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  1. #1
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    Miscellaneous German Composers (without their own thread)

    Siegfried Wagner (1869-1930), Der Kobold (1904)

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    Regina Mauel, Rebecca Broberg, Johannes Fottinger, Volker Horn, Marco Bappert, Martina Borst, Joachim Hochbauer, Philipp Hoferichter, Achim Hoffmann, Nicholas Isherwood, Heike Kohler, Ksenija Lukic, Philipp Meierhofer, Andreas Andreas & Young Jae Park; PPP Music Theatre Ensemble & Munich Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra, Frank Strobel, Germany, 2005. 2 DVDs, opera 3hrs and 10 mins or so.

    Richard Wagner's son's opera, The Goblin; libretto by Siegfried himself. A very strange story indeed. SW appeared to have been preoccupied with infanticide story lines. The opera was about a village girl ended up being the atonement for her mother's infanticide of her own daughter; it was not clear whether the mother aborted or killed the baby. Regardless, mixed in with some local village affairs, an opera within an opera, symbolism involving deformed looking babies/goblins, it was a rather long-winded affair and felt like two operas might have been performing before us; one as per the opera's title and the other, local village affairs.

    The music superficially resembled Richard Wagner's especially at times when SW appeared to run out of room to develop. But overall, the music seemed easily accessible, almost a light version and without the textural development we all know well, of German Romantic Richard Wagner. I did not find any stretches dull.

    The staging was modern, and lots of weird and curious bits and pieces that left me guessing what went on. Without reading the booklet, it would have been impossible to follow. So the staging was an average modern affair that did not impress. At least the singing was better, which while I did not recognise many of the names, I thought their voices were adequate, and it was a large cast with almost twenty characters (hence my thought of two operas going on).

    Siegfried was no Richard, not by any mile. But I was more or less adequately entertained by Der Kobold, not knowing what to expect as far as the music was concerned. I supposed that was good enough for a first experience with Siegfried Wagner's opera.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Involved Member StLukesGuildOhio's Avatar
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    My God! Can this be true? A thread on Richard Wagner has gone on for some 7 pages without out one mention of... dare I say it?... Nazi's?! Or even "music on steroids"?! How different from that other music site that shall remain unnamed.

    Personally, I've been on a French music kick lately so I haven't had my usual Wagner fix. I have recently explored two operas very much indebted to Wagner: Ansermet's recording of Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande... which I liked far more than Boulez' more Modernist take. Then I became so enamored of Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel that I had to pick up two more versions... beside the classic Karajan that I had for years... but simply hadn't ever gotten around to:







    Perhaps tomorrow I'll break out this one:



    It's been sitting forlornly on my shelf now for some number of months.
    "Suppose you were an idiot ... And suppose you were a member of
    Congress .. But I repeat myself." -Mark Twain

  3. #3
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Zar und Zimmermann on DVD



    Zar und Zimmermann (The Czar and the Carpenter), comic opera in three acts, sung in German, premiered on December 22, 1837
    Music by Albert Lortzing
    Libretto also by Albert Lortzing, after Georg Christian Römer's Der Bürgermeister von Saardam, oder Die zwei Peter, itself based on the French play Le Bourgesmestre de Sardam, ou Les deux Pierres by Anne-Honoré-Joseph Duveyrier de Mélésville, Jean Toussaint Merle, and Eugène Centiran de Boirie.

    The Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra conducted by Charles Mackerras
    The Chorus of the Hamburg State Opera, chorus master Günther Schimdt-Bohländer
    The Ballet of the Hamburg State Opera, choreographer Isabella Vernici

    Artistic Director Rolf Liebermann, General Manager of the Hamburg State Opera, produced by Polyphon Film for NDR TV, a German channel, in 1969
    Directed for TV by Joachim Hess
    Set design Herbert Kirchhoff

    Cast

    Peter the Great - Raymond Wolansky
    Peter Ivanov - Peter Haage
    Van Bett - Hans Sotin
    Marie - Lucia Popp
    Admiral Lefort - Herbert Fliether
    Lord Syndham - Noël Mangin
    Marquis de Châteauneuf - Horst Wilhelm
    Widow Browe - Ursula Boese
    Officer - Franz Grundheber
    Town Clerk - Jürgen Förster

    ---------

    Technically speaking, this satisfactory product is an old video recording with mono sound, but it is of surprisingly good quality in terms of image and sound. It's an ArtHaus Musik and Studio Hamburg 2007 release on DVD 9, NTSC, 4:3 color picture, PCM mono sound, region code 0 (worldwide), sung in original German with subtitles in English, German, French, Spanish, and Italian. Running time 131 minutes; no extras. The insert contains a very good 7-page essay and a detailed synopsis in English, German, and French; credits, list of tracks with names of musical numbers, characters, and duration, and tree black-and-white production pictures.

