Leh‰r: Die Blaue Mazur

Of course, part of the interest lay in anticipating a work that might match the magic of *The Merry Widow* (1905). Premiering in 1920, *Die Blaue Mazur* had a nice run but has slipped into obscurity, where most of Leh‰r’s works keep it company. The booklet’s essay writer, Stefan Frey (as translated into English by Susan Marie Praeder), posits that the score featured a “new way of harmony and ultimate color appeal” that Leh‰r found in the music of Franz Schreker and Korngold. The orchestration has its moments, but as heard on this recording, *Die Blaue Mazur* sounds very much as one would expect any Leh‰r work to sound. Even by 1920, it must have felt dated.
Even Frey doesn’t attempt to describe the plot as anything but formulaic. It does begin with a marriage, where other stories might end. Undoing an inevitable misunderstanding between the newlywed Julian and Blanka, instigated partly by Julian’s former love Gretl, occupies the tired complications that ensue before the happy ending. As Julian, Johan Weigel’s pliant, lyrical tenor suits Leh‰r’s music well, but his character lacks one breakout number (the entire operetta does, actually). Johanna Stojkovich’s Blanka gets a wider range of emotions, and she puts them across attractively. A few unpleasant squawks do come from Jan Kobow in a minor tenor role. Otherwise, conductor Frank Beermann and the Singakademie Frankfurt musicians provide the most enjoyable work here. All three acts ends with finales where Leh‰r seems to be trying out any number of tunes. He never does find one great one, but a couple of them are attractive enough.
CPO provides no libretto. A comprehensive synopsis does feature tracks numbers that help the listener follow the action. Lovers of super-sweet Viennese trifles may find some pleasure in the set.
Chris Mullins

image_description=Leh‰r: Die Blaue Mazur
product_title=Franz Leh‰r: Die Blaue Mazur
product_by=Johanna Stojkovich, Julia Bauer, Johan Weigel, Jan Kobow, Hans Christoph Begemann, Kamerchor der Singakademie Frankfurt, Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester Frankfurt, Frank Beermann
product_id=CPO 777 331-2 [2CDs]