The OperaBeethoven's manuscript for the opera "der Leiñenkügel" was discovered in February of last year. The score, with full orchestration and voice scoring, had languished in the attic of a home which was then inhabited by the nephew of the composer's business associate, Johann Nepomuk Mälzel. Additional letters discovered at the site would indicate that Mälzel (the inventor of the ever popular portable metronome, and the designer of Beethoven's ear-trumpet listening devices) also authored the opera's libretto.
After extensive handwriting analysis and numerous laboratory tests run on ink and stock samples, there can now be no doubt about the authenticity of this manuscript. As though to secure its legitimacy, two missing dedication pages, identified as perfect matches to a previously identified manuscript of the composer's fifth symphony (similar scoring appears in this opera), were also uncovered as part of this historic discovery.
Der Leiñenkügel is the tale of two young men, their struggle with oppression from a tyrannical government, and their defiant democratic convictions.
|"Seien Sie mein Schatz"|
The opera begins when young Werner, the hero, is tricked by the Bürgermeister of Munich into leaving his young fiancé to join the Army. Upon that departure, Bürgermeister von Weincmarck approaches Werner's fiancé, Klara, and proclaims his desire to have her for himself. As Klara laughs to dismiss the Bürgermeister, the witnessing town fool Osmunde also laughs. Enraged, the Bürgermeister orders the imbecile hanged. Klara pleads on her knees for the life of Osmunde in the aria "Rein, rein ist der Narr" (The fool is pure). Osmunde is only released upon her promise of marriage to the Bürgermeister. After their wedding, the Bürgermeister breaks his promise and hangs the pathetic Osmunde.
|The Death of Osmunde|
Act 2 opens as Werner returns from the wars with a new friend Klaus (Bürgermeister von Weincmarck's estranged son). At the reunion of Klaus and his father, Werner discovers Klara to be now married to the Bürgermeister, his best friend's father. Werner flees in desperation. Finally understanding the situation, Klaus assails his father with the aria "Kunst Sie ein lüsterner Papa" (Thou art a lustful father), and withdraws his renewed pledge of love and family allegiance. The Bürgermeister orders his son arrested and sends for the magistrate to conduct a trial for high treason. Later that night, Klara slips into the prison and secures the escape of Klaus, who leaves the castle to search for his friend Werner to Klara's singing of "Laufen Sie das als der Wind" (Run like the wind).
|In der Leiñenkügel|
Act 3 opens with Klaus approaching the distraught Werner now drunk and angry while sitting within "Leiñenkügel", the local beer hall. Werner hurls himself at Klaus with drawn sword, cursing him and his father for the sorrow they have brought upon him. Everyone in the beer hall becomes aware of the tussle and attempt to separate the two combatants. Finally Werner breaks into tears and launches the touching duet "Meine Liebe ist wie eine verschüttete Pinte des Biers" (My love is like a spilled pint of beer). Klaus rejoins with "Doch! Gießen Sie einen frischen Entwurf, der Sie sollten" (Then let us pour a fresh draft). He goes on to explain the breaking off with his father and swears to reunite Werner with Klara. Having touched the hearts of those in the beer hall, they all embrace in the rejoicing title song "Stehen hat ist der Leiñenkügel vereint" (Der Leiñenkügel stands united), truly one of Beethoven's finest musical achievements.
|The Bürgermeister's Estate|
Act 4 opens to a now inebriated mob, complete with torches and pitchforks, approaching the Bürgermeister’s castle estate. On opening the front door, the Bürgermeister shouts to the mob that they are drunk and should go home. Klara rushes out in front of the Bürgermeister to sing “Ja, ja, Gebetrunkt mit Demokratie sind sie!” (Yes, they are drunk with democracy). Her number ends as one of the peasants accidentally sets fire to a trellis attached to the house, before passing out. The flame spreads rapidly to the rest of the structure. The Bürgermeister retreats into the residence as Klara falls forward into the arms of Werner’s friend Klaus, who passes her off to another member of the Leiñenkügel mob, who in turn hands her to Werner, as Klaus runs into the now burning house to save his father. The structure collapses on both of them with the mob singing “Ein Tyrann ist mit Demokratie ersetzt". (Democracy has replaced yet another tyrant). As the blaze deminishes in the background, Werner and Klara break into the opera's uplifting closing aria "Ab jetzt ist es...Würste, Bier ind Babys" (Sausage, beer and babies for us).
What the Critics are Saying
"Dumbfoundlingly Good" - Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times
"Brilliant in a way that's somewhat difficult to explain" - Stephen Holden / New York Times
"It made me thirst for more" - Laura Battle / London Times
"I was supposed to review the musical, King Charles III but somehow ended up here" - Michael Billington / The Guardian
Werner Jarlsberg, conductor of the Alle Männliche Deutsche Chorus, and the München Singspiel Philharmonia
|Jarlsberg on the podium|
Werner Jarlsberg has conducted the München Singspiel Philharmonia since 1993, when he took to the podium after the sudden passing of then Director, Werner Blatzboder. Since picking up the baton, Mr. Jarlsberg has waved his large threatening hands about as he conducts repertoire of avant-garde and newly discovered works, which to date have met with limited acceptance. Therefore, it is only fitting he should perform this world premier of Der Leiñenkügel.
