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Subject: Re: Helen and Hofmannsthal
From: Andreas Praefcke <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Andreas Praefcke <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 21 Jan 1998 14:47:17 +0100

TEXT/PLAIN (33 lines)

On Mon, 19 Jan 1998, Bob Kosovsky wrote:

> I would like to ask subscribers what they think of Hofmannstahl's
> reputation, NOT primarily as a librettist, but as a playright.  Are his
> plays this crazy and nonsensical?  (Since JEDERMANN is based on a previous
> work, you can exclude that one.)  Beyond his collaborations with Strauss
> (and when we say that, I think we pretty much mean just DER ROSENKAVALIER
> and maybe ARIADNE AUF NAXOS), does Hofmannstahl have a foot to stand on?

I have once seen a performance of his play "Der Turm" at Stadttheater
Konstanz when we went there with our school class. And I did find it very
nonsensical. I did not know about the Strauss/HvH operas then, and my
only knowledge about HvH was his Jedermann, which I had watched several
times on TV, but perhaps more for the Salzburg open air atmosphere than
for the play. When we had to read it in school, I found it equally boring
and overdone, perhaps mainly due to the boring teacher, as it so often
happens while in school...

This said, it is understandable just HOW MUCH I was surprised when I first
heard his Rosenkavalier. I just couldn't believe this was by the same
author. Rosenkavalier is one of my, let's say, TOP 5 (or 3?) operas now,
and it isparticularly for its superb libretto, almost every detail of
which I believe is superb and could not be done better. I searched in our
library to find other works by HvH in that "league", and I did find some:
his poems. This is amongst the most subtle and beautiful that has ever
been written in German language. His poems about time and vanity lead
directly to the Marschallin's monologue. I would strongly recommend these,
although perhaps only in the German vernacular, for I cannot imagine they
translate well into English.

Best regards
Andreas Praefcke
Mannheim, Germany

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