Tiefland (opera)

Last updated
Opera by Eugen d'Albert
Eugen d Albert.png
TranslationThe Lowlands
Librettist Rudolf Lothar
Based on Terra baixa
by Àngel Guimerà
15 November 1903 (1903-11-15)
Neues Deutsches Theater in Prague Neue Deutsche Theater Prague.jpg
Neues Deutsches Theater in Prague

Tiefland (The Lowlands) is an opera in a prologue and two acts by Eugen d'Albert, to a libretto in German by Rudolf Lothar. Based on the 1896 Catalan play Terra baixa by Àngel Guimerà, Tiefland was d'Albert's seventh opera, and is the one which is now the best known.


Performance history

Tiefland was first performed on 15 November 1903 at the Neues Deutsches Theater in Prague, with only limited success. [1] [2] Part of the reason for the lukewarm reception may have been because the house's leading dramatic tenor, Wilhelm Elsner, had died suddenly not too long before the opera's premiere, forcing another singer to learn and perform the role of Pedro in a relatively short amount of time.

For its next performance, Tiefland was revised by D'Albert and revived in Hamburg and Berlin in 1907, where it played to long runs. [3] Its American premiere took place at the Metropolitan Opera in New York on November 23, 1908 with Emmy Destinn and Erik Schmedes in the two leading roles. [4]

The opera is fairly regularly performed in Germany and Austria, with recent new productions at the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden in April 2007, the Volksoper Wien in October 2007 and at Deutsche Oper Berlin, with Torsten Kerl as Pedro and Nadja Michael as Marta, in November 2007. Performances outside German speaking countries have tended to be more sporadic. Tiefland was performed in an English translation by Chicago's Civic Opera Company in December 1926. [5] It was performed at the Ankara Opera House in 1951 in a production directed by Carl Ebert with Semiha Berksoy as Marta. It also received a major revival at Washington Opera in 1995 with its first major US production in 81 years, conducted by Heinz Fricke and directed by Roman Terleckyj. [6] The Sarasota Opera performed the opera five times in March 2018. [7]

In addition to Schmedes and Destinn, notable past performers have included: Kirsten Flagstad, who made her stage debut in 1913 at the age of 18 singing the role of Nuri at the National Theater in Oslo; the young Maria Callas, who sang the role of Marta at the Olympia Theatre in Athens during the 1943/1944 season and again the following season; Montserrat Caballé who, like Callas, sang Marta early in her career; and the Danish tenor, Vilhelm Herold who was considered by d'Albert to have been the ideal Pedro. [8] Richard Tauber first performed the role at Dresden in 1918, and recorded the two principal arias in 1928. It remained a favourite role, which he performed widely until 1940 in Switzerland.

The best-known film adaptation of the opera was by the German director Leni Riefenstahl, with Riefenstahl herself playing Marta. The film, begun in 1940, but not released until 1954, used Roma slave labor from a German transportation camp for some of the extras, many of whom were sent to Auschwitz before the end of the war. [9]

Principal roles

Baritone Joseph Schwarz as Sebastiano in Tiefland. (c. 1916) Joseph Schwarz, Tiefland.jpg
Baritone Joseph Schwarz as Sebastiano in Tiefland. (c. 1916)
Roles, voice types, premiere cast
Role [1] Voice type [1] Premiere cast [2]
15 November 1903
Conductor: Leo Blech
Marta, a servant and ward of Sebastiano, loved by both Sebastiano and Pedro soprano Irene Alföldy  [ de; hu ]
Pedro, a shepherd in Sebastiano's service tenor Desider Arányi  [ de; hu ]
Sebastiano, a rich landowner baritone Erich Hunold
Tommaso, an elderly man in the district bass Alexander Haydter  [ de ]
Nuri, a servant of Sebastiano and Marta's friendsoprano Gertrude Förstel
Pepa, a servant of Sebastianosoprano Martha Frank-Blech  [ de ]
Antonia, a servant of Sebastiano mezzo-soprano Elsa Reich  [ cs; de ]
Rosalia, a servant of Sebastiano contralto Lina Carmasini
Moruccio, a miller in Sebastiano's servicebassMathieu Frank
Nando, a shepherd in Sebastiano's servicetenorJosef Pauli


Angel Guimera, author of the play that inspired the librettist Santa Cruz Statue des Angel Guimera vor dem Theater fcm.jpg
Ángel Guimerá, author of the play that inspired the librettist

Before the opera begins: Years earlier, Marta, the daughter of a strolling player, had been induced to live with Sebastiano, a wealthy landowner in exchange for the gift of a mill to her father. Sebastiano is about to marry a wealthy heiress. In order to keep his mistress, Marta, nearby and continue their affair, he plans to have her marry Pedro (in Güimerà's original play, his name is Manelic), one of his shepherds.


