Meyerbeer's Singspiele and Opéras-Comiques
This book considers Meyerbeer’s operas, written in the venerable tradition of song interspersed with spoken dialogue, deriving from the French opéra-comique and continued in the German Singspiel. His early operas Jephtas Gelübde (1812), Wirt und Gast (1813) and Das Brandenburger Tor (1814) reveal the composer’s dramatic and vocal skills, and gift for large-scale construction. The high drama of the tragédie lyrique and the homespun charms of the Spieloper are essayed with imagination, thematic fluency and vivid orchestral colour. Ein Feldlager in Schlesien (1844) revealed a continuing concern with formal and stylistic elements, developed and expanded in almost ceremonial contexts.
The 1850s saw the fulfilment of Meyerbeer’s dream to write for the Opéra Comique in Paris. L’Etoile du Nord (1854) and Le Pardon de Ploermel (1859), using military and pastoral themes, and requiring advanced vocal and orchestral virtuosity, unfold an intricate beauty that is captivating, and shows Meyerbeer’s musical and dramaturgical skills refined and carried to new extremes of technical achievement.
This study examines these works in terms of origins, content and performance history.
Robert Ignatius Letellier was educated in Grahamstown (South Africa), Cambridge (UK), Salzburg (Austria), Rome (Italy) and Jerusalem (Israel). He is a member of Trinity College, Cambridge, the Maryvale Institute in Birmingham, and the Institute of Continuing Education at Madingley Hall, Cambridge. His publications number over 100 items, including books and articles on the early and Romantic novel (particularly the gothic novel and Sir Walter Scott), the Bible, history, and European culture. He specializes in the Romantic opera, with a particular focus on the works of Giacomo Meyerbeer, Fromental Halévy, Daniel François Esprit Auber, and Adolphe Adam; the opéra comique; the operetta; Ludwig Minkus and nineteenth century ballet.
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