Das Schloss Dürande (Dürande Castle). New version with German libretto by Joseph von Eichendorff, edited by Franceso Micieli (in three volumes)
(b. Brunnen, Switzerland, 1 September 1886 – d. Zurich, 8 March 1957)
Das Schloss Dürande
Opera in four acts on a libretto by Hermann Burte
after the like-named novella by Joseph von Eichendorff
Othmar Schoeck stands alongside Arthur Honegger and Frank Martin as the greatest Swiss composer of the twentieth century. But unlike his two confrères, whose careers took them abroad (Honegger to Paris, Martin to the Netherlands) and brought them international acclaim, Schoeck remained in German-speaking Switzerland and has therefore suffered from the undeserved onus of parochialism. Yet his superb lied settings establish him as the greatest master of German art song after Hugo Wolf and attracted the admiration of such literary giants as Hermann Hesse, Thomas Mann, and James Joyce. By 1937, however, he was approaching his fiftieth year and acutely felt the need of a theatrical success to solidify his finances and bolster his international standing. His thoughts turned to his beloved Joseph von Eichendorff, the German romantic poet whose poetry had spawned some of his most expressive lieder. And as a subject for his new opera he lit on the tragic novella Das Schloss Dürande (1835-36). It was a project that had been proposed to him over thirty years earlier by none other than Hermann Hesse, and which had lain dormant ever since.
For his librettist Schoeck chose Hermann Burte (1879-1960), a German writer lionized at the time, but known today mainly for his ardent pseudo-literary encomiums on behalf of National Socialism (Sieben Reden, 1943). Burte agreed to the project, partly from his own need for a solid financial footing, and partly as an imagined stepping stone to a working relationship with Richard Strauss, who had lacked a librettist ever since Stefan Zweig’s expulsion from Germany in 1934. Burte began his collaboration with Schoeck by proposing that the tragic love story of Das Schloss Dürande be reworked to accommodate a Hollywood-style happy ending – a proposal that Schoeck immediately and forcefully dismissed. Unfortunately the composer failed to see this as a portentous sign that he and his librettist were not at all on the same wave length.
Burte continued, slowly, to convert the beautiful and melodious German of Eichendorff’s novella into a lengthy libretto in rhymed verse of benumbing repetitiveness and childlike simplicity. Schoeck set the libretto as quickly as the verses from Burte arrived, and by late August 1939 the new opera was complete in short score. In the search for a publisher, the libretto was submitted to Schott of Mainz, who rejected it out of hand. It was to be the first of many such rejections, and the first of many disappointments which Das Schloss Dürande, into which Schoeck poured the summation of his artistic achievement, was to endure over the next four years.
Read full preface > HERE