The Pyrenees Mountains. Pedro meets Nando, and tells him that he has dreamed of meeting a beautiful woman who will be his wife. Sebastiano, accompanied by Tommaso, brings Marta to Pedro and informs him that he must come down to the Lowlands to marry her and to become the miller. Marta is reluctant to even look at Pedro.

Act 1

The interior of the village mill. Moruccio and the servants gossip about Marta, the girls hinting that Moruccio hoped to marry Marta himself. Nuri reveals that Marta is to be married to a shepherd and reveals that she has overheard a conversation between Sebastiano and Marta which she did not understand, but which the others clearly comprehend reveals their relationship. Pedro arrives at the mill, where his marriage is to take place. Not knowing that Marta is actually Sebastiano's mistress, he is puzzled as to why the villagers are making fun of him. Moruccio reveals the background to Tommaso, who is angered and seeks to confront Sebastiano. The confrontation in which Tomasso is backed by Moruccio leads to Moruccio's dismissal. After the wedding, Marta, who fears that Sebastiano will carry out his intention of coming to her that night, does not go to her chamber nor accompanies Pedro, which puzzles him even more.

Act 2

The interior of the village mill. Marta is now beginning to fall in love with Pedro. However, unable to stand the teasing and persecution of the villagers, he tells her he is going back to the mountains. She begs him to take her with him and tells him the truth about her and Sebastiano. In a jealous rage, Pedro advances towards her with a knife, but, overcome by remorse and his love for her, decides to take her with him. Sebastiano enters with the villagers and makes advances to Marta. Pedro furiously objects and is dragged outside.

Act 3

The interior of the village mill. Sebastiano has been rejected by the heiress whom he had hoped to marry and again makes advances to Marta. She calls Pedro for help. He rushes at Sebastiano with a knife, but seeing that he is unarmed, throws the knife down and strangles him. Carrying Marta in his arms, Pedro exclaims to the villagers: "Far up, far up in the mountains! To sunshine and freedom and light." He and Marta escape to the mountains.

Notable recordings

1952 F. Charles Adler, Vienna Symphony Orchestra (Paperback Opera 20022)

1957 Rudolf Moralt, Wiener Symphoniker (Philips 434 781-2)

1963 Paul Schmitz, Staatskapelle Dresden

1963 Hans Zanotelli, Berliner Symphoniker A video was also made.

1983 Marek Janowski, Münchner Rundfunkorchester (ARTS 47501-2)

2002 Bertrand de Billy, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra (Oehms OC 312)

2006 Franz Welser-Möst, Orchester der Oper Zürich (EMI DVD, video-recorded at performances in July)

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Leni Riefenstahl</span> German film director (1902–2003)

Helene Bertha Amalie "Leni" Riefenstahl was a German director, producer, screenwriter, editor, photographer and actress known for producing Nazi propaganda.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Àngel Guimerà</span> Spanish writer, poet and playwright

Àngel Guimerà y Jorge, known also as Ángel Guimerá, was a Spanish Nobel-nominated writer in the Catalan language. His work is known for bringing together under romantic aspects the main elements of realism. He is considered one of the principal representatives of the so-called Renaixença, at the end of the nineteenth century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Montserrat Caballé</span> Spanish operatic soprano (1933–2018)

María de Montserrat Bibiana Concepción Caballé i Folch or Folc, known simply as Montserrat Caballé, was a Spanish operatic soprano from Catalonia. Widely considered to be one of the best sopranos of the 20th century, she won a variety of musical awards thoroughout her six-decade career, including three Grammy Awards.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eugen d'Albert</span> Scottish-born German pianist and composer

EugenFrancis Charles d'Albert was a Scottish-born pianist and composer who emigrated to Germany.

<i>Jenůfa</i> Opera by Leoš Janáček

Její pastorkyňa ) is an opera in three acts by Leoš Janáček to a Czech libretto by the composer, based on the play Její pastorkyňa by Gabriela Preissová. It was first performed at the National Theatre, Brno on 21 January 1904. Composed between 1896 and 1902, it is among the first operas written in prose.

<i>La Gioconda</i> (opera) Dramma lirico in four acts by Amilcare Ponchielli

La Gioconda is an opera in four acts by Amilcare Ponchielli set to an Italian libretto by Arrigo Boito, based on Angelo, Tyrant of Padua, a 1835 play in prose by Victor Hugo.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rudolf Lothar</span> Austrian writer (1865–1943

Rudolf LotharGerman pronunciation:[r'uːdolfl'oːtar] was an Austrian playwright, librettist, critic and essayist. He was born and died in Budapest.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vilhelm Herold</span>

Vilhelm Christoffer Herold was an operatic tenor, voice teacher, and theatre director. Herold created the role of David in Carl Nielsen's opera Saul og David in 1902).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bernd Weikl</span> Austrian operatic baritone (born 1942)

Bernd Weikl is an Austrian operatic baritone, particularly known for his performances in the stage works by Richard Wagner. He also has written books and directed operas.

