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The Sunday Opera: Unfamiliar Operettas by Joseph Beer and Leo Fall

As promised, we’ll be looking at two operettas on this week’s Sunday Opera (1/23 3:00 p.m.)   The afternoon begins with a delightful work by a composer who was firmly a part of the 20th century.   Joseph Beer was born in Poland in 1908, but because he was Jewish, his music was censored by the Nazis.   His work was largely forgotten but for one of his daughters who included some of his arias in her concert appearances.  This work, “Polnische Hochzeit” (The Polish Wedding) was incredibly popular when it debuted in 1937 when Beer was only 28.  The charming piece centers on the love of Boleslav (Nikolai Schukoff) for Jadja (Martina Ruping) who has been promised to Bolesav’s uncle, the lecherous Staschek (Michael Kupfer-Radecky), but in this delightful romp, the cunning Suza (Susanne Berhard), Jadja’s father’s estate manager, manipulates Staschek so perfectly that Boleslav and Jadja end together (with Boleslav’s rightful inheritance) and Suza can marry her beloved, Casimir (Mathias Hausmann).    

The music is incredibly melodic and lush, and it’s clear that and things been different, Beer would be just as well known a name as Lehar and Strauss.   Ulf Schirmer conducts this live recording from 2015.  

Schirmer is also the conductor for the second work which was recorded in 2014.  Leo Fall is another Austrian composer who never really received his just due.   Fall composed 23 operettas and is probably best known in the English-speaking world for “The Dollar Princess” and “Madame Pompadour.”  Today, we’ll hear one of his “hits” in the 1916 score to “Der Rose von Stambul” (“The Rose of Istanbul”).  In this, the arranged marriage of Kondja (Kristiane Kaiser) and Achmed Bey (Matthias Klink) has hit a snag.   Kondja, it seems, is enamored of a progressive Turkish writer named Andre Levy and vows to have nothing to do with Achmed.   Of course, Achmed is actually Andre, but Kondja doesn’t find that out until the end of the operetta.  

Tune in for an afternoon of happy endings, delightful music, and excellent performances.   It’s unfamiliar music you’re sure to love.

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.