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Spa Tobelbad. Alma Mahler and Dr. Joseph Fraenkel are arguing.

FRAENKEL   Alma! What's the matter with you all of a sudden? Did I do something wrong? Alma, please stay ! Did I say something that hurt you? ... Alma!! Hold on ! Why are you so angry with me all of a sudden? Remember, Alma! Remember yesterday, won't you! Please, Alma! Yesterday everything was fine, so good between the two of us, and now, just like that? Yesterday's operation! Have you forgotten it already ? You were completely satisfied! The results are fantastic, aren't they? You've been relieved of a burden! Please don't run away, Alma! ... At least say something ! What did I do to deserve such a brutal change in your behavior? Alma, how can I know what this is all about if you don't talk to me? What deadly sin have I committed?

ALMA   My poor, sweet Doktor Fraenkel...

FRAENKEL   »My poor, sweet Doktor Fraenkel!« What kind of answer is that? Is that supposed to be some kind of consolation? For what? I know I'm poor. In every sense of the word.

ALMA   Don't be ridiculous!

FRAENKEL   And on top of it I'm ridiculous now. I am! You said it! You can't take it back. , it doesn't make it any easier for me.

ALMA   We've been such good friends... Let's leave it at that.

FRAENKEL   I operated on you! Please don't forget that! I've touched you ...

ALMA   Medically, Doctor, only medically!

FRAENKEL   “Only” medically? “Only”?! That's the most intimate touching there is, Alma! Far more intimate than the way all other men continually harass you with their animal eyes! You mustn't let yourself be defiled !

ALMA   Don't be vulgar!

FRAENKEL   And you've got to stop drinking, Alma. Really. Please give up the bottle. Try to return to yourself, to what you were before your miserable marriage.

ALMA   What was I ? I can't remember anymore…

FRAENKEL   A young person with the whole world at your feet. You had the most wonderful gift a person can have: you had talent--

ALMA   I don't know what's left of it. My head is empty. My heart is mute. My feelings are dead.

FRAENKEL   Leave that life behind you--

ALMA   How can I? I'm keeping house, I'm supporting Gustav, I have a young daughter.

FRAENKEL   Give it all up. Take your forgotten songs with you, and go back to composing.

ALMA   How do you know about my compositions?

FRAENKEL   A guest of ours played one yesterday.

ALMA   Nonsense. I'm not going to be a composer any more. I can't do anything about it-

FRAENKEL   Yes you can. But this time don't let anyone distract you from your path .

ALMA   Stop it, Dr. Fraenkel!

FRAENKEL   Alma, I know I'm not Hippocrates.

ALMA   Stop it, Dr. Fraenkel!

FRAENKEL   Yes, you've told me many times.

ALMA   I was joking.

FRAENKEL   No, you weren't. You weren't at all! I know what my colleagues say about me, I'm not under any illusions. I know they keep telling you how poor I am. And it's true -

ALMA   External appearances have never interested me.

FRAENKEL   But they do, my dear, they interest you a great deal! I know you well enough by now to be aware of that.

ALMA   Don't flatter yourself, Doctor.

FRAENKEL   You're after money, talent and fame. I have none of all these.

ALMA   That isn't true. You have talent, and you know it . You're an authority.

FRAENKEL   I'm not so sure any more.

ALMA   You're an authority, Dr. Fraenkel. I can assure you of that.

FRAENKEL   But I'm not a genius. Now you be quiet. . I'm certainly not a genius. If you believed I was , you wouldn't have let me down. - Alma! Don't leave me! I want you. I need you. I have to have you, do you understand?! For ever! I want you for ever. Do you understand?! I want to shape you, you see?! I want to form you! Your body! - Don't let me beg like a child. Do you really have so much to give that others have to beg?

ALMA   Yes.

FRAENKEL   Well fine, I have nothing. I have to beg!

ALMA   Stop it! Stop it right now!! I can't bear it! Do you understand me?! Stop humiliating yourself right now. I can't stand it. You must never, do you hear, never humiliate yourself in front of me. You should never, never, never beg for my love!

FRAENKEL   If you don't give it to me -

ALMA   Nothing kills love like begging, , don't you understand that? If someone asks for help, you shouldn't give it to them. Because that means they aren't worthy of it! Why can't you see that? If a man asks me for something - if he begs for it - then to me, he's dead.

FRAENKEL   And - am I dead to you? (uses his stethoscope)

ALMA   You are doing everything you can to make my departure easier for me. .

