SATURDAY, July 25, 2020
This is silly music, and great fun…
Never in a million years would I guess that Wagner wrote this. The title in German is Liebesverbot, but the opera is about Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, so I have no idea where the title came from. Did Wagner know the music of Rossini? It would certainly seem so.
Wagner conducted the premiere in 1836 at Magdeburg. Poorly attended and with a lead singer who forgot the words and had to improvise, it was a resounding flop and its second performance had to be cancelled after a fist-fight between the prima donna’s husband and the lead tenor broke out backstage before the curtain had even risen; only three people were in the audience. It was never performed again in Wagner’s lifetime.
So, there was a fight, the “fat lady” couldn’t remember the words, the tenor had some kind of meltdown, the theatre had less than five people. If ever there was a colossal flop, this is it. I guarantee most people do not even know the existence of this opera and therefore have never heard the overture. I’d guess Gilbert and Sullivan, or Rossini. Wagner? Never.
A very clear recording…
I listened to several interpretations, and most seemed a bit muddy, too much reverb. This starts a bit slower and is clear as slashing knives. I would say this is an unexpected gem.