• Der Ryng des Polykrates / Violanta

    Though Die Tote Stadt is the most celebrated of Korngold's operas, the rest of his lyrical pieces are also very enjoyable.

    Der Ryng des Polykrates was written by a seventeen years old Korngold, and was premiered in Munich (in a double bill with Violanta), in 1916. It was Julius Korngold who had convinced the theater to offer his son's operas. It's a light comedy, loosely based on Schiller, in which a young, rich and happy married couple is envied by an acquaintance, that remind them of the legend of Polykrates, one king that practiced preventive sacrifices to Poseidon to keep his happiness. The young lovers decide also to sacrifice something: the friendship of the jealous acquaintance.

    This is not a masterpiece, not by any means, but it's a nice opera, especially for someone so young. The orchestration is very refined.





    Maria Jeritza as Violanta


    Violanta is another story. We are here before a very good opera. Korngold was already nineteen, and those two additional years gave him the matureness to address this new kind of subject. The libretto, by Hans Müller, is also interesting. In 15th century Venice, Simone Trovai (baritone) suffers the indifference of his wife Violanta (soprano), since her sister was seduced by Alfonso, prince of Naples (tenor). Violanta requests Simone to kill Alfonso to save the honor of the family. Finally, Simone reluctantly agrees. Violanta makes an appointment with Alfonso to facilitate the murder, but gets crazy in love with the prince. Simone finds the couple in loving embrace, and stabs Violanta, that dies in his arms.

    Violanta was an instant success, and was staged in several cities. There are fantastic melodies, and also boasts the incredible harmonic and orchestration skills of the young Korngold. Of course, we can find traces of the Wagnerian Tristan, of Strauss and even of Zemlinsky's florentine tragedy, but this was a towering achievement for a nineteen years old boy.





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