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KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (NTSC)


Naxos 2.110584-85

   Performing Arts Monterey Bay, May 2020
   Fanfare, January 2020
   Opera, January 2020
   Opera News, December 2019
   Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (German Record Critics’ Award), November 2019
   American Record Guide, November 2019
   Gramophone, October 2019
   Ritmo, September 2019
   Classical CD Choice, August 2019
   MusicWeb International, August 2019
   MusicWeb International, August 2019
   Opera Now, August 2019
   Daily Telegraph (UK), July 2019
   www.klassik.com, July 2019
   Pizzicato, July 2019
   Wiener Zeitung, July 2019
   ClassicalCDReview.com, June 2019
   Rafael’s Music Notes, June 2019
   David's Review Corner, June 2019
   OperaJournal, June 2019

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Scott MacClelland
Performing Arts Monterey Bay, May 2020

KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (NTSC) 2.110584-85
KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0083V

This 2018 production from the Deutsche Oper Berlin features the American soprano Sara Jakubiak as Heliane and the American tenor Brian Jagde as The Stranger in director Christof Loy’s acclaimed staging. The Orchestra and Chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin deliver the large forces required for this hyper-Romantic opera, under the baton of Marc Albrecht. © 2020 Performing Arts Monterey Bay Read complete review



Peter J. Rabinowitz
Fanfare, January 2020

KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (NTSC) 2.110584-85
KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0083V

Marc Albrecht and his orchestra are familiar, so their excellence is no surprise. But the three lead singers are relative unknowns [Jakubiak, Jagde, Wagner]—and their stupendous performances leave you wondering why.

Video production is excellent, and the sound is very good too… © 2020 Fanfare Read complete review



Opera, January 2020

KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (NTSC) 2.110584-85
KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0083V

…this is a major and essential addition to the recorded Korngold legacy. © 2020 Opera




Clive Paget
Opera News, December 2019

KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (NTSC) 2.110584-85
KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0083V

Miracle Workers – Korngold’s magnum opus gets its long-delayed due.

Das Wunder der Heliane is a masterwork. It’s taken ninety years to confirm what a handful of critics recognized when Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s much-anticipated follow-up to Die Tote Stadt opened in Hamburg in 1927. Six years in the making and weighing in at three hours of post-Straussian excess, Das Wunder der Heliane (The Miracle of Heliane) was bigger and bolder than its predecessor, its sound world—thanks to a 100-plus orchestra and a battery of tuned percussion—even lusher.

A combination of the Nazis and changing operatic tastes caused Korngold’s self-proclaimed magnum opus to sink beneath the waves of so-called musical progress. It emerged as a curiosity twenty-five years ago when Decca’s Entartete Musik series released the world-premiere recording. Earlier this year, a more strongly cast second outing on Naxos made a compelling case, and this summer Christian Räth’s powerful production at Bard demonstrated the workability of its plot—one that many feared would prove too tricky. Now on DVD, here comes the best-sung version of all. Christof Loy’s starkly effective 2018 Deutsche Oper Berlin staging, with its chic visual nod to Billy Wilder’s Witness for the Prosecution, should encourage other companies to give it a try.

The story is simple. A harsh Ruler imprisons a free-love-preaching Stranger, hoping the Stranger will help him conquer his own wife’s virginity. When she—the Heliane of the title—bares her naked body to the Stranger in concession to the condemned man’s last wish, her husband accuses her of adultery and demands justice. The Stranger kills himself thinking she’ll be exonerated by his death, but the Ruler demands that Heliane undergo a trial: if she’s innocent, she’ll be able to bring the Stranger back to life.

Everything about Loy’s staging is slick, coherent and stylish, neatly aided by Johannes Leiacker’s monumental courtroom set and Barbara Drosihn’s sober, elegant costumes. For all its plausibility, however, the production lacks the element of heightened unreality so crucial to the plot that Räth brought out at Bard so effortlessly. Still, it’s theatrically effective, and many will appreciate Loy’s less-is-more approach.

In the title role, American soprano Sara Jakubiak is remarkable. Her vital, thrilling yet supple voice manages Korngold’s vocal hurdles with ease, and her fabulous diction should be billed as Heliane’s second miracle. The big aria, “Ich ging zu ihm,” is ravishing. As the Stranger, American heldentenor Brian Jagde embodies strength and exciting vocal virility, his stage charisma merely a fraction below the libretto’s Messianic demands. As the paranoid Ruler, Austrian baritone Josef Wagner compensates for a slightly dry upper register with his dramatic skills. Okka von der Damerau, as the embittered Messenger, and Derek Welton, as the benign Doorman, both sing with controlled power; Burkhard Ulrich is effective, if vocally querulous, as the Blind Judge.

