FRANZ SCHREKER (1878-1934): Der Schmied von Gent.
Catalogue Number: 05N011
Reference: 777 647-2
Description: In the hard times of worldwide economic crisis and the looming rise of totalitatian power in Germany, Schreker chose for his last opera a satiric Dutch tale set in the 80 Years War in which a Dutch smith sells his soul to the devil for economic success, manages to humiliate the devils who come to take his soul at the appointed time and to tear up his contract with the Devil and to eventually make it into heaven based on the unchanging goodness of his heart and deeds. Thus, for the first time, the story was not his original although he did write his own libretto. His intent was to create "an opera for everyman", feeling pressured by such Zeitoper successes as Jonny spielt auf and Die Dreigröschenoper, and he kept the form simple - a series of self-contained scenes as in a picture-book. The music is stylistically pluralist, from naive music of popular folk character to fugato, from romantic tone-painting to the exotic expressionist music one naturally associates with Schreker (this latter particularly for the music of the she-devil Astarte). The work was premiered on Oct. 29, 1932 and the Nazi culture thugs managed to disrupt each of the five performances until it was closed down by the management of the Berlin City Opera. This is either its first recording or first modern recording. 2 CDs. German-English libretto. Undine Dreißig (alto), Oliver Zwarg (bass-baritone), Edward Randall (tenor), Choir and Children's Choir of the Chemnitz Opera, Robert Schumann Philharmonic; Frank Beermann.