Franz Lehár: Die Juxheirat
Gerhard Ernst (Thomas Brockwiller), Maya Boog (Selma), Alexander Kaimbacher (Captain Arthur), Sieglinde Feldhofer (Miss Phoebe), Ilia Staple (Miss Edith), Rita Peterl (Miss Euphrasia), Jevgenij Taruntsov (Harold von Reckenburg), Anna-Sophia Kostal (Juliane von Reckenburg), Christoph Filler (Philly Kaps), Tomaz Kovacic (Huckland), Matthias Schuppli (Haushofmeister), Wolfgang Gerold (Colonel Summer), Claudiu Sola (an old general), Nikola Basta (sergeant), Chor des Lehár Festivals Bad Ischl, Franz Lehár-Orchester, Marius Burkert (conductor)
Live recording: Festspielsaal Bad Ischl, Austria (August 12-14, 2016) – 122’55
cpo # 555 049-2 (Distributed by Naxos of America) – Booklet in German and English
Franz Lehár’s early work has more in common with Jacques Offenbach’s opéra buffa and its underlying draw of burlesque equations. In many cases, Die Juxheirat (The Mock Marriage) would play well in American theatres nowadays since the operetta opens with Selma (Maya Boog), a billionaire’s daughter, who’s fed up with a male dominated world…where have we heard this in the news recently? The absurdity just goes off center, despite wonderful singing from all principal characters.
From an English-speaking point of view, here’s the puzzlement: we have a translation of the synopsis that’s confusing with difficult-to-understand sentence construction. This makes it frustrating to follow the goings on. Additionally, Die Juxheirat has a marked domination of dialogue. cpo chooses to appropriately leave this out of the abbreviated booklet; however, the music’s libretto is only written in German...if one doesn’t have a command of German, one will be lost.
This opera predates Franz Lehár’s more universally identifiable blockbuster works to come, such as Die lustige Witwe (the following year), Der Graf von Luxemburg and Das Land des Lächelns, to name a few. With a story taking place in The United States (in Newport, Rhode Island and a hunting lodge on the Hudson River), there’s more anticipatory shading of Leo Fall’s Die Dollarprinzessin and its American millionaire-widower, John Cowder.
The varying segments of arias, duets and ensembles, however, are definitely worth visiting, if one’s interested in broadening one’s knowledge of Franz Lehár.