Apart from the irritation of having a single disc in a double width 'coffret'
this has all the exhilaration and charm indispensable to success. The overture,
once well known to legions of classical LP and 78 collectors, is not likely
to be quite so familiar now and it comes up fresh as a dazzling coat of varnish.
The story is one of an age-old pattern which continues to find its ways into
opera, film and other artistic media. If the Orpheus legend has prototypical
power then so does the tale of the sculptor/inventor whose statue (usually
of a woman) is brought to life, often freed of moral reference points and
behaving naturally to the pleasurable disturbance of audiences who warm to
the libertine references as well as to outrage. Most of the context of outrage
has now fallen away meaningless we are left with the not inconsiderable charm
of von Suppé's music articulated without dilution or filter. That
charm is built on firm Mozartian and Straussian foundations. In turn Lehár
and Korngold carried forward the tradition.
How delightful that this Koblenz team seem so consistently engaged by the
music. Ganymed's childlike duetting with the magically distanced choir in
track 2 is just one example. The choir is well placed in the audio picture
- try also Preghiera und Duett (track 5) though Rickenbacher might be feeling
the strain in the high-lying passages. Kupfer's Mydas handles the tongue-twisting
virtuosic aria Meinem vater Gordios with the stylish confidence of
Mozart's Leporello - in fact the 'himmlisches' exemplar of Mozart puts in
a regular appearance. Both soprano roles have a challenging time of it and
Bogner is not quite as smooth and fresh as Heyn. Charm is plentifully on
tap and Bogner's birdsong melisma is a delight. While there is no dearth
of effervescence neither is dreamy enchantment in short supply. The overall
effect, which might pall over 90 minutes, retains its brilliance over the
concise span of just short of 50 minutes. Of course at this length the work
makes uncomfortable programming for the opera house. For the 'gramophone'
its conciseness is perfect.
For sampling try the Galathée-Ganymed duett - Ach, mich zieht's zu
dir (track 10). If you are apt to be won over by this music this will do
the trick. If not then, traveller, pass on.
Fine notes, plot summary and German (the language sung) with parallel English