FRAENKEL   Your departure?! What departure?!

ALMA   Doctor, I have an awful dilemma.

FRAENKEL   Is there someone else?

ALMA   Please, Dr. Fraenkel...

FRAENKEL   Who is it? - Don't call me »Dr. Fraenkel«! - Who is it? I want to know his name!

ALMA   It's Mahler.

FRAENKEL   Gustav Mahler? But he's your husband!

ALMA   No, you sweet little idiot! I'm only experimenting.

FRAENKEL   I know.

ALMA   No, not with you. I'm experimenting with myself: I whisper »My love«, and it's always Mahler's name that comes out first.

FRAENKEL   And whose name comes out second?

FRAENKEL   Whose name comes out second, hmm? I can already smell him on you. What has he got that I haven't? Is he younger than me? Better-looking? Is it Ossip Gawrilowitsch the pianist? I know you, Mrs. Alma Mahler. You want to sparkle like a star in the sky. The brightest star. The evening star. And for that you don't need love. But that's all I can give you. What you do need a rich and respectable man. - What are you laughing at?!

ALMA   »A respectable Man!« Oh, my God... How do you know!

FRAENKEL   So he isn't respectable ? Then he must be very rich.

ALMA   He isn't rich either.

FRAENKEL   Then he must be famous.

ALMA   Dr. Fraenkel, stop it, please!

FRAENKEL   Stop lying to me! Is he famous? World famous?

ALMA   Not yet.

FRAENKEL   Ahhh! - Who is it?!!!

ALMA   It's Sauerbruch.


ALMA   Sauerbruch, your colleague.

FRAENKEL   Stop this nonsense. I won't tolerate such a man in my house.

ALMA   I'm not going to tell you. So please leave me in peace, will you?!

FRAENKEL   Don't make me crazy! I want to know now, dammit! Who is it? At least tell me his room number.

ALMA   Dr. Fraenkel! You're getting on my nerves. Stop torturing me!

FRAENKEL   I'm torturing you?! You're torturing me! Who is the man? I want his room number right now!

ALMANIAC   (whispers) Psst! It's one-one-eight.

FRAENKEL   What? What?! (takes out the list of patients and searches through it:) No! No, you've got to be kidding! It can't be true! That animal? That Aryan thoroughbred? That German Schäferhund?!

ALMA   He's in love with me.

FRAENKEL   He's in love with you? But you're a married woman!

ALMA   It's not my fault if I light passion's fire , it's not my fault! Men swarm around me like moths to a flame , like flies to a honey pot...! I was made that way! That's why I was born into this world!

FRAENKEL   Flies swarm to shit in the street too...

ALMA   You're just jealous.

FRAENKEL   My God! You are the most incorrigible Man-Hunter I've ever met!

ALMA   What's wrong with that?

FRAENKEL   Well! Madam!

ALMA   I'm listening, Doctor!

FRAENKEL   If you you don't think there is anything wrong with you, then I won't disturb your peace of mind.

ALMA   Tell me what you think, what you feel.

FRAENKEL   Frankly speaking, I can't approve of your weakness.

ALMA   You really think people should tie up their whole lives with the first object that happens to come along?

FRAENKEL   An “object”? You call a Man an object?!

ALMA   What's wrong with objects? They can be very interesting and even exciting sometimes. But that's no reason to give them all up for the first object that catches your attention? Why should one precious stone make you blind to all the rest?

FRAENKEL   But what are you left with when you finish a love affair…?

ALMA   There's always a new love to start up.

FRAENKEL   And you think Mr. Gropius is that a love? What's so new about him ?

ALMA   It quickens my pulse to feel his desire. It awakens me from my deep sleep. It's like therapy!

FRAENKEL   Go on devouring life like a pig-- stuff yourself with food, drinks and cum!

ALMA   I am what I am! I was made to devour life, not to describe it…! I simply love it when a man loves me.

FRAENKEL   Doesn't faithfulness mean anything to you?

ALMA   But Doctor, that's ridiculous! Faithfulness ! All intelligent men have the right to enchant me. Denying that would be doing them an injustice! The purely accidental advantage of the one who happened to be the first to cross my path should not rob the others of their rightful claims to my heart.

FRAENKEL   What are you saying, Alma? How can you?