    ---------

    This light opera can be called an avis rara - the elusive genre that resulted from an attempt to import to Germany something similar to Italianate opera buffa, but with spoken dialogue - still, not quite a traditional Singspiel which is more genuinely German. In many ways its lightness was called a predecessor of Die Meistersinger, but not exactly from the musical standpoint: it borrows from Donizetti who set the same story to music as Il Borgomastro di Sardaam - not only thematically, but actually a couple of musical numbers can be said to have plagiarized Donizetti's. So, this resembles bel canto more than Singspiel or the comedies of Mozart, although it does borrow from the latter as well. It's kind of a hybrid.

    This historically important film is one of Liebermann's 13 delightful operatic video recordings in studio for the German TV.

    The work itself is pleasant and melodious (although interrupted by frequent and long spoken dialogue), and is one of two of Lortzing's biggest claim to fame (the other one being the more substantial Undine). It is still quite popular in Germany, and has deserved a famous recording with Nicolai Gedda and Hermann Prey. I'd say that musically it isn't that impressive (like I said, pleasant, but no masterpiece).

    The plot has the usual mistaken identify that usually happens across the spectrum of the comic operatic genre in many cultures. Tsar Peter I the Great of Russia disguises himself as a shipyard worker in the Dutch city of Sardaam, in order to travel Europe incognito, under the adopted name of Peter Michailov. Over there, he befriends a Russian carpenter also called Peter (Ivanov), who is in love with the pompous mayor van Bett's niece, Marie. Word is going around, however, that a man named Peter who works at the shipyard is indeed Russia's ruler. The ambassadors of from England and Frances show up, looking for Peter the Great, as his presence is sought in Russia due to a revolt. The mayor however believes the wrong man, Peter Ivanov, is the monarch. Much confusion ensues with attempts to arrest the tsar, who ends up fleeing with the help of Ivanov and Marie, using Ivanov's passport, not before naming his friend to a high position, which will enable him to marry Marie.

    The Hamburg State Opera in the sixties was a formidable company with an exquisite ensemble of 80 singers, and richness of means. So, this is a very polished performance that captures some soon-to-be major international artists still young, such as Lucia Popp and Hans Sotin, not to forget the future developments in maestro Charles Mackerras' outstanding career. Staging is traditional, with no frills, and rather literal in terms of fidelity to the libretto, without the same creativity we see in other Liebermann productions. Video direction is mediocre, with an excessive use of close-ups and a camera that moves too often - and certainly it gets a bit nauseating as they didn't have at the time the steadicam technology (invented in 1975).

    All singers in the five principal roles - Hans Sotin as Van Bett, Raymond Wolansky as Peter Michaelov, Lucia Popp as Marie, Horst Wilhelm as the French ambassador, and Ursula Boese as the Widow Browe, perform their roles very well, both in acting, and voice-wise. Comprimarios and the chorus do well, too. The latter is particularly successful in the famous comic choral scene that Wagner liked so much. Strangely enough, the best music is not for the title roles or for Marie, but rather for the French Ambassador, who sings the most exquisite aria, the seductive "Lebe whohl, mein fland'rsich Mäddchen", when he is trying to flirt with Marie (she does insert a couple of lines, and so does the chorus - it's a very successful musical number).

    A verdict for this product will necessarily define it as a mixed bag. Everything in it has pros and cons: the work itself is sort of a hybrid, and while it has goo musical moments, it is not as good as the best pieces from the genres it tries to imitate. The traditional staging is well done but the poor camera work gets to be very annoying. Singing is very good and we get to see the young Lucia Popp and Hans Sotin, but the long spoken dialogues take away some of the musical enjoyment.

    I'd say B, and sort of in between recommended and not recommended: it's pleasant enough but not a mandatory purchase in any way - it's the sort of thing you buy or watch if you don't have something more compelling on your plate, but you don't quite regret buying either.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); January 26th, 2014 at 02:23 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  4. #4
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    This is a delightful opera:


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