J. Strauss Jr.: A Night In Venice / Eichenholz, Buckard, Gylbert, Perssen, Meyer
J. STRAUSS II Eine Nacht in Venedig & • Mika Eichenholz, cond; Daniel Buckard ( Guido ); Pierre Gylbert ( Caramello ); Johan Christensson ( Caramello ); Erika Andersson ( Delaqua, Agricola ); Anna Larsdotter Persson ( Delaqua, Barbara, Agricola ); Merete L. Meyer ( Annina ); Anna-Maria Krawe ( Annina ); Kristina Hansson ( Annina, Ciboletta ); Henrik Helmberg ( Pappacoda ); Stockholm Strauss O; Notturno Ch • NAXOS 8.660268-69 (2 CDs: 118:49) Live: Stockholm 10/2002
J. STRAUSS II ORCHESTRAL PIECES • Mika Eichenholz, cond; Stockholm Strauss O; • NAXOS 8.660268-69 (26:34) Live: Stockholm 1/2008
Polka française, op. 412; Polka-Mazurka, op. 415; So ängstlich sind wir nicht, op. 413; Die Tauben von San Marco, op. 414; Lagunen Waltz, op. 411; Quadrille, op. 416
A Night in Venice premiered twice in October 1883. On October 3 the work was poorly received at the Friedrich Wilhelm-Städtisches Theater; six days later it premiered again in Vienna at the Theater an der Wien with numerous improvements. Rewritten lyrics helped the opera to success and for a while it was nearly as popular as Die Fledermaus and Der Ziguernerbaron . Then came the rewrites to suit changing tastes. Orchestrations were altered, dialogue rewritten, numbers reordered and deleted, new numbers inserted, and the original score lost for decades. Among the myriad “improvements” to Eine Nacht in Venedig , the most enduring was done by Erich Korngold and Hubert Marischka in 1931, a version that was commercially recorded several times. It wasn’t until the latter half of the 20th century that a serious effort was made to reconstruct Strauss’s original scores. Ernst Märzendorfer recorded the nearly complete restored score with a cast that included Carlo Bini, Elisabeth Steiner, Jeanette Scovotti, and Wolfgang Brendel. It circulated on several labels including CBS Masterworks, but does not seem to be currently available. The recording was billed as the “complete recording of the original version prepared by Hans-Ullrich Barth.” “Prepared” meant abridging some of the dialogue, transferring the Lagoon Waltz to the Duke instead of being sung by Caramello (Strauss also sanctioned this for the Berlin premiere), inserting arias from Fürstin Ninetta and Der lustige Krieg , both with rewritten lyrics, and eliminating four roles.
Now comes this new Naxos recording billed as “the Viennese original version from 1883 in German, without the dialogue.” Caramello gets to sing his Lagoon Waltz, and the interpolated arias from other Strauss works are not included, but there are a few deletions. The liner notes tell us: “We have made a few small cuts in order to allow the artists to leave the stage during the performance: (1) string accompaniment to the dialogue in No 6b; (2) 29 bars in No. 8a ( Melodram ); (3) the first repeat of 17a ( Aufzugsmarsch ) in No 8b; (4) 58 bars ( Melodram ) in Finale 3. We have also omitted the guitar (73 bars in Finale 1) and the two zithers (16 bars) in Finale 3.”
This is a live performance (some applause is permitted), and although not stated in the notes, I suspect it was a concert performance in which roles were shared by several singers. The roles of Guido, Barbara, Ciboletta, and Pappacoda are each sung by only one singer. However, Caramello and Agricola alternate between two singers; the roles of Delaqua and Annina are shared by three singers. No explanation is given for the convoluted assignment of roles.
A libretto is not included and the synopsis is not tied to track numbers. An index of the musical material is supplied but separate from the synopsis. The plot is typical operetta fare of romantic entanglements, disguises, deceptions, and all turns out happily in the end. Unless you have the libretto to enable you to follow along, this is a two-disc set to be enjoyed as 90 minutes of pleasant operetta singing. The librettos I have from other recordings of Eine Nacht in Venedig are based on the Korngold revision; each is highly altered with cuts and interpolations, and nearly useless as a textual supplement to this Stockholm performance. Nevertheless, I liked the performances and welcome this recording to my collection of operettas. The voices are attractive and expressive; the conductor, Mika Eichenholz, has a nice feel for Strauss’s tunes. The waltzes have grace, and the polkas, mazurkas, and marches sparkle merrily. The compendium of orchestral pieces based on tunes from this opera is an appropriate and appealing filler.
If having dialogue is important to you, in the absence of the Märzendorfer/Hungarian State Opera recording, there are some readily available choices. A monophonic EMI recording with Schwarzkopf and Gedda from the mid 1950s and a newer stereo EMI from the late 1960s with Rothenberger and Gedda both use the Korngold version. Both have considerable deletions, reorderings, and some material not original to the opera. The Ohio Light Opera has a performance sung in English that is reasonably faithful to the Strauss Vienna original with only a few musical alterations. A novelty item is the now hard-to-find Michael Todd production that appeared briefly on CD. It is a highlights album, sung in English with just enough dialogue to give a sense of the plot. It is based on a production at the Jones Beach Marine Theater and recorded in (are you ready for this?) “dynamic and revolutionary Belock sound … a Stereophonic and Hi-Fidelity presentation.” Wow! It is more-or-less Strauss on Broadway. If you find dialogue intrusive, this almost-complete Eine Nacht in Venedig from Stockholm is recommended. The sharing of roles is unusual, but not troubling, and the performance is ingratiating.
FANFARE: David L. Kirk
Catalog Number: 8660268-69
Composer: Johann Strauss Jr.
Conductor: Mika Eichenholz
Orchestra/Ensemble: Coro Notturno, Stockholm Strauss Orchestra
Performer: Anna Larsdotter Persson, Anna-maria Krawe, Daniel Buckard, Erika Andersson, Henrik Holmberg, Johan Christensson, Merete Meyer, Pierre Gylbert