L'enfant et les sortilèges (The Child and the Magic Spells) / Der Zwerg (The Dwarf)

L'Enfant et les sortilèges: Laura Tatulescu Der Zwerg: Hanna-Elisabeth Müller, John Daszak L'Enfant et les sortilèges: Yulia Sokolik, Kevin Conners
Maurice Ravel /
Alexander Zemlinsky
L'Enfant et les sortilèges: Libretto by Colette
Der Zwerg: Libretto by Georg C. Klaren after Oscar Wilde's The Birthday of the Infanta

In the first opera: the child who stubbornly refuses to do his homework and spitefully trashes his room suddenly watches objects come to life, inimically turned against him because of his hostility toward them. The furniture dances, the fire in the fireplace chases the child around, the numbers from his arithmetic book swirl about. Not until the child lovingly bandages the wounds of an injured squirrel on the lawn do the objects forgive him.

In the second: a dwarf looks forward to being allowed to congratulate the princess personally on her birthday, not suspecting that his function is simply to display his ugliness for the amusement of the party guests. Until now, he had never seen himself in the mirror, which is why he was captivated by his love for the princess. As he finally catches a glimpse of his mirror image, he suddenly becomes aware of the dirty trick that was played on him and sinks down dead.

Sidonie Gabrielle Colette and Oscar Wilde wrote two totally different stories, both of which reveal how brutally people can treat one another. In Maurice Ravel’s score, jazz, operetta tunes and exotic themes blend together to form an enchanting fantasy world. The Viennese composer Alexander Zemlinsky had a close personal and artistic connection with Gustav Mahler, to whom he ultimately lost his lover Alma Schindler, who later described him as a “short, ugly gnome.”

Sung in French and German with German surtitles

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