Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 October 2020
Of the German-language operas composed between Wagner’s Parsifal (1882) and Richard Strauss’s Salome (1905), only Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel (1893) has survived. This chapter surveys the mostly forgotten works that form the context of Strauss’s early operas. In addition to his musical style, Wagner’s concept of redemption through love and reception of Schopenhauer’s metaphysics exerted a powerful influence on the next generation, as seen in music dramas by Max von Schillings (Ingwelde), Pfitzner (Der arme Heinrich), and Strauss (Guntram). The new genre of fairy tale opera (Märchenoper) often presented lighter versions of Wagnerian style and ideology, such as in Hänsel und Gretel, Alexander Ritter’s Der faule Hans, and Siegfried Wagner’s Der Bärenhäuter. Even comic opera was strongly influenced, bifurcating into Meistersinger spinoffs (Schillings’s Der Pfeifertag) and harmless bourgeois idylls (Eugen d’Albert’s Die Abreise). Verismo-influenced hybrids include d’Albert’s Tiefland and Wilhelm Kienzl’s Der Evangelimann. Strauss’s Salome represented an act of liberation.