Das Liebesverbot Christopher Maltman, Peter Lodahl, Ilker Arcayürek, David Alegret, David Jerusalem, Manuela Uhl, María Miró, María Hinojosa; Coro y Orquesta Titulares del Teatro Real/ivor Bolton; dir. Kasper Holton (Madrid, 2016)
Opus Arte DVD: OA 1191D; Blu-ray: OABD 7231D 160 mins
After disastrous opening performances worthy of Noises Off, Wagner abandoned his first opera as a ‘youthful sin’. However, 20th-century revivals, notably Edward Downes’s famous BBC studio recording, and recent stagings, including this from Madrid’s Teatro Real, have confirmed that it’s by no means unenjoyable.
Fed up with Germanic stodginess and narrow-mindedness, Wagner shifted the location of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure from Vienna to sunlit, sensuous Sicily, ruled by a puritanical German governor, Friedrich, who declares all amorous license, including Carnival, a capital offence. Shakespeare’s rakish wit Lucio becomes the Sicilian leader, egging on the novice nun Isabella to expose Friedrich’s hypocrisy in condemning her brother. Wagner scored it with affectionate Italian pastiche, and considerable theatrical vigour, but that said, the work lacks any real musical unity, a ragbag of influences that swings from