NB: The video is in three parts. The 1st and 3rd part are studio recordings (1973).
The 2nd part is live from the Viennese ‘Volksoper’ (1972). ADVICE: Please, increase the volume during the 2nd part!
Wilhelm Kienzl (1857-1941) is especially linked to 'Der Evangelimann/The Evangelist' (1895), an opera held for “oversentimental”. Reason for this must be the tenoraria on biblical text with accompanying children’s choir scene: 'Selig sind die Verfolgung leiden... (Blessed are the persecuted for righteousness, for of them is the Kingdom of Heaven)’.
Over the years this song became part of the religious song database.
Actually, the true opera story is a raw tragedy about envy (Eifersucht), blind hatred and class justice. Main character Mathias is brutally exposed to a cold, unmoved reality. I can accept serious voices in the musical world that conclude, Kienzl's operas tie in with the VERISMO operas of d’Albert, Giordano, Mascagni, Leoncavallo or Puccini.
Kienzl’s libretto is written by himself on historically transmitted events:
Mathias, office clerk in an Austrian monastery, and his brother, the teacher Johannes, are both in love with Martha, niece and foster daughter of their superior.
The girl answers Mathias' love, to which the jealous Johannes informs her father.
Mathias is dismissed and says emotional goodbye to Martha. Johannes listens to their conversation and in blind hatred he starts fire.
Mathias is accused of the deed: the dismissal must have been his motive. He is sentenced to 20 years in prison.
After his release, Mathias hears that Martha found a final resting place in the Danube. He decides to go through the country as an evangelist...
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