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The Sunday Opera: Alexander Zemlinsky's "Der Traumgorge" or "The Dream of Gorge"

It’s time for another fairy tale on this week’s Sunday Opera (6/19 3:00 p.m.) in the form of an opera by Alexander von Zemlinsky that was supposed to premier in 1907 but then disappeared for nearly 80 years due to a personal vendetta by Feliz Weingartner who took over Mahler’s position at the Vienna Court Opera. eingartner wanted to erase all traces of Mahler, and since Zemlinsky was Mahler's protege, Weingartner targeted him. 

“Der Traumgorge” or “Gorge’s Dream” or “The Dreamer Gorge” is based on a libretto by Leo Feld about Gorge (David Kuebler) who is betrothed to Grete (Iride Martinez) but is more interested in his fairy tales. In fact, on the day he is to be married to Grete (arranged by Grete’s father, the Miller (Zelotes Edmund Toliver), so that he is assured to get the mill in which he works. However, this is Gorge’s birthright.), he is at the stream having a vision about a fairy tale princess (Susan Anthony). The vision entices Gorge to run away, and he does, basically leaving Grete at the altar. 

Three years pass, and Gorge is living with Gertraud (Patricia Racette) who is an outcast in her village and suspected of being a witch. The innkeeper’s daughter Marei (Natalie Karl) loves Gorge and is jealous that he asks Gertraud to marry him. Marei incites the villagers to attack Gertraud’s house and burn it down. Gorge saves Gertraud, admonishes the village, and they leave together. 

They return to Gorge’s village where he takes over the mill, and they build a school. Grete has to settle for Hans (Andreas Schmidt) who loves her very much even if she doesn’t really love him, but everyone, except the former miller, is, for the most part, happy. 

They’re joined by the Cologne University for Music Chorus and Orchestra, conducted by James Conlon. 

If you’re unfamiliar with the music of Zemlinsky, you may be interested in staying tuned after the opera for a delightful piece intitled Die Seejungfrau (The Mermaid) based loosely, very loosely, on the Hans Christian Andersen story and his Symphony No. 1 in D minor (sometimes called his Symphony No. 2 because Zemlinsky wrote but didn’t finish an earlier symphony. 

It’s a happy ending and some lovely music on this week’s Sunday Opera, and we hope that you’ll join us.

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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