Die tote Stadt premieres in Canada – almost 96 years late!

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Gregory M Lang
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Joined: Fri Oct 23, 2015 7:16 am

Die tote Stadt premieres in Canada – almost 96 years late!

Post by Gregory M Lang » Tue Feb 16, 2016 1:07 pm

Die tote Stadt premieres in Canada – almost 96 years after the original debut!

I am now posting this a couple of weeks after the Canadian premiere of Die tote Stadt. Immediately prior to that, I was trying to remember my password here. Later last year, I had trouble registering: special thanks to website admin Eleftherios for his help in that regard. Generally, I have been wanting to post about Die tote Stadt since earlier last year, since I first learned about it from a Calgary Opera season brochure in a local newspaper earlier last year. I have also taken the time (and courtesy) of reading over the whole forum, in order to study its members’ style and etiquette.

However, at the beginning of last year, I was undergoing the second of treatments for a health issue. I am quite well now; and feeling much better – not to mention doing the ongoing process of taking care of many delayed personal matters. I use the computer of a friend; unfortunately, their landlady has been dealing with a houseguest, who had overstayed his welcome: the “overnight” stay extending a year to past the last month. And there is now the matter of becoming involved with a new organization, which has occupied my time from just before the premiere….

Further complicating my posting anything in advance about this production of Die tote Stadt, there has been an effective cone of silence by the company about this production; which as a local newspaper article reviewing it might infer, is not unusual. Calgary Opera had used a synopsis of Dallas Opera’s recent production, until shortly before the debut of their own.

It already has become past too late to post advance notice of Die tote Stadt’s premiere here, as I originally intended. I envy Dennis Miller, who did so for the San Francisco production a few years ago! Ah, to have one’s very first post announcing a national debut… But this has already been taken care of under Events on the main website here – it seems that Calgary Opera found you and contacted you for resources. As to why it took almost a century for the premiere to happen in my native country, the video on Calgary opera’s Facebook page, by the lead singers David Pomeroy and Lyne Fortin, gives additional information on this matter, to what is usually mentioned in that regard for productions generally. I am thinking that Korngold’s operas seem to hold records, for the differences between their world premieres, and those in other countries (unpublished and posthumous works of composers should be exempted for obvious reasons).

As for a personal introduction for myself as a new member, that will be best effected by my in part the post I will be putting in “Questions regarding E.W. Korngold / ANYTHING GOES KORNGOLD”.

I believe that my experience of the performance will be best done in the “not a review” style as per scott curry, under this category. The media critics and public gave raved about Die tote Stadt (but not like the lead part Paul). The dress rehearsal – open to students – produced rave reviews from attendees. Beforehand, was the mood in the air of a great premier about to occur. There was apparently a standing ovation at the premiere (I was sitting like others in the “nosebleed” seats). Then there was the sustained applause and numerous bows. All that was missed were curtain calls (and perhaps an encore?). Afterwards, my friends happened to point out a wine-and-cheese, and opera-themed food, function taking place in the atrium of the second balcony. But we sneaked off, as it appeared to be a crew gathering – celebrating a triumphant premiere. Calgary Opera reported near-capacity sales of seats for all three performances. Sadly, there was to be no recording made of any of the performances; CBC, the most likely candidate, has had its funding severely cut back over recent years.

I was originally going to post in advance, about wanting to meet with other Korngoldians. Indeed, besides those traveling from across Canada and the US, there was one coming from Europe, as I predicted. On that other point, Calgary opera’s website has some words written by Clay Harris, another Londoner. He is a retired journalist who gives more insight in his online article. He is familiar with this website; but feels that there is not enough activity here. He also told me that this was the first time he had “gone public”. At the Die tote Stadt panel here, he was quite the raconteur. He did see the notorious “serial killer” performance. The worst was the performance in Hamburg (I think he said) which he said was bad all over – besides the lack of good sightlines. As to the one Korngold forum member in particular, that I mentioned to him, who would have exceeded his 48 performances already, he simply stated that he was not in some sort of competition (although others might opine that some Korngoldians will suffer through flawed performances in order to see this work in particular performed). As to his comments about the plot of Die tote Stadt being “crazy” – sounds like the plots of many operettas; but I digress. See: http://www.calgaryopera.com/1516/dietot ... clayharris

But as to Die tote Stadt here, on January 5, the late-breaking news was posted on the Calgary Opera website that granddaughter Kathrin Korngold Hubbard would be flying in for a panel the night before the premiere, which she and her husband also attended. She and her husband graciously consented to having their photos taken by us and others, being asked by Calgary Opera just after they had arrived in Calgary. I look forward to adding those to the Interviews, Articles, etc. section on this website, along with the ones commissioned for Calgary Opera, and the links to newspaper reviews; I need the attention of Mr. Dixon for that. How I wish I could have had her autograph a copy of The Last Prodigy bio; unfortunately, it appears to still be out of print. The local public library doesn’t seem to have a copy (an online search of their website somehow turns up a biography of the late Canadian pianist Glenn Gould); I haven’t got around to doing an interlibrary loan (see my above first words about the delay).

Finally, there is a very interesting anecdote that Ms. Hubbard related. She was very quiet-spoken on the panel; but my partner caught an extremely amusing tidbit she passed along to the audience. It seems that on the set of the movie Deception – for which her grandfather composed music – a couple of the actresses got pregnant. EWK then suggested (facetiously of course) that the movie should have instead been called “Conception”! He then wondered how his act of composing music for that movie could cause (or inspire?) pregnancy. Kathrin summed up by commenting, that it was noted that he had a wry sense of humour, that he employed on occasion. It was wonderful to meet her and her husband in person afterwards.

A couple of additional notes. It seems that only on the occasion of the performance Die tote Stadt here, did I learn that Calgary Opera’s providers of music, the Calgary Symphony Orchestra, had done an accompaniment to a showing of Robin Hood in 2014. (They are now doing cinematically-themed Pops concerts; Bugs Bunny’s has had a sequel). The initial Canadian “premiere” – the 2007 Toronto concert performance – of Die tote Stadt, was indeed a winner, as disclosed in an online radio review, which is still extant: http://www.classical963fm.com/arts-reviews/tote-stadt/
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