Welcome to the Albert Lortzing Website

"Eine schlanke Mittelfigur mit dunkellockigem Haar, freundlich schönem Angesichte; seine hübschen dunklen Augen waren von gutmütig schelmischen Ausdruck, heiter lebendig; seine ganze Erscheinung, sein ganzes Wesen voll Frohsinn und Laune, gewandt und gefällig". - Philipp Düringer: "Albert Lortzing, sein Leben und Wirken". Leipzig 1851.

Albert Lortzing, opera-composer, librettist and jack-of-all-trades in theatre and opera, was born into a theatrical family. He had a sure sense for theatrical effectiveness and devoted himself almost entirely to comic opera.
His most famous works are "Zar und Zimmermann" (1837) and "Der Wildschütz" (1842),both Singspiele, but he also composed a romantic opera, "Undine" (1845) and a revolutionary opera, "Regina" (1848).
Himself influenced by W.A. Mozart, Lortzing was at the parting of the ways to Richard Wagner (Lortzing's "Hans Sachs" probably influenced Wagner's "Die Meistersinger") and to Johann Strauss II.
©George Overmeire.

An Unknown Letter of Albert Lortzing.

On 14 April 2014 I found a letter of Albert Lortzing, that he wrote on 2 february 1841, in the National Library of The Netherlands.
The letter is just registered in the catalogue, but, probably due to the fact that Lortzing is not very well known in The Netherlands, or for the reason that it is archived in a collection of manuscripts that belonged to the German-Dutch composer Gustav Adolph Heinze (1820-1904), has remained unnoticed up to now by Lortzing-scholars.

In the catalogue the addressee is indicated as "N.N.", but it was not difficult to find out that the letter (actually more a note) was addressed to Henriëtte Brüning-Peuckert, at the time of the letter a colleague of Lortzing and later the spouse of Heinze.

I've written a more extensive paper on this letter; I published it here or you can find it attached to this blogpost.

Lortzing and Nestroy

I've been thinking for a long time about a connection between Albert Lortzing and Johann Nestroy.
There are a lot of similarities (e.g. year of birth), although Nestroy didn't write his own music.

In the "Nestroyana" 26 (2006), pg. 125-26 (I wish the Albert Lortzing Gesellschaft had such a great journal), Jürgen Hein kickstarted further investigations with an article "Albert Lortzing und Johann Nestroy. Eine Anregung". He already skimmed the subject concerning the written testimonies, but there must be more to explore.

Before I embark on that adventure - which is definitely my intention for the future - I stumbled on a weird coincidence this week. At the website of Europeana, a mère a boire for european culture as is being conserved in european museums, I found the advertising poster for a performance of "Rolands Knappen"

Actually, I knew this poster, because as a member of the Albert Lortzing Gesellschaft it had already been given to me as a postcard to invite me for the performance of this work at the Mittelsächsischen Theater Freiberg und Döbeln. I wasn't able to attend - due to the distance from my home to the theatres.

Now, having done some research about Nestroy and some thinking about a Lortzing-Nestroy connection, I saw what I didn't see in 2005 - and what obviously wasn't noticed also by the person who had to describe the picture for the website:

(...)Bildmitte wird von einem Ausschnitt einer Grafik bestimmt: drei Männer mit Wanderrucksack in Unterhaltungsgestik, farbig, (...)

Of course this is a picture of a scene from Nestroy's "Der böse Geist Lumpazivagabundus", taken from the Wiener Theaterzeitung, after Johann Christian Schoellerand. The "drei Männer mit Wanderrucksack in Unterhaltungsgestik" are Johann Nestroy, Wenzel Scholz and Carl Carl; not the least in theatrical history :-)

Of course I informed the Leipzig Museum of this, and, after thanking me for my help, they promised me to upgrade their information.

But, finding the similarity between the two images triggered an interesting thought: did the designer of this poster probably do more than just copy-pasting a public domain-picture and organizing the text around the image? Is there perhaps also a "Rolands Knappen - Lumpazivagabundus"-connection?

There is, and - unfortunately for me - it has already brought up by Christoph Nieder, who wrote in the same Nestroyana volume 26 (2006) pgs 48-61, an essay about Lortzing's "Rolands Knappen" - "Eine Wiener Zauberoper von Albert Lortzing".

Except "Lumpazivagabundus" Nieder brings also up some other influences, like Raimund's "Barometermacher", "Mädchen aus der Feenwelt" and "Alpenkönig".

