DETLEF GLANERT (b.1960): Oceane.
Catalogue Number: 02V068
Label: Oehms Classics
Reference: OC 985
Description: Oceane von Parceval started life as a novel draft by Theodor Fontane (1819-98), whose novels are known for skeptical social commentary and strong female characters. Oceane is his entry in the canon of myths of mysterious women from an alien aquatic world who try in vain to assimilate into human society and adopt human emotions, with tragic results - all descendants of Melusine - of whom the most famous are Undine, and the Little Mermaid. In the 19th century these untrammeled characters were symbolic of male unease at the emerging independence of women, a subtext that Glanert and his librettist, Hans-Ulrich Treichel, emphasise without belabouring the point in their dramatic, larger-than-life retelling in which Fontane's polished dialogue takes second place to a musical presentation of massiveness and momentum. Oceane appears to be a young lady of wealth and beauty, but her wildness of spirit and inappropriate reactions scandalise polite society, and she proves incapable of reciprocating the passion of her human suitor. This provides the opportunity for some powerful scenes; Oceane raging into the storm after a violent confrontation with her would-be lover; her orgiastic dancing as she loses control at a genteel ball (complete with pitch-perfect polka and waltz) outraging the guests - her rejection by threateningly intolerant human society, her rejection of it in turn and the final tragedy of her return to the sea - these are treated to settings of the utmost driven intensity and surging, propulsive power. The ocean itself is a character in the drama, depicted in the dark textures of orchestra and choir a constant presence coloring the rich, Romantic idiom of the work (Oceane's assimilation into her element is quite overwhelming). Glanert's mastery of the operatic stage - this is his eleventh essay in the form - has never been shown to greater advantage than in this impressive work. 2 CDs. Libretto availability unknown. Maria Bengtsson, Nicole Haslett (sopranos), Nikolai Schukoff (tenor), Christoph Pohl (baritone), Chorus and Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin; Donald Runnicles.