Carl Maria von Weber's Der Freischütz reflects competing definitions of national identity at a crossroads in German history. The historiography of the opera reveals a contrast between the opera's reception as quintessentially German and its interpretation as an example of cosmopolitanism, particularly in its dependence on French operatic models. Weber's own ideas about German opera represent a cosmopolitanism typical of the German Enlightenment, defining Germany's cultural mission as a universalist endeavor. For Weber, the “German” and the “cosmopolitan” were practically identical. The realization of these ideals in Der Freischütz supports multiple, even contradictory, intepretations of its status as “national opera.”
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© 2005 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Inc.