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Thread: Miscellaneous Composers w/o their own threads - their operas on CD/DVD/Blu-Ray

          
   
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  1. #31
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schigolch View Post
    Just to point out that chronologically speaking this is the first Domingo's venture into baritone territory, as he always sung the tenor, Javier, but in this production from Teatro Real, he is the baritone, Vidal.
    Of course, I should have mentioned that, I have Domingo as Javier in my CD of this, and to be honest, I find a "real" baritone is more satisfying in the role of Vidal.

    On a personal note, my grandfather and my grandmother attended the world premiere of this zarzuela, back in 1932.
    That is SO cool.
    Natalie

  2. #32
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Wow, this really is good (I was familiar with it on CD but watching it is something else). This is the most believable and fully-fleshed set of characters I have ever come across in an opera, and you soon get to really care about what happens to them. I loved the feeling of a close-knit community united against whatever the world can throw at them, be it hurricanes or the long arm of the white man's law.

    Willard White is just magnificent as Porgy, dignified and handsome and with great presence. He is well matched in his beautiful expressive Bess. Gregg Baker as Crown exudes sexuality and you could see why Bess is torn between the two, loving kindness on one hand and a kind of raw animal magnetism on the other.

    So why isn't it staged more often: apart from the difficulties (surely lessening) of assembling an all-black cast, Wiki mentions there is some controversy about the portrayal of black society by a white man (the drugs, gambling and murder aspects).

    On the other hand when you consider the amount of murder, rape, incest, abductions, executions, blackmail and general skullduggery in operas about white people, I think the good folks of Catfish Row get off pretty lightly and come over as a sympathetic kindly lot.
    Natalie

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  4. #33
    Schigolch
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    Antonio Smareglia was born in Pola, currently in Croatia, in 1854. He attended the Milan Conservatory and was able to write and get performed several operas during his lifetime. The most succesful was Nozze Istriane, premiered in Trieste, 1895, with great singers like Gemma Bellincioni and Roberto Stagno, and then performed in Weimar, Prague, Dresden, Vienna, Munich, Milan,...





    The plot, with a libretto by Luigi Illica, is about two young villagers, Marussa and Lorenzo, that are in love. However, Marussa is the love interest of a richer man, Nicola, that convinces Menico, Marussa's father, to give him the permission to marriage her daughter. Menico, a man of means, tricks Marussa into believing that Lorenzo is cheating on her, and soon starts to prepare the wedding.

    However, Marussa is advised she had been deceived, and asks Nicola to give her back her freedom. Nicola flatly refuses, and is attacked by Lorenzo. After a fight, Lorenzo is stabbed by Nicola and dies in Marussa's arms.

    In about 100 minutes, we get a very nice verismo opera, that holds our interest from beginning to end.

    Antonio Smareglia - Le Nozze Istriane - Interludes

    Antonio Smareglia - Le Nozze Istriane - End of First Act

    Overall: B-, recommended for verismo Opera lovers.

  5. #34
    Schigolch
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    L'Arlesiana, by Francesco Cilea, is a verismo opera, based on a tale by Alphonse Daudet, and premiered in Milan, in 1897.

    The plot is simple: Federico (tenor) is madly in love with a woman from Arlés (L'Arlesiana). Her mother, Rosa Mammai (soprano) is understandably worried about this, and after some research proves to his son that the woman has a secret lover, Metifio (baritone), but her parents prefer the marriage to the relatively well-to-do Federico. Even with the help of both Vivetta (soprano), a nice girl in love with Federico, and Federico's brother, a retarded child (mezzo), Rosa is unable to win back Federico, that kills himself when the Arlesiana and Metifio escape together.

    This is a very tuneful opera, with some great pages. Even better, in my mind, than the well known Adriana Lecouvreur.

    There is a recording from 1951, with Pia Tassinari and Ferruccio Tagliavini, that is quite good from a vocal point of view, but with cuts. Probably is better to start with this one from Bongiovanni:



    that contains most of the music, including a revision by Cilea, completed in 1937.

