We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham e-Theses
You are in:

The work of Emanuel Schikaneder and the tradition of the old Viennese popular theatre

Batley, E. M. (1965) The work of Emanuel Schikaneder and the tradition of the old Viennese popular theatre. Masters thesis, Durham University.

PDF (Volume 1)
PDF (Volume 2)
PDF (Volume 3)


The establishment of the ‘Theater am Karntnertor’ in 1712 allowed Stranitzky to call into existence the phenomenon known as Old Viennese Popular Theatre. This first resident theatre was itself responsible for the canalizing of literary and theatrical forces from home and abroad into an art form which gradually became specifically Viennese in character and which at the same time showed signs that it was attempting to elevate itself aesthetically. These signs were already becoming noticeable under Stranitzky, Prehauser and Kurz, but, in the early stages of Vienesse Popular Theatre, only assumed some significance in the works of Phillip Hafner. As an incident which served to make popular theatre more conscious of the presence of literary drama the conflict between these two theatrical genres is important. It associates itself also with a wider sphere of theatrical activity as Joseph 11 attempts to found the German National Theatre and the National Singspiel in Vienna, the latter musical genre having been used by Kurz and Prehauser previously as a characteristic ingredient of Old Viennese Popular Theatre. By Imperial Decree and a series of deaths, the influence of the Old Viennese Popular Theatre diminished greatly in Vienna in 1769 and its main representative, the popular comedian Hans Wurst, was exiled to a life on the Wanderbuhne. The works of Phillip Hafner and, occasionally, those of the earlier popular comedians, also found their way on to the strolling stage. Schikaneder’s experience and taste were wide enough to embrace a variety of aspects from both the Wanderbuhne and the Old Viennese Popular Theatre. Thus his repertoire ranged from the popular ‘Singspiel’ to more formal opera on the one hand, and from popular and spectacular drama to the works of the more respectable playwrights such as Shakespeare, Lessing and Schiller on the other. The variety of Schikaneder’s experience as actor, singer and impresario in the performance of works by others therefore enabled him to utilize that same variety in creating his own works. Throughout he never forgot his allegiance to both the popular and the national stage, an allegiance which is admirably stated via the ‘Singspiel’ particularly in the association between Schikaneder and the Mozart family in Salzburg in 1780. Even from the outset of his career Schikaneder revealed that his theatrical ideals were raised somewhat higher than mere popular appeal and the first German ‘Singspiel’ of the era, his ‘Die Lyranten’ (1776), confirms this attitude. His dramas for the Wanderbuhne in particular likewise reflect the influence of the classical stage and of popular environment as they illustrate a purposeful conciliation between the two extremes in producing works of artistic. Schikaneder’s activities in Vienna centred in the main around the furtherance and development of German ‘Singspiel’. To this end it was important that he should have in his theatre musicians and singers of quality and his policy was directed accordingly. The musical standards of his theatre added therefore to the fame of ‘Singspiel’ to an extent which was never realized by the less ambitious products of Johann Adam Hiller on the Wanderbuhne. The production of ‘Die Zauberflote’ can consequently be regarded only as part of a much wider field of activity, important though the opera undoubtedly is. A direct link with the Old Viennese Popular Theatre is immediately established as the series of Schikaneder’s ‘Zauberopern’ recall the earlier ‘Zaubersingspiele’ between the years 1712 and 1769. In both his dramatic and his musical works the sheer spectacle of the early popular stage is retained, but now with unifying and symbolic aspects. In his attempts to win credibility and resemblance for his ‘Singspiel’ and drama, Schikaneder is further persuaded to provide his work with local colour, a feature which was noted earlier in Hafner. The influence of the Old Viennese Popular Theatre is never completely lacking in Schikaneder’s works and significantly the tradition did not end with his death in 1812. He did, however, impress hi own individuality, his own theatrical and, to a degree, literary sense on that tradition and all his work reflects the inner conviction and purposeful drive of the skilled theatre-craftsman.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Letters
Thesis Date:1965
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:35

Social bookmarking: del.icio.usConnoteaBibSonomyCiteULikeFacebookTwitter