Saturday, 16 January 2016

Schubert's Fidelio - Die Freunde von Salamanka

Schubert's FidelioDie Freunde von Salamanka D326, 1815. Schubert was only eighteen when it was written, yet already it was his seventh-known work for stage. Although the spoken dialogues have long gone missing, the  nature of the piee is clear from the start.  The overture is rousing, with a distinctive, bold phrase which suggests adventure. "Die Sonne zieht in goldnen Strahlen, z ieht in Majestät einher." , the three friends, Alfonso, Diego and Fidelio, sing.

Olivia, Eusebia, and Laura need rescuing from the wicked Count Tormes. Eventually Fidelio leads the rebellion, wins the girl, and his friends their girls too,  and everyone's happy,  Jolly songs, with images of grapes and drinking.  nice ensembles for male, female and mixed voices. No attempt at local "Spanish" colour. We could just as well be in Vienna. The picture at right, drawn by Moritz von Schwind, shows Schubert with Franz Lachner asnd Ernst von Bauernfeld, making merry in a Weinstube,

Schubert  knew Beethoven's Fidelio well, but the connections are minimal. The images of sunshine, freedom and joy, and the chorus "Fidelio! Fidelio!" aren't conscious borrowings: no political undercurrents here, though some in Schubert's circle were radical. At least one was exiled, his career ended.  The teenage Schubert keeps his nose clean. The libretto was by Johann Baptist Mayrhofer, with whom Schubert was later to fall out. No trace of  morbid tragedy here, though. If the plot is familiar, it's a meme of the Romantic fascination with medieval and "southern climes". Later, Weber based his Die Drei Pintos on a similar threesome and, even later,  Hugo Wolf his Die Corregidor.

 Die Freunde von Salamanka is delightful, merry and jolly, full of delicious numbers, mostly part songs rather than solo arias. Some nice "alpine" figures, too. Not much of Spanish Salamanca here.   It's not especially obscure, though the best recording of all is so good that it puts all else into the shade. consider the soloists - Edith Mathis, Thomas Moser, Eberhard Buchner, Robert Orth and a very young Robert Holl. Theodor Guschlbauer conducted the orchestra and chorus of Austrian Radio. Although the music isn't difficult, exceptionally good performances like these make a huge difference.

No comments: