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The Sunday Opera: Schuman's "Genoveva" and Liszt's "Don Sanche" - Two "One-off" Works

They really can’t be called one-hit wonders, but we will have two “one-offs” on this week’s Sunday Opera (5/5 3:00 p.m.) with the sole operatic output of two well-known composers: Robert Schumann and Franz Liszt. 

From Robert Schumann, we’ll hear a 1992 live recording of his 1850 work “Genoveva” which is based loosely on the life of Genevieve of Brabant. Genoveva (Julia Faulkner) is the wife of Siegfried, Count of Brabant (Alan Titus). Siegfried is called away to fight the Moors with Martell, and leaves Genoveva in the hands of his head servant, Golo (Keith Lewis). However, Golo is in love with Genoveva who spurns him. To enact his revenge, he stages a tryst between Genoveva and an old steward named Drago (Carl Shultz) with the help of another servant named Margaretha (Renate Behle). Afterwards, he sends a message to Siegfried of his wife’s infidelity and plans her death. 

They’re joined by Harold Stamm as Bishop Hildulfus and a hunter named Caspar, Johann Tilli as Siegfried’s servant Balthasar, and the Hamburg State Opera Chorus and the Hamburg State Philharmonic conducted by Gerd Albrecht. 

Our second opera is a one act work written by Franz Liszt when he was reportedly 13! “Don Sanche, ou Le chateau de l’amour” (“Don Sanche, or the Castle of Love”) centers on the titular character performed by Gerard Garino who is in love with the fickle Princess Elzire (Julia Hamari) who in turn is in love with a man she’s never seen and may not exist but one she’s had dreams about. Both end up at the Castle of Love owned by the wizard Alidor (Istvan Gati) who, through a page (Katalin Farkas), denies both (separately) access to the castle because only loving couples may enter. 

Alidor seems to understand Sanche’s pain because he devises a plan to help him win the love of Elzire using a little magic. The cast also features Ildiko Komlosi as Elzire’s confidant Zelise, along with Maria Zadori and Gabor Kallay as a lady and a knight. They’re supported by the Hungarian Radio and Television Chorus and the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra. Tamas Pal conducts. 

We’ll finish our afternoon together with a later work from Liszt, his symphonic poem or character sketch from 1953-54, Orpheus, one of four such works with the other three being Tasso, Prometheus, and Mazeppa. Orpheus will be performed by the Dresden Philharmonic conducted by Michel Plasson.

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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