ALOIS BRÖDER (b.1961): The Wives of the Dead.
Catalogue Number: 07U069
Description: Hawthorne's "The Wives of the Dead" is famous in nineteenth-century literature for its psychological experimentation, far ahead of its time. It tells the story of two sisters, who receive word of their husbands' deaths. The are grief-stricken try to offer one another consolation, then fall asleep, but not at the same time. Each is visited by a messenger - a neighbour in one case, a former suitor in the other - bearing the news that their husband survived. Each thus believes that they have been spared the wrenching bereavement suffered by her sleeping sister. The masterly end of the story leaves unresolved the question of which sister awakes in the final sentence; if one, then the events were real, if the other, then they were dream. In a preface, Hawthorne sets up layers of unspoken complexity, sexual and psychological tension, which he leaves to the reader to come up with for themselves. What Bröder has done with this gift to the world of operatic character development and symbolism, is to compose two versions of the 'same' opera; one the 'naïve', "love conquers all" interpretation, in which the events are real, and the other, the 'symbolic' telling, with the tragedy real but the wish-fulfilling events have the vivid reality of waking dreams, with the insights they offer into the psyche of the dreamer. But the versions are inextricably linked, and should not be favoured one over the other, because after all, dream reality is as good as real reality while it is being experienced; and both get equally good music in the opera, with multiple overlapping motifs, thematic, intervallic and timbral. Bröder's idiom is approachable, drawing on multiple influences, but much of the time based in a kind of late romantic chromaticism. There are many highly effective musical coups de théâtre; obsessive pulsation over long-held chords (naturally, in different presentations); memorable motifs that take on entirely different characters depending on context or instrumentation, and many more. A highly effective work both as music-drama and psychodrama. 2 CDs. English libretto. Marisca Mulder (soprano), Mireille Lebel (mezzo), Marwan Shamiyeh (tenor), Florian Götz (baritone), Erfurt Theatre Opera Chorus, Erfurt Philharmonic Orchestra; Johannes Pell.