Thursday, February 17, 2011

Underestimating Operatic Contributions of Otto Nicolai

The current Chemintz Theater performance of Otto Nicolai's Die Heimkehr des Verbannten has drawn the attention of the New York Times columnist George Loomis who recently wrote about the composer and why so many did not appreciate his contributions to the art form.

"Despite its German text and certain stylistic qualities, such as finely wrought instrumental effects, “Die Heimkehr” reveals its Italian origins at nearly every turn, not that that is anything to be ashamed of. Like Bellini and Donizetti, Nicolai thoroughly assimilated the musical structures inherited from Rossini and brought to them a compelling melodic gift, but he also reveled in the kind of raw confrontations associated with early Verdi. The best music comes in Act 3, which Berlioz praised as 'admirable in every respect and in my opinion establishes Nicolai very high among composers.' It also culminates in the heroine’s suicide, which in Chemnitz almost seemed motivated by her inability to choose between the two men. The wonderfully expressive
duet she sings with Edmund is jarred by her declaration, midway through, that she loves him, not Artur, which takes him by surprise. She faces a classic operatic dilemma between love and duty — the latter to her lawful husband, Artur — but modern audiences may have difficulty accepting it. Still, the final trio, with its descending melody that includes a Wagner-like musical turn, is a beauty."

January 29 - May 10, 2011

Musikalische Leitung
Frank Beermann

Philipp Kochheim

Thomas Gruber

Bernhard Hülfenhaus


Graf Edmund
Hans Christoph Begemann

Lord Arthur
Bernhard Berchtold

Julia Bauer

Kouta Räsänen

Uwe Stickert

Tiina Penttinen

André Riemer