    Even if L'arlesiana is rarely staged today, some of the numbers are quite popular. For instance, this piece by the tenor (the first Federico was none other than Enrico Caruso), that is really famous:



    or the aria for the baritone, "Come due tizzi accesi":



    or those wonderful arias for Rosa Mammai:

    "Esser madre è un inferno"



    "Era un giornio di festa"



    Overall: B+, recommended for all Opera lovers.

  6. #35
    Schigolch
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    Italian Belcanto opera goes further than Bellini, Rossini or Donizetti.

    One of the 'hidden' composers of the period is Carlo Coccia. He was succesful both in Opera buffa (Clotilde and Arrighetto are available) and Opera seria. In this last vein, perhaps his more interesting effort was Caterina di Guisa.

    Curiously, he was also an accomplished singer, and was usually the cover of the tenor role for many of the performances of his operas.



    This is an opera with beautiful moments, that will most probably be very well liked by belcanto aficionados.

    Si m'uccide ed il sangue versato

    Overall: B, recommended for Belcanto Opera lovers.

  7. #36
    Schigolch
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    In 1647, the opera Orfeo, by Italian composer Luigi Rossi, was staged in Paris. It was a success, but the political circumstances in France (soon the revolt known as the Fronde broke out, and Rossi's patron, Cardinal Mazarin, was forced to flee Paris) prevented any possible further assignment for Rossi, that returned to Italy, to a job as organist in the church of San Luigi dei Francesi, in Rome.

    For many years, the score was lost, but once recovered and identified as the missing work from Luigi Rossi, was staged at La Scala, in 1982 and 1985.

    During the composition of the piece, Rossi's wife, Costanza, died and this contributed to dye the opera with a marvelous melancholy. It is really a veritable masterpiece, one of the most beautiful works from the 17th century to have reached us.

    Back in 1992, William Christie orchestrated the delightful melodies of Luigi Rossi and decided to record the opera, in the fantastic CD above. Especially the duets between Orfeo and Euridice are simply great, and the rendition is a very good one by Agnes Mellon and Monique Zanetti.

    Here below, one aria ("Lasciate Averno") from the CD:

    Lasciate Averno - Orfeo - Luigi Rossi

    Overall: A, recommended for all Opera lovers

  8. #37
    Schigolch
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    Jean-Joseph de Mondonville wrote Titon et L'Aurore in 1753. It was a big success in Paris at the time.

    It's an amazing opera, a "Pastorale héroïque" in a Prologue and three Acts, and a real jewel of French late Baroque. A delightful work, undeserving of neglect, but we have only this excellent recording by Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre.

    [/QUOTE]

    Overall: B+, recommended for Baroque Opera lovers.

  9. #38
    Schigolch
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    Bellini and Romani feud bitterly over Beatrice di Tenda. One of the reasons was the poet wanted Bellini to put in music Cristina, Regina di Svezia, instead.

    This was never to happen, but the young Italian composer Jacopo Foroni did wrote an opera in the subject, almost twenty years later. Freshly arrived in Sweden, he premiered his Cristina in Stockholm. It was something of a success, and the piece was also staged in Italy, but it was soon forgotten until this recording from an all Swedish cast.

    It's a nice work, though it won't stun anyone.

    Overall: C, recommended for lovers of rarities.

  10. #39
    Schigolch
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    The Secret (Tajemství) is the seventh opera written by Bedrich Smetana, with a libretto by Eliska Krasnohorska. This is arguably the best Smetana's opera, though is not very popular outside the Czech Republic. It's a comedy, a sort of village Romeo and Juliet, with a happy ending. This historical recording, with an all Czech cast, and with the firm hand of Jaroslav Krombholc conducting, it's a real pleasure to listen, in this remasterized version.

    A number from the opera in youtube:



    Overall: B, recommended for Czech Opera lovers

  11. #40
    Schigolch
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    Sonzogno's Publishing House was established in Milan, by Edoardo Sonzogno, in 1874. A few years later, in 1883, it arranged a competition for one-act operas, with a prize of 2,000 lires plus the staging of the winner. This competition was famous because the jury rejected Le Villi, by Puccini.

