Zwillingsbrüder, Die (‘The Twin Brothers’)
- Elizabeth Norman McKay
(‘The Twin Brothers’)
Posse in one act by Franz Schubert to a libretto by Georg von Hofmann after a French vaudeville Les deux Valentins; Vienna, Kärntnertortheater, 14 June 1820.
Schubert received this, his first theatrical commission, at the end of 1818 and completed the work in January 1819. The naive plot is a love story in a pastoral setting complicated by problems of mistaken identity: twin brothers, Franz and Friedrich (played by the one baritone soloist), return separately to their village, the first of them expecting to marry Lieschen (soprano), who is already betrothed to Anton (tenor). Schubert was surely incapable of composing the simple, tuneful melodies and light accompaniments customary in the artless verse patterns of plays of this type. He adopted instead the romantic Singspiel style of such composers as Weigl and Gyrowetz, responding more to the love interest than to the farcical element, thus creating an imbalance between text and music. The rhapsodical sentiments of the young lovers drew him to add new if not entirely appropriate dimensions to the play: tender, lyrical melodies, fine tone-painting which includes nature imagery of great charm, and ensembles in which he used some of the techniques of Rossini, whose operas were becoming increasingly popular in Vienna. The finest music comes in Lieschen’s aria (no.3) ‘Der Vater mag wohl immer Kind mich nennen’, in the brilliant little quartet (no.5) ‘Zu rechter Zeit bin ich gekommen’, and in the energetic quintet with chorus (no.9) ‘Packt ihn, führt ihn vor Gericht’....