WDBX Opera Overnight – Debussy, Puccini, Schoenberg

English: Photograph of Act 5 of the original 1...

Photograph of Act 5 of the original 1902 production of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, published in Le Théâte, June 1902 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We start tonight’s show with Claude Debussy‘s Pelléas et Mélisande. Debussy began Pelléas et Mélisande in 1893, although he had wanted to write an opera for at least a decade prior.  He wanted to do something completed different from what was then available – he had his own vision of “musical theater”.  He was also tiring of the Wagnerian influence, and wanted to go in a different direction than that.  With this opera, he succeeded.

Tonight’s recording is a 2000 recording that features Anne Sophie von Otter, Wolfgang Holzmair, Laurent Laouri, with Orchestre National De France and the Choeur de Radio De France, under the baton of Bernard Haitink.

For more info on the opera, check out my previous blog on the piece.  (This way, I don’t have to be repetitive, since I wrote quite a bit that day).

Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon in La Boheme

Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón in La Boheme, in a production filmed for PBS’ Great Performances in 2008-2009

For our next opera, we are going to hear a fairly recent recording of a great work by Giacomo Puccini, La Bohème.  Puccini used a libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa which was in turn based on a set of stories by Henri Murger.  It was premiered in 1896, and is ranked as the fourth most frequently performed opera in the repertoire, with numerous great recordings available.  Tonight’s recording is from 2008, and features the great combo of Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón, with Bertrand De Billy conducting the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra & Chorus.

Arnold Schoenberg

Arnold Schoenberg

Our final piece of music is a four scene “drama with music” by Arnold SchoenbergDie glückliche Hand (The Hand of Fate) was written by Schoenberg between 1910 and 1913, and was premiered in Vienna on October 24, 1924.  Schoenberg was influenced in his writing by events that had occurred over the previous few years, and the underlying theme of the work is that man continues to repeatedly make the same mistakes.

The work is scored for one singing role, a baritone, along with two mimed characters and a six person chorus.  Tonight’s recording is from 1981, and features Siegmund Nimsgern, with Pierre Boulez directing the BBC Singers and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.


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