Renée Fleming sings Marietta’s Lied from the opera Die tote Stadt
(Marietta’s Song from the opera The Dead City)
This video embodies one of my favourite opera arias sung by one of my favourite opera singers. The aria is Marietta’s Lied from the opera Die tote Stadt by the composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897 – 1957) and this rendition is performed by reigning American diva Renée Fleming. Korngold was born in Brünn (Austria-Hungary, now the Czech Republic). Korngold was only 23 when he composed Die tote Stadt, which became an international success in 1920. This represents the high point of his fame as a composer of opera and concert music. All that changed with events leading up to World War II. Fortunately, the Jewish composer was in the United States composing the film score for The Adventures of Robin Hood when life became perilous for Jewish people in Europe. He is quoted as saying the film score of The Adventures of Robin Hood saved his life. Korngold’s Robin Hood won an Academy Award for Best Original Score. He never returned to Austria and became an American citizen in 1943.
Korngold’s concert and opera music, which had been banned by the Nazi’s, slipped into obscurity when he came to the States and then his film music faded away after his death in 1957. In the 1970’s musicians and conductors started rediscovering and recording his works. His richly textured and highly romantic music was considered out of vogue when he died but has steadily gained popularity since those initial LP releases in the 70’s. In 1975, Die tote Stadt was revived to capacity houses in New York.
If you like Richard Strauss’ opera music, you’ll likely love Korngold’s opera Die tote Stadt (The Dead City). The most likely reason for this opera being neglected is the extreme difficulty of the two lead roles. Both the soprano and tenor parts hang out in the upper parts of the voice for a long time (called a high tessitura), making them very taxing to perform and impossible for some singers. The famous American Soprano Renée Fleming shines in this performance of one of the two most famous arias from this opera – Glück das mir verblieb (My happiness that remained), more commonly known as Marietta’s Lied (Marietta’s Song). The song is about the joy of love but is bittersweet and sad because its theme is about the transitoriness of life. The other famous aria is for baritone and it’s called “Mein sehnen, mein wähnen”. You can find it on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fV8F3mf4S8
On September 16, 2009, the Amicus Music Duo will be performing a piano and clarinet arrangement of Marietta’s Lied as part of their “Songs from the Heart” concert.