Wednesday, 6 March 2019

I am on a brief hiatus - I will be returning soon!

In the interim, enjoy some stunning Bruch:

Listen below to the stunning “Ave Maria”* from act I of Max Bruch's early (and much neglected) opera, "Die Loreley," performed live from the Theater Oberhausen in 1984 by the Chor des Theater Oberhausen and Kammerchor Orchestra under Antoni Wicherek.

Die Loreley - so named after the beautiful Rhine Maiden whose siren call and lusty locks (according to legend) famously 'ensnared' hordes of enraptured sailors to their deaths as they navigated waters about the Lorelei cliff, on which the spectre of the long-haired bombshell was said to sit, combing her luxurious hair some 433 feet above the 65 km stretch of River between Koblenz and Bingen in Germany.

Bruch's 1863 opera, originally intended by the works' librettist, Emanuel Geibel to be set to music by Felix Mendelssohn, closely draws on the legend of the maiden “Lore Lay,” a fable first coined in 1801 by the German author Clemens Brentano through his ballad “Zu Bacharach am Rheine” (later adapted by Heinrich Heine), with the Rhine Maiden Loreley (in Bruch's opera a poor daughter of a ferryman called Leonore) exchanging her soul with the spirits of the river (and it's highly conspicuous rock) in an effort to wickedly ensnare the wealthy, noble object of her affection - who had jilted her - though her silvery-toned singing. The work, composed by Bruch at the tender age of twenty, achieved brief success following its premiere in Mannheim, and was later revived in 1887 (via the composers' revised edition) under the baton of Gustav Mahler. It has since, like so many other great operas, fallen into obscurity.

In fact, it was not until late 2018 that a full recording of Die Loreley was made available on CD, with the Münchner Rundfunkorchester and the Prager Philharmonischer Chor performing under Stefan Blunier.

That recording, taken from a live performance at the Prinzregententheater in Munich in 2014, can be purchased online here.

*"Ave Maria" runs from 19:27 - 22:59. Katarzyna Niemiec sings the role of Leonore.


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