    In 1888 there was a second competition. In this case, with a prize of 3,000 lires, there were more than 70 contenders. The winner, of course, was Pietro Mascagni with Cavalleria Rusticana. However, there was another composer that won a special mention by the jury. He was no other than the young (21 years old) Umberto Giordano. The piece presented, Marina, was not even performed, but Sonzogno encouraged Giordano to write a new opera, and in this way Mala Vita was born.




    This is an opera in Three Acts, taking some 75 minutes. The libretto is by Nicola Daspuro, and the opera takes place in Naples, in the year 1810. Vito Amante (tenor), is bedding Amalia (mezzo), married to Annetiello (baritone). Vito suffers from tuberculosis and he swore to marry the first prostitute he meets in the street so he can get cured.

    Sooner said than done, appears Cristina (soprano), a worker in the neighborhood's brothel, that agrees to marry Vito. However, Annetiello, a regular customer of the bordello, when he particularly favours Cristina, is not happy with the idea. Also, Amalia disapproves and she goes as far as to menace Cristina with a knife.

    With this sad state of affairs, Vito informs Cristina during the festivity of the Piedrigrotta that he takes back his marriage's offer. Cristina deplores her bad luck but, resigned, returns to the bawdyhouse.

    There is some nice music involved, but we would need some more action, both in the score and in the libretto, with a few stabbing between Vito and Annetiello sorely missing.

    The only recording of this opera comes from some performances conducted by Angelo Cavallaro, in December, 2002, at the Teatro Giordano, in Foggia, the native city of Umberto Giordano.

    We can see the score here

    and listen to the duet at the final of the Second Act:




    Overall: C, recommended only for lovers of Italian verismo.

  12. #41
    Schigolch
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    This is the story of a survivor, a simple man that uses absurd and humour to pass through the brutality and horror of a war that has been imposed on him. The Good Soldier Schweik, is one of the outstanding figures of central European 20th century literature. It was created by Jaroslav Hašek in 1923, and the American composer Robert Kurka wrote his opera just before his death, in 1957.

    The opera was premiered at the NYCO, in 1958, with the orchestration completed by Hershey Kay. We can hear traces of German opera of the 1920s and also a little Stravinsky in the multicoloured score, that runs at a frantic pace, but with a really good performance by the orchestra and the singers of this Chicago production, in the year 2001.

    We can hear the opera suite:




    Overall: C+, recommended for lovers of 20th century Opera.

  13. #42
    Schigolch
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    ]I think we are all familiar with the "Entartete Musik" concept, a kind of label applied by the Nazi Government in Germany to music made by Jews or political adversaries. In English the concept is translated as "Degenerate Music".

    Jewish composers such as Arnold Schoenberg, Franz Schreker, Walter Braunfels, Erich Korngold or Kurt Weill, among others, watched helplessly while his music was banished by the Government. But also 'Arian' composers such as Paul Hindemith or Alban Berg were similarly damaged.

    Fortunately, the Nazi party was not able to reach his final target, and the music of those and other great musicians from the period is now firmly into the standard repertoire.

    However, not all composers in Germany were opposed to the Nazi Government. Max von Schillings was a declared anti-Semite and started to bully Jewish artists during his tenure as President of the Prussian Academy of the Arts. He laid off Arnold Schönberg and ordered Franz Schreker into early retirement, being the main cause behind the stroke that a few weeks later killed Schreker.

    Von Schillings's opera Mona Lisa, completed in 1915 during the First World War, became one of the most-performed operas in Germany. It is a mixture of wagnerian, straussian and verismo sounds, with a weak libretto, but still worth at least one hearing. However, all revivals have ultimately failed to impress either public or critics.

    There is one nice recording available, so we can judge by ourselves:



    Mona Lisa (1913/15) opera in two acts Fiordalisa...

    Overall: C, recommended for the curious listener, only.

