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Marschner: Der Vampyr / Froschauer, Hawlata, Klepper, Dewald

Release Date: 10/29/2013 
Label:  Capriccio Records   Catalog #: 5184   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Heinrich Marschner
Performer:  Anke HoffmannThomas DewaldJonas KaufmannRegina Klepper,   ... 
Conductor:  Helmuth Froschauer
Number of Discs: 2 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MARSCHNER Der Vampyr Helmuth Froschauer, cond; Jonas Kaufmann ( Edgar Aubry ); Franz Hawlata ( Lord Ruthven ); Regina Klepper ( Malwina Davenaut ); Anke Hoffmann ( Janthe Berkley/Emmy Perth ); Thomas Dewald ( George Dibdin ); Yoo-Chang Nah ( Read more class="ARIAL12i">Sir Berkley ); Cologne West German RSO & Ch CAPRICCIO 5184 (2 CDs: 128: 36)

At one time, back in the late 1960s when the now classic Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows was still in its first run, live performances of both this opera and Marschner’s Hans Heiling appeared on pirate LPs. The performances weren’t particularly good, in fact far from first-rate, but even so it was evident that, for all its horror-show connotations, Der Vampyr had the more appealing music. I found this still to be true in this much more professional recording. Made in 1999 and originally issued by Capriccio in 2001, this incarnation has no libretto but is still a fun little piece of musical fluff. Although it is quite obviously influenced by Weber’s Der Freischütz, Der Vampyr is sort of the Warsaw Concerto of Romantic German opera. I would not go so far as to say that it is sugar-coated treacle, but by golly it comes close.

The plot revolves around the vampire Lord Ruthven, who is a real meanie, promising to seduce and deliver three virgins to hell within 24 hours. Edgar Aubry, the good guy, is sworn to secrecy not to reveal Ruthven’s identity as a vampire for those 24 hours, but does so to save the life of Malvina. As I say, though, the score is not really first rate. It’s almost written as if Marschner was indeed appealing to adolescent minds. Often one hears not only echoes of Freischütz but also snippets of Pizarro’s music from Fidelio, yet all of the imitations lack the dramatic punch of the originals.

The recording’s obvious selling point is this reissue is the presence of tenor Jonas Kaufmann as Edgar Aubry. A virtual unknown in 1999, he is a major star now. It’s interesting to hear his unusual “baritenor” voice at this stage; it has the unusual darkness in the lower range one hears today, but lacks its current size and heft, particularly in the upper range. Nevertheless, his is clearly the one first-class voice on this set. Anke Hoggmann (Janthe/Emmy) has a pretty but somewhat tight and shrill upper range and a disturbing flutter in the voice, dangerously close to Pilar Lorengar proportions. Regina Klepper (Malwina) has a fuller and darker tone with a squeal in the high range, yet both are at least competent.

The plum role in this opera is that of Lord Ruthven, sung here by baritone Franz Hawlata. He has a pleasant voice if not much of it, but compensates for any lack of voice by dint of his great powers of vocal characterization. In short, it is he who really makes this opera work—along with conductor Froschauer, whose exemplary skills keep things moving and bind the music about as well as can be expected. Their combined musical “pointing” injects some life into the bouncy and often repetitive music.

If Vampyr is your cup of tea, this is a good recording of it to acquire.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

Der Vampyr by Heinrich Marschner
Performer:  Anke Hoffmann (), Thomas Dewald (), Jonas Kaufmann (),
Regina Klepper (), Markus Marquardt (), Franz Hawlata (),
Franz Gerihsen ()
Conductor:  Helmuth Froschauer
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1827; Germany 
Venue:  Köln, WDR, Funkhaus, Klaus-von-Bismarck- 
Length: 124 Minutes 24 Secs. 

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