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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Lehar: Die Juxheirat

08/19/2018 1:00 pm
08/19/2018 4:30 pm

 

Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

There was a Golden Age of Viennese operetta in the latter part of the nineteenth century, the age of the "Waltz King", Johann Strauss, Jr., and Die Fledermaus. It was followed by a Silver Age in the early twentieth century. The Hungarian, Franz Lehar (1870-1948), was the preeminent composer of that later period. Of course, he wasn't quite so eminent early on in his career, before the phenomenal international success of his "Merry Widow" in 1905. Lehar's operetta, Die Juxheirat ("The Mock Marriage" or 'Marriage As A Joke"), came just before "The Widow" in 1904.

According to Bill White, a reviewer for Fanfare magazine, the libretto of Die Juxheirat was quite progressive and rather kinky: "Written by Julius Bauer, one of Vienna's most influential theater critics, the story seems to be well ahead of its times, combining elements of feminism, homoeroticism, cross-dressing and same-sex marriage, subjects overtly titillating and perhaps thought even a bit naughty by the staid turn of the century Viennese. The story is set in America, the first two acts in the Hamptons..." Bill White was reviewing for Fanfare the very recent CPO compact disc release of Die Juxheirat.

This Lehar rarity was staged at the 2016 Lehar Festival at Bad Ischl in Austria. It was recorded live in performance there, with Marius Burkert conducting the Franz Lehar Orchestra and Chorus. Mr. White praises the CPO release on two compact discs. In concluding his review (Fanfare, May/June,2018 issue) he notes that "As far as is known, the only previous recording of any of this music was some eight sides [on 78 rpm shellac discs?] by the original cast in 1905. This operetta...may not soon again see another recording. Even if it were not performed nearly so well as here, it would be highly recommended..."