Guntram (Opera)

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Work data
Title: Guntram
Original language: German
Music: Richard Strauss
Libretto : Richard Strauss
Premiere: May 10, 1894
Place of premiere: Weimar National Theater
Playing time: 195 min (1st version), 155 min (2nd version 1934) Source: Trenner - RS catalog raisonné
Place and time of the action: fairy tale
  • The old duke ( bass )
  • Freihild, his daughter ( soprano )
  • Duke Robert, her husband ( baritone )
  • Guntram, singer ( tenor )
  • Friedhold (bass)
  • The Duke's Fool (tenor)
  • An old woman ( old )
  • An old man (tenor)
  • two younger men (bass)
  • Three vassals (basses)
  • A messenger (baritone)
  • Four minstrels (two tenors and two basses)

Guntram , op. 25, is the first opera by Richard Strauss . It was designed in the style of the German romantic opera, heavily influenced by Richard Wagner's works Parsifal and Der Ring des Nibelungen .

From the age of 18, after accompanying his father to the Bayreuth Festival , the young Strauss has been intensively involved with Wagner's works. Encouraged by his mentor, the Wagnerian Alexander Ritter , he soon began working with Guntram on similar material for his first opera. On his trip to Egypt in 1892 he completed parts of the opera and was finally able to premiere it on May 12, 1894 in the Nationaltheater Weimar , where he was court conductor . Ferdinand Wiedey, who also acted as Friedhold, was in charge of the scenic direction; stage sets and costumes were taken from the stock. The work was received in a friendly way, but after a few performances it was canceled. A second attempt in Munich was unsuccessful, so that the early work - also in view of the later successes of other Strauss operas - was hardly played by other theaters. It was not until 1940, again in Weimar, that there was an attempt to perform the score, which had been radically shortened by the composer, but the work never found a permanent place in the repertoire.


A charitable knightly community has sent the singer Guntram into the world to act as a "warrior of love". During his mission, he comes to a country whose impoverished inhabitants are suffering from a tyrannical prince. After Guntram was able to prevent the suicide of the young Duchess of the country, he met her father, the old Duke, who invited him to the court of the young Duke Robert in gratitude for his deed. The latter has also joined them, but quickly brushes aside attacks of jealousy of his wife's heroic savior in view of his standing (“a traveling singer - / that is impossible!”).

At a feast, Guntram tries to convert the Duke to peace and philanthropy by singing when suddenly news of the revolt of the indignant people interrupt the minstrel’s improvisational lecture. Even before Robert can lead his men into battle, Guntram himself - supported by some vassals - declares the fight to the duke. Guntram parries the duke's attack aimed directly at him with a fatal blow with his sword. The old duke takes power again in a dark monologue and has Guntram thrown into a tower dungeon, where he is supposed to die a painful death. Left alone, Freihild frees herself in a final solo scene from the atmosphere of death that dominates around her and confesses to Guntram.

The final third act shows Guntram in his dungeon, tormented by the spirit of the dead duke, but ultimately certain of the justice of his actions. Inflamed with the greatest passion, Freihild soon appears to confess her love to Guntram and to free him. The dilemma of how to reconcile this escape with the love of the two remains unsolved. The envoy of the "high covenant", Friedhold, appears in a manner that is as mysterious as it is unforeseen and holds Guntram accountable for the Duke's death. As a repentant murderer, Guntram decides to tear up "the last, the most expensive bond / with which the world tied me up" - his freshly inflamed love for Freihild - and his life of atonement for tyrannicide ("my being's fault"), loneliness and to consecrate religious devotions. His only consolation is the knowledge that Freihild voluntarily renounces her love for him.

Cast of the premiere

Lot Performers
The old duke Karl Bucha
Freihild Pauline de Ahna
Duke Robert Franz Schwarz
Guntram Heinrich Zeller
Friedhold Ferdinand Wiedey
The duke's fool Hans Giessen
An old woman Luise Tibelti
An old man Mr. Lutz
Two younger men Hermann Buche , Mr. Barth
Three vassals Mr. Fischer, Mr. Schustherr, Mr. Henning
A messenger Hermann Beech
Four minstrels Mr. von Szpinger, Mr. Knöfler, Mr. Glitsch, Mr. Weyrauch

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Richard Strauss: Guntram in three acts. Poetry by the composer, op. 25 (= Richard-Strauss-Edition. Complete stage works), Vienna and Mainz 1996, world premiere / first performance