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Encyclopedia > Ein Feldlager in Schlesien

Ein Feldlager in Schlesien (A Camp in Silesia) is a Singspiel in three acts by Giacomo Meyerbeer. Singspiel (song-play) is a form of German-language music drama, similar to modern musical theater, though it is also referred to as a type of operetta or opera. ... Giacomo Meyerbeer Giacomo Meyerbeer (September 5, 1791 – May 2, 1864) was a noted German-born opera composer, and the first great exponent of Grand Opera. ...

Contents


Background

Shortly after Meyerbeer arrived in Berlin in 1842 the opera house was destroyed by a fire. Meyerbeer was invited to compose a brand new work for the festive occasion of the reopening of the opera house. The reigning Prussian king at the time was Frederick William IV, of the house of Hohenzollern. What better theme for this opera than a work celebrating the king's famous ancestor, Frederick the Great? But there was one problem, members of the ruling Hohenzollern family could not be depicted on stage. This was not really all that much of a problem, Frederick could still be the subject of the opera, and simply not appear on stage. He is, however, heard playing the flute in the background. Photograph of Frederick King Frederick William IV of Prussia (October 15, 1795 - January 2, 1861), the eldest son and successor of Frederick William III of Prussia, reigned as King of Prussia from 1840 to 1861. ... The House of Hohenzollern is a German dynasty of electors, kings, and emperors of Prussia, Germany, and Romania. ... Frederick the Great Frederick II of Prussia (Friedrich der Große, Frederick the Great, January 24, 1712 – August 17, 1786) was the Hohenzollern king of Prussia 1740–86. ...


There was to be one other problem. The leading soprano role, that of Vielka, was composed for the big soprano "icon" of the period: Jenny Lind, who was already on the threshold of becoming world famous. Meyerbeer had heard her in Paris, been very favorably impressed, and decided to engage her for Berlin. But she was in Stockholm during some of the rehearsals, and Leopoldine Tuczek, the company's regular coloratura, and Lind's understudy as Vielka, had been singing the part. The latter felt entitled to the role, Meyerbeer was overruled by the Intendant of the opera house, a certain Karl Theodor von Küstner and it was given to Tuczek. Lind accepted the situation gracefully, and, eight days later, on Dec. 15, made a triumphant Berlin debut. In the meantime, Feldlager was not as successful as it should have been, part of the blame was placed at Tuczek's feet, and the opera was withdrawn after five performances. In all fairness, the latter was not a bad second choice, she had been the leading coloratura in Berlin ever since 1841, had sung in the local premieres of many operas, and was to continue to reign in that city until 1861. . Jenny Lind in La Sonnambula. ... Stockholm panorama from the City Hall is the capital of Sweden, located on the south east coast of Sweden. ...


But Lind's success as Norma was such that she was signed to a new contract, and finally sang Vielka in early January. According to one of Lind's many biographers, Gladys Denny Schultz, the success was so great that "when it was announced that Jenny would appear a second time in Feldlager, there was such a demand for tickets that the manager raised the price of admission. The opera was repeated over and over. There was never a night that the theater could not have been filled two or three times, and four clerks were kept busy answering letters and filling the request for tickets. Meyerbeer's opera had been saved by the young singer from Sweden." Norma is a constellation of the southern sky. ...


Politics even got involved in the selection of the librettist. Meyerbeer, of course, wanted his good friend Eugène Scribe, the only librettist whom he trusted, but the idea of a Frenchman writing the libretto for what was to be the Prussian national opera was unacceptable. The king wanted Ludwig Rellstab, a critic who was Meyerbeer's enemy, in the hopes that this would reconcile the two men. Meyerbeer, an astute diplomat, found a solution: Scribe was to provide the text, in secret, agreeing never to claim ownership, and Rellstab would translate it. Thus, the libretto was credited to the latter, and it was only recently discovered that it was actually by Eugène Scribe. Augustin Eugène Scribe (December 24, 1791 - February 20, 1861), was a French dramatist and librettist. ... Heinrich Friedrich Ludwig Rellstab (April 13, 1799–November 27, 1860) was a German poet and music critic. ...


