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Much Ado about The Tempest: London opera politics, intercultural incomprehension and Felix Mendelssohn

Hennemann, Monika 2010. Much Ado about The Tempest: London opera politics, intercultural incomprehension and Felix Mendelssohn. Journal of Musicological Research 29 (2-3) , pp. 86-118. 10.1080/01411896.2010.482511

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The eventual failure of Mendelssohn's sporadically intense involvement with operatic life in 1840s London is much less surprising when analyzed using methodologies of miscommunication adapted from current intercultural research. For the English, Mendelssohn was potentially as brightly burning an operatic star as Weber or Meyerbeer, an assessment optimistically based more on fervent hope than appropriate achievement. However, a closer look at largely unpublished documents relating to Mendelssohn's Shakespearian opera commissions, The Tempest for Her Majesty's Theatre, and A Winter's Tale for Covent Garden, uncovers a surprising story of ineptitude and missed opportunities. The composer found himself “double-dating” the main London opera houses during a protracted operatic courtship, while simultaneously stringing along librettists Eugène Scribe in Paris and Felice Romani in Italy. In the process, he only narrowly avoided alienating Emanuel Geibel, author of his opera-in-progress in Germany, Die Lorelei. The naivety of Mendelssohn's reaction to the collapse of his cosmopolitan operatic visions, and the dismay routinely expressed by his disappointed collaborators, were classic cases of intercultural misunderstanding.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Modern Languages
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 0141-1896
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2018 12:22

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