Opera Scotland

Faithful Warrior The Faithful Warrior; Der vierjährige Posten; The Four-year Posting

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Franz Schubert (born Vienna, 31 January 1797: died Vienna, 19 November 1828)


Karl Theodor Körner



Composed 8-19 May 1815.

First Performance: Dresden (Hoftheater), 23 September 1896.

First Performance in UK: London (Court Theatre), 12 June 1928.

First Performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 24 March 1936.

Scottish Opera premiere: N/A.



Schubert is recognised as one of the greatest songwriters who ever lived, and it is one of the great tragedies of operatic history that he never had the opportunity to produce opera in a way that allowed him to learn through performance. He was always fascinated by the operatic art, but none of his major operatic works was performed in his lifetime, and they suffer from serious faults of structure, pacing and characterization. Fierrabras was nearly produced in Vienna, but the production was cancelled after the catastrophic failure of Weber's Euryanthe, seen as a similar tale of knightly goings-on.

The Four-year Posting is a simple half-hour singspiel, composed when he was a teenager. Of no great pretension, it still remained unperformed in his lifetime. As his centenary approached, it was dusted down in Dresden and performed in an edition by Robert Hirschfeld. During the actual centenary year it was repeated in Vienna, Prague, Frankfurt and elsewhere.

A new version was arranged by the great conductor Fritz Busch and Donald Tovey (Reid Professor of Music at Edinburgh University 1914-40). This was given in 1922 at Stuttgart, as Der treue Soldat. It was this edition, under the title The Faithful Sentinel, that at last reached Britain, first at the Court Theatre, London (in 1928), then at Glasgow Theatre Royal in 1936 (retitled as The Faithful Warrior).


Plot Summary

The setting is almost contemporaneous with the time of composition, given that Körner and Schubert produced the singspiel in 1815, and it is set during the Napoleonic Wars.

A young soldier of the French army is posted on sentry duty. His regiment moves on, but by an oversight he is left behind. He takes up with a girl from the village and settles down happily. Four years later the regiment returns, and he is accused of desertion. His Captain is keen to have him shot, but the General is persuaded by his argument that he had remained on sentry-duty throughout their absence. He grants a pardon.

The Cast

Heinrich Duval
 engaged to Kätchen
 a village girl
Lady Agatha
 a farm hand
 a farmer

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