Der Wildfang

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Der Wildfang (approx. "a lively, boisterous child" or "tomboy") is a comedy in three acts by August von Kotzebue (1761-1819)[1].

(Not to be confused with Kotzebue's 1819 comedy Der Fürstliche Wildfang, oder Fehler und Lehre, an adaptation of Le prince en Goguette, ou, La Faute et La Leçon, the 1817 French vaudeville by Bouilly and Désaugiers.).

The original German text

Subtitled "Ein Lustspiel für die Verdauung" (literally: "A comedy for the digestion"), this has been one of his most popular works.

The title of the play is derived from what was originally a hunting expression, used to refer to "a trapped wild animal", but it is used in the title in the derived metaphoric sense of "a lively, boisterous child", usually applied to a girl - i.e. somewhat equivalent to "tomboy" in English. The title is translated in a variety of ways, for instance The Wild-Goose Chase by William Dunlap, the first translator of the text, in 1800; The Trapping of Game by some sources (e.g. Encyclopaedia Britannica) and as The Madcap by Hunt and Clarke, the translators of Von Kotzbue's own autobiography in 1827.

The German text was first performed and published in 1798, later republished many times, e.g. by Bolling in Augsburg, 1805 and by Wallishausser in Vienna, 1811.

Translations and adaptations

The original text was apparently the basis for a German adaptation, a two act opera by Franz Xavier Huber (Der Wildfang. Eine Komische Oper in zwei Aufzugen) performed in the Hof Theater in Vienna in 1797 and published there by Kurtzbeck in 1797.

As a three-act musical play (Der fürstliche Wildfang oder Fehler und Lehre) by Marc-Antoine Désaugiers, , (1819)

Translated into English by William Dunlap and adapted as a comic opera in four acts under the title The Wild-Goose Chace (sic on the original printed edition, but listed as The Wild-Goose Chase by later critics and authors.) and performed in New York on 24 January 1800. Published there in 1800 by William Dunlap.

Translated into Dutch as De Verwarde Schaking ("The confused kidnapping") by Pieter Gerardus Witsen Geysbeek, and published by Van Kesteren in Amsteldam in 1798.

Productions in South Africa

1802: Performed in German on 17 July and 24 July in the African Theatre, Cape Town by Het Hoogduitsche Gezelschap van het Liefhebbery Theater, though apparently advertised wrongly in the Kaapsche Courant as De Wildfang. It was done along with the Dutch one-act play De Moetwillige Jongen (Ogier).

1824: Performed in Dutch as De Verwarde Schaking by Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense in the African Theatre, Cape Town on 29 May , with Les Deux Chasseurs et La Laitière (Anseaume).


Facsimile version of Der Wildfang. Eine Komische Oper in zwei Aufzugen (Google E-Book)[2]

Facsimile version of Le prince en goguette, ou, La faute et la leçon[3]

Facsimile version of Der fürstliche Wildfang oder Fehler und Lehre[4]

Facsimile version of Der Wildfang. The Wild Goose Chace; a play in four acts and in prose , with songs by Augustus Friedrich Ferdinand von Kotzebue and William Dunlap[5]

DiGaetani and Sirefman, 1994, Opera and the Golden West: The Past, Present, and Future of Opera in the U.S.A.[6]

Facsimile version of De Verwarde Schaking (Google E-Book)[7]

F.C.L. Bosman. 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [8]: pp. 79, 111, 279,

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