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Der ferne Klang

The Distant Sound

Franz Schreker 1878-1934

Opera in three acts
Libretto by the composer
First performed August 18 1912, Opera House, Frankfurt am Main

Sung in German with German and English surtitles. ca. 2hrs 45mins, including one interval
Introduction, in German, in the Holzfoyer half an hour before performances begin

Is it the journey itself we are searching for? The search for the blue flower, the symbol of romanticism, was a dream of eternal wandering to a goal beyond the horizon. Fulfilment cannot be found in the outside world, or art, but only in the soul. The search for the distant, metaphysical sound in Franz Schreker's first evening-long opera was the musical pendant for such constant longing. It is only at the end, marked by death, as distant bells begin to ring, that the lead figure in the work, the composer Fritz, believes he can hear the sound that, until now, had always eluded him - within him. This is also the moment when Eros is granted a last embrace and artistic redemption. »Can you hear the sound?/ It never leaves me / I'll hold on to it tightly, / and will never leave you.«

Michael Gielen, former music director at Oper Frankfurt, triggered off a Schreker renaissance in 1979. Schreker's deeply psychological motivated portrayal of research into aesthetic authenticity in the spirit of music goes hand in hand with a tragedy influenced by naturalism, trashy literature, and a disillusional drama of a female victim. »Virgin Margareta«, who is deserted by Fritz, searching for inspiration in art, and gambled away by her father, transforms herself into Greta, a high class prostitute who ends up as a whore on the streets. When the curtain falls, she is alone.

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