Do you prefer musicals or serious dramas


1Beatrice's veil belongs to Schnitzler's forgotten, and almost uniformly condemned by modern critics. Of the pieces by Schnitzler in historical costume only found The green cockatoo Inclusion in the canon of Viennese modernism. That it is the Veil of Beatrice However, it is not just about a purely conformist submission to traditional values ​​of Viennese society around 1900, but about contradicting attempts to renew tradition from the spirit of modernity, emphasizes Konstanze Fliedl:

His own historical plays are based on the Wilhelminian canon. They are strangely ambivalent attempts to write both on and against him at the same time. They are constantly testing the possibilities of understanding history as continuity again. But if they endeavor to preserve tradition in the form and to place themselves in a literary-historical continuum, the danger of the epigonal threatens. Their aesthetic contortions stem from this dilemma. Nevertheless, they are to be read as dramaturgical experiments, not to put history to a theatrical standstill, but to present it as the object and cause of historical memory1.

2The failure of the author's protracted endeavor for the Veil of Beatrice is beyond doubt. But it is precisely this failure that enables interesting questions about Schnitzler's dramaturgy.

3Two main reasons seem to have motivated Schnitzler's interest in history - or historical disguise - and thus in unrealistic dramas. As an enthusiastic visitor to the Burgtheater, Schnitzler was “dramatically socialized” in the 1970s and 1980s in the context of the “Wilhelminian canon” 2. He remained true to the theater aesthetics of the Burgtheater, at least as a spectator, throughout his life. In his acting he saw the often only worthy performance venue for precisely those of his dramas that he himself valued particularly highly, such as the Veil of Beatrice. On the other hand, numerous remarks from his diaries and letters testify to how much his own perception of theater in general and its works in particular was influenced by a tension between the actual development of the theater and general expectations, which was constitutive for the time. In fact, perhaps precisely from the predominance - if one disregards the avant-garde drama - of the conventions of psychological realism, a widespread expectation of the "great drama" emerged, as it was repeated in the theatrical writings and reviews of the time, as it were, as a response to the psychological downsizing of the World and the associated weakening, if not impossibility, of the tragic is invoked again and again in the theater of the time. A comment by Schnitzler in im diary of March 19, 1903, on the negative criticism of Paul Goldmann, the Berlin performance of Veil of Beatrice concerning: “Feuill. From P.G. about Beatrice; he tries to present it as "small". - Judging by real things, he is right - but by what he thinks is great! ”3. Indeed, Goldmann had emphasized precisely this aspect of "size"; Incidentally, he was by no means the only reviewer:

With his play, Schnitzler wanted to create a great drama in the style of the classics. His strength was insufficient to cope with this task [...]. It suffers from an internal evil. The whole apparatus of a great drama is deployed; and yet this drama is not great - not great for the sole and decisive reason, because it lacks greatness4.

4This tautology is the expression of the aforementioned aporia, which is insurmountable for contemporary dramaturgy. If you look at the dramatic perspective of Schnitzler's work, it is not surprising that these "diminutive phrases that are stamped out about me" 5 are used again and again on the psychologist Schnitzler, which outraged the author throughout his life:

That he Beatrice, lonely path, call of life may have written… that one […] is to be ranked among the first ten artists who write in German today - and that I can still be judged in this tone6.

5Beatrice's veil had its world premiere neither in Vienna nor in Berlin, but on December 1, 1900 in Breslau, a fact that illustrates the difficult and, for Schnitzler, somewhat disappointing reception history of the piece. In Berlin stood The veil for the first time in March 1903 on the program of Otto Brahm's Deutsches Theater, Schnitzler had to wait for a performance in the Burgtheater until after the First World War, until May 19257.

6But while the Breslau performance received little attention, the reviews offer the Berlin production by Emil Lessing a spectrum rich in contrast. Paul Goldmann's already mentioned review is included in the New Free Press characteristic topoi of constantly propagated prejudices:

And the question of whether he will succeed in reaching the high goal [...] depends on the question of whether he will have the strength to pull from the small and separate world in which his work has so far mainly moved and in who the moods - the moods that arise from the small feelings - play an all too important role in finding the way into the great life, which alone is able to fill the poet with those strong and deep feelings from which the great works grow8.