After a serious knee injury in his post college years, Mr. Jarlsberg was forced to depart from a promising career as a professional golfer. Turning to music, Jarlsberg attended studies at the Mozarteum Conservatory in Salzburg, where he met his wife Greta. He continued his studies at the Vienna School of Music where he won first prize for his " Concerto in C minor for Saxophone, Full Brass Ensemble and Glass Harmonica ". After graduation, he freelanced as a commercial jingle composer for several highly visible marketing firms. Since Maestro Blatzboder's sudden demise, Mr. Jarlsberg has filled the role as interim conductor, a title he maintains today, nearly 22 years after first lifting his baton.
Jörge Busch, (tenor) as Werner
|Busch in fine voice|
Jörge Busch remains one of Germany's brightest stars. He comes to the München Singspiel stage immediately after his Parsifal triumph at Wagner Bayreuth Festival. Though he has been criticized for occasionally altering his lines, he remains a popular figure amongst Wagner purists. Other notable roles have included Wagner's Tristan (Tristan and Isolde), Lohengrin (Lohengrin) Siegmund (Die Walküre), Beethoven's Florestan (Fidelio), Mozart's Tamino (Magic Flute), and Weber's Max (Der Freischütz).
Mr. Busch left his studies of political science after only one semester to start up a supermarket chain and is today known for his brilliant recovery from substance abuse after its failure. He began singing in nightclubs where he also doubled as a comedian. After being urged by friends and family to take formal training, he began studies at the Music Conservatory of Tibet. Today he proclaims "I am what I am because of those Tibetan dudes". Currently, Mr. Busch is active as a staunch advocate of the Tibetan cause for independence and self rule, as well as being an avid paintball enthusiast.
Ricardo Chaninni, (baritone) as Klaus
|Chaninni in Rehearsal|
Coming from a family of musical instrument merchants, Mr. Chaninni had access to a variety of instruments from a very early age. At tender age of 4 he began studies on the violin, later (after the violin was sold) changing over to the bassoon. By his teens he was taking formal instruction in musical composition but eventually settled on singing. Ricardo Chaninni is a graduate of the G.B. Martini Conservatory of Bologna where he also apprenticed at the Accademia Filarmonica as a substitute bassoonist. Today Mr. Chaninni is a fund raiser for charities and a very accomplished gourmet cook.
Gértrude Leah-Wëisenswärtzenheimer, (soprano) as Klara
Often referred to as the "the Voice of Germany", Gértrude Leah-Wëisenswärtzenheimer's career has blossomed with a portfolio of some of Germany's greatest operatic roles, including Wagner's Brünnhilde, Kundry, Senta and Isolde, Strauss' Salome and Elektra, Beethoven's Fidelio, Mozart's Queen of the Night and numerous others. She is loved by all, on and behind the stage. Werner Jarlsberg exclaims that she is "pure joy to work with".
Ms. Leah-Wëisenswärtzenheimer enjoys her free time shopping for American western movies and has a collection of famous "six-shooters" from the wild west, including the single-action revolver Jesse James used to hold up the First National Bank of Northfield, Minnesota.
Dieter Banter-Brisbane, (bass-baritone) as von Weincmarck, Bürgermeister of Munich
|Dieter Banter Brisbane|
Initially thought to suffer from a learning disability, Dieter Banter-Brisbane went on to obtain a degree in electrical engineering at Appalachian State University. One day during a power outage he, by chance, went to see Mussorgsky's dark opera, Boris Godunov, and his life was forever changed. Today he remains active on the stage and relaxes at his farm in the Austrian countryside where he raises Glenrowan miniature horses.
Larry Frank, (falsetto) as Osmunde
We all know Larry Frank from German television where he has sung on numerous talk shows and commercials. Known for his exceptional range, Mr. Frank was the obvious choice for Osmunde, the town fool. Because of Mr. Frank's reputation for a lighthearted approach to rehearsals, we were all quite surprised to see just how seriously Larry took this role.
We almost lost Mr. Frank to a near fatal accident during the first dress rehearsal. Underneath the fool's clothes is a wire-frammed leather vest that hooks on to the noose around the neck of the performer, providing the appearance of hanging once the wearer's legs are off the ground. Apparently, one of the hooks was not properly secured by the opera's hangman. It wasn't until after the hanging and several minutes into a duet that Mr. Franks plight was noticed. Feet dangling widely, and choking with a loud hoarse cough, he was freed in time to recover for the opening night's performance. Bravo Mr. Frank!
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Copyright ©2013 Tom Mallon. All rights reserved.