Episode 168. The Haunted (Opera) House

Episode 168. The Haunted (Opera) House, 20th Century Edition



Teresa Stratas in The Ghosts of Versailles

This week’s episode celebrates Halloween while at the same time initiating my new ongoing series on Twentieth Century Opera. From Dvořák’s Rusalka, premiered in Prague in 1901, through Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles, premiered in New York in 1991, there is a wealth of operatic material, some barely remembered today, that touches upon various aspects of the occult, be that witches, devils, exorcisms, demonic possessions, or those that conjure the dead. Alongside the aforementioned works, this episode also features work by Benjamin Britten, Gian Carlo Menotti, Igor Stravinsky, Ferruccio Busoni, Franz Schreker, Serge Prokofiev, Ottorino Respighi, and Krzysztof Penderecki, performed by Teresa Stratas. Tatiana Troyanos, George Shirley, Anna Moffo, Mack Harrell, Maralin Niska, Gwendolyn Killebrew, Jane Rhodes, and others in performances recorded between 1949 and… nearly yesterday. Some of it is folksy, some humorous, some creepy, some horrific, but it is peopled by characters that either haunt or are haunted.


Antonín Dvořák, Jaroslav Kvapil [after Karel Jaromír Erben, Božena Němcová]: Čury mury fuk (Rusalka). Gwendolyn Killebrew, Bohumil Gregor, The Netherlands Broadcast Orchestra [live Scheveningen 04.XI.76]

Gwendolyn Killebrew in pre-performance witchy mode
Maralin Niska as Cherubini’s Medea

Benjamin Britten, Myfanwy Piper [after Henry James]: How beautiful it is (The Turn of the Screw). Marilin Niska, Charles Wilson, New York City Opera Chamber Orchestra [live 01.III.70]

Gian Carlo Menotti: Afraid, am I afraid? (The Medium). Marie Powers, Orchestra conducted by Emanuel Balaban [1949]

Rudolf Volz, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, arr. Michael Wagner, Uwe Rodi, Matthias Kohl, Uwe Rublack: Das Böse (Faust Die Rockoper). Falko Illing, Uwe Rodi, Christian Singer, Herb Bucker, Michael Wagner, Volker Schreiber [2007]

Mack Harrell as Nick Shadow

Igor Stravinsky, W.H. Auden, Chester Kallman: Now in my [his] words… I burn, I burn! I freeze! (The Rake’s Progress). Mack Harrell, Eugene Conley, Hilde Güden, Igor Stravinsky, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra [1953]

Hilde Güden and Igor Stravinsky

Ferruccio Busoni [libretto after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and the Faust legend]: Lasst euch nicht stören (Doktor Faust). George Shirley, Jascha Horenstein, American Opera Society Orchestra and Chorus [Carnegie 01 Dec 1964]

Jascha Horenstein

Franz Schreker [libretto after Charles de Coster]: Erkennst du mich, Smee? (Der Schmied von Gent). Vuvu Mpofu, Leigh Melrose, Alejo Pérez, Symphonic Orchestra Opera Ballet Vlaanderen [live Antwerp 2020]

Jane Rhodes

Serge Prokofiev, libretto after Valery Bryusov: Ennemi ou ami? (L’ange du feu). Jane Rhodes, Xavier Depraz, Charles Bruck, Orchestre du Théâtre National de l’Opéra, Orchestre du Théâtre National de l’Opéra [1957]

Xavier Depraz

Krzysztof Penderecki [libretto after Aldous Huxley]: Exorcizo te… Entschuldigt mich (Die Teufel von Loudun). Tatiana Troyanos, Bernard Ładysz, Hans Sotin, Horst Wilhelm, Marek Janowski, Orchester der Hamburgischen Staatsoper [1970]

Mara Coleva

Ottorino Respighi, Claudio Guastalla [after Hans Wiers-Jenssen]: Monica, che vuoi?… Il sogno che t’innamora (La fiamma). Mara Coleva, Anna Moffo, Francesco Molinari-Pradelli, Orchestra di Milano dell RAI [1955]

Anna Moffo

John Corigliano, William M. Hoffman [after Pierre Beaumarchais]: Once there was a golden bird (The Ghosts of Versailles). Teresa Stratas, James Levine, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra [live New York 10.I.92]

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