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Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Euryanthe (1823)
King Ludwig VI — Stefan Cerny (bass)
Adolar — Norman Reinhardt (tenor)
Euryanthe — Jacquelyn Wagner (soprano)
Lysiart — Andrew Foster-Williams
Eglantine — Theresa Kronthaler (soprano)
Arnold Schoenberg Choir
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra/Constantin Trinks
rec. live, 11, 12 & 15 December 2018, Theater an der Wien, Vienna, Austria
CAPRICCIO C5373 [77:23 + 83:18]

Weber’s major operas like Euryanthe are likely to be well known to many of us, but I must confess that this is the first time I have heard a complete recording and had forgotten its charming opening chorus to Act I and the bright and energetic Pas de Cinq which opens Act III Scene 2.

Euryanthe, a through-composed opera instead of Weber’s previous Singspiele, (Der Freischütz and Oberon) is Weber’s final opera and was first presented when he was 37, three years before his untimely death. Its style of composition is forward-looking and a model for a dramatic style adopted by Marschner and some later opera composers of the European school. The performance here is a strong one and for a live recording excellently recorded in a warm ambience with voices and orchestra well balanced. Its quality is close to that of a studio recording and is far superior to an earlier, live performance by Giulini in 1954 (review), where Giulini’s chorus often sounds too recessed, and stage noise is considerable, even from the tabs’ curtain track that obscures the charming opening of Act I.

Weber’s start to the Second Act is extremely atmospheric piece of writing. Lysiart’s scena No.10 ‘Wo berg ich mich?’ that follows is equally powerful and very moving, with Andrew Foster-Williams’ resonant tone and sincerity of delivery adding to its quality. The orchestra throughout plays in a spirited manner, particularly in the Overture. However, a mistuning of one of the kettledrums is noticeable in passages on the first disc and the Introduction to Act II Scene 2 is slightly insecure in one section. I notice that the edits are taken from three performances to ensure the soloists are captured at their best and to my ears they certainly are.

Norman Reinhardt is a vibrant tenor, well-suited to Adolar’s role and an ideal match for Jacqueline Wagner who, as Euryanthe, is outstanding with accurate top notes and wide range. She has a glowing continental repertoire to her name that she has been keen to build. Weber gives her much intense singing in Act III and this she accomplishes with ease and conviction. In the ensembles there is always evidence of a strong contribution from the choir (under Erwin Ortner) who provide good powerful crescendos and memorable finales.

Notes in German and English and a clearly presented libretto in German only are provided. Given the limited amount of space in the booklet, it seems a pity that two portraits of Euryanthe are shown, yet none of the composer, and I do not see how the bland back cover picture connects with the opera’s plot in any way. One notices, with pleasure, that one of the discs is mastered outside the ‘Red Book’ specification to exceed the usual 80 minute capacity of a commercial CD. This recording is strong competition for the Marek Janowski recording with Jessye Norman in the title role (see review which gives full details of the opera’s plot).

Raymond J Walker

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