Franz Schreker’s The Distant Sound, though familiar in Europe, has never yet – in the century since its composition – been fully staged in North America. With lush, sumptuous music, Schreker’s opera explores the complexities of love, eroticism, and art-for-art’s-sake idealism. It tells the tragic story of Fritz, a composer who forsakes Grete, his beloved, for the sound that is a distant echo of her presence. But the opera is only partly about Fritz and the elusive ideal that shimmers, mirage-like, beyond his grasp. It is also about how Grete, the composer’s beloved, is exploited by the society she lives in, and how she survives by retreating into her dreams.
Schreker’s masterful melding of disparate dramatic devices and psychological and cultural forces, along with the beauty and brilliance of his score, makes The Distant Sound one of the most moving and groundbreaking works of 20th-century opera.
The opera’s four performances (July 30, August 1, 4, & 6) feature the festival’s resident American Symphony Orchestra under music director Leon Botstein, who gives a free Opera Talk before the August 1 performance. The Distant Sound’s four performances will be sung in Schreker’s original German with English supertitles. For tickets, call the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900 or visit www.fishercenter.bard.edu.
Reviving an important but neglected opera is one of the ways the Bard SummerScape festival paints a faithfully nuanced portrait of each past age, and this year’s exploration of “Berg and His World” is no exception. To enrich its evocation of Viennese modernism, Bard The Distant Sound (Der ferne Klang, 1910), by Berg’s compatriot Schreker, in its centenary year.
Thaddeus Strassberger, director of last season’s lavishly praised Huguenots presentation and winner of the 2005 European Opera Directing Prize, returns to direct, with set designs by Narelle Sissons, whose credits include Babes in Toyland at Lincoln Center (2008), and costume design by Mattie Ullrich, who created the costumes for SummerScape’s productions of The Sorcerer (2007) and Les Huguenots (2009). Tenor Mathias Schulz stars as Fritz, and soprano Yamina Maamar plays Grete, in which role the New York Times described her performance as a “triumph.”
For tickets and further information on all SummerScape events, call the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900 or visit www.fishercenter.bard.edu.