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Die tote Stadt (Part 1) - James King and Karan Armstrong

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Published on Jan 25, 2010

Erich Wolfgang Korngold's once phenomenally successful opera "Die tote Stadt", first performed simultaneously in the German cities of Hamburg and Cologne in 1920 when the composer was only 23 years old, is vividly brought to life in this superior German TV production, which was produced in 1983 by the Deutsche Oper Berlin opera company and was partly responsible for the gradual rehabilitation of this three-act opera in the European repertoire in recent times.

Freely adapted from Georges Rodenbach's 1892 novel "Bruges-la-Morte" by Erich and his father Julius (under the pen name "Paul Schott"), the story of "Die tote Stadt" is simple: Paul (played by the late tenor James King, born in Kansas), mourning over the loss of his beautiful blonde wife Marie in the Belgian city of Bruges, is ecstatic to encounter her exact double one day, the flirtatious opera dancer Marietta (played by soprano Karan Armstrong, born in Montana). After he invites Marietta to his home to sing and dance for him, she is surprised to find a giant portrait of Marie upstairs. After Marietta leaves to attend her rehearsal, Paul, torn by his loyalty to the deceased Marie and his longing for the living Marietta, imagines his brief, doomed romance with Marietta that will bloom and wither in the weeks to come. Most of the opera takes place as a fantasy in Paul's troubled mind, from the ghost of Marie (also played by Armstrong) appearing to Paul to encourage him to go out into life to a demonic church procession invading Paul's home the morning after Marietta has seduced Paul.

Despite the lack of English subtitles, this television production is directed by an Englishman, Brian Large. What you are viewing now is the beginning of Act I.

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