Marschner: Der Vampyr
LABELS: Warner Fonit
WORKS: Der Vampyr
PERFORMER: Siegmund Nimsgern, Carole Farley, Josef Protschka, Oslavio Di Credico, Wolfgang Lenz, Martin Egel, Galina Pisarenko; RAI Rome SO & Chorus/Günter Neuhold
CATALOGUE NO: 8573-84436-2
Heinrich Marschner (1795-1861) is usually considered the link between Weber and Wagner in German opera. Though he lacked the genius of either, his was a considerable talent, well deployed in his Gothic high dramatics of The Vampire (1828), heard here in a 1980 Italian radio recording of the standard edition of the work by Hans Pfitzner.
The plot (set in 18th-century Scotland) tells of dark deeds undertaken by aristocrat-cum-vampire Lord Ruthven, who to extend his lifespan on earth has to find three more victims of his blood-lust before midnight. He doesn’t quite succeed, but there are some thrilling episodes on the way dramatised by Marschner with many good musical ideas, though he’s inclined to overdo the chromatics and the shrieks on the piccolo.
The best constituents in this live performance are Siegmund Nimsgern’s vigorous villainy as Lord Ruthven and Josef Protschka’s graceful ineffectuality as Edgar Aubry, who knows what he is up to but has foolishly sworn an oath not to reveal it. The shrill and uncertain singing of two of Ruthven’s potential victims might seem to deserve biting on the neck at the very least, but Anastasia Tomaszewska Schepis’s sweet-toned Emmy should have been rewarded with a better fate. Libretto in German and Italian only. George Hall