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Ensemble

Distant Sound

LA Opera's 'Recovered Voices',
reviewed by MARIA NOCKIN

 

On 7 March 2007, Los Angeles Opera presented Recovered Voices, an unusual program of excerpts from operas by seven early twentieth century composers. Because of their ethnic origins and, in some cases, their political views, performances of their music was forbidden by the Nazis. Conductor James Conlon has made it his mission to see that some of these important but neglected scores are heard by the American public.

Donnie Ray Albert singing 'The Emperor's Farewell' from Viktor Ullmann's 'Der Kaiser von Atlantis'. Photo © 2007 Robert Millard
Donnie Ray Albert singing 'The Emperor's Farewell' from Viktor Ullmann's 'Der Kaiser von Atlantis'. Photo © 2007 Robert Millard

The program opened with a translucent reading of the lyrical, chromatic prelude to Franz Schreker's Die Gezeichneten ('The Stigmatized'), an opera from 1918 which was influenced by Debussy and Scriabin. Like many of the composers whose works were disallowed by the Third Reich, Schreker (1878-1934) was half Jewish. His first opera, Die Ferne Klang ('The Distant Sound'), made him famous in 1912. By 1920, Schreker was director of the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin and his 1918 opera was a success. A little more than a decade later, all performances of his operas were forbidden and he was dismissed from his teaching position.

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Copyright © 3 April 2007 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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