Opera in the Programmes of German Theatrical Companies in Ljubljana in the Period of Classicism

  • Jože Sivec


In the evaluation of the results that the German theatrical companies appearing in Ljubljana had in the realm of opera in the period discussed, the fact should not be overlooked that their activities would meet with unfavourable economic conditions there. In Ljubljana, there were no higher nobility, and no rich bourgeoisie for that matter, to come forward as a generous patron of art. The power of the regional estates was growing weak considerably even in the latter half of the 18th century. The closing years of the same and the beginning of the following century were then marked by the turbulent period of Napoleonic wars which drove the country into a state of total exhaustion of its economic resources. For this reason, impresarios were secured only modest subsidies or, more often than not, none at all. In view of the above mentioned conditions, it has to be stated that the achievements of the German theatrical companies were by no means small, in some cases they can even be regarded as remarkable. It is true that most of these companies never rose above the usual humdrum mediocrity; however, there never failed to be some whose true concern was the elevation of art. Out of them, a highest artistic level was achieved by the companies of E. Schikaneder (1779/80 and 1781/82) and Joh. Friedl (1787/88), to be followed by those of F. Berner (1768 and 1784), F. Diwald (1784/ 85), F.J. Zöllner (1785/86), C. Waidinger (1818-20), Catharina Anton (1820/21), and C. Meyer (1824/1826). Even though their activities never left any marked traces in Slovene musical-dramatic art, the significance of these German theatrical companies was nevertheless undeniable. Moreover, their significance for the period discussed here was even greater in view of the fact that performances by Italian theatrical companies were growing rare towards the end of the 18th century, and became sporadic afterwards. On account of this, German theatrical companies acted as important mediators of not only German but also Italian and French operatic literature. Their performances kept enriching the musical life of Ljubljana then, contributing in no small degree to its overall stylistic image. At the time when Academia Philharmonicorum had stopped existing as the central music institution and the Philharmonic Society had not come to life as yet, these companies would play an essential role in the promotion of musical Classicism, contributing considerably to the growing strength of this stylistic trend even after the founding of the latter society in 1794. After 1823, they enhanced the onset of Romanticism. In this way, the main weight of their activity is recognized in their considerable broadening the musical horizon of their Ljubljana public, keeping them fairly up-to-date with the notable works of the contemporary operatic literature. Thus, the opera repertoire of the Ljubljana theatre, though not as rich nor comprehensive as those of the eminent theatres in metropolises throughout Europe, managed to present most of the musical-dramatic production by the same composers as that presented to the public of Europe's greatest theatres.


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How to Cite
SivecJ. (1989). Opera in the Programmes of German Theatrical Companies in Ljubljana in the Period of Classicism. Musicological Annual, 25(1), 133-141. https://doi.org/10.4312/mz.25.1.133-141