The Lyric Stage: Nov. 26 - Zemlinsky's "A Florentine Tragedy"

Nov 26, 2017

Alma Mahler

Join us Sunday night at 8PM for The Lyric Stage and Alexander Zemlinsky's complete one act,  A Florentine Tragedy. 

At the turn of the century, Zemlinsky was very much in love his pupil Alma Schindler, and wanted to marry her. But she instead chose Gustav Mahler as her husband and they married in 1902. Though he himself later twice married, at least once happily, Zemlinsky never seemed to recover. When Alma Mahler had an affair with Walter Gropious in 1910, Zemlinsky took Gustav Mahler's side. The conventional wisdom is that Bianca, the adulterous wife in A Florentine Tragedy, is based on  Alma Mahler. She thought so, anyway, and never forgave her former lover Zemlinsky.

A Florentine Tragedy premiered in Vienna in 1917, and is derived from an unfinished play by Oscar Wilde. The scene is Florence in the 16th century. The aging merchant Simone discovers his younger wife, Bianca, at home with the young Guido, Prince of Florence. Simone kills his rival and also intends to kill Bianca, but his manliness reawakens her passion for him and they reconcile.

Alexander Zemlinksy was born in Vienna in 1871 and died in Larchmont NY in 1942. He is best known today as a part of the group of Viennese composers that included Arnold Schoenberg and Erich Korngold, both of whom he taught,  though he never followed Schoenberg's circle into atonality. But as a young composer he was prominent. Brahms encouraged him and gave him entree to his publisher, and Gustav Mahler conducted the premiere of one of his operas. He composed works in many musical combinations, both chamber and orchestral, including eight operas. 

Iris Vermillion,  Alberto Dohmen and Heinz Kreuz are featured and Riccardo Chailly conducts the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.