Schubert: Der häusliche Krieg (Die Verschworenen)

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WORKS: Der häusliche Krieg (Die Verschworenen)
PERFORMER: Peter Lika, Soile Isokoski, Lisa Larsson, Anke Hoffmann, Mechthild Georg, Rodrigo Orrego; Chorus Musicus, Das Neue Orchester/Christoph Spering
CATALOGUE NO: 111 OPS 30-167
Schubert’s operas have received a bad press over the years, as much on account of their theatrical shortcomings as any lack of musical quality. It’s true, Schubert’s talents were essentially lyrical rather than dramatic; but when given a good libretto, such as Ignaz Franz Castelli’s for the 1823 Singspiel Der häusliche Krieg, he was quite capable of producing a viable work. The ‘Domestic Warfare’ of the title refers to a medieval battle of the sexes – knights whose wives withdraw conjugal favours to stop them going off on crusades – and this delightfully daft plot is spiced up with a few minor characters (see Recording Report for the full story). Soile Isokoski and Peter Lika as the Countess who leads the women’s rebellion and her equally scheming husband are the only ‘international class’ singers in the cast (though the latter’s Brian Blessed-style Count is somewhat over-the-top). The other roles are attractively sung by more modest voices, and Christoph Spering’s lively direction of his capable orchestra seems entirely in keeping with the unpretentious spirit of the piece. This work is unlikely to grace the stage of Covent Garden or the Met, but it would be good to see somebody try a staging in Schubert’s bicentenary year. Stephen Maddock