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Franz von SUPPÉ (1819-1895)
Die Schöne Galathée (The Beautiful Galathea) - a mythological satire in one Act (1865)
Jörg Dürmüller (tenor) … Pygmalion;
Marianne Beate Killand (mezzo) … Ganymede;
Klaus Häger (baritone) … Mydas;
Eleonore Marguerre (soprano) … Galathea;
Christian Brückner … Narrator
ChorWerkRuhr, Capella Coloniensis/Bruno Weil
rec. Kulturzentrum, Herne, Germany, 13-14 November 2005
Notes in German, English, French.
CAPRICCIO 60134 [71:22]

The sparkling overture contains two lovely melodies that are deftly woven into an impressive stand-alone piece of which any composer would be proud. Why this never became one of the popular overtures of its day like Zampa and The Crown of Diamonds I cannot understand. It is by far superior to Suppé’s best known, yet immaturely heavy, Poet and Peasant overture written 19 years earlier. By the 1860s Austria had been captivated by the French style of operetta and in particular by works that had come from the pen of Jacques Offenbach. Suppé set out to impress his fellow Austrians and deliberately challenged Offenbach with this operetta, and for it produced his finest music. The trio, “Hinaus! Au weh!” [tk 9] where Pygmalion (a sculptor) orders out his rich patron after stealing a forbidden look at the beautiful statue, Galathea is a superb example of excellent composition. One can detect more than a passing hint of Offenbach’s style in this and the later, “Hellim Glas” [tk 19].

In this live performance, the soloists provide us with a good standard of singing. I particularly like Marianne Beate Killand when she charms us with the Offenbachian “Wir Greichen” [tk 15] and her silky mellowness. Eleonore Marguerre is a pleasantly lyrical and pure-toned soprano. As Galathée, she handles her portrayal with delicacy and in the delightful romance “Was sagst du?” [tk 13] adds poignancy to widely flowing phrases. Here, and in the opening chorus [tk 3], Bruno Weil conducts with much care and sensitivity, and teases out of the score some nice subtleties. Pygmalion (Jörg Dürmüller) is a strong yet light tenor who shines and contrasts well with the others in the score’s rich ensembles. Mydas (Klaus Häger) is not given a lot of opportunity to display a wide spectrum of voice, but from his ariette, “Meinem Vater Gordios” he contributes well.

The issue of this recording brings back memories of a rare British staging of this operetta at the Buxton Festival in 1999, with its haunting opening chorus, charming ensembles and vivacious stage activity. As with Weber’s equally short Oberon, it is a mistake to include German narration in an international recording. With worldwide sales expected, one surely cannot satisfy more than 25% of its potential buyers. This said, I consider that the lines of dialogue are delivered with impact and immediacy. I should add that no disturbances from the audience are evident in the recording.

Microphone cover for the singers is not always ideal, as found with Mydas’s ariette, “Meinem Vater Gordios” [tk 5] where the singer is recessed. The orchestra on the other hand is perfectly balanced throughout with a warm acoustic and a melodramatic pizzicato richly delivered. Good notes and full lyrics are provided in the three languages.

Raymond J Walker


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