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Libretto by the composer, after Gottfried Keller's 'Die Leute von Seldwyla' (G,E)

Scoring

Major roles: S,T,3Bar; minor roles: 5S,3A,3T,5Bar,2B; chorus;
3(III=picc).3.corA.3.bcl.3.dbn-6.3.3.1-timp.perc:tam-t/bells/cyms/
tgl/xyl/glsp-2harp-strings;
On-stage: 6hn.2crt.2trbn-perc:SD/steel plates/church bells-organ-vln

Abbreviations (PDF)

World Premiere
21/02/1907
Komische Oper (an der Weidendammer Brücke), Berlin
Conductor: Fritz Cassirer
Company: Komische Oper Berlin

Roles

MANZ, a rich farmer Baritone
MARTI, another farmer Baritone
SALI, son of Manz, as a child Soprano
SALI, son of Manz, as a man Tenor
VRELI, daughter of Marti Soprano
THE DARK FIDDLER, rightful heir to the wood Baritone
TWO PEASANTS Baritone
GINGERBREAD WOMAN Soprano
THREE WOMEN Soprano//Mezzo-Soprano
WHEEL-OF-FORTUNE WOMAN Soprano
CHEAP JEWELLERY WOMAN Mezzo-Soprano
SHOWMAN Tenor
MERRY-GO-ROUND MAN Baritone
THE SLIM GIRL Soprano
THE WILD GIRL Mezzo-Soprano
THE POOR HORN-PLAYER Tenor
THE HUNCHBACK BASS FIDDLER Bass
Time and Place

Seldwyla, Switzerland, mid-19th century

Synopsis



Sali and Vrenchen (Vreli), son and daughter respectively of the farmers Manz and Marti, play together one September morning on a wild plot of land. The mysterious Dark Fiddler – rightful owner of this disputed piece, but illegitimate, and therefore without legal rights – appears and warns the children that it must not be tilled. Manz and Marti argue over the land and end their children's relationship. Six years later, at Marti's now dilapidated house, Sali and Vrenchen have arranged to meet: a lawsuit over the land has ruined both farmers. Sali persuades Vrenchen to meet him on the wild land, where the Dark Fiddler appears once more and invites them to join him; in any case, he says, they will meet again. Marti comes upon them and drags Vrenchen away. Sali tries to prevent him and knocks him down. Marti loses his mind, and is put away in an asylum. Sali returns to see Vrenchen at her house, which is to be sold. They declare their love and decide to run off together. Amidst the bustle of a local fair they buy rings. Sali mentions a rundown inn – the Paradise Garden – where they can dance all night, and they set off. They find the Dark Fiddler and some vagabonds drinking at a table. He greets them and suggests they follow him into the mountains. Instead they decide to die together. They climb aboard a hay barge and Sali removes the plug from the bottom of the boat as it moves off.

Moods

Poetic, Romantic, Tragic

Subjects

Ethics, History, Literary, Magic/Mystery, Relationships

Recommended Recording

Robert Tear/Elizabeth Harwood/John Shirley-Quirk/Benjamin Luxon/Noel Mangin/John Alldis Choir/Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Meredith Davies
EMI 575785-2 (2 CDs)
Reissue (including talk by Eric Fenby)

Click here to purchase this CD set from Amazon

René Soames, Vera Terry, Gordon Clinton, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Thomas Beecham
Somm Recordings SOMM-BEECHAM 12-2

Click here to purchase this CD set from Amazon

Village Romeo and Juliet


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