BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Thursday, October 2, 1823

According to his notation on the manuscript, Franz Schubert today finishes his second completed opera, Fierrabras, D.796, which he had begun on May 25, 1823. The Overture is the last portion to be written. Schubert looks forward to its performance at the Kärntnertor Theater this fall, as it is to be part of the season celebrating German opera.

Schubert’s opera, in three acts, has a libretto by Joseph Kupelwieser (1791-1866), the manager of the theater. This was to be Schubert’s entry into grand Romantic opera in German, rather than the common Singspiel form.

The libretto concerns the fictional Moorish knight Fierrabras, the central character in several chansons d’geste, and his conversion to Christianity. His sister and his daughter Emma both fall in love with several of Charlemagne’s knights.

Also promising to Schubert in addition to the promised earnings from this commission was the fact Fierrabras would follow Euryanthe, the new opera from the pen of Carl Maria von Weber, whose opera Der Freischütz was tremendously popular in Vienna.

The full opera Fierrabras is here performed by Claudio Abbado, conducting the Chamber Orchestra of Europe: