German composer Heinrich Marschner was born on this day (August 16) in 1795, in Zittau, near the German-Polish border. His compositions are very much rooted in the Romantic tradition along the lines of Carl Maria von Weber. A noted composer of opera and song, it’s a shame that his best works, Der Vampyr and Hans Heiling aren’t better known outside German speaking countries. Canadian opera lovers (particularly those in Quebec) got a rare chance to hear Der Vampyr in a concert performance two weeks ago at the Lanaudiere Festival, with a stellar cast that included baritone Phillip Addis, sopranos Marianne Fiset and Nathalie Paulin, tenor Frederic Antoun and bass Robert Pomakov, under the direction of Jean Marie Zeitouni. Marschner’s music is lovely and a bit reminiscent of Weber. Youtube has an interview of stage director Alain Gauthier talking about his ideas on this piece for Lanaudiere, but unfortunately there are no music or video clips of the performance itself. Here is a selection of highlights from a 2002 recording on the German Capriccio label, starring tenor Jonas Kaufmann and baritone Franz Hawlata. Have a listen – the music is gorgeous!
– Joseph K. So