Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Essential Opera - Reading Together - Part 7

In our continued tour of opera around Europe, we landed on Germany and Austria in this week's reading. While existant almost as early as Italian opera, German opera struggled to compete with Italian opera. It wasn't until the late 18th century, that German opera was able to establish itself credibly through the talent of Mozart. Other famous German opera composers include Beethoven, Weber, Wagner, and Strauss.

"Germany and Austria have one of the strongest operatic traditions in European culture. This is also evidenced by the large number of opera houses, particularly in Germany where almost every major city has its own theatre for staging such works, as well as internationally renowned operatic events such as the Salzburg Music Festival."

Three of the most famous German operas are Mozart's Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), and Strauss' Die Fledermaus (The Bat).

Of course, Hitler's rise to power significantly impacted opera in both Germany and Austria. "Adolf Hitler's assumption of power destroyed this thriving operatic scene. Ironically, after the burning of the Reichstag in 1933, the German seat of the government was moved to the Krolloper, the state opera house in Berlin which, under the adventurous directorship of Otto Klemperer, had seen the premieres of many innovative works of the 1920s."

An interesting side tidbit: Otto Klemperer was the father of Werner Klemperer who is best remembered for his roll as Colonel Wilhelm Klink in the TV show Hogan's Heroes.

Leave your comments and impressions below. And, don't forget to read the seventh installment for next week.

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