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Weber discusses German Opera

June 11, 2008

In these three extracts Carl Maria von Weber discusses German opera.

….the type of operas Germans want; a self contained work of art in which all the elements, contributed by the related arts in collaboration and merged into one another, disappear and, submerged in various ways, re-emerged to create a new world.

(C.M. von Weber, from a review of Hoffmann’s Undine, 1816.)

I found musical taste formed by older Italian opera and then that of Mozart’s time. There was a restless mood that could not seem to decide what it really wanted. The nature of Italian opera demands few but outstanding artists. A few brilliant gems, regardless of their setting. Everything else is secondary and unimportant. The German digs deeper, he wants a work of art in which all parts form themselves into a beautiful whole… I consider nothing secondary, for art knows of no trifles.

(C.M. von Weber, from a letter to the directors of the Prague Opera about the beginning of his period as Director of the Prague Opera, 1815.)

There must be something seriously wrong with the digestive powers of Italian stomachs for a genius of such original powers as Meyerbeer to have felt it necessary, not merely to have set nothing but sweet, luxuriantly swollen fruit on the table, but also to have sugared it over in this fashionable manner.

(C.M. von Weber, writing about Meyerbeer’s Emma di Resburgo and Alimelek, 1820.)

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