When, early in 1847, the Schumanns returned home to Dresden from a concert tour, Robert found himself all fired up with the idea of writing an opera. He chose (surprise! surprise!) a romantic tale of crusades, knights and damsels in distress (with a bit of magic thrown in for good measure). The story centres on the figures of Geneviève (Genoveva) of Brabant; Siegfried, the Count Palatine, her husband (nice) and Golo his knight and major-domo (really nasty).
While the opera has had only sporadic success, its overture – which Schumann unusually wrote first* – has become part of the standard orchestral repertoire:
* composers normally wait till they’ve finished the opera and got all their tunes sorted before starting in on the overture.
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