  14. #43
    Schigolch
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    Motezuma - Vito Priante
    Mitrena - Mary-Ellen Nesi
    Teutile - Laura Cherici
    Fernando Cortés - Franziska Gottwald
    Ramiro - Theodora Baka

    Teatro Comunale, Ferrara
    Conductor and Orchestra: Alan Curtis / Il Complesso Barocco
    Stage Director
    Stefano Vizioli


    This is a Vivaldi opera that was lost after his death, and only found already into the 21st century, sleeping in a library, in Berlin.

    The music is quite lively, purely Venetian. And the work by Curtis and his ensemble as good as could be expected, though not terribly imaginative. The period staging is also nice, as the costumes, but then again nothing to be excited about.

    The vocal cast is the weakest part, perhaps too many females, a little bit monotonous. The only really interesting voice for me was Mary-Ellen Nesi as Mitrena.



    Overall: C, recommended for Vivaldi lovers, only.

  15. #44
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Carl Nielsen: Maskarade on DVD

    I'll be reviewing shortly (after *weeks* without having time to explore operas that are new to me) this DVD of Carl Nielsen's Maskarade.



    Here is the link to the Amazon.com page:

    http://www.amazon.com/Royal-Danish-O...7887624&sr=1-1

    Maskarade, comic opera in 3 acts, premiered on November 11, 1906
    Music by Carl Nielsen (1865-1931)
    Libretto by Vilhelm Anderson, after the 1724 classical comedy of the same name by Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754)

    Michael Schonwandt conducts the Royal Danish Orchestra, with Kaare Hansen as the master for the Royal Danish Opera Choir, in 2006

    Stage directors Kasper Bech Holten and Morgan Alling
    Set and costumes Marie í Dali

    Cast:

    Jeronimus - Stephen Milling
    Magdelone - Susanne Resmark
    Leander - Niels Jorgen Riis
    Henrik - Johan Reuter
    Arv - Ole Hedegaard
    Leonard - Poul Elming
    Leonora - Gisella Stille
    Pernille - Hanne Fischer
    En vaegter (a nightwatchman) - Sten Byriel
    Maskarademester (the master of the Masquerade) - Anders Jakobsson
    En magister (a tutor) - Jakob Bloch Jespersen

    The DVD was released in Feb 2008 by Da Capo.
    Sung in Danish, with subtitles in English, German, and Danish
    Menus in English
    Bonus Material - an excellent introduction with the conductor, and a Making Of documentary
    Running time (opera) 138 minutes
    Sound - Stereo, Dolby 5.1, DTS 5.1 - the sound is a bit in the stereo track I'm using on a headphone, not to disturb the other people in my household at this hour. Maybe the surround tracks are better. Note - One of the amazon.com reviewers says that the sound in the surround tracks is just as bad - so yes, there is definitely a sound problem with this DVD. It does sound like a mono recording with no depth whatsoever.
    Region zero (all)
    Format NTSC, 16:9 widescreen - good color, but too dark and with exaggerated contrast, requiring tweaking of the TV settings.

    The insert contains some of the best notes I've ever seen, with a true in-depth essay that includes a preface, genesis of the opera, description of the premiere, performances in Denmark and abroad, printed editions, revisions and cuts, synopsis, and detailed descriptions of the careers of the cast members and crew.

    This 18-page essay is repeated in German and Danish.

    This impressive essay comes in addition to the introduction by the conductor, which is *really* insightful and interesting, including explanations about the mores and context at the time of composition, the importance of this opera for the Danish, musical aspects, philosophical considerations about the characters and the plot, etc.

    Unfortunately, with all this perfection of documentation, they didn't think of printing a chapter list, the only flaw in this otherwise impressive package. The chapter list with names of the arias and characters does exist on the DVD, though, so this is just a matter of convenience.

