Specialized course: Richard Strauss' operas by Miguel Ángel González Barrio

Last Thursday, February 23rd 2017 was held a specialized course in the Círculo del Liceo called Richard Strauss's operas by the expert Miguel Ángel González Barrio, PhD in Physical Sciences, musical critic and Wagnerian specialist.

Richard Strauss' opera corpus represents one of the greatest milestones in the history of the genre. From his hesitant beginnings with Guntram and Feuersnot, his fabulous breakthrough at the vanguard of that time with Elektra and Salomé and his international recognition with Der Rosenkavalier (The Knight of the Rose) to the crepuscular and refined Capriccio, perhaps any composer of German operas, besides Mozart and Wagner, has managed to introduce so strongly in the heart of the repertoire.

However, many of his operas remain almost unknown to the general public, and some still await its premiere in Spain.

The renowned specialist in the life’s work and the leading figure of Richard Wagner, Miguel Ángel González Barrio, is also an expert and devotee of the work of the Bavarian composer.

Course content

Lesson 1. Educational years (1864-1903) The symphonic poems. The Lieder (from the Jugendlieder to Op. 51). The first and failed operatic rehearsals: Guntram, Feuersnot (Need for Fire).

Lesson 2. The "Big-bang" of