Heinrich August Marschner (Zittau, 16
August 1795 Hanover, 14 December 1861), was the most important
composer of German opera between Weber and Wagner.
To the extent that he is still remembered, it is largely for his
operas Hans Heiling (1833), Der Vampyr (1828), and Der Templer und
die Jüdin (1829), extremely popular in his lifetime. Marschners
ability to depict supernatural horror by musical means is especially
evident in the first two operas as well as in some of his ballads,
such as "Die Monduhr" (c. 1839).
Next to his operas, Marschner's
most significant musical contribution is to the Lied. The best of
his works in this form are comparable with those by Carl Loewe. He
also wrote a considerable amount of chamber music, including seven
piano trios, as well as unaccompanied male choruses that were very
popular in the nineteenth century. While Marschners operas strongly
influenced Wagner, his chamber music, songs, and his cantata Klänge
aus Osten (1842) were admired by Schumann, whose cantata Paradise
and the Peri (1843) shows the older composers influence.
Marschners Bagatelles for guitar (1814) have been taken up lately
by some guitarists, and some of his chamber music is still very
occasionally played. Among his operas, Hans Heiling and especially
Der Vampyr have been adapted and revived in recent years with
Marschner was widely regarded as one of the most important composers
in Europe from about 1830 until the end of the 19th century. He was
a rival of Weber and friend of Beethoven and Mendelssohn. His operas
often contain thematic material based on folksong, and this
folk-influenced genre had begun with Weber's Der Freischütz (1821).
The last of his operas, Austin, was first staged in 1852. It was not
very well received, and later the increasingly renowned Wagner
Schumann praised Marschner's piano
trios lavishly. Marschner did not just toss off these works as an
afterthought, but clearly devoted considerable time and effort to
writing them. He gave the title "Grand Trio" to each of his works
for piano, violin and cello, indicative of the importance he
attached to them. In these pieces, one finds all of the emotions
prevalent in the Romantic movement during the mid-19th century.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Der Vampyr (The Vampire) is a
Romantic opera in two acts by Heinrich Marschner. The German
libretto by Wilhelm August Wohlbrück (Marschner's
brother-in-law) is based on the play Der Vampir oder die
Totenbraut (1821) by Heinrich Ludwig Ritter, which itself
was based on the short novel The Vampyre (1819) by John
Polidori. The first performance took place on 29 March 1828
in Leipzig, where it was a hit.
The opera is still
occasionally performed, and, in 1992, an updated adaptation,
entitled The Vampyr: A Soap Opera, with new lyrics by
Charles Hart, starring Omar Ebrahim and produced by Janet
Street-Porter, was serialised on BBC television. The New
Orleans Opera Association opened their 2013-14 season with
In June 2014, OperaHub in
Boston premiered a new English-language of the adaptation of
Der Vampyr by John J King that spoofs more modern vampire
stories such as Twilight, Dracula, the Vampire Chronicles,
and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Contemporary Der Vampyr poster, from 1828
Time: the eighteenth century.
Scene 1: After midnight
At a Witches' Sabbath, the
Vampire Master tells Lord Ruthven that if he cannot
sacrifice three virgin brides within the next 24 hours, he
will die. If he can, he will be granted another year of
life. The clock strikes one, and Ruthven's first victim,
Janthe, arrives for a clandestine meeting, although she is
due to marry another on the following day. Berkley, having
discovered that she is missing, is searching for her with
his men, and Ruthven hides with her in a cave. Her screams
alert the search-party, and the body and the Vampire are
discovered. Berkley stabs Ruthven and leaves him to die, but
he is discovered by Aubry, whose life had been saved by
Ruthven in the past. Ruthven pleads with Aubry to drag him
into the moonlight so that he can revive, and Aubry, while
doing so, realises that Ruthven is a vampire. He has to
swear not to reveal this secret for twenty-four hours, or he
will become a vampire, too.
