Personalities | Friedrich von Schiller | Early Romantic | Opera
Friedrich von Schiller, the great German poet, playwright and historian, trained for the Church, the army, the law and military medicine before he finally found his niche. It happened when, at his own expense, Schiller published his revolutionary drama Die Raüber (‘The Robbers’, 1781). When the play was staged in Mannheim in 1782, it was an encouraging success, but the playwright, who was still in the army, was arrested for attending the first night without the permission of his commanding officer. Over 50 years later, in 1836, the Italian composer Saverio Mercadante (1795–1870) wrote an opera based on Schiller’s first play.
As an opera it was the first of an ultimate total of 56 by a variety of composers. Among the most famous examples were Verdi, who used Schiller’s work as a basis for Luisa Miller and Don Carlos (1867), Donizetti for his Maria Stuarda and Rossini for his Guillaume Tell (1829).
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