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Opera Recordings

HEINRICH AUGUST MARSCHNER: DER VAMPYR

Romantic Opera Complete Recording
Jonas Kaufmann · Regina Klepper · Franz Hawlata · Thomas Dewald · WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln · Helmuth Froschauer

2CD · C5184 PC: 21 (Special Price) UPC: 845221051840

HEINRICH AUGUST MARSCHNER (1795-1861)
DER VAMPYR
Romantische Oper in 2 Aufzügen · Romantic Opera in 2 Acts
Text: Wilhelm August Wohlbrück
- Gesamtaufnahme / Complete Recording - 
JONAS KAUFMANN
FRANZ HAWLATA · REGINA KLEPPER · THOMAS DEWALD
WDR RUNDFUNKORCHESTER KÖLN · HELMUTH FROSCHAUER


Something demonic and ghostly fills the air: we find ourselves in the age of Dark Romanticism, which cast its shadow on the opera. The fateful drama is of Scottish origin, whose essence consists of inherited curses, dark, guilty entanglements and bloody props, in order to wake fatalistic shivers. Among the audience at the premiere performance of the "Vampire" in 1828 at the Sächsisches Hoftheater in Leipzig was 15-year-old Richard Wagner. Marschner's opera crosses the path of the theatre novice many times. In 1833 the fledgling répétiteur Wagner in Würzburg got involved in:
„However, soon the Marschner score interested me sufficiently to make it worth while to have my bitter work published. I contributed a new allegro movement to Aubry's tenor aria in Marschner's  'Vampire', which I also wrote the text to. My resulting work was demonic and effective, registering the acclaim of the audience and encouraging recognition from my brother".
Wagner could still get worked up about the "loathsomeness of the thematic“; even Hans Pfitzner had to placatingly defend and emphasise the 'gruesomeness' of the text, the 'shivering' was the "best part of Marschner's music". Edgar Istel also captured his theatrical impression in creepy gothic words: "Whoever saw how the once-bitten vampire returns to life rises up by moonlight to the sounds of Marschner's ghostly music, they will never forget this impression."

 

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ALEXANDER ZEMLINSKY: DER KREIDEKREIS · THE CHALK CIRCLE

Opera Complete Recording
Renate Behle · Reiner Goldberg · Roland Hermann · Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin · Stefan Soltesz

2CD · C5190 PC: 21 (Special Price) UPC: 845221051901

ALEXANDER ZEMLINSKY (1871-1942)
DER KREIDEKREIS
THE CHALK CIRCLE
Oper in drei Akten · Opera in three acts
Text: Klabund
- Gesamtaufnahme / Complete Recording - 
RENATE BEHLE · ROLAND HERMANN · REINER GOLDBERG
SIEGFRIED LORENZ · CELINA LINDSLEY
RADIO-SYMPHONIE-ORCHESTER BERLIN
STEFAN SOLTESZ
The old Chinese drama of courtroom and customs was usable only as raw material. In its original version it is a fairly dull, wooden affair, handled extremely clumsily from the dramatic
point of view.  It is in effect inventing a Chinese fairy-tale. No strict Chinoiserie: it had
to be as if in a dream of China. Klabund (1925)
Two years after the death of Klabund, Zemlinsky decided to use his Chalk circle as the basis for an opera. He recast the five-act "play after the Chinese" first into a two-act, later into a three-act version, and composed his Chalk circle in 1931/32. This blend of a fairy-tale Utopia, social criticism and inwardness makes itself felt in Zemlinsky's music, which seeks to combine varied stylistic components: Chinese coloration appears in the orchestral scoring, which is enriched with gongs and other exotic-sounding instruments: the melody often avoids semitonal steps and so takes on a pentatonic character. It was the seventh and also his last completed opera, from which the then 61-year-old Zemlinsky hoped for the definitive breakthrough as an operatic dramatist.

 

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VICTOR E. NESSLER: The Trumpeter Of Säckingen

Opera Complete Recording
Hermann Prey · Franz Hawlata · Regina Klepper · WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln · Helmuth Froschauer

2CD · C5187 PC: 21 (Special Price) UPC: 845221051871

VICTOR E. NESSLER (1841-1890)
DER TROMPETER VONCKINGEN
THE TRUMPETER OF SÄCKINGEN
Opera in a prologue and three acts
Text: Rudolf Bunge, Joseph Victor von Scheffel
UA: Leipzig, 1884
- Gesamtaufnahme / Complete Recording - 
HERMANN PREY · FRANZ HAWLATA · REGINA KLEPPER
WDR RUNDFUNKORCHESTER KÖLN · HELMUTH FROSCHAUER

The first performance of "The Trumpeter of Säckingen" on May 4, 1884 at the Stadttheater in Leipzig was an unprecedented success. For the hundredth Leipzig performance there was a procession with flaming torches in honour of the composer. "The Trumpeter" then began its triumphant conquest of the entire German theatre scene; within a few years the opera had been performed several thousand times and, by the turn of the century, had established its place in the repertoire of all the major opera houses. That great critical authority Eduard Hanslick showed most restraint, making an attempt to analyze the  „popular force, the winning something" in Nessler's "musical mediocrity", and concluding: "The most remarkable thing in this unprecedentedly successful opera is precisely its success." In 1884 – the year following Wagner's death, the year which saw the premieres of Massenet's "Manon" and Puccini's first work, "Le Villi", the year in which Bruckner's seventh symphony and Mahler's "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen" were composed, – the tastes of the Biedermeier period and quaint romanticism had made their second conquest of the German opera world.

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Franz Schreker: Der Schatzgräber

Opera Complete Recording
Protschka · Schnaut · Stamm · Haage · Philharmonisches Staatsorchester · Gerd Albrecht

2CD · C5175 PC: 21 UPC: 845221051758

LIVE FROM HAMBURG STATE OPERA
FRANZ SCHREKER (1878-1934)
DER SCHATZGRÄBER
Opera with a Prologue, 4 Acts and an Epilogue
- Gesamtaufnahme / Complete Recording - 
JOSEF PROTSCHKA · GABRIELE SCHNAUT · HARALD STAMM
PETER HAAGE

PHILHARMONISCHES STATTSORCHESTER
GERD ALBRECHT


Franz Schreker's operas were among the most played works of the Weimar Republic.  And, in fact, Der Schatzgräber was to become one of the most performed of all contemporay operas during the years of his time: in all 385 performances of the work are between 1920 – the year of the premiere – and 1932 in 50 different cities and productions. If these figures are compared with the 166 performances given to Alban Berg's Wozzeck between 1925 and 1936 in 29 different productions, then the popularity of schreker's opera is to be clearly recognized. Franz Schreker was almost exclusively a composer of operas – an almost singular case in the history of twentieth-century music – the reasons for which are to be found in his technique of musical composition. Schreker accepted and extended the independence of the individual harmonic (chordal) combination as a sonorous value in its own right as was first realized in Wagner‘s Tristan and Isolde. This is programmatically formulated in the Tristan - quotation occurring in the Interlude of Act III of Der Schatzgräber. As is also the case in the dramatic works of Wagner – certain tonal centres are utilized as "sonorous ciphers" for differing levels of dramatic meaning. Thus, in Der Schatzgräber the tone c sharp denotes the realm of illusion – the world of the treasure – while the tone d implies its opposite, the realm of reality or real life. 


The work was however not only Schreker‘s most successful opera but also his last successful opera. Its later sudden loss of popularity coincides with the change in cultural climate of the year of 1924, a change which is documented in the fine arts by the transition from Expressionism to so-called New Objectivitiy (Neue Sachlichkeit) and on the political scene by the initial phase of economic consolidation in the young Republic. 


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Franz Schreker: Der Ferne Klang

Opera Complete Recording
Moser · Schnaut · Von Halem · Nimsgern · RSO Berlin · Gerd Albrecht

2CD · C5178 PC: 21 UPC: 845221051789

 


FRANZ SCHREKER (1878-1934)
DER FERNE KLANG


Opera in 3 Acts · Text: Franz Schreker
- Gesamtaufnahme / Complete Recording - 
THOMAS MOSER · GABRIELE SCHNAUT
VICTOR VON HALEM · SIEGMUND NIMSGERN
RADIO-SYMPHONIE-ORCHESTER BERLIN
GERD ALBRECHT
Der ferne Klang came into being from a twofold need. As a young man I was in a ferment: youth and longing clamoured for self-expression. Longing – to attain an artistic ideal, fame, joy in life, a woman, love! And I wanted to create, wanted to mould everything into sound pictures […] Then in the nick of time I thought of myself, of the drama of growing up, of the folly of this life with its uncertain issue, of all the tragedies that harshly befall us and now and again – often only fleetingly – involve us in their confusion of scene. And I wrote Der ferne Klang out of myself, out of my own youthful experience. (Franz Schreker)


The sensational reception of Der ferne Klang at its first performance on 18 August 1912 in Frankfurt set on foot Schreker's unusually successful career as an opera composer: his works often achieved a higher number of performances than the music-dramas of Richard Strauss. His appointment as teacher at the Vienna Academy of Music enabled him to concentrate on further operas: Das Spielwerk und die Prinzessin (1909 -1912), Die Gezeichneten (1912 -1915) and Der Schatzgräber (1916 -1919). In 1920 Franz Schreker took over the direction of the Berlin High School for Music. He appointed lecturers there of the rank of Arthur Schnabel and Paul Hindemith. Violent political attacks forced Schreker in 1932 to resign his position as director. His work was suppressed and still remained largely forgotten for decades after the war.
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Franz Schmidt: Notre Dame

Opera Complete Recording
Jones · King · Moll · Laubenthal · RSO Berlin · Christof Perick

2CD · C5181 PC: 21 UPC: 845221051819

 


FRANZ SCHMIDT (1874-1939)
NOTRE DAME
Romantic Opera in 2 Acts
Text: Leopold Wilk, Franz Schmidt
- Gesamtaufnahme / Complete Recording - 
GWYNETH JONES · JAMES KING · KURT MOLL
HORST R. LAUBENTHAL

RADIO-SYMPHONIE-ORCHESTER BERLIN
CHRISTOF PERICK
"Notre Dame" immediately evokes the hunchbacked bellringer, Quasimodo, and the films with C. Laughton and A Quinn; one remembers a gruesome, bloodthirsty tale from the late Middle Ages about deformed people, gypsies, villains, knights and priests. With their percise feel for the psychology of the plot, Franz Schmidt and his librettist Leopold Wilk condensed and modified the story and shifted its emphasis. In his novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo's prime intent was to portray 19th century Paris (with Notre Dame Cathedral as the symbolic main character) and to express his social concern for outcasts and the aesthetic and moral worth of ugliness. The opera is dominated not by Paris, not by Quasiomodo (of the five main characters, he has the smallest part), but by Esmeralda. She is at the centre oft the web of stories which make up the plot. The four principal male characters, Phoebus, Gringoire, the Archdeacon, and Quasimodo, have one thing in common – their love for Esmeralda. Men seem to be irresistibly attracted to her, even "bewitched". The lives of these four men are changed, and later destroyed, by their passion for Esmeralda. Meeting Esmeralda has disastrous consequences for all people involved. In her effect on men and the ensuing events, Esmeralda reminds one of Lulu. She is the innocent sister of child-woman Lulu. – However, Alban Berg was not to write his opera for another thirty years.


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ARIANE ET BARBE-BLEUE

PAUL DUKAS

Opera Complete Recording
Marilyn Schmiege · Roderick Kennedy   Jocelyn Taillon
 · Mitsuko Shirai   Monique Baudoin · LNER RUNDFUNKCHOR · KÖLNER RUNDFUNK-SINFONIE-ORCHESTER · GARY BERTINIconductor

2CD-Set · C7112 PC: 22 UPC: 845221071121

OPÉRA EN TROIS ACTES
Oper in 3 Akten · Opera In 3 Acts
Text: Maurice Maeterlinck
Gesamtaufnahme · Complete Recording

Numerous authors have worked with this story in all possible ways – as fairy-tale, narrative, novel, drama, opera. Among the best-known works are the fairy-tale by Ludwig Bechstein, the puppet show by Georg Trakl, the narrative by Max Frisch as well as several pieces of music theatre. These include Jacques Offenbach’s operetta, the opera “Ariane et Barbe-Bleu” by Paul Dukas – as well as the probably most prominent work – the opera “Bluebeard’s Castle” by Béla Bartók.
The opinion on Bluebeard and his last wife – who is the culprit? who is the victim? – has changed over the centuries since Perrault published his fairy-tale in Paris 1697.
However, a very similar analysis of the “battle of the sexes” was already presented by Paul Dukas in 1907, ten years before the premiere of Béla Bartók’s work, in “Ariane et Barbe-Bleue”, his tree-act opera which was first performed at the Opera-comique in Paris. Thereby the composer set a text by the Belgian writer Maurice Maeterlinck to music.
The composer, who was known to be a slow worker, took seven years to set the libretto to music, at the same time altering it to represent his own vision. The result was greeted with great and ungrudging approval, especially by fellow composers and musicians. Vincent d’Indy thought that “Ariane” was the most important piece of music drama since Wagner; Karol Szymanowski, Ferruccio Busoni or Bruno Walter considered “Ariane et Barbe-Bleu” to be the most important French opera besides Debussy’s “Pelleas et Melisande”. Certainly, Dukas’ music for “Bluebeard” has way less exotic flair than Debussy’s “Pelléas”.
 
From the archives of Westdeutsche Rundfunk Köln this Studio Recording, produced in 1986, is now presented for the first time on CD. Former chief conductor Gary Bertini had a very good cast on his hand to do this interesting production.
 


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JOHANN ADOLF HASSE CLEOFIDE

Opera Complete Recording

4CD-Set · C7080 PC: 23 UPC: 845221070803

After many years of absence this famous World Premiere Recording of Hasses 1731 in Dresden performed opera is now back and available for international sale. With a well known cast like EMMA KIRKBY, AGNÈS MELLON, DEREK LEE RAGIN and the conductor WILLIAM CHRISTIE this recording is a „must“ for all Baroque Opera Lovers.

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CARL HEINRICH GRAUN

FRIEDRICH II „DER GROSSE“ MONTEZUMA

Opera Complete Recording

C7085 · 2CD-Set PC: 22 UPC: 845221070858

Together with Johann Adolf Hasse, Carl Heinrich Graun was the chief representative of Italian Opera in Germany in the 18th century. The story of „Montezuma“ accords with the historical fate of the last ruler of the Aztecs. The text is by King Frederick II, Graun had a close friendship to him and became chief of the circle of Berlin composers. „Montezuma“ can be seen as Frederick’s countersignature to his own fate, which made him into a martial war-prince. „Montezuma“ shows him in a field of tension: thus the artistically-minded idealistic prince became the royal practical politician: if justice is to be seen to be done to life’s reality, Montezuma must die. Montezuma is mor than just a Baroque opera. This opera can allude to the history of its own nation. It directs our ear to the destiny of America and the destiny of Prussia, to the German’s view, 200 years ago, of America, and American history as the mirror of its own.