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Emmerich KÁLMÁN (1882 – 1953)
Ein Herbstmanöver (1909)
Feldmarschall-Leutnant von Lohonnay – Harald Pfeiffer (spoken part)
Treszka, seine Tochter –Marie Seidler (mezzo-soprano)
Baronin Riza von Marbach – Christiane Boesiger (soprano)
Oberleutnant von Lörenthy, bei den Husaren – Grga Peroš (baritone)
Wallerstein, Reserve-Kadett-Feldwebel – Tomi Wendt (baritone)
Marosi, Freiwilliger bei den Husaren – Clemens Kerschbaumer (tenor)
Kurt, Gutsverwalter – Rainer Hustedt (spoken part)
Bence, Grossknecht – Rainer Domke (spoken part)
Chor und Extrachor des Stadttheaters Gießen
Philharmonisches Orchester Gießen/Michael Hofstetter
rec. 2018, Ausstellungszentrum Hessenhallen Gießen, Germany
OEHMS OC977 [79:50]

Kálmán’s first operetta, first produced in Budapest in 1908 under the title Tatárjárás (The Mongol Invasion) was an immediate success, which reached Vienna and the Theater an der Wien in January 1909 and the same year it was staged on Broadway, now titled The Gay Hussars. The Broadway production was far from successful and a London production also flopped, but in Austria and Germany and actually all around Europe it was a hit. Kálmán saw that there was a market for him in the German speaking countries and quickly settled in Vienna. There, within ten years Ein Herbstmanöver had been played 600 times and another 1000 in Germany. His Hungarian heritage is very obvious in the overture and elsewhere in this attractive score and that influence remained in all his successes.

The production in Gießen in 2018, which is the basis for the present recording, was on a grand scale with lots of spoken dialogue. When it was broadcast complete by Hessischer Rundfunk it had a playing time of 3 hours 10 minutes. It goes without saying that to squeeze in the essence on an, admittedly, well-filled CD, most of the dialogue had to be cut with only some spoken cues to get the story hang together. But it is still not easy to follow the action with the rather too concise synopsis as only guide. I soon gave up and, leaning back, just listened to the attractive music, which also contains four numbers from Kálmán’s next operetta, Der gute Kamerad from 1911.

The overture, as I already have mentioned, is truly Hungarian, a knockout start in fact and it’s easy to trace influences from Tchaikovsky. The fanfares that halfway through the overture announce a more serious atmosphere, are also Tchaikovskian. What then follows is a string of pearls of attractive numbers. Riza’s entrance (tr. 2) is charming, Marosi’s Marschlied (tr. 3) has again Hungarian flavour and Lörenthy’s Lied (tr. 4) is another fine song. Of course there is a big Viennese waltz: Seh ich dich strahlen / Denkst du daran (tr. 7) and another waltz, Frauenherzen (tr. 11) which is a duet. Lörenthy sings a song with violin solo (tr. 17) and the soprano aria Zauber der Liebe (tr. 18) is another highlight.
And the finale, Schlussgesang mit Lied für Bence (tr. 21) is a csardas.

The singing is on a high level throughout. Christiane Boesiger’s mature soprano contrasting well with Marie Seidler’s youthful mezzo-soprano. Clemens Kerschbaumer’s lyric tenor as Marosi is attractive but the greatest singing comes from Grga Peroš as Lörenthy. Here is a great lyric baritone with truly nuanced singing, which cannot always be taken for granted in operetta. But Tomi Wendt’s buffo-style entrance song as Wallerstein (tr. 5) is also well characterized.

The plot is, as I said before, not that easy to follow, but that doesn’t matter too much. There are numerous colour photos from the stage production, some of which I would have liked to know the dramatic situation for. Let me also say the quality of the recording is first class and that veteran actor Rainer Domke, born in 1935, plays the spoken role of Bence. He was a member of the City Theatre in Gießen between 1961 and 2001, playing about 300 roles in more than 4,000 performances, and he has continued to appear as guest up to today. An impressive career indeed.

Operetta lovers should lend an ear to this recording. It is not likely that there will be another of this work within the foreseeable future.

Göran Forsling

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