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Franz Schreker: Der Schmied von Gent

  • Grand magic opera in 3 acts (1929-1932)
  • first and final versions
  • 3 3 3 3 - 4 4 3 1 - timp, perc(7), hp(2), cel, harm, pno, alto sax(Eb), str
  • Duration: 135’
  • Instrumentation details:
    1st flute (+fl)
    2nd flute (+picc)
    3rd flute (+picc)
    1st oboe
    2nd oboe
    3rd oboe (+c.a)
    1st clarinet in Bb (+cl(A)
    2nd clarinet in Bb (+cl(A)
    bass clarinet in Bb
    alto saxophone in Eb (+t.sax(Bb))
    1st bassoon
    2nd bassoon
    3rd bassoon (+cbsn)
    1st horn in F
    2nd horn in F
    3rd horn in F
    4th horn in F
    1st trumpet in C
    2nd trumpet in C
    3rd trumpet in C
    1st trombone
    2nd trombone
    3rd trombone
    bass tuba (+cb.tuba)
    1st harp
    2nd harp
    violin I
    violin II
    incidental music: 3 natural trumpet in C
    harmonium (or organ)
  • Choir: SATB / Kinderchor
  • Roles: Smee, bass-baritone / Seine Frau, alto / Flipke, tenor / Slimbroek, tenor / 1. Adeliger, tenor / 2. Adeliger, baritone / 3. Adeliger, bass / Ein Bürger, bass / Ein Knappe, tenor / Luzifer / Astarte, soprano / Herzog Alba, bass / Der Henker Jakob Hessels, tenor / Ein Bürgersmann (Josef), baritone / Seine Frau (Maria), soprano / Der heilige Petrus, bass / Gesellen Smees / Volk / Schifferjungen / Kinder / Luzifers Hofstaat / Diener des Teufels / Engel / die himmlischen Heerscharen
  • Composer: Franz Schreker
  • Librettist: Franz Schreker
  • Writer of pre-existing text: Charles Théodore Henri de Coster
  • Dedication: Meiner geliebten Frau

Work introduction

In his last opera, Der Schmied von Gent, Franz Schreker aimed to create a folk opera – not an easy task, given his chosen medium of highly developed German post-impressionism. Schreker continued in this piece along the path of simplification which he had started with the Singender Teufel. His last opera contains song and dance forms: there is a folksy feel to blacksmith songs, parodies and children's songs; pious songs of legends mix with baroque splendour. The opera is based on a Flemish folk tale: the story of the clever blacksmith who signs a pact with the devil, but with the help of St Joseph escapes from hell and, following various adventures, gets into heaven in the end. A lighthearted fantasy, populated with the dead and the living, the burghers of Ghent, spectres from hell and the heavenly hosts, which shows the path from life on earth to the radiance of paradise.


The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

World première

Berlin (DE)
Paul Breisach

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