Schreker, Braunfels & “Recovered Voices”

“jcm” was being ultra-relevant without even knowing it. LA Opera’s 09/10 season brochure just hit mailboxes. In it is announced the American Premiere of Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten, April 10-24, 2010! (See this video excerpt of the opera, from my March 4th posting.) Also enjoy the prelude here… although it’s difficult to enjoy the typically Lehnhoff Regietheatre staging without being able to absorb the larger concept (if there was one).

Die Vogel CD CoverIn their continuing series “Recovered Voices”, LA Opera has been a real champion of less known, early-20th-century german repertoire, such as Braunfel’s The Birds (Die Vogel), which is showing this season. If I weren’t going to be in LA for the World Championships shortly before, I would absolutely be there for Die Vogel! Years ago, a well informed opera lover whose opinion I trusted touted Die Vogel as one of the true, unjustly neglected pieces, and the Zagrosek recording as a worthy “desert island” recording. Too bad I didn’t take his advice back then. But, thankfully we’re being introduced to these gems via LA Opera. Enjoy the prelude here.

As their site puts it, in this series: “James Conlon continues his exploration of long forgotten masterpieces by the lost generation of composers affected by the Holocaust. Lush, late Romantic work reminiscent of Strauss and Wagner.” That sort of repertoire (ie: Strauss/Wagner) is where my greatest interest and passion lies, so it offers me a predisposition to this rep as well. And, given that I’ve have the pleasure to enjoy live opera for 20+ years, I’m more and more eager to uncover the rarified gems, rather than settling for standard rep.

I’m thrilled to see the first rate Anja Kampe in the cast. She has clearly become an LA Opera favorite in recent seasons.

Franz Schreker, circa 1911

Franz Schreker, circa 1911

Schreker (1878 – 1934) was an Austrian composer and conductor. Sadly, anti-Semitism contributed to the demise of his career, in June 1932 losing his position as Director of the Musikhochschule in Berlin and, the following year, his post as professor of composition at the Akademie der Künstein. The originally scheduled Freiburg premiere of his Chrisoporus was cancelled, and it was finally performed in 1978. (Thanks Wikipedia!)

In a similar manner, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony exposed mainstream audiences to his Jewish/Yiddish heritage, and his own grandparents with The Thomashefskys: Music and Memories of a Life in the Yiddish Theater. It has been a long time coming for such material and history to get a more high profile, and mainstream exposure.


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