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Felix Weingartner is generally remembered as a conductor, most famously of the Vienna Philharmonic, but he viewed himself almost more importantly as a composer. Between his day job and five marriages he managed to find the time to produce quite a body of work. Die Dorfschule (The Village School), premiered in Vienna in 1920, is a one- act opera based on a scene from a famous 18th century Kabuki play. It is a short piece at just over forty minutes, and it never gets going: the story is slight – a pupil is to be sacrificed as part of some political skulduggery but the guilty party substitutes his own son in atonement. The cast is large but the opera is so fleeting that there’s no time to establish character. The late Romantic music is polished, yet Weingartner seemingly absorbed more influences than he had ideas – there are echoes of Zemlinksy, Strauss, Korngold and inevitably Wagner. Jacques Lacombe conducts this live concert performance from the Deutsche Oper Berlin (2012) and certainly conveys the surface glamour of the music. The singers are all good, but nobody really has the chance to stand out. Perhaps an enterprising director could make more of an impact with the opera if ever staged, but it seems unlikely that we will ever find out.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Opera Now, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing