Chorus: clerks, office messangers, guests at the ball
Ballet: soldiers, policemen, dancing costumes from the costume agency
Time and Place
Berlin, ca. 1900
Wilhelm Fadenkreutz, a clerk in the city treasurer's office in Berlin, is awarded a medal by the Kaiser for exposing a case of embezzlement. Fadenkreutz not only feels like a new man, he feels altogether like a human being for the first time and makes sexual overtures to the mayor´s daughter, Adelaide, whereupon he is dismissed for being an "immoral person". When he gets home, he bursts in upon his sister, Auguste, and Birkhahn, a civil servant, who have just become engaged. To cover up the shame of Wilhelm's dismissal, Auguste presents him as an army captain out of uniform. Birkhahn invites everyone to a celebration of their engagement at the ball of the Concordia Fire Insurance Company, where a play he has written is to be performed. In order to appear as befitting his social station, Wilhelm borrows a uniform from a junk-shop and this effects an astounding transformation of his character. At the ball, Wilhelm turns public rejection of Birkhahn's complete flop of a play into acceptance through his wildly enthusiastic applause; much the worse for beer, he rails against liberalism in general and the mayor in particular and, at daybreak, he takes command of a patrolling troop of soldiers and marches against the town hall. That Prussia's 'glory' is saved in the end, is only thanks to the natural wit of the mayor´s wife.