OP1755. HANS HEILING (Marschner), Broadcast Performances, 1951, w.Zillig Cond. Hessischen Rundfunks Ensemble; Erna Schlüter, Rudolf Gonszar, Hanna Clauss, Cornelius van Dyk, etc. (E.U.) 2–Myto 00172. - 8014399501729
“Although Heinrich Marschner’s work has been generally neglected in the 20th century, Marschner was a leading figure in German Opera in the period between Weber and Wagner, and wrote twenty-three operas and singspiels. He was born in Zittau, in 1795, and although studied law at the University of Leipzig, spent a considerable time developing his love of music. A meeting with a Hungarian nobleman, Count Thaddaeus Amadée de Varkony, led to an attempt to induce Beethoven to accept Marschner as a pupil, in 1815. In Dresden, Marschner was appointed Weber's assistant in 1823, although he had hoped to offer the position to his friend Johann Gänsbacher, to whom he was under some obligation. Relations between Weber and Marschner were never smooth, and the latter seemed to resent the obvious musical and dramatic influence that Weber perceptibly had on his own work. In 1824 Marschner became director of the German and the Italian opera in Dresden, undertaking, as he complained, most of the duties of Weber and of Morlacchi, the superintendent of the Italian opera.
In 1827 Marschner returned to Leipzig, where his opera DER VAMPYR, a subject of topical interest, won success. This was the first collaboration with his brother-in-law, Wilhelm August Wohlbrück, which was to continue through many of Marschner's most successful theatre works. DER VAMPYR was followed by an opera derived from Sir Walter Scott's IVANHOE - DER TEMPLER UND DIE JÜDIN.
In 1833 Marschner achieved his greatest success with the opera HANS HEILING, a work that established him as the leading proponent of German romantic opera. Subsequent dramatic works met varied reception, although his achievement was widely recognized. HANS HEILING follows the example of Weber's DER FREISCHÜTZ, but in form exercised a strong influence on Wagner. In harmonic language Marschner was adventurous, and in HANS HEILING he provided a new rôle for the operatic baritone, as demon-king. The work has a clear influence on Wagner's DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER both in narrative and in certain elements of detail.
It is a most ingeniously structured opera: for example, the work begins with a chorus of underground sprites mining and smithing gold. After the premise is revealed, that Heiling is to seek his bride in the upper-world, instead of the scene changing to that place, the curtain descends, and we hear the Ouverture. Perhaps it is simply the exigencies of the stage that two large sets needed to be hauled in and out, and an overture was the only way to keep the story going without a break in the act, but it is a coup de théâtre that comes across as very modern. Other innovations include a bravura scene in a storm that uses a solo contrabass to create a spine-tingling effect. To this day, HANS HEILING remains Marschner's most accessible work, even though DER VAMPYR has made it to television, and is one of those operas that dramaturges feel free license to update ad libitum.
Marschner died in Hanover in 1861, having written 23 works for the musical theater, and many lieder, some accompanied by orchestra, piano, or guitar. His work has a freshness to it, and his harmonic palette is unequalled in his contemporaries. He is not one to languish in moods or ask for prolonged contemplation of atmospherics. He is decisive and always approachable: his music is a tonic to the heavier Germanic composers; perhaps the most applicable parallel is Wagner's DIE MEISTERSINGER with its blend of humor and stolid seriousness in its presence.”
- Zillah Dorset Akron