Joseph Keilberth

Hermann Goetz: Der Widerspenstigen Zähmung

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German composer Hermann Goetz (1840-1876) completed his only opera, based on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, in 1872. The opera was popular in its time, but since the beginning of the twentieth century it has received few productions. It continues the tradition of light German operas of the mid-nineteenth century, particularly those of Otto Nicolai and Peter Cornelius, but it's also very strongly indebted to Die Meistersinger. The music, like that of Die Meistersinger, is only occasionally funny in and of itself, and the comedy is dependent on the wit of the text and the humor of the dramatic situations. Goetz's music is attractive and melodically inventive, and he had an obvious gift for writing for the stage. The subject matter of the play -- breaking the spirit of an independent-minded woman in the name of romance -- makes it a hard sell for modern audiences and probably accounts at least in part for the opera's obscurity. This 1955 performance, led by Joseph Keilberth, makes a good case for the music. The singers are obviously committed to the work; their vivid characterizations bring out the opera's humor and their voices are consistently first-rate. Baritone Marcel Cordes as Petruccio, soprano Annelies Kupper as Katherine, bass Waldemar Kmentt as Lucentio, and tenor Benno Kusche as Hortensio are particularly effective. The sound of the mono recording has been cleaned up remarkably well, with good resonance and virtually no extraneous noise. The piece should be of interest to opera lovers who want to discover what, besides Wagner, was going on operatically in Germany in the second half of the nineteenth century.

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