R. J. Rozen | Chicago, IL United States | 01/30/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Marschner occupies a key place between Weber and Wagner in German opera: Wagner, rather uncharacteristically, even acknowledged that he had been influenced by Marschner. "The Vampyr" (premiered 1828) was perhaps Marschner's most popular opera; along with "Hans Heiling," this is the only Marschner opera on CD, and it's worth a listen. An example of the "fantastic" genre of operas, it bears marked resemblances to Weber's "Der Freischuetz" (1821) and Wagner's "Der fliegende Hollaender" (1843), and, in a sense, acts as a bridge between those two important works. The vampire of the title, Lord Ruthven, is a real, honest-to-goodness vampire, not some misunderstood recluse, and he may be the only character in all of opera to die three times before the final curtain (he is ultimately dispatched by a lightning bolt!). The opera is thoroughly Weberian (including its spoken dialogue), and the cast, for such an unknown work, is really top-notch. Arleen Auger, Anna Tomowa-Sintow, and Kurt Boehme head the cast, and they sound great. This is billed as a live recording, but it was undoubtedly a live broadcast on Bavarian radio. The annoying audience and stage action sounds are absent, but the recording quality is inconsistent, especially during the overture. Also, as with other Opera D'Oro recordings, the notes are sparse and there is no libretto. Too often, people have the impression that no one in Germany composed operas in the first half of the nineteenth century but Weber and Wagner, forgetting composers such as Lortzing, Spohr, Nicolai, Kreutzer, and Marschner. There is, however, a lot of terrific music waiting to be re-discovered. "Der Vampyr" is not, by any measure, a great opera, but it is surprisingly enjoyable, and, at around $10 for two discs, it's an excellent introduction to the little-known composer."
A Gothic Fidelio
essmac | Nashville, TN USA | 02/29/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Very much in the vein of Beethoven, without the nobility. You may have heard "Ach, Welche Lust" aria on the Hampson German Aria CD, and it's taken well here-- a long test of high baritone endurance. Forgive me, but I am a big fan of Tomova-Sintov and a HUGE HUGE fan of Auger, so anything with both of them is worth hearing, let alone at this price. Kind of silly, but surrender to the black and white spookiness and it's fun (and not just campy Lugosi-style, but with a dollop of dangerous eroticism). If you have any experience with Opera d'Oro, you know that they are like the little girl who had a little curl right in the center of her forehead. When the operas are good they are very good, but when they are bad.. well, you know. Bad (I Lombardi in which the deplorable sound makes the timpani sound like someone pounding the side of a porcelain bathtub only without any helpful reverb) but rather good as in Der Vampyr. Sound is quite good and the audience pretty much keeps still. Give it a shot-"
Laura Ruiz | Los Angeles, CA USA | 01/11/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm always looking for operas that aren't performed very often. Mainly because my opera company (Lyric Opera of Los Angeles) has a goal of performing works that, inexplicably, have fallen out of the standard repertoire, or might not have made it into the standards to begin with.Der Vampyr is really beautiful music! The story line is a little off-the-wall, but most operas are pretty silly in that regard anyway.Arleen Auger is wonderful in this recording. As usual.The only criticism I have is that the liner notes are incredibly sparse. I wish there was a libretto in it, but there's not.However, for really great music that you don't get to hear often, I highly recommend this recording!!!"
JA BURTON | Suffolk England | 03/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Marschner is only really heard in selections, with Der Vampyr the only complete work currently available. This is tantalising since this one work is certainly comparable with the better known operas of Weber, and at times has drama on a par with any other operas of the period. The orchestration is often full of colour and it would be interesting to know to what extent he influenced the romantic composers such as Berlioz -- I don't recall Marschner being mentioned -- but it's over 30 years since I read his Memoirs. I hope one day other works will become available."
Gothic Opera About A Vampire: A Rare Treasure of German Oper
Rudy Avila | Lennox, Ca United States | 10/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Operaphiles who thirst for newer, unheard of works would adore this recording of a live radio broadcast in Germany. All the singers, except for soprano Anna Tomowa Sintow, are German and sing with lazer-sharp diction and dramatic prowess. This is sheer Gothic melodrama, complete with spoken dialogue. It does indeed resemble Weber's Die Freutschutz or Wagner's Flying Dutchman. It contains all the supernatural and Gothic elements of early romance novels which stirred the imaginations of such writers as Mary Shelley of Frankenstein fame, J. Sheridan LeFanu and Bram Stroker. This rare work must have been quite a thriller in its day since no other opera had ever taken up the subject of a vampire as the hero. Lord Ruthven is a Byronic vampire who fancies himself a romantic and sensual conqueror. In the course of this magical/supernatural opera he dies three times before he is finally defeated by a bolt of lightning (a sign of the power of God over darkness). Kurt Boeme as Lord Ruthven is doing a terrific job. His baritone voice is appropriately dark, edgy and sinister yet elegant and seductive. No wonder he has so many women under his spell. He reminds me of an operatic version of actor Frank Langella's portrayal of Dracula. Arlene Auger, a powerful soprano of full lyric beauty and excellent command of German opera, sings the woman of Ruthven's dreams. Auger's voice is practically flawless and her purity of tone is so beautiful and angelic that she makes the German language sound more mellifluous than its typically harsh sound. Arlene Auger is largely considered a modern exemplary exponent of Mozart soprano repertoire. In contrast, Anna Tomowa Sintow is a heavier spinto voice, with enough dramatic edge to essay such roles as Dona Ana in Don Giovanni and even Puccini's Tosca. She sounds majestic on this recording. Without a doubt this is a must have for fans of rare opera. Plus, its Halloween at the end of the month and it would be perfect for your current Gothic mood."