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date: 28 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter charts the changing status in Berlin of operatic repertoire associated with Friedrich II (Frederick the Great), from the gradual disappearance of opera seria by Carl Heinrich Graun and Johann Adolph Hasse to the survival of Benda’s melodramas and Singspiele, not least as throwbacks to the time of the honored Prussian monarch. Berlin’s critical commentators in this period are remarkable for their historical self-consciousness, and it’s possible to detect an emerging—and precocious—canonical discourse in the years around 1800, manifested both in the promotion of the lately arrived Gluck as a classic of the German stage, and in the proposals to create an operatic museum, intended to preserve respected theater pieces as standards of known worth. This chapter is paired with John Mangum’s “The repertory of the Italian Court Opera in Berlin, 1740–1786.”

Keywords: opera seria, Friedrich II, Frederick the Great, Prussia, Christoph Willibald Gluck, Georg Benda, Nationaltheater, popular, Singspiel, Berlin

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