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Wagner: Das Liebesverbot (Edward Downes recording)

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BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra and BBC Northern Singers

Friedrich - Raimund Herincx
Luzio - Alexander Young
Claudio - Ian Caley
Antonio - Neil Jenkins
Angelo - William Elvin
Isabella - April Cantelo
Mariana - Ilse Wolf
Brighella - Lawrence Richard
Danieli - Leslie Fyson
Dorella - Elizabeth Gale
Pontio Pilato - David Lennox

From the DG Wagner: Complete Operas box.

Well, this was rather odd. It's hard to believe Wagner wrote this opera. Unlike Die Feen, there really wasn't anything in it that made me think of the Wagner everyone knows. I suppose the only thing Wagnerian about it is that it is three hours long with only two acts.

I was under the impression that this is a comedy, but I didn't find much about it humorous until almost the end. Perhaps I was mistaken, or the piece needs to be seen. The plot is based off Shakespeare's play Measure for Measure. Friedrich, viceroy of Sicily, forbids the Carnival and institutes a "ban on love". Anyone guilty of love is to be killed. Claudio is sent to prison and is about to be executed for breaking this rule and hopes that his sister Isabella will find a way to set him free.

The music often sounds something like Gilbert and Sullivan, and other times it sounds maybe like J. Strauss, Jr. Those aren't musical influences, but that's what it sort of sounds like upon hearing it. Occasionally it also sounds like Rienzi. The first half was basically all sung. Then, randomly in act two, there is a rather traditional sounding recitative section followed by spoken dialogue. Then later there is a bit more spoken dialogue. It's odd because it seems to come out of nowhere after all the regular singing. In my opinion, the music is not as good as in Die Feen, but The carnival song in Act II (the first theme heard in the overture), though strange, was somewhat catchy. There weren't many memorable melodies though.

The performers again were good. April Cantelo didn't sound as good in the beginning, but got better later on in the opera. I'm starting to like these singers.

Overall, I think Die Feen is better, but this is still interesting. Das Liebesverbot is mainly something that those curious about early Wagner will want to hear as it's not super memorable. I personally wouldn't shy away from a chance to see a good performance of it though.
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Updated Jul-24-2020 at 00:50 by adriesba

Classical Music , Opera