Author Topic: The greatest librettist  (Read 987 times)

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Offline Alberich

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The greatest librettist
« on: August 16, 2017, 01:47:08 PM »
Who, in your opinion, is the greatest librettist?

Laugh away, but I think it's Wagner. I am of the opinion that his often enough turgid writing style in some of the political writings does not extend to his libretti. And to be sure, Wagner did have influence on literature, for example Thomas Mann. With Mann it is a bit hard to tell though whether or not it was only Wagner's music which influenced (among many others, natürlich) his books, or whether Wagner's writings did as well. Probably both. There is certainly a leitmotive technique found in Mann's works. And remember how many musically great operas have not stayed in repertory because of a bad libretto? If Wagner's writing style was that bad, shouldn't that have happened to his operas as well?

Other librettists I like very much, are Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica (Puccini), Guelfo Civinini and Carlo Zangarini (Puccini), all three of Fidelio's librettists, Lorenzo da Ponte (Mozart), Arrigo Boito (Verdi), Hugo von Hoffmannsthal (Strauss), Léon de Wailly and Henri Auguste Barbier (Berlioz).
"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

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Offline North Star

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Re: The greatest librettist
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2017, 02:50:11 PM »
Leoš Janáček 8)
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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: The greatest librettist
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2017, 03:26:23 PM »
Da Ponte and Boito - 1a and 1b. Or vice versa! :) 
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Re: The greatest librettist
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2017, 10:03:40 PM »
Da Ponte and Boito - 1a and 1b. Or vice versa! :)
Yes unsurpassed.  In a second league, Luigi Illica -Puccini librettist and Eugène Scribe (Verdi, Donizetti & many french operas).

Offline Jo498

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Re: The greatest librettist
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2017, 10:58:36 PM »
I think Fidelio is underrated by some but not the libretto which is not very good. If at least some of librettists had been better, it would probably have spared Beethoven a lot of energy in revising etc. before he/they finally came up with something that worked. And he might have been able to use this energy for something additional we now lack.

Wagner is strange and mannered but it works in combination with the music. (Although apparently in the late 19th century there were public readings/recitationsn of Wagner libretti.)
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)