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Subject: Re: Dallas Opera Februry 9
From: gordon young <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:gordon young <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 10 Feb 2018 11:57:38 -0600
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Here is my take on the evening -

Last night the Dallas Opera opened its spring season with the rarely
performed Ring of Polykrates by Korngold. As it is a short one act opera
the Opera decided to begin the evening with Korngold’s violin concerto. Bad
choice!  Not only are there several operas by Korngold that could have
filled up the time or a vocal recital of arias from his operas would have
made more sense. (Let me recommend Fleming singing two of his arias on
Youtube. Very moving.)

The performance of the concerto was, to be kind, disastrous. The violinist,
Augustin Dumay played from a score resulting in the lack of spontaneity in
his playing turning a delightful score into a humdrum affair. Not only was
it boring but his intonation made one, too often, shudder.  The orchestra
could have had rehearsed too little as, especially in the first movement,
the sound seemed confused lacking precision and cohesion.

I can’t remember a performance at the Dallas Opera that was so poorly
attended (but wait for the next opera The Sunken Garden). I would say that
the theater was maybe half full but even after the sad performance of the
violin piece there were far too many shouts of bravo.

As for the opera itself it is a charming little trifle reminiscent of
Novello or Hahn. It  would not be the first Korngold opera that I would
revive if I were asked.  It’s cute and would be perfect for a college or
dinner theater production but seems too fluffy to be performed by a major
opera company.. The singers, Brenton Ryan, Susannah Biller, Paul Groves,
Laura Wilde and Craig Colclough were excellent singing well and making the
performance enjoyable.

Listening to today's Elixer makes me hear a connection between the two
opera.




On Sat, Feb 10, 2018 at 11:03 AM, LANE WHITESELL <[log in to unmask]>
wrote:

>             Last night the Dallas Opera performed an evening of Erich
> Wolfgang Korngold, a double bill consisting of his post-Hollywood Violin
> Concerto and his first opera, premiered forty years earlier when he was
> still a teenager. The two works made for an interesting contrast, but
> underlined the fact that his mastery of orchestral writing made few changes
> over his lifetime. Augustin Dumay was the violinist, and Emmanuel Villaume
> conducted the concerto without a baton. Dumay looked rather frail when
> coming onstage, but played with all the energy he has always had. Watching
> his face as he played was quite interesting. He occasionally gave a small
> smile, as if he was pleased with the way a phrase had come out, or at his
> own tone color. More often, he looked as if he were concentrating very hard
> on what was coming next. It made for an interesting take on the
> performance. The orchestra gave a good rendering of this colorful score.
>
>             It took a 25-minute intermission to clear the stage of the
> orchestra and mount the set, the interior of a large apartment. There was a
> timelessness in the set and the costumes, more representative of Korngold’s
> Vienna than the libretto’s 1793. The opera was an attempt to renew the
> German comic opera and was a huge hit in 1916, paired with Korngold’s
> second opera, Violanta, a tragedy. (I left the theater wondering if
> Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi was put last in Il Trittico because of the
> Korngold pairing, tragedy first and comedy last.) The libretto was adapted
> from a play about a lucky man and a jealous unlucky man who uses the excuse
> of the story from Schiller’s Ballad of Polykrates to break up the lucky
> man’s happy marriage, and fails.
>
>             The cast has two pair of lovers and the unlucky man. The lucky
> man, Wilhelm Arndt, has just been named the Court composer. He has daughter
> “in the cradle.” Tenor Paul Groves was fresh from singing Count Danilo in
> The Merry Widow at the Metropolitan Opera, and has successfully added
> another character to his list of over 100 roles. It was obvious he was
> enjoying himself on the stage. As his wife, Laura Arndt, we heard Laura
> Wilde, this year’s McCasland Young Artist with the Dallas Opera, sang a
> role which has Korngold’s first serious opera aria, sometimes called the
> diary aria. Her approach to the music suggests to me that she may be a
> major Strauss singer in the next few years.
>
>             The second pair of lovers is Florian Doeblinger, the
> composer’s assistant, copyist, and timpanist, sung by Brenton Ryan
> (Spoletta in the recent Metropolitan Opera production of Tosca), and
> Susannah Biller as Lieschen, Laura’s maid. Both sang their music well. If
> Florian wants too much to copy his master’s life, Lieschen is much more
> down to earth. Their blooming romance set off the more settled marriage of
> the Arndts. Baritone Craig Colclough rounded out the cast as the jealous
> trouble-maker and comic character Peter Vogel, singing and acting the short
> role well.
>
>             The orchestra played the youthful score well, with Maestro
> Villaume using a baton for the second half. All in all, I would rate this
> as an enjoyable performance of a historically-important work which was
> quite deserving of being performed.
>
> Lane A. Whitesell
>
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