Sebastian Weigle

Wagner: Das Liebesverbot

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Most fans of the music of Richard Wagner have heard of his early comic opera, Das Liebesverbot, but because it isn't one of the great music dramas enshrined in annual performances at Bayreuth, comparatively few have actually heard it. There have been occasional recordings of radio performances on budget labels and some imports that have come and gone, but because this work has been discounted as a lightweight opera of little value, a view shared by its composer later in life, it is seldom given a high-quality production. That situation seems to have changed with this Oehms Classics recording by the Frankfurt Opera, under the direction of Sebastian Weigle, which was released in the Wagner bicentennial year. Composed of recitatives, arias, duets, and ensemble numbers, Das Liebesverbot resembles the traditional Italian operatic model, though musically it is quite close to the style of Carl Maria von Weber. It is treated here with a light touch that makes it quite appealing. In this live concert performance, the orchestra plays with vitality and bright colors, and the cast and chorus are quite lively and humorous. Oehms' provides exceptional sound for this three-CD set, though with all the attention given to detail and the effort to give Das Liebesverbot its due, one wonders why it wasn't released in the hybrid SACD format, which would have made it a special treat. All self-respecting Wagnerians should hear this recording at least once, because it goes a long way to rehabilitating this precursor to Wagner's masterpieces.

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