L’officina de l’amore | The plot

Dramatis Personae

ADEM Hız, 31, Turkish car mechanic, very masculine, Baritone
ISABELLA Diamant, 64, rich widow from Döbling, a sophisticated lady, Alto
DRAGO Debeljković, 62, Montenegrin workshop owner, alcoholic, Bass
JULIA Scharf, 25, carefree bisexual German student, Soprano

LOLEK Rozrusznik, 26, gay Polish car mechanic, Tenor
SOLI Uwoyela, 29, car mechanic from Uganda, Lolek’s lover, Bass-baritone
FATIMA Hız, 49, Adem‘s mother, stern, traditionalist, Dramatic Soprano
CENNET Maydanoz, 23, Adem‘s distant cousin, lesbian feminist, Mezzo

LA FAMIGLIA Turca, down-to-earth farmers of various age from Yozgat, Turkey, Choir


A somewhat shabby but homey backyard car repair workshop in the suburbs of Vienna, 2015.

Brisk musical opening, establishing the happy and dramatic tone of the show.


№1 Tra le strade del piacer (ADEM)       
Adem, a bachelor, is alone in the workshop with Isabella’s classic Alfa Romeo Giulietta.
He declares his love to the car. Adem admires Giulietta’s beauty.
He wants to own her.

№2 Strumentato (ADEM, LOLEK, SOLI)
Lolek und Soli, the closeted gay couple, enter. They are amused by Adem’s obsession with the car. Adem explains he does not believe in love any more. He had many women but Giulietta is superior, better and more beautiful than any of them. Unfortunately, Giulietta belongs to Isabella Diamant.

№3 L’amore è una cosa pazzesca (ADEM, LOLEK, SOLI)       
Cheerfully, Lolek and Soli try to change Adem’s mind. They feel that loving another human being is the most beautiful way of love. Every once in a while they are worried that Adem might notice their affection for each other and they quickly move apart and discuss repairing a car engine in an exaggerated masculine way. Adem insists that Giulietta is his only love and he lists the advantages a car has over a woman. Eventually, Lolek and Soli are convinced. Each to their own, everyone agrees.

№4 Recitativo (DRAGO, ADEM, LOLEK, SOLI)
Drago Debeljković, the boss of the repair shop, enters from his office and harshly orders his employees to work instead of fooling around. He has a mobile phone with him and tells Adem his mother is calling and wants to talk to him. Adem refuses. His mother annoys him, she is always talking about her wanting him to marry a Turkish woman. Drago tells Adem’s mother, Adem is currently lying underneath Giulietta and hangs up.
Drago wants to know what the current repair job for Giulietta was. Adem responds, nothing in particular. Isabella just needs an excuse for seeing him. The car is in better condition than the owner. He speaks derisively about Isabella’s physical signs of ageing. Drago gets angry. He is secretly in love with Isabella. He threatens to fire Adem. Adem laughs. He is the best and most handsome mechanic of all Ottakring. Drago should be happy that Adem provides him with such a good customer with a deep pocket. Disgruntled, Drago orders Adem to work on Giulietta’s underbody. Adem disappears underneath Giulietta.

№5 Strumentato (ISABELLA, DRAGO, ADEM)       
Isabella enters. Drago’s mood and behaviour changes instantly and he welcomes her gentlemanly. Isabella ignores Drago’s affection and asks for Adem. Drago makes Isabella compliments and offers her a shot of Sliwowitz (plum brandy). Isabella declines and keeps asking for Adem. Eventually, Adem appears from underneath Giulietta.

№6 Buongiorno (ISABELLA, ADEM, DRAGO)       
Adem and Isabella are having a cheerful flirt. Drago backs out, observes them jealously and utters some sardonic remarks. When Adem and Isabella even start a little dance, Drago withdraws to the office, filled with bitterness and Sliwowitz.

№7 Recitativo and Strumentato (ISABELLA, ADEM, LOLEK, SOLI)       
Lolek and Soli enter. Out of the blue, Isabella proposes to Adem and remarks she would “share everything“ with him if he became her husband. For a moment, Adem is horrified but then realizes that this might be the chance to finally own Giulietta.

№8 Il matrimonio del secol (ISABELLA, ADEM, LOLEK, SOLI)       
Isabella gets excited about her detailed visions of “the marriage of the century“. Adems pretends to share her enthusiasm but actually makes fun of her. Lolek and Soli are delighted by Isabella’s fantasies and apparently start dreaming of their own future marriage. They sing the line “ci sposiamo io e te“ to each other (“we will marry, you and I“).

Drago returns from the office. Isabella reminds Adem to consider her offer and leaves the garage calling him “my future husband“. Drago is shocked and appalled. Lolek and Soli try to appease him. They remark it is wonderful when two lovers want to marry. Drago, apparently homophobic, asks them if they’re gay. They deny, act particularly straight and quickly exit to their lunch break.
Adem laughs about Isabella’s marriage fantasies. Drago attacks Adem calling him unscrupulous and a con artist. Adem laughs and exits. There’s thunder and lightning over Ottakring. It starts to rain.

