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Verlobung im traum (Betrothal in a dream) (by the Washington Opera).

THE MAIN EVENT OF THE MID-WINTER SEASON was the North American premiere of Verlobung im Traum (Betrothal in a Dream), the only full-length adult opera by Czech-German composer Hans Krasa (1899-1944). The work premiered in Prague in 1933 under the baton of George Szell, and enjoyed considerable success there and in other Central European houses before 1939, when the composer was sent to Terezin and thence to the Auschwitz gas chambers. Krasa and his Verlobung dropped through the cracks of musical history until, in this case, the work was rediscovered and rescued by Israel Yinon, who conducted this production, borrowed from Mannheim and Prague where it was revived in 1994.

As Verlobung bears eloquent witness, Krasa was well on his way to developing his own eclectic style, with elements derived from Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Bartok and such Czech masters as Janacek, when his career was tragically ended. As a result, his opera, based on a short story of Dostoevsky's, is a journeyman's novel rather than a masterwork, but one that deserves rescue and revival from time to time. For all its origins and influences, it is surprisingly accessible and lyrical.

Two of the principals, soprano Brigitte Hahn (Zina) and baritone Peter Parsch (Prince), were making their North American debuts, having created the roles in Mannheim, while two others, mezzo-soprano Mildred Tyree (Marya) and tenor John Wolverton (Paul), had their local debuts. Although there is really nothing with which to compare the production and performance of this intriguing but totally unfamiliar work, it would be hard to imagine a better one than the cast, conductor, orchestra and chorus, director (Carl Drgac) and designer (Rainer Sinell) gave Washington.
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Author:Carl Dolmetsch
Publication:Opera Canada
Date:Jun 22, 1996
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Verlobung im traum (Betrothal in a Dream).

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