"Genoveva" (Op. 81) is an opera in four acts by Robert Schumann in the genre of German Romanticism with a libretto by the composer. The only opera Schumann ever wrote, it received its first performance on 25 June 1850 at the Stadttheater in Leipzig, with the composer conducting. It received only three performances during the premiere, and the negative criticism it received in the press played a decisive role in Schumann's decision to not write a second opera.

"Genoveva" has never won a large popular audience, but it continues to be revived at regular intervals throughout the world and has been recorded several times.

The North American premiere, in a concert performance at Emmanuel Church in Boston on April 2, 2005, ended with a standing ovation.

History of composition

Schumann expressed the desire to write an opera as early as 1842, and was fascinated by the possibilities of operas based on traditional German legends. His notebooks from this period show that, among others, Schumann considered the stories of the "Nibelungen", "Lohengrin" and "Till Eulenspiegel" to be good candidates for settings in German opera.

Schumann began work on "Genoveva" toward the end of a period of intense depression. In the early 1840s, discouraged both by the greater public esteem enjoyed by his wife, Clara Schumann, a leading pianist as well as a composer with a high-profile career as a touring virtuoso, and by the fact that he was not offered the directorship of the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Schumann's depression intensified. In 1844, he and Clara moved to Dresden, where his depression eventually moderated and he began work on a number of compositions, including "Genoveva".

While in Dresden, Schumann encountered Wagner, whose discouraging comments on Schumann's libretto for "Genoveva" strained relations between the two composers. For his part, however, Schumann came to admire the dramatic impact of Wagner's operas, and the influence of Wagner's music worked its way into the score for "Genoveva". Indeed, some of the musical techniques used in the opera, such as the fluid through-composed music (i.e. there are no recitatives) and lack of purely virtuosic vocal moments, are Schumann's personal interpretations and adaptations of Wagner's compositional methods.

Although the then recently-constructed Dresden Semperoper house declined to stage "Genoveva", much to Schumann's fury, he eventually secured a staging at the Leipzig Stadttheater in 1850, where the opera received its premiere on June 25.

"Genoveva" is based on the story of Genevieve of Brabant, a medieval legend set in the 8th century that is reputedly based on the 13th century life of Marie of Brabant, wife of Louis II, Duke of Bavaria. The story gained in popularity during the first half of the 17th century, primarily in Germany through various theatrical settings. Two of the settings from this period, Ludwig Tieck's play "Leben und Tod der heiligen Genoveva" ("Life and Death of Saint Genoveva") and Friedrich Hebbel's play "Genoveva", served as the basis for the opera's libretto.

The plot of the opera has several similarities with Wagner's "Lohengrin", which was composed during the same period as Schuman was writing "Genoveva".



Act 1

The opera begins with Hidulfus, Bishop of Trier, summoning Brabant's Christian knights to join Charles Martel's crusade against a feared Saracen conquest of Europe. Siegfried, Count of Brabante, answers the call. In preparing to leave for war, he entrusts his wife, Genoveva, to his young servant, Golo.

Act 2

Despite Golo's overwhelming desire for her, Genoveva persistently rejects his advances. Infuriated by these rejections, Golo seeks revenge against Genoveva by staging a trap to discredit her. One night, Golo sneaks Drago, an old steward, into Genoveva's bedroom to fake an adulterous affair that is then witnessed by other servants, brought to the scene by Golo. In their rage, the servants kill Drago and Genovea is imprisoned for adultery.

Act 3

Word of this imagined infidelity gets back to Siegfried, who then commands Golo to put Genoveva to death. Drago's ghost appears before Geneva and tells her that if does not reveal the truth, she will die.

Act 4

As two armed men are dispatched to kill Genoveva, her life is saved through the intervention of a mute, deaf boy. Siegfried then discovers Golo's treachery and restores his wife's honor.

References and external links

* [ "Schumann's Lone Opera is Handled with Care", Richard Dyer, Boston Globe, April 4, 2005]
* [ Naxos, Genoveva history and plot summary]
* [ "Schumann's life: A Brief Biography]
* [ Michael Steinberg, San Francisco Symphony program notes]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Genoveva — ist ein weiblicher Vorname unbekannter Herkunft, vielleicht aus dem gallisch provenzalischen gen Volk, wefa Frau. Möglich ist auch eine britisch walisische Herkunft. Außerdem benutzt man den Spruch: Na du siehst ja wie eine enttäuschte Genoveva… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Genoveva — puede referirse a: Un nombre propio femenino, que admite también las formas Jennifer (del inglés y muy usado también entre hispanohablantes en la actualidad), Ginebra (forma habitual de referirse a la reina Ginebra de la leyenda del rey Arturo en …   Wikipedia Español

  • Genoveva — (Албуфейра,Португалия) Категория отеля: Адрес: Сан Жуан де Арейяш, 8200 Албуфейра, Португа …   Каталог отелей

  • Genovēva [1] — Genovēva (Genofeva, fr. Geneviève), 1) Sta. G., geb. 424 od. 425 in Nanterre bei Paris; legte das. Gelübde ewiger Jungfräulichkeit ab u. ging nach dem Tode ihrer Eltern, Severus u. Gevontia, nach Paris; hier ermuthigte sie die schon fliehenden… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Genovēva [2] — Genovēva, 1) Congregation regulirter Chorherren, gestiftet von Charles Faure 1614; mit den Congregationen St. Victor, St. Vincent de Senlis, von Schülerthal etc. vermehrt; hatte zur Zeit ihrer Blüthe 67 Abteien, 28 Prioreien etc.; aus ihrer Mitte …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Genovēva — (Genovefa, franz. Geneviève), 1) Heilige, die Patronin von Paris, soll um 422 in Nanterre bei Paris in armer Familie geboren, nach dem Tod ihrer Eltern, 15 Jahre alt, nach Paris gegangen sein und dort den Schleier genommen haben. Während der… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Genoveva — Genovēva, frz. Geneviève, Heilige, Patronin von Paris, geb. um 420 zu Nanterre bei Paris, gest. 512 zu St. Denis. Gedächtnistag 3. Jan. – Vgl. Vidieu (franz., 1884). – Eine andere Heilige G., Herzogin von Brabant, Gemahlin des Pfalzgrafen… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Genoveva — Genoveva, santa …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Genoveva — Genoveva, Genovefa gälischer Ursprung, Bedeutungszusammensetzung aus: »Volk« und »Frau«; germanischer Ursprung, Bedeutung etwa: die sich Ausbreitende. Namensträgerin: Hl. Genovefa, Patronin von Paris …   Deutsch namen

  • Genoveva — I Genoveva,   Genovefa, Genoveva von Brabạnt, nach der Legende die Gemahlin eines Pfalzgrafen Siegfried (um 750), verbarg sich, vom Haushofmeister Golo des Ehebruchs beschuldigt, sechs Jahre mit ihrem Söhnchen Schmerzensreich im Ardenner Wald.… …   Universal-Lexikon

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