Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fierrabras or Schubert Goes to the Opera

Like almost every other major romantic composer Schubert was an opera goer and dreamed of success in that world himself. He had had lessons with Salieri and was particularly fond it seems of Gluck, Mozart's Magic Flute and the stage works of both Cherubini and Spontini and Beethoven's Fidelio.

Unlike almost any other romantic composer Schubert had a natural affinity for writing for the voice.There are many many sacred works that show his progress and fluency in choral writings and a body of songs of unrivaled variety, depth and melodic invention. It was only a matter of time and following a series of one act works (that we know largely as overtures) and finally by 1822 the call came. The Vienna Court Opera Theater commissioned him to deliver a German language opera.The result,after an initial failure with Alfonso and Estrella was Fierrabras. For a libretto he turned to Josef Kupelweiser, brother of his friend Leopold a member of the Schubertiade circle and more importantly a secretary at the Court Opera. Which makes the result all the stranger. In the interval between the granting of the commission and the completion of the opera (May 1822 and Oct.1823) two events intervened. First, the arrival and rage for the works of Rossini and then the failure of Weber's Euryanthe. Fierrarbras was submitted and we read that Schubert was never paid, but also that Fierrabras was not rejected. It lay in unperformed limbo until the 1870's long after his death. Musicologist now pronounce it's music magnificent .

Please tune in to this Saturday Afternoon at the Opera for Schubert's long neglected Fierrabras, this week at noon on KPAC and KTXI.

host, Ron Moore

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