LABELS: Marco Polo
WORKS: Peter Schmoll und seine Nachbarn
PERFORMER: Rupert Busching, Johannes Schmidt, Anneli Pfeffer, Sibrand BasaHagen PO/Gerhard Markson
CATALOGUE NO: 8.223592/93 DDD
Too obscure even to merit an entry in the excellent and comprehensive Viking Opera Guide, Weber’s third work for the stage was written when he was 15 and has seldom been heard since its poorly received premiere in 1803. But now the German city of Hagen has sought to rectify this neglect by sponsoring a recording.
Although this light romantic comedy for six singers is evidently juvenilia, it is not without merit and contains some music – particularly its overture – which, though heavily Mozartian, is original and attractive. Essentially frivolous in style and content there is, however, little to suggest that its composer would go on to write a Romantic masterpiece like Der Freischütz.
This performance by a young(ish) cast is bright and well sung, if not especially memorable. Anneli Pfeffer’s soubrette heroine, Minette, is beautifully realised: radiant and charming in the opera’s only female role; and Sibrand Basa, as her woefully clichéd lover, sings with warmth. But, though the musicianship overall is impressive, the acting in the extensive passages of spoken dialogue (the opera takes the form of a Singspiel) is tedious and wooden.
An engaging stab at rehabilitation, but I doubt it will secure Peter Schmoll a place in the repertory. Claire Wrathall