№10 Gentiluomo (DRAGO)       
Drago, accompanied by some agitated Balkan brass, expresses his fury about women always falling for the bad guys. Isabella has deserved better. He, Drago, has so much to offer! He is a „vero gentiluomo“, a real gentleman. During the aria Drago drinks Sliwowitz and has hiccups. Eventually he exits to the office.

№11 Strumentato and Recitativo (JULIA, ADEM)
The rain has stopped. A bike bell rings. Julia enters, all wet and her clothes soaked from the rain shower, pushing her damaged bicycle. There’s a hole in a tire. She needs a mechanic. Adem enters. He and Julia are immediately attracted to each other. Adem offers her a towel and a dry workshop bib overall. Julia performs a striptease behind Giulietta, allowing Adem – and the audience – only glimpses of the goodies. They exchange flirtatious compliments. Adem claims he is more into bicycles than cars.

№12 Braccia forti, chiappe sode (JULIA, ADEM)
Julia and Adem seduce each other. They first discuss the physical advantages of regular cycling and intensify their flirt. Adem calls Julia (German pronunciation) wrongly “Giulia”. They then agree on “Giulietta”. Eventually they kiss passionately, make out wildly and disappear inside Giulietta. The music raises to a fortissimo climax. Giulietta is shaking, the warning lights flash up, there are sparks flying up high in the garage.


№13 Grazie destino (JULIA, ADEM)
Everything calms down. The sun is shining again. A rainbow appears above the garage
Julia and Adem leave the car, satisfied and in love with each other. They thank destiny (“grazie destino”) for having introduced them to each other.

№14 Strumentato (JULIA, ADEM, DRAGO)
Drago, just about to enter from the office, observes Adem kissing “his sweet Giulietta“ goodbye. Julia and Adem can’t wait to see each other again. Julia exits. Drago, shaken and exhausted, returns to the office.
For a moment Adem is alone with Giulietta, the car. He admits having fallen in love and contemplates his dilemma. What is he supposed to do now? He stands between three women: a lover, a future wife, and her, Giulietta. However, Adem remarks, it can’t come any worse.

№15 Strumentato (FATIMA, ADEM, LA FAMIGLIA) (CENNET tacet)
Adem’s mother Fatima enters. Adem is flabbergasted. Fatima claims this is an emergency. She calls the Turkish relatives. They enter the garage, dressed in bucolic attire, carrying scythes and pitchforks. Fatima, supported by La Famiglia, complains that Adem, at age 31, is still unmarried. She came here to manage his life now. Adem rejects this thought.

№16 Le cipolle, i fagioli (FATIMA, LA FAMIGLIA) (ADEM & CENNET tacet)
Fatima and the family break out into a passionate oriental lament trying to make Adem feel guilty. They tell the story of Adem’s late father, a farmer who all his life lovingly grew various vegetables in order to provide his son with a decent life and marriage to a good Turkish woman.

№17 Strumentato (FATIMA, ADEM, LA FAMIGLIA) (CENNET tacet)
The family from Yozgat took a bride for Adem with them: his distant cousin Cennet, a young woman wearing traditional Turkish garment. She seems apathetic and disgusted. Adem rejects the matchmaking.

№18 Fermo lì! (ALL except Drago) (CENNET tacet)       
Fatima and the family are outraged. Lolek und Soli, attracted by the turmoil in the garage, enter. Adem claims his heart is already taken. Suddenly Isabella enters. In front of the family Adem agrees to marry Isabella and cornily professes, supported by Lolek and Soli, the alleged love to his future wife. Fatima and La Famiglia are moved by Adem’s and Isabella’s lover’s oath. They give in and decide to go back to Turkey.

№18a La Famiglia Exit Music (Instrumental)       
Everyone except Cennet exits, celebrating the bride and groom.

№19 Recitativo and Strumentato (CENNET, JULIA)
Cennet is relieved about her marriage being cancelled and the family having left. Julia enters. She wants to return the bib overall. The two young women clearly like each other. Julia learns about Adem’s plans with Isabella. Her initial anger turns into passion for Cennet who turns out to be a lesbian feminist. Julia offers Cennet the bib overall. She accepts and takes off the chador.

№20 Io mi piaccio così (CENNET, JULIA)       
Cennet performs a striptease and slips into the bib overall, much to Julia’s pleasure. The seduction scene from Act I is being repeated, this time Julia playing Adem’s role.
Cennet and Julia dynamically express their independence of social constraints and ideals of beauty (“Io mi piaccio così“ – “I like myself the way I am“). They kiss and disappear inside Giulietta, making out.

