Das Liebesverbot

Yves Abel
Wexford Festival Opera Chorus
RTE Symphony Orchestra
22 October 1994
Theatre Royal Wexford
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
FriedrichRobert Holzer
LuzioRobert Swensen
ClaudioPeter Svensson
AntonioEric Ashcraft
AngeloGuido Lebron
IsabellaMarie Plette
MarianaMarit Sauramo
BrighellaGidon Saks
DanieliJurij Kruglov
DorellaMajella Cullagh
Pontio PilatoValentin Jar

Although the composer of Das Liebesverbot is the best-known of the three featured in this year’s Wexford Festival, you could safely bet that few people could identify what Wagner called his ‘youthful sin’ as the early work of the composer of the Ring and Tristan and Isolde.

Das Liebesverbot (‘The Ban on Love’) was not, and is not a successful piece.

It is the triumph of Dieter Kaegi’s production, with gaudy costumes by Bruno Schwengl, that, through ruthless cutting and guying of the piece, he has turned the prolix ‘grand comic opera’ into a viable evening’s entertainment.

You could raise questions about the Wagnerian inclinations of some of the singers at Wexford. But as a contribution to the overall sense of parody – and we relish the piece’s musical and dramatic absurdities all the more, precisely because they are by Wagner – these idiosyncracies only add to what the composer himself regarded as the ‘bold tendency to wild sensuous turbulence’ and ‘defiant joyfulness’ of his youthful Italian-sounding rail against restrictive authority.

In short, this Liebesverbot came across as a wonderfully self-indulgent romp with, in Gidon Saks’s Brighella, a first- rate panto villain (who completely upstaged the weak Robert Holzer as his master, Friedrich) and a superb foil in the cheeky, streetwise Dorella of Majella Cullagh.

The Finnish mezzo Naurit Sauramo touched a more tender nerve as Mariana, the neglected wife of Friedrich, and in her Act 1 convent duet with Marie Plette’s Isabella the duo warbled beautifully as a pair of caged birds. In the pit, Yves Abel and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland kept things moving with unflagging zest and the scantily-clad chorus rollicked and frolicked with an enthusiasm that would have won the youthful Wagner’s approval.

MICHAEL DERVAN | Oct 23, 1994

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Media Type/Label
Technical Specifications
320 bit/s CBR, 44.1 kHz, 295 MByte (MP3)
Wexford Opera Festival
A production by Dieter Kaegi (1994)