Tiefland

Eugen d’Albert is largely forgotten as a composer but his seventh (of twenty) opera, Tiefland, is still performed occasionally in German speaking countries.  It’s an odd work.  The plot is melodramatic with a cloying degree of sentimentality; sort of Mascagni meets Gounod, while the music is like pastoral Wagner (think the way the woodwinds are used in Tristan) with touches of Carmen and, just occasionally, hints of Sullivan (one of d’Albert’s teachers).  For a 1903 work it feels curiously retro.

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But is it art?

Wagner’s Tannhäuser is the earliest of the canonical works.  In some ways it’s very Wagnerian.  It has screwed up theology with a heavy dose of misogyny and some recognisably Wagnerian music.  On the other hand it is structured more like a French grand opera and some of the music definitely has more than a hint of Meyerbeer to it.The basic plot is that of the hero seduced into sin by the pagan love goddess Venus and then redeemed by the love (and death) of the chaste virgin Elisabeth.

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