In the pit, Marc Albrecht works the third miracle, and the sound engineers bring out Korngold’s delicately glittering orchestration, which calls for offstage brass plus harps, guitar, piano, celesta, organ, harmonium and the rare glockenklavier. What would soon be known as “the Hollywood sound” comes up firing on all cylinders. With excellent camerawork and bonus features, this release is highly recommended. © 2019 Opera News




Wolf Dieter-Peter
Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (German Record Critics’ Award), November 2019

KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (NTSC) 2.110584-85
KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0083V

Conductor Marc Albrecht unfolds the opulence of this underrated score. © 2019 Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (German Record Critics’ Award)




Allan Altman
American Record Guide, November 2019

KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (NTSC) 2.110584-85
KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0083V

Sara Jakubiak is thoroughly convincing as Heliane, a daunting role that requires nearly equal measures of saintliness and sensuality. She handles the vocal demands with relative ease… Brian Jagde brings a full-throated tenor and composed bearing to the role of the Stranger, exuding just the right degree of affability to make you understand why Heliane is charmed by him and why the Ruler envies him. The entire cast and chorus are just as remarkable—especially mezzo-soprano Okka von der Damerau as the acerbic Messenger…

Marc Albrecht makes it all seem natural and inevitable, as the music and drama build in intensity with the finale of each act. The expanded chorus is also magnificent in the many “Greek Chorus” moments, such as the opening of Act III (‘Habt ihr vernommen?’). As Heliane grows in well-deserved popularity, it is good to have this production, conceived with such intelligence and sensitivity, as a standard. © 2019 American Record Guide



Mike Ashman
Gramophone, October 2019

No praise is too high for the three lead singers, who you feel must have been living in an oxygen tent to encompass so fully the technical demands of projecting their parts over such a huge barrage of sound. They also act with impressive minimalist intensity and Jakubiak takes on fully the requirement that her character appears nude towards the end of Act 1, more moving (and dramatically correct) than a rival production on YouTube in which Heliane appears in vampish underwear. But their strength and fluency—and embracing of the style—in the music gives this set a clear advantage over its rivals. Okka von der Damerau also is refreshingly and un camply straightforward as the important Botin, the moralist Messenger once the Ruler’s lover. The John Mauceri recording (Decca, 4/93) was an important pioneer but lacks Albrecht’s live theatrical unity… Hugely recommended: an in-at-the-deepest-end introduction to Korngold’s art. © 2019 Gramophone Read complete review




Jerónimo Marín
Ritmo, September 2019

The vocal demand of the work is more than surpassed by the vocal trio, here less-known, but with good projection, and, most importantly, the intensity is always present in the powerful lyricism of the Korngoldian melodies. It is not surprising that this revelatory presentation of a great work concluded with twenty minutes of applause. © 2019 Ritmo



Barry Forshaw
Classical CD Choice, August 2019

Das Wunder der Heliane is based on Hans Kaltneker’s mystery play Die Heilige concerning an unnamed Ruler, a Stranger, the heroine Heliane and the redemptive power of love. It is Korngold’s most extravagant stage work and one that he considered to be his greatest score. Written for a huge ensemble, masterfully used, the music possesses voluptuous sweep and hyper-Romanticism. Its intensity is emphasised through an intoxicating array of effects, propulsive rhythms and glorious vocal lyricism, its arc of climaxes building from one act to another. This revelatory new Berlin staging in 2018 enjoyed an unprecedented 20-minute ovation at its premiere. © 2019 Classical CD Choice Read complete review




Paul Corfield Godfrey
MusicWeb International, August 2019

KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (NTSC) 2.110584-85
KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0083V

A truly ground-breaking achievement, a magnificent set which deserves every success. © 2019 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Robert Cummings
MusicWeb International, August 2019

American tenor Brian Jagde as the Stranger and Austrian bass-baritone Josef Wagner as the Ruler both have fine voices and are excellent in their dramatic skills. … Derek Welton as the Gatekeeper is quite fine too, and the rest of the cast, as earlier suggested, are more than adequate. The chorus sings splendidly too.

Marc Albrecht conducts the Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin with an insightful grasp of Korngold’s rich post-Romantic idiom. His phrasing is consistently sensitive to the emotional flow of the music and his tempo choices are judicious, never going to an extreme. Coincidentally, this new recording has a very similar overall timing for the opera to the earlier Naxos issue. © 2019 MusicWeb International Read complete review




Opera Now, August 2019

KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (NTSC) 2.110584-85
KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0083V

[Loy’s] production is admittedly riveting, focusing closely on three main characters, and placing them in a simple panelled hall. Sara Jakubiak’s Heliane is stunning, her soprano and acting encompassing the role’s considerable demands of range, scale and emotion. © 2019 Opera Now




Daily Telegraph (UK), July 2019

KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (NTSC) 2.110584-85
KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0083V

The performance is conducted with all the necessary full-blooded fervour by Marc Albrecht, and Korngold’s score emerges in all its richly chromatic, glittering tonality and overheated intensity. © 2019 Daily Telegraph (UK)




Benjamin Künzel
www.klassik.com, July 2019

KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (NTSC) 2.110584-85
KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0083V

