Feuersnot (In Need of Fire)


In a medieval town outside of Munich, the people prepare for the midsummer solstice festival of light. Children gather firewood for a bonfire. The Mayor and some townsfolk discuss the mysterious stranger, Kunrad, who has come to live amongst them. When he appears, slightly distracted by his studies, the young girls are delighted and they tease the Mayor’s aloof daughter, Diemut, about the handsome stranger. Kunrad, in turn, is enraptured with Diemut and boldly kisses her. Deeply insulted, Diemut runs into her house, vowing revenge. As evening draws on and the bonfires begin to burn, Kunrad calls to Diemut beneath her balcony. Apparently relenting, she instructs him to climb into a basket rigged to a hoist, so that she can lift him to the balcony. But halfway up, she stops the hoist, leaving Kunrad dangling in the air. The townsfolk gather round and laugh at the spectacle. Then they learn the nature of Kunrad’s studies when the enraged sorcerer utters a spell that puts out all fire. Thrust into darkness, the townspeople plead with him to lift the spell. Kunrad, who has managed to climb to the balcony, tells them that the only way they can ever re-ignite fire is to give him the body of a virgin. On hearing this, Diemut draws him into her room, while the anxious townsfolk nervously stand beneath the balcony, urging Diemut on. After a time, the embers of the bonfire begin to glow, and then erupt into flame. The people cheer as Kunrad and an ecstatic Diemut proclaim their love.

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