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The Sunday Opera: "Der Evangelimann" by Wilhelm Kienzl

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We’ll be enjoying another forgotten opera on this week’s Sunday Opera (5/12 3:00 p.m.) as we look at one of twenty pieces by Austrian composer Wilhelm Kienzl, “Der Evangelimann.”  Premiering in March of 1892, it has become his most famous opera although it never reached the financial success of his “Don Quixote.”  The story, which was adapted into a silent film in 1924, is by Kienzl and looks at the life of a school teacher named Johannes who is falsely accused of setting a fire in the local monastery by his jealous brother, who has fallen in love with and has been rebuked by Johannes’ love, Martha.  

Johannes is convicted and, after completing his twenty-year sentence, he returns only to find that Martha had committed suicide shortly after his imprisonment, and he is ostracized.  Johannes becomes an itinerant preacher and travels the countryside for a decade before he is sought out by his dying brother who confesses to setting the fire and begs for forgiveness.  Johannes forgives Mathias, and Mathias dies.  The cast includes Roland Hermann as Johannes, Siegfried Jerusalem as Mathias, and Helen Donath as Martha.  You’ll also hear Kurt Moll as Martha’s father and Ortrun Wenkel as her friend, Magdalena.  Join Michael Kownacky after the opera for KIenzl’s charming Quartet No. 1 and a complete change of mood with Sir Arnold Bax’s expansive Symphony No. 4.

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.