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Carl Maria von Weber and the Search for a German Opera

Stephen C. Meyer

Publication Year: 2003

Stephen C. Meyer details the intricate relationships between the operas Der Freischütz and Euryanthe, and contemporary discourse on both the "Germany of the imagination" and the new nation itself. In so doing, he presents excerpts from a wide range of philosophical, political, and musical writings, many of which are little known and otherwise unavailable in English. Individual chapters trace the multidimensional concept of German and "foreign" opera through the 19th century. Meyer's study of Der Freischütz places the work within the context of emerging German nationalism, and a chapter on Euryanthe addresses the opera's stylistic and topical shifts in light of changing cultural and aesthetic circumstances. As a result, Meyer argues that the search for a new German opera was not merely an aesthetic movement, but a political and social critique as well.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Table of Contents

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pp. vii

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pp. ix

A Fulbright scholarship enabled me to complete the basic research for this book; subsequent research trips were funded by Syracuse University. Among the libraries that offered me hospitality and assistance are the University of California Music Library, Berkeley, California; the Musikwissenschaftliches Institut of the Freie Universit

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1. Introduction: Inventing German Opera

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pp. 1-27

By the end of act 3, scene 2, of Weber’s opera Euryanthe, the fortunes of the heroine have reached their lowest ebb. Falsely accused of infidelity and banished by king and court, she has just been abandoned by her beloved Adolar deep in the forest, to perish of hunger or be devoured by wild beasts. In the scene and cavatina that forms the body of scene 2, Euryanthe prepares...

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2. The Native and the Foreign: Models for the German Opera

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pp. 28-75

Late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century historians of German opera often characterize Weber’s move to Dresden as a turning point in the history of the genre, but in 1817 it was not entirely clear what “German opera” meant. Was it simply that operas in Weber’s new company would be performed in German, or did the idea of a German opera imply some...

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3. Der Freischütz and the Character of the Nation

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pp. 76-115

That this word should have such strong positive connotations in nineteenth century Germany is no surprise, for in many ways the idea of a distinguishing mark or emblem articulated the yearning for national unity that was so important to the cultural and political zeitgeist. Arndt’s mythologized history can easily be read through the context of these words, as the story of...

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4. Euryanthe: Reconfiguration and Transformation

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pp. 116-157

The origins of Euryanthe may be traced back to a letter that Weberreceived from the impresario Barbaja on 11 November 1821, inviting him to write a new opera for Vienna. Barbaja may have envisioned something along the lines of Der Freisch

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5. Epilogue: Institutions, Aesthetics, and Genre after Weber’s Death

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pp. 158-175

It is well known, writes the Dresden correspondent for the Berliner allgemeine musikalische Zeitung in a report from 1825, that the city is dividedinto two parties. The first party, he says, is “the party of Weber”: who have now won a small victory through their exemplary patriotism. This party will have nothing but Weberian tours de force. Elsewhere one...

Appendix 1. Synopsis of Das unterbrochene Opferfest

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pp. 177-180

Appendix 2. Comparative Table: Versions of Das unterbrochene Opferfest

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pp. 181-183

Appendix 3. Synopsis of Méhul’s Joseph

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pp. 184-189

Appendix 4. Comparative Table: Revisions to the Final Chorus of Joseph

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pp. 190

Appendix 5. Synopsis of Euryanthe

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pp. 191-195


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pp. 197-229


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pp. 231-243


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pp. 245-253

E-ISBN-13: 9780253109620
E-ISBN-10: 0253109620
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253341853

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 2 b&w photos, 17 figures, 1 bibliog., 1 index
Publication Year: 2003