The Music Criticism of Hugo Wolf

By Henry Pleasants; Hugo Wolf | Go to book overview
3.
Carl Baumann, a German baritone who sang at the Metropolitan in the first German season of 1884-85.
4.
Johann Nepomuk Beck ( 1827-1904) was principal baritone at the Court Opera from 1853 to 1888. He had been Wagner's first choice for Hans Sachs. He did not sing the Munich premiere, but he was the Sachs of the first Vienna Die Meistersinger in 1870.
5.
Albert Niemann ( 1831-1917), one of the earliest and greatest of Wagnerian tenors. He was the Tannhäuser of the ill-fated Paris production of 1861 and the Siegmund of the first BayreuthRing.
6.
Franz von Reichenberg ( 1853-?), a Styrian bass-baritone who had joined the company in 1884. He was the Fafner of the first BayreuthRing.

23. Der Vampyr, Romantic Opera
by Heinrich Marschner

October 19, 1884

Fifty-six years have passed since Der Vampyr1 was first produced in Leipzig in 1828 and established its composer's reputation. He died long ago | in 1861 |. The one-sided romantic movement has had its day. A new transition period emerged in the French grand opera. However rotten it was at its core, however superficial and vulgarly painted its shell, however useless its allegedly dramatic trapping, it still advanced the limited horizon of the sickly, introspective romanticists. This was primarily on the basis of the historical opera as conceived by Scribe, which in contrast to the mystical haze of the romanticists advanced their modest world of illusion so close to reality that the emphasis was no longer on the mere expression of feeling but was transferred essentially to the dramatic situation, a process in which more resin was wasted than true music was made. This will-of-the-wisp, too, had to fade before the sunlight of the Wagnerian artistic ideal. A new world of the spirit had opened up before us, from which alone we draw our spiritual and emotional nourishment: the Wagnerian music drama.

One may well ask in astonishment what this introduction has to do with a review of Der vampyr. Well, if this opera had been indifferently received, it could have been an apology for the author of the bad libretto. Since, however, despite its silly subject, and despite its fifty-six years, it delighted the audience, one can discern therein a proof of the great genius, the eminent dramatic endowment of the composer, who only in Vienna, unfortunately, is unjustly neglected. Just observe the empty spaces in the parterre and even in the gallery at a performance of his masterpiece, Hans Heiling. These are sad omens. And now to the subject in hand.

-66-

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