№21 Recitativo (ISABELLA, ADEM, DRAGO)
Adem and Isabella return. They have been shopping. Isabella is wearing a wedding dress, Adem a tail coat. Drago enters and uses an excuse to send Adem away to the office. Adem exits. Drago warns Isabella of Adem, the con artist. She doesn’t believe him. Drago reveals to her that Adem is in love with a certain “sweet Giulietta“. Isabella, believing it’s about the car, laughs happily and remarks this kind of affection is completely normal with men. They always need a toy. Drago is devastated. Isabella empathizes with him and tries to cheer him up.

№22 La sera della vita (ISABELLA, DRAGO)       
Isabella describes the plans for her retirement. She wants to buy a villa in Tuscany and enjoy “the evening of her life“ (“la sera della vita“) with her beloved mechanic. Drago has similar dreams but no partner yet. He misses his fishing hut in Montenegro. Isabella and Drago have a little musical argument about whether Tuscany or Montenegro is the better place for retirement.

Adem, Lolek and Soli return. Drago asks them grumpily where they’ve been. They explain they have been celebrating with the Turks. Drago is confused. What Turks? Isabella invites everyone to a glass of champagne. She kisses Adem passionately and exits to the office to get the champagne bottle.

№24 Finale Act II (ALL except Fatima and La Famiglia)       
Julia appears and wants to know: who is this lady? Adem feels caught and gets very nervous. He asks Lolek and Soli for their support.
Julia, knowing the truth, plays naive and asks why Adem kissed the other lady on the mouth.

No. 24a Vecchie tradizioni
Adem claims the lady was just his granny. It was an old Turkish tradition to kiss dear relatives on the mouth. Particularly his grandmother, close to her demise, would appreciate every single kiss. Julia, Cennet and Drago enjoy Adem’s despair. Julia sarcastically praises Adem’s honesty and kisses him emphatically. In the same moment Isabella returns from the office. Now she wants to know: who is this lady? Once again Adem, supported by Lolek and Soli, explains the alleged old traditions (“vecchie tradizioni“) and assures Isabella the lady was simply his young cousin who needed some tuition in kissing. Isabella is amused and doesn’t suspect any wrongdoing.

No. 24b Il mio amor (JULIA)       
Julia enters center stage and announces a novelty: she found her Turkish “better half“ in the workshop. The men think she means Adem. Drago bursts with Schadenfreude. Adem fears the moment of truth. Everyone’s surprised when Julia introduces her new love: Cennet.

No. 24c Io mi piaccio così, Reprise
Everyone is delighted – except Adem und Drago. Julia and Cennet express their love for each other, marriage plans and their independence from Adem’s penis.

No. 24d Il matrimonio del secol, Reprise
Lolek and Soli get champagne glasses, Isabella opens the bottle and they celebrate with Cennet und Julia. Adem and Drago are stunned. Drago seeks solace in Sliwowitz. All exit except Adem.


№25 Strumentato (ADEM, JULIA) (ISABELLA tacet)       
The situation is serious. Adem laments his suffering to Giulietta. He can’t let Julia go away like this.
But saving his love would mean losing Giulietta. Choosing Giulietta and marrying Isabella on the other hand would mean losing Julia.
Julia returns to get her bike. Adem desperately tries to stop her and win back her heart.
Unnoticed by both, Isabella enters and observes the scene.
Adem affirms his love for Julia (Reprise “Grazie destino“) and talks ugly about Isabella. He never loved her and the marriage was just a joke. Isabella falls in grief.
Julia does not change her mind and exits, ringing the bike bell one last time.
Adem has a moment of complete despair, then runs after her.

№26 Tutto finisce (ISABELLA, DRAGO)       
Isabella feels very week and has lost all her joie de vivre. Her dreams have been shattered. Drago enters and rushes to her aid. Isabella feels the end has come and sinks into Drago’s arms, dying. Drago, desperate, confesses his love to her. Isabella dies.

№27 Finale Act III (ALL except Fatima and La Famiglia)
Drago shortly panics but then has an idea. He gets starter cables and connects Giulietta’s car battery to Isabella. It works. Isabella comes back to life.

№27a La sera della vita, Reprise
Isabella realizes Drago saved her life and is actually a charming “gentiluomo“. They kiss. Happily they decide to spend their retirement together in either Tuscany or Montenegro.

Adem returns. He puts on his brightest smile and asks Isabella if she is looking forward to the marriage. With satisfaction, Isabella answers, yes, with Mr. Debeljković. She and Drago are going to spend their retirement in Montenegro – and in Tuscany, Drago adds.
Lolek and Soli enter. They’re happy about the good vibes in the garage and have an announcement to make: they are going to marry and move to San Francisco.

№27b L’amore è una cosa pazzesca, Reprise
Isabella and Drago join Lolek and Soli for a happy, vibrant hymn to love. Adem is devastated.

Lolek and Soli exit dancing. Before Isabella leaves the garage she gifts Adem with Giulietta. She throws him the keys, he catches. Isabella and Drago exit.

№27c Tra le strade del piacer, Reprise (Solo ADEM)
Adem remains alone with Giulietta. He now possesses the object of his dreams but has lost love.

№28 Bows