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Minka struggle, chirp subtly

Minka struggle, chirp subtly

Because of her mother's financial hardship, she agreed for the time being. In the end, she stays in her village. It remains unclear whether she was happy about it: this is the plot of Anton Förster's “Gorenjski slavček” (“Gorenjski slavček”). It is considered the Slovenian National Opera and is also performed regularly at the Ljubljana Opera House. However, there was no spread beyond borders. The composer, who was born in 1837, actually hailed from Bohemia, but moved to the Slovenian capital in 1867, where he worked as a composer and teacher for 40 years and had a lasting influence on musical life.

It's like an operetta

Originally conceived as an operetta, he later reworked the work into an opera. The premiere took place in Ljubljana in 1896. It is a wonderful piece of attractive music, somewhat operetta-like in a cheerful dress, always with echoes of his teacher Bedrich Smetana. Not only did Forster incorporate Slovenian songs into the work, but many melodies from the opera also became true folk tunes.

Thanks to the Graz Opera House, this rarity is now being shown as a premiere in Austria. Marko Hrebrnik, a master of the work, is on the podium of the Graz Philharmonic Orchestra, as he is not only the Artistic Director of the Ljubljana Opera House, but has also conducted the piece several times. Rich colors and emotions come from the pit, just sometimes a little more differentiation might be desirable – and some things aren't always so loud for singers.

You will also experience many emotions in the Slovenian singing group: Sieglinde Feldhofer at first sings Minka a little nervously, but then “like a nightingale”, beautifully and sensitively with a light soprano. Roman Pichler with a rather short but high-pitched tenor is Franju's fiancé. Marcus' butter can be heard as a chansonnet with a turbulent baritone.

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Among the many smaller roles, Wilfried Zelenka in the role of the somewhat stupid official Strokelj with a wonderful bass and Martin Fournier as the clerk Radelj, who can show his comedic talent in a legal farce, especially stand out. Marieke Jankowski as Minka's mother is also impressive. The house chorus (Johannes Köhler) can also be heard harmoniously and colorfully, particularly in the long, particularly folk-sounding final chorus.

Torn between patriotism and longing for the wider world, the story is told in an unglamorous gray room – with stylized Mount Triglav, the country's symbol, in the background. The luminous, cubic element on the often revolving stage creates different spaces (Stage: Marco Gabelli). In a costume mix of traditional costumes and modern clothes (Leo Kulas), Janusz Kika tells the simple story in a very traditional way. There is also an invention of the dancing couple. Standing applause.