Schubert's mature operas : an analytical study
This thesis examines four of Franz Schubert's complete operas: Die Zwillingsbrűder D.647, Alfonso und Estrella D.732, Die Verschworenen D.787, and Fierrabras D.796. These works date from the period of 1818-1823, sometimes referred to as Schubert's 'years of crisis'. While this period saw many changes in the composer's personal situation, it is commonly thought that he underwent a process of creative re-evaluation during these years. This was also the period of Schubert's life during which he was most seriously engaged in writing music for the stage. Thus, I argue in this thesis that it is possible to understand these operas as key works within Schubert's stylistic development. Chapter 2 of this thesis studies Adorno's 1928 critique of Schubert and draws out common themes in critical writings about the composer to do with coherence, temporality and tone. These themes are then grounded in various different types of analytical observations about Schubert's emergent style. Chapter 3 examines selected numbers from the four mature operas. Through analysing these works, we find that Schubert's developing approach to form, rhythm, musical 'signs' and other structural devices is evident. Innovations in each of these fields are understood as responses to the various dramatic challenges offered by each of the libretti. Chapter 4 summarises the conclusions of our study of the operas and suggests some possibilities for interpretation of other works which are raised by these analyses.