Major roles: S,T,Bar; Minor roles: 5S,A,3T,Bar,6B; actors; mimes; chorus;
Mortally ill, Lucian arrives at the convent of the ‘Converted Sinners’ in Maastricht. While other beggars are poised to chase him away, he tells them his life’s story.
Back in Antwerpen, Mareike entertains her guests by dancing. Once a plain peasant girl, she now lives off Arnaut – in keeping with her maxim that she would even sell her soul to the devil for money and pleasure if need be. One day, the famous Lukas von Gelder enters her house to ask for a jar of water. Mareike realises that he is Lucian, the love of her youth, who once rejected her to join a group of friars travelling the country as wandering minstrels. Unable to resist her this time, he spends the night with her.
In the morning, Lucian is not ready to perform since sacred musicians are sworn to chastity. Not only does Mareike accuse him of considering their love a sin, he is also provoked by the devilish Arnaut. He decides to play nonetheless. Mareike is enraptured by the performance, a play about the conversion of the sinner Luxuria. Crying out loud to God to beg for mercy, she suddenly falls to the ground. When Lucian hurries towards her to help, Arnaut reveals Lucian’s perjury to the appalled crowd.
Hounded down by the people, Lucian seeks refuge at Mareike’s house. In the meantime, however, Mareike has made up her mind to enter a convent. Misconstrueing her refusal to escape with him, Lucian falls is enraged and stabs Arnaut, taking him to be his rival in love.
Several years later, the annunciation made on Mareike’s entry to the convent is fulfilled: namely, that she would live to see the end of her constant penance, and that, should Lucian find her again of his own accord, both would receive God’s forgiveness.