LSM Newswire

Monday, August 18, 2014

Boston Premiere of Korngold’s Die tote Stadt Presented by Odyssey Opera

Boston, MA (For Release 8.14.14) ODYSSEY OPERA, a new, Boston-based opera company dedicated to exploring the full spectrum of adventurous repertoire, revives an important 20th century masterpiece, Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Die tote Stadt. For one night only on September 13th, Odyssey Opera presents the work’s Boston premiere, which features the Boston debuts of tenor Jay Hunter Morris in the role of Paul and soprano Meagan Miller in the role of Marietta.
Die tote Stadt is among Korngold's most enduring works and one of the finest operas of its period. Performed as a concert opera sung in German with projected English translations, Die tote Stadt features principal vocalists, two separate choruses, offstage sopranos, and a full orchestra including triple woodwinds, two harps, wind machine, four keyboards, mandolin, bass trumpet, and massive percussion and brass sections. “This opera calls for musical forces of major proportions,” explains Gil Rose, Artistic and General Director of Odyssey Opera. “The size of the ensemble readily lends itself to the extraordinarily rich and appealing orchestration for which Korngold was renowned. This is an unmissable performance for opera fans.”
Celebrated for his achievements in film music, including two Oscars for The Adventures of Robin Hood and Anthony Adverse, Korngold was both an imaginative orchestrator and outstanding melodist. His compositional style is strongly post-Romantic, reminiscent of R. Strauss and Mahler. Throughout his life, Korngold was drawn to complex themes, and the psychological intensity of Die tote Stadt inspired almost mystical music.
Die tote Stadt  (The Dead City) is a three-act opera set to a libretto by Paul Schott (a collective pseudonym for the composer and his father Julius) based on Georges Rodenbach’s novel Bruges-la-Morte. Korngold’s third opera, it premiered simultaneously in Hamburg and Cologne in 1920 to much fanfare. Puccini's reaction to the music was to pronounce Korngold "the strongest hope for new German music.” Though once wildly popular, Die tote Stadt was banned by the Nazi regime because of Korngold’s Jewish ancestry and subsequently disappeared from the regular repertoire of major opera houses.
A dark, symbolic depiction of Bruges, Belgium, the city of the title, sets the scene for a multi-layered drama that oscillates between illusion and reality. Paul, a young man obsessed with the memory of his deceased wife, Marie, encounters a seeming reincarnation of Marie in the form of the coquettish dancer Marietta. Paul embarks upon a series of disturbing visions, which cause him to question his devotion to his dead wife. The universal theme of struggling from the loss of a loved one is at the center of this evocative and moving opera.

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