"Neustart Kultur" with research

Canaletto: Die Trümmer der ehemaligen Kreuzkirche zu Dresden (1765)

In the two years of the pandemic, cultural events have been discontinued, but on the other hand, many artists would have the opportunity during the forced break to think, perhaps to reorient themselves or to rediscover themselves in this time of upheaval. In order to help artists, the federal government has procured the "Neustart Kultur" package, giving many institutions and artists the opportunity to implement their ideas, the fruits of the period of reflection, and perhaps to break new ground in a "post-pandemic" - Time, maybe more digital, greener or more economical.

In the five years that I was the director of Ars Augusta e.V., I let myself be guided by the signals of the times and slowly discovered new talents in myself. Where I started out as just a soprano, now that I'm turning 50, I'm considering a re-orientation in areas where I'm sure I have talent as well. I've already had the artistic direction of complicated projects. Research into music and the historical context has always interested me. I would now like to further deepen and combine these tasks: research and the promotion of young talents. So in Görlitz I find a job that fulfills me.

From the first moment, I recognized two elements in the region that had great potential. On the one hand it was the rich cultural heritage of the region, on the other hand the power of this cultural heritage to have a peace-making effect across borders and times.

The tradition of registered associations, which is so widespread in Germany and also has a high status in Görlitz, allows a lot of good to be achieved through voluntary commitment. That suits me very well, because working for a good cause has always been more important to me than personal gain. My personal career has actually never been as important as serving the power of music and doing good for my environment and time, no matter where I live. Our region and Europe in general needs such spiritual workers, today again!

Our region has never only been a cultural area in which great artists worked, but also the scene of important historical events: the Thirty Years' War, the Napoleonic Wars, the impact of the Wettins as kings of Poland, the Reformation, the Counter-Reformation, etc.

How much war and how much spirit! What a longing for peace and how much wisdom is in the music and literature of the region. The classics of Florence on the Elbe, the wonderful relationship between Dresden and Warsaw, but also the cultural heritage of Protestantism. Bohemian, Saxon, Polish and Prussian: The voyage of discovery of the history of the region continues even after Corona and I also discover the researcher in me.

However, the desire to found a theater and music academy where artists can return to the classical roots of theater and opera remains alive in my mind. Therefore I will combine this research with the organization of academic projects for young musicians. It seems to me to be a wonderful new way.

I am also trying to establish European cooperation with other institutions, such as the museum in Lazienki in Warsaw, where there is still a very well-preserved baroque theater. August Poniatowski, who built this, was a fascinating ruler to me who (like August III) was underappreciated. An enlightened king who wrote Europe's first constitution, promoted the arts, loved the theater, wished for European peace.

Johann Christoph Richter

In search of forgotten material from Augustus III's collection. I really wanted to discover operas that Johann Adolf Hasse wrote for Hubertusburg and Warsaw: like "Il re pastore". During this search I happened to come across a composer in Dresden who raised many questions in my mind. Johann Christoph Richter (Dresden 1700-1785). Very little is known about him. Some of his sonatas and symphonies as well as two operas can be found in the Royal Private Music Collection in the SLUB. Dated in the archives at 1751, his opera Il re pastore may be the first setting of Metastasio's libretto Il Re Pastore. But it was probably written later and in parallel with Hasse's Il re pastore, which was performed in Hubertusburg in 1755 and again in Warsaw in 1762. While Hasse performed the opera in Warsaw, the opera probably appeared in German in Dresden. Moritz Fürstenau in his book "On the History of Music and Theater at the Court of Dresden" (Dresden, 1862) mentions 1762 as the time when Richter's opera was performed.

But how can that be? around 1760 Dresden was totally destroyed by Frederick the Great, then reconstruction began. Did Richter write an opera in this ruined city? For whom?

Why didn't he use the Italian libretto, as was customary at the time? He took the German translation of the libretto of the Hasse opera and wrote an opera based on this German text – when Augustus III and his court were in Warsaw and in Dresden there were nothing but Prussian soldiers.

Writing an opera in German is not as natural as it looks. We addressed the topic of German-language opera in the Opitz-Schützt project. Actually right here in Saxony Heinrich Schütz wrote the first German opera "Dafne" (1627). For this, Martin Opitz translated the libretto by Rinuncini to Peri's opera "Dafne", one of the first operas ever.

But the opera belongs to the Catholic culture and was mostly performed in Italian. Nevertheless, there were early composers in German-speaking (mostly Protestant) countries who dared to write not only cantatas and masses but also operas in German. As early as 1690, operas by Keiser, Mathesson or Handel and Telemann appeared in German in the repertoire of the Hamburg Theater am Gänsemarkt. But at the court of the Catholic King of Poland in Dresden, whose opera house opened in 1719 with Lotti's "Giove in Argo", the operas tended to be in Italian. That's why the Protestant Johann Richter made in the time of August III. no significant career as an opera composer?

All these questions are exciting and would possibly also shed light on historical aspects of the time. Were there differences between Protestants (majority) and Catholics (minority, but also royal religion) in Dresden at the time, how did the German musicians feel about King Augustus III and his court?

In any case, Richter was above all the court organist. And also one of the musicians who played the instrument Pantaleon in Dresden. Did he write other works or cantatas? Where are his organ works located?

And finally, the most exciting question would be: how does his music sound? To date nothing has been played (as a search on the internet proves). It would therefore be interesting to have this music played for the first time in this anniversary year with the help of the Academia Ars Augusta and the Lausitzer Barockensemble.

First, however, one must bring this music from the manuscript into modern notation. I've already started writing this on MuseScore. That's how I do it with his second opera, "il Natal di Giove", written in 1764 for the birthday of the widow Maria Antonia, also based on a libretto by Metastasio. Since Maria Antonia of Bavaria was a Catholic, it goes without saying that Richter writes in Italian. I also wrote an aria from this opera, the final aria with the one where the singer wishes Antonia may God protect her. The melody is noble with a certain melancholy, perhaps emphatic with the widow for the loss of her husband, Elector Friedrich Christian, a year earlier in devastated Saxony. Also interesting in the piece is the recitative with orchestra, which is already a new element in the music of the time. We would like to play the aria with the Lausitzer Barockensemble on July 8th during our anniversary concert.

I'm sure that the adventure of this research, whether it's about a lot or little information about the composer and his time in Dresden, will definitely bring his music to life. And even very soon: after the July concert, also in September as part of a workshop in Königshain Castle as part of a project in the "Country Music" program of the German Music Council.

We would like to thank the federal government for this support and wish all artists a good new start!


"Sachsens Opernschätze entdecken" "Discovering Saxony's Opera Treasures" research project on Johann Christoph Richter. Funded by the Performing Arts Fund with funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media as part of NEUSTART KULTUR. Period: May-September 2022.

„Sachsens Barock! gemeinsam erleben“ "Saxony Baroque! we experience together" ("Landmusik" program) funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media based on a resolution of the German Bundestag. Period: May-September 2022.

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