MERLIN by Karl Goldmark, world premiere on CD Profil
CD Profil 3 CD PH09044, sung in German
(recorded April 2009)

Merlin1 Merlin2 (Winkelmann, creator) Merlin3 (Goldmark)

Up till now there were 2 opera versions available of the Merlin ‘saga’. The one which got most attention was Albeniz’s while Willem Pijper’s version was abridged to one CD.  Profil/Hannsler an interesting new German CD company now issued Carl Goldmark’s (1830-1915) version which was premiered in 1886 and came 11 years after his well-known Queen of Sheba both having the same librettist Siegfried Lipiner. Like the queen of Sheba his Merlin was successfully premiered at the Vienna Hofoper. The cast included Hermann Winkelmann in the title role. The music is Wagnerian inspired which shows in the extended monologues of Merlin and Viviane. But Goldmark doesn’t shy away from Bel canto or French Grand-opera moments with some Meyerbeerian touches which are apparent in the presentation of king Arthur’s court. Lipiner’s libretto is “skilfully constructed, intelligible throughout and written in elegant and poetical language, differing alike from the trivial rhyme of commonplace librettos and speech-wrenching bombast of Wagner”. And as the critic of the N.Y Times put it in 1866 during the creation at the Met : “Goldmark’s Merlin stands as a ripe and estimable creation, nobly conceived, planned on broad lines  and executed with equal care in its smallest detail.”
The Bamberg born (1965) Gerd Schaller  is one of the most versatile conductors of the younger generation and defends this work with exquisite conducting.
The cast is fine and does fully justice to the work with the Toronto-born Robert Kunzli in the title role and  upcoming tenor talent Daniel Behle singing the role of Mordred. Anna Gabler sings Viviane.