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The Singspiel is a play with musical interludes ( songs , dances , instrumental movements ) and mostly cheerful basic character. In contrast to the Opera buffa , the Singspiel has no recitatives between the song numbers , but spoken dialogues. The "German Singspiel" emerged from the Opéra comique in the 18th century .


The term Singspiel has existed in Germany since the 16th century for staged madrigals as well as church, court and city games in which music played a role. In the Baroque era, the pastoral Singspiel developed based on the Italian model with Heinrich Schütz 's Tragicomoedia von der Dafne (1627, libretto by Martin Opitz ). At that time, the term Singspiel was still used quite unspecifically for musical theater events of all kinds and, at best, served to distinguish between German-language plays and operas imported from the Romance-speaking area .

The Singspiel as a somewhat clearly defined genre of musical theater has developed as a bourgeois counterpart to court opera since around 1700 . In contrast to opera, in Singspiel the aria is first replaced by the song and the recitative is replaced by the spoken word. Simpler Singspiele, in which, instead of newly composed arias, known songs were inserted, as in the French vaudevilles , were often called Liederspiele .

In 1776 Joseph II declared the French Theater in Vienna (today's Burgtheater ) to be a German National Theater and promoted the performance of German Singspiele there to overcome the French models. Salieri's Der Rauchfangkehrer (1781) and Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio (1782) were created in this context . The “Wiener Nationalsingspiel” combined traditions of the old Viennese folk theater with the opera buffa and the opera seria . In the free, commercial theater scene, on the other hand, Mozart's Magic Flute (1791) was created, which was to be regarded as a great opera. Even Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Christoph Martin Wieland wrote lyrics for musical comedies that were limited to the local context.

Because Vienna was the largest city in the German-speaking area, the popular Singspiel had good development opportunities here. The northern and central German Singspiel was a bit more provincial and was also based on the English ballad opera and the French comédie melée d'ariettes. The initial pure translations of English and French pieces soon developed into independent stage pieces, which were supplemented by arias and librettos. Through Johann Adam Hiller's influence, the German-language Singspiel reached its heyday in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The model that outshone everything was the Opéras comiques of the Parisian fairground theater . Singspiele often had a comedic character, because bourgeois stage events had to be comedies according to the class clause . Since this command lost its influence, singing games were also used to convey serious content. Examples are Mozart's Singspiele or Ludwig van Beethoven's Fidelio (1805), the first act of which is a kind of Singspiel. In the Biedermeier period , stirring pieces in the Singspiel manner based on the model of Étienne-Nicolas Méhuls Joseph (1807), as well as Joseph Weigl's Die Schweizer Familie (1809), became popular.

In the 19th century, the Singspiel was a counterpoint to the much more elaborately produced great opera and could also be performed by traveling theater troupes , from which authors such as Albert Lortzing emerged . The author, dramaturge and director Karl von Holtei, for example, used the Singspiel in the Königsstädtisches Theater Berlin. Likewise, a large part of the repertoire of the Viennese suburban theaters consisted of singspiele, the demarcation of which is often not clear to farce with singing.

Since the second half of the 19th century, smaller operettas were often called "Singspiel" (see Singspielhalle ). Musical comedy emerged primarily in London and New York City in the 20th century . In the German-speaking world, the singspiel " Im Weißen Rössl " from 1930, based on cheerful folk hit melodies, has become popular .

Ideological attributions

The strong dependence of the Singspiel on the plays of the Parisian fairground theaters has long been concealed by German literature and musicology. In the first half of the 20th century, a German-nationalistic cultural historiography tried to construct a story of the Singspiel independent of French influences. There was the opinion that Hiller's Singspiele and Mozart's Magic Flute developed linearly into a German Game Opera and a German Romantic Opera, or that the Vienna Operetta emerged from the Vienna “National Singspiel ” . In the abundance of market-dominating French products, the German Singspiele were only single events, were mostly adaptations or translations of French models and could hardly detach themselves from their influence.



Web links

Commons : Singspiele  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Singspiel  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Karl H. Wörner, Lenz Meierott (1993): History of Music. A study and reference book . Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht