This article examines the change in the Viennese reception of Donizetti's operas in relation to the internationalization of the city's theatrical life during the last fifteen years of the Metternich regime (1833–48), as well as the ensuing tensions between German nationalist ideology and the cosmopolitan aspirations of Habsburg cultural policies. While the transformation of Donizetti's image from Italian to cosmopolitan composer resulted in part from the development of his career in Paris from 1838, it was also inseparable from evolving ideas of cultural cosmopolitanism in Vienna's political landscape. As the Habsburg court sought to contain the dissemination of national ideologies in the Austrian Empire, the construction of a Viennese operatic identity was increasingly set apart from national discourses. In Vienna's press, discussions of Donizetti's two operas written specifically for the Kärntnertortheater, Linda di Chamounix (1842) and Maria di Rohan (1843), focused on the different ways in which these works combined Italian, French, and German elements, and aligned with conceptions of cosmopolitanism that advocated for the overcoming of national divides. Viennese attempts at reconciling operatic cultures, however, collided with the universalizing aspirations that German nationalists had reckoned as the mission of their own national culture. Charting the flow of ideas emerging from the Viennese reception of Donizetti's operas for the Kärtnertortheater allows us to rethink the relationship between opera and politics in Vienna in the 1830s and 1840s, and to reconsider our approach to “national” designations as focal concepts of nineteenth-century music historiography more broadly.
On April 4, 1835, a performance of Gaetano Donizetti's Anna Bolena took the court opera house in Vienna—the Kärntnertortheater—by storm. The production marked the opening of the first opera season organized by the impresario Bartolomeo Merelli, an event that set a new course for the programming at the opera. The following year Merelli took full control of the Kärntnertortheater in partnership with Carlo Balocchino and, until the outbreak of the 1848 revolution, they would subdivide its calendar into two terms: the period from April to June was dedicated exclusively to Italian operas performed in their original language (the Italian season), while the rest of the year constituted the so-called German season, which was devoted to an international repertoire of German, French, and Italian works, all of which were performed in German. The inaugural Italian season of 1835 served as a trial for this organizational model. Donizetti's operas, which until then had been rarely (and rather unsuccessfully) staged in Vienna, dominated the first month of the programming. In addition to Anna Bolena, L'elisir d'amore and Il furioso all'isola di San Domingo premiered in Vienna on April 9 and 22, respectively.1 Only on April 29 was Donizetti's monopoly broken by a performance of Bellini's Norma.
Some of the city's music critics inveighed against this invasion by Donizetti. By the fifth week of the 1835 season, one of them erupted, “Three Donizetti operas in one sitting, and all at once! This is far too much!”2 Over the following years, complaints increased in number and intensity. Many local commentators found the ingredients of Donizetti's operas indigestible and of questionable taste, the by-product of a dramatic nouvelle cuisine that had originated in France, had traveled to Italy through various operatic adaptations, and was now spoiling the fine palate of the Viennese. In 1839, a review in Der Wanderer welcomed with relief a revival of Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia: “On several evenings, our Italian singing heroes have become disloyal to Donizetti's banners and have pledged loyalty to another, greater commander-in-chief—which is, truthfully, neither to our nor to their disadvantage.”3 Rossini's opera, a diversion from what had until then been another all-Donizetti Italian season, reportedly lifted the spirits of an audience whose operatic appetite had been restricted to an almost laughter-free diet.4 And yet spectators responded enthusiastically, in the main, to Donizetti's new operatic fare.
It would hardly have been supposed from such divergent currents of reception that, within only a couple of years, Donizetti would reach the top of Viennese musical life and in 1842 obtain the coveted position of court kapellmeister and Hofkammercompositeur (court chamber composer). In fact, subtle but important transformations in Viennese politics and operatic discourse had characterized the period between Merelli's inaugural 1835 season and Donizetti's employment by the court seven years later. These transformations prompted a wave of local debates on cosmopolitanism in the 1830s and 1840s, which conditioned the shaping of Donizetti's image as a composer and informed the critical response to his works.
As national paradigms have dominated traditional musicological narratives of the nineteenth century, scholars have often resisted critical engagement with cosmopolitanism. In the wake of a growing interest within the social sciences and humanities in perspectives that challenge the focus on the nation, however, cosmopolitanism has received considerable attention in recent years.5 Its philosophical roots, in particular, have offered an ideological and ethical counterweight to the tenets of national identity and nationalist ideology on the one hand, and to those of globalization on the other.6 Music scholars, too, have recognized the importance of cosmopolitan discourse to understanding phenomena that fit uneasily within historical narratives framed around questions of nationality; at the same time, however, they have called attention to the concept's elusive nature.7 I will suggest that it was precisely because cosmopolitanism had a rather vague and unstable meaning in Donizetti's Vienna that the concept came to occupy such an important position in the city's public discourse.
In this article, I discuss the development of Viennese conceptions of cosmopolitanism in response to official cultural policies aimed at containing centrifugal nationalistic impulses within the empire's borders. Donizetti's operas, in particular, catalyzed the development of aesthetic discourses that challenged national designations in opera criticism—designations like the “Italian” and “German” monikers that marked the opera seasons of the Kärntnertortheater—and emerged as productive sites of negotiation between local and supranational identities.8 Indeed, such negotiation was considered foundational to the construction of Vienna's image as the capital of a multinational empire. What follows is an investigation of the ways in which a discourse on cosmopolitanism shaped not only the reception of Donizetti and his music but also ideas about what it meant to be Viennese. For this reason, I will not provide a comprehensive account of Viennese criticism of Donizetti's operas. Rather, I will focus on the implications of the adoption of cosmopolitan tropes by critics as they gradually began to question their assumptions about Donizetti's fitting “national” stereotypes, and to posit instead his ability to manipulate, negotiate between, and synthesize a variety of stylistic idioms in his work. These discursive transformations were neither homogeneous nor unequivocal. Old and new critical attitudes coexisted and intersected in ways that, in a context that famously offered little room for freedom of speech, at times prompted nebulous, if not ambivalent, responses to political changes.9
I will begin with an overview of the historical and political circumstances that favored the flourishing of a Viennese discourse on cosmopolitanism. I will then discuss how this development conditioned reactions to the two operas Donizetti wrote for the Kärntnertortheater, Linda di Chamounix (1842) and Maria di Rohan (1843). Finally, I will consider the use of cosmopolitan and national categories as conceptual tools for understanding the relationship between opera and politics in Vienna in the 1830s and 1840s.
Imperial Policies, Cosmopolitan Culture
Merelli's arrival at the Kärntnertortheater coincided with a phase of political reorganization of the Austrian Empire. On March 2, 1835, Habsburg emperor Franz I died after a long, tumultuous reign that had begun over forty years earlier, in 1792. For half of this time, until 1815, he had endured a taxing and destabilizing military confrontation with France. His realm was brought to the verge of collapse on several occasions, and while this was always avoided, it did not escape a ruinous bankruptcy in 1811, which hampered the economic development of the empire for years to come. During this time, the very nature of Franz's imperial title changed. Elected Holy Roman emperor—as Franz II—in 1792, he assumed the new dynastic title of Austrian emperor (Franz I) in 1804. In 1806, Napoleon dissolved the Holy Roman Empire altogether, and Franz now had to legitimize the dynastic nature of his “new” imperial title—a task that he would take to heart for the rest of his reign.10 Accordingly, Franz ensured that the imperial crown would legitimately pass to his eldest son, Ferdinand, despite Ferdinand's poor physical and mental health. Franz had long been advised to do otherwise, but he stubbornly maintained that dynastic logic should prevail. Thus Ferdinand was crowned emperor of Austria after his father's death.
Nevertheless, Franz had arranged that actual power be accorded to a state conference (or state cabinet), nominally presided over by Ferdinand's brother, Archduke Louis, but steered in a de facto manner by one of Franz's longtime closest advisers, Prince Clemens von Metternich. Soon after Franz's death, Count Anton von Kolowrat, minister of finances and of domestic affairs, also joined the council.11 Metternich and Kolowrat stood at opposite poles of power within the Habsburg court; in fact, Kolowrat's appointment to the council is widely understood as a move to contain Metternich's authority. Nonetheless, both advocated decisively for urgent reforms through which to unify and modernize the empire's administrative, social, and economic infrastructures.12 Already launched in the aftermath of the July Revolution in France, these reforms became a priority after 1834. In that year, the Habsburg territories were cut off from the newly formed Deutscher Zollverein, a commercial union between most of the states of the German Confederation, which included portions of the Austrian Empire. Metternich, together with other influential civil servants, demanded that the entire empire join the union to boost the economy of the state. Both within and outside of the empire, however, national lobbies were against such a move. Bohemian industrialists and Hungarian landowners, for instance, wanted to avoid direct competition with their German counterparts, while Prussia saw in the Austrian exclusion a way of reinforcing its own influence among the other states of the Confederation.13
Just as the political scenario at the Habsburg court was changing, so were cultural conditions in Vienna. During the 1820s, foreign influences were increasingly evident in Viennese theatrical life, especially after the Italian impresario Domenico Barbaja took over the management of the Kärntnertortheater in December 1821. Running the court opera house concurrently with the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples and then, in the second half of the decade, with Milan's Teatro alla Scala, Barbaja had reinforced the operatic ties between Vienna and the Italian states, several of which had returned under direct or indirect Habsburg authority after the Congress of Vienna.14 Meanwhile, an international dramatic repertoire was also prospering in the city: no longer confined to the Burgtheater, Vienna's court playhouse, which had long been producing foreign works, plays written abroad had gradually begun to be staged in suburban theaters.15 In particular, French itinerant troupes flocked to the Austrian capital, putting the domination of the local Posse, a comedic genre featuring long sections in Viennese dialect, under threat. Local adaptations of comic and sentimental works, as well as mélodrames, provided plenty of readily available material that catered to the Viennese craving for theatrical novelties. In addition to translating their original scripts into German, these adaptations often entailed a thorough reworking of characters, sets, and dramatic situations.16 Of course, this was not the first time French dramatic culture had blossomed in Vienna: cultural Francophilia had already emerged in the mid-eighteenth century and had intensified during the Napoleonic Wars, especially when French troops had occupied the city in 1805 and 1809.17 What was new in the 1820s and 1830s was widespread perceptions of what such French influence meant for the cultural fabric of Vienna itself. No longer was French culture just an obsession of social and political elites. Rather, it came to represent those forces of modernity (industrialization, capitalism, new and faster means of transportation) with which Metternich, Kolowrat, and other high-ranking state officials believed the Austrian Empire should come to terms.
Viennese theater criticism addressed this phenomenon by reviving—and endowing with new meaning—an old idea, that of cosmopolitanism. With a history stretching back to antiquity, cosmopolitanism was a philosophical, political, and cultural concept whose meanings ranged from a sense of being unbound by borders of any kind (local, regional, national) to an open-minded approach to the world.18 In the eighteenth century, cosmopolitanism became a cornerstone of Enlightenment political philosophy, and it was foundational to Immanuel Kant's theory of moral history, which contemplated the creation of a world state that would guarantee perpetual peace.19 Kant's idea of world citizenship (Weltbürgertum) stemmed from another, less overtly political conception of cosmopolitanism. Gerard Delanty has called it “a culturally oriented cosmopolitanism,” which entailed a “turn towards a broadening of vision beyond the narrow world of ancien régime loyalties” in such areas of human activity as “science, literature, and travel.”20 This notion of cultural cosmopolitanism informed the Enlightenment project of a Republic of Letters, an ideal, boundless space for the circulation and sharing of ideas imagined as ultimately leading to an improvement of the human condition. Diderot and d'Alembert regarded the publication of their Encyclopédie as integral to this project.21
Both of these Enlightenment conceptions of cosmopolitanism, the political and the cultural, embraced moral values grounded in tolerance, open-mindedness, and impartiality toward otherness.22 The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars altered this conceptual landscape, gradually nourishing ideas of citizenship and patriotism that, as Martha Nussbaum has discussed, sustained forms of political activism based on communitarian feelings and emotional commitment instead of reason and universal aspirations.23 While these new ideas coexisted with cosmopolitan ideologies (revolutionaries, for instance, often promoted universal freedom as their ultimate goal), such coexistence was uneasy. Especially in the wake of French expansionism, cosmopolitanism itself could acquire negative connotations, being identified either with elitist individualism—a condition of privileged social classes—or with political disengagement from, if not outright disloyalty to, one's own community.24 Moreover, the role of French as the lingua franca of eighteenth-century European culture further cemented perceptions of cosmopolitan ideas as products of French culture. Around the beginning of the nineteenth century, with German cultural nationalism on the rise, German patriots increasingly resisted cosmopolitanism as a dangerous manifestation of French hegemony. Yet recognized champions of German culture such as Friedrich Schiller, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Alexander von Humboldt maintained a strong cosmopolitan intellectual outlook, while advocating a role and prestige for their native tradition on a par with those of France and Italy.25
The multinational nature of the Habsburg Empire favored a more receptive approach to cosmopolitanism, one distinguished from enlightened Weltbürgertum by virtue of its emphasis on a sense of “brotherhood and interdependency of peoples” rather than on universalism.26 This approach gestures toward what Dana Gooley and others have called “nationalist cosmopolitanism,” a rather vague and unsystematic “habit of thinking and writing about group affiliation” that regarded nationality as a necessary step toward the ultimate fulfillment of a broader, more “universal” good.27 Although within the empire itself, as observed by Franz Leander Fillafer and Jürgen Osterhammel, patriots in Bohemia and Hungary “strongly emphasized the brotherhood and interdependency of peoples who were entitled to aspire and achieve freedom,” thus embracing the idea of a nationalist cosmopolitanism to join forces against the central government, a focus on the harmonious coexistence of peoples was a central tenet of Habsburg imperial ideology.28 These antithetical conceptions of cosmopolitanism at play in imperial politics and patriotic discourse certainly had different goals: freedom and emancipation in the former case, peace and welfare in the latter. Nonetheless, neither side believed that differences among peoples should be erased. Rather, they embraced such differences as inherent features of humanity. Knowledge and appreciation of these differences helped to overcome divisions and mutual distrust and favored peaceful coexistence.
In the late 1820s and early 1830s, cosmopolitanism remained a contentious matter in Vienna, as testified by reactions to the new French cultural wave. The wounds left by the wars against France were still far from healed, but old and current concerns stirred debates in new and ever-changing ways. A typical attitude informed by German cultural nationalism was promoted by the Allgemeine Theater-Zeitung, whose contributors condemned cosmopolitanism (Weltbürgerlichkeit) as an infecting and dangerous side effect of the French Enlightenment, “a new enemy of the national course” that led diverse and discrete cultural traditions to turn “their backs on the past and on history,” to trample on their “native country, fatherland, and the world itself,” and to sink “into an ideal characterlessness.”29 The Allgemeine Theater-Zeitung was unequivocal in framing cosmopolitanism in negative terms, and understandably so: its editor-in-chief, Adolph Bäuerle (1786–1859), was a preeminent author of popular comedies whose creative career had been endangered by the new French vogue. Bäuerle, moreover, had founded the newspaper in 1806, at the height of the antagonism between Austria and France, and his outlook remained firmly rooted in wartime cultural patriotism even later in life.30 In the Theater-Zeitung, popular French authors such as Eugène Scribe and Alexandre Dumas père were dismissed as “cosmopolites” (Kosmopoliten) on the grounds of their stylistic adaptability and protean artistic personalities, and also with respect to their target audience.31 According to this newspaper, these authors' alleged cosmopolitanism was a disorienting hodge-podge, an unpredictable mixture of disparate dramatic devices that served commercial purposes rather than aesthetic ideals or a coherent artistic vision.
Other Viennese critics, however, were less eager to embrace Bäuerle's vehement rejection of cosmopolitanism. The Habsburg court, indeed, directly supported a variety of initiatives to affirm its own notion of cosmopolitanism. As early as 1808, one of the journals funded by the Austrian government, the Vaterländische Blätter für den österreichischen Kaiserstaat, began its inaugural issue by stating that its main goal was “to acquaint the inhabitants of the imperial and royal states with one another and to foster love of the fatherland through knowledge of the fatherland.”32 The court had good reason for promoting this agenda, since the survival of the multinational Habsburg Empire rested on synthesizing its many local constituencies. Celebrating the peculiarities of each as a manifestation of a larger whole was a means to this end. This attitude was very much alive and well thirty years later, when the universalism typical of eighteenth-century views of cosmopolitanism had come to appear utopian, unattainable, ineffective, and therefore unconducive to an actual improvement of the human condition. A distinction between quixotic and realistic ambitions with respect to cultural cosmopolitanism emerged in an article on travel literature published in 1838 in the Wiener Zeitschrift für Kunst, Literatur, Theater und Mode:
It is a beautiful and uplifting idea to imagine all peoples as brothers and the whole of humankind as a single, large family. Were so-called cosmopolitanism to emanate from this idea, the moral happiness of the world would be the exclusive and ultimate ambition of all the participants in this enormous whole; only then would it be possible to bring to life the holy hope of a perpetual peace. But now—now much is still in disarray among us: ancestral prejudices, nurtured since the dawn of time, alienate one individual from another, and for the moment only one supreme power, the power of misfortune, can break that gloomy spell and make hearts beat for one another with love. Otherwise, though directed by nature to an intimate embrace, they agitate in senseless animosity against each other under the ferment of delusion. … A universal agreement of peoples will occur only when pure humanity resolves and combines all dissonant chords into sweet consonance. Producing this supreme harmony—or at least preparing it—is first and foremost a duty of those bestowed with a gift for words, through whom a special power, so to speak, has come into being today, the power of intelligence. … Instead of fabricating delusive ideas, instead of losing oneself in useless conjectures, instead of squandering talent on personality or frivolity, the great minds of all nations should endeavor to tighten the mutual bonds of love, bring the merits of individual peoples into closer contact through their similarities, purge the delusions of outdated enmity by means of better perceptions, and, in a word, show man to man so that he can recognize and honor him as his brother and press him close to his heart.33
There is more than an echo of Habsburg antinationalistic policies in this call, since it posits that only the downplaying of national partisanships and political disagreements can sustain the ethical dimension of cultural cosmopolitanism.35 The musical analogy introduced in the quotation above eloquently captures the basic tenets of the imperial agenda: the creation of a system that, like a consonant chord, is made up of different but well-integrated elements. But music not only offered a powerful image with which to describe the Habsburg cosmopolitan ideal; it also provided a discursive field in which it developed. Opera, by its nature a combination of different forms of artistic expression, became perhaps the liveliest—and most vigorously debated—forum for probing this ideal.
France Meets Italy
When Domenico Barbaja withdrew from the administration of the Kärntnertortheater in 1828, the Vienna-Italy axis, which had dominated during his tenure, was weakened considerably in favor of a triangle that, as in the realm of spoken drama, now included Paris. To be sure, opéras-comiques and a few French works by Cherubini and Spontini had long been popular in Vienna, but at a time when Germany's biggest operatic rival was Italy, critics tended to hear these French works as aligned more closely with German than with Italian operatic aesthetics, given the striking differences between the Italian and German repertoires. Once Rossini settled in Paris in the mid-1820s, however, there could no longer be any doubt as to a shift in the European geography of cultural power, and to Viennese eyes, France became just as threatening as Italy.
Barbaja's successor at the Kärntnertortheater, Count Robert von Gallenberg, acknowledged and tried to ride the new wave. Soon after taking office in January 1829, he asked for leave to visit France, from where he requested a state contribution toward hiring new artists and renting new scores in Paris.36 After his travels, Gallenberg brought Rossini's Paris operas to Vienna, where they premiered at the Kärntnertortheater between the end of 1829 and 1831.37 The latest works by Auber, Halévy, and, most importantly, Meyerbeer soon followed.38 Like all French operas of the time, these composers' works were performed exclusively in German translations at the Kärntnertortheater, and were often heavily modified to appease the requirements of imperial censors.39 In such adaptations, these works became staples of the theater's German seasons.
The broad dissemination of French works reconfigured the terms in which foreign cultural—including operatic—influences were debated in Vienna. As Gundula Kreuzer notes, France got in the way of the German-Italian dichotomy in the first half of the nineteenth century, turning it into what the German music historian Gustav Schilling called the geographical “holy trinity” in music history: Italy, Germany, and France.40 Schilling's nationalistic sensibilities, however, quickly transformed this trinity back into simpler and more effective binary stereotypes. While he accepted eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century French music as having been the nurturing soil for the later evolution of German music, he regarded the latest French wave as a mere development of the “Rossini fever” of the late 1810s and early 1820s, especially in view of Rossini's contributions to the genre of grand opéra. “Recent French music,” Kreuzer writes, “was either appropriated or sidelined: whatever could not illustrate German influence was lumped together with the Italians. This was done under the label of the welsch, or wälsch (‘Latin’).”41 Schilling's influential argument seemed to register and systematize broader discursive trends that had characterized music criticism in the previous decades. In the early 1820s, the most important antidote against the “Rossini fever” had been an opera as influenced by French opéra-comique as Weber's Der Freischütz, but by the 1830s the terms of these debates had changed. The well-established German-Italian dualism had evolved into a more generic—but updated, both conceptually and rhetorically—German-wälsch opposition, the term “wälsch” subsuming both “Italian” and “French.” Unsurprisingly, once this rhetorical twist gained ground, the ties that bound Weber's opera to France were severed.42
The critical merging of Italian and French operatic genres into an indeterminate wälsch melting pot gained momentum in Vienna as soon as it became clear that the new cultural invasion was not going to be short-lived. When Halévy's La Juive was first produced at the Kärntnertortheater on March 3, 1836, Der Wanderer hailed it as an opera endowed with “German depth.”43 In the Allgemeine Theater-Zeitung, Bäuerle likewise praised Halévy's music but added that, regarding the political aftertaste of the historical setting and the gruesome plot, “we Germans are much more direct and sensitive, and heartily enjoy our harmless comedies.”44 In hindsight, this claim might sound like the ringing of an alarm against a new threat to local theatrical traditions—a threat coming this time from west of the Rhine rather than from south of the Alps. And indeed it took only a few seasons, in which many more French operas were performed at the Kärntnertortheater, to convince the critics at Der Wanderer that what had previously sounded deep and quintessentially German was little more than ostentatious, “a mediocre opera produced in a mediocre fashion.”45 A few months later, another article in the same newspaper bitterly remarked,
Cosmopolitanism befits the critic: he should praise what is good even when he finds it in the remotest corner of the world, and he should censure the bad even if it were to emerge from his neighbor's house. Yet Germans in particular should not disdain some patriotic inclination, since they hardly have the reputation for elevating the patriotic at the expense of the foreign. … In this regard, Italy and France have determined the direction of our taste to such an extent that we look with contempt, disdain, or at best indifference at the products of German industriousness and exploratory spirit. At most, we consider worthy of full attention that which, with foreign makeup, looks effectively denationalized.46
Donizetti beyond Italy
At the same time that most Viennese critics were dismissing Donizetti as a stereotypical Italian composer, he was in fact becoming one of the leading representatives of musical cosmopolitanism. In consequence of a series of personal and professional circumstances, Donizetti left Italy for Paris in October 1838.48 Thereafter, his career developed mainly abroad. Once in Paris, he diversified his compositional activity: he supervised revivals of some of his operas for the Théâtre-Italien, he adapted and translated others into French (Lucia di Lammermoor for the Théâtre de la Renaissance and Poliuto, revised as Les martyrs, for the Académie royale de musique), and he composed new scores, most notably La fille du régiment for the Opéra-Comique, L'ange de Nisida for the Théâtre de la Renaissance, and La favorite for the Académie royale.49 In so doing, he worked simultaneously on a variety of operatic genres, both Italian and French, substantially rethinking his musical and dramatic language to meet the expectations of French audiences.50 Despite the barbs of chauvinistic critics and composers (chief among them Berlioz) who felt threatened and outraged at the sweeping dissemination of Donizetti's works on the city's stages, his pragmatic and flexible attitude gained him a place alongside the two great pan-European opera composers of the time, Rossini and Meyerbeer.51
This international breadth allowed Donizetti's Parisian works to circulate, with a number of modifications, in Italy and Austria as well. In Vienna, La fille du régiment was premiered during the 1841 Italian opera season and was frequently revived in German translation.52Les martyrs and La favorite, too, reached Vienna, albeit—like many other grands opéras of the time—in heavily censored translations that compromised the success of the productions.53 Despite these unfavorable circumstances, Viennese critics readily observed Donizetti's stylistic shift in the case of Les martyrs. The opera was first performed at the Theater in der Josephstadt on June 15, 1841, and a few months later, on October 13, at the Kärntnertortheater.54 The reviewer for Der Humorist, a newspaper that had never minced its words when writing about Donizetti, was taken aback by the stylistic changes evinced by Les martyrs when compared with the composer's Italian works. Writing for the Paris Opéra, the critic noted, had forced Donizetti to set aside the “degenerate melodic ding-dong to which [he] had accustomed his Italian compatriots—or, to put it better, in which he had indulged them.”55 Though not sparing him the accusation of plagiarizing from Rossini and Meyerbeer, the reviewer conceded that “we like to listen to this music more than to many of his other compositions. Here, commonplace things are mixed with something more solid, proving to us that Donizetti, when he wanted to, was capable of striving for something more competent than this eternal Lucia- and Belisario-noodling.”56 By separating the composer from his reputation as a typically Italian assembler of sing-along melodies, this review, ambivalent as it may have been, exemplifies the beginning of a new thread in the Viennese reception of Donizetti, one ostensibly justified by the perceived positive influences of his Parisian experience upon his work. Around the same time, Merelli and Donizetti came to an agreement regarding the composition of a new opera for the Kärntnertortheater, which would eventually become Linda di Chamounix.57
Donizetti was well aware that an opera for Vienna would require taking into account the taste of yet another foreign constituency. In a letter, he ironically described his new target audience as being made up of “scientists and wise men” who appreciated the deployment of sophisticated compositional techniques over the immediacy of Italian melodies, and who valued the elaboration of a handful of thematic ideas over their variety.58 According to another letter from this period, Donizetti had become familiar in his youth with musical techniques for which Viennese instrumental music was renowned by “learn[ing] all the quartets of Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart, Reicha, Mayseder, etc., which I later found very useful for saving on imagination and for constructing a piece out of few ideas.”59 For his two operas written for the Kärntnertortheater, Linda di Chamounix and Maria di Rohan, Donizetti drew upon his knowledge of the Viennese instrumental repertoire, while loosening—without effacing—several conventional elements traditionally associated with Italian opera.60 By working from within the conventions of the genre, he provided it with what many recognized as an original breath of cosmopolitanism. Contemporary Viennese commentators reacted by discussing whether Donizetti's “new” course was a deviation from his essentially Italian nature or an improvement upon it. More importantly, a close reading of these reviews reveals a gradual synthesis of ideas traditionally associated with German patriotism and a peculiarly Viennese understanding of cosmopolitanism itself.
Linda di Chamounix: Italian or Cosmopolitan?
The triumphant premiere of Linda di Chamounix at the Kärntnertortheater on May 19, 1842, was the culmination of a carefully planned series of events through which Donizetti, showing off both his musical versatility and his social savoir faire, established himself amid Viennese high society. Prior to departing for Vienna, he had obtained a presentation letter from Rossini to Metternich, whom he was scheduled to meet upon his arrival. Once in the Austrian capital, Donizetti reconnected with one of his former Neapolitan patrons, the Prince of Salerno (uncle of the king of Naples), who facilitated the composer's entrance to the most prestigious Viennese salons. With such excellent cards to play, he secured introductions to the Viennese crème de la crème. By April 11, he was making arrangements for a private performance of Rossini's Stabat mater at the Habsburg court, an event that took place the following month, on May 4.61 A full-scale public concert of Rossini's work under Donizetti's baton followed in the Großer Redoutensaal in the Hofburg on May 31, and contributed to the consolidation of Donizetti's reputation as an accomplished and versatile musician.62 Prominent members of the aristocracy, including Moritz von Dietrichstein, the court's Supreme Chamberlain, and the Archduchess Sophie, competed to have Donizetti perform in their salons.63 Thanks to this strong show of support from the highest tiers of Viennese society, expectations for the premiere of Linda di Chamounix were at a fever pitch.
Critics hostile to Donizetti did not miss the opportunity to suggest that the overwhelming success of Linda was due to the composer's social connections. In what was certainly the harshest review of the production, August Schmidt, editor-in-chief of the Allgemeine Wiener Musik-Zeitung, claimed that one of the most memorable tunes of the opera, the melody of the cabaletta of the Linda-Carlo duet in act 1, owed its popularity to its social and commercial value, rather than to its musical qualities: “Without any doubt this tune will make its way into all kinds of salon music; it is popular, and this may well be its only merit. Even its melodic quality is more exterior and brilliant than interior and contemplative; and the latter quality, I would argue, should inhere in a melody that expresses the climax of deepest love.”64 We will return to the importance of this melody for the reception of the opera in a moment. For now, suffice it to say that none of Schmidt's colleagues followed his lead in denigrating Linda. Carl Kunt, critic for the Wiener Zeitschrift für Kunst, Literatur, Theater und Mode and a self-professed Donizetti detractor, surrendered for once to the work of a composer who, in his opinion, had built his success on a combination of talent and fashion:65
Music criticism in this newspaper has often come down harshly enough upon the composer of Linda. This time it gladly puts its weapons aside to view the composer of this charmingly melodious, lyrically flowing, and at the same time more thoughtful and deeply felt work with well-founded approval. Anybody who hears with impartial ears and feels with a heart that is moved by cosmopolitan art [mit einem kunstkosmopolitischen Herzen empfindet] will certainly extend the sincerest felicitations to the talented and ever-productive maestro for the brilliant success of his local debut—one who originally befriended the system of German music through the instruction he received from his worthy teacher, Johann Simon Mayr.66
To a significant extent, these questions underpinned the Viennese reception of Linda di Chamounix, as critics tried to make sense of, contextualize, and evaluate the triumph of Donizetti's work. Some of them saw in it the outcome of the composer's peripatetic career. For instance, the official newspaper of the Austrian government, the Oesterreichisch-Kaiserliche privilegierte Wiener Zeitung (hereinafter Wiener Zeitung), promoted Donizetti's new opera as follows:
For two or three years, Donizetti seemed to have abandoned his previous path and moved closer to the French genre, as demonstrated by his Fille du régiment, his Martyrs, and his Favorite. … With Linda he is again the prolific Italian composer of melodies. Yet his attention is directed more to the whole than to individual effective moments and cabalettas, and the orchestration shows obvious signs of greater effort and deeper thinking than most of his earlier works. … The libretto of Linda is skillfully crafted from the French vaudeville La grâce de Dieu. The situations are musically interesting, and not even in the third act does the interest slacken, an element of German intimacy and deeper feeling pervading the whole.68
This review sums up several themes that run through the entire body of literature on the opera's premiere. One is the contribution of Gaetano Rossi's libretto, about which critics were uniformly enthusiastic. The plot may be summarized as follows. Linda is the daughter of poor but honorable farmers from the alpine village of Chamonix in Savoy.70 Unbeknownst to her parents, she is in love with Carlo, whom she believes to be a painter but who is in fact heir to the estate to which Chamonix belongs. To protect his daughter from the lascivious intentions of another local aristocrat, Linda's father Antonio forces her to join other young Savoyards who are traveling to Paris. Carlo follows her, reveals his true identity, and hosts a still innocent Linda in his luxurious Paris apartment. Antonio has also come to Paris and enters the apartment by chance, begging for money. Outraged at discovering his daughter there, he believes that Linda has lost her honor, and he curses her. Meanwhile, Linda's friend Pierotto reports that Carlo has been forced to agree to a marriage with another woman. Cursed and abandoned, Linda loses her mind. With great difficulty, Pierotto succeeds in guiding her back to Chamonix. Carlo also returns, now released from his arranged marriage and free to marry the girl. Though shocked at the sight of Linda's mental state, which prevents her from recognizing those dear to her, he sings their love song. Linda thus recovers her senses, obtains her father's forgiveness and blessing, and is finally able to marry Carlo.
In Vienna, the Alpine setting of the opera, an ideal mirror of the purity and innocence of the female protagonist, allowed Linda to resonate with a much-loved local theatrical tradition, whereby the Alps, as the heart of the Austrian Monarchy, represented both an escape from the daily miseries of life and an idealized source of moral and political virtues.71 Leo Herz, Oberregisseur at the Kärntnertortheater and contributor to the Allgemeine Theater-Zeitung, specifically noted the ethical qualities of the opera's subject: “In the libretto of this opera, which Rossi has crafted after the effective French drama Grâce à Dieu [sic], a purely moral plot finally rules. Here there appears neither pestilence, nor murder, nor other abominable crimes, which the recent French dramatic libertinage likes to designate ‘Romantic.’ Instead, the love of two hearts is portrayed in sentimental garb.”72 Herz's remarks echo the ambivalent attitude of insiders toward the internationalization of the Viennese theatrical repertoire of the time. He rebukes Victor Hugo for his tragic manner, and for an aesthetics of Romantic drama notorious for its “libertine” breaking of classical dramatic rules and its violent, morally questionable subjects.73 A number of critics had indeed responded to several of Donizetti's previous Italian operas—most famously Lucrezia Borgia, based on a play by Hugo—with hostility, precisely because of the ways in which they considered those works to rub shoulders with this dramatic tradition. With Linda, however, many could breathe a sigh of relief: this time, Donizetti's French source was of a different kind. As the reviewer for Der Adler remarked, “The composer has preemptively avoided the reproach that he is fond of rather bloody librettos fashioned in the manner of Victor Hugo.”74 And Carl Kunt commented in the Wiener Zeitschrift, “The libretto … abandons the arena of poisonings, killings, and other barbarities in which modern tragedie liriche tend to disport themselves. Here, thank God, no ill-tempered tyrant, no trespassing Amoroso, no enraged prima donna, spoils one's musical appetite.”75
The dramatic source for Rossi's libretto was a recent French play, La grâce de Dieu, ou La nouvelle Fanchon, by Adolphe-Philippe d'Ennery and Gustave Lemoine, first performed at the Théâtre de la Gaîté in Paris on January 16, 1841. Donizetti himself likely recommended the play, for he saw it while in Paris.76 Because La grâce de Dieu denounced the phenomenon of child labor and exploitation and provided an utterly negative portrayal of the eighteenth-century aristocracy, the libretto had to be adjusted to avoid objections from the Austrian censorship.77 Very little of the play's original social critique remains in the opera. Rossi and Donizetti deprived the scenes involving the young Savoyards of their original political connotations, providing them instead with a pathetic patina and touches of couleur locale that were duly praised in the Viennese press. The aristocratic villains also underwent modifications. Whereas the play depicts Carlo's mother as an utterly unsympathetic character, the operatic adaptation merely mentions her. The lustful marquis is transformed into a buffo role in the opera, so that his lasciviousness, originally threatening, becomes an element of ridicule rather than of moral corruption. Finally, the authoritative ecclesiastical figure of the play (le Curé) was secularized into a magistrate (il Prefetto) in the libretto. But the play was also a rich subject for an opera, providing an opportunity to use melodies for the leading characters (widely acknowledged as the essential feature of Italian opera) as “diegetic” stage songs, which recur as reminiscence themes throughout. This allowed Donizetti to work out the musico-dramatic structure of the opera in a manner that appealed to critics who favored German operatic aesthetics.78 Music, and in particular singing, was not a mere exterior decoration—an effect, as it were—but was pivotal to the unfolding of the drama.
According to many Viennese critics, such careful adaptation of the original French play offered Donizetti the opportunity to adopt more cohesive and carefully worked out musical and dramatic strategies, and to embrace what they considered a more “German” approach to opera. In a long and detailed review in the Allgemeine Theater-Zeitung, for instance, the often sharp-tongued Heinrich Adami conceded that
[m]uch more than in any other of his many beloved operas, here the maestro has directed his attention to delivering a whole that coheres harmoniously in all its parts. We find that even the characterization of the many leading roles in the opera is, with respect to the plot and situations, properly conceived. … There is much sentimentality in this subject matter, much that reaches the spectator's soul and touches his heart. … [Donizetti's] music, however, is neither constantly lachrymose, nor excessively tender and plaintive. Rather, it seeks to express sentiments and feelings—the portrayal of which is its task—in gentle, delicate, and sensible ways. And by calling it “graceful,” I hope to have conveyed its overall character in the most exact way. … Some moments even show a deeper conception, approaching the tendencies of German music, and the well-differentiated characterization of the roles—something I touched upon at the beginning of my article—should be particularly praised.79
The pervasiveness of reminiscence themes in the opera has received considerable attention from scholars and, given its importance for Viennese critics, is worth recalling again.80 The source play for Linda includes, and owes its title to, a highly popular preexisting song of the time by Loïsa Puget, “À la grâce de Dieu” (1835), which is sung at key moments of the drama. Donizetti and his librettist, however, modified the original story line so that two distinct pieces, both introduced in the first act of the opera, are made to fulfill the two distinct tasks originally assigned to “À la grâce de Dieu.”81 One is Pierotto's folkish ballata, a stage song that, like Puget's “À la grâce de Dieu,” tells of the departure of the young Savoyards from their village to seek a better future elsewhere, as well as the morally corrupting threats to which innocent maids are exposed by leaving their homes (see example 1).82 Pierotto's ballata sustains the moral values of the opera: “Pierotto's voice is the voice of the community, of Chamonix, of the native valley, and therefore, by metonymy, of the family.”83 In act 2, as Linda is about to yield to Carlo's attempt to seduce her, she hears Pierotto off stage playing the ballata on his hurdy-gurdy, is reminded of her mother and her duty to preserve her family's honor, and thus successfully resists her beloved's sexual advances (see example 2). In the third act, Pierotto again plays the ballata, this time to induce Linda, driven to madness, to return to their native Chamonix.
The other recurring theme of the opera is the melody of the cabaletta from the act 1 love duet for Linda and Carlo. This duet undermines the moral system represented by the ballata and paves the way for Antonio's misunderstanding of his daughter's relationship with Carlo in the second act.84 Donizetti's treatment of the cabaletta melody throughout the opera suggests another possible reason why Viennese critics heard German influences in his music. The duet's cabaletta is subdivided into a standard pattern: four-measure phrases (aa′ba′′), the last of which leads to a six-measure coda. (See example 3, which shows Carlo's presentation of the melody; Linda then takes up his melody with minor variations, before the two characters join in the a due repetition.) Later in the opera, this melody returns in different keys and is reduced to its first period only (aa′), always in conjunction with Linda's madness. First, we hear it in Linda's mad scene in act 2. Having just lost her reason at the news of Carlo's imminent marriage to another woman and at having been cursed by her father, Linda reacts by uttering the first six measures of the cabaletta theme in the original key of G major (see example 4). At the crucial words “tua sposa” (your bride), she interrupts the metric regularity of the melody and slips into a stuttered recitative. The harmonic pattern, likewise, slips away from G major and, through an almost lamenting chromatic descent in the bass, lands on the E-flat major of the ensuing cabaletta.85 Only in act 3, back in Chamonix, does Linda pick up the love theme from where she left it, this time in F major. At this point, the theme seems to enter into a kind of musical and dramatic tension with Pierotto's ballata, which is heard only a few moments earlier. Pierotto has with difficulty managed to bring Linda back home by playing his hurdy-gurdy (the two characters enter the stage as he plays his song), but he cannot repress his annoyance at Linda's musical obsession: he interrupts her “mechanical” repetition of the love theme with the words “For pity's sake! Always the same!” (see example 5). For a full statement of the theme's first period in the original G major, however, we have to wait until, at Linda's request, Carlo sings it to her just before she recovers her sanity. This final return of the melody sheds new light on the subtle transformations of its previous reiterations: it fulfills a “therapeutic” function, helping Linda's return to reason, signaled by the melody's return to its original shape.86 Like the recapitulation of a theme in sonata form, the last reiteration of the love theme provides a sense of coming home, which in this case is both musical and dramatic. In sum, Donizetti wove a typical Italian melody into the French dramatic fabric of the opera through what, to Viennese ears, must have sounded like a quintessentially German compositional technique.
While such sophisticated treatment of reminiscence themes garnered Donizetti unanimous praise in the Viennese press, it also divided critics with respect to the opera's “national” origins. In the aforementioned review in the Allgemeine Theater-Zeitung, Adami suggested that Linda approached the German aesthetic ideal only because of a happy coincidence. For him, Donizetti's music remained “graceful” (“graziös”), one of the rhetorical tools usually employed to dismiss Italian opera as a sensual and superficial source of pleasure; but this time, Adami argued, the sentimental—French—subject allowed Donizetti's graceful Italian melodies to sound “characteristic,” to acquire a “deeper” dramatic raison d'être, thus redeeming them for German ears. Both Kunt and Moritz Saphir, the critic for Der Humorist, placed Linda firmly within the Italian camp, while recognizing that the opera was one of the ripest and most carefully crafted fruits of that tradition. Kunt conceded that the inclusion of non-Italian elements contributed to this improvement:
While I would certainly not wish to infer, from the musical features of this opera, a complete deviation from the familiar style of this composer, it does not take any particular musical experience to see that the subtleties of the French school and the seriousness of German accompaniment have frequently exercised their influence on its shape [Fattura]. Remaining faithful to the usual vocal textures, rhythms, and forms to which the Italian composer is bound, Donizetti introduces us to many interesting details in the vocal parts, harmony, and instrumental writing that appear all too clearly as a tribute to truth and supreme taste.87
Toward the end of the 1842 Italian opera season at the Kärntnertortheater, however, the Wiener Zeitung moved the discussion of the opera closer to official conceptions of cultural cosmopolitanism, and praised it as a work that transcended national divisions:
How inimically they face each other—the German and the Italian schools! How much trouble is taken either to elevate to the heavens or crush to dust the sublime poetry of the divine art for the sake of form! … And yet in Linda Donizetti has given us a work that allows us upon hearing it to relinquish with delight its subordination to any school, since, arguably, art celebrates here its greatest triumph. … And in which other opera do we find these qualities so perfectly united? … Linda will traverse the whole musical world with her Pierotto. May she be received everywhere so cordially and impartially as here, where the public is so fair-minded as to recognize merit, whichever nation it may belong to.91
This point, anticipated by Kunt's aforementioned assertion that Linda needed an audience who “feels with a heart that is moved by cosmopolitan art,” opens up questions regarding the representation and recognition of the work's cosmopolitan qualities. These questions, according to anthropologist Henrietta Moore, “are always bound up … in imaginative projects of identification and difference … attached to relays of cognition, emotion and longing that do not respect the boundaries of gender, race, ethnicity, religion or nation.”92 Cosmopolitanism, she argues, is one such project, a way of representing the world, a “historically situated nature of fantasy,” based on relations (between Us and Other, as well as between subject and object) and on forms of “management of images and desires.”93 From this perspective, the Wiener Zeitung's projection of cosmopolitan attributes onto Linda was coterminous with an idealized vision of Viennese audiences.
By and large, indeed, the Viennese engagement with cosmopolitanism was an isolated case in the reception of Linda. The opera also fared well outside Vienna. In the 1840s it became one of Donizetti's most popular works, and he revised it for the Théâtre-Italien in Paris, where it was premiered on November 17, 1842. But with the exception of Théophile Gautier, Parisian critics were much less inclined than their Austrian colleagues to read the opera as an instance of cultural cosmopolitanism.94 Most notably, they refused to allow it any form of French influence, criticizing the butchering and oversimplification of La grâce de Dieu that had been required to shape it into an Italian opera libretto.95 One critic went as far as to deny the opera any international pedigree whatsoever: for him, Linda “is no less Italian than all her elder sisters: there is always the same ease, the same melodic clarity, the same outline, the same rhythm. The orchestration is polished and refined without the slightest resemblance to that of the great German masters.”96 While in Italy, at least initially, the circulation of the opera was hampered by local censorship, in northern Germany its resounding success resulted in an escalation of hostility toward Donizetti and Vienna itself.97 In 1842, the Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung did not comment on Vienna's first production at all,98 while German composers generally kept themselves aloof from what transpired in the Habsburg capital. Albert Lortzing, for one, found the musical atmosphere in the city “a veritable misery … only Italian music dominates!”; similarly, Carl Loewe wrote in 1844 that “one contents and amuses himself exceedingly with Italian melodic junk.”99 And at the end of 1843, Richard Wagner, who had tried in vain to have his Rienzi performed at the Kärntnertortheater, disparagingly labeled Vienna “Donizetti's city.”100
By the time Wagner wrote these words, Donizetti's ties to Vienna had indeed become closer. In response to the reception of Linda, the Wiener Zeitung expressed the wish that the administration of the Kärntnertortheater would commission a new opera from Donizetti for the following year.101 This wish—which, given the government's control over this very newspaper, sounds almost like an instruction—was duly met with Donizetti's second opera composed for Vienna, Maria di Rohan. Meanwhile, the composer had obtained an official position, becoming the emperor's new court composer.
Vienna's “Mediating Muse”
Premiered at the Kärntnertortheater on June 5, 1843, Maria di Rohan scored another tremendous popular and critical success. Even more than Linda, Donizetti's new opera was immediately discussed in the press as a combination of elements of various origins. The French touch was provided once again by the literary source of Salvatore Cammarano's libretto: Un duel sous le cardinal de Richelieu (1832) by Joseph-Philippe Simon, dit Lockroy, and Edmond Badon. Donizetti had long sought to turn the subject into an opera.102 The original play fascinated him for its combination of the comic and the tragic and its spectacular potential—features that, as discussed above, were related to Hugo's vision of Romantic drama.103 For Vienna, however, Donizetti had the most controversial aspects of the play toned down, with the result that Maria is one of his shortest and most compact operas. Scholars have regularly commented on its concise dramatic mechanism, which moves relentlessly toward its tragic conclusion.104 In order to intensify such a precipitous trajectory, the composer cut a virtuosic cabaletta originally planned for Maria at the end of the opera. He also ensured that the orchestra made a crucial contribution to defining the various dramatic situations, and in this way he produced some of his most brilliant instrumental writing.
August Schmidt, who had expressed reservations about Linda di Chamounix the previous year, was won over by Donizetti's latest work. In his review for the Allgemeine Wiener Musik-Zeitung, he emphatically ascribed the composer's dramatic choices to a beneficial German influence, and he welcomed Maria di Rohan as a pathbreaking work, one through which Donizetti could rise above the contingencies of his time, of taste, and of fashion:
The dignified approach, the care that [Donizetti] has applied to the inner musical structure of this operatic edifice, the deliberate rejection of melodic decorations that have always and copiously been at his fingertips, the particularly dramatic disposition of the music, the brevity and concision of the musical style, the unity and wholeness of the form—we want to take all of this into account, and we believe that, in an opera composed for Germans, Donizetti desired to instill the tones of gravity and dignity that lie so close to the German character. … Indeed, we must congratulate him on this artistic direction, which, without a doubt, will give further impetus to the bold flight of his great talent so that he can rise above contemporary taste—in a word, above his time. … Donizetti does not need to court the favor of the easily pleased crowd; his name has already acquired such a reputation as to allow him to venture on a path for art that, though less fulsomely praised by the masses, will make the artist appear all the more honorable in the eyes of a true art lover.105
Despite these differences, critics agreed that the new course Donizetti had undertaken with Linda was no mere attempt to flatter local spectators for the sake of success, but the outcome of his assimilation of the cultural tenets of an explicitly Viennese aesthetics. In only one year, Viennese reviewers had transformed Donizetti from a composer bowing to a foreign audience to one inspired by the city's “mediating Muse.” Their rhetorical strategies also raised the image of Vienna as a cultural center actively pursuing reconciliation between diverse artistic traditions and “national” aesthetics, and embracing cosmopolitanism as a key feature of Viennese music history. A peculiar sense of history was indeed a crucial aspect of Habsburg ideology—a way in which the imperial community could experience a sense of belonging by sharing a common past.109 From this perspective, Donizetti came to be accepted as part of this history once his operatic style proved flexible enough to transcend clear-cut national divides.
Isolated exceptions notwithstanding, by the early 1840s the notion of cosmopolitanism in Viennese music criticism had lost many of its originally negative connotations, emerging instead as a flexible category, well suited to the goals and aspirations of various players on the local cultural scene. In this respect, the discrepancies evident in the reviews of Maria di Rohan—Schmidt's emphasis on the opera's German aesthetic roots in contrast to the cosmopolitan tenets recognized by other critics—are only superficial, since the similarity of the arguments behind the two positions reveals that the Viennese discourse of cosmopolitanism had absorbed some of the aesthetic stances of German nationalism. More specifically, the Viennese reconciliation of operatic cultures reformulated and reframed widespread attitudes among German nationalists with respect to the mission of their national culture—namely, the belief that Germans possessed a synthetic predisposition that allowed German artworks to build upon, improve, and ultimately overcome foreign cultural achievements.110 Despite a considerable degree of porosity between Viennese cosmopolitan and German national aspirations, however, some important differences remained.
Viennese cosmopolitanism recognized, at least in theory, a certain degree of equality among contributing national traditions. Once Donizetti was appointed court kapellmeister and chamber composer in July 1842, Viennese critics recognized him as being fully integrated into the musical landscape of their city. Through this official position, he became part of a musical establishment whose history had been shaped by composers of different origins (Italian, German, and Bohemian), and that took pride of place in projecting Vienna's image as the capital of a composite, supranational empire. Donizetti himself bragged about occupying a position that had once been Mozart's, almost as if his filling the shoes of a composer who had “made” Viennese music history legitimized his belonging to that history.111 Yet Mozart's very legacy, with which Donizetti was toying, was ideologically contended. If Donizetti's claim was consistent with an “imperial” view of Vienna's music history, German nationalists regarded his appointment as a usurpation. An anonymous contributor to Robert Schumann's Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, for instance, commented on the composer's new role as follows: “Donizetti's nomination as court chamber composer (a position that once was Mozart's) dealt a deadly blow to German art. The Italian influence, which had reigned supreme in Vienna since the 20s, is now unfortunately protected from on high, and any word pronounced against it will be either ignored or repressed.”112 For this Leipzig critic, Vienna was supposed to be a bastion of German culture, and the Italian domination of the city that was supposedly signaled by Donizetti's appointment was a result of unnatural and despotic political maneuvers. Following a robust tradition dating back to the beginning of the nineteenth century, the critic's words place Mozart—also a quintessentially cosmopolitan composer—firmly within the canon of German music.113 If Mozart served German national ideology well, Donizetti's presence in Vienna was detrimental to the hegemonic aspirations of German culture. From a Viennese perspective, however, this critic's emphasis on national opposition is misleading. Indeed, the Habsburg political agenda was not aimed at establishing hierarchies among nationalities, but rather at containing national pressures of any kind. Whether or not Viennese reviewers agreed with official cultural policies, the majority of them recognized that, once in Vienna, Donizetti had become the epitome of a cultural ideal unbound to national partisanship. The different Viennese receptions of Linda di Chamounix and Maria di Rohan bespeak this attitude.
While German cultural nationalism enjoyed robust theoretical roots, the Viennese idea of cultural cosmopolitanism was as flexible as it was precarious. Viennese critics engaged with this precariousness by developing a sense of belonging that ran against Donizetti's international activity. In negotiating with the Habsburg court, Donizetti had stipulated that he would reside in Vienna six months of the year in order to fulfill his professional obligations there, but that for the remaining six months he would be free to travel wherever he received commissions. After writing Maria for the Kärntnertortheater, he moved back to Paris to supervise the premiere of his latest grand opéra, Dom Sébastien, at the Académie royale de musique. While there he also produced a heavily modified version of Maria di Rohan at the Théâtre-Italien. Among the changes Donizetti made to his opera were the recasting of Gondì as a trouser role with two important solo numbers (in the original Viennese version, Gondì was a tenor with no aria) and the revision of several other pieces, in some cases consisting of the addition of a showy cabaletta (as after Maria's prayer in act 3).114 In 1844, one year after the original production, the Kärntnertortheater hosted a revival of Maria di Rohan, which included numerous modifications that Donizetti had introduced for the Paris premiere. In Vienna, this version was widely criticized. The transformation of Gondì into a virtuosic character emphasized the typical generic mixture of French Romantic drama, and the form of Gondì's new solo pieces—particularly the couplet structure of his act 1 ballata, “Per non istare in ozio”—emphasized the character's perceived Frenchness.115 Other new solo pieces, and particularly the cabaletta for Maria in act 3, were judged to be concessions to Italian operatic routine, which Donizetti had supposedly overcome in the original version of the opera. Carl Kunt opened his review of the 1844 revival by praising the earlier version for its “frugal use of cabalettas and its striving for a certain concordance between words and music.”116 He then remarked with disappointment,
To be frank, we are convinced that the new version, which stems from Paris, has done more damage than good to the opera, inasmuch as the color of the original sound is washed out noticeably by the many melodic interpolations, the basic dramatic tint is tarnished, and the rapid pace of the plot is weakened. … The concessions made here to the convenienze teatrali are mostly infelicitous, and in terms of artistic integrity cannot bring any special honor either to the singer or to the composer.117
The partly new cast for this opera prompted the composer to make several alterations and to interpolate some new vocal numbers, with which we agree only insofar as the opera has gained a few attractive pieces. However, greater unity existed in the previous version and we advise all theaters to acquire the score in its original form from the art and music dealers Diabelli & Co. in Vienna, who own the exclusive rights to the opera.118
The position of these critics suggests that Viennese discourse on operatic cosmopolitanism shares one important feature with nineteenth-century conceptions of cosmopolitanism more broadly: they all reveal the crucial tensions generated by the consolidation of local and national identities.119 By 1844, cosmopolitan tropes were figuring in the Viennese press well beyond columns dedicated to musical or literary affairs. They accompanied discussions of the fast pace of industrialization, trade, railroad building, and the circulation of capital—all manifestations of a rapidly changing world that elicited a range of responses from various parties.120 These changes were met with a mixture of interest and anxiety, which was also palpable in the critical discourse on Donizetti's Viennese operas. The emergence of Paris as the hotbed of the most cutting-edge theatrical trends (musical and otherwise) was perceived as both a resource and a threat, one from which a vital and robust local tradition could benefit, but one that could also subvert the aesthetic, social, and political premises of that same tradition. As many foreign works—grands opéras, opéras-comiques, and spoken plays—reached Vienna only in heavily modified adaptations, Viennese operatic cosmopolitanism often inclined toward forms of cultural domestication that traded the inclusion of a variety of cultural experiences for the protection of the ideological status quo. This kind of negotiation also affected the last grand opéra Donizetti wrote while serving at the Viennese court, Dom Sébastien, roi de Portugal (premiered in Paris on November 13, 1843). The first production of the opera in Vienna, which opened under the composer's baton on February 6, 1845, and which was sung in German, included revisions to the original Paris version that on the one hand added pages that were perceived as Italianate (thus contributing to the cosmopolitan flavor of the score) and on the other toned down the political outcome of the plot.121
Ryan Minor has argued that one way to make sense of the tensions resulting from overlapping discourses of cosmopolitanism and nationalism is “to look at cosmopolitanism in the musical cultures of nineteenth-century Europe more as a praxis than as an identity,” as a set of social relations and behaviors rather than an individual condition.122 The recalibration of Donizetti's image in relation to his deliberate attempts to mold his operas by drawing upon various “national” styles after moving to Paris in 1838 may be read along such lines. His international exposure expanded the range of expressive tools he had at his disposal in Italy, but he did not give them up altogether. As Roger Parker has suggested, “Donizetti was far from a single-minded pioneer in matters of dramatic style; there is certainly little evidence that he deemed one mode of operatic discourse inevitably superior to others.”123 Donizetti's “cosmopolitan” versatility was a means, not an end. And regardless of his own intentions, what his noted adaptability accomplished was an enhancement of the perception of Donizetti as a cosmopolitan composer. As I have argued, this perception is caught up in the variety of political and ideological agendas that observers, whether Viennese or not, projected onto his music.
Ultimately, though, while notions of cosmopolitanism provided a conceptual framework for the Habsburg ideological edifice, neither the Austrian imperial ideal nor Viennese discourses on operatic cosmopolitanism resulted in a neutralization of national categories, encouraging rather their mutual interaction. It mattered little that the performance calendar of the Kärntnertortheater kept the Italian and German seasons formally separated, or that the Italian seasons were generally less open to non-Italian works than the German seasons were to non-German ones. The international mobility of works, composers, and performers made opera a powerful catalyst for Viennese discourse on cosmopolitanism as well as a convenient vehicle for reflection on the interconnections among—and ultimately the management of—forms of difference.124 Donizetti's works contributed to the cross-pollination between diverse operatic experiences, testifying to the extent to which cosmopolitan cultural practices bridged perceived national divides in the service of a larger cultural project: the staging of the Austrian Empire's cosmopolitan aspirations and fantasies.
I wish to thank Berthold Hoeckner, Martha Feldman, John Boyer, Dana Gooley, Francesco Izzo, Axel Körner, Emanuele Senici, Jutta Toelle, Kristina Muxfeldt, Roger Parker, Timothé Matte-Bergeron, Jonathan Easey, and the anonymous readers of this Journal for their invaluable feedback on this article. I am also indebted to the late Philip Gossett for his guidance and advice during the early stages of my research for it. Thanks are additionally due to the following institutions for their generous financial support: the University of Chicago, the American Musicological Society, the Österreichischer Austauschdienst, the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, and the University of British Columbia.
See Jahn, Die Wiener Hofoper von 1810 bis 1836, 687; Merelli and Balocchino's management is discussed in Jahn, Die Wiener Hofoper von 1836 bis 1848, 17–23. Prior to the 1835 season, the Kärntnertortheater had produced L'ajo nell'imbarazzo in 1827 as well as translated versions of Otto mesi in due ore (Acht Monate in zwey Stunden) and Anna Bolena (Anna Boleyn) in 1832 and 1833, respectively. Additionally, the suburban Theater in der Josephstadt had offered L'esule di Roma (in German, as Der Verwiesene aus Rom) in 1832 and Anna Bolena in 1833. See Jahn, “Donizettis Opern in Wien,” 224.
Der Sammler, May 7, 1835, 219: “Drey Donizetti'sche Opern in [e]inem Magen, und in [e]iner Tour! das ist auch zu viel.”
Der Wanderer, April 29, 1839, 407: “Unsere italienischen Gesangshelden sind auf einige Abende den Fahnen Donizetti's untreu geworden und haben einem andern größern Feldherrn zugeschworen, und wahrlich nicht zu unserem und ihrem Nachtheile.”
The 1839 season opened on April 3 with the local premiere of Donizetti's Torquato Tasso; a revival of Anna Bolena followed on April 10; four days later the Kärntnertortheater hosted the first Viennese performance of Donizetti's Marino Faliero. Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia was revived only on April 26. Performances of all four operas alternated until May 9, when there was yet another local premiere, Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia. See Jahn, Die Wiener Hofoper von 1836 bis 1848, 349–50.
One of the pioneering contributions to this paradigmatic shift is Cheah and Robbins, Cosmopolitics. See also Vertovec and Cohen, Conceiving Cosmopolitanism; Inglis and Delanty, Cosmopolitanism, vols. 1 and 2; Brown and Held, Cosmopolitanism Reader; and Delanty, Routledge International Handbook of Cosmopolitanism Studies.
See Beck, Cosmopolitan Vision, and Delanty, Cosmopolitan Imagination. On cosmopolitanism in relation to the development of European philosophy, see Schlereth, Cosmopolitan Ideal; Bohman and Lutz-Bachmann, Perpetual Peace; Morgan and Banham, Cosmopolitics; and Fillafer and Osterhammel, “Cosmopolitanism.”
See Stokes, “On Musical Cosmopolitanism”; Magaldi, “Cosmopolitanism and Music”; and, in relation to present-day conceptions of cosmopolitanism, Collins and Gooley, “Music and the New Cosmopolitanism.” For a recent overview, see Belina, Kilpiö, and Scott, Music History and Cosmopolitanism.
An important precedent was Rossini's Zelmira (1822). While not discussed as “cosmopolitan,” it was alternately classified as “Italian” and “German” by Viennese critics on aesthetic grounds; see Walton, “‘More German Than Beethoven.’”
Focusing on the different yet related context of pre-1848 Italy, Mary Ann Smart has discussed the methodological challenges of reading period sources to address questions concerning the relationship between operatic discourse and politics: Smart, Waiting for Verdi, 5–17.
See, in particular, Whaley, “Austria, ‘Germany,’” 3; Magris, Il mito asburgico, 47–100; Urbanitsch, “Pluralist Myth,” 104–6; Telesko, Geschichtsraum Österreich, 143–50; Krasa-Florian, Die Allegorie der Austria, 45–59; Evans, “Communicating Empire,” 123–28; Judson, Habsburg Empire, 89–102; and Vellutini, “Opera and Monuments,” 221–30.
A documentary reconstruction of Ferdinand's succession is provided by Walter, Österreichische Verfassungs- und Verwaltungsgeschichte, 137–38. For an evaluation of its impact on the balance of power at the Habsburg court, see Sked, Metternich and Austria, 117–20.
See Judson, Habsburg Empire, 105–20.
See Okey, Habsburg Monarchy, 95, and Sked, Metternich and Austria, 184.
The administrative ties of Milan and Naples to Vienna were different. Milan, the main city of the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, was part of the Austrian Empire. Naples was the capital of an independent state, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, where a considerable Austrian military contingent had been present since 1821 to help the ruling dynasty, the House of Bourbon, to stifle rebellion and maintain power. For a discussion of Barbaja's management of the Kärntnertortheater in light of the political relationship between Vienna and the Italian states, see Vellutini, “Cultural Engineering,” 186–225; Reichenberger, “Italienische Opernstagioni”; and Maione and Seller, “Da Napoli a Vienna.”
See Yates, “Internationalization of European Theatre.”
The influence of French language and culture in Vienna is discussed in Kreissler, Le français dans le théâtre populaire viennois. On the political and cultural relationships between Austria and France, see Bled, “Les contributions françaises,” and Beniston and Vilain, “Austria and France.”
On the impact of French theater on opera in mid-eighteenth-century Vienna, see Brown, Gluck; for later years, see Jahn, Die Wiener Hofoper von 1794 bis 1810.
See Delanty, Cosmopolitan Imagination, 29.
See ibid., 31–35, and Lutz-Bachmann, “Kant's Idea.”
Delanty, Cosmopolitan Imagination, 35.
See Schlereth, Cosmopolitan Ideal, 1–24. On contemporary criticism of the ideological implications of this project, see Delanty, Cosmopolitan Imagination, 38.
See Kleingeld, “Six Varieties of Cosmopolitanism,” 507–9.
Nussbaum, “Kant and Cosmopolitanism,” 27.
These negative conceptions of cosmopolitanism had already appeared before the Revolution, most notably in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Social Contract (1762); see Rosenfeld, “Citizens of Nowhere in Particular,” 25.
See Fillafer and Osterhammel, “Cosmopolitanism,” 133–34.
See ibid., 135.
Gooley, “Meyerbeer, Eclecticism,” 183; for a broader perspective, see Malachuk, “Nationalist Cosmopolitics.”
Fillafer and Osterhammel, “Cosmopolitanism,” 135. The authors describe this appropriation of cosmopolitanism as “cosmopolitan patriotism.” This notion is further investigated in Brodbeck, “Carl Goldmark and Cosmopolitan Patriotism.” For a discussion of Habsburg imperial ideology, see Judson, Habsburg Empire, 97–102.
Allgemeine Theater-Zeitung, May 14, 1825, 241: “da kam ein neuer Feind der nationellen Richtung. Aus Frankreich hatte die Idee der Weltbürgerlichkeit sich über die Nachbarvölker verbreitet, und diese kehrten der Vergangenheit und Geschichte den Rücken, stießen Heimath, Vaterland, ja die Erde selbst unter den Füßen weg, und versanken in eine ideale Charakterlosigkeit.” This passage comes from the first installment of an overview of recent developments in German drama. The other two installments were published on May 17, 1825, 245–46, and May 19, 1825, 249.
On Bäuerle, see Wurzbach, Biographisches Lexicon, s.v. “Bäuerle, Adolph.”
See, for instance, Allgemeine Theater-Zeitung, October 29, 1832, 864 (Scribe), and April 7, 1834, 278 (Dumas).
Vaterländische Blätter für den österreichischen Kaiserstaat, May 10, 1808, 3: “Der Zweck dieser Blätter ist: die Bewohner der kais-königl[.] Erbstaaten mit sich selbst näher bekannt zu machen und Vaterlandsliebe durch Vaterlandskunde zu befördern.”
Wiener Zeitschrift für Kunst, Literatur, Theater und Mode, May 26, 1838, Literary supplement: “Es ist ein schöner, erhebender Gedanke, die Völker alle sich als Brüder, das ganze Menschengeschlecht als seine einzige, große Familie vorzustellen; ginge der sogenannte Kosmopolitismus lediglich von dieser Idee aus, so würde die sittliche Beglückung der Welt alleiniges, letztes Streben aller Theilglieder der gewaltigen Gesamtheit seyn, und nur dann wäre es möglich, der frommen Ahnung eines ewigen Friedens Leben zu gewähren. Jetzt—jetzt liegt es mit uns noch sehr im Argen: angeborne, bisweilen in der Wiege der Geschichte großgezogene Vorurtheile entfremden den Menschen dem Menschen und fast nur Eine, aber eine heilige Macht—die Macht des Unglücks—kann auf Augenblicke jenen finsteren Zauber bannen und die Herzen für einander in Liebe schlagen machen, welche sonst, obwohl von der Natur zum innigen Umschlingen angewiesen, vom Sauerteige des Wahns getrieben, in bewußtloser Feindseligkeit gegen einander aufgähren. … [E]ine allgemeine Sympathie der Völker wird erst dann eintreten, wenn ächte Humanität alle dissonirenden Chorden im süßen Zusammenklange aufgelöst und verschmolzen haben wird. Diese höchste Harmonie zu bewirken oder doch wenigstens vorzubereiten, ist Aufgabe zunächst derjenigen, denen die Gabe des Wortes verliehen ward, und durch welche sich heut zu Tage gleichsam eine eigene Macht, die Macht der Intelligenz, gebildet hat. … Anstatt chimärische Ideale auszugrübeln, anstatt sich in nutzloser Speculation zu verlieren, anstatt das Talent an Persönlichkeiten oder Frivolitäten zu vergeuden, sollten die großen Geister aller Nationen bemüht seyn, das wechselseitige Band der Liebe fester zu schürzen, die Vorzüge der einzelnen Völker durch Parallelen sich näher zu rücken, die Wahngebilde verjährten Hasses durch bessere Begriffe zu läutern und mit [e]inem Worte: dem Menschen den Menschen zu zeigen, damit er ihn als Bruder erkenne, ehre und an sein Herz schließe.”
Ibid.: “das [der] moralischen Kraft eigentliches Leben ist.”
Ibid.: “Yet they [i.e., literary works favoring the knowledge of foreign peoples] should not display the colors of partisanship or the shapes of political opinions as their main feature; they should rather emanate unbiased love and provide a contribution to humankind; let their motto be edification, not destruction” (“nur müssen sie nicht die Farbe einer Partey, den Abguß einer politischen Meinung als vorherrschendes Gepräge ostentiren, sondern ihr Odem muß vorurtheilsfreie Liebe und ihre Tendenz Förderung der Menschheit seyn; ihr Wahlspruch heiße bauen, nicht zerstören”).
See Gallenberg's correspondence in Vienna, Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv, General Intendanz der Hoftheater, box 71, folder for 1829.
The first performance of Le comte Ory took place on November 3, 1829 (as Graf Ory), followed by Guillaume Tell in 1830 (as Wilhelm Tell) and both Moïse et Pharaon and Le siège de Corinthe in 1831 (as Moses and Die Bestürmung von Corinth). The earlier Italian versions of the last two operas had already been performed at the Kärntnertortheater during Barbaja's tenure: Maometto II was given in German in 1823, under the title Mahomet der Zweyte, and Mosè in Egitto in Italian (it premiered in 1824 with revivals in 1825, 1827, and 1828). See Jahn, Die Wiener Hofoper von 1810 bis 1836, 248, 303, 307–8, 345–46.
Among Auber's most successful operas in Vienna, La muette de Portici (as Die Stumme von Portici) and Fra Diavolo premiered in 1830; the first Viennese production of Meyerbeer's Robert le diable (Robert der Teufel) took place in 1833; Halévy's La Juive (Die Jüdinn) was first produced in Vienna in 1836. See Jahn, Die Wiener Hofoper von 1810 bis 1836, 274, 294, 320–21, 330–31.
See Jahn, “Von großen Opern.”
Kreuzer, “Heilige Trias, Stildualismus, Beethoven,” 74–78.
The ideological implications of the reception of Weber's opera are discussed in Tusa, “Cosmopolitanism.”
Der Wanderer, March 5, 1836: “Wir finden in dieser Oper teutsche Tiefe.”
Allgemeine Theater-Zeitung, March 5, 1836, 185: “wir Deutsche sind in diesem Puncte viel gerader und zartfühlender, erfreuen uns herzlich über unsere wohlgemeinten Komödien.”
Der Wanderer, September 14, 1841, 883: “eine mittelmäßige Oper mittelmäßig producirt.”
Ibid., March 31, 1842, 307: “Es ziemt zwar dem Kritiker der Kosmopolitism [sic], er soll das Gute preisen, fände er es auch am äußersten Ende der Erde, und das Schlechte tadeln, wäre es auch aus seinem Nachbarhause hervorgegangen; dennoch mag etwas landsmännische Gesinnung nicht sehr verargt werden, besonders dem Teutschen nicht, die kaum in dem Rufe stehen, das Vaterländische auf Kosten des Ausländischen zu erheben. … Italien und Frankreich haben in dieser Hinsicht unsere Geschmacksrichtung so gestellt, daß wir mit Hohn, mit Verachtung, und, wenn es hoch kommt, mit Gleichgültigkeit auf die Erzeugnisse teutschen Fleißes und Forschergeistes sehen, und höchstens das einiger Aufmerksamkeit werth achten, was durch fremdländische Schminke gleichsam entnationalisirt erscheint.”
Gooley discusses this point in his introduction to “Colloquy: Cosmopolitanism,” 523.
See Ashbrook, Donizetti and His Operas, 121–35.
At the time, L'ange de Nisida remained unperformed and Donizetti reworked a substantial amount of the music in La favorite. Thought to be lost before Candida Mantica reconstructed the score, L'ange de Nisida was first performed at the Royal Opera House in London on July 18, 2018: see Mantica, “From Lucie de Lammermoor to L'ange de Nisida” and “‘Chantons l'ange de Nisida!’”
See, for instance, his letter to his teacher Johann Simon Mayr of April 8, 1839, in which he discusses the modifications he was making to Poliuto in preparing Les martyrs, in Zavadini, Donizetti, 494–95.
See Della Seta, Italia e Francia, 202–3, 205–6.
The German version included two spurious pieces; see Jahn, “Donizettis Opern in Wien,” 153–54. The modifications to Calisto Bassi's Italian translation of the libretto are discussed in Izzo, Laughter between Two Revolutions, 212–22.
See Jahn, “Metamorphosen der Opern,” 154–58.
See Jahn, “Donizettis Opern in Wien,” 156. The title of the opera was changed to Die Römer in Melitone. The libretto was first translated by Karl August von Liechtenstein. When the score moved to the Kärntnertortheater, Josef Kupelwieser reworked Liechtenstein's translation and reduced it from four acts to three.
Der Humorist, June 17, 1841, 495: “[den] degenerirten Melodien-Klingklang, an welchen Hr. Donizetti selbst seine italischen Landsleute … gewöhnt, oder richtiger gesagt, verwöhnt hat.”
Ibid.: “Uebrigens wiederholen wir … daß wir diese Musik lieber anhören, als viele seiner andern Kompositionen; die sonstigen Gemeinplätze sind doch hier mit Soliderem gemengt, und sie beweist uns, daß Donizetti, wenn er wollte, nach etwas Tüchtigerem zu streben fähig wäre, als dieses ewige ‘Lucia’- und ‘Belisario’-Geliedel [sic] ist.” By this point, Belisario and Lucia di Lammermoor were among the works by Donizetti that were most frequently performed at the Kärntnertortheater, with numerous revivals in Italian and German; see Jahn, “Donizettis Opern in Wien,” 225–26. William Ashbrook has examined the ways in which these operas contributed to Donizetti's fame in his “Popular Success.”
For a reconstruction of the negotiations over Linda di Chamounix, see Dotto, “Historical Introduction.” Donizetti, Merelli, and Balocchino had tried in vain to reach an agreement over a new work for the Kärntnertortheater as early as 1835 or 1836; see Vellutini, “Cultural Engineering,” 229–38.
Letter to Antonio Vasselli, May 24, 1842, in Zavadini, Donizetti, 606: “scienziati e barbassori.”
Letter to Antonio Dolci, May 15, 1842, in Zavadini, Donizetti, 602: “imparai a conoscere tutti i quartetti d'Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart, Reicha, Mayseder etc. che poi mi giovarono tanto per risparmiare la fantasia e condurre un pezzo con poche idee.” During Donizetti's youth, and especially after northern Italy returned under Austrian control following the Congress of Vienna, Milan—close to the composer's native Bergamo—had become an outpost of Austro-German music in Italy; see Deasy, “Looking North,” and Smart, “Beethoven Dances.”
For an overview of Donizetti's technical and stylistic choices in these two operas, see Dotto, “Linda di Chamounix”; Zoppelli, “La Maria ingravidata”; Zoppelli, “Maria di Rohan”; and Zoppelli, “Una drammaturgia borghese.”
Before traveling to Vienna, Donizetti had conducted three performances of Rossini's Stabat mater in Italy at the composer's invitation—on March 18 (Italian premiere), 19, and 20; see his letter to Tommaso Persico of March 20, 1842, in Zavadini, Donizetti, 581. Donizetti arrived in Vienna only on March 27, informing Persico and Giuseppina Appiani that he had met Metternich and was about to visit the imperial family at their suburban estate of Schönbrunn: letters of March [30?] (to Persico, erroneously dated March 20) and April 23 (to Appiani) in Zavadini, Donizetti, 582–84. Donizetti first mentioned a performance of Rossini's Stabat mater at court in a letter to his friend Antonio Dolci of April 11, 1842 (Zavadini, Donizetti, 586), and later provided several entertaining descriptions of the performance; see his letters to Antonio Vasselli (May 6, 1842) and Antonio Dolci (May 9, 1842) in Zavadini, Donizetti, 592–98.
The public performance at the Redoutensaal was widely covered by the press. See, for instance, Der Wanderer, June 2, 1842, 518–19, and Der Sammler, June 4, 1842, 370. Other reviews include Der Humorist, June 2, 1842, 442, and the Wiener Zeitschrift für Kunst, Literatur, Theater und Mode, June 4, 1842, 885–87 (the latter signed by Carl Kunt). The Allgemeine Wiener Musik-Zeitung took the performance as a starting point for a serialized review of Rossini's work by Alfred Julius Becher, published in nine installments between June 7 and July 12, 1842.
See Donizetti's letters to Antonio Dolci (May 9, 1842) and Giuseppina Appiani (May 10, 1842) in Zavadini, Donizetti, 595–99.
Allgemeine Wiener Musik-Zeitung, July 5, 1842, 327: “Dieses Motiv wird zweifelsohne die Runde durch alle Kathegorien der Salonmusik machen, es ist populär, und dieß dürfte wohl sein einziger Vorzug seyn; auch sein melodischer Werth ist mehr ein äußerer, blendender, als ein innerer, contemplativer, und der, meine ich, sollte doch einer Melodie innewohnen, welche den Culminationspunct des innigsten Liebesgefühles ausdrückt.” For other reviews of the first performance of Linda di Chamounix, including some written in France in the aftermath of the opera's premiere at the Théâtre-Italien, see Bini and Commons, Le prime rappresentazioni, 1047–81.
According to Kunt, “das Talent und die Mode” constitute “the two polar stars of [Donizetti's] fame” (“die beyden Sterne seines Glückes”): Wiener Zeitschrift für Kunst, Literatur, Theater und Mode, May 25, 1842, 827–32, here 827.
Ibid., 832: “Die musikalische Kritik dieser Blätter ist dem Componisten der ‘Linda’ oft schon hart genug an den Leib gegangen. Sie legt dießmal gerne die Waffen beyseite, um sich dem Schöpfer dieses anmuthig-melodiösen, lyrisch-fließenden, dabey gedachteren und gefühlteren Werkes mit wohlbegründeter Anerkennung zu nähern. Jeder, der mit neutralen Ohren hört, mit einem kunstkosmopolitischen Herzen empfindet, wird gewiß dem talentreichen, noch immer productionstüchtigen Maestro zu dem glänzenden Erfolg seines hiesigen Debuts herzlich Glück wünschen. Ihm, der überdieß durch die Principien, die er von seinem ersten würdigen Lehrer, Simon Mayer [sic], empfing, ursprünglich dem deutschen Musiksysteme befreundet war.”
On the roots and development of this trope, see Gerhard, “‘Mozarts Geist.’”
Oesterreichisch-Kaiserliche privilegierte Wiener Zeitung, June 6, 1842, 1148: “Seit zwey, drey Jahren schien er [Donizetti] die früher verfolgte Bahn verlassen, und sich dem Französischen Genre nähern zu wollen, wie dieß seine ‘Fille du régiment,’ seine ‘Martyrs,’ seine ‘Favorite’ beweisen. … In der Linda ist er wieder ganz der melodienreiche Italienische Tonsetzer, nur ist sein Augenmerk mehr auf das Ganze als auf einzelne effectvolle Momente und Cabaletten gerichtet, und die Instrumentation trägt offenbar Merkmahle größern Fleißes und tiefern Denkens, als die meisten seiner frühern Werke. … Das Libretto der Linda ist dem Französischen Vaudeville: La grace [sic] de Dieu mit Geschick nachgebildet, die Situationen sind musikalisch interessant, selbst im dritten Acte erlahmt die Theilnahme nicht und ein Element Deutscher Innigkeit und tieferen Gefühles durchweht das Ganze.”
Throughout this article, I retain the misspelling “Chamounix” only in the title of Donizetti's opera.
See Magris, Il mito asburgico, 52–55. On the importance of the Alps for the construction of the character of Linda, see Senici, Landscape and Gender, 93–142.
Allgemeine Theater-Zeitung, May 23, 1842, 541–42: “In dem Libretto zu dieser Oper, welches Rossi dem effectvollen französischen Drama Grace à Dieu [sic] nachgebildet hat, waltet endlich einmal eine rein moralische Handlung. Hier kommen weder Pest, noch Mord, noch sonstige gräßliche Verbrechen vor, welche die neuere französische Bühnenlibertinage mit dem Namen ‘Romantik’ zu bezeichnen pflegt, sondern die Liebe zweier Herzen wird darin im Gewande der Sentimentalität geschildert.”
On resistance to the French tragic repertoire, see Yates, “Internationalization of European Theatre,” 48–49. Among French works performed at the Burgtheater, only a few titles by Eugène Scribe and his nephew Jean-François Alfred Bayard were revived regularly. Tellingly, the most successful of them was a comedy, Scribe's Un verre d'eau (performed as Das Glas Wasser). See also the statistics provided in Hüttner, “Das Burgtheaterpublikum.” This is not to say, of course, that works by the likes of Victor Hugo were unknown in Vienna. Viennese travelers to Paris could have hardly ignored his oeuvre. Several of his texts were available in print, although in some cases Austrian censorship prevented their public performance on stage. Adaptations of Hugo's novels, such as Notre-Dame de Paris, had also made it to the suburban theaters as early as 1835.
Der Adler, May 21, 1842, 521–22: “Der Komponist hat sich von vornhinein vor dem Vorwurf sicher gestellt, als ob er durchaus blutige und in Viktor Hugo's Manier gearbeitete Textbücher besonders liebe.”
Wiener Zeitschrift für Kunst, Literatur, Theater und Mode, May 25, 1842, 827: “Dießmal verläßt das Buch … den Schauplatz der Vergiftungen, Todschlägereyen und sonstigen Ruchlosigkeiten, auf welchem die modernen Tragedie liriche sich herumzutummeln pflegen. Gottlob, kein bärbeißiger Tiranno, kein unbefugter Amoroso, keine rabbiate Primadonna verderben [e]inem hier den musikalischen Appetit!”
See his letter to Antonio Vasselli of December 24, 1841, in Zavadini, Donizetti, 569.
On the transformation of La grâce de Dieu into Linda di Chamounix, see Dotto, “Historical Introduction,” xxxii–xxxiii. On the generic features of the play in relation to the opera, see also Sala, “La ‘vielleuse’ e il savoiardo.”
See Dotto, “Historical Introduction,” xxxiii.
Allgemeine Theater-Zeitung, May 21, 1842, 535: “Weit mehr, als in irgend einer seiner vielen beliebten Opern, hat der Maestro in dieser seine Aufmerksamkeit dahin gerichtet, ein in seinen Theilen harmonisch abgeschlossenes Ganzes zu liefern, und selbst die Charakteristik der zahlreichen Hauptpersonen der Oper finden wir in richtig auffassender, der Handlung und den Situationen angemessener Weise berücksichtiget. … Es liegt viel Sentimentales in diesem Stoffe, viel, was dem Gemüthe des Zusehers nahe geht und sein Herz berührt. … [Donizettis] Musik ist aber durchaus keine weinerliche, keine übertrieben weiche oder klagende, sie sucht vielmehr die Empfindungen und Gefühle, die zu schildern ihre Aufgabe war, in sanften, zarten und sinnigen Weisen auszudrücken, und wenn ich sie eine graziöse nenne, so glaube ich ihren Charakter im Allgemeinen wol [sic] am richtigsten bezeichnet zu haben. … Einzelne Momente zeigen selbst eine tiefere, den Tendenzen deutscher Musik sich nähernde Auffassungsweise, und besonders möchte auch, wie ich bereits am Eingange dieses Artikels berührte, die gut unterschiedene Charakteristick der handelnden Personen zu rühmen sein.”
See Sala, “La ‘vielleuse’ e il savoiardo,” and Senici, Landscape and Gender, 93–142.
My discussion of the difference between the play and the opera with regard to the use of stage songs and recurring themes is based on Senici, Landscape and Gender, 95–103.
The music examples in this article are transcribed (with minor modifications) from Donizetti, Linda di Chamounix.
Senici, Landscape and Gender, 122.
On the musical relationship between the cabaletta of the love duet and that of the mad scene, see ibid., 123–24.
Wiener Zeitschrift für Kunst, Literatur, Theater und Mode, May 25, 1842, 828–29: “Weit entfernt aus den Tonzügen dieser Oper eine gänzliche Abweichung von der bekannten Wesenheit dieses Componisten herausklügeln zu wollen, gehört eben keine besondere musikalische Erfahrung dazu, wahrzunehmen, daß die Feinheiten der französischen Schule und der Ernst der deutschen Begleitung häufig ihre Einflüße auf die Fattura geltend gemacht haben. Den normalen Gesangestexturen, Rhythmen und Formen treu bleibend, an welche der italienische Componist gebunden ist, führt uns Donizetti zu vielen interessanten Details in Singstimmen, Harmonie, oder Instrumentale, die nur zu deutlich als eine Concession erscheinen, der Wahrheit und dem edleren Geschmacke dargebracht.”
Der Humorist, May 23, 1842, 414: “in der Intention, dem Gange, der Manier einer modernen italienischen Oper überhaupt, beschaffen ist.”
Allgemeine Theater-Zeitung, May 23, 1842, 541: “Even though with this opera Donizetti set himself the task of paying homage to a Viennese audience accustomed to a somewhat more nutritious musical fare, he did very well in not slavishly binding his own genius with chains, or compromising his bustling imagination through any musically orthodox contrivances—such as fugues or affected orchestration—such eccentricities often being taken for ingenuity” (“Obwohl Donizetti es sich zur Aufgabe machte, dem an eine etwas nahrhaftere musikalische Kost gewöhnten Publikum Wiens in dieser Oper seine Huldigung darzubringen, so hat er doch von der anderen Seite sehr wohl daran, seinem eigenthümlichen Genius keine sclavischen Fesseln anzulegen, und seine leichtbeschwingte Fantasie durch keine musikalisch orthodoxe Convenienz von Fugen, oder gesuchter Instrumentation, wo man oft Barockes für Geniales anerkennen zu müssen glaubt, zu beeinträchtigen”).
Der Wanderer, July 1, 1842, 620.
Oesterreichisch-Kaiserliche privilegierte Wiener Zeitung, June 27, 1842, 1312–13: “Wie sie sich denn feindlich gegenüberstehen—die Deutsche und Italienische Schule! Wie man sich ordentlich Mühe gibt, die erhabene Poesie der göttlichen Kunst um der Form willen, entweder in den Himmel zu erheben, oder in den Staub zu treten! … Und so hat uns denn auch in dieser Linda Donizetti ein Werk geliefert, bey dessen Anhörung man mit Vergnügen auf die Subordinirung desselben unter irgend eine bestimmte Schule verzichtet, indem die Kunst da wohl den größten Triumph feyert. … Und in welcher Oper finden wir diese Eigenschaften wohl so vereint, wie in der obbenannten? … Diese Linda wird mit ihrem Pierotto die ganze musikalische Welt durchwandern. Möge sie überall so freundlich und unparteyisch aufgenommen werden wie hier, wo das Publicum so gerecht ist, das Verdienst anzuerkennen, welcher Nation es auch immer angehören mag.”
Moore, “Fantasies of Cosmopolitanism,” 103.
Ibid., 102, 101.
Gautier's review was published in La presse, November 23, 1842, 2. See also Bini and Commons, Le prime rappresentazioni, 1078–80.
See, in particular, the reviews published in the Revue et gazette musicale de Paris, the Journal des débats, and Le ménestrel on November 20, 1842, in Bini and Commons, Le prime rappresentazioni, 1073–77. See also Dotto, “Historical Introduction,” xxxix.
Revue et gazette musicale de Paris, November 20, 1842, in Bini and Commons, Le prime rappresentazioni, 1073: “La partition de Linda n'est pas moins italienne que toutes ses sœurs aînées: c'est toujours la même facilité, la même clarté de mélodie, le même dessin, le même rythme. L'instrumentation est brillante et travaillée, sans offrir la moindre ressemblance avec celle des grands maîtres de l'Allemagne.”
See Dotto, “Historical Introduction,” lx–lxiii.
The only review from Vienna that year covered a few performances of the German season: Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, November 9, 1842, 901–3.
Quoted in Jahn, Die Wiener Hofoper von 1836 bis 1848, 11: “Es ist ein wahrer Jammer. … Nur italienische Musik dominiert”; “Man begnügt und amüsirt sich über die Maassen [sic] mit italienischem Melodienkram.”
Letter to Franz Löbmann, December 9, 1843, quoted in Jahn, Die Wiener Hofoper von 1836 bis 1848, 217: “die Stadt Donizetti's.”
Oesterreichisch-Kaiserliche privilegierte Wiener Zeitung, June 6, 1842, 1140: “es bleibt nur zu wünschen übrig, die Administration möchte auch im künftigen Jahre Hrn. Donizetti die Composition einer neuen, für uns eigens geschriebenen, Oper übertragen.”
Donizetti had tried to use Cammarano's libretto in 1837 for an opera for Venice and in 1841 for another one for Rome; see Zoppelli, “Historical Introduction,” xxvii, and Zoppelli, “Il ritorno del Conte di Chalais.”
See Zoppelli, “La Maria ingravidata,” 206.
The succinctness and density of the opera has been discussed in Ashbrook, Donizetti and His Operas, 497; Della Seta, Italia e Francia, 207–8; Zoppelli, “Il ritorno del Conte di Chalais,” 196; Zoppelli, “Maria di Rohan,” 145; and Zoppelli, “Una drammaturgia borghese.” For a different take on the work, which considers the preponderance of arias in the opera as an instance of Donizetti's inclination to lyricism and to a dramaturgy of interiority, see Gerhard, “Maria di Rohan,” 34–37.
Allgemeine Wiener Musik-Zeitung, June 10, 1843, 290–91: “Wir wollen die würdige Haltung, die Sorgfalt, welche er [Donizetti] auf den inneren musikalischen Bau dieses Operngebäudes verwendete, das absichtliche Verschmähen der ihm immer und in Menge zu Gebote stehenden melodischen Auxiliaren, die vorzugsweise dramatische Haltung dieser Musik, die Kürze, Gedrungenheit des musikalischen Styles, die Einheit und Ganzheit der Form, wir wollen dieses Alles auf unsere Rechnung schreiben, und glauben, Donizetti habe einer Oper, die er für Deutsche componirte, jenen Anstrich von Ernst und Würde geben wollen, die dem Charakter des Deutschen so nahe liegen. … [J]a wir müssen ihm Glück wünschen zu einer solchen Kunstrichtung, die dem kühnen Fluge seines großen Talentes gewiß in der Folge jene Schwungkraft verleihen wird, um sich über den Geschmack der Gegenwart, mit einem Worte: über seine Zeit, zu erheben. … Donizetti hat nicht um die Gunst des leichtbefriedigten Pöbels zu buhlen, sein Name hat bereits eine solche Geltung erlangt, um einen Gang für die Kunst wagen zu dürfen, der, wenn auch von der Masse minder gepriesen, den Künstler desto ehrenvoller in den Augen eines wahren Kunstfreundes erscheinen läßt.”
Oesterreichisch-Kaiserliche privilegierte Wiener Zeitung, June 14, 1843, 1258: “Die Musik zu dieser effectvollen Handlung gehört einer Richtung an, die man nur mit Freude an dem talentreichen Maestro begrüßen kann, denn sie verbürgt uns gewiß für die Zukunft noch manche werthvolle Opernwerke und die mannigfaltigen Einflüsse der beyden großen Musikstädte Paris und Wien lassen sich darin nicht verkennen.”
Wiener Zeitschrift für Kunst, Literatur, Theater und Mode, June 10, 1843, 916: “jener Muse, welche von jeher das Allzustrenge gemildert, das Allzuweiche durch einen kräftigeren Ausdruck ersetzt hat, und wovon die Kunstgeschichte Wiens eine Menge interessanter Beyspiele aufzuweisen vermag.”
Der Sammler, June 8, 1843, 366: “tadellos aber auch kalt.”
See Vellutini, “Opera and Monuments,” 225–30.
For a discussion of ways in which German cultural nationalism reformulated cosmopolitan ideas, see Morgan, “German Character”; in the field of opera studies, see Tusa, “Cosmopolitanism,” and Morgan, Carl Maria von Weber. Gooley has called this approach to cosmopolitanism “Germano-sovereign”: Gooley, “Meyerbeer, Eclecticism,” 168, 170–76.
See, for instance, the letters to Antonio Dolci of June 16 and 30, 1842, in Zavadini, Donizetti, 616.
Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, February 6, 1843, 43: “Ueberhaupt gab des lebtgenannten [Donizettis] Ernennung zum Hofcammercompositeur (einer Stelle, die einst Mozart inne hatte) der deutschen Kunst bei uns den Gnadenstoß. Die italienische Richtung, die seit den 20ger Jahren in Wien ohnehin die überwiegende war, wird jetzt leider von oben herab in Schutz genommen, und ein Wort dagegen ausgesprochen, verhallt entweder ungehört, oder wird—unterdrückt.”
This trope in German music criticism had already underpinned Friedrich Rochlitz's discussion of Mozart in the Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung in 1799; see Gruber, Mozart and Posterity, 36–37; Konrad, “Friedrich Rochlitz”; and Erb-Szymanski, “Friedrich Rochlitz.” Eric Schneeman discusses the idea of cosmopolitanism in relation to the construction of a German operatic canon in his “Perceptions of Musical Cosmopolitanism.”
Zoppelli, “Historical Introduction,” xiv–xix, provides a number-by-number synoptic table of Donizetti's changes.
The French press also noted such a connection. La France musicale, for instance, announced that Donizetti was reworking the role for contralto Marietta Brambilla, adding, “He has composed a rondo in the French taste for her, which is said to be one of the loveliest pieces in the work” (“Il a composé, à son intention, une ronde dans le goût français, qui est, dit-on, un des plus jolis morceaux de la pièce”): quoted in Zoppelli, “Historical Introduction,” xv. The notice was published on September 24, 1843, when the only solo piece assigned to Gondì was the new ballata. The act 2 cavatina, “Son leggero, è ver, d'amore,” was composed and introduced only at a later stage, in November.
Wiener Zeitschrift für Kunst, Literatur, Theater und Mode, April 30, 1844, 693: “die Cabalettensparsamkeit [und] das Streben nach einer gewißen Übereinstimmung zwischen Wort und Ton.”
Ibid.: “Eben so unumwunden sprechen wir jezt [sic] die Überzeugung aus, daß die neue, von Paris her datirende Gestaltung, dieser Oper eher geschadet als genützt habe, indem durch die mancherley melodischen Intercalationen das ursprüngliche Toncolorit merklich verwischt, der dramatische Grundton getrübt, der rasche Handlungsgang geschwächt worden. … Die Concessionen, die man in diesem Puncte den Convenienze Teatrali macht, sind meistens von sehr trauriger Art, und können, rücksichtlich des künstlerischen Ernstes, weder dem Sänger noch dem Componisten sonderlich Ehre bringen.”
Allgemeine Wiener Musik-Zeitung, May 2, 1844, 210: “Die theilweise neue Besetzung dieser Oper veranlaßte den Componisten zu mehreren Änderungen und Einschiebungen neuer Gesangsnummern, mit denen wir nur insofern einverstanden sind, als dadurch die Oper um einige ansprechende Musiknummern gewonnen. Mehr Einheit herrscht jedoch darin nach der früheren Anlage, und wir rathen jeder Bühne, sich die Partitur nach ihrer ursprünglichen Beschaffenheit bei der Kunst- und Musikalienhandlung des Hrn. Diabelli et Comp. in Wien, welche das alleinige Eigenthumsrecht dieser Oper besitzt, anzuschaffen.” On this passage, see also Zoppelli, “La Maria ingravidata,” 211. Interestingly, the journal was published by Diabelli's competitor, Pietro Mechetti.
For a broader examination of the ways in which cosmopolitan and national ideas have sometimes interacted, see Malachuk, “Nationalist Cosmopolitics”; Gooley, introduction to “Colloquy: Cosmopolitanism”; and Minor, “Beyond Heroism.”
See, among others, “Feierliche Eröffnung der k. k. Staats-Eisenbahn von Mürzzuschlag bis Grätz am 21. Oktober 1844,” Der Humorist, October 26, 1844, 1029–33; and “Das Ultimatum einiger Wiener Gewerbsmänner,” Die Gegenwart, May 21, 1847, 538–39, and the ensuing debate in subsequent issues.
These revisions are discussed in Smart, “Introduzione storica,” xvii–xxi.
Minor, “Beyond Heroism,” 533.
Parker, “Canonic Variations,” 27. While Parker's essay discusses Donizetti's retrospective musico-dramatic choices in Adelia (1841), this claim can be extended to the question of “national” styles, as suggested by Donizetti's reworking of Maria di Rohan and Linda di Chamounix for Paris.
For a broader discussion of the regulatory use of culture in a variety of transnational contexts, see Yúdice, Expediency of Culture.