OP2895. DIE OPERNPROBE (Lortzing), Live Performance, 8 Oct., 1953, w.Kurt Richter Cond. Wiener Rundfunk Ensemble; Dorothea Siebert, Rudolf Christ, Leo Heppe, Edith Kermer, etc. (E.U.) Myto 00333. - 0801439903333
“The sunnier side of German opera in the first half of the 19th century is ripe for exploration. Poised somewhere between DER SCHAUSPIELDIREKTOR and Strauss’ CAPRICCIO, in Lortzing’s DIE OPERNPROBE (1851) you discover Mozart’s Susanna rehearsing a pocket opera company of fellow domestics when a tenor Don Giovanni and baritone Leporello turn up to audition. This is a weightier score than ABU HASSAN, but is packed with exquisite parodies of operatic pretension.”
- Patrick Carnegy
“Lortzing was born in Berlin to a family of itinerant actors, founding the Berlin theatre company Urania, and turning their amateur passion into a profession. The young Lortzing's first stage appearance was at the age of 12, entertaining the audience with comic poems during the interval in the Kornhaus at the Freiburg Münster. From 1817, the Lortzing family were part of Josef Derossi ensemble in the Rhineland, treading the boards at Bonn, Düsseldorf, Barmen and Aachen. Albert Lortzing became an audience favourite, playing the roles of a youthful lover, a country boy and bon vivant, sometimes also singing in small tenor or baritone parts.
He married an actress, Rosina Regine Ahles with whom he subsequently had 11 children. The couple belonged to the Hoftheater in Detmold from late 1826, which toured to Münster and Osnabrück. Lortzing joined the Freemasons, a popular refuge for artists in Metternich's police state. Lortzing composed an oratorio in Detmold, DIE HIMMELFAHRT CHRISTI (Christ's Ascension), which premiered in Münster.
Lortzing composed the music for Christian Dietrich Grabbe's DON JUAN UND FAUST, playing the role of Don Juan himself, with his wife as Donna Anna. Lortzing received a glowing report from an anonymous reviewer in a Frankfurt paper.
On 3 November, 1833, the young Lortzings gave their début at the Leipziger Stadttheater. Lortzing's parents had been members of this ensemble since 1832, under Friedrich Sebald Ringelhardt. Lortzing was much loved in the Leipzig ensemble, particularly when acting in Johann Nestroy's comedies. His first comic opera, ZAR UND ZIMMERMANN, had a tough time with the Leipzig censors.
In 1844, Lortzing became Kapellmeister of the Leipzig Stadttheater. After a quarrel with management, he was dismissed in April 1845 due to his ‘rheumatic troubles’. The repeated protests of the public got him reinstated, but he was soon dismissed again after another argument. In an open letter, signed by almost everyone in the ensemble, he made a plea against the measures taken by the city government.
Between 1846 and 1848, Lortzing worked as Kapellmeister at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna. At the behest of the Freedom Movement, he wrote text and music in 1848 for his political opera REGINA, named after his wife. This work concerned both labour struggles and fear of suicide. His last full-length opera was an 1849 fairy-tale satire of the Prussian military state called ROLANDS KNAPPEN (Roland's Squire). In 1848 he lost his appointment and had to return to work as a touring actor to support his large family. He worked at Gera and Lüneburg, among other cities. Finally in 1850, he became the Kapellmeister in Berlin at the newly opened Friedrich-Wilhelmstädtisches Theater. On 20 Jan., 1851, the night he was to attend the premiere of his musical comedy DIE OPERNPROBE, Lortzing suffered a stroke and died without medical treatment on the morning of the following day, under huge stress and deeply in debt. A number of luminaries from the musical world were present at his funeral, including Giacomo Meyerbeer, Heinrich Dorn, Wilhelm Taubert and Carl Friedrich Rungenhagen. Lortzing's theatrical colleagues decorated his coffin with black, red and gold, a combination forbidden after 1848. A public benefit was then later held for his already impoverished family.”
- Loyal Bluto