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Best known for his novels, biographies or literary essays, Zweig wrote no less than twelve plays for the stage between 1907 and 1929. Tersites, his first dramatic work, made its debut simultaneously in two theaters, in Kassel and Dresden. The young author, then only 27 years of age, was praised by the critics for his courage to put in first importance an anti-hero, the ugly and unsavory Tersites, an ideological option which Zweig repeated in various other works.
In 1912, four years after his first stage success, two new theatrical works by Zweig were again applauded by the critics and public: Der verwandelte Komödiant (The transformed comedian), a play in one act with an amusing text which occurred during the Rococo era, and Das Haus am Meer (The house at the sea). For the latter, Zweig chose a historic theme, where he gave the major importance human dignity: the participation of German mercenaries in the American War for Independence. The premiere was at the Vienna Hofburgtheater on 26 Ocotober 1912m and it's debut in Hamburg, in November, coincided with the beginning of a love affair between Zweig and his first wife, Friderike von Winternitz.
In February 1918, during the First World War, the pacifist drama Jeremiah; a drama in nine scenes made its debut in Zurich with much success. In a letter to the great German playwright Gerhart Hauptmann, Zweig himself considered this attack on war as his first great work. The prophet Jeremiah was the first of Zweig's dramatic characters whose defeat signified a moral triumph and the débâcle of the city of Jerusalem symbolized the horrors of war and the destruction of Europe. It was not by chance, as Alberto Dines writes in his biography Morte no paraíso (Death in paradise) that Rabbi Lemle chose an excerpt from Jeremiah to read at the cemetery in Petropolis, during the burial of Zweig and his second wife, Lotte Altmann.
Also in 1918 (in December), Zweig's play Legende eines Lebens (Legend of a Life) made its debut in Hamburg. Until 1929, Zweig produced other dramatic works including Adam Lux, Das Lamm des Armen (The one ewe lamb), Quiproquo and Volpone. The latter was based on the text of Ben Jonson and afterwards made into a film. Besides these works, Zweig wrote the draft for the musical ballet Marsyas and Apolo, the libretto for the opera The silent woman of Richard Strauss (see Music Room) and synopses with ideas for one or two operas for Strauss for the librettist who followed him.
Many other works of Zweig, including The Royal Game (schachnovelle) and some biographies, also were adapted for the theater. In Brazil, the TBC,directed by the Polish refugee Zbgniev Ziembinsky, put on Volpone in 1955.A curious fact: a theatrical group, Abaçaí Cultural e Arte, was born at the Stefan Zweig State School in Sao Paulo (see the site)