|Opera by Aribert Reimann|
The composer in 2010
|Librettist||Claus H. Henneberg|
by Yvan Goll
29 April 1971
Melusine is a 1971 German-language opera by Aribert Reimann, on a libretto by Claus H. Henneberg after Melusine, a 1920 play in four acts by Yvan Goll which transposes the legendary water-spirit to Goll's time. The opera was written for the Schwetzingen Festival, where it premiered in 1971. It was recorded in 2010.
Melusine, Aribert Reimann's second opera, was written on the seventh commission from the Süddeutscher Rundfunk for a new opera for the Schwetzingen Festival, following for example Hans Werner Henze's Elegie für junge Liebende (1961) and Fortner's In seinem Garten liebt Don Perlimplin Belisa (1962).The libretto was written in German by Claus H. Henneberg, based on a 1920 play of the same name by Yvan Goll, which was again based on Mélusine, a French-language libretto written by Goll for an earlier – possibly unperformed – opera by Marcel Mihalovici in 1920.
The title refers to the legendary water-spirit. Derived from French legend and later a German folk book by Thüring von Ringoltingen, the topic is transposed to modern everyday life ("modernes Alltagsleben") in France before World War I.The main character is married to a real estate agent, but still a virgin, focused on the preservation of a local park (or forest) that she sees filled with nature spirits. She is unable to stop a castle being built on the land, a building in which she loses her virginity and dies.
Melusine premiered at the opening of the festival Schlosstheater Schwetzingen in 1971, conducted by Reinhard Peters, staged by Rudolf Sellner, with Catherine Gayer in the title role, and Martha Mödl as Pythia.The opera was recorded by Wergo in 2010, from a live performance at the Staatstheater Nürnberg. A 1974 handbook on opera production notes the features of aleatoric passages, dissonances and atonality. A reviewer of The Guardian described the musical language as neo-expressionist, with writing for voices in declamatory style and with demanding coloraturas. A reviewer of the premiere, writing for the weekly Die Zeit , found the vocal writing for the three main characters convincing, and compared the work's expressivity to Alban Berg's Lulu and its atmosphere to Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande , noting the similarities of the three female characters.
In 2016, a production by the Berlin University of the Arts, where Reimann had been a professor of contemporary Lied, honoured the composer's 80th birthday.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere cast |
29 April 1971
Conductor: Reinhard Peters
|Melusine||coloratura soprano||Catherine Gayer|
|Madame Lapérouse||mezzo-soprano||Gitta Mikes|
|Graf von Lusignan||baritone||Barry McDaniel|
Yvan Goll was a French-German poet who was bilingual and wrote in both French and German. He had close ties to both German expressionism and to French surrealism.
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Aribert Reimann is a German composer, pianist and accompanist, known especially for his literary operas. His version of Shakespeare's King Lear, the opera Lear, was written at the suggestion of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, who sang the title role. His opera Medea after Grillparzer's play premiered in 2010 at the Vienna State Opera. He was a professor of contemporary song in Hamburg and Berlin. In 2011, he was awarded the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize for his life's work.
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Medea is a German-language opera by Aribert Reimann after the play by Franz Grillparzer. It was premiered at the Vienna State Opera in February 2010. The German premiere was at the Oper Frankfurt in August 2010.
Das Schloß is a 1992 German-language opera by Aribert Reimann. He wrote his own libretto based on Kafka's novel and its dramatization by Max Brod. It premiered on 2 September 1992 at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, staged by Willy Decker and conducted by Michael Boder.
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Reinhard Peters was a German operatic conductor, violinist and an academic teacher at the Folkwangschule Essen. He was the Generalmusikdirektor for the opera companies Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Theater Münster and Deutsche Oper Berlin. He premiered music in opera and concert, such as Giselher Klebe's Die tödlichen Wünsche, Aribert Reimann's Melusine, Nicolas Nabokov's Love's Labour's Lost, and Wilhelm Killmayer's song cycle Tre Canti di Leopardi.
Claus H. Henneberg was a German librettist and translator. He worked as dramaturge for the Cologne Opera and the Deutsche Oper Berlin. In the 1976/77 season, he was the Intendant of the Opernhaus Kiel.
Joan Carroll is an American operatic coloratura soprano who appeared in the title role of Alban Berg's Lulu at the work's US premiere at the Santa Fe Opera in 1963, and often in opera houses in Europe. She premiered vocal music by Aribert Reimann and Wilhelm Killmayer, among others.
Catherine Gayer is an American coloratura soprano, violinist, musicologist, and academic voice teacher. She made a career in Germany. A member of the Deutsche Oper Berlin for more than four decades, she is known for her performance in premieres of contemporary operas, such as Luigi Nono's Intolleranza 1960 at La Fenice in Venice, the title role in Aribert Reimann's Melusine at the Schwetzingen Festival, and Josef Tal's Die Versuchung at the Bavarian State Opera.
Rudolf Sellner, born Gustav Rudolf Sellner, was a German actor, dramaturge, stage director and intendant. He represented in the 1950s a radical Instrumentales Theater. After decades of acting and directing plays, he turned to staging operas, and was a long-time intendant of the Deutsche Oper Berlin from 1961, when the Berlin Wall was built. He staged notable world premieres, including Ernst Barlach's play Der Graf von Ratzeburg in 1951, Ionesco's Mörder ohne Bezahlung in 1958, Giselher Klebe's Alkmene in 1961 for the opening of the Deutsche Oper, and Aribert Reimanns opera Melusine in 1971.
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