Schreker - Die Gezeichneten / Anne Schwanewilms, Robert Brubaker, Robert Hale, Michael Volle, Wolfgang Schone, Mel Ulrich, Kent Nagano, Salzburg Opera
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Franz Schreker's rarely-seen opera is presented here by the Vienna State Opera Choir and German Symphony Orchestra of Berlin, conducted by Kent Nagao. Soloists include Alviano Salvago, Carlotta Nardi, Robert Brubaker, Anne Schwanewilms, Robert Hale et al.
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First off I read the comments posted regarding the cutting of around twenty minutes of the score. I gather that most of cuts are instrumental and given Schreker's great mastery of orchestration it is a pity that these cuts were made. Additionally I would have preferred a more conventional representation. I usually have enjoyed Lenhoff's productions of Lohengrin and Parsifal, but the libretto of the opera under consideration is not a model of clarity given the changes made, e.g., Salvago's cross dressing. On the basis of one viewing I see no sense other than it gives the artist something to do.
The vocal line is not one that Schreker is inspired to invest much in the way of melody although repeated viewings may change my feeling in this area. Even Richard Strauss at his most arid moments brought more to his operas than Schreker, while they both share a mastery of opulence and orchestral beauty. Of course the story is not one that would appeal to Strauss, but I think his (Schreker's) inability to come up with some vocally memorable "tunes" will keep this opera from ever entering the repertoire of most companies; hence, a festival such as Salzburg will probably remain its sole venue. Perhaps Munich or Berlin would also consider it.
I confess that one of the main reasons I was intersted in acquiring the set for was for Schwanewilms; her recording of the View Letze Lieder is quite beautiful. Alas Schreker has not given her any moments of transcendent beauty, but then that is a fault he shares with the remainder of the artists, all of whom are superior singing actors.
Even though DVD's have been with us a short time, it is now quite easy to end up of multiples of many works, and I am guilty already of this. I am interested in hearing other works from composers (for whatever reason) who have been given short shrift from opera houses and recording companies and the DVD is an ideal medium of enlarging the experience of seeing works that one has only read about--many times as only a footnote. For this reason I would probably invest in a DVD of Der Ferne Klang.