Conflicting agendas at the Königliche Nationaltheater? : Johann Friedrich Reichardt's Die Geisterinsel on the Huldigungstag for Friedrich Wilhelm III

Nehrfors Hultén, Mårten

With the founding of the Königliche Nationaltheater in 1786, Friedrich Wilhelm II added an additional facet to his court's public image. Although an institution in close connection with the court, it was also a venue where the bourgeoisie was gaining political and societal confidence, and a place where an idea of a more diversified community was expressed. Clearly, the king and the people did not necessarily share a common agenda. For instance, nationalistic views of equality ought to have been one matter of conflict. This paper looks at a specific case in order to highlight this conflicting situation. On 6 July 1798, the Huldigungstag for the new king Friedrich Wilhelm III, Reichardt's Die Geisterinsel was premiered at the Königliche Nationaltheater. Often described as an innocent kind of crowd-pleasing Zauberflöte-imitation, this Singspiel can also be read as an audacious recommendation for the new king how to be a righteous regent. An oddly bold way to pledge allegiance it seems.