Conformism or Challenge: The Opera House in the Third Reich

  • Erik Levi


Amongst all musical genres, it is arguable that the relationship between music and politics is seen at its most tangible in the area of opera. Certainly the Nazi leadership appeared to exploit opera, over and above concert or choral music, in order to bolster its own cultural image. Hitler’s patronage of Bayreuth and Goering’s active involvement in the artistic policy of the Berlin State Opera remain the most obvious examples of such a process. But aside from image-building, it is a more open question whether developments in opera during the Third Reich mirror the ideological pre-occupations of the Nazi state. An examination of the artistic policy pursued in Germany’s opera houses and the favoured repertoire of the period produces a more complex picture, a picture in which there are some striking ambiguities. For while the Nazis installed the necessary bureaucracy with which to control operatic developments throughout the country, their efforts were blunted by the conflicting interests of party leaders, theatre administrators and creative musicians.


Operatic Composer Occupied Territory Nazi Regime German Theatre Weimar Republic 
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Notes and References

  1. 4.
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    Henry Bair, ‘Die Lenkung der Berliner Opernhäuser’, in H.-W. Heister and H.-G. Klein (eds), Musik und Musikpolitik im faschistischen Deutschland (Frankfurt, 1984), p. 83.Google Scholar
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    Fritz Stege, ‘Berliner Musik’, ZfM, January 1933, p. 42.Google Scholar
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    Fritz Stege, ‘Die Reinigung des Opernspielplans’, ZfM, May 1933, p. 488.Google Scholar
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    Wilhelm Fett, ‘Joseph Haas “Tobias Wunderlich”’, ZfM, January 1938, p. 75.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Erik Levi 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erik Levi
    • 1
  1. 1.Royal HollowayUniversity of LondonUK

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