ALMA   Women who are proud of being faithful all their life to one man - even if the man is exceptional - are certainly not interested in the intelligence or pure spirit of men! They have to force themselves to be faithful, through a false sense of honor that keeps them forever away from all other men. from their intelligence, from their greatness, from their genius! Women like that are dead long before they've died.

FRAENKEL   Alma! Why are you talking like this? You are an intelligent woman with refined tastes. Your music is far superior to anything that cheap prick of an architect could cobble together in 200 years.

ALMA   How do you know about my compositions?

FRAENKEL   A guest of ours played one yesterday.

ALMA   Nonsense. I'm not going to be a composer any more-- I can't do anything about it-


ALMA   The muses don't like me.

FRAENKEL   The muses?!

ALMA   But men do. Especially the ones the muses love. That's why the muses are jealous of me. Let them drop dead with envy-- like their lovers die of love for me. They pray at my altar! I don't know why, but that's how it is. My husband never was as absorbed in his work as he was absorbed in his love for me, believe it or not! Whatever he did, he did for me, to reach me, to touch me, to worship me...!

FRAENKEL   Gustav Mahler?! Really…?

ALMA   And Walter is going to be the prophet of modern architecture. I know it!

FRAENKEL   Walter?!!

ALMA   Walter Gropius. 1-1-8. He isn't just anybody! He's a genius! I know it. I can feel it.

FRAENKEL   As an architect he's a disaster, he's a nothing, a Zero! Just Think of his ridiculous visions of a “Bauhaus” movement! Ha!

ALMA   It's not his theories. Not in the least . His theories about architecture leave me cold. It's just … him! Him! It's him that fascinates me. Only him. It's strange... But I don't know how to say it.

FRAENKEL   Yes, sure, I know. The “inexpressible ”, that »certain something«!

ALMA   Yes. Exactly. You see, when a man falls in love with me, I immediately fall in love with myself. And all of sudden my life feels so full, so justified!

FRAENKEL   Just because a man passes through your life?! That's ridiculous!

ALMA   Why?

FRAENKEL   Because they always leave their dirty footsteps on your soul, and their greasy fingerprints on your body!

ALMA   Oh no! The more men pass through my life, the more strongly I feel that I'm alive!

FRAENKEL   But they fill you with their rotten semen!

ALMA   Rotten? No. Nothing tastes better than the sperm of a genius.

FRAENKEL   You should know…

ALMA   If I love a man, I want to have a child with him. If I don't, it can easily be disposed of.


ALMA   What's wrong with that? You helped me with it just yesterday ...

FRAENKEL   Alma, please! It was against my Hippocratic oath.

ALMA   Then you're a sinner now. Thank you. See you in hell!

FRAENKEL   Stop fooling yourself, Alma. All you want to do is sit on the hurdy-gurdy, like a fool! All dressed up, with a little red cap, a bowl of money in your hand, while some silly man grinds the organ! And the whole world dances to the tune! But not with me, Alma! Not with me!!

Suddenly Dr. Fraenkel throws himself at Alma, trying to embrace and kiss her:

ALMA   Stop it! Stop it, Dr. Fraenkel! How dare you…?!

FRAENKEL   Alma... Alma! Come here, come to me!

ALMA   Dr. Fraenkel! Are you completely mad?! Leave me... in peace! Don't kiss me! Don't touch me! Go away!! Go ... away!!! (pushes him away and spits out) Urrgh! If only I'd met him a bit earlier, my body would never have been tainted by yours.

FRAENKEL   Ahhhh... Now I recognize you, Alma. Your boundless vanity, your craving for pleasure, your ridiculous fantasies! You're dead! You're lost ...

ALMA   Quite the contrary, my dear. You can keep your advice to yourself. I won't need it any more. I'll love Walter Gropius for the rest of my life. That man is pure oxygen for me! Anyone who steps too close to him catches fire!

FRAENKEL   And what about me? What have I been for you?

ALMA   Sulphur. It burns too - but it's stinkier.

FRAENKEL   Well, then…! Then I insist that you leave immediately, right away, tonight. Get out of my sight! Fuck yourself to fame and glory! That's what you were born for!

ALMA   That's not for you to judge, thank God.

FRAENKEL   Adieu ma vie, adieu mon coeur, adieu mon espérance! I have to drown my sorrows and break the news to our friends. All I need is a good drink, and some juicy jokes. Enjoy your thoroughbred German Schäferhund! When you're fed up with him, join me for an abortion. You'll always be welcome.