What comes first in opera, what gets the pride of place: words or music? Prima le parole, doppo la musica? Or, Prima la musica, doppo le parole? The question was hotly debated throughout the history of opera, and in 1930, the German Jewish writer Stefan Zweig suggested it to Richard Strauss as the very topic of an opera. Zweig wasn’t able to write the libretto, the Nazis prevented that, but with a patchwork of librettists and his own input Strauss got his libretto and, in 1942, his last opera:
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