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Ziehrer: Die Drei Wunsche / Mogg, Vogel, Ellen, Serkin, Espina, Et Al

Release Date: 07/28/2009 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777404-2   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Carl Michael Ziehrer
Performer:  Lorena EspinaDonna EllenValery SerkinKlement Slowioczek,   ... 
Conductor:  Herbert Mogg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Schönbrunn Music Theater OrchestraSchönbrunn Music Theater Choral Soloists
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 45 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

ZIEHRER Die drei Wünsche Herbert Mogg, cond; Volker Vogel ( Hummel ); Ariana Strahl ( Laura ); Donna Ellen ( Baronin Besebeck ); Valery Serkin ( Fedor ); Lorena Espina ( Zingra ); Klement Slowioczek ( Fogosch ); Anna Siminska ( Read more class="ARIAL12i">Käthe ); Michael Heim ( Fritz ); Alfred Berger ( Kilian Wegerer ); Schönbrunn Music Theater O & Ch cpo 777 404 (2 CDs: 104:33)

Every so often a composer dominates a musical era so completely that other composers are left in the creative dust and end up as footnotes in musical history. In the world of Viennese operetta, Johann Strauss II was probably the best known until Franz Lehár carried the torch into the 20th century. Carl Michael Ziehrer (1843–1922) was a contemporary of both Strauss and Lehár. Ziehrer’s music was very popular, and most people today have never heard of him. Ziehrer was also very prolific. He wrote 22 operettas (some sources say 24), over 70 marches, and over 400 dances. (Name two!) Some of his music appears in anthologies of Viennese works; and Naxos/marco polo has issued a four CD compilation of “Selected Dances and Marches.”

Johann Strauss II felt sufficiently threatened by the popularity of Ziehrer’s music that he hoped to minimize Ziehrer’s chances of success by offering some very catty criticism. Well, judge for yourself. This cpo recording of Ziehrer’s 1901 operetta Die drei Wünsche (“The Three Wishes”) offers abundant proof that Ziehrer could write a good tune. The opera is full of effervescent melodies, jaunty marches, and ingratiating waltzes. It is very much in the Strauss, Zeller, Suppé light-hearted style rather than the heart-on-sleeve, semi-serious romances of the post-war Lehár. To my ears, Ziehrer’s music sounds less like Strauss and more like Zeller and Suppé and, here and there, a bit like Arthur Sullivan. Die drei Wünsche falls pleasantly on the ears. If it doesn’t challenge the listener to appreciate musical complexities or unorthodox tonalities, it stands on its own tuneful charms. It’s the kind of music where you bob your head with a smile and let your foot or hand keep time with the beat.

The story is typical operetta fare of disguises, tangled romances, arranged and thwarted marriage plans. The plot device of a theatrical troupe assuming disguises en masse is similar to G&S’s The Grand Duke . Unfortunately, a libretto is not included with the recording, just a rather detailed synopsis. There are 30-plus minutes of dialogue scattered throughout the Prologue and two acts. Most of the 11 tracks of dialogue are under three minutes; only one is slightly longer than five minutes. The dialogue is lively and never sounds like actors reading from a script with muted voices. Since the dialogue is tracked separately from the music, it can easily be programmed out.

I confess to being unfamiliar with the singers. They all have fresh, attractive voices and do justice to Ziehrer’s infectious melodies. This is a studio recording that has the sizzle of a live performance. If you like Viennese operetta from the golden age, I think you might enjoy Die drei Wünsche. I did.

FANFARE: David L. Kirk
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Works on This Recording

Die drei Wünsche by Carl Michael Ziehrer
Performer:  Lorena Espina (Mezzo Soprano), Donna Ellen (Soprano), Valery Serkin (Tenor),
Klement Slowioczek (Bass), Volker Vogel (Tenor), Cornelia Zink (Soprano),
Alfred Berger (Baritone), Anna Siminska (Soprano), Michael Heim (Tenor)
Conductor:  Herbert Mogg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Schönbrunn Music Theater Orchestra,  Schönbrunn Music Theater Choral Soloists
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1901; Vienna, Austria 