    The plot is simple - two young people meet at a masked ball and fall in love with each other, exchanging vows of marriage and rings. The next day the young man is dismayed to learn that his father has arranged his marriage to his neighbor's daughter. The neighbor however complains that his daughter doesn't want to marry the young man because she fell in love with some guy at a masked ball. In the third act of course we learn that the boy and the girl are the same young people from the ball, to everybody's relief and happy ending.

    However, much is made of how metaphorical it is, in terms of the pursuit of individual freedom, societal oppression, class relations (the valet Henrik is a sort of Figaro figure), etc.

    The staging is updated to modern times and is very inventive. It's clearly an update that works.

    Much has been said about the video direction, which is apparently annoying in the fact that they interrupt the visual action several times to film the musicians instead of the stage. We'll see.

    All right, I'll pause and watch it, then I'll complete this review.

    First impressions: yes, the video direction is *incredibly* annoying. It switches to the orchestra every ten seconds! It is done so often that one gets dizzy.

    Rather good vocal writing, very melodic, and the first two singers are quite good in voice and acting (Leander and Henrik) - this sounds like fun, if only I can survive this visual instability of the frequent cuts between stage and orchestra - who the hell had this idea??? The credits don't specifically mention video direction - they do mention DVD Producers as Thorleif Hoppe and Niels Severin - two names to avoid... and editor Kim Rasmussen. It's gotta be the culprit.

    I said ten seconds? In several stretches they switch between the orchestra and the stage every 3 seconds! No kidding! Oh! My! God!

    There are some advantages to this - it is entertaining to see that the conductor mouths the libretto at all times (supposedly he learned it by heart since age 11), and the focus on the instrumentalists does help with highlighting some of the lively aspects of Nielsen's music - the problem, obviously, is that it is done way too often and too fast - a reviewer complained of a headache at the end of the show, and I can see it actually happening with the need for the eyes to adapt from the bright colors and lights on the stage to the dark pit every 3 to 10 seconds, constantly, for more than two hours! How can a video director be *this* stupid???

    Also, the technical aspects of image and sound being bad in this DVD, the eyes are constantly assaulted by ultra-bright images of the lights that illuminate the score for the musicians. I'm *already* getting a headache, and I'm half through the first act. Dammit!

    High singing quality continues, with the next two characters entering the stage - the mother, Magdelone, and the father, Jeronimus, well sung by a remarkable bass-baritone. Nice staging touches, when the ancestors on wall pictures suddenly start to move and sing, Harry Potter style.

    The sets with the various rooms in the house come sliding right to left and left to right as the action changes between rooms, and they are quite well done.

    Leonard, the neighbor, doesn't have a good voice (strident, annoying timbre) but the singer at least is a quite good comic actor.

    A lively, Rossinian-like quintet ends first act. This opera itself is lots of fun and we get here a very talented cast both in acting and singing, and stage direction is excellent.

    If only we had a better video director... not to forget better technical aspects in terms of light balance and sound depth...

    There is an instrumental prelude to the second act, quite delicate, evoking the peaceful sleep of the characters that opens the act. Then the nightwatchman makes his entrance on roller-skates, and again the singer is simply excellent. These Danish singers certainly know what they're doing. The singer playing Arv the handyman is only correct, though, and his acting is less good than the others' - he's the only artist who seems forced and uncomfortable in acting.

    The scene with Arv confessing his sins is a bit overlong and stops the dramatic flow of the main plot. I don't much understand why it is there. It does allow Mr. Nielsen to show some modernism in his score which reminds me of R. Strauss at times, and it all turns interesting again when we get two a male chorus then a female chorus.

    Next we finally see for the first time the young woman at the center of the plot, Leonora, and her maid Pernille - respectively the love interests of Leander and Henrik. Both ladies - soprano and mezzo - are convincing actresses, and the soprano sings divinely, confirming the good musical values of this production. Pernille doesn't project as well as Leonora and is less good a singer but she is a cute flirtatious lady.

    Beautiful love duet ensues, very lyrical, with wonderful staging effects of a starry sky. Oh boy, this is a good production of a good opera.

