MUSV3134 - Politics and Morality on stage: German Musical Theatre in the Enlightenment


Lessons are not given in the academic year 2023/2024

Course content

This course concerns German musical theatre of the enlightenment, concentrating on the second half of the century and the Singspiele of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Particular emphasis is placed on how German musical theatre reflectspolitical and socio-cultural discourses, and how these discourses are reflected in musical, textual and dramaturgical choices. Characteristic of the eighteenth-century German musical theatre was its strong didactical dimension. In the spirit of Enlightenment, it was an instrument of moral instruction – a “school for the nation” – which would ensure enlightened virtuous citizens as well as a strong and well-functioning state. Thus, German musical theatre had an important political function. In line with the spirit of the Enlightenment which saw the political future in enlightenment and education, literates, philosophers, artists, and not least sovereigns committed themselves to creating a German “educational theatre”. A clear result was the establishment of a number of German national theatres. Most known is possibly the national theatre of the emperor and Habsburg-ruler Joseph II, established in the culture centre Vienna in 1776. It was at this theatre that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Singspiel Die Enführung aus dem Serial was premiered in 1782.Through musical and textual analysis, this course concentrates on how the German musical theatre functioned as an integral part of eighteenth-century political communication. In fact, the German musical theatre articulated many contemporary eighteenth-century discourses: What is the ideal form of political government? What is the position of women in society? Should both men and women act as rulers? How do we conceive of Western and Oriental culture?

Learning outcome

Knowledge:An examinee with a completed qualification in MUSV3133- has deepened knowledge of eighteenth-century German musical theatre- has deepened knowledge of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Singspiele- has a broad understanding of relevant political, cultural and social developments within the given time span- has deepened knowledge about German musical theatre in political, cultural, social and historical context- has deepened knowledge about research methods and analytical tools used on opera within the given time spanSkills:An examinee with a completed qualification in MUSV3133- can critically discuss and analyse music and text in eighteenth-century German musical theatre- can critically discuss and analyse the interaction between music and text in eighteenth-century German musical theatre- can express his/her own knowledge in a convincing and coherent way both written and oral.- can reflect on his/her own professional practice based on his/her deepened knowledge.- can analyse eighteenth-century German musical theatre in light of its political, cultural, social and historical context.

Learning methods and activities

Teaching is organized in lectures and seminar activities.

Compulsory assignments

  • One written essay.
  • Short oral presentation of the essay in one of the seminars.

Further on evaluation

The text for the home examination should have a length of about 4500–6000 words.If the candidate retakes the exam, there is no need to retake the compulsory assignments.

Specific conditions

Required previous knowledge

Requires admission to one of the Bachelor's or Master's programmes in Musicology, Music Technology or Music Performance Studies.

More on the course



Version: 1
Credits:  7.5 SP
Study level: Second degree level



Language of instruction: Norwegian

Location: Trondheim

Subject area(s)
  • Music History
  • Music Theory
  • Political History
  • History
  • Musicology
  • Music Pedagogy Subjects
  • German Cultural Studies
Contact information

Department with academic responsibility
Department of Music


  • * The location (room) for a written examination is published 3 days before examination date. If more than one room is listed, you will find your room at Studentweb.

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