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Kevin Filipski
The Flip Side, September 2020

HENZE, H.W.: Prinz von Homburg (Der) [Opera] (Staatsoper Stuttgart, 2019) (NTSC) 2.110668
HENZE, H.W.: Prinz von Homburg (Der) [Opera] (Staatsoper Stuttgart, 2019) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0115V

German composer Hans Werner Henze (who died in 2012 at age 88) was an unrepentant socialist, so it’s no surprise that one of his early operas, 1958’s The Prince of Hamburg, was merciless toward the German military mentality in its story of a prince who inadvertently becomes a war hero despite daydreaming about his lover. Filmed last year in Stuttgart, Germany, Stephan Kimmig’s comically stripped-down staging looks like it’s set in a school basement with ladders for the cast to climb on. But the committed singers (led by Robin Adams as the prince and Vera-Lotte Boecker as the princess) and players (Cornelius Meister adroitly conducts the State Opera Orchestra) superbly get across Henze’s relevant pacifist message as well as his ear for combining dissonance with gorgeous melodies. Both hi-def video and audio are excellent. © 2020 The Flip Side

Seth Colter Walls
The New York Times, September 2020

HENZE, H.W.: Prinz von Homburg (Der) [Opera] (Staatsoper Stuttgart, 2019) (NTSC) 2.110668
HENZE, H.W.: Prinz von Homburg (Der) [Opera] (Staatsoper Stuttgart, 2019) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0115V

Complexity Thoughtfully Presented

The leads in the Stuttgart version, including Robin Adams (as the Prince) and Vera-Lotte Boecker (as Princess Natalie), have access to the requisite fireworks and subtlety... Still, the conductor Cornelius Meister leads a punchy, thoughtful take on a complex work you’re not likely to see staged. © 2020 The New York Times Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2020

HENZE, H.W.: Prinz von Homburg (Der) [Opera] (Staatsoper Stuttgart, 2019) (NTSC) 2.110668
HENZE, H.W.: Prinz von Homburg (Der) [Opera] (Staatsoper Stuttgart, 2019) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0115V

The operas of the German-born composer, Hans Werner Henze, have been described as ‘like peaks in a mountain range in his highly prolific output’.

Already a much regarded young composer in a wide genre of music, in 1953, and at the age of twenty-seven, he moved to take up residency in Italy, and it was that decision that brought to an end his overtly avant-garde phase, that had placed him at the cutting-edge of modernity. It was also to engendered a long list of operas that followed on Italy’s on-going history that date back to Bellini and Donizetti’s dramatic stage works. Der Prinz von Homburg, completed in 1958, and premiered in 1960, became his fifth in that genre, and followed on from coming into contact with Heinrich von Kleist’s play. That had sparked his enthusiasm to create an opera on the theme of a poetic young individual male caught up in a harsh military life, the eventual libretto fashioned by the Austrian poet, Ingeborg Bachmann. In three acts, Friedrich, the young Prince of Homburg, is promised the hand of Princess Natalie, the niece of the Elector of Brandenburg. A daydreamer, he receives the General’s schedule for the day, but then forgets them and orders his troops into battle before receiving orders. In the military terms it was an unforgivable act, and he is sentenced to death by the Elector for his indiscretion. In a somewhat torturous story, the final act sees him asking for his punishment to be carried out, but through his blindfold he sees the sunlight of a new dawning day, and with it removed, all assembled vow to make Brandenburg successful in war, and he is reunited with Natalie. In musical content it is part of Italian opera tradition, while the Stage Director, Stephan Kimmig, sees it as part of Henze in his younger avant-garde years. The cast for this 2019 Stuttgart Opera performance was outstanding, both in musical and dramatic terms, the role of the Prinz requiring an actor just as much as a singer. It has found both, in equal measure, in the English-born baritone, Robin Adams. Slight of build, the young German soprano, Vera-Lotte Boecker, is a vocally powerful, Natalie, potent in her pleading for the Prince’s life. Stefan Margita makes a suitably seedy Elector, the remaining cast members of high vocal quality. The orchestra, shoe-horned into the small orchestra pit, play with a deep commitment for the much experienced, and recently installed Music Director of the Stuttgart Opera, Cornelius Meister. He looks suitably delighted with their performance. Add a very well engineered video, the DVD comes with the usual translated subtitles, and there is a Blu-ray version on NBD 0115V. © 2020 David’s Review Corner

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