Morality and Viennese Opera in the Age of Mozart and Beethoven (Hardback) book cover

Morality and Viennese Opera in the Age of Mozart and Beethoven

By Martin Nedbal

© 2017 – Routledge

244 pages

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Hardback: 9781472476579
pub: 2016-09-15
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About the Book

This book explores how the Enlightenment aesthetics of theater as a moral institution influenced cultural politics and operatic developments in Vienna between the mid-eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Moralistic viewpoints were particularly important in eighteenth-century debates about German national theater. In Vienna, the idea that vernacular theater should cultivate the moral sensibilities of its German-speaking audiences became prominent during the reign of Empress Maria Theresa, when advocates of German plays and operas attempted to deflect the imperial government from supporting exclusively French and Italian theatrical performances. Morality continued to be a dominant aspect of Viennese operatic culture in the following decades, as critics, state officials, librettists, and composers (including Gluck, Mozart, and Beethoven) attempted to establish and define German national opera. Viennese concepts of operatic didacticism and national identity in theater further transformed in response to the crisis of Emperor Joseph II’s reform movement, the revolutionary ideas spreading from France, and the war efforts in facing Napoleonic aggression. The imperial government promoted good morals in theatrical performances through the institution of theater censorship, and German-opera authors cultivated intensely didactic works (such as Die Zauberflöte and Fidelio) that eventually became the cornerstones for later developments of German culture.

Table of Contents

List of Music Examples List of Tables Preface Introduction. Opera and Didacticism in Early-Modern German Culture Chapter 1. Cultivating the Court and the Nation in Gluck’s La rencontre imprévue Chapter 2. Die Entführung aus dem Serail and the Didactic Aesthetics of the National Singspiel Chapter 3. Morality and Germanness in Die Zauberflöte Chapter 4. Die Zauberflöte and Subversive Morality in Suburban Operas Chapter 5.The Politics of Morality at the Court Theater in the Late 1790s Chapter 6. How German is Fidelio? Didacticism in Beethovenian Operas Epilogue Bibliography

About the Author

Martin Nedbal is Assistant Professor of Musicology at the University of Kansas. He has published numerous articles on Central European opera, particularly the works of Mozart, Beethoven, Smetana, and Dvorák. His research has been supported by grants from the American Musicological Society and the Austrian Scholarship Foundation.

About the Series

Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera

Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera
The Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera series provides a centralized and prominent forum for the presentation of cutting-edge scholarship that draws on numerous disciplinary approaches to a wide range of subjects associated with the creation, performance, and reception of opera (and related genres) in various historical and social contexts. There is great need for a broader approach to scholarship about opera. In recent years, the course of study has developed significantly, going beyond traditional musicological approaches to reflect new perspectives from literary criticism and comparative literature, cultural history, philosophy, art history, theatre history, gender studies, film studies, political science, philology, psycho-analysis, and medicine. The new brands of scholarship have allowed a more comprehensive interrogation of the complex nexus of means of artistic expression operative in opera, one that has meaningfully challenged prevalent historicist and formalist musical approaches. The Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera series continues to move this important trend forward by including essay collections and monographs that reflect the ever-increasing interest in opera in non-musical contexts. Books in the series are linked by their emphasis on the study of a single genre - opera - yet are distinguished by their individualized and novel approaches by scholars from various disciplines/fields of inquiry. The remit of the series welcomes studies of seventeenth century to contemporary opera from all geographical locations, including non-Western topics.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUS028000
MUSIC / Genres & Styles / Opera