The Treasure Hunter (Der Schatzgräber)
Sat, 04. June 2022, 19:30
Franz Schreker (1878 – 1934)
At the Deutsche Oper Berlin Christof Loy already has a reputation as a comeback agent for little-known early-20th-century operas, having staged successful productions of Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s THE MIRACLE OF HELIANE and Riccardo Zandonai’s FRANCESCA DA RIMINI. He now tackles another long-forgotten work: Franz Schreker’s THE TREASURE HUNTER, one of the most important operas of the 20th century. The work was a triumph at its world premiere in Frankfurt in 1920 and went on to play 44 times at assorted venues over the next five years. It then fell victim to a shifting zeitgeist and slipped from opera-house programmes, with a National Socialist ban on performances sealing its demise. Even after 1945 the Schreker revival was a long time coming – and THE TREASURE HUNTER has not featured prominently in the renaissance.
As with the vast majority of Schreker’s libretti, the story of Els and Elis explores the relationship between fantasy and reality, between art and life. Soulmates in the sense that they are both at the mercy of the king’s disposition, Els and Elis set off in search of different treasures. Elis, the minstrel, uses his magic lute to locate a stash of jewels and do humanity a good turn. Els, an innkeeper’s daughter who has grown up motherless in a tough, male-chauvinist world, becomes a liar, cheat and murderess in pursuit of her goal, tasking her suitors to steal the queen’s jewels and then having them killed once they have returned with the haul of treasure. Yet even with the gold in their possession, the pair are not content, and so, true to form, Schreker turns his attention to the theme of yearning per se, which is the actual “treasure” that the composer is interested in, “a dream of happiness and redemption”. Elis and Els are caught up in a swirl of dreams, memories, premonitions, songs and music. Their stories take on a dreamlike quality in a world beset by greed, murder and emotional inconstancy. For Franz Schreker the path to redemption could only be via art. Composed during the turmoil of the First World War, the TREASURE HUNTER score amounts to Schreker’s personal confession of artistic faith, executed in florid strokes of late-Romantic musical colour.
Christof Loy is one of the most sought-after directors in the landscape of international opera and theatre. This is his sixth collaboration with the Deutsche Oper Berlin. He staged FALSTAFF here and also the world’s first-ever production of Andrea Lorenzo Scartazzini’s EDWARD II. His directorial work on Janáček’s JENŮFA in 2012, which was captured on DVD, earned him 2nd prize in the “Best Opera Recording” category at the Grammy Awards. With THE TREASURE HUNTER at the Deutsche Oper Berlin Christof Loy continues his exploration of strong female characters in little-known 20th-century works. In 2018 “Opernwelt” magazine voted his production of Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s THE MIRACLE OF HELIANE, conducted by Marc Albrecht, the “Rediscovery of the Year” and awarded it an OPUS KLASSIK as best DVD recording, in partnership with the Naxos label. In March 2021 Riccardo Zandonai’s FRANCESCA DA RIMINI had its online premiere at the Bismarckstrasse venue.
Collaborations between Marc Albrecht and the Deutsche Oper Berlin have a long tradition. Following spectacular productions such as Messiaen’s SAINT FRANÇOIS D‘ASSISE and Janáček’s THE MAKROPULOS AFFAIR, he has now resumed his work at the Deutsche Oper, firstly with THE MIRACLE OF HELIANE and now with THE TREASURE HUNTER. Marc Albrecht’s time as Principal Guest Conductor at the Deutsche Oper Berlin from 2001 to 2014 ushered in an international career that saw him working at opera houses in Milan, Zurich, Bayreuth and Amsterdam. He has often collaborated with Christof Loy, with joint projects including THE BASSARIDS (2008, Munich), THE PRINCE OF HOMBURG (2009, Theater an der Wien), ARABELLA (2014) and TANNHÄUSER (2019, Amsterdam).
Elisabet Strid debuts at the Deutsche Oper Berlin with her rendition of Els. Since making her mark as Elisabeth (TANNHÄUSER) in Oslo the Swede has established herself as one of the new internationally active sopranos singing in the German language. Most recently she triumphed as Sieglinde at the Teatro Real Madrid, Royal Opera Stockholm, GotenburgsOperan, Rheinoper Düsseldorf-Duisburg, Norske Opera Oslo and Lyric Opera Chicago. Daniel Johansson returns to the Deutsche Oper Berlin as minstrel and treasure hunter Elis. As one of the leading tenors of his generation, the Swede’s performances include Cavaradossi (TOSCA), Rodolfo (LA BOHEME), Pinkerton (MADAMA BUTTERFLY), Lohengrin and Narraboth (SALOME).
An opera in four acts, with a prologue and an epilogue, by Franz Schreker with a libretto by the composer.First performed on 21 January 1920 at the Oper FrankfurtPremiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 1 May 2022