Giuseppe Verdi, Franz Werfel, Simon Boccanegra, German Verdi renaissance


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.



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