Sunday, 16 October 2011

Hindemith Cardillac Vienna - full broadcast

Full broadcast of Cardillac, Paul Hindemith's iconic opera from 1926, available on BBC Radio 3 online, on demand for 5 more days. It comes from the Vienna State Opera, recorded late lat year. Franz Welser-Möst conducts.

Juha Uusitalo is Cardillac the goldsmith, who thinks strictly in terms of his craft. Even his daughter means nothing to him, because, unlike gold, women can't be forged and twisted into shape. Cardillac is so obsessed with the jewellery he makes that he can't bear to let go. Everyone who buys a piece gets murdered. Control freak anal retentive to the nth degree. It's probably impossible to make Cardillac sympathetic, even when he's torn apart by the mob. Juliane Banse sings Cardillac's daughter, who loves her Dad despite knowing he's nuts. Her lover is The Officer (Herbert Lippert).

The plot's fiendishly complicated, a lot like the intricate jewellery Cardillac designs, so don't expect to get it easily without visuals the first time. It grows on you, though, even though emotionally the opera pushes you away, just as Cardillac himself pushes people away.  Please read my analysis of the 1985 Munich production, conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch and Jim Zychowicz's review of its re-release.There's also a more recent Paris production, conducted by Kent Nagano. There are at least 3 audio recordings, of which Keilberth (Fisher-Dieskau/Donald Grobe/Elisabeth Söderström is most interesting. It's not "obscure", but one of the more seminal works of the period. Just not very "feelgood".

See the production photos on the BBC site. Much is made of this production being based on silent film, though the Paris production had the same concept. But I think it works fine, to bring out the stark film noirish aspects of the story. Cardillac himself thinks in black and white terms, and the music reflects that off-centre edginess. Lots more on Hindemith on this site !

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