Der Graf von Luxemburg
Daniel Behle, Camilla Nylund, Louise Alder, Simon Bode, Sebastian Geyer, Margit Neubauer, Ludwig Mittelhammer, Ingyu Hwang; Frankfurter Opern- und Museumsorchester; Chor der Oper Frankfurt/Eun Sun Kim
Oehms Classics 968
With a handful of exceptions, the operetta repertoire is eschewed by the bigger UK companies. This new recording of Lehár’s The Count of Luxembourg – which debuted in Vienna in 1909, but is heard here in the composer’s second version (1937) – derives from live performances at the Frankfurt Opera (2015-16).
Though the piece may lack the perfection of the slightly earlier Merry Widow (1905) – the composer’s passport to immortality – it is musically sophisticated and carefully wrought, with some imaginative touches in the harmony and orchestration that will appeal to the connoisseur. As usual with Lehár, and despite the Parisian setting, there is a definite Slavic melancholy underlying the melodies, plus a divine waltz of ineffable bittersweet sadness.
In this recording the dialogue is left out. The booklet note sounds a warning, with its somewhat judgmental attitude to the operetta form and a reluctance to simply enjoy its real (if escapist) delights. There’s also something clinical about Eun Sun Kim’s conducting, while equally much of the singing maintains a distance from the charm the piece can and should have.
In the title-role of the impecunious Count who marries an unknown woman to give her a title (obviously the two subsequently fall in love), Daniel Behle’s soaring tenor fulfils requirements though lacks theatrical personality in the Richard Tauber mould. Wagner and Strauss soprano Camilla Nylund sounds a bit blowsy as his wife Angèle, but Louise Alder makes an entrancing Juliette, while Sebastian Geyer understands the comic possibilities of Prince Basil Basilowitsch.