As I was reveling in the cool beauty of Anne Schwanewilms’s soprano during her rapturously received Strauss/Wolf recital at Alice Tully Hall on Easter Sunday, I remembered that I had an outstanding performance of Weber’s Euryanthe to share on “Trove Thursday.” As the beleaguered heroine Schwanewilms grandly holds her own against the conniving of Lauren Flanigan’s flamboyant Eglantine.
Best known today for its ebullient overture, Euryanthe premiered in 1823 and bears some striking similarities to Wagner’s Lohengrin which followed twenty-five years later—a blameless soprano and tenor must withstand the jealous scheming of a second soprano and baritone. I have long admired the opera since first hearing the Marek Janowski recording with Jessye Norman, Rita Hunter, Nicolai Gedda and Tom Krause.
Today’s broadcast comes from a concert given at the BBC Proms in London following a run at the Glyndebourne Festival. One of the most enticing features of this performance is the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, an outstanding period-instrument group.
I first heard Schwanewilms in 2002 as a striking Senta in Harry Kupfer’s mesmerizing production of Wagner’s Der Fliegende Hollãnder at the Berlin Staatsoper. It was around that time (the same year as Euryanthe) that she decided to revamp her repertoire and drop some roles to concentrate primarily on operas by Richard Strauss. In doing so, she canceled a number of important contracts (many for Leonore in Fidelio) which I understand earned her the enmity of several opera houses including the Met.
While still singing Elsa and Elisabeth, she did indeed become a prominent Arabella, Danae, Chrysothemis and, most memorably, the Marschallin. Her Kaiserin in Die Frau ohne Schatten can be seen on DVD in Christof Loy’s somewhat perverse Salzburg production conducted by Christian Thielemann.
That role of course served as her belated Met debut in 2013 when she was over-shadowed (!) by the more newsworthy resurgence of Christine Goerke as the Färberin. At the performance I attended Schwanewilms was at first unusually reticent but eventually blazed compellingly in a galvanizing third act.
Shall we ever see her again at the Met? I, for one, would gladly welcome her back as Marie-Thérèse in a revival of the new Rosenkavalier. In the meantime, at age 50 she might seem surprising casting as Eva this summer at the Bayreuth Festival in Barrie Kosky’s new Meistersinger to be courted by the inevitable Klaus Florian Vogt.
Despite an excellent revival of Euryanthe three years ago at Bard Summerscape, Weber’s three great operas remain ignored by major companies in the US. However, this fall La Scala mounts a new production of Der Freischütz featuring the tantalizing prospect of Günther Groissböck’s Kaspar.
A most interesting revival occurs next month at the Bavarian State Opera when Ivor Bolton conducts a new staging of the magical Oberon (in German, of course) with Annette Dasch as Rezia opposite the Huon of an American tenor I know absolutely nothing about—Brenden Gunnell. Happily, it will be web-streamed free on 30 July.
Glyndebourne Festival at Proms
12 August 2002
Euryanthe: Anne Schwanewilms
Eglantine: Lauren Flanigan
Bertha: Rebecca von Lipinski
Adolar : John Daszak
Lysiart : Pavlo Hunka
Ludwig VI: Clive Bayley
Rudolf: Nicholas Sharratt
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Conductor: Mark Elder
To download Euryanthe, just click on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.