Elegy for Young Lovers

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Elegy for Young Lovers
Elegie für junge Liebende
Opera by Hans Werner Henze
Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F008277-0008, Koln, Schloss Bruhl, Meisterkurse Musik.jpg
The composer in 1960
Librettist
Premiere
20 May 1961 (1961-05-20)

Elegy for Young Lovers (in German, Elegie für junge Liebende) is an opera in three acts by Hans Werner Henze to an English libretto by W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman.

Hans Werner Henze 1926-2012 German composer

Hans Werner Henze was a German composer. His large oeuvre of works is extremely varied in style, having been influenced by serialism, atonality, Stravinsky, Italian music, Arabic music and jazz, as well as traditional schools of German composition. In particular, his stage works reflect "his consistent cultivation of music for the theatre throughout his life".

Libretto text used for an extended musical work

A libretto is the text used in, or intended for, an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata or musical. The term libretto is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as the Mass, requiem and sacred cantata, or the story line of a ballet.

W. H. Auden Anglo-American poet

Wystan Hugh Auden was an English-American poet. Auden's poetry was noted for its stylistic and technical achievement, its engagement with politics, morals, love, and religion, and its variety in tone, form and content. He is best known for love poems such as "Funeral Blues", poems on political and social themes such as "September 1, 1939" and "The Shield of Achilles", poems on cultural and psychological themes such as The Age of Anxiety, and poems on religious themes such as "For the Time Being" and "Horae Canonicae".

Contents

Background

The opera was first performed in a German translation by Louis, Prince of Hesse and by Rhine at the Schlosstheater Schwetzingen at the Schwetzingen Festival on 20 May 1961, conducted by Heinrich Bender. The first performance using the original English text was in Glyndebourne, also in 1961. The Juilliard Opera Theater produced the opera in New York City in 1965, with the composer conducting. [1] Henze revised the opera in 1987, and this revised version received its first performance on 28 October 1988 at the La Fenice Theatre, Venice, with Markus Stenz conducting.

Louis, Prince of Hesse and by Rhine German prince

Louis, Prince of Hesse and by Rhine was the youngest son of Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse by his second wife, Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich.

Schlosstheater Schwetzingen palace theatre in Schwetzingen, Germany

Schlosstheater Schwetzingen is a court theater in Schwetzingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. The historic building, opened in 1753, is part of Schloss Schwetzingen and since 1952 the principal venue of the Schwetzingen Festival. It is also called Hoftheater, Hofoper, and Comoedienhaus. The frequently applied name Rokokotheater is misleading, because it shows also neoclassical elements, added in 1762.

Schwetzingen Festival music festival

The Schwetzingen Festival is an early summer festival of opera and other classical music presented each year from May to early June in Schwetzingen, Germany.

According to Ann Saddlemyer in her book "Becoming George", the poet is partially based on W. B. Yeats, and his wife "George" (Georgie Hyde-Lees) was the inspiration for both the secretary and the woman with visions. David Anderson has noted that the poet also portrays Auden as well. [2] Robert Henderson has summarised the thesis of the opera as follows:

W. B. Yeats Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet and playwright, co-founder of Abbey Theatre

William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature. A pillar of the Irish literary establishment, he helped to found the Abbey Theatre, and in his later years served as a Senator of the Irish Free State for two terms. He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn and others.

Elegy for Young Lovers....is a bitter indictment of the Romantic notion of the artist as hero, feeding remorselessly on those around him both in the name of art and to satisfy his own monstrous and inhumanely egotistical appetites. [3]

Auden and Kallman described this opera as their equivalent of Richard Strauss' opera Arabella . [2] The dedication of the opera is to the memory of Hugo von Hofmannsthal. [4]

Richard Strauss German composer and orchestra director

Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier, Elektra, Die Frau ohne Schatten and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; his tone poems, including Don Juan, Death and Transfiguration, Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks, Also sprach Zarathustra, Ein Heldenleben, Symphonia Domestica, and An Alpine Symphony; and other instrumental works such as Metamorphosen and his Oboe Concerto. Strauss was also a prominent conductor in Western Europe and the Americas, enjoying quasi-celebrity status as his compositions became standards of orchestral and operatic repertoire.

<i>Arabella</i> lyric comedy/opera by Richard Strauss

Arabella, Op. 79, is a lyric comedy, or opera, in three acts by Richard Strauss to a German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, their sixth and last operatic collaboration.

Hugo von Hofmannsthal Austrian novelist, librettist, poet, dramatist, narrator, and essayist

Hugo Laurenz August Hofmann von Hofmannsthal was an Austrian prodigy, a novelist, librettist, poet, dramatist, narrator, and essayist.

Henze quoted material from the aria My own, my own in his Fifth Symphony, completed in 1962.

Aria musical piece for a single voice as part of a larger work

In music, an aria is a self-contained piece for one voice, with or without instrumental or orchestral accompaniment, normally part of a larger work.

Symphony No. 5 by Hans Werner Henze was written in 1962.

Roles

RoleVoice typePremiere Cast, 20 May 1961
(Conductor: Heinrich Bender)
Hilde Mack, a widow coloratura soprano Eva Maria Rogner
Elizabeth Zimmer soprano Ingeborg Bremert
Carolina, Countess of Kirchstätten, secretary to Mittenhofer contralto Lilian Benningsen
Toni Reischmann tenor Friedrich Lenz
Gregor Mittenhofer, a poet baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Dr. Wilhelm Reischmann, a physician bass Karl-Christian Kohn
Josef Mauer, a mountain climb leaderspokenHubert Hilten

Synopsis

The opera is set in an inn called Der Schwarze Adler in the Austrian Alps in 1910. The plot is centred on a poet, Gregor Mittenhofer, who manipulates the people in the inn to provide inspiration to his work, his faithful secretary, his doctor, his young "muse" Elisabeth and a hysterical woman who lost her husband to the mountains decades before and has visions. [5] [6] When a young man arrives who attracts Elisabeth, Mittenhofer lets her go but doesn't act to prevent the young lovers' death in a snowstorm in the mountains, using the tragedy as the inspiration for a final "Elegie" of pure music, sung without words.

Recordings

Related Research Articles

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References

Notes

  1. Keats, Sheila (1971). "Current Chronicle". The Musical Quarterly. LVII (1): 141–148. doi:10.1093/mq/lvii.1.141 . Retrieved 26 October 2007.
  2. 1 2 Anderson, David E., Review of W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman: Libretti and Other Dramatic Writings by W. H. Auden, 1939–1973 (March 1995). Notes (2nd Ser.), 51 (3): pp. 948–949.
  3. Henderson, Robert, "Hans Werner Henze" (July 1976). The Musical Times", 117 (1601): pp. 566–568.
  4. Weisstein, Ulrich, "Reflections on a Golden Style: W. H. Auden's Theory of Opera" (Spring 1970). Comparative Literature, 22 (2): pp. 108–124.
  5. "Surprise at Schwetzingen". Time. 2 June 1961. Archived from the original on 5 February 2011. Retrieved 7 September 2007.
  6. Bernard Holland (11 August 1988). "A Dominion of Words". New York Times. Retrieved 7 September 2007.
  7. Elegie für junge Liebende on operone website (in German

Sources