Melusine (Reimann)

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Opera by Aribert Reimann
Aribert Reimann.jpg
The composer in 2010
Librettist Claus H. Henneberg
Based onMelusine
by Yvan Goll
Premiere1971 (1971)
Schwetzingen Festival

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 May 1971. It was recorded in 2010.

Aribert Reimann German composer, pianist and accompanist

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.

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.

Yvan Goll French-German poet

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.



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). [1] The libretto was written in German by Claus H. Henneberg, based on a 1920 play of the same name by Yvan Goll, [2] which was again based on Mélusine, a French-language libretto written by Goll for an earlier – possibly unperformed – opera by Marcel Mihalovici in 1920. [3]

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.

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".

Wolfgang Fortner was a German composer, composition teacher and conductor.

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. [1] [4] 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. [2] [4]

Melusine fairy

Melusine or Melusina is a figure of European folklore and mythology, a female spirit of fresh water in a sacred spring or river. She is usually depicted as a woman who is a serpent or fish from the waist down. She is also sometimes illustrated with wings, two tails, or both. Her legends are especially connected with the northern and western areas of France, Luxembourg, and the Low Countries. The House of Luxembourg, the Counts of Anjou and their descendants the House of Plantagenet and the French House of Lusignan are said in folk tales and medieval literature to be descended from Melusine.

Melusine premiered at the opening of the festival Schlosstheater Schwetzingen in May 1971, conducted by Reinhard Peters, staged by Rudolf Sellner, with Catherine Gayer in the title role, and Martha Mödl as Pythia. [5] [1] The opera was recorded by Wergo in 2010, from a live performance at the Staatstheater Nürnberg. [2] A 1974 handbook on opera production notes the features of aleatoric passages, dissonances and atonality. [4] A reviewer of The Guardian described the musical language is neo-expressionist, with writing for voices in declamatory style and with demanding coloraturas. [2] 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. [1]

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.

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.

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.

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. [6]

Berlin University of the Arts public art school in Berlin, Germany

The Universität der Künste Berlin, situated in Berlin, Germany, is the largest art school in Europe. It is a public art and design school, and one of the four research universities in the city.


Role Voice type Premiere cast [5]
Conductor: Reinhard Peters
Melusine coloratura soprano Catherine Gayer
Pythia contralto Martha Mödl
Madame LapérouseGitta Mikes
Oleander tenor Donald Grobe
Graf von Lusignan baritone Barry McDaniel
SurveyorIvan Sardi
MasonKlaus Lang
Architect Loren Driscoll
Oger bass Josef Greindl

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Schwinger, Wolfram (7 May 1971). "Aribert Reimanns neue Oper in Schwetzingen uraufgeführt: Ein Stück Lulu in Melusine". Die Zeit (in German). Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Clements, Andrew (19 August 2010). "Reimann: Melusine". The Guardian . Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  3. The Oxford Dictionary of Music 0199578540 2013
  4. 1 2 3 Eaton, Quaintance (1974). Melusine. Opera Production II: A Handbook. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN   9780816657544.
  5. 1 2 "Melusine 1971". Opera Scotland. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  6. Pachl, Peter P. (11 July 2016). "Das Geheimnis exponierter Töne – Aribert Reimanns "Melusine" an der Universität der Künste Berlin". neue musikzeitung (in German). Retrieved 7 July 2017.
<i>Berliner Zeitung</i> German newspaper

The Berliner Zeitung is a daily newspaper based in Berlin, Germany. It was founded in East Germany in 1945 and continued publication after reunification.