The plot of the opera is based on a story from the Arabian Nights. Stung by the inscription ‘Men are more Cunning than Women’ over the door of Julius’s jeweller’s shop, Leontine resolves to teach the owner a lesson. Julius is deceived into marrying Leontine’s hideously ugly cousin, Aurora, but is able to extricate himself from the contract when his long-lost brother reappears masquerading as a bear. Aurora’s father, Baron von Abendtau, is horrified at the prospect of his noble lineage being tainted by street entertainers; meanwhile, Julius, his father and brother (named Richard) are reunited as the ‘Happy Bear Family’. The scenario could also be said to contain some autobiographical coded references to Wagner’s own uncertain parentage and to the lowly origins of his mother, a baker’s daughter.

Music Wagner.

Archive listings for Men are More Cunning than Women, or The Happy Bear Family

Work type: Opera or Operetta.

Mannerlist grosser als Frauenlist oder Die gluckliche Barenfamilie - T0113353376

Music from an uncompleted early comic opera by Wagner discovered in 1994 is to be performed for the first time at the Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, on Saturday 13 October, as part of the ‘Wagner Rarities’ concert given by the Southbank Sinfonia. The music for Wagner’s youthful comic opera Männerlist größer als Frauenlist oder Die glückliche Bärenfamilie (Men are more Cunning than Women, or The Happy Bear Family), WWV48, thought for over a century to be lost, resurfaced in Germany in the summer of 1994. The sketches have been transcribed and a version prepared for performance by the composer James Francis Brown. The sketches for two numbers of Männerlist (all that Wagner completed) were contained in a bundle belonging to a private owner. The latter brought them to the attention of the National Archive of the Richard-Wagner Foundation in Bayreuth which concluded, after careful examination, that they were genuine. The following year the National Archive was able to purchase the manuscripts and they entered the Wahnfried archive under the call number Hs 120/UU. The opera dates from 1838 (written before Rienzi and Der fliegende Holländer) and is a German Singspiel, with interpolated dialogue. The style owes much to French opéra comique and Italian opera buffa highlighting Wagner’s struggle to find a suitable style in which to score a popular success.Producer Royal Opera House. Conductor Stephen Barlow. Performer Liora Grodnikaite (soloist).
13 Oct 07Royal Opera House, West End :: V377
listing details L0931039134

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