamonde enters, pursued by her exasperated lady in waiting, Lady Konstanze. By chance they encounter a young peasant boy, Johann Müller, struggling along with a sack of produce for delivery. She asks why he is not rushing off to get ready for the ball. He informs her that he has no time for such things as he must work to provide food and clothing for his family. As they part, the Princess is moved by the young boy’s honesty and dedication. She invites him to be her personal guest at the ball. The townspeople reappear, this time on their way to the palace, to witness the tailoring contest. They are led by Klaus Fettig, who is now smug and confident about his chances for success.

Scene Two: The Palace Throne Room

As the curtain rises, we see Emperor Leopold having his measurements taken by his Lord Chancellor. The Emperor is wildly excited about his new suit but, as always, the Chancellor is skeptical about the outcome of this latest royal scheme. Impatiently, the Emperor demands that the tailors entering the contest be ushered in. Three tailors come forward with suits for the Emperor’s perusal. Horrified at their appearance, the Emperor bitterly denounces the three. He pleads for one good tailor who could make a truly regal and beautiful suit of clothes for him to wear at the ball. On hearing this, Klaus Fettig steps forward in disguise to say that he knows a great tailor who will be arriving that very day. The brainwashed townspeople echo this sentiment and convince the Emperor of its truth. Delighted, the Emperor calls for this tailor to be brought to him immediately. As the townspeople depart, the Princess returns. In response to her father’s inquiry, she informs him that she did not find a new dress for the ball, but did meet a very nice young man. The Emperor wants to know if he is rich and well dressed, and the Princess responds no, but he is honest and kind. The Emperor responds with a fatherly but somewhat pretentious lecture, telling her that she should associate only with people of a truly noble bearing, for only those people can understand and appreciate matters of a royal nature. She remains unconvinced as the Emperor escorts her off. Left alone, the Chancellor takes a minute to indulge in his favorite past time--making fun of his employer. Lady Konstanze enters and they gleefully commiserate. As they exit the Emperor reappears followed by the Herald who announces that the new tailor has arrived. Klaus Fettig enters, sans disguise, and proceeds to charm the Emperor with a ruse about a beautiful new suit made of fabric so refined that only a truly noble person can appreciate or even see it. Not one to appear ignoble, the Emperor swallows the story whole and declares Fettig the contest winner to the delight of the crowd

Scene Three: The Palace Courtyard

It is the night of the ball. The Princess enters the courtyard. She is thinking about the young man she has met and what her father told her. As she ponders these things, Johann Müller appears in another part of the courtyard, there to make a delivery of produce for the ball. He is wondering what it would be like to enjoy himself for a change. Their thoughts mingle although they don’t see each other. The Chancellor then enters with Lady Konstanze. She is still frustrated by her attempts to corral the Princess and the Chancellor hints at a disaster he now knows is coming. The guests arrive for the ball excited to honor their beloved Emperor. As the royal procession begins, the three tailors are still arguing, Lady Konstanze is trying to cheer up the Chancellor and the Princess and Johann are getting reacquainted. The royal herald proclaims the Emperor's arrival. The Emperor enters with great pomp, wearing, in fact, only his underwear. The bewildered tailors reluctantly offer their praise for the creation and then Johann steps forward to exclaim, innocently, that the Emperor is wearing nothing! At this outburst the crowd gasps, an enraged Emperor confronts the boy and threatens him with jail while everyone pleads for mercy. Sensing the gravity of the situation, the Chancellor tells Lady Konstanze to summon the guards and arrest Fettig, the true villain. Fettig is brought in bound and gagged and gives a mumbling plea while the Chancellor and Lady Konstanze condemn him to the Emperor. Recognizing the truth at last, the Emperor finds Fettig guilty and sentences him to become an errand boy for the discredited trio of tailors. The Princess then reminds her father that Johann is still under arrest and passionately pleads his case. Greatly taken aback, the Emperor admits his own foolishness and pleads for forgiveness. Relieved, everyone joins in laughing at the joke that was played on their Emperor.

 

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