Schubert’s Fidelio – Die Freunde von Salamanka

Schubert’s FidelioDie Freund von Salamanka D326, 1815. Schubert was only eighteen when it was written, yet already it was his seventh known work for stage. Although the spoken dialogues have long gone missing, the  nature of the piec eis clear from the start.  he overture is rousing with a distinctive, bold phrase which suggests adventure . “Die Sonne zieht in goldnen Strahlen, z ieht in Majestät einher.” , the three friends, Alfonso, Diego and Fidelio sing.

Olivia, Eusebia, and Laura need rescuing from the wicked Count Tormes. Eventually Fidelio leads the rebellion, wins the girl, and his friends their girls too,  and everyon’es happy,  Jolly songs, with images of grapes and drinking.  nice ensembles for male, female and mixed voices. No attempt at local “Spanish” colour. We could just as well be in Vienna. The picture at right, dxrawn by Moritz von Schwind,  shows Schubert with Franz Lachner asnd Ernsy von Bauernfeld, making merry in a Weinstube,

Schubert  knew Beeyhoven’s Fidelio well, but the connections are minimal. The images of sunshine, freedom and joy, and the chorus “Fidelio! Fidelio!” aren’t conscious borrowings : no political undercurrents here, though some in Schubert’s circle were radical. At least one was exiled , his career ended.  The teenage Schubert keeps his nose clean. The libretto was by Johann Baptist Mayrhofer, with whom Schubert was later to fall out. No trace of  morbid tragedy here, though. if the plot is familiar, it’s a meme of the Romantic fascination with medieval and “southern climes”. Later, Weber based his Die Drei Pintos on a similar threesome, and even later,  Hugo Wolf his Die Corregidor.

 Die Frennde von Salamanka us delightful, merry and jolly, full of delicious numbers, mostly part songs rather than solo arias. Some nic e “alpine” figures, too. Not much of Spanish Salamanca, here.   it’s not specially obscure, though the best recording of all is so good that it pouts all elsxe into the shade. onsider the soloists – Edith Mathis, Thomas Moser, Eberhard Buchner, Robert Orth and a very young Robert Holl. Theodor Guschlbauer, conducted the orchestra and chorus of Austrian Radio. Although the music isn’t difficult, exceptionally good performances like these make a huge difference.

Original Source: Schubert’s Fidelio – Die Freunde von Salamanka

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