›The Wreckers‹ (Les Naufrageurs) – Opera in three acts (Concert performance. German premiere of the French language version)
- Philip Horst – bass baritone (Pascoe)
- Karis Tucker – Mezzo-soprano (Thirza)
- Daniel Scofield – Baritone (Lawrence)
- Rodrigo Porras Garulo – Tenor (Mark)
- Lauren Fagan – Soprano (Avis)
- Donovan Singletary – bass baritone (Harvey)
- Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts – Tenor (Tallan)
- Marta Fontanals-Simmons – Mezzo-soprano (Jack)
- Holger Marks-Simonis – Sprechrolle
- Axel Scheidig – Sprechrolle
Ines Kaun – Chorus Master
Aidan Oliver – Chorus Master
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Symposium ‘The Opera Composer Ethel Smyth’
On the afternoon before the concert, a German language symposium will be held from 2 to 6 pm in the Curt Sachs Hall at the Musical Instrument Museum:
‘The opera composer Ethel Smyth between Germany and England’
Symposium with lectures by Prof. Dr. Rebecca Grotjahn, Dr. Marleen Hoffmann, Prof. Dr. Cornelia Bartsch, Dr. Angelika Silberbauer and panel discussion ‘Women composers on the rise’.
Admission free, registration required.
About the concert
The English composer Ethel Smyth spent her relatively long life in a wide variety of milieus. Born in the middle of the 19th century, she was as familiar with the slowly waning splendour of the Victorian age as she was with the musical-academic world of Leipzig, and she acted with as much aplomb in the intellectually aristocratic Bloomsbury Group as she did in the women’s rights movement, which partly fought its battles in the streets. Everything she achieved was thanks to her own will, which she asserted against fierce family and social opposition. With several works for choir and orchestra and six operas, Smyth’s oeuvre shows an affinity to the major genres. Limiting herself to formats such as lieder and piano pieces, as was often suggested to women composers, did not even occur to her. In September 2022, the DSO and its Music Director Robin Ticciati, the Rundfunkchor Berlin choir and a top-class ensemble of vocal soloists will make a plea for Smyth’s perhaps most important opera ‘The Wreckers’ (‘Les Naufrageurs’).
The libretto for the music drama, which premiered in Leipzig in 1906, was written by the composer together with Henry Brewster, a brother-in-law of Johannes Brahms’ friend Elisabeth von Herzogenberg. In Berlin, the original French version of the opera can be heard in its German premiere. Like large parts of Wagner’s ‘Tristan und Isolde’, the third act of which can also be experienced in this DSO season as part of the ‘Music and Healing’ festival in March 2023, the plot of Smyth’s music drama is also set in Cornwall. The story tells how a group of villagers, incited by their lay preacher, lure ships to the coast to plunder them. The fisherman Mark and his lover Thirza, the preacher’s wife, defy the archaic custom by lighting a warning fire. Found out, they are convicted by an arbitrary court and go to their deaths together. The highly dramatic work impresses with its brilliant orchestration, effective performances by the choir and demanding solo parts. In terms of subject matter, the opera harks back to Wagner’s ‘Flying Dutchman’ and points ahead to Britten’s ‘Peter Grimes’. Robin Ticciati moreover perceives a relationship between Smyth’s tonal language and French late Romanticism.