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Live Aus Der Semperoper: Lehar Gala From Dresden
Christian Thielemann s affinity with the works of Beethoven, Bruckner and Wagner is so well known and his performances of their music so universally acclaimed that not a few observers were surprised when he turned his attention to the world of operetta at the 2010 New Year s Eve Concert. But a selection of numbers from Franz Lehár s classic operetta The Merry Widow allowed him to acknowledge an old love which he has felt since his early years as a conductor. This is firstrate music, he insists, yet it is some of the most difficult to perform because of its quintessential blend of sophistication and joviality. His plan worked out, and the New Year s Eve Concert from Gottfried Semper s opera house delighted audiences not only in Dresden but also others watching it on their television screens at home. According to the Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten, seriousness of purpose and concentration on the music conspired with a very real delight in performing this music and even with a sense of risk to produce a veritable string of pearls, each of which was a musical jewel in its own right .
In the light of the success of the first New Year s Eve Concert from Dresden, it became clear that in 2011, too, Lehár s music should be central to the programme. After all, this music seems almost predestined for end-of-year festivities. The master of the Silver Age of Operetta is known not only for a musical language that shimmers with chic sophistication and infectious verve but also for holding up a mirror to society in works such as The Merry Widow, The Land of Smiles and The Czarevich, all of which reflect the ironies and ambiguities of that age. The presentage is called into question and the chaos that lies in wait just round the corner is tested in the form of a game an ideal combination for New Year s Eve, when we leave the old year behind us and abandon ourselves to the euphoria of the moment in order to see the world with new eyes the very next day.
Such a delightful balancing act naturally requires top-flight singers and for his 2011 Lehár Gala, Christian Thielemann found them in Angela Denoke, Ana Maria Labin and Piotr Beczala. Denoke and Beczala are two of the most sought-after singers on the international stage today. And both have particularly expressive and brilliant voices. The young Romanian soprano Ana Maria Labin is still at the beginning of her international career but has already been acclaimed in The Merry Widow at La Scala, Milan. Joining them onstage is the Dresden State Opera Chorus, whose members have already demonstrated their gifts in the field of operetta in repertory performances for the company.
In advance of the concert, Thielemann said that he saw it as his duty to free operetta from its musty reputation , and the programme for his New Year s Eve Concert offered the best possible preconditions for this, allowing us to admire Lehár as a composer of immense variety by featuring excerpts from early masterpieces such as Der Göttergatte, The Count of Luxembourg, Gypsy Love (a tribute to Lehár s Hungarian origins) and Eva alongside highlights from his later successes, Paganini, The Land of Smiles, The Czarevich, Friederike and his final work for the stage, Giuditta, which received its first performance at the Vienna State Opera in 1934 the only operetta by Lehár to be premiered by the company. The programme includes not only hit numbers such as Freunde, das Leben ist lebenswert , Gern hab ich die Frau n geküsst and, as an encore, Dein ist mein ganzes Herz but also rarities and orchestral gems not often encountered in such altogether outstanding performances. These tenor hits have a particularly close connection with Dresden, for Lehár wrote them for Richard Tauber, who during the First World War held the title of Royal Court Opera Singer at the Dresden
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Verdict- passable but not 5 star.