7 Of the mostly rather redundant reviews, that of Maximilian Harden continues in the future sharply off, an analytically original and literarily high-quality discussion of extraordinary length:

This […] spectacle has many shortcomings. […] Nevertheless, the drama is not only the best that this poet succeeded in: it also towers over almost everything that has matured for many years in the German-speaking area. […] In his poem […] there is really a renaissance, not just her dress9.

8Schnitzler himself conceived the play as a “great drama”, whatever that category might mean in his eyes. He undoubtedly considered it important to what he kept coming back to in his diary notes, even around December 1922:

With all weaknesses, affects, epigonisms, a work (not great, but in a certain sense important) work that perhaps belongs more to the theater than any of my others; - just as much to put the advantages in the right light as to conceal the weaknesses10.

For Schnitzler, the ambitious project of this Renaissance play was a sign of a reorientation of his dramatic work. “It seems to me that I am now in other areas” 11, he wrote in 1899 to Georg Brandes.

But it was at the same time Beatrice's veil a work specifically conceived for the theatrical possibilities at the Burgtheater, which in his eyes shone especially in the reworking of classical dramas. This included, among other things, the large Shakespeare project under the Burgtheater direction Schlenther. As Schnitzler in March 1902 for a performance of Shakespeare Henry IV attended noted he in his diary: “Pain that Bea. is not played at the castle “12. Schnitzler was to wait a quarter of a century for this performance.

In fact, Burgtheater director Schlenther had turned down the performance of the play in 1900 after an initially obviously positive reaction. Although this led to a protest letter from six intellectuals in Viennese daily newspapers13, it meant a serious setback for Schnitzler. In his answer, which was also published in the press, Schlenther wrote: “The play and its dramatic effect move me further; and I would almost prophesy that after years, when you come back to them from more recent works, you will have the same experience ”. Schlenther particularly criticizes the relationship between the duke and the poet: “They are concepts born out of theoretical contrast. But that broke the backbone of the drama […] 14.

Schlenther's prophecy turned out to be wrong. Schnitzler will strive for the piece for decades. In 1911 he noted in his diary to a performance of the play in the Hamburger Schauspielhaus:

Had read it again in the last few days, some passages not without a slight disappointment; but found some very beautiful. The best thing about it is the relationship between the two men, Filippo and Herzog - underground, supernatural - and what they say about each other. Even Beatrice as a figure will hardly pass away anytime soon.

In 131912 he regrets:

Nm. "Beatrice" read. Ambivalent impression. Some parts (1st act, a lot in 3rd) first rank; then some epigonal, outwardly Shakespeare; also the verses unequal […]. - The basic problem, however, of a peculiarity that is hardly felt today; and the duke poet relationship of strong rooted meaning. “Beatrice” would also have permanent chances - the figure - if the play had one16.

14 Only in the context of the actual premiere of the Veil of Beatrice In the Burgtheater, Schnitzler will distance himself from the play and speak of "sometimes ridiculous, Shakespeare, and trivial episodes". As Burgheaterdirektor Herterich in 1924 to prepare the Beatrice-Performance requires him to shorten the text, he records in his diary: “Strokes. As much as he wants! How strange has this Renaissance world become to me ”17. Nevertheless, after the dress rehearsal on May 22nd, 1925 he judged: “The piece is quite effective, with some beauties. Some scenes with a somehow ’’ classic touch ’’ - despite all kinds of dilettantism and epigonia ”18. The performance on May 23, 1925 is a success, the “Reviews of Bea. are on the whole remarkably good ”19. The New Wiener Tagblatt recalls in his review how "twenty-five years ago" Schlenther, "who initially wanted to perform the work, [...] broke his word".This piece, writes the critic, is "with all justified objections [...] rich in poetic beauties [and shows] a brilliance and momentum of the imagination as in no other poem by Schnitzler" 20. The New Vienna Journal laments the disfiguring lines, which “last but not least, concern the decisive factor: the lust and the shudder of the last night before death that lurks outside ”21. The New Free Press explains the fate of the play in 1900 with prejudices against Schnitzler, who on the world of flirtation was restricted:

The prejudice spoke against it; and there a prejudice [...] entirely especially in Vienna, the city of prejudices, is irrefutable [...] so the veil of Beatrice remained unperformed for a full quarter of a century, although this drama demanded the stage like hardly any other of its author and was made for the theater22.

