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Act Two of Schubert's only full length opera this week on The Lyric Stage

The Lyric Stage Sunday (4/28 at 8 pm) features Act two of Alfonso und Estrella.

Franz Schubert wrote only one full length opera, Alfonso und Estrella. This week, we have Act 2 from the opera, in a recording from 1978 featuring Edith Mathis, Dietrich Fischer Dieskau and Hermann Prey.

The opera dates from 1820 and early 1821when Schubert was 23 years old. The libretto was by his friend Franz von Schober. Sources cite his high hopes for the work - it potentially might make a lot of money, for one thing - but opera houses in Vienna, Berlin, Dresden and Graz declined to produce it. The first production was in Weimar in 1854 under the auspices of Franz Liszt. There have been few productions since, but there are at least three recorded versions since the late 1970's, including one in Italian.

Why the relative indifference in spite of the fact it has great music by Franz Schubert? When an opera with beautiful music is ignored, the culprit is usually the libretto, and that is the case here. Often nothing happens. Schubert never had a chance to work with it on stage, where he might have been able to fix it, but that was not to be.

The story is the tale of Estrella, the daughter of the usurped king Froila, and her love for Alfonso, son of the usurper Mauregato, whose general Adolfo has eyes for Estrella, who does not return the interest. In the end, Alfonso gains the crown his father lost, and Estrella as well, and forgives everybody, including Adolfo who led a revolt against Mauregato and wound up in jail because he tried to stab Estrella. We did say the plot was weak, and perhaps a bit confusing, but stay around for the music!