Thursday, May 24, 2012

Celebrating the premiere of Marschner's "Hans Heiling"

[Barihunks is on the road. Here's a tribute to an opera that is popular in Germany, but has failed to catch out in other countries.]

Hans Heiling is a German Romantic opera in 3 acts with prologue by Heinrich Marschner with a libretto by Eduard Devrient, who also sang the title role at the première which occurred at the Königliche Hofoper (now Berlin State Opera), Berlin on 24 May 1833, and went on to become his most successful opera.The opera brought the composer a considerable reputation, although this did not materially affect his position in Hanover, where he was music director of the Court Theatre. Like Marschner's other great success, Der Vampyr, the plot of Hans Heiling makes great use of supernatural elements. As with several of his operas, Hans Heiling is based on a folk legend.

A pivotal opera between Weber and Wagner, Hans Heiling's structure is highly original. The overture to act 1 does not open the opera as it conventionally would — there is instead a prologue before the overture begins after which the curtain descends, and the overture is played during a change of scenery. Heiling's aria from the first act, An jenem Tag (On that fair day), still has recordings and performances in concert both in Germany and abroad and is generally regarded as the gem of the score. Also of worth are the Queen's aria, O bleib bei mir (O stay with me); the first act finale; Anna's scena and aria, Einst war so tiefer Freude (Once was such deep contentment); Conrad and Anna's duet, Ha! dieses Wort (Ha! Such a word) and Heiling's conjuration, Herauf (Appear). It is worth to mention here that the theme from the Queen's aria in 2nd act (to the words: Sonst bist du verfallen...) was later on used by Wagner in his Die Walküre, act 2, when that silightly modified leitmotif is repeated many times in the scene of Brünnhilde's apparition to Siegmund, their mutual questions and answers. Albeit very rare example of borrowing in the case of Wagner, even he was not always absolutely unique. [From Wikipedia]

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