Personalities | Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | Early Romantic | Opera
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, greatest of all German poets and dramatists, created what became almost a genre in its own right with his Faust (1808). The theme captured the imaginations of numerous composers and among the 122 operas based on Goethe’s writings, the Faustian legend formed the plot for 20 of them. Goethe did more than provide texts for composers, however. He had a passion for music and wrote the libretti for eight Singspiel compositions. He was a great admirer of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and, being a Freemason, recognized and appreciated its masonic content. Goethe wrote part of a sequel to Die Zauberflöte, but unfortunately it was never set to music. Between 1791 and 1817, when Goethe was director of the Weimar Theater, the repertoire included several operas, and Mozart’s music featured in 280 of the performances.
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