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Kurt Schwertsik: Fanferlizzy staged in Wuppertal

Kurt Schwertsik’s fantasy chamber opera The Wondrous Tale of Fanferlizzy Sunnyfeet enjoyed a welcome revival at Wuppertal Opera in January. As reported in Die Deutsche Bühne the new production by Aurelia Eggers captured the essential blend of “fairy-tale elements and parody in the lively staging, which was enthusiastically received by the audience.” The Westfälische Rundschau noted how “Kurt Schwertsik has written captivating and illustrative music that is often finely spun chamber music, and other times blazing jazz… it was allowed to blossom opulently and with charm”.

Fanferlizzy Sunnyfeet, premiered in Stuttgart in 1983, is based on a tale by Clemens von Brentano in which a loutish prince overthrows the King of Scandalia. Fanferlizzy directs the magical and surreal events necessary to return the country to its old prosperity. The work has been staged in Germany, Austria, the UK and Netherlands, and the Transformation Scenes from the opera have proved successful in concert, most recently in die reihe’s anniversary tribute to Schwertsik at the Konzerthaus in Vienna, conducted by HK Gruber.

Schwertsik’s new full-evening ballet, Kafka Amerika, is premiered in Linz on 10 October, with choreography by Jochen Ulrich and the Bruckner Orchester conducted by Dennis Russell Davies. The composer’s fascination with the 1920s and ’30s permeates the score, with characteristic underpinning of blues and foxtrot, matching the period of Kafka’s fragmentary novel. The new ballet follows upon a series of dance collaborations with Johann Kresnik, exploring the personalities and creative worlds of Frida Kahlo, Picasso, Pasolini and Nietzsche.

Recent Schwertsik premieres have included a new concerto for Colin Currie scored for marimba and strings. Entitled Now you hear me, now you don’t, the work received first performances in February with the Scottish Ensemble on a Scottish tour and at the Wigmore Hall, and the Swedish premiere is planned by the strings of the Norrlands Opera. Next year brings a new BBC commission for an orchestral work to precede Mahler’s Symphony No.1 to be premiered in January in Manchester, and a Schwertsik Resonances focus in February by the Royal Northern College of Music and BBC Philharmonic.

>  Further information on Work: The Wondrous Tale of Fanferlizzy Sunnyfeet

Photo: Wuppertal Opera in Schwertsik's Fanferlizzy Sunnyfeet (credit: Michael Hörnschemeyer)

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