SCHWEITZER, A.: Alceste (Ducal Residence, Weimar, 2007)

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- (Disc 1)
Alceste
Libretto/Text Author: Wieland, Christoph Martin
Orchestra: Concerto Koln

Herkules: Wagner, Josef
Parthenia: Sieden, Cyndia

Set/Stage Designer: Voigt, Mira
Costume Designer: Voigt, Mira
Stage Director: Muller, Hendrik
Television Director: Schneider, Dieter

Date of Production: 2007
Venue: Ducal Residence, Weimar
Playing Time: 02:36:38
Catalogue Number: A05016933
UPC:

Anton Schweitzer's Alceste (1773) has gone down in music history as the first German-language opera. Though it is practically unknown today, it offers music lovers a wealth of passionate arias and ariosos, lyrical scenes and jaunty ensembles, all in a pre-classical style that occasionally foreshadows Mozart. Written by Anton Schweitzer (1735-1787), one of the leading composers of his time, the work boasts impressive credentials: its libretto was written by C. M. Wieland, one of the great authors of the German Enlightenment, and it was premiered at Weimar's Ducal Residence, one of the most important artistic and cultural centers of the late 18th century, where this recording was also made.

Performed on the occasion of the official reopening of the Anna Amalia Library in Weimar in 2007, the sparing production by Hendrik Müller concentrates on the chamber-like interplay of the four lead roles. Alceste's demanding, coloratura-filled parts are mastered with grace and seemingly effortless ease by all singers. In the lead role as the wife who sacrifices herself to save her beloved husband, Simone Schneider combines delicacy with dazzling technique, and harmonizes superbly with internationally acclaimed Cyndia Sieden as Parthenia. Tenor Christoph Genz offers a moving account of Admet, Alceste's husband. And young bass Josef Wagner enlivens his role as Hercules with humor and a striking stage presence.

Under the direction of early-music specialist Michael Hofstetter, the Concerto Köln provides a spirited reading of the work. "This charming fireworks was in the best of hands," wrote the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Part 1


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