Zemlinsky: The Chalk Circle / Soltesz, Behle, Hermann, Lorenz

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The old Chinese drama of courtroom and customs was usable only as raw material. In its original version it is a fairly dull, wooden affair, handled extremely clumsily from the dramatic point of view. It is in effect inventing a Chinese fairy-tale. No strict Chinoiserie: it had to be as if in a dream of China. -- Klabund (1925)

Two years after the death of Klabund, Zemlinsky decided to use his Chalk circle as the basis for an opera. He recast the five-act "play after the Chinese" first into a two-act, later into a three-act version, and composed his Chalk circle in 1931/32. This blend of a fairy-tale Utopia, social criticism and inwardness makes itself felt in Zemlinsky's music, which seeks to combine varied stylistic components: Chinese coloration appears in the orchestral scoring, which is enriched with gongs and other exotic-sounding instruments: the melody often avoids semitonal steps and so takes on a pentatonic character. It was the seventh and also his last completed opera, from which the then 61-year-old Zemlinsky hoped for the definitive breakthrough as an operatic dramatist.

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: C5190

  • UPC: 845221051901

  • Label: Capriccio

  • Composer: Alexander von Zemlinsky

  • Conductor: Stefan Soltesz

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra

  • Performer: Celina Lindsley, Reiner Goldberg, Renate Behle, Roland Hermann, Siegfried Lorenz