The Sunday Opera: A Siegfried Wagner Rarity: "Die Heilige Linde"
Siegfried Wagner’s opera, “Die Heilige Linde,” a 1927 rarity, is the featured work on this week’s Sunday Opera (1/20 3:00 p.m.). His fourteenth of seventeen operas (if you don’t count “Das Liebesoper” for which there is only a libretto), the work seems to follow in the footsteps of the two men who had the most influence in his life, his teacher, Engelbert Humperdinck and his father, and even though it was completed in 1927, there’s no record of it being performed until 2001.
His libretto is a bit clunky and relies heavily on Germanic myth like those of his father, but his music, as you will hear, is quite lovely. In brief, the story is set into motion when the Abogast (John Wegner) cuts down the holy Linden tree of the title because it obscures his view much to the chagrin of his wife, Hildegard (Dagmar Schellenberger) who is a devotee of the goddess Nerthus. The rest of the plot includes a corrupt Roman named Philo (Volker Horn) who is courting Aborgast in order for the Romans to gain control over this part of what will become Germany. The opera is conducted by Werner Andreas Albert who leads the Koln Symphonic Orchestra and Radio Choir. After the opera, join Michael Kownacky for more music of Wagner and two of his symphonic poems: Sehnsucht (Longing) and Gluck (Happiness). We’ll also have time for a prelude to another Siegfried Wagner opera, “Sonnenflammen.”