    The otherwise excellent bass-baritone playing Jeronimus does lose his pace and he falls behind the orchestra in the first true musical failure in this performance, in his scene with Arv when they both wave flags. Excellent singer playing the nightwatchman comes back to end second act. Rather zany and wild act. I like it.

    Third act opens with operetta-like music (this thing musically seems to me like a cross between Die Fledermaus, Ariadne auf Naxos, and La Vie Parisienne, if such a thing is possible) - supposedly we should get a ballet but will get instead a circus act with acrobats. I'll tell you what: the effect is thrilling. What an excellent staging!

    By now I have a constant smile on my face and I'm minding less the orchestra/stage switches, so enchanting this production is.

    Henrik is confronted by three brides he's dumped, in front of his new love interest Pernille - funny scene.

    It is true that musically this opera lacks a certain structural organization. The score migrates from inventive and lively to conventional and back, and oscillates between romanticism and modernism. It's still lots of fun.

    Great comic scene with Magdelone, Leonard, and Jeronimus. She is such a good actress!

    Act III is supposed to depict the Masquerade as a dream machine, where everybody acts out their inner wishes. It works, although it can get confusing, theatrically speaking. The Dance of the Cockerels happens mid-act, and it is a famous concert piece, here, like I said, played as a circus scene instead of a ballet, to great effect. The Master of the Masquerade is another remarkable singer and actor.

    By now I'm already inclined to issue a verdict even before the end.

    This is a highly recommended DVD in spite of its technical and editing flaws, because it (poorly) preserves an excellent staging with great acting and singing, of a very enjoyable opera, under a conductor who is passionate about this piece (and there is very good documentation and nice bonus features).

    It does work as a demonstration of how a DVD can't really capture the live opera house experience. I'd have killed to attend this production in person. The crew that produced this DVD did everything they could to ruin this outstanding performance, but it was such a good one, that they weren't able to ruin it, thus my highly recommended label.

    A drunk Jeronimus goes down to the pit and interacts with the public. He drags a member of the audience to the stage. The whole scene is zany like an Offenbach ensemble.

    Tramtrara-Tramtrara... the ominous Maskerademester comes to remind everybody of humanity's flawed and mortal nature... and how dawn brings about reality after this night of revery. The characters down masks while the lyrics show that they're unmasking themselves - a clever symbolic device.

    The mistaken identity plot is undone, all rejoice, and we get a wonderful finale (again, this is just like Offenbach). The public joins in, clapping hands. Curtain.

    A+ (yes, even with the flaws, it's still A+)
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); January 30th, 2012 at 05:33 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  16. #45
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    Louis Spohr (1784-1859), Faust (1851 revised version). Spohr is not a well known composer of opera, better known for his instrumental works, and currently enjoying a revival after a near complete neglect of his works. Faust was first performed in 1813 as a two act German Singspiel, and later revised in 1851 as a three act grand opera with recitatives for Covent Garden. Then, it vanished until 1931, and then in modern times appeared in 1993 as recorded here. Chor der Oper Bielefeld & Bielefelder Philharmoniker, Geoffrey Moull (CPO label).

    The story deals with the German classic legend of Faust. Basically, he makes a pact with the devil to win a new woman he desires from her fiancé. He fights a duel with the fiancé and manages to kill the fiancé, while the woman he was originally in love with, dies of grief. He then ends up in hell.

    Spohr's early Romantic German/Austrian contemporaries were not that strong a "team" when it came to opera. Beethoven wrote one, Schumann wrote one, Schubert wrote a few that are not well known, likewise with Mendelssohn, while Brahms wrote none. Carl Maria von Weber wrote several that are reasonably well known today, and that was mainly it before mid-Romantic Wagner. So it's something of a fascination to me when a composer of fine intrumental forms wrote an opera, and who was generally quite successful during his professional career. You won't walk away remembering tunes from it, nor would you feel the music exhibited strong characterisation anywhere near the masters to reveal what the characters felt as the story unfolded. But if you are fascinated by what early Romantic opera from a German hand could do, then have a listen. Fans of Spohr should not hesitate.

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