«Neues vom Tage»
In his comic opera Neues vom Tage, Hindemith summarised the attitude towards life of the late 1920s, also parodying it and observing it from a critical distance.
He remembered the composition of the work as follows: «...since I (like all composers of theatre music) was constantly searching for material for a comic opera, I succeeded in enlisting the collaboration of Marcellus Schiffer, one of the most successful and ingenious authors of such works -meaning the reviews typical of Berlin, between cabaret and the big ‹show.› Despite his abhorrence of operatic singing and his disposition (he took his own life soon afterwards) we managed to create the opera ‹Neues vom Tage› after a smaller initial attempt (‹Hin und Zurück›); the review techniques were adapted to the demands of the operatic stage.»
Just as Hindemith parodies the rehearsed, false «grand feelings» in Neues vom Tage with late romantic operatic music, he caricatures the banality of modern everyday life with artistically stylised entertainment music. Hindemith invents concise musical inflections for the hollow everyday life of urban employees: for the absurd bureaucracy of the registry office, the clattering of typewriters in open-plan offices, the kitschy slickness of the «company executives,» the agility of managers, the sensationalism of the press and the voyeuristic nosiness of the anonymous masses.
In a kind of variété music, Hindemith provides the substratum of popular music without writing an actual hit song, reflecting the cosy contentment of the protagonist Laura, who praises the advantages of running hot water by singing naked in the bathtub – a scene that made the opera famous and notorious. The National Socialists, especially Adolf Hitler, would never forget Hindemith as the composer of this «most obscene» and «kitschy-vulgar scene.» Hindemith's portrait of society is all the more convincing because, despite all his wit, he never denounces or crudely distorts, but audibly makes the public aware of conditions as they are in an objective and level-headed manner.