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Music Text

Libretto by the composer (G)

Scoring

Major roles: S,2T,Bar,2B; minor roles: A,3T,Bar,4B; chorus
3(III=picc).3(III=corA).3(III=bcl).3.dbn-4.3.btpt.2.btrbn.1-
timp(2).perc(5):tamb/tgl/2cyms(large and small)/BD/TD-lute-2harp-
strings(16.16.12.10.8)
Brass band (off-stage): 4.4thn.4.3.0-perc(4):4SD

Abbreviations (PDF)

World Premiere
5/10/1894
Großherzogliches Hoftheater, Weimar
Conductor: Richard Strauss
Company: Weimar Hoftheater

Roles

GUNTRAM, a singer Tenor
THE OLD DUKE Bass
FREIHILD, his daughter Soprano
DUKE ROBERT, her husband Bass
DUKE'S JESTER Tenor
OLD MAN Tenor
OLD WOMAN Contralto
FRIEDHOLD, a singer Bass
MESSENGER Bass
2 Young Men 2 Basses
3 Vassals 3 Basses
4 Minnesingers 2 Tenors, 2 Basses
Ducal vassals, Minnesingers, 4 monks, servants and vagrants chorus
Time and Place

Germany, mid-13th Century

Synopsis

Guntram and Friedhold, members of a fraternal order, distribute food to the starving poor, who are fleeing the tyrannical Duke Robert after a failed uprising. Guntram resolves to win over Robert to the aims of the fraternity. Robert's wife Freihild, who abhors his oppression of the poor, tries to drown herself in a lake but is prevented by Guntram who promises to assist her cause. A ducal hunting party arrives and Guntram introduces himself as a wandering minstrel. Freihild's father, the Old Duke, invites Guntram to the castle to celebrate peace but Robert remains deeply suspicous. In the castle hall Guntram sings of the joys of peace and horrors of war. News arrives that the rebellion is renewed and Guntram calls for the vassals to overthrow the tyrant. Robert attacks Guntram, who in defending himself kills Robert. The Old Duke orders the rebellion to be quelled and Guntram to be tortured and executed. Freihild, left alone, describes how her love for Guntram has restored her to life. In the dungeon Guntram is visited by Freihild who asks him to flee with her. Friedhold joins them and commands Guntram to atone for the murder before a fraternal tribunal. Guntram claims he is now only answerable to himself and dismisses Friedhold. Realising that his crime was motivated by jealousy and love, Guntram tells Freihild that he must renounce her and seek redemption through solitude. She must fulfil her responsibilities as Duchess and benefactor to the poor. He bids her farewell and she summons the strength to continue her life alone.

Moods

Dramatic, Romantic

Subjects

Ethics, History, Relationships, Society

Recommended Recording
cd_cover

Alan Woodrow, Andrea Martin, Elisabeth Wachutka, Ivan Konsulov, Hans-Peter Scheidegger, Enrico Facini, Thomas Kaluzny, Jin-Ho Choi, Ute Trekel-Burkhardt, Manfred Bittner, Thomas Kaluzny, Werdenfelser Male Chorus, Marchigiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Gustav Kuhn
Classics 74321613392

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