Notes & Reviews:
Die tote Stadt (The Dead City) is an opera in three acts by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. The opera, based on Bruges-la-Morte, a short novel by Georges Rodenbach, is performed here by many talented voices (including Klaus Florian Vogt, Tatiana Pavlovskaya, Hedwig Fassbender and others). Bonus feature includes a 43 page color booklet with notes on the performance, musicians and sung texts.
The sound is unusually clean, detailed and well balanced for a live performance, and the excitement and high energy of the singers and the orchestra come across powerfully... The playing of Frankfurter Opern-und Museumsorchester is of the highest order and reaffirms the group's status as one of the very finest international opera orchestras. Tenor Klaus Florian Vogt is outstanding as Paul... Soprano Tatiana Pavlovskaya is mostly effective as Marietta... Baritone Michael Nagy and mezzo-soprano Hedwig Fassbender are completely persuasive as Frank/Fritz and Brigitta... This one ranks among the best and would make an excellent introduction to the work, and it should also be of interest to fans who already love it.
American Record Guide
the huge orchestra that the composer prescribed plays the score spectacularly well under Weigl's astute direction and sounds unusually good - in fact, I've never heard better. It's transparent and as detailed as one would wish.
Gramophone Notes & Reviews:
The Frankfurt performance has great depth and resonance. This is another faultlessly cast production with some outstanding singing from the lyric tenor Klaus Florian Vogt and the dramatic soprano Hedwig Fassbender. Their vivid word-painting and turn of phrase rivets the attention, with the orchestra led by Sebastian Weigle throwing themselves heart and soul into Korngold's score.
Recording information: Oper Frankfurt.
Frankfurt Opera brings life to "Die Todt Stadt"
This new Frankfurt Opera recording of Korngold's iconic 1920 masterpiece Die Todt Stadt is well performed and recorded with a new sonic clarity and some lovely emotion brought to the fore front. Musically, this has - for me - always been one of the early 20th century's operatic masterworks. Korngold, who became well known and well paid as a film composer (especially from the studios and producers of most Erroll Flynn swash-bucklers) was first and best a symphony and opera composer. In particular, his Violin Concerto and the operas; particularly Die Todt Stadt and Violanta are rich, melodic and dramatically satisfying and deserve to be played more often. The story of "The Dead City" is taken from the novel "The Dead Bruges" by Flemish writer Georges Rodenbach. The main character, Paul, obsesses over death and for much of the opera he broods over his wife's death, thinking that he had killed her. The libretto flirts with reality and with dreams, as does the novel until Paul & his wife Marietta are reunited in the afterlife in a sad, but beautiful conclusion. Musically, this is a very fine performance. Conductor Sebastien Weigle has a clear feel for the work and the forces of the Frankfurt Opera play with distinction. The performances by Klaus Florian Vogt as Paul and Tatiana Pavlovskaya as Marietta are very good as are the supporting roles (especially Michael Nagy as Frank, Paul's friend) I confess, however, that I am so used to the powerful first recording with Leinsdorf and Rene Kollo as Paul and Carol Neblett as Marietta, that I had to get used to the very different timbre of Klaus Vogt's voice and his softer, more vulnerable, interpretation. (Kollo had a much more cutting tenor - practically a heldentenor - and the role was more stoic as well) Vogt brings a sensitivity to his portrayal of Paul's sad reality that cannot be ignored, though. Another aspect of this Frankfurt performance that must be inferred by reading the booklet is the staging by Anselm Weber who gives the players a costumery and makeup that evokes the Mexican "Dia de los Muertos" in its symbology. Die Todt Stadt contains a great deal of truly great music. Interestingly, the one big set piece that most people will recognize is "Gluck, das mir verblieb" (My happiness that remained), the love duet between Paul & Marietta that actually surfaces just before the closing of the first act and is quoted again, briefly, near the end of the opera. It remains one of Korngold's most poignant melodies and - in some ways - this payoff comes too early. Another good reason to get this new recording, though, is to become familiar with the new Frankfurt Opera series of mostly modern works on the Oehms Classics label. This series in addition to this Todt Stadt and a Rheingold includes two works by German Aribert Reimann (including his excellent Lear) as well as new works by Detlev Glanert and Franco Leoni. (Were I in Frankfurt, I would definitely be there!) This seems like an excellent series and this very nice and slightly different Todt Stadt is a very good place to start!
Submitted on 11/14/11 by Dan Coombs