<i>Tiefland</i> (film) 1954 film

Tiefland ("Lowlands") is a 1954 West German opera drama film directed, produced, co-written, edited by and starring Leni Riefenstahl, and based on the 1903 eponymous opera composed by Eugen d'Albert to a libretto by Rudolph Lothar based on the 1896 Catalan play Terra baixa by Àngel Guimerà. The film co-stars Bernhard Minetti, and is Riefenstahl's last feature film as both director and lead actress.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eva Lind</span> Austrian opera singer

Eva Lind is an Austrian soprano singer and TV presenter. She has specialised in coloratura soprano opera roles since 1985, and sings in concerts and recitals.

<i>Terra baixa</i> Play by Ángel Guimerá

Terra baixa is a Catalan-language play written by Àngel Guimerà in 1896. The drama is considered his most popular work, having become an international sensation after its premiere.

<i>The Blue Light</i> (1932 film) 1932 film

The Blue Light is a black-and-white 1932 film directed by Leni Riefenstahl and written by Béla Balázs with uncredited scripting by Carl Mayer. In Riefenstahl's film version, the witch, Junta, played by Riefenstahl, is intended to be a sympathetic character. Filming took place in the Brenta Dolomites, in Ticino, Switzerland, and Sarntal, South Tirol.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mafalda Salvatini</span> Italian opera singer

Mafalda Salvatini was an Italian opera singer who was primarily active in Germany during the first half of the 20th century. She excelled in the dramatic soprano repertoire of the Italian language and was one of the leading operatic sopranos in Berlin from 1908 to 1932. Although she performed as a guest artist in other German cities and in Austria, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Latvia, she never performed at theatres in her native country. She made several recordings for the Deutsche Grammophon and Odeon record labels.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anton Sistermans</span> Dutch baritone (1865–1926

Anton Sistermans was a Dutch baritone during the late 19th to early 20th century. He is particularly notable for interpretations of lieder and oratorios. During his career, Sistermans premiered important compositions by Johannes Brahms and Gustav Mahler, and also had lieder dedicated to him by Hans Pfitzner, Eugen d'Albert and Alexander von Zemlinsky. In his later years, Sistermans served as a teacher at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and conductor of a church choir in Rotterdam.

Kari Løvaas is a Norwegian operatic soprano who made an international career outside Scandinavia, mostly using the German spelling of her name, Kari Lövaas. She has performed at international festivals such as the Salzburg Festival and the Lucerne Festival in both opera and concert. She participated in complete recordings of rarely performed operas, including works by Haydn and composers of the 20th century, has recorded Lieder and has regularly appeared in choral concerts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Günther Leib</span> German opera singer (1927–2024)

Günther Leib was a German operatic baritone and professor of voice. A Kammersänger of the Dresden State Opera, he sang leading baritone roles both in his native Germany and internationally during the course of his stage career. In 1971 he was awarded the Robert Schumann Prize of the City of Zwickau and in 2017 on the occasion of his 90th birthday the "Gotha-Medaille", honoring him for his international career as "Gotha's most famous voice". He appeared in a number of complete opera and oratorio recordings on the Eterna, Supraphon, and Deutsche Grammophon labels.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Zdenka Faßbender</span> Czech-German soprano

Zdenka Faßbender was a Czech born German operatic soprano.

Sebastian Holecek is an Austrian operatic baritone. He has been part of the ensemble of the Vienna Volksoper since 2006.

Franz Eichberger was an Austrian Actor.



  1. 1 2 3 "Eugen d'Albert – Tiefland – Opera". United Kingdom: Boosey & Hawkes . Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  2. 1 2 Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "Tiefland, 15 November 1903" . L'Almanacco di Gherardo Casaglia (in Italian).
  3. Upton 1928.
  4. Tiefland Elizabeth Forbes: Grove Music Online , accessed April 9, 2007.
  5. "Music: Tiefland". Time. 1927-01-03. ISSN   0040-781X . Retrieved 2023-01-10.
  6. Rothstein 1995.
  7. "Review: Sarasota Opera's Triumphant Tiefland Stars Kara Shay Thomson, Ben Gulley – March 18, 2018". 29 March 2018. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  8. Hein 1996.
  9. Bach 2007.


Further reading