Johann Strauss Jr.'s Overtures - Der Carneval in Rom
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Uploaded on Sep 18, 2011
Johann Strauss II - The Carnival in Rome (1873).
After the considerable success of Johann Strauss's début stage work, Indigo und die vierzig Räuber (1871), the Viennese public had to wait more than two years before the composer once again appeared at the Theater an der Wien with his second theatrical offering, a three-act comic operetta entitled Der Carneval in Rom (The Carnival in Rome). Based on the play Piccolino by the versatile French dramatist Victorien Sardou (1831-1908), the libretto for the new Strauss piece was the work of Josef Braun (1840-1902), the librettist of an earlier and unfinished Strauss operetta, Die lustigen Weiber von Wien (1868). Strauss began composing Der Carneval in Rom around the turn of the year 1871/72, but its progress was hampered by his involvement in a number of other projects, including his appearances at the World's Peace Jubilee and International Musical Festival at Boston, USA, during summer 1872. Just as he had done with Indigo, Johann was able to rely on the assistance of the theatrically-experienced composer and librettist Richard Genée (1823-95) when composing Der Carneval in Rom.
According to one newspaper journalist, the first night of Der Carneval in Rom on 1 March 1873 was "a sort of Viennese party-night, which brought about an uninterrupted succession of glittering ovations for the popular composer ... The success must be called complete". Ludwig Speidel, writing in the Fremden-Blatt (2.03.1873), made the interesting observation that Strauss "has lavished an abundance of motifs on his new work, and whereas in 'Indigo' there was still the mania for flattering the ear through the most irresistible waltz melodies and for dazzling the audience with thrilling dance tunes, the score of 'Carneval in Rom' reveals finer and more tender depths in a direction that is, perhaps, less popular, but definitely more noble. The popular undertones, so light on the ear, have not been neglected by the composer, and thus his work falls into two parts, of which the one retains the exciting rhythmical tempo of comic operetta, while the second moves into the style of lyric opera".
The arresting Vivo bars which commence the overture to Der Carneval in Rom are taken from the opening chorus of the Act 3 Finale (No. 16) ("Carneval, dich preisen wir mit Jubelschall" / 'Carnival, we praise you with the sound of rejoicing'), while the Moderato section which follows is based on the "Bühnenmusik" (stage music) in the Entr'acte to Act 3 (No. 13) and in No. 15a. These two musical ideas then reappear, developing and modulating and working towards a cheerful Andantino con moto passage taken from a short duet ("Ach, nach unserm trauten Stübchen" / 'Ah, to our dear little room') for Therese and Franz in the Act 1 Finale (No. 4). A Poco animato linking passage follows, again based on notes from the opening vivo bars, leading into an Allegro non troppo section presenting music from Arthur's solo at the beginning of the Act 2 Finale (No. 12) There follows a Moderato section based on the accompaniment of the Act 2 Duet (No. 15) for Marie and Arthur, and then an Allegretto passage from the Act 2 Quintet (No. 8) sung by Arthur to the words "Ach! der Gott, der die Triebe der Freude" / 'Ah! the god who [implanted] the impulses of joy'. This section continues with the orchestral accompaniment from the Act 2 Finale (No. 12) ensemble, with male chorus words "Das ist der Ehemnnn, Discretion" / 'That is the husband, discretion'. The Allegro vivace final section of the overture again returns to the Act 2 Quintet (No. 8), specifically to the Più mosso ensemble section with the words "Ja, harren will ich an dem Ort" / 'Yes, I want to linger at this place'.
Johann Strauss himself conducted the first performance of Der Carneval in Rom at the Theater an der Wienon 1 March 1873. The composer left it to his brother, Eduard Strauss, to present the first concert performance of the operetta's overture on 25 March 1873 during a promenade concert with the Strauss Orchestra in the Musikverein. This concert also featured the first concert performance of the ballet music from Der Carneval in Rom.
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