Verdi's 'Aïda' - house debut at Seattle Opera
Role debut in Korngold’s ‘Das Wunder der Heliane’
This spring, Brian Jagde makes his greatly anticipated debut as Der Fremde (The stranger) in Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s rarely-performed Das Wunder der Heliane (Heliane’s Miracle) at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. The work, which Korngold considered to be his masterpiece, receives a new production staged by acclaimed director Christof Loy. Sara Jakubiak stars in the title role; Mr. Jagde and Ms. Jakubiak previously shared the stage together in La bohéme at Syracuse Opera in 2008. Josef Wagner sings Der Herrscher (The ruler), with Okka von der Damerau as Die Botin (The messenger). Performances take place March 18, 22 & 30 and April 1 & 6 with the Chorus and Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, led by Marc Albrecht.
Erich Wolfgang Korngold spoke of this work as his “masterpiece”. HELIANE’S MIRACLE bears all the hallmarks of Korngold’s musical theatre – and goes one step further in scale, with a huge score and orchestra, intoxicating pathos and exquisitely expressive harmonies that play with polytonality – resulting in a gripping and sensuous drama. The world premiere in Hamburg in 1927 was a triumph, with more than a dozen houses booking the latest work by Korngold, at the time the second most performed composer of opera after Richard Strauss. In 1928 the work was presented at the Städtische Oper Berlin, with Bruno Walter directing, but here, as at other venues, the reception was cool, due in part to intrigues, in part to the charge that his Late Romantic score was behind the times. With the Jewish Korngold prevented by the Nazis from presenting his works to the public, HELIANE’S MIRACLE vanished from the repertoire, never to return. This is a timeless fairy tale portraying a cold ruler incapable of loving anyone, his wife Heliane, devoted to a Dionysian stranger, and a people waiting for a redemptory miracle to occur.
A precise psychological analysis of a work’s protagonists is what interests director Christof Loy, who is returning to the Deutsche Oper Berlin after stints here presenting JENUFA, FALSTAFF and EDWARD II. And it falls to Marc Albrecht, for many years a close collaborator with the opera house, to waken Korngold’s grand and opulent music from decades of slumber.
Discover more about Erich Wolfgang Korngold via korngold-society.org
Image: Simon Pauly