Sound Samples

Die 3 Wunsche: Prologue: Overture
Die 3 Wunsche: Prologue: Scene and Chorus [In a village on the Rhine the theater troupe headed by Director Hummel presents a chivalric drama] (Littke, Schuster-Bellheim, Sternthal)
Die 3 Wunsche: Prologue: Dialogue [Lotti, the niece of the innkeeper Wegerer, is enthusiastic about the presentation] (Sternthal, Lotti, Wegener, Chorus)
Die 3 Wunsche: Prologue: Ensemble and Lied [For her part, Lotti has very difficult ideas about the ideal man] (Wegener, Lotti, Chorus)
Die 3 Wunsche: Prologue: Ensemble and Couplet [Theater Director Hummel reveals major news to his troupe] (Chorus, Hummel)
Die 3 Wunsche: Prologue: Dialogue [Hummel and Wegerer agree that Lotti can go with the theater troupe to the town] (Laura, Hummel, Littke, Dawison, Wegerer, Chorus)
Die 3 Wunsche: Prologue: Lied [Schon Gretelein] (Lotti)
Die 3 Wunsche: Prologue: Dialogue [Hummel promises Lotti that he will make her a star] (Hummel, Lotti, Zingara)
Die 3 Wunsche: Prologue: Melodrama and Finale [that her three wishes will be granted if she confides them to a star falling from the sky. The theater company sets out with Lotti ...] (Zingara, Lotti, Hummel, Chorus)
Die 3 Wunsche: Act I: Chorus and Entrance [The servants at Fogosch's house have prepared everything for a big party] (Chorus, Fogosch, Kathe)
Die 3 Wunsche: Act I: Dialogue [Fogosch would like to marry his daughter Kathe to Fedor] (Fogosch, Kathe, Jean)
Die 3 Wunsche: Act I: Duet [From the entrance duet of Baroness Besebeck and Fedor one learns that he has lost his heart to an artist ...] (Baronin, Fedor)
Die 3 Wunsche: Act I: Dialogue [Fogosch must admit to himself that there are no guests in his house for the party] (Baronin, Fedor, Fogosch)
Die 3 Wunsche: Act I: Choir of Cadets - Lied [Lieutenant Fritz, summoned by Kathe, comes to the castle with his cadets and sings praise to the irresistability of soldiers] (Chorus, Kathe, Fritz)
Die 3 Wunsche: Act I: Dialogue [Kathe reveals her father's plans to Fritz and again wants to win him for herself] (Kathe, Fritz, Fogosch, Jean)
Die 3 Wunsche: Act I: Entrance of the Actors [The theater company comes to the castle and underscores the versatility of its representational artistry] (Hummel, Chorus, Lotti)
Die 3 Wunsche: Act I: Dialogue [Hummel offers his actors to the desperate Fogosch as replacements for the guests] (Hummel, Fogosch, Lotti, Kathe)
Die 3 Wunsche: Act I: Dance song with Chorus [Lotti underscores her multifacetedness in a multilingual dance song] (Lotti, Chorus)
Die 3 Wunsche: Act I: Dialogue [Fogosch and the Baroness leave Kathe and Fedor alone] (Fogosch, Baronin, Kathe, Fedor)
Die 3 Wunsche: Act I: Duet [Kathe and Fedor imagine how horrible their life together would have been] (Kathe, Fedor)
Die 3 Wunsche: Act I: Dialogue [Fogosch presents one of the guests, Count Senders in the person of Theater Director Hummel, to the Baroness] (Fritz, Jean, Baronin, Fogosch, Hummel, Lotti, Fedor)
Die 3 Wunsche: Act I: Lied [Lotti reads the last love letter that she received from Fedor and sums up] (Lotti)
Die 3 Wunsche: Act I: Finale [The party at Fogosch's house reaches its high point] (Baronin, Fogosch, Fritz, Hummel, Kathe, Fedor, Lotti, Chorus)
Die 3 Wunsche: Act II: Chorus of Cadets [The soldiers prepare for their departure] (Chorus)
Die 3 Wunsche: Act II: Couplet [Hummel praises his wife in the famous couplet] (Hummel, Chorus)
Die 3 Wunsche: Act II: Dialogue [Fritz raves about the night he has spent with Kathe] (Fritz, Adjutant, Kathe, Fogosch, Hummel, Lotti, Fedor)
Die 3 Wunsche: Act II: Duet and Quartet [The four lovers once and for all are reunited] (Fedor, Lotti, Fritz, Kathe)
Die 3 Wunsche: Act II: Dialogue [Now all that has to be done is to get the Baroness to agree to the wedding between Lotti and Fedor] (Hummel, Baronin, Kathe, Fogosch, Fritz, Fedor, Lotti)
Die 3 Wunsche: Act II: Finale [Everybody is happy and content; the cadets and the comic players go on their way and for the latter] (Lotti, Chorus)

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