A Real Film/Opera Composer

Ok, my previous post about "A Real Film Composer" is slightly overshadowed by another article in the Vacaville Reporter today about another Film Composer who is certainly one of the great all time composers, Erich Wolfgang Korngold. As the article states, he is the founder of the "Hollywood Sound."

He did more than just write for film, though. He also wrote operas; Die Tote Stadt is being performed by San Francisco Opera on October 12. Scott Cantrell of The Dallas Morning News says, "No opera has music more gorgeous – more brilliantly colored, more lusciously textured, more passionately yearning – than Die tote Stadt...Well, the title, "The Dead City," may be a little off-putting. And Erich Wolfgang Korngold's youthful masterpiece needs two lead singers, a soprano and a tenor, who can sing – and sing and sing – over high-cholesterol orchestrations that make Wagner sound like Mozart." Pretty high praise for any relatively unknown composer.

This production by Willy Decker was first seen at the 2004 Salzburg Festival. While the opera may be an amazing work, the review by Joshua Kosman, the San Francisco Chronicle Music Critic didn't much care for the performance on September 24th. "There's a potent irony lurking at the heart of "Die Tote Stadt," but it's one that this production dodges almost completely," pretty much sums up his feelings of the performance. Unfortunately, a review of the original production in Salzburg didn't feel it was any better, stating the best performances were from some of the minor characters and often the orchestra (and heavy orchestrations) overwhelmed the voices. (darn that Hollywood sound!)

Even though it may not be the best performance of opera, but still, the is rarely performed and I'm sorry that my short trip to California didn't afford me the chance to see it (or any of the other works currently on offer). If you can, go!, for no other reason that to hear one of the great composers in perhaps one of his finest works.


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