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A. Dean Palmer

Wohlbrück – to write an opera based on one of Scott’s novels. They chose Ivanhoe . By eliminating non-essential characters and simplifying the plot, Wohlbrück developed the libretto from J. R. Lenz’s play Das Gericht der Templer (Breslau, 7 May 1824 ), which Lenz had based on one or more of several English plays, particularly W. T. Moncrieff’s Ivanhoe! or, The Jewess (London, 24 January 1820 ), that were performed in England after the publication of Scott’s book. Universally considered during the 19th century as Marschner’s most popular opera, Der Templer und die


Hugh Macdonald

oratorio!’, he said, ‘no, let’s make it an opera!’, and he began to dig through the Bible while I outlined the plan of the work, even sketching scenes, and leaving him only the versification to do. For some reason I began the music with Act 2, and I played it at home to a select audience who could make nothing of it at all. Despite many precedents, most people expressed alarm at a biblical subject on the stage. After one more hearing of Act 2 Saint-Saëns abandoned his opera. Only after the appearance in 1872 of his third opera, La princesse jaune , did he feel sufficiently