15This history of reception of the play shows that the reasons for the lack of theater luck and the rejection of the Beatrice not related to the criteria of modernity. In any case, in Vienna - in other German-speaking cities the playwright Schnitzler is hardly present at this time - in 1925 the drama is not dismissed as kitsch from the early days.

In 161900, however, the Burgtheater's rejection reduced the chances of the piece being performed. The world premiere finally took place on December 1, 1900 in the modest Wroclaw Lobe Theater; the Viennese press pays little attention to it23. Schnitzler himself notes with bitterness in his diary: “Abd. Prem. Bea. - Lots of applause, lots of opposition. - Bad performance […] M.G. [Marie Glümer] cried in the car with me and [the critic Alfred] Kerr about the bad performance ”24.

After that, Schnitzler hopes in vain for a performance by Brahm, with whom he is contractually associated. Despite the author's insistent inquiries, Brahm waits and finally performs the Veil of Beatrice another drama with a renaissance background, Monna Vanna von Maeterlinck, although Schnitzler had asked him to definitely prefer his piece. Didn't he write his play before the Maeterlincks? 25 Schnitzler, who seems to have been informed of the enthusiastic reviews in the French press, rightly fears that the success of the Monna Vanna would harm. Indeed, after its premiere at the Deutsches Theater on November 24, 1902, this Renaissance drama achieved an overwhelming success and was performed more than a thousand times on German-speaking stages.

18 The Berlin premiere of the Veil of Beatrice on March 7, 1903, Schnitzler's fears were then confirmed. Despite his extremely conflict-ridden policy of intervention in Emil Lessing's direction, including the difficult scene of the general orgy in Act IV, for which Lessing has little interest in his realistic theater concept, he has the “feeling of a slight diarrhea after the performance on stage “26. The reviews are mostly negative. Years later, Schnitzler wrote a letter from Hermann Bahr to his one-act act The faun give the advice in the case of a performance “not to have it staged by Lessing, who has only a moderate understanding of orgies, which is pathetic in the fourth act of Beatrice proved“27.

19Indeed, a piece represents like Beatrice to a realistically shaped, more naturalism-oriented theater concept like Brahms, insurmountable demands. Schnitzler knows the limits of this dramaturgy, but does not have the courage enough to draw the necessary conclusions from it, although he would have had an exceptionally interesting opportunity to do so. In fact, on August 31, 1902, he received a letter from a young and aspiring theater man: Max Reinhardt. Reinhardt writes "[...] but I do not believe that your piece can currently be played, staged and designed on any other stage as it is on ours". Especially his Kleines Theater (formerly Schall und Rauch) is able to give a theatrical existence to a verse drama.

Above all, however, I believe that the verse drama, with us freed from the noise and smoke of large theater equipment, can really come to life, all the more since the conversion of our stage has created an apparatus that enables the finest, most subtle and newest effects28.

But Schnitzler refuses him the piece. This misjudgment has probably burdened the relationship with Reinhardt from the beginning, which will remain fraught with constant misunderstanding. What Schnitzler did not understand was the emerging role of the director. Hardly anyone else like Max Reinhardt represents this new fundamental development in theater, which tends to move away from traditional text theater and gives the director the central role in theatrical creation, whereby the author - and the text - takes a back seat to the theatrical artwork created by the director . Schnitzler was relatively uncomprehending about this development. His refusal to accept Max Reinhardt's offer is therefore also an expression of Schnitzler's premodern authorial theater concept. Reinhardt's directorial theater could have given the play an aesthetic success; but for that he would have had to leave it to Reinhardt for free use.

The realistic theater concept of Brahms corresponds to the principles prevailing on the big stages at the time. In this view of the theater, which attaches great importance to probability and closeness to life, any theatrical effect should be avoided, what for example de facto due to the postulated necessity of non-theatrical postures and dialogue postures, that is to say essentially mimicked everyday life, which set relatively narrow limits on the actors' possibilities of expression, but also on the drama itself.

In this sense, the choice of a historical point in time for the action made it possible to escape the overly strict rules of this supposedly realistic realism. Indeed, these unwritten conventions seem to have applied above all to the dramas whose action takes place in the "present". The Veil of Beatrice seizes this delimitation with enjoyment. The choice of verse makes it possible to underline the artificiality of the game. The first apartment is right at the beginning of the play, the first monologue (Filippos) introduces the first change of scene. They are strictly frowned upon in realistic-illusionistic theater. Kiss and fight (indicated by drawing a sword) as in Romeo and Juliet seem natural here because of their relegation to the past. You weaken the weight more realistic Conventions and actions may differ from what is commonly expected. A curious article too Monna Vanna from the New Wiener Tagblatt underlines the contemporary and obviously widely accepted character of these questions. The obviously legally qualified author of the article with the title Monna Vannabefore the criminal law states at the beginning: “Realism in dramatic literature is far from complete; things still play out quite differently on the scene than in natural reality. ”The article then contains an (unintentionally) comical list of all violations of the law in Monna Vanna, for each of which the amount of the normally planned fines is fixed and closes with the words: “How wonderfully beautiful are the spheres in which the poets walk, where there is no criminal law and no security guard!” 29

Behind the apparent traditionalism of both Renaissance pieces there is indeed a break with common theater law. However, both authors move in a certain way in opposite directions: Maeterlinck is stepping out of the symbolist world of theater into one that is more in line with the rules of normal theater. Paul Goldmann analyzes Monna Vanna in its impressive length review as a return to the true world of theater30. Schnitzler, on the other hand, leaves the framework of his world of psychologically realistic observation and behavioral criticism, which critics often regard as small, and conquers new freedom in the historical dimension.

24The improbable is allowed here. Female infidelity and adultery are an obsessive topic of theatrical productions of the time. No positive, morally acceptable ending can be spun from this in the contemporary theater universe. But when Monna Vanna, the wife of the commandant of the fortress of Pisa, sacrifices herself for her city, as princes, the leader of the Florentine besiegers, as a condition for the lifting of the occupation and the supply of the starving city with food, she only demands herself dressed in a coat, should go into his tent, a context unthinkable in contemporary drama is created and then further developed. Indeed, Prinzivalle has loved Monna Vanna since he was young. In the fatal night he leaves her untouched and goes with her into the city, since he is now considered a traitor in Florence. But the inability of the commandant to believe his wife - taken from the unwritten rules of the realistically contemporary theater world - ultimately leads to the latter fleeing with the prince whom she now loves. Through this dialectical reversal of the usual theatrical conditions, Monna Vanna continues to appear as “pure” as she was initially praised, although she commits adultery, indeed this adultery appears morally necessary. From today's point of view, such problems may seem abstruse, the fact is that the historical situation here allows freedoms that are unthinkable within the framework of the otherwise generally applicable conventions.

In Schnitzler's case, the fourth act in particular contradicts all the usual rules, in fact it clearly transcends the horizons of realistic theater. Bologna is besieged by the Pope and experiences its last night before its fall. On the night before the end of the existing social order, all the rules suddenly break and the laws become invalid. When the duke desires a town girl that night, he marries her immediately, when the latter makes this condition in order to follow him.In the realistic theater world, which is located in the present, however, large social differences are invariably insurmountable. But that is only the beginning. To celebrate the day, the Duke opens his garden to all the residents of Bologna with the explicit request to have fun there as they please.

You others, use the time! Take my garden
As a fragrant camp of your joys!
[...] But I, your prince,
Any covenant made tonight
I give the consecration31.

The beginning of the discussion of the Beatrice by hardening:

Drunken greed rages through the palace and garden of the Duke of Bologna. Looking for lusts, finding lusts, embracing each other and on the meadow that stretches behind the terrace and garden, the moans of the panting and the fed up couples wed one another into a long, non-stop sigh, the breath of which causes the torches to flicker and flare up again [...] . What is otherwise forbidden is allowed today […] 32.

