The Vampire (Opera)

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Work data
Title: The vampire
Program sheet of the world premiere

Program sheet of the world premiere

Shape: Romantic opera in two acts
Original language: German
Music: Heinrich Marschner
Libretto : Wilhelm August Wohlbrück
Premiere: March 29, 1828
Place of premiere: Theater of the City of Leipzig
Playing time: about 3 hours
Place and time of the action: In the Scottish highlands, 17th century
  • Sir Humphrey, Laird von Davenaut ( bass )
  • Malwina, his daughter ( soprano )
  • Edgar Aubry, a relative ( tenor )
  • Lord Ruthwen ( baritone )
  • Sir Berkley (bass)
  • Janthe, his daughter (soprano)
  • George Dibdin, in Davenaut's service (tenor)
  • John Perth, steward of the Earl of Marsden's estate (speaking)
  • Emmy, his daughter and George Dibdin's bride (soprano)
  • Country people of Marsden:
    • James Gadshill (tenor)
    • Richard Scrop (tenor)
    • Robert Green (bass)
    • Toms Blunt (bass)
  • Suse, Blunt's wife ( mezzo-soprano )
  • the vampire master (speaking role)
  • a steward Davenauts (bass)
  • a servant (bass)
  • Ghosts, witches, gnomes, goblins, devil grimaces, hunters, country people, servants of Davenauts and Berkleys, priests, choirboys ( choir )
  • Davenaut and Marsden country folks, bridesmaids, flower girls (ballet)
The Vampyr , first performance in Hanover

The Vampyr is a great romantic opera in two acts (four pictures) by Heinrich Marschner . Marschner completed the composition during his stay in Leipzig in 1827/1828 , where the premiere took place on March 29, 1828 at the Stadttheater . The libretto of the opera by Wilhelm August Wohlbrück is based on the play Der Vampyr oder die Todten-Braut by Heinrich Ludwig Ritter (1822), which in turn is a dramatization of the story The Vampyr by John Polidori . In the same year Peter Joseph von Lindpaintner also set this material to music.


Lord Ruthwen has become a vampire and has to sacrifice three virgin brides to the devil within 24 hours, for each of whom he is to be granted an additional year of life. With his first two victims, Janthe and Emmy, he has an easy time of it, with Aubry standing by the lord out of gratitude because he saved his life a long time ago. When Ruthwen chooses Malwina as the third victim, Aubry decides to disclose the truth about Ruthwen, despite his oath of secrecy. At the moment when Malwina's wedding takes place and she is to become Ruthwen's prey, his term ends and the vampire, struck by lightning , drives to hell .


Heinrich August Marschner's piece is considered the climax of a fashion movement of the Biedermeier period , in which numerous stories about vampires were created. The tonal language is somewhere between the popular German song and - in cautious hints - the Italian Belcanto style . The vampire is an important link between the works of Carl Maria von Weber and Richard Wagner .

The opera has spoken dialogues.


The orchestral line-up for the opera includes the following instruments:

Productions / arrangements

The opera was rarely performed and was considered obsolete by Wagner's The Flying Dutchman (1843). Hans Pfitzner tried to set up the opera in 1925 as a German game opera against the Welsche opera. In 2016 Romero Nunes staged the opera at the Komische Oper Berlin and deleted the dialogues and some subplots and had Johannes Hofmann compose new interludes, the opera now lasted 80 minutes.

The BBC's 1992 television miniseries The Vampyr: A Soap Opera is based on Marschner's opera.



  • Allen Dean Palmer: Heinrich August Marschner, 1795–1861. His life and stage works . Ann Arbor 1980
  • John, and Ewan West Warrack: The Oxford Dictionary of Opera . Oxford University Press, Oxford 1992, ISBN 0-19-869164-5 .
  • Robert Hartford: Marschner: Der Vampyr , Program of the Wexford Festival Opera , 1992
  • Amanda Holden, (editor), with Kenyon, Nicholas and Walsh, Stephen [1993]: The Viking Opera Guide . Viking, London, ISBN 0-670-81292-7 .
  • From the Lucretia to the vampire. New sources on Marschner . Documents on the creation and reception of the Lucretia. Complete edition of the travel diary from 1826 to 1828. Notes on Marschner's journalistic work. Edited and commented by Till Gerrit Waidelich. Tutzing: Schneider 1996. ISBN 3-7952-0837-8
  • Heinrich August Marschner. Report on the Zittau Marschner Symposium . A symposium of the Institute for Cultural Infrastructure Saxony. Edited by Allmuth Behrendt and Matthias Theodor Vogt. Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag 1998. (Cultural infrastructure. Vol. 5) ISBN 3-931922-22-7

Web links

Commons : Der Vampyr (Marschner)  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Susanne Rode: The Vampire. In: Piper's Encyclopedia of Musical Theater . Volume 3: Works. Henze - Massine. Piper, Munich / Zurich 1989, ISBN 3-492-02413-0 , pp. 674-677.
  2. Julia Spinola: The undead are among us . Review, in: NZZ , March 26, 2016, p. 24
  3. see The Vampyr: A Soap Opera in the English Wikipedia and entry in the IMDb