Monday, 8 May 2017


New to Reviews By Rose: Georges Rodenbach's fin-de-siècle tour de force "Bruges-La-Morte" (1892) as translated by Philip Mosley (2007):

Purchase this title at amazon
It is easy to see why Korngold was so moved by Rodenbach’s most infamous symbolist masterpiece. Philip Mosley’s exquisite translation from the original French paints a heart-wrenching, yet wholly intoxicating mental image of that most perpetually immutable of ‘dead’ cities – Bruges – and it’s sickening, vice-like grip on Hugues Viane, the work’s protagonist and archetypal coeur brisé, who exists within it’s cold, austere cobblestoned corridors merely to bask in it’s depressive atmosphere – a metaphor for his own mental anguish over the loss of his beloved wife.

It is in Viane’s personal hell – his Bruges-la-morte – that our sufferer creates for himself his own twisted version of heaven in the dancer (and doppelgänger to Hugues’ late wife) Jane Scott as obsessions overlap (only to later quite devastatingly spiral out of control - with fatal consequences). It is here, in the symbiotic relationship between undying love and unchecked obsession that Rodenbach expertly dissects the fragility of the human condition in regards to intimacy, anguish, idolatry, socio-religious belief, lust, hope and the finality of death.

I highly recommend a reading of Mosley’s treatment of Rodenbach’s magnum opus. Fans of the original French will appreciate the closeness of the text, and are unlikely to find themselves “lost in translation.”

Five Stars.

Erich Korngold’s 1919 opera Die Tote Stadt, which is based on Rodenbach’s novel has received prior mention on Unraveling Musical Myths. Click here to read more about the father-son collaboration, and enjoy another exquisite aria from the opera below:

Enjoy below the much anguished Mein Sehnen, Mein Wähnen (My yearning, My Obsession) from Act II of Erich Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt (The Dead City). American baritone Thomas Hampson performs:


No comments:

Post a Comment