Otto Nicolai Il templario
Opera in three acts by Otto Nicolai (1810–1849)
Text by Girolamo Maria Marini (1801–1867)
after the novel Ivanhoe by Walter Scott (1771–1832)
Critical edition by Michael Wittmann in collaboration with Florian Bauer
With German and English surtitles
Duration of the opera approx. 2 hours and 50 minutes.
- 27 August 2016, 15:00
- 30 August 2016, 15:00
Print programme (PDF)
A year after its triumphal premiere in Turin, Otto Nicolai’s Il templario went on to conquer Vienna in 1841. It went without saying that most of the self-respecting German-speaking music critics turned their noses up at it – as they did at any kind of allegedly trivial opera issuing from Italy at that time. The Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung’s disparaging verdict was that every bar provided ‘evidence that the maestro had embraced local taste during his sojourn in Italy’, but it was nonetheless unable to ignore the enthusiasm of the audience. This was so great that Nicolai was promptly appointed First Kapellmeister at the Vienna Court Opera. Which of those critics could have imagined that Il templario would thus ultimately benefit in particular the sacrosanct ‘German’ repertoire? For in order to achieve standard-setting interpretations of the works of Mozart and Beethoven with the musicians of the court opera orchestra outside their statutory duties, Nicolai founded an orchestral association – and the Vienna Philharmonic was born.
Nicolai had originally gone to Rome in 1834 to study old church music. Soon, however, he became fascin-ated by Italian opera, and now began to dream of a career in this field. Compared to the work it is based on, Walter Scott’s medieval novel Ivanhoe, Il templario is limited to a small number of protagonists around the title character, the Knight Templar Briano. What is most impressive in musical terms is the mastery with which Nicolai explores the expressive potential of melody, attesting to his admiration for Bellini. Following the resurrection of Il templario in Chemnitz in 2008, this Italian belcanto opera written by a German will soon lie open on the music stands of the Vienna Philharmonic – as homage to their own origins.
(Translation: Sophie Kidd)