Hans Werner Henze
Der junge Lord
Edith Mathis (Luise)
Donald Grobe (Wilhelm)
Barry McDaniel (Sekretaer)
Loren Driscoll (Lord Barrat)
Vera Little (Begonia)
Manfred Roehrl (Burgomeister)
Margarete Ast (Baronin Gruenwiesel)
Bella Jasper (Ida)
Schoeneberger Saengerknaben, Chorus and Orchestra of the Deutssche Oper
Berlin/Christoph von Dohnanyi.
Medici Arts DVD 2072398 Total Time: 135:30
Summary for the Busy Executive: Quite nice.
I know I'm in the minority, but I'm not a big fan of music DVDs. Only
in rare cases -- watching a conductor's technique, for example -- do I
want to see a performance. Since most opera production and especially
opera acting is so abominably amateurish, I don't feel I've missed all
that much. I greatly prefer to listen to CDs.
The satirical Der junge Lord ranks as one of Henze's best works. It's
not particularly deep, but does have wit, thanks not only to Henze's
musical jokes (at one point during a town's official welcome of an English
lord, the chorus breaks out into Mozart's praise of the pasha from Die
Entfuehrung aus dem Serail) but to poet Ingeborg Bachmann's devastating
Big doings in a provincial German town: an English lord is taking up
residence. All the leading citizens show up, the mayor has prepared a
speech (and insists on practicing it before the Englishman arrives), and
children are practicing their welcome anthem. The lord is late, and the
townsfolk keep mistaking parts of his entourage for the lord himself.
When the lord finally alights from his carriage, his secretary tells one
and all that the lord will skip the ceremony and all the other delights
the town has planned. We also meet the young lovers, Wilhelm, an
impoverished student, and Luise, the prettiest and richest girl in town.
Naturally, they are kept apart by her guardian, the snobbish Baroness
It turns out that the lord, Sir Edgar, refuses all invitations (indeed,
he never leaves his house), and this turns the leading citizens against
him. A small circus troupe comes to town. Miracle of miracles! Sir
Edgar appears to attend the street show. The burghers are so enraged
that they insist on closing the troupe down and running them off. Sir
Edgar invites the circus folk into his home. Sensation!
In the dead of winter, the town lamplighter hears strange, horrible
noises coming from Sir Edgar's place. The burghers show up at the door
and demand to know what's going on. The secretary tells them that Sir
Edgar's son, Lord Barrat, has arrived for study at German universities.
The strange noises they heard were merely the young man learning German,
"a most difficult tongue," so that he can take his place among their
society. This completely turns the town around, now pleased as punch
that Sir Edgar and Lord Barrat will condescend to them.
Lord Barrat turns out to be a little strange, but the town chooses to
regard his behavior as another charming example of English eccentricity.
The girls, including Luise, fawn over him, the men imitate his manner
and his dress. This annoys Wilhelm, who regards the young lord as a
lout. In a fit of jealousy, Wilhelm insults Barrat and loses Luise.
Cut to a ball. The town expects an announcement of the engagement of
Barrat and Luise by evening's end. Wilhelm is there, pining for Luise
and eating his heart out. For her part, Luise seems a bit torn, but
she decides in favor of Barrat. However, Barrat's behavior becomes so
strange, that Sir Edgar is forced to reveal the young lord's true identity:
an ape in men's clothing. Wilhelm and Luise are reunited because even
in Germany there are laws against interspecies marriage.
The satirical point couldn't be plainer.
Musically, the work takes off from Stravinsky's Rake's Progress. Although
not as monumental as that earlier score, Der junge Lord still beats out
most contemporary operas. Henze has the ability to get at least three
separate plot points going in the same number and to make them crystal
clear. I enjoy Henze's operas far more than his instrumental works, as
a matter of fact. I think him a marvelous dramatist, if not necessarily
a manufacturer of hits.
The production is miles beyond almost anything you find in the United
States, including the Met. If the script doesn't require much in the
way of acting, at least the singers know how to take a stage, and the
direction is superb. I lived in a small German town for a while, and
the actors really have the types down. The sets and costumes evoke the
Biedermeier era, with gentlemen in top hats and breeches and women in
lace caps and so many petticoats, they resemble gossamer toilet plungers.
All this helps the comedy. Edith Mathis as Luise is simply adorable,
Barry McDaniel appropriately oily (and slightly sinister) as the secretary,
and the townspeople slightly grotesque, as befits a satire. The camera
work isn't as spectacular as, say, Bergman's in The Magic Flute. Indeed,
it captures a staged production. Nevertheless, it's efficient and
clarifies the action.
The CLASSICAL mailing list is powered by L-Soft's renowned LISTSERV(R)
list management software together with L-Soft's HDMail High Deliverability
Mailer for reliable, lightning fast mail delivery. For more information,
go to: http://www.lsoft.com/LISTSERV-powered.html