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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Lehar: Die Gottergatte

08/20/2017 1:00 pm
08/20/2017 4:30 pm


Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

The second half of the nineteenth century was the "Golden Age" of Viennese-style operetta. That was when Franz von Suppe, "The Waltz King" Johann Strauss, and Carl Millocker delighted the public with tuneful, lighthearted, lyric stageworks. There followed a Silver Age of operetta, an age that cultivated a nostalgia for the Austro-Hungarian imperial past. The leading composer of that Silver Age was undoubtedly the Hungarian Franz Lehar (1870-1948).

Der Gottergatte ("The God-Husband, or "Lord and Master," 1904) was Lehar's third operetta, coming just before the enormous success of "The Merry Widow." Lehar would write many more in his long career, and these works became progressively more nostalgic and less comic. The last of them have sad endings. This early one, however, has some of the satirical qualities of Offenbach's famous "Orpheus in the Underworld." In Lehar's operetta, "The Lord and Master", i.e. Jupiter, is implicated in an adulterous scandal among the ancient Greek gods of Olympus.

I treat you this Sunday afternoon to an historic recording of Der Gottergatte, made in March, 1945 in Vienna, as broadcast in studio production over Nazi Reichssender radio, just before World War II ended in Europe. Max Schönherr directed the Vienna Radio Orchestra and Chorus. One of the six vocal soloists is tenor Anton Dermota. The airtape in monaural sound of the live radio broadcast was digitally reprocessed for release through the German CPO record label in 2012 on two compact discs.