The Idea of National Opera, <i>c.</i> 1800*

Silke Leopold

in Unity and Diversity in European Culture c.1800

Published by British Academy

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780197263822
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734960 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

The Idea of National Opera, c. 1800*

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was one of many composers who, during the last quarter of the eighteenth century, thought more and more about a German-language opera. The idea of a German national opera was intensively discussed in Mannheim, and also put into practice with Ignaz Holzbauer's setting of Anton Klein's libretto Günther von Schwarzburg (1777). The idea of the national opera took hold in Europe during the nineteenth century. Is the German national opera, which composers and writers on music from Richard Wagner to Hans Pfitzner see as starting with Christoph Willibald Gluck's Iphigenie auf Tauris and Carl Maria von Weber's Freischütz, a historical reality or a historiographical construct? In order to answer this question, this chapter takes a brief look at the situation of opera around 1800, for only in Germany, and not in the other two leading opera nations, Italy and France, can a development at this time be observed in which the idea of a national opera takes shape.

Keywords: Germany; national opera; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; composers; Mannheim; Ignaz Holzbauer; Christoph Willibald Gluck; Carl Maria von Weber; Italy; nineteenth century

Chapter.  6312 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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