Arlene_Saunders

Plea for Giancarlo Menotti and his operas.


Consul Gian_Carlo_Menotti_Paris-962x538

Giancarlo Menotti. For most Dutch opera lovers, he is no more than a vaguely familiar name. His operas have never been very popular here and performances can be counted on one hand.

A pity, really, because not only is his music exceptionally beautiful (think of a combination of Mascagni and Britten), but the subjects he deals with in his (self-written) libretti are socially engaged and they address current topics.

THE CONSUL

Consul


A newspaper article of February 12, 1947 on the suicide of a Polish emigrant whose visa for the USA had been rejected, was seen by Menotti, who sadly remembered the fate of his Jewish friends in Austria and Germany (his own partner, the composer Samuel Barber, was also Jewish). He took this sorry tale and used it as a basis for his first full-length opera. The subject has – unfortunately – lost none of its actuality and The Consul is and remains an opera that cuts right through your soul.



In 1960, it was produced for television, and that registration has been released on DVD by VAI (4266 ). In black and white, without subtitles (don’t be alarmed, there is very clear singing) and extremely dramatically portrayed by Jean Dalrymple.

Patricia Neway sings ‘To This We’ve Come’:


HILFE, HILFE DIE GLOBOLINKS!

Liebramann Globolinks

This opera is ‘for children and for those who love children’. The premiere took place in 1968 in Hamburg and a year later it was filmed in the studio.

I must confess that I’m not a big fan of children’s operas, but I’ve been shamelessly enjoying this one. It is an irresistible fairy tale about aliens (Globolinks) who are allergic to music and can only be defeated by means of music.

The images are very sensational for that period, full of colour and movement and the forest little Emily (the irresistible Edith Mathis) has to go through with her violet to get help is really frightening. The aliens are a bit of a let-down according to modern standards, but that doesn’t matter, it gives the whole a cuddly shine. The work is bursting with humour and irony; musical barbarians are lashed out at: the school principal who doesn’t like music turns into an alien himself.

There are also a lot of one-liners (“music leads you to the right path” or “when music dies, the end of the world is near”). It is incomprehensible a work like this is not performed all the time in every school (and I don’t mean just for the children), the subject is (and remains) very topical.

None of the roles, including the children, could be better cast, and this once again proves the high standard of the Hamburg ensemble. In which other city would you find so many great singers/actors who can perform so many different roles on such a high level?

Help, help, the Globolinks are coming and only music can save us!

Liebramann Globolinks

Especially for Hamburg, the Italian-American composer and director Gian Carlo Menotti composed Hilfe, Hilfe Die Globolinks!, an opera ‘for children and for those who love children’. The premiere took place in 1968 and a year later it was filmed in the studio.

I must confess that I’m not a big fan of children’s operas, but I’ve been shamelessly enjoying this one. It is an irresistible fairy tale about aliens (Globolinks) who are allergic to music and can only be defeated by means of music.

The images are very sensational for that period, full of colour and movement and the forest little Emily (the irresistible Edith Mathis) has to go through with her violin to get help is really frightening. The aliens are a bit of a let-down according to modern standards, but that doesn’t matter, it gives the whole a cuddly shine. The work is bursting with humour and irony; musical barbarians are lashed out at: the school principal who doesn’t like music turns into an alien himself.

There are also a lot of one-liners (“music leads you to the right path” or “when music dies, the end of the world is near”). It is incomprehensible a work like this is not performed all the time in every school (and I don’t mean just for the children), the subject is (and remains) very topical.

None of the roles, including the children, could be better cast, and this once again proves the high standard of the Hamburg ensemble. In which other city would you find so many great singers/actors who can perform so many different roles on such a high level?

Le Nozze di Figaro uit Hamburg: Arlene Saunders in memoriam

Afbeelding kan het volgende bevatten: 3 mensen

In 1967 was Liebermann nog de baas van het Hamburgse operahuis. Hij zorgde voor een goed, gedegen en gevarieerd repertoire met extra veel aandacht voor het hedendaags repertoire, bouwde er een fantastisch zangersensemble op en trok buitenlandse sterren en would-be sterren (in Hamburg begon de wereldcarrière van Plácido Domingo) aan.

Liebermann wordt tegenwoordig gezien als de vader van het regietheater, alleen bedoelde hij er iets anders mee dan het huidige conceptualisme waarin de grens tussen het toelaatbare en belachelijke opgezocht en vaak overschreden wordt

Nozze Hamburg

De zo goed mogelijk gereconstrueerde productie van Die Hochzeit des Figaro (ja, er wordt in het Duits gezongen) is van een grote historische waarde, maar dat niet alleen. De productie is prachtig, het orkest van de Hamburgse Opera is onder dirigent Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt voortreffelijk en de zangers stuk voor stuk idiomatisch.

De Amerikaanse bariton Heinz Blankenburg is een koddige Figaro en als Susanna is Edith Mathis gewoon niet te versmaden. Eigenlijk zou ik het van daken willen roepen: zo is Susanna bedoeld! Zo en niet anders! De jonge Tom Krause is een meer dan heerlijke Graaf en Arlene Saunders een Gravin die perfect bij hem (en zijn timbre) past.

We krijgen als onderdeel van de opname zelfs een stukje historische ‘maestro to the pit’ voorgeschoteld. Goed: de band is niet helemaal gereconstrueerd, er zitten hiaten in en de kleuren zijn echt jaren zestig. Geeft niets, dat alles neem ik graag voor lief. Aanbevolen! (Arthahaus Musik 101263)