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In the 1840s, Ludwig Rellstab worked as a libretto-writer almost exclusively for Meyerbeer. In 1842, the composer became « Generalmusikdirektor » in Berlin, and therefore occupied in the Prussian capital a position equal in importance to that of the major critic Rellstab. As a journalist, Rellstab had been fighting Meyerbeers's predecessor Spontini, and the years before their successful teamwork were marked by Rellstab's repeated attacks on Meyerbeer as a composer of opera and song. But Meyerbeer neutralised Berlin’s influential critic simply by hiring him. Rellstab was publicly known as the librettist of Feldlager in Schlesien, which he translated from Eugène Scribe's French original. Meyerbeer set to music some of Rellstab's poems, as well as some of the texts he had written for special occasions at the Prussian Court. Rellstab, on the other hand, translated Meyerbeers's Le Prophète and L'Étoile du nord into German. However, he failed as a writer of libretti: in Meyerbeers's eyes, he always remained an adapter and translator. His attempt to get the composer to set one of his own libretti failed. Playing the part of the paid writer, whose own texts were not even used for music, could not match Rellstab’s idea of the libretto-writer's role.

Le livret en question

N° 5 o

Bernd Zegowitz

Johan Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt a.M.

Kein Libretist in eigener Sache : Lugwig Rellstab und seine (verhinderte) Zusammenarbeit mit Giacomo Meyerbeer


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