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date: 22 October 2019

Königskinder (‘The King’s Children’)locked

  • Amanda Glauert

Extract

(‘The King’s Children’)

Märchenoper in three acts by Engelbert Humperdinck to a libretto by Ernst Rosmer (pseudonym of Else Bernstein-Porges) after her play of the same name; New York, Metropolitan Opera, 28 December 1910.

In 1894 Heinrich Porges asked Humperdinck to provide incidental music for the play written by his daughter, Else Bernstein-Porges, under the pseudonym Ernst Rosmer. When the author refused to allow the material to be expanded into an opera, Humperdinck decided to adopt the medium of melodrama, mixing spoken dialogue and song with a new kind of rhythmically notated Sprechgesang. The work was produced at the Munich Hoftheater on 23 January 1897, with Hedwig Schako as the Goose Girl. Despite the practical difficulties created by the new idiom, the melodrama appeared on over 130 stages before lapsing into obscurity.

In 1907, finally gaining the author’s consent to transform it into an opera, Humperdinck set about revising the work. He reworked each melodramatic scene into a continuous musical fabric, replacing the Sprechgesang with sung dialogue. The American public responded with great enthusiasm to the opera’s New York première, which Alfred Herz conducted with Geraldine Farrar as the Goose Girl, Hermann Jadlowker as the King’s Son, Louise Homer as the Witch and Otto Goritz as the Fiddler. The Berlin première on ...

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