Oehlenschläger’s Aladdin

If you need more Aladdin in your life, you might be interested in reading an early 19th Century dramatization of the story by Adam Gottlob Oehlenschläger.

I found a copy of the play on Google Books and have been reading the PDF. Research I should have done before writing As You Wish, eh?

Here are some of the notable points I discovered while reading and skimming this play:

  • The play as written is more than five hours long! It is split into Parts One and Two, so presumably audiences didn’t have to sit through the whole thing at once.
  • Aladdin’s father is alive at the start of the play! He yells at Aladdin, yells at his wife, and dies after Aladdin gets him worked up.
  • There is a staircase leading down to the lamp. This makes it easier to stage—you can have Aladdin and the Magician onstage at the same time.
  • Part 1 of the play ends with Aladdin’s wedding, just like Act I of As You Wish. The Magician doesn’t take the lamp until Part Two.
  • Part Two includes the entire second part of Aladdin, which is usually left out. In it, the Magician’s brother comes to town, eager for revenge. He spends most of the story in drag. In the story, Aladdin stabs this “woman” to death in cold blood. In Oehlenschläger’s play, Aladdin challenges him to a duel, but the Magician’s brother instead kills himself.
  • The play ends with an announcement of the King’s death—Aladdin is the new king! He and the Princess go to pay their respects to her father and his mother (so I guess she dies at some point.)
  • There are lots of fairies and spirits and stuff. I guess you have to give your chorus something to do.

I really was impressed by how this play was written—nothing seems impossible for the stage. It’s also quite faithful to the original story. Oehlenschläger adds scenes—Aladdin’s father’s death and a meeting between the Magician and his brother, for example—that really flesh things out. It’s interesting to see another playwright work with the same story I did with some of the same intentions—plus an added dose of cleverness.

A production of Oehlenschläger’s Aladdin might be too dense for my stunted, contemporary attention span, but I’m glad I got to see it on the page.

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