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The Sunday Opera: Karl Goldmark "Merlin"

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Karl Goldmark is probably best known for his first opera “Die Konigin von Saba” (“The Queen of Sheba”), but on this week’s Sunday Opera (3/27 3:00 p.m.), we’ll be listening to his second of seven operas, “Merlin” which had its world premiere in 1886.

A grandly romantic work, “Merlin” looks at his undoing at the hands of the demon he has enslaved who, through the unwitting help of the “world’s most beautiful woman,” Viviane, Merlin loses his powers of magic which eventually leads to his death. The Demon believes that he’ll have won Merlin’s soul in the end, but through a selfless act by Viviane, both her and Merlin’s souls are saved.

Throughout the opera, one can hear the results of the love/hate relationship that Goldmark had with the works of Richard Wagner as he often paraphrases from Wagner’s works.

The cast in this recording includes Robert Kunzli as Merlin, Anna Gabler as Viviane, Frank von Hove as the Demon, Gabriela Popescu as the fairy Morgana, Brian Davis as Lancelot, Daniel Behle as Modred, Sebastian Holecek as King Arthur, In-Sung Sim as Glendower, and Michael Mantaj and Werner Rollenmuller as two of Arthur’s knights, Gawain and Bedwyr. Gerd Schaller conducts the Munich Philharmonic Chorus and the Philharmonie Festiva.

After the opera, we’ll continue with more music of Goldmark who is also well known for his Symphony No. 1 or “Rustic Wedding Symphony.” With that being the case, we’ll turn to his wonderfully positive Symphony No. 2 in E flat major which is not nearly heard as often in a recording featuring the Singapore Symphony Orchestra Conducted by Lan Shui.

Join us for another afternoon of glorious music from an often overlooked and forgotten composer.

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.
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