27 Schnnitzler has taken up this topic again and again (Comedy of seduction, Shepherd's flute). The Veil of Beatrice dramatizes the manifold breaks in the social order in the individual (think, for example, of Filippo's sudden incomprehensible turning away from everything that has so far made his personality up), as well as in the social framework (e.g. the attitude of the duke and the court), which inevitably lead to catastrophe must, but also be accelerated by the expected catastrophe of the fall of Bologna.

Such an analysis of extreme situations and the resulting radicalization of attitudes are only possible in the theater around 1900 by going back into history. The Renaissance serves as a corresponding backdrop, as the processes shown correspond to the ideas of this era that were common at the end of the 19th century and were strongly influenced by Burckhardt. Incidentally, Schnitzler's piece was created at the beginning of a true renaissance fashion in the theater33. Neither Schnitzler nor Maeterlinck is concerned with historical accuracy.

29In fact, Bologna was annexed by Pope Julius II in 1506 and the Bentivoglio family chased out of Bologna, even if the duke who had ruled the city up to that point did not bear the name Leonardo but Giovanni II. However, in contrast to the representation in the veil, which Bologna shows united in patriotic resistance against him, conquering the city precisely because of the internal conflicts that prevail there. An uprising against the duke was suppressed a few years before that. He was led by a certain Mariscotti, who becomes a traitor in the drama. Schnitzler needs these simplifications in order to make the end times mood credible, which would have been less well-founded in the true historical context. The artists are made up, but they correspond to the common ideas about the world of artists in the Renaissance, whose intellectual environment is represented by diverse, more or less anecdotal accessories.

30Maeterlinck's drama takes place almost exactly at the same time, at the end of the 15th century. The rivalry between Florence and other city-states is historical, but there was no mercenary leader named Prinzivalle. A certain Prinzivalle della Stuffa apparently took part in a conspiracy inspired by Pope Julius II at the beginning of the 16th century, in which the Florentine leadership should have been assassinated. Prinzivalle then had to flee to Siena34. Pisa, for its part, played an important role in the struggle for power in Florence and was in fact besieged in 1509 and finally conquered.

The historical context is thus thoroughly modeled, but the details are freely invented depending on the poetic needs. This is also the case with a third Renaissance drama of the time, Novella d’Andrea by Ludwig Fulda, who tells the story of the lawyer of the same name who taught in Bologna in the first half of the 14th century, albeit in a perspective that was adjusted for the needs of the discussion about the emancipation of women in the period around 1900, in which the Professional practice as a university professor, contrary to historical truth, is presented as a choice that excludes love and marriage35.

The action freed from the usual realistic conventions in this fantasy environment also allows Schnitzler a renewal of the mode of representation and, in particular, a liberation of the actors' bodies from all too narrow rules of behavior:

The hall becomes empty. also darker; some lights go out; the torches in the garden more and more restless, gloomy; movement indistinctly perceptible from the meadow; Couples slide past, embrace, sink down, but everything looks like shadow images; sometimes women rush past like fleeing36.

The theater of the time is characterized by a slow return of the body to the stage, as shown, among other things, in scenes like the one just quoted. Such scenes distance themselves from the very cautious use of the body in play, which is documented in countless aside remarks in the dramas of the time. The largely repressed theatrical traditions with intense physical presence of the actors, such as the Comedia dell’arte, are now experiencing a rebirth. The dramatic literature is abundant in attempts by various authors in this field, including Schnitzler (The metamorphoses of Pierrot). Among other things, there are attempts to conquer new territories for the theater, to expand its borders. Connected with this is an ever greater interest in non-textual dramatic forms, such as pantomime or puppet shows. This remarkable preoccupation with new forms Has less to do with the language crisis that is often brought about, than with a fundamental development of the theater, which, in the perspective of the overall production, tends to free itself from text theater and begins to draw new boundaries for itself, as an art form of its own, not just text-interpreting. That Schnitzler the Veil of Beatrice has conceived in different variants from the beginning is well known37. The Veil of the Pierrrette, as mime playing in the 19th century and The veil the Beatrice, as historical drama, take part in this artistic opening of the theater horizon.

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