Nieder was involved as a dramaturg by the performance of Rolands Knappen in 2005, so this perhaps explains the origin of the idea of the picture.

Two videos of "Ali Pascha Von Janina"

Performed at the National Opera Theatre of Tirana, 26 march 2013. Featuring Erlind Zeraliu as Robert Eriona Gjyzeli as Arianna.


Ressmann im Gespräch mit Hansgünther Heyme: "Oper Regina"

Heyme erläutert in dem TV-Gespräch sein Regiekonzept, Lortzing unverfälscht auf die Opernbühne zu bringen. Die Opernproduktion erfolgte in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Pfalztheater in Kaiserslautern. Deutsche Demokratiegeschichte als große Oper, ein TV-Gespräch über eine außergewöhnliche Inszenierung.

"Dann bricht der Freiheit Morgen an" - Lortzing as a political composer.

A new book on Lortzing has been published last month:
Eva Marie Schnelle: "Dann bricht der Freiheit Morgen an". Die Opern Albert Lortzings in ihrem verfassungsgeschichtlichen Kontext.
Schriftenreihe der Albert-Lortzing-Gesellschaft, Band 1
Leipziger Universitätsverlag
ISBN 978-3-86583-812-4

It is about Lortzing as a political composer. Which is not a new perspective: although we know Lortzing mainly as a composer of biedermeier "Singspiele", it has always been known that Lortzing also had strong opinions on politics, like his friend Robert Blum. But, of course, due to the political climate of his days, he had to be very careful how he expressed his ideas.

Is it a coincidence that the title of this little book is almost the same as Jürgen Lodemann's Essay „Nun kommt der Freiheit großer Morgen“?. No, because it is a quote from "Andreas Hofer" ánd from the final scene of "Regina", both Lortzing's most politically engaged operas, when I exclude "Der Pole und sein Kind" for now.

And, is it a coincidence that the latest issue of the "Nestroyana", the journal of the international Nestroy-Gesellschaft, also has some articles about censorship in the pre-March era? It must be in the air, or the Zeitgeist, to rehabilitate the Biedermeier period, which was not a dull, narrow-minded era at all, but showed that people were striving for as much freedom as they could get in an age of censorship and political oppression! And, you can find that out by "close-reading" the works of Lortzing (and his Viennese counterpart, Nestroy), who after all, was his own librettist.

So, I can only recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Lortzing and of course to anyone who wants to know more about politics in the Vormärz.
But most of all I recommend this book strongly to those of you who still think of Lortzing as a minor composer (why are you still reading this website? - you must be looking for something!), just aiming for ingratiating himself with his audience.

Lortzing's Regina in Pfalztheater Kaiserslautern.

Currently Lortzing's oper "Regina" is performed in the Pfalztheater Kaiserslautern theatre.
The work has a strange history, but I will not go over that here; others have done that better. But, since the first performance of the restored version in Gelsenkirchen in 1998, the popularity of the work is rising, which is a good thing, because Lortzing's fame as a composer of popular, "volkstümlich" Spieloper is declining. "Regina" is putting him back in the spotlight as a composer of more serious music.

Although I still think that Lortzing's forte was more in the field of comic opera, IMHO. :-)

Last year Regina was performed in Munich, but only as a concert. A recording on CD of this performance can be ordered here, but you can listen to the Finale at YouTube, music only.

Since the work has been restored, there must have been a corrupt version too! It is not the place here to talk about the how's, the why's and the howmany's, but the most infamous of these versions is the arrangement by Adolphe l'Arronge and Richard Kleinmichel, who made a complete different story (and, in fact, almost a complete different opera) of it, to adjust the opera to the political situation of Aronge's time.

It was performed in Berlin on March, 21st in 1899. The arrangement was criticized, especially in the journal "Ulk", as you can see on this caricature:

Translation: Lortzing: for Heaven's sake, what are you doing with my [opera] Regina?
L'Arronge: it is only a little blood-letting, you can see though what I scrape off of her.

Just to show a little of the way L'Arronge treated Lortzing's work: The finale, in the original music consisting of the festive music Lortzing recycled from his own "Caramo, oder das Fischerstechen", is now replaced by the so called "Yorckscher Marsch", originally written by Ludwig van Beethoven. Not a bad composer, although personally I don't like this kind of "Kapellmeister-Musik". However, you should judge for yourself:

Now, in Kaiserslautern, you can hear Regina as closely to Lortzing's original intentions as possible, although I'm not sure if Lortzing would have liked the horrible dress that Regina had to wear during the performance:

(picture by Hans-Jürgen Brehms-Seufert, from a review by Manfred Langer, September 22nd, 2013 at "Der Opernfreund". Since there is no permanent link to this review I've uploaded a pdf to my own server.)

