Albert Lortzing was familiar with the stage from his earliest years, for both his parents were actors, and by the age of 18 he too was engaged as both an actor and singer. His career was anything but stable, however; a competent composer, he divided his time between precarious kapellmeister positions – including a stint at the Theater an der Wien – and having to revert to acting in order to support himself. He died impoverished and unhappy in 1851, a few months after securing his third kapellmeister post.
Today he is best remembered for his Singspiel Der Wildschütz, a masterpiece of writing and whose libretto the composer himself fashioned from Kotzebue’s comedy Der Rehbock, oder Die schuldlosen Schuld bewußten, which had been published earlier in 1816. Kotzebue’s work is a whirlwind of character disguise, a piece whose titillating coquetry touches firmly on frivolity but manages to evade full-scale immorality, and Lortzing also added small touches of his own to the story – including the character of the majordomo Pancratius, whose role has traditionally been performed in Saxon dialect. The enduring appeal of Der Wildschütz, however, clearly rests on the score, with Lortzing’s lightness of touch, his memorable and catchy tunes, and the vivid characterisation of comic situations lending his music a charm that appears as fresh as ever. An ardent admirer of Mozart, it is in Der Wildschütz, more than in any other of his operas, that Lortzing succeeded in writing at least a few numbers that are reminiscent of the great composer. This applies particularly to his carefully wrought ensemble passages, which greatly outweigh the arias in terms of number and of which the much-admired Billiards Scene (Act 2) is surely the greatest.
Lortzing’s operas were the most-performed in Germany for about 150 years, and from listening to Der Wildschütz it is easy to understand why. Recorded in the early ‘80s and bringing together many of Germany’s top singers of the period, this version remains one of the finest to date. ‘Edith Mathis is a delightful Baroness and Doris Soffel nicely characterises the Sophocles-besotted Countess…’, while ‘Georgine Resick sings a charming Gretchen, warm but with a will of her own.’ (Gramophone)
- Recorded 1980–1982.
- Reissue of one of the gems of the East Germany archive recordings of Berlin Classics: Der Wildschütz by Albert Lortzing.
- Lortzing’s operas were extremely popular in their time, due to their good humour and wit, the memorable tunes and the general romantic nature feeling.
- A star studded cast of the best German voices of the time: Edith Mathis, Doris Soffel, Peter Schreier, Hans Sotin, Gottfried Hornik, and the magnificent Staatskapelle Berlin conducted by Bernhard Klee.
- Contains detailed notes on the music and plot synopsis.
- German Libretto available for download by clicking on 'Download booklet' below the cover.