76 Silence as Political Statement in the 19th Century - Inventing Silence 04

A small sociology of audience behaviour in opera from 1600 to today

(in German only)

The fact that the audience in the opera house is silent as soon as the curtain rises, as soon as the conductor raises his baton, is common today, but in the approximately 400-year history of opera in Europe it was by no means so from the beginning. On the contrary - it had to be invented and only became generally accepted from the middle of the 19th century. Before that, opera was only an accessory for an audience that was used to chatting, strolling, eating and drinking, and doing all kinds of business in the opera house. Uli Aumüller has tried to reconstruct the original behaviour patterns and to look for the reasons that led to today's standards.

In the fourth part of the week I would like to tell you the story of silence. The history of silence in opera, from its beginnings to the present day.

We turn in our story to the great politics that have always been fought out in opera houses. We make a pilgrimage to Bayreuth, become eyewitnesses in Naples and experience an uprising in Brussels.
Music: Wagner / Prelude from the Meistersinger ...

This was the prelude to Richard Wagner's "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg" with the Dresden Staatskapelle under Herbert von Karajan.

Towards the end of the 18th century, music and later also music theatre experienced a tremendous revaluation - if it had previously been a rather subservient art, an accessory, it now moved to the centre of attention, as a place of rapture and transcendent, metaphysical experience. Authors such as Jean Paul, Wilhelm Heinse, Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder, Clemens Brentano - later E.T.A. Hoffmann, Eduard Mörike - erected a monument to it and established the type of the rapturous, enthusiastic listener who was silent while enjoying music. The listener should be guided by both intellect and emotion. Philosophy, too, took up music - Immanuel Kant in faraway Königsberg devoted just as much profound reflection to it as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel later did, although both thinkers faithfully avoided mentioning to which music, if not compositions, then at least genres, they related their thoughts - but that is another story. E.T.A. Hoffmann is much more precise about this - he meant the 5th Symphony, he meant Beethoven's chamber music. Mörike wrote about Mozart's Don Giovanni, and provided enough vocabulary, figures, metaphors that the educated literate public could converse among themselves about music, its ups and downs. All the more so because in the late 18th century and early 19th century the music from the concerto and the opera was increasingly played at home on the clavichord or pianoforte. This is where the publishers of sheet music have their market, as well as the piano makers. It is good manners for the daughter of the house to be able to play the piano, whether for the evening entertainment of her family or for her future husband.

Manuskript zur Sendung

Gespräche mit Sven Oliver Müller

Exposé für den geplanten Film

Handwritten script for the planned film

Kritik Süddeutsche Zeitung

This production can be ordered as a CD for 12,80 € from inpetto filmproduktion. Please send an email to: bestellungen@inpetto-filmproduktion.de

Cast & Crew

Uli Aumüller (Text)
Sven Oliver Müller
Editorial Jounalist
Bettina Winkler