It was with the opera Euryanthe that Weber, a contemporary of Beethoven, aimed at the close union of arts already advocated by Hoffmann. In Weber’s own words:
Carl Maria von Weber, 1821
“Where in other nations – are the words of Weber himself – everything is sacrificed to momentary sensual joy, Germany intends to create a work of art as a whole, where all the parts come together harmoniously in total beauty”. A concept largely inherited by Wagner.
A concept largely inherited by Wagner.
Weber’s name is linked to his operatic trilogy: Der Freischūtz, Euryanthe and Oberon.
In these three operas, Weber paved the way to the new conception of German opera, from which the Wagnerian musical drama will derive.
We are still in a structure dominated by closed numbers: arias, duets, terzets, choirs, etc.. But the idea is to create a superior unity of “musical scene“, where every aspect, musical, visual, and theatrical come together in anticipation of Wagner’s gesamtkunstwerk, the “universal artwork“.
The libretto – the weak point of the opera and the reason for which it failed – was written by Wilhelmine von Chézy, and taken from a medieval novel entitled “Histoire de Gerart de Nevres et de la belle et vertueuse Euryanthe de Savoie, sa mie“.
Incidentally, the same story inspired Boccaccio for one of the stories of his Decameron and Shakespeare for the play Cymbeline.
The material for the overture comes from the material used throughout the opera. Many of these motives are associated with a specific character or a situation. Again, something that Wagner will pick up and master in his works.
C.M. von Weber – Euryanthe, Overture
Should you need a score you can find one here.
There’s an incredible outburst of energy that opens this overture: the full orchestra explodes in a fiery Eb major. The tempo indication bears the marking “con fuoco“, with fire, which the violins and viola exploit with their triplets, rising up, cascading down and then up again
The strings join in and take us to the initial fervor. However, it’s not a simple repetition. The triplets figures bounce between the violins and the low strings while the dotted figure we’ve heard from the woodwinds is reworked into the fabric of the music until it takes over, in the strings, and leads back once more to the initial triplet figures
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