Scene 2: Next morning
The 18-year-old Malwina and
Aubry, with whom she is in love, are told by Davenaut that
she must marry the Earl of Marsden. Aubry recognises the
Earl as Lord Ruthven, but is told that he is Ruthven's
brother, who has been abroad for some time. Aubry, however,
recognises a wound that proves that the Earl really is
Ruthven, and is about to denounce him when Ruthven reminds
him of his oath and the consequences that will follow if he
breaks it. The preparations for Malwina's marriage to "Marsden"
Scene 1: Near Marsden castle
Emmy awaits her
husband-to-be, George. News of Janthe's gruesome death
emerges, and Emmy recounts the legend of the Vampire.
Ruthven appears and impresses the villagers with his
largesse. He flirts with Emmy until, interrupted by George,
he departs - though by then he has extracted a promise from
Emmy that she will dance with him later.
Aubry tries to persuade
Ruthven to give up his claim to Malwina, but is again
reminded of the fate that awaits if he breaks his oath.
Ruthven, in a soliloquy, rails against the torments that a
Vampire must face.
Aubry is torn by his choice
between breaking his oath and saving Malwina, or keeping
quiet and losing her to the Vampire. George asks Aubry to
use his influence to stop "Marsden" from seducing Emmy.
Aubry warns George that he must keep watch over Emmy - but
already she is being led into the forest by Ruthven.
Scene 4: Outside the inn
Blunt, Gadshill, Scrop and
Green sing of the pleasures of drink. Blunt's wife Suse
upbraids the men, to the delight of the onlookers, but a
dishevelled George arrives, recounting how he followed Emmy
and "Marsden", only to find him standing over her dead body.
He had shot the Earl immediately, leaving him to die in the
moonlight. The villagers express their sympathy and sorrow.
Scene 5: In Davenaut's
Malwina is to be married to
"Marsden" before midnight. Aubry warns her that she is in
danger, and she puts her trust in God. The wedding-guests
arrive, followed by Ruthven, who apologises for his
lateness. Malwina and Aubry make one last appeal to Davenaut,
who throws Aubry out and orders the wedding to proceed. A
thunderstorm approaches, and Aubry returns, having decided
to reveal Ruthven's secret at no matter what cost to
himself. Suddenly, the clock strikes one, and Aubry,
released from his oath, reveals that "Marsden" is Lord
Ruthven, the Vampire. Ruthven, having failed in his task, is
struck by lightning and descends into Hell. Now Davenaut
asks Malwina to forgive him and consents to her marriage to
Aubry, to general rejoicing.
Marschner scored the opera for two piccolos and two flutes
(not doubling), two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons,
serpent, four horns, two clarion natural trumpets, three
trombones, timpani, tamtam, and strings, together with two
offstage horns and two offstage trumpets.
Apart from some references to Beethoven, and, in the
Ruthven/Emmy/George scene, a similarity with Don Giovanni/Zerlina/Masetto,
Marschner's opera is a notable link between two other operas
with supernatural elements, Carl Maria von Weber's Der
Freischütz (1821) and Richard Wagner's The Flying Dutchman
(1843). Much of the music is reminiscent of Weber: one
example is the Aubry/Malwina duet whose tune also appears in
the overture, and there is a marked similarity between the
Witches' Sabbath and the Wolf's Glen (Freischütz). Marschner,
however, made no attempt to introduce any local colour into
his score. On the other hand, Emmy's Legend of the Vampire
prefigures Senta's aria about the story of the Flying
Dutchman, and the identical description, "der bleiche Mann"
(the pallid man), appears in both.
Wagner, in fact, conducted
Der Vampyr when at Würzburg in 1833. When his brother, who
sang the part of Aubry, complained that the aria "Wie ein
schöner Frühlingsmorgen" was not effective enough, Wagner
replaced Marschner's original agitato ending with a new
allegro of his own. Despite being well received at the time,
Wagner's allegro is rarely performed.
The opera is normally
performed in the 1924 edition by Hans Pfitzner.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia