Opera Scotland

Taming of the Shrew Der Widerspenstigen Zähmung

Music

Hermann Goetz (born Königsberg, 7 December 1840; died Hottingen, Zurich, 3 December 1876).

Text

Joseph Widmann and the composer.

Source

Play The Taming of the Shrew (1594) by William Shakespeare.

 

Premieres

First performance: Mannheim (Opera House), 11 October, 1874.

First UK performance: London (Drury Lane), 12 October 1878.

First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Theatre Royal), 15 March 1880.

Scottish Opera première: N/A.

 

Background

Hermann Goetz was considered to be one of the most promising of the German composers of the generation that followed Mendelssohn (who comosed several delightful comedies in his youth) and Schumann (whose only opera Genoveva, has always struggled for attention). Leaving Wagner aside, there is a distinct shortage of successful opera composers. Perhaps the most notable composers of the day - Brahms, Bruckner and Bruch, to name only three, generally avoided opera altogether. The Merry Wives of Windsor by Nicolai is an example of a successful work which is still revived occasionally. The Barber of Bagdad, by Cornelius, has fared less well in recent years. The Taming of the Shrew was the first attempt at opera composition by Goetz, and he died too soon after its completion for us to be sure of how he would have followed it. It is certainly a work which shows great promise, and Shaw really does seem to have considered it a great work.

 

Main Characters

Baptista, a rich merchant of Padua (bass)

Katherine, his elder daughter (soprano)

Bianca, his second daughter (mezzo-soprano)

Hortensio, a suitor to Bianca (baritone)

Lucentio, also a suitor to Bianca (tenor)

Petruchio, a gentleman of Verona (baritone)

Grumio, his servant (bass)

 

Plot Summary

The opera is quite faithful to Shakespeare's play. Baptista, a rich widower, has two daughters. The younger, Bianca, is beautiful and charming, a magnet for the young gentlemen of Padua. Her sister, Katherine, is very different, particularly in her behaviour, which is thoroughly unpleasant. Baptista, aware that he will have no difficulty negotiating an eligible marriage for Bianca, worries about having Kate left on his hands, and so decrees that Bianca may only marry after her sister has been tamed. None of Bianca's suitors is willing to consider switching his affections, but they find in Petruchio, a gentleman in need of a wealthy marriage and willing to go to almost any lengths to achieve it, a man ready to accept the challenge. The remaining action shows the unscrupulous methods employed by Petruchio to tame the shrew and allow his friend Lucentio to marry Bianca. 

The Cast

Baptista
 a rich gentleman of Padua
Bianca
 Baptista's younger daughter
Grumio
 Petruchio's servant
Hortensio
 a suitor to Bianca
Housekeeper
 
Katherine
 Baptista's elder daughter
Lucentio
 a suitor to Bianca
Petruchio
 a gentleman of Verona
Steward
 
Tailor
 

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