PERFORMER: Walter Berry, Eva Marton, Siegfried Jerusalem; Bavarian Radio Chorus; Munich Radio Orchestra/Marek Janowski
CATALOGUE NO: 88697576502
At last, a Korngold opera I can truly rave about. Perhaps because it’s a one-acter, which means the hyper-sensuous late-Romantic style doesn’t outstay its welcome; also because it’s probably the best opera ever written by a teenager and the rich fare isn’t reheated like it is in the often appalling Das Wunder der Heliane.
Eva Marton is the Venetian lady seeking revenge for the sister who committed suicide after seduction by the lead tenor (surprise, surprise, she falls in love with her would-be victim). What strength and beauty she had in 1980! Siegfried Jerusalem, too, was on peak form, even if the high-lying writing sometimes proves a step too far, and the final love-death duet is properly caressing. Walter Berry as the commander-husband oozes his usual authority in an especially striking duet, and another veteran, Ruth Hesse, has her moment as Violanta’s soothing nurse.
The sound isn’t perfect – voices could do with more forward bloom – but all the glitter and occasional strangeness of the lush score comes across under Janowski’s impeccably paced direction. David Nice