Carl Maria von Weber and the Search for a German Opera

Carl Maria von Weber and the Search for a German Opera

Stephen C. Meyer
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 01/17/2003
Format: Hardback 2 b&w photos, 17 figures, 1 bibliog., 1 index
ISBN: 978-0-253-34185-3
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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.

Author Bio

Stephen C. Meyer has published in the Journal of the American Musicological Society, Opera Quarterly, and Cambridge Opera Journal. In addition to his scholarly work, he maintains an active career as a singer.


“The search for a new German opera was not merely an aesthetic movement, but also a political and social critique intended both to reflect the "Germany of the imagination" and to help actualize the vision of a new nation. Here Stephen C. Meyer approaches the search for a German opera through two of Carl Maria von Weber's operas (Der Freischütz and Euryanthe), as well as two other works that were important models for Weber's work (Etienne Méhul's Joseph and Peter von Winter's Das unterbrochene Opferfest). ”

“Meyer strikes a remarkable balance between historic and cultural sources relating to German nationalism, visual arts (paintings), and musico—dramatic analysis. As a result, this book is of interest to historians, German literature scholars, opera scholars, as well as musicologists.”
 — Net Review

“German national, political, social, and musical spirit grew aggressively in the late—18th and early, 19th centuries, contesting Italian domination of opera. Because the singspiel, with its folk origins, could not serve as equal competitor with either Italian opera buffa or opera seria, German composers searched for formulas that might yield a viable national opera. Weber's Der Freischütz (Freischutz) provided impetus. Euryanthe was a further step in the reconfiguration and transformation of German opera. Meyer details the nature of the conflict that led to new institutions, aesthetics, and opera genre after Weber's death and the compromises that eventually produced the German romantic opera. Thoroughly researched, copiously footnoted, and including an extensive bibliography, this volume is a logical companion to Michael Tusa's Euryanthe and Carl Maria von Weber's Dramaturgy of German Opera (CH, Feb'92). Summing Up: Recommended. Scholars and opera historians.July 2003”
 — R. Miller, Oberlin College

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Table of Contents



1. Introduction: Inventing German Opera
2. The Native and the Foreign: Models for the German Opera
3. Der Freischütz and the Character of the Nation
4. Euryanthe: Reconfiguration and Transformation
5. Epilogue: Institutions, Aesthetics and Genre after Weber's Death

Appendix 1: Synopsis of Das unterbrochene Opferfest
Appendix 2: Comparative Table: Versions of Das unterbrochene Opferfest
Appendix 3: Synopsis of Méhul's Joseph
Appendix 4: Comparative Table: Versions of the Joseph Finale
Appendix 5: Synopsis of Euryanthe