David's Review Corner
, February 2020
WEBER, C.M. von: Euryanthe [Opera] (Theater an der Wien, 2018) (NTSC) 2.110656
WEBER, C.M. von: Euryanthe [Opera] (Theater an der Wien, 2018) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0107V
After the remarkable success of Der Freischutz placed him among the major opera composers of his era, Weber was commissioned to write a new work for Vienna.
In place of simply offering a successor, he decided to follow the modern trends of the early 19th century in a score that dispensed with the use of spoken dialogue so that the music was continuous. Maybe it was the weakness of an over-long libretto that always uses ten words when one would be adequate, but, even with cuts, it has always remained locked on the outer regions of the repertoire. It is doubly welcome to have this new production, staged in the Theatre an der Wien in December 2018, though It does introduce another contentious aspect with Christof Loy’s production up-dating the story from the time of the French King Louis VI, to the present day. Not that it really matters for it is the frequently used subject of testing female fidelity, and the fact that given the chance they will be unfaithful. Two men, Adolar and Lysart, just returned triumphant from the battlefield stupidly bet everything they possess on the chastity of one woman, the beautiful Euryanthe, the bride of Adolar who does not know of the bet. She has never told anyone that she was once entrusted with a secret she promised never to divulge, but Lysart, one of the two ‘gamblers’, finds that this can be used to force Euryanthe to succumb to his advances. Having resisted all temptation, Lysart, and his female accomplice, Eglantine, resort to lying, saying that she did give herself to Lysart. Desperate to prove her innocence, Euryanthe has a heart attack and apparently dies. Now it is the turn of the accomplices to fall out, the story ending in happiness when, returning from the ‘dead’, Euryanthe is reunited with her husband. Headline-grabbing, and totally unnecessary nudity, mars the second act at a point when Weber needs all the musical help he can get, his inability to create memorable arias always something of a drawback. Yet for all of these reservations, Loy’s brightly-lit scene and colourful costumes makes for a pleasing visual scenario, though you do have to use a great deal of imagination when, with the same set, the story changes location. As for the performance, it is strongly cast with the leading roles taken by two American singers, the very fine lyric tenor of Norman Reinhardt creating the character of Adolar to perfection, while the young soprano, Jacquelyn Wagner, is a warm-voiced, Euryanthe. As the villains of the story, the highly experienced British bass-baritone, Andrew Foster-Williams, and the mezzo, Theresa Kronthaller, make a suitably conniving pair. The much experienced German opera conductor, Constantin Trinks, keeps the work moving at an admirable pace, and the Radio Orchestra are in fine form. The video team have shown discretion in the filming of nudity, and elsewhere have kept an admirable balance between close-up and the full stage. Recommended, and it also comes on Blu-ray. © 2020 David’s Review Corner