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Paul Dessau : Lanzelot. Solyom-Nagy, Hindrichs, Pushniak, Schwaninger, Stickert, Beykirch.
Diapason from June 2023
Review de Jean-Claude Hulot
Page No. 77
Format : 2 CD Digipack
Total Time : 02:09:00

Recording : 23/11/2019
Location : Weimar
Country : Allemagne
Sound : Stereo

Label : Audite
Catalog No. : AUD23448
EAN : 4022143234483
Price Code : DM029A

Publishing Year : 2023
Release Date : 01/02/2023

Genre : Classical
Paul Dessau (1894-1979)
"Lanzelot", opéra en 15 tableaux sur des motifs de Hans Christian Andersen et la féérie satirique "Le Dragon" d'Evgeny Schwarz

Maté Solyom-Nagy, baryton (Lanzelot)
Emily Hindrichs, soprano (Elsa)
Oleksandr Pushniak, baryton (Drache)
Wolfgang Schwaninger, ténor (Le maire)
Daniela Gerstenmeyer, soprano (Kater)
Juri Batulov, baryton (Charlemagne)
Uwe Stickert, baryton (Heinrich)
Andreas Koch, basse (Le médecin)
Opernchor des DNT
Chor des theaters Erfurt
Kinderchor schola cantorum Weimar
Staaskapelle Weimar
Dominik Beykirch, direction

Après une fructueuse collaboration avec Berthold Brecht dans la création de ses deux premiers opéras : "La condamnation de Lucullus" (1951) et "Puntila" (1966), le compositeur Paul Dessau (1894-1979) choisit cette fois "Le Dragon" une pièce du dramaturge russe Yevgueni Schwarz. Écrite en 1943, en pleine répression stalinienne, il s'agit d'une parabole explicite contre la dictature. Dans cette histoire un héros solitaire (Lanzelot, le tueur de Dragon) veut libérer une ville d'un dragon (représentation du pouvoir totalitaire). Il se heurte d'abord à l'indifférence et à l'hostilité de la population puis finit héroïquement par terrasser la bête. Dessau y retrouve ses propres préoccupations socio-politiques et remanie son œuvre avec son librettiste et ami Heiner Muller. Conçu pour une vingtaine de chanteurs et un orchestre composé d'instruments divers et variés dont une partie de percussions, c'est un opéra visionnaire dans tous les sens du terme. Créé en 1969 à Berlin, il bénéficie ici d'une première au disque réalisée par le Théatre National de Weimar. Composé dans un style entièrement dodécaphonique héritier direct des opéras de Berg et de Schoenberg, l'opéra use de tous les artifices possibles pour illustrer la thèse des auteurs. La tragédie humaine et la réflexion politique couve sous l’aspect illustratif et comique. Le compositeur distribue magistralement les rôles et les instruments pour élaborer une dramaturgie en mouvement, mixant à sa façon l'histoire de la musique. Dessau sème çà et là des citations de Mozart, Wagner, Chopin ou Rossini et le final jubilatoire rappelle d'ailleurs la "Flûte enchantée de Mozart" Le Dragon lui-même est incarné par des sons bruitistes très évocateurs. L'ensemble aurait largement mérité un enregistrement DVD. (Jérôme Angouillant)

Music history encompasses masterpieces which are simply forgotten for a while before being rediscovered in a later era when they act as a mirror of current sensitivities: prominent examples include Mozart's La clemenza di Tito, Schubert's "Unfinished Symphony" or Erich Wolfgang Korngold's opera Die tote Stadt. The reasons for such oblivion are manifold - in the case of Paul Dessau's fairy-tale opera Lanzelot, they are almost certainly political. This also has to do with the fact that Dessau (1894-1979), the son of a Jewish tobacconist from Hamburg, settled in the Soviet occupation zone after exile during the Second World War and lived until his death as a politically loyal but also thoroughly dissident citizen of the GDR. Through his collaboration with Bertolt Brecht, at the age of sixty Dessau discovered music theatre for himself, whose sole raison d'être, according to him, was to fulfil a political didactic role. Twice he set texts by Brecht to music; for his third opera he turned to the fairy tale The Dragon by the Soviet author Evgeny Schwartz, which the playwright Heiner Müller, alongside Ginka Tcholakova, adapted for him, creating the libretto for Lanzelot. The plot is so controversial that even the original was banned under Stalin. A dragon who liberated the people from cholera a very long time ago now heads up a totalitarian regime, but is loved by his people as he guarantees them order and materialistic wellbeing. The appearance of the self-proclaimed libertarian hero Lancelot triggers resistance among the citizens; in the end, the question emerges as to whether the people are really ready for revolution. Surprisingly, the material did not meet with resistance from the GDR authorities at the premiere at the (East) Berlin State Opera in December 1969; the production by Ruth Berghaus, Dessau's wife, was restrained in its political statement. Yet Dessau's music was among the most modern and provocative that was permitted in the GDR at the time. The demands on the soloists, chorus and orchestra are colossal, a richly equipped percussion section provides punch, and the composer also makes use of recordings to be played in the auditorium. Nowhere in his oeuvre does Dessau offer up a greater variety of musical styles; from baroque concerto grosso and romantic parodies to agitprop music and modern sounds, he pulls out all the stops. With its plurality of musical styles and its appeal to muster enough courage for true freedom, Lanzelot is the East German counterpart to the equally ambitious "total theatre" piece Die Soldaten by Bernd Alois Zimmermann. Lanzelot only saw three productions during Dessau's lifetime, then the piece disappeared from the stage, and a recording was never made. Only fifty years after the premiere did the Deutsches Nationaltheater and the Staatskapelle Weimar as well as the Theater Erfurt dare to take on the challenges of this opera once again. In late 2019, Lanzelot was performed in Weimar in a production by Peter Konwitschny and directed by Dominik Beykirch; unfortunately, the planned subsequent run at Erfurt was thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This edited live recording proves the power of Paul Dessau's music and message, which still makes it burningly relevant today, three decades after the end of the Cold War.

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