No better cast could be chosen for Korngold’s gigantic mystery opera. …Together with Deutsche Oper Berlin, Marc Albrecht revels in unparalleled tonal exhilaration. This Heliane is intoxicating, a whirlwind that draws in listeners irresistibly. …a staging that is both convincing and delivers first-rate interpretation without any compromise on recording. © 2019 www.klassik.com




Uwe Krusch
Pizzicato, July 2019

KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (NTSC) 2.110584-85
KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0083V

The Miracle of Heliane is an opera by Korngold that has been forgotten for about 90 years and has recently been revived several times. This recording from the Deutsche Oper Berlin shines with great vocal performances and an exorbitantly intense and colourful orchestra. © 2019 Pizzicato





Robert Benson
ClassicalCDReview.com, June 2019

Sara Jakubiak, in addition to having a remarkable voice, also is very attractive… Very few of today’s sopranos could pull that off! Brian Jagde also is easy on the eyes, and it is to his credit that he can lie perfectly still for long periods of time. A major plus here is the magnificent orchestra under Marc Albrecht who obviously understands the Korngold idiom and leads a passionate, rich performance. © 2019 ClassicalCDReview.com Read complete review



Rafael de Acha
Rafael’s Music Notes, June 2019

The singers, conductor and production team in the Deutsche Oper Berlin recording, issued by NAXOS as a double DVD (2.1105584-85) are good. A strong cast of heavy-weight voices led by soprano Sara Jakubiak, tenor Brian Jagde, baritone Joseph Wagner, baritone Derek Welton, mezzo-soprano Okka von der Damerau, and tenor Burkhard Ulrich share the burden. Marc Albrecht conducts the orchestra and chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin. © 2019 Rafael's Music Notes Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2019

KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (NTSC) 2.110584-85
KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0083V

A new production of Erich Korngold’s seldom staged opera that received an unprecedented twenty minute ovation on its first night at Deutsche Oper Berlin. It seemed that justice may at last be taking place, and the Germanic music establishment will now forgive him for selling his immense talents to the Hollywood film industry after his homeland believed in him they had given birth to a new Mozart. As a young man he had already received much acclaim in the world of opera for Die Tote Stadt (The Dead City), and maybe he then made the mistake of revisiting much the same narrative with people returning from the dead. In brief we are taken into a universe where the King rules by a regime of terror, even keeping his gorgeous wife, Heliane, in captivity. A good-looking young stranger has recently arrived and soon gathers around him a following as he dispenses happiness among the people of the kingdom. Unable to accept this turn of events the King has him arrested, his eventual fate being death. Left alone to contemplate that fate, a gorgeous young blond-haired women secretly enters the room. It is the Queen who is attracted to this stranger, eventually granting him his wish, on his final night on earth, and appears before him naked. She leaves and the King enters saying he will free the stranger if he will the secret of persuasion so that at last he will take the Queen into his bed. He then sees his naked wife is already in the room. To save her honour the stranger kills himself, but the distraught King accuses her of infidelity and she is condemned to death. She in turn shows that she has the gift of bringing life back to the dead, and uses it on the stranger. In a fit of anger she is stabbed by the King, he unknowing that she also has the ability to bring herself back from the dead, as love triumphs over everything. This preposterous story is saved by the impact and highly coloured Korngold score, that has more than a hint of Richard Strauss. The stranger is vocally given heroic moments, the part here taken by the young American, Brian Jagde, whose heldontenor qualities are ideal for such a hugely taxing role. The lyric soprano, Sara Jakubiak, does not fake the required nudity, and throughout you feel she is so totally within the character. Austrian baritone, Josef Wagner, is a suitably distraught King who is fulsome in his outbursts, and the lesser parts all well cast. A large chorus act and sing superbly, and the orchestra play wondrously for conductor, Marc Albrecht. Korngold makes life easy for the director, Christof Loy, as only one set is necessary—a large and empty room—the costumes establishing that the action is taking place at the present. It is a long opera, around two and three quarter hours, and with so little action there is not a great deal the film crew can do but give it to us unadorned. There is a Blu-ray version also available on NBD 0083V (just one disc); subtitles come in five languages, and there are informative added tracks. I fully share the audience’s admiration. © 2019 David’s Review Corner



Keris Nine
OperaJournal, June 2019

KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (NTSC) 2.110584-85
KORNGOLD, E.W.: Wunder der Heliane (Das) [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2018) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0083V

Korngold’s score also demands a certain flair and Marc Albrecht is an experienced conductor in this field. To judge purely on impact, the whole character of Korngold is there, distinct from Wagner, Strauss or Schreker, using unconventional instruments in an idiosyncratic way to achieve similar effects. The demands are not just on the principals then but the whole cast and there are consequently impressive performances from Josef Wagner as the distraught and furious King, Okka von der Damerau as the king’s Messenger, Burkhard Ulrich as the Blind Judge and Derek Wetton suitably otherworldly as the Gatekeeper. This is a hugely impressive and revelatory production… © 2019 OperaJournal Read complete review





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