Kruse's Lortzing Biography (1899) online, and more Lortzing Freebies!

George Richard Kruse is one of the first biographers of Lortzing and his work cannot be underestimated. He published Lortzing's letters in three editions and several short articles. Also he published a great deal of Lortzing's Operas with extensive, "in der Beschränkung zeigt sich nicht der Meister" prefaces and he wrote two biographies.
One of them, published in 1914, is republished on this website, but the older biography of 1899 is, IMO, better. Some illustrations and examples of music and a text less focused on the sentimental aspects of the "undervalued genius", exploited by his publishers, but more on the musical greatness of Lortzing, which should be, after all, what counts.

Now the good news is that this biography has been digitized recently by the Internet Archive, so you can read it online or download the pdf to your computer.

There is more: at the Internet Archive you find more Lortzing freebies: Opera scores with some misspellings (e.g. "bauberoper" "for "zauberoper", but who cares), the French version of "Die beiden Schützen" (Les Méprises) and the libretto of "Zar und Zimmermann" (you can also find the piano score) published by Wittmann - with a very good preface. (Wittmann's Lortzing biography is to be published on this website, currently work in progress).

Kruse's publication of Lortzing's letters (though surpassed now by I. Capelle's out-of-print publication) are here and here.

Finally: piano scores of Lortzing's most popular operas are at the International Music Score Library Project.

Abschied - LoWV 73.

A small and rather unknown piece for male choir by Lortzing found online! On June, 12th 1848 Lortzing sent a letter to the editor of the "Illustrirte Zeitung" in Leipzig, and offered this "trifle" for publication:

Anbei eine Kleinigkeit für Männerchor – gut vorgetragen – macht sichs vielleicht. Ich erlaube mir jedoch die Bemerkung, daß die kleine Komposition Ihrerseits nur für die Illustrierte Zeitung und den Kalender zu benutzen ist. - Albert Lortzing - Sämtliche Briefe, Historisch-kritische Ausgabe, I. Capelle, VN318)

In was only published in 1848, in the "Illustrierter Kalender: Jahrbuch d. Ereignisse, Bestrebungen u. Fortschritte im Völkerleben u. im Gebiete d. Wissenschaften, Künste u. Gewerbe. Leipzig : Weber, 1848".

(click the image for the original or here for the pdf).
The poem is from J.N. Vogl's "Lyrische Blätter", Vienna 1836 pages 76-77.

A correction of my post on "Cheristanens Denkstein".

I was very enthousiastic about the book "Die Pokornys" by Oskar Pausch and I wrote about it, mainly because the alleged discovery of two unknown Lortzing pieces.
Last week I received an e-mail by Irmlind Capelle, the world's most acknowledged expert on Lortzing, who compiled the catalogue of Lortzings works - "Lortzing Werkverzeichnis" (1994, ISBN 3-89564-003-4).
While doing her research for this book, she had the manuscripts of "Cheristanens Denkstein" and the "Türkischer Marsch" examined and concluded that the handwriting was clearly not by Lortzing, which was earlier also mentioned by Georg Richard Kruse, another expert on Lortzing's life and works. Because of this, and because a performance of the music is mentioned nowhere, the authorship of Lortzing is ruled out.
Because Ms. Capelle mentioned the piece (and her conclusions) in the preface of her work (pp 7-8), I think it is rather disputable that Pausch boasts on page 106 of his book:

Gleich das erste abgegebene Stück, eine Bühnenmusik zu Cheristanens Denkstein mit unterlegtem Text, (...), dazu ein türkischer Marsch sind bisher als Werke Gustav Albert Lortzings unbekannt geblieben und scheinen in keinem Werkverzeichnis auf.

There is simply just one Lortzing-Werkverzeichnis and that is the one I mentioned above. So, Pausch obviously didn't check this book. The pieces are definitely not unknown, and just don't appear in the catalogue, because according to Ms. Capelle they are not works by Lortzing.
Unfortunately, I also have to blame myself, I didn't check it either, which is a shame, because my books on Lortzing are always within reach.
So, the big question that remains is: can I trust the rest of Pausch's book? Because it was a very good read with lots of information. But that doesn't help you much when the information is wrong. However, I can still recommend the book to anyone who is interested in the musical theatre of the (early) nineteenth century. But with the caveat: check the references!

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