The Robbers (I Masnadieri) //
After presenting Jules Massenet’s musical adaptation of Goethe’s »Werther« in the 2013/14 season, we turn now to an extraordinary opera based on Schiller’s first drama »The Robbers«. In the play, Franz, who envies his brother Karl, succeeds at discrediting him with their elderly father thanks to a clever intrigue. Now unable to return home because of it, Karl forms a band of robbers and overruns the country with violence. His fiancé Amalia is now at Franz’s mercy, though she continues to love Karl. But when Karl discovers that Franz almost killed their father, he returns to exact vengeance.
Andrea Maffei, a renowned expert in the literature of this »Sturm und Drang«-poet, wrote the libretto for Verdi’s opera himself. It is no wonder, therefore, that the operatic narrative closely follows the structure and plot of the original play. Nonetheless, Verdi offers his own very distinct interpretation of the work through his music. Even in Schiller’s lifetime, critics accused the poet of creating monstrous characters whom one would hardly find in social reality. Verdi musically expands on these archetypes; malice, violence, sadness and desperation are evoked with a precise musical gesture of loneliness. If we were to ask about the source of violence, Verdi’s opera would provide us with a possible answer: when one is incapable of expressing his feelings, the result is emptiness and meaninglessness which give way to physical and emotional cruelty.
Volker Lösch stages classical dramatic works and confronts them with contemporary social reality. In Weimar, his interpretation of Verdi’s opera will reveal the modern-day dimension of the play like a foil behind the traditional plot, visibly contrasting the human truths portrayed by Verdi.