• First Act, first scene

    In Die Tote Stadt's original score, Korngold did not include the name of any motif. However, as soon as 1922, the first musical analysis of the opera was published by Rudolf S. Hoffmann.

    Mr. Hoffmann, in his review, gave name to several motifs, and Korngold agreed that they were indeed well chosen. We will stick to this nomenclature in this series of posts.


    First Act, First Scene

    BRIGITTA
    Behutsam! Hier ist alles alt,
    Und gespenstig.
    Bis gestern drang keiner
    In diese Stube außer ihm und mir,
    Die Jahre durch, die er in Brügge lebt.

    FRANK
    Und gestern –?

    BRIGITTA
    Sie sind sein Freund, Herr Frank –
    So seis gesagt.
    Gestern schien er ganz gewandelt.
    Er bebte vor Erregung, schluchzt’ und lachte.
    "Türen auf!" so sagte er,
    "Licht in meinen Tempel!
    Die Toten stehen auf!"

    FRANK
    Dies hab ich nie von ihm gehört,
    Sonderbar!

    BRIGITTA
    Seht- Rosen und Levkojen an den Rahmen
    Und an der Türe zu ihrem Zimmer,
    In dem sie starb.
    Besonders aber dies Bild hat er schön geschmückt.

    FRANK
    Ist sie das –? Marie?

    BRIGITTA
    Ja, das war sie. In dem hellen, weichen Kleide,
    Das er so liebte.

    FRANK
    Schön –!
    Herrgott! Wie leuchtet dies Haar!

    BRIGITTA
    Da drunter liegt ein Strähn von diesem Haar.
    Flüssige Dukaten, nicht wahr?

    FRANK
    Er hat es aufbewahrt ? Seltsam.

    BRIGITTA
    Und hier...
    Kein Fleck, der nicht von seiner Toten spräche.
    Er nennts: Kirche des Gewesenen.

    FRANK
    So lebt er stets ?

    BRIGITTA
    Bis gestern immer so. Er sagte : "Brügge
    Und ich, wir sind eins.
    Wir beten Schönstes an: Vergangenheit."

    FRANK
    Und du, Brigitt ? Erträgst du das ?
    Du – eine Frau?
    Lockt dich ins Leben nicht hinaus ?

    BRIGITTA
    Was das Leben ist, weiß ich nicht, Herr Frank.
    Denn ich bin allein. Hier aber, hier ist Liebe, Herr Frank,
    Das weiß ich. Und wo Liebe,
    Dort dient eine arme Frau zufrieden.

    Da ist er.


    There is no overture, but just a small prelude of hardly eleven bars. Small but important, as it contains several motifs later developed in the opera. After three chords accompanied with celesta and piccolo, there is "Doom". And then four bars with the violins ascending and "Return to Life":



    When Brigitta stars to sing, introducing Frank to the room and their life in Bruges, there is no established tonality, a way to invoke Paul's restless soul. Frank answers and then Brigitta point at Marie's portrait and the motif of "Marie" sound in the strings. Frank retorts while the orchestra is playing another motif, "Long Hair" supported by trumpet and glockenspiel.

    Brigitta picks up the room description, this 'Temple of Remembrance" while a wonderful chord in the strings, the organ and the piano, with an almost ecclesiastical touch, is being played.

    The final small aria from Brigitta is a real marvel, and it must be sung with a very lyrical mood and reach a beautiful high A in the word 'liebe', and the nice cascade in the harp.

    In just five minutes, Korngold introduces us in the opera and establish the atmosphere of the piece.

    We can watch the scene using the famous production from the Deutsche Oper that is complete in youtube. Brigitta is Margit Neubauer and Frank is William Murray.



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