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date: 31 March 2020

Verschwender, Der (‘The Spendthrift’)locked

  • Peter Branscombe

Extract

(‘The Spendthrift’)

Zaubermärchen in three acts by Conradin Kreutzer to a libretto by Ferdinand Raimund ; Vienna, Theater in der Josefstadt, 20 February 1834.

The last of Raimund’s eight magic plays with music, Der Verschwender has the most distinguished score composed for the Vienna popular theatre since Die Zauberflöte. Julius Flottwell (spoken), the spendthrift of the title, forfeits the love of the fairy Cheristane (spoken), woos, marries and loses the heiress Amalie (spoken) and finally learns from his bitter experiences, and from the selfless devotion of his former servant Valentin (tenor), the true values of life. The piece is more remarkable for its depiction of life below stairs – Rosa (soprano) is anything but the conventional charming servant – than for that of the aristocratic and fairy milieux, though the Beggar (bass), sent by Cheristane to beseech alms from Flottwell against his own future penury, is a hauntingly effective figure, endowed by Kreutzer with a nobly elegiac cantilena (offset by the tipsy jollity of Flottwell’s false friends) not unworthy of Schubert. The extensive music includes three choruses, five ensembles and four songs as well as numerous melodramas and pieces of incidental music. The best-known numbers, widely familiar although their composer is usually unrecognized, are the songs of Valentin (Raimund’s own role): ‘Heissa lustig ohne Sorgen’, the hunting song ‘Wie sich doch die reichen Herrn’, and especially the carpenter’s song – ...

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