Feldlager came half-way between the first and the last two of his four big five act grand operas. It was his first attempt in some 30 years to compose a less serious work, or "Singspiel". In it, especially in the first and third acts, it is possible to see the influence of lighter composers, perticularly Auber and Flotow. But much of the second act, especially the tremendous finale, is pure Meyerbeer of the grand operas. It has even been suggested that the triple march is reminiscent of the gathering of the cantons in William Tell. The fact is that Meyerbeer had come up with a similar idea years before, when first the Egyptians and then the Crusaders march onto the scene in the finale of Act I of Il crociato in Egitto. Kapp, Meyerbeer's biographer, describes it as one of the most powerful ensembles in opera, with three marches blending into one. But he apparently did not care for the work as a whole, calling it sentimental flag-waving patriotism, and referring to it as "Kunst-kitsch". There is no perfect translation into English, perhaps the closest we could get to it is "artistic junk". But the same complaint can easily be made of many other light operas of the period, and is really meaningless. The only really worth-while question is whether or not it is good entertainment - fun in other words. And the answer is a resounding yes. The big hits of the opera were Jenny Lind's air with two flutes in the third act, and the finale of the second act which featured the famous triple march. The work was to be given in Berlin a total of 67 times, the last performance taking place in 1891. After Jenny Lind left, Tuczek reassumed the role, with many other important prima donnas, including Pauline Lucca, following in her footsteps. Statue of Wilhelm Tell and his Son in Altdorf, Switzerland (Richard Kissling, 1895). ...


Performance history

Ein Feldlager in Schlesien was first performed at the Hofoper, Berlin on 7 December 1844. It was given in that city fairly regularly until 1891. Successful as Feldlager was in Berlin, it apparently was never considered for export to other cities in its original version. This is probably due to its nature as a work glorifying the Prussian royal family, which made it highly suitable for Berlin audiences, especially on state occasions, but much less so for other European capitals, even those elsewhere in Germany. Unfortunately, the documentation of many other German theatres is too weak to be able to state positively that it was not given in such other Prussian centers as Königsberg, but that seems unlikely. For other uses, see Berlin (disambiguation). ... December 7 is the 341st day (342nd in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1844 was a leap year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... Former German name of the city of Kaliningrad. ...


A revised version was given in Vienna in 1847 under the title of Vielka. It was revived in Berlin in the 1980s, a recording of which revival is available from the Meyerbeer Fan Club. [1] Vienna (German: Wien ; Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian: Beč, Czech: Vídeň, Hungarian: Bécs, Romanian: Viena, Romani: Bech or Vidnya, Russian: Вена, Slovak: Viedeň, Slovenian: Dunaj) is the capital of Austria, and also one of the nine States of Austria. ...


Roles

The full cast of the original premiere is listed below:

  • Vielka, Leopoldine Tuczek (soprano)
  • Therese, Pauline Marx (soprano)
  • Conrad, Eduard Mantius (tenor)
  • Saaldorf, Louis Bötticher (baritone)
  • Tronk, Heinrich Blume (baritone)
  • Grenadier Unteroffizier, August Zschiesche (bass)
  • Artillerie Unteroffizier, Julius Krause (bass)
  • Ungarischer Reiter, Herr Heinrich (tenor)
  • Zietenscher Husar, Julius Pfister (tenor)
  • Schwarzer Husar, August Mickler (bass)
  • Brauner Husar, Herr Bethge com.
  • Steffen, Carl Adam Bader (tenor)

Look up Soprano in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... In music, a tenor is a male singer with a high voice (although not as high as the modern countertenor). ... Sherrill Milnes as Toscas Baron Scarpia Baritone (French: baryton; German: Bariton; Italian: baritono) is most commonly the type of male voice that lies between bass and tenor. ... A bass (or basso in Italian) is a male singer who sings in the lowest vocal range of the human voice. ...

Sources

Ein Feldlager in Schlesien by Stephen Huebner, in 'The New Grove Dictionary of Opera', ed. Stanley Sadie (London, 1992) ISBN 0-333-73432-7 The New Grove Dictionary of Opera is an encyclopedia (or encyclopedic dictionary) of opera, considered to be one of the best general reference sources on the subject. ...


Tom Kaufman: Liner notes for the Meyerbeer Fan Club recording of the opera.


 
 

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