Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Die tote Stadt - first reports

Funny. Nobody seems to have noticed that the opening night of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Die tote Stadt at Covent Garden was on 27 January - a) birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, b) Holocaust Day (or the other way round if you prefer).

First reports are now in from Gavin Plumley at Entartete Musik (formerly Mr Norris, now has new name), plus Neil Fisher in The Times and a very ill-informed write-up from a site called Musical Criticism, which risks being sent a copy of my 1987 Cambridge University dissertation about the work's closely wrought and very distinct structural integrity. I'm not saying it's a perfect opera, but frankly neither is Elektra.

When you've finished reading those, please go to the Indy and read Johann Hari on something completely different.

UPDATE, Thursday morning: More reviews...
Erica Jeal in The Guardian - sensible and well-balanced commentary
Ed Seckerson in The Independent - "iridescent with desire" (!). A missing t nearly turns the title into 'the dead stadium'.
Rupert Christiansen in The Telegraph. The piece is too gorgeous, he says, therefore...
Simon Thomas at MusicOMH: "This is a dead city of the mind, cloaked in black, with windows into often nightmarish compartments of the psyche..."
George Hall in The Stage: "...a worthwhile show and a work that lovers of Strauss and Puccini will fall in love with."
THURSDAY AFTERNOON
More:
Barry Millington in The Evening Standard: "the knockout power of the score makes its 90-year neglect truly incomprehensible";
Alexandra Coughlan in The Oxford Times: "the opera is stuffed so explodingly full of melody that a Frenchman would have to be forcibly restrained from cutting out the overture and serving it with toast."
THURSDAY NIGHT:
The London Paper (the free thing you get on the train) says: "MORE GOLD THAN CORN". Yes, honest to goodness, they do!

AND THE SUNDAYS...
Good sense and fine info from Fiona Maddocks in The Observer (I am going to look for the novel she mentions about Rodenbach, Rilke et al right away);
"More corn than gold" from Hugh Canning in The Sunday Times;
Interesting, balanced and beautifully written viewpoint from Anna Picard in The Indy on Sunday: "Bruges itself – a niche destination in Rodenbach's day, destitute, ramshackle and yet to be rebuilt for chocoholic day-trippers – is painted not in the sober greys of Memling but in the greedy gold leaf of Klimt... Far from being self-indulgent, Die tote Stadt is an uncomfortably frank examination of its characters' self-indulgences."

...plus
a vitriolic little blogpost from Ivan Hewett laying into not Korngold but the estimable and extremely hardworking Michael Haas, record producer and curator par excellence, the brain behind Decca's amazing Entartete Musik series of the 90s and a variety of fantastic exhibitions at Vienna's Jewish Museum. Could Michael have a chance to defend himself, perhaps?