Lortzing, Gustav Albert
German composer, singer, conductor, and librettist. Although not well known outside Germany, such operas as Der Wildschütz (1842) and Undine (1845) occupy in his homeland a similar position enjoyed by the works of Gilbert and Sullivan in Britain.
He had some lessons with C F Rungenhagen in Berlin as a child, but since his parents were travelling actors, he had to obtain his general and musical education as best he could. He learnt the piano, violin, and cello and studied such theoretical works as he could find. He married in 1823 and found it difficult to make a living in a travelling opera company. His first stage work, Ali Pascha von Janina, was produced in Münster in 1828 and repeated in Cologne, Detmold, and Osnabrück. In 1833-34 he was able to lead a more settled life, being engaged as a tenor and actor at the Leipzig municipal theatre. The first two comic operas he wrote there were very successful, and so was his adaptation from August von Kotzebue, Der Wildschütz, in 1842, when he gave up acting. Two short terms as a conductor at Leipzig and Vienna, Austria, were unsuccessful. He had a large family by this time and fell upon more and more difficult times. The conductorship at a suburban theatre in Berlin in 1850 merely humiliated him without doing much to relieve the situation.
Die beiden Schützen (1837), Zar und Zimmermann (1837), Hans Sachs (1840), Casanova, Der Wildschütz (after Kotzebue, 1842), Undine (after de La Motte Fouqué, 1845), Der Waffenschmied (1846), Zum Grossadmiral, Rolandsknappen (1849), Regina, and others; operettas Ali Pascha von Janina (1824, produced 1828), Die Opernprobe oder Die vornehmen Dilettanten (1851).
for plays including Goethe's Faust, Grabbe's Don Juan und Faust (1829), Scribe's Yelva; plays with music Der Pole und sein Kind (1832), Der Weihnachtsabend (1832), Szenen aus Mozarts Leben (with music adapted from Mozart, 1832).
oratorio Die Himmelfahrt Christi (1828); part songs, songs.
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