Event Title

"Love's the meaning of the universe": On Franz Werfel's German Translation of Verdi's Opera Simon Boccanegra

Session

Education and Development

Description

The German Verdi renaissance movement of the 1920s and 1930s is closely linked to the Austrian writer and poet Franz Werfel. At the beginning of the 20th century, most of the composer's earlier works had sunk into oblivion, with only a handful of his operas, such as Rigoletto and Aida, being regularly performed.

Particularly in German-speaking countries, Verdi's operatic works were overshadowed by Wagner's musical dramas, and often disparagingly referred to as "organ grinder's music". Werfel, who since his youth had been an ardent admirer of Verdi, started championing the composer's cause in the 1920s by publishing a biographical novel, as well as a German edition of Verdi's letters. Furthermore, and most importantly, he translated three of the composer's lesser known operas, thus inaugurating the Verdi renaissance on German and, subsequently, international stages.

This paper examines the translation of Simon Boccanegra, the second opera in Werfel's triad, which premiered in Vienna in 1930. Special emphasis is placed on the textual reworking of the central council chamber scene, where Boito's original words "E vo gridando pace" are replaced by "Liebe ist Sinn der Welten" ("Love's the meaning of the universe"), a formulation most likely inspired by the Romantic poet Novalis. It also highlights the performance history of Werfel's translation, which led to the opera's "re-importation" to Italy and, finally, its international revival and inclusion in today's repertoire.

Keywords:

renaissance, Verdi’s letter, repertoire

Proceedings Editor

Edmond Hajrizi

ISBN

978-9951-550-47-5

Location

UBT Kampus, Lipjan

Start Date

30-10-2021 12:00 AM

End Date

30-10-2021 12:00 AM

DOI

10.33107/ubt-ic.2021.473

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Oct 30th, 12:00 AM Oct 30th, 12:00 AM

"Love's the meaning of the universe": On Franz Werfel's German Translation of Verdi's Opera Simon Boccanegra

UBT Kampus, Lipjan

The German Verdi renaissance movement of the 1920s and 1930s is closely linked to the Austrian writer and poet Franz Werfel. At the beginning of the 20th century, most of the composer's earlier works had sunk into oblivion, with only a handful of his operas, such as Rigoletto and Aida, being regularly performed.

Particularly in German-speaking countries, Verdi's operatic works were overshadowed by Wagner's musical dramas, and often disparagingly referred to as "organ grinder's music". Werfel, who since his youth had been an ardent admirer of Verdi, started championing the composer's cause in the 1920s by publishing a biographical novel, as well as a German edition of Verdi's letters. Furthermore, and most importantly, he translated three of the composer's lesser known operas, thus inaugurating the Verdi renaissance on German and, subsequently, international stages.

This paper examines the translation of Simon Boccanegra, the second opera in Werfel's triad, which premiered in Vienna in 1930. Special emphasis is placed on the textual reworking of the central council chamber scene, where Boito's original words "E vo gridando pace" are replaced by "Liebe ist Sinn der Welten" ("Love's the meaning of the universe"), a formulation most likely inspired by the Romantic poet Novalis. It also highlights the performance history of Werfel's translation, which led to the opera's "re-importation" to Italy and, finally, its international revival and inclusion in today's repertoire.