Germanicus […] belongs to those “rather more than twenty operas” which the young Telemann claims to have written for the opera house in the Leipzig Brühl, first during his student years in Leipzig (1702/03 to 1704/05) as music director of the opera, and then as capellmeister in Sorau (1705–1708), Eisenach (1708–1712), and Frankfurt (after 1712). The arias that are transmitted in Frankfurt thus offer a first representative look at Telemann’s early music-dramatic work, and especially – concerning most of the German arias – at his time as music director at the Leipzig opera. With regard to the Italian (and perhaps some of the German) arias there are comparable samples from Telemann’s Eisenach years showing his theatrical style of composition.
The Germanicus arias are indeed an impressive testimony of Telemann’s early compositional skills. But they also show that while from the beginning of his career he tried to compete with the great composers of the Hamburg opera, from early on he developed a unique style of his own. Already in the German arias from the year 1704 he rarely misses an opportunity to give words and affects a plastic musical rendering.
(translation by Stephanie Wollny)