HANS THOMALLA (b.1975): Dark Spring.
Catalogue Number: 11X060
Label: Oehms Classics
Reference: OC 994
Description: Thomalla's "song opera" is freely adapted from Frank Wedekind's play "Spring Awakening". To turn the complex play into a suitable libretto for an opera, a great deal of simplification has taken place, and a degree of bowdlerization - the unsavoury things that the characters say and do to one another are more complicated and numerous in the original, though the two pivotal horrors that shape the characters' despair - rape and suicide - are retained and depicted with brutal realism. The removal of all the characters apart from the four principal teenage protagonists makes this a focused psychological drama; everything that happens is seen and described from the point of view of these four young people, as they succumb to the pressures placed on them by the desire for sex, love, and academic achievement. As the conductor's notes on the piece put it: "the four teenagers [are] free to speak to us directly about their experiences, emotions, and inner worlds. These kids are feeling and struggling with a lot …". Thomalla's music is wildly eclectic, and encompasses a song style derived from Broadway musicals and Bernstein, modern tonal opera, a kind of expressionism, and in the brief instrumental interludes, avant-garde sonorism. Sometimes the pulsing rhythms suggest popular music, especially when "non-classical" instruments are added to the ensemble, and sometimes the pulsation of post-minimalism. Nothing in the music is in any way inaccessible (though one pounding climax is appropriately harrowing), and the overall effect is of directly emotional communicativeness. In short then, a kind of reality-TV musical adaptation of Wedekind's play, R-rated for one brief scene, but a good deal less likely to be censored than the original (although this production omits one brief scene without explanation). 2 CDs. English texts. Shachar Lavi (mezzo), Anna Hybiner (contralto), Christopher Diffey (tenor), Magid El-Bushra (countertenor), Mannheim National Theatre Orchestra; Alan Pierson