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Considered the composer's mas­terp­iece, Eugen d'Albert'sTiefland tells the
story of Marta, a poor young woman who is the mistress of the wealthy local
landowner Sebastiano. Sebastiano is about to marry an heiress, and plans to have
Marta marry his shepherd Pedro, so that he may keep her as his mistress nearby.
However, his plans go awry when Marta actually falls in love with Pedro, and the
opera ends in a final, tumultuous scene as Pedro stabs Sebastiano and makes a
dramatic escape with Marta up into the mountains.

D'Albert based the opera on the popular play by the Spanish writer Àngel
Guimerà, Terra baixa. The suffocating atmosphere of the Catalan lowlands is set
against the heightened emotions of the main characters, with D'Albert expertly
adding touches of local colour to enhance the sense of realism. The final scene,
depicting the couple's triumphant flight from the lowlands to the highlands,
has a mystic, mythical feel, reminiscent of Wagner, whom D'Albert was known to
have taken inspiration from.

This recording features a stellar cast, including Theo Adam and Siegfried
Vogel. It garnered high praise on its initial release, with Gramophone magazine
praising the young couple - Heinz Hoppe and Hanne-Lore Kuhse - for knowing
“how to be brashly melodramatic without being vulgar”, also noting that Paul
Schmitz's con­ducti­ng is “unapologetic and fluent”. Supported by the
world-class Chor der Staatsoper Dresden and the Staatskapelle Dresden, this
too-often sidelined opera showcases D'Albert's flair for compelling
theatricality.

A gem from the vaults of the East-German

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