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Monolog der Iphegenia

Monolog der Iphegenia

First line:
Heraus in eure Schatten, rege Wipfel
author of text

This scena was composed in 1798 and published in the same year. It was later issued as part of Reichardt’s Lieder der Liebe anthology of 1804. In a letter to Goethe of this year Zelter remarked on the music in unfriendly fashion, comparing his rival’s setting to an unnecessary operation on a healthy body. Goethe had originally written Iphigenie in Tauris (in prose) in 1778 for the actress Corona Schröter, his mistress of the time; in the Weimar production of that year the poet himself had played Orestes. The version that Reichardt set was the fourth, now in blank verse. Goethe completed this in 1786 in Rome, and it was given its first performance in the Burgtheater, Vienna—the play’s Austrian connection may account for the fact that Schubert was interested enough in this music in 1815 to make his own handwritten copy (now in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge) of Reichardt’s score. The ‘Monolog’ is placed at the very beginning of the play (before the entrance of Arcas), where Iphigenia stands in front of the temple of Diana. Goethe mentions nothing about a chorus which Reichardt introduces to echo the heroine’s words, a device that Zelter also criticizes as extraneous—in fact it is highly effective because it suggests key thoughts resounding in the heroine’s mind. The plight of Iphigenia who feels herself enslaved in her marriage to Thoas must have appealed to a young composer who had already responded sympathetically to Gretchen in extremis. This extended use of recitative was very much a subject of study for the younger composer; and his contemporary interest in adding a supplementary chorus to a song is shown by his setting of the Szene aus Faust, D126, at the end of 1814.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2006


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