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World premiere recording of the German version of Weinberg's opera “Wir gratulieren!”

Hochgeladene Datei

The enigmatic and cheerful two-act opera “Wir gratulieren!“ (“We congratulate!“) by Mieczysław Weinberg, based on the play “Mazl tov" by Scholem Alejchem, was composed between 1975 and 1982 and is now one of the most popular stage works by the Polish composer and Shostakovich contemporary who once emigrated to Russia.

Now the world premiere recording of this charming opera in German has been released on CD by the label Oehms classics in co-production with Deutschlandfunk Kultur. “A lively, humorous work that plays with Jewish clichés and breaks ironically”, as the label describes the opera of this composer, whose discovery has shaped the classical music scene in recent years like no other.

The plot is set in the household of a rich Jewish lady in Odessa at the turn of the century before last. With the engagement of the house's daughter imminent, young Belja is busy in the kitchen preparing a festive dinner. The widowed cook laments her arduous work and her lonely life without a man. Then the book lender appears with new books, and Belja gives him food and drink. 

While the latter is busy, the cook entrusts him with the latest gossip about her bosses. The bookseller becomes more talkative and inquisitive with every glass he empties. Firstly, he praises his socialist books, and shortly afterwards suggests to Belja that, in view of her savings, she found a financial partnership with him. Chaim, the neighbour’s servant, joins in and begins to blaspheme about his bosses.  Finally, the maid Fradl, a humorous ditty on her lips, appears in the kitchen as well. Chaim, who had initially been hiding from her, comes out and flirts with her.

There commences exuberant celebrating and drinking, and when the mood reaches its climax, Belja and the book lender decide to quit their service and get engaged. In high spirits, the book lender reads out especially beautiful passages from the books he has brought with him. Inspired by the newly engaged couple's happiness in love, Chaim suggests a wedding-eve party and then spontaneously proposes marriage to Fradl, which she finally accepts after some initial resistance.  When the housekeeper appears and wants to put a stop to the joyful singing and joking, the kitchen staff exercise an uprising ...

Weinberg's “Wir gratulieren!” (We congratulate!”) was performed for the first time outside Russia in its original version and in Russian at the Heidelberg Theatre, after the German premiere at the Konzerthaus Berlin in September 2012 with a reduced cast.

On the CD:
Mieczyslaw Weinberg:
“Wir gratulieren!” (“We congratulate!”). Opera in two acts
Anna Gütter: Fradl (soprano)
Jeff Martin: Reb Alter (tenor)
Katia Guedes: Madame (soprano)
Olivia Saragossa: Bejlja (mezzo-soprano)
Robert Elibay-Hartog: Chaim (baritone)
Chamber Academy Potsdam; Conductor: Vladimir Stoupel
Oehms classics 2 CDs OC990

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