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Strauss, Richard - Intermezzo
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WEA 5051442885729; WEA ITALIANA - Italia; Classica Lirica
Richard Strauss' Intermezzo ist ein autobiographisches Stück; die Komödie eines Ehestreits.
John Coxs 1920 aufgenommene stilvolle Produktion mit Felicity Lott in der Rolle der launischen Christine Storch (alias Pauline Strauss), welche ein Liebesabenteuer mit einem mittellosen jungen Baron (Ian Caley) hat, heim zu ihrem Ehemann kommt und diesen einer heimlichen Affäre beschuldigt… mit weiterführenden Komplikationen.
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This production could scarcely be better. Felicity Lott was a wonderful “Strauss soprano”, with the full measure of both vocal beauty and dramatic sophistication. The soaring high notes near the end are a delight. John Pringle and Ian Caley are equally fine as the men in her life. The staging is excellent, full of charming twenties detail. One problem in staging the piece is the long orchestral interludes between relatively short scenes. I don’t know how this was done in the theater, but here we have a mélange of black-and-white pictures of the Strauss family and other period scenes, which works fairly well. The performance is done in Andrew Porter’s lively and sensible English translation, and it was an excellent idea to include subtitles. In operatic singing it’s hard to understand the words, even if they’re in one’s own language!
This is not an opera that is often done. The standard-setting recording to date is the EMI audio set under Wolfgana Sawallisch, with definitive performances by Lucia Popp and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. But this album is on pretty much the same level. Enjoy!
Then there is the music. No big tunes. Just "melodish." This isn't because Strauss has run out of inspiration. It is that he is after something different - a musical play. The music is totally at the service of the words. At no time does it call attention to itself. Don't fault him - this is what Strauss wanted. He is doing here what many after him would do. And they didn't even make their music "melodish." Which would you prefer? The music definitly sounds as only Strauss does. Listen closely to the orchestra and you pick up all sorts of delightful things - quotations of himself and others, commentary on the action. And Strauss weaves one of his wonderful love duets for the end.
All goes together to bring this comedy to life. Yes, there are real laughs here especially in this performance. The main obstacle to Intermezzo drops away here - Intermezzo even more than Capriccio must be in the audience's language. It makes all the difference in the world as you watch these two banter with one another.
But more than redeeming Intermezzo for the English world this DVD is a testimony to Felicity Lott - beautiful voice, matchless acting. This is the role of a lifetime and she more than up to it. Not that she isn't surrounded by wonderful talent - everyone contributes to a magical performance.
The production is also top drawer. The sets are appropriate to the time. And during the interludes - Intermezzo has lots of symphonic interludes - we are shown photos of the Strauss family.
Do yourself a favor and visit the Strausses at home.