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Tagged with 'Amsterdam'

Work of the Week – Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Das Wunder der Heliane

The rediscovery continues: Erich Wolfgang Korngold's long-forgotten opera Das Wunder der Heliane (“The Miracle of Heliane”) has experienced a renaissance in recent years. A new version of the piece is now being premiered: The Nederlandse Reisopera presents Das Wunder der Heliane in a version for medium orchestra by Fergus McAlpine. This means that smaller opera houses can now also perform the piece. The premiere will take place in Enschede on September 30.

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Work of the Week – Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s penultimate dramatic composition was as ambitious as its exceedingly long title suggests. From 15 May, Dutch National Opera Amsterdam’s production of The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya, conducted by Marc Albrecht, will be available to watch on OperaVision. Director Dmitri Tcherniakov, who was also the stage designer for the production, created a visual language that is both realistic yet magical, and which was highly acclaimed by the international press. 

The four-act opera is set in the mythical city of Kitezh and is likely to be inspired by a thirteenth century duchy at the Volga River. Legend has it the city disappeared while under siege by enemy forces. Rimsky-Korsakov combined this Russian version of the Atlantis myth with a retelling of the invasion of the Mongol army  during the thirteenth century.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya - “A Russian Atlantis”

This war is the backdrop for a love story between the virtuous farmer’s daughter Fevroniya and the Duke of Vsevolod. Their marriage is prevented by the assault of the enemies during which Vsevolod is killed. In her grief, Fevroniya prays for help for the people of Kitezh and a golden fog surrounds the city rendering it invisible to the invaders. Ultimately, Fevroniya also dies but the spirit of her fiancé brings her back to the hidden city where the opera culminates in a Wagnerian ascension of the loving couple. 

Prior to the opera’s premiere, Rimsky-Korsakov faced his own personal Kitezh when in 1905, as riots against the Tsar spread throughout Russia, he supported protesting students and was suspended from his professorship. Only when public opinion shifted in his favor and he was reinstated could the first production of The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya find its way to the stage. 
Marc Albrecht, conducting the ambitious and beautifully sounding Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest, was not only able to form an arc of tension over three long and unshortened acts  of the masterfully crafted score. He also miraculously balanced the epic inner act and the lyric framing acts in a way that the action on the stage and in the pit came to perfect harmony. The production, subsequently to be shown in Paris, Barcelona and Milan is an ambassador for the huge masterwork by Rimsky-Korsakov which hopefully leads to a general revival of his operas. - Uwe Schweikert (review in ‘Opernwelt’)

The production, which is also available on DVD and Blu-ray, will be available to stream on OperaVision until August. The performance material is available from M.P. Belaieff publishers, exclusively distributed by Schott Music. 

photo: Dutch National Opera / Monika Rittershaus

Work of the Week: Aribert Reimann – Die schönen Augen der Frühlingsnacht


With its images of spring and renewal, Aribert Reimann's new song cycle for voice and string quartet will keep the cold at bay this winter. Die schönen Augen der Frühlingsnacht was written for soprano Moja Erdmann and the Kuss Quartett who will give the world premiere on 14 December at the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam.

Commissioned jointly by the Muziekgebouw and Musik 21 Niedersachsen, Die schönen Augen der Frühlingsnacht is based on songs by the Romantic composer Theodor Kirchner setting six poems by Heinrich Heine. The images of sprouting and growing plants in spring are perfect for lyrical expressions of love, however two of the poems also touch on loneliness and the winter cold of a snowy landscape.

Aribert Reimann – Die schönen Augen der Frühlingsnacht: a connection to the Romantics

Having never been published, Kirchner’s song cycle for voice and piano remains relatively unknown. Reimann intersperses his arrangements of the songs with seven instrumental interludes. This is not the first time Reimann has worked in this way: in his cycle “…oder soll es Tod bedeuten”, he intersperses songs by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy for voice and string quartet with his own six Intermezzi. There are also plans for the seven instrumental sections from Die schönen Augen der Frühlingsnacht to be available as a stand-alone work entitled 7 Bagatelle.
While composing I always have a sound in mind, which I cannot express in words because there are no words for it. Of course I can describe the sound, but it is not the same. For me it is the most complicated and the most important to be able to grasp and organise this sound that I hear within me. – Aribert Reimann

Die schönen Augen der Frühlingsnacht will be given its German premiere on 16 December in Hannover as part of the concert series Musik 21 at NDR, and further performances with Mojca Erdmann and the Kuss Quartett will take place on 18 December in Berlin and 13 May 2018 in Zurich.