OP2446. FRIEDENSTAG (Strauss), Live Performance, 13 Aug., 1960, München, w.Keilberth Cond. Bayerischen Staatsoper Ensemble; Hildegard Hillebrecht, Josef Metternich, Lorenz Fehenberger, Richard Holm, Kurt Böhme, etc. (E.U.) 2-Walhall 0357. - 4035122653571
“FRIEDENSTAG (Peace Day) is an opera in one act by Richard Strauss, his Opus 81, to a German libretto by Joseph Gregor. Strauss had hoped to work again with Stefan Zweig on a new project after their previous collaboration of DIE SCHWEIGSAME FRAU, but the Nazi authorities had harassed Strauss over his collaboration with Zweig, who was of Jewish ancestry. While the idea for the story was from Zweig, he then suggested Gregor as a ‘safe’ collaborator for the actual writing of the libretto. Zweig's influence on the work nonetheless remained in its ‘form and dramatic substance.
The opera was premièred at Munich on 24 July, 1938 and dedicated to Viorica Ursuleac and her husband Clemens Krauss, the lead and conductor respectively. Strauss had intended FRIEDENSTAG as part of a double-bill, to be conducted by Karl Böhm in Dresden, that would include as the second part his next collaboration with Gregor, DAPHNE.
Joseph Keilberth was a German conductor active during the mid-twentieth century. His talents developed early: he pursued a general education and musical training in Karlsruhe, and at the age of seventeen joined the Karlsruhe State Theater as a répétiteur (vocal coach - a common starting place for European conductors). He remained with the theater and ten years later he was appointed general music director
He remained there until 1940, when he was appointed chief conductor of the German Philharmonic Orchestra of Prague. He became chief conductor of the Dresden State Opera in 1945. With a minimum of disruption for deNazification he remained in that position until 1950. In 1949 he became chief conductor of the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, which was in fact a reunion. After the War, the German population of the Sudetenland (the German-speaking part of Czechoslovakia), which had been the excuse for Hitler's occupation of the country, were returned to Germany, and with them went the German Philharmonic of Prague, Keilberth's old orchestra, which settled in Bamberg. Causing unwary biographers some confusion, he also became the chief conductor of the Hamburg Philharmonic in 1950.
He frequently appeared as a guest conductor elsewhere in Germany, notably with the Berlin Philharmonic and, beginning in 1952, the Bayreuth Festival, and appeared regularly at the Salzburg and Lucerne festivals. In 1952 he also led his first performance in the Edinburgh Festival with the Hamburg State Opera.
He was a favored conductor for the RING and other operas through 1956. In 1959 he succeeded Ferenc Fricay at the helm of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. There, history repeated itself. Keilberth died after collapsing during a performance of Wagner's TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, just as Felix Mottl—conductor at the same theater - had done in 1911.
Keilberth was very strong in Mozart and in the Wagnerian repertory, and in later German classics such as Pfitzner, Bruckner, Richard Strauss, Max Reger, and Paul Hindemith. His classic recordings included Hindemith's opera CARDILLAC.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com
“From 1940 until his retirement in 1971, [Metternich] was one of the leading German baritones, singing in most of the major opera houses around the world….His was a massive voice of dark power, not rich and smooth, but with an intensity and grittiness that added much to his characterizations.”
- Charles H. Parsons, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Nov./Dec., 2008
"Metternich’s rich, dark voice, extraordinary breath control, and fine musicianship was coupled with an incisiveness of text projection and a sensitivity of characterization in an outpouring of luxurious sound….In an era when German baritones were expected to sing only German opera, Joseph Metternich made an international career…specializing in the dramatic baritone roles of Italian opera."
- Charles H. Parsons, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, May/June, 2006