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Tagged with 'Erich Wolfgang Korngold'

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 – Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Symphony in F sharp

Symphony in F sharp by Erich Wolfgang Korngold is his first and only completed Symphony. Written in American exile, it is one of the greatest orchestral works by the originally Austrian composer and to be performed by the Berlin Philharmonic and Kirill Petrenko on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of November. Following this, New York, Boston, Ann Arbor and Naples will see further performances on the orchestra’s extensive international tour.

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Work of the Week – Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Violanta

On 21 January 2020, Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s opera Violanta will be performed for the first time in Italy. The production will take place at the Tearto Regio, Torino conducted by Pinchas Steinberg.

The opera in one act was finished in 1915 when Korngold was only 17 and was first performed to a private audience. Among the guests to the first performance was the artistic director of the Hoftgeater in Munich, Clemens von Franckenstein, who subsequently arranged for Violanta to be performed publicly the following year.

Hans Müller-Einigen wrote the libretto for the opera, which takes place in Venice during the fifteenth century. Set during carnival, Simone Trovai, a military commander of the Venetian Republic calls his soldiers to order and asks his maids to search for his wife, Violanta, who is not attending the carnival celebrations…

 Erich Wolfgang Korngold – Violanta: Carnival in Venice

The relationship between love and death, a central theme of the opera, is expressed in a carnival song that can be heard throughout the entire work. While the song sounds lively and cheerful when sung by the festive crowd its tone is as equally threatening when performed by Violanta.

Music is music whether composed for the stage, the conductor’s desk or for the cinema. The form can change and the method of notation can be different, but the composer cannot make any compromises in what he considers to be his musical convictions. – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

Following the first performance, Violanta will be performed on 23, 25, 26, and 28 January. Additionally, in April two productions of Korngold’s Die tote Stadt are set to open in Schwerin and Ostrava.

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

Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s opera Das Wunder der Heliane (The Miracle of Heliane) has enjoyed a recent period of rediscovery with performances of the work in Brno, Gent, and Freiburg. Last year a production by Deutsche Oper Berlin was awarded “Rediscovery of the year” by Opernwelt magazine. The opera will receive its US premiere this month at the Bard Music Festival as part of the festival’s theme, “Korngold and his world”. The performance will take place on 26 July, performed by the American Symphony Orchestra and conductor Leon Botstein; the director will be Christian Räth.

While the first performance of Das Wunder der Heliane in 1927 was met with praise, the opera failed to mirror the success of Korngold’s first opera, Die tote Stadt, and the work ultimately faded into obscurity. The mixed reception of the opera is in part paralleled by stylistic preferences of the period which favoured naturalistic subjects and characters over the stylized holy figure of Heliane and the miraculous resurrection of a condemned stranger.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Das Wunder der Heliane – late romantic homage to love

The real “Miracle of Heliane” is its music. It floods the libretto, waves through the acts, rocks the scenes and the clutter of the dramaturgy. It pours melodies into the figures that overflow into the singing. - Critic Elsa Bienenfeld after the Viennese premiere in 1927

The orchestration of Korngold’s opera incorporates organ, guitar, and fanfare trumpets, which have a symbolic relationship to the subject-matter and foreshadow the composer’s later film music. Korngold’s orchestration responds dramatically to the characters and atmosphere of every scene. The work explores stark contrasts, alternating between hard, rugged and dramatic with passages of extreme warmth. Harmonically, the work exists on the borders of tonality drawing connections between distant tonal centers for dramatic effect.

Das Wunder der Heliane will be performed five times at the Bard Music Festival on 26, 28, 31 July, 2 and 4 August. The festival will also feature a number of Korngold’s other works: in addition to the composer’s film music, there will be performances of Die tote Stadt and concert works including Symphonie in Fis, Cello Concerto in C, and Klavierkonzert in Cis.



Photo: World Premiere at the Hamburgische Staatsoper in 1927

Work of the week – Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Der Ring des Polykrates

On February 9 Korngold’s opera Der Ring des Polykrates will be performed in the USA for the first time. The opera will take place in the Winspear Opera House in Dallas, Texas and will be conducted by Emmanuel Villaume.

Written in 1914, Korngold was just seventeen years old when he finished Der Ring des Polykrates. The short comedy opera takes its text from a play by Heinrich Teweles. This one-act work by the then seventeen-year-old composer was premiered to an astonished audience at the Munich Court Theater in 1916 as part of a double bill also including Korngold's next opera, Violanta. The libretto was written by Leo Feld and Julius Korngold, the father of the composer and an esteemed music critic in Vienna.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Der Ring des Polykrates: The parody of an antique text

Teweles’ comedy, on which the opera is based, is a parody on the ancient Greek story of King Polykrates. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, the King’s excessive luck was thought to eventually result in a disastrous end and was therefore advised to throw away whatever he valued most in order to escape a reversal of fortune. The librettist Leo Feld adapted this story to take place in the 18th century. In Korngold’s comedy this excessive luck builds conflict between two spouses: the musician Wilhelm Arndt and his wife. Peter Vogel, a friend of the Saxon court conductor Wilhelm, advises him, just as King Polykrates, to make a sacrifice for retaining his luck. Wilhelm starts an argument with his wife about her former life, but the couple's love is strong enough to overcome all difficulties. In the end, all agree that the sacrifice that has to be offered is Vogel who tried to ruin their happiness. In the 20th century the humorous one-act-opera was a popular German comic opera and was performed together with Violanta several times.

After the performances of Der Ring des Polykrates in Dallas, his great opera Das Wunder der Heliane can be seen at the Deutsche Oper Berlin as of 18 March.