Carl Maria von Weber
CAST: Euryanthe: Joan Sutherland, Eglantine: Marianne Schech, Adolar: Frans Vroons, Lysiart: Otakar Kraus, König Ludwig VI: Kurt Böhme
Chorus and Orchestra of the BBC, London
Fritz Stiedry, conductor
Euryanthe has the honour to be considered one of the most famous operas written by Carl Maria von Weber and the misfortune to be rarely staged because of the deplorably weak libretto (Mahler considered its writer, Helmina von Chézy, a «poetess with a full heart and an empty head»), based on the XIII century Roman de la violette by Gerbert de Montreuil. This is the main reason why it is rarely staged in our days. The recording I propose you (realized in 1955 with a young Joan Sutherland in the title role and the direction of Fritz Stiedry) is not a complete one: many parts, especially the dialogues (this is a Singspiel) are cut, but it conveys a satisfactory idea of Euryanthe after the miracle of remastering.
I had the misfortune to listen to an older recording where it was almost impossible to listen to the orchestra, which cracked in louder passages, and the singers’ voices were often distorted. This problem is happily resolved now (but some passages still has not a perfectly crystalline sound) and finally I had the possibility to listen to Euryanthe without worrying about noise – and to discover that the orchestra is not a troublesome monster, but depicts some nice, graceful moments, as the overture or the introduction to Euryanthe’s entry, and plays with transport under the direction of Fritz Stiedry.
This time it would be difficult to say that Joan Sutherland stands out as usual, both because she was still at the beginning of her glorious career and because her colleagues are fine too. She is remarkable, if not for her German, for her fluid, easy phrasing and her breath control. Her first aria, Glöcklein im Tale, is a quiet and gentle entry, different from the virtuosic, pyrotechnic ones to which she accustomed us in the course of her career, but it is anyway a precious moment, where Sutherland is amiable and sweet as it will be difficult to find elsewhere (maybe only in some moments of I Puritani). In the third act there she has also the opportunity to show her dramatic talent in the desperate Zu ihm, zu ihm!
As for the other singers, I have virtually nothing to complain. Frans Vroons as Adolar has a beautiful, warm and pure voice and his technique is solid. As interpreter, he is not devoid of temperament and the result of all these qualities is that his arias are lyrical, inspiring moments. Listen for example to Unter blüh’nden Mandelbäumen and Wehen mir Lufte Ruh’, which are enchanting in their simplicity. Vroons’s musical antagonist, Otakar Kraus, portrays Lysiart with no less art and makes him an interesting evil character, as he demonstrates in So Weih’ Ich Mich Den Rachgewalten, his aria in the second act. Kurt Böhme as König Ludwig VI distinguishes himself for the dark timbre of his voice and the majestic authority of his interpretation, while Marianne Schech as Eglantine is generally good even if her voice is shrill.