Opera Scotland

Genoveva Genoveva

Music
Robert Schumann (born Zwickau, 8 June 1810; died Enderich, 29 July 1856)

Text
Robert Reinick and the Composer.

Source
Tragedies on the subject of Geneviève de Brabant by Ludwig Tieck (1799) and Friedrich Hebbel (1843).

Premières
First performance: Leipzig (Stadt Theater), 25 June 1850.
First UK performance: London (Drury Lane), 6 December 1893.
First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (King’s Theatre), 31 August 2000.
Scottish Opera première: N/A.

Background
Schumann has always been recognised as a great composer of piano music and of song. His orchestral works, the symphonies and concertos, are nowadays recognised as works of quality. His dramatic works in concert form such as Paradise and the Peri and Scenes from Goethe’s Faust have never gained true popularity, and his sole opera, Genoveva, has been almost completely disregarded. However in performance it has a great deal to be said for it, even though the adaptation of the plot is not ideally structured. It has been staged a number of times in recent years without quite achieving a breakthrough.

Characters
Bishop Hidulfus (baritone)
Siegfried, Count Palatine (baritone)
Genoveva of Brabant, Siegfried’s wife (soprano)
Golo, Siegfried’s servant (tenor)
Margarethe, a sorceress (mezzo-soprano)
Drago, a servant (bass)

Plot Summary
Siegfried leaves to join the crusade against the Moors, leaving his castle and his wife, Genoveva, under the protection of Golo, who is distressed firstly because he wanted to go on the crusade, and secondly because he loves Genoveva. Margarethe hates Siegfried and sees an opportunity to exploit the situation, since she had been Golo’s nurse when he was a child. Word arrives that the Franks have defeated the Moors, and Genoveva looks forward to her husband’s return. Golo confesses that he loves her, and she is appalled. He then engineers a situation by which Genoveva appears to be compromised because if a relationship with a servant, Drago. She is imprisoned and Drago killed. Siegfried has been wounded in the battle, and Margarethe sets off to ensure that he does not recover. Her attempts to poison him fail, but he is distressed when Golo brings forged information about Genoveva’s supposed adultery. Siegfried orders Golo to go at once to the castle to execute Genoveva, and Golo realises that his plot has gone further than intended. He tells Genoveva that she is about to die, but leaves the killing to a couple of servants, and goes away, apparently to kill himself. A repentant Margarethe brings Siegfried to Genoveva’s side in time to prevent her death, and they are re-united.

The Cast

Balthasar
 a servant
Bishop Hidulfus
 
Caspar
 a servant
Drago
 Siegfried's steward
Genoveva
 of Brabant, Siegfried's wife
Golo
 Siegfried's servant
Margarethe
 a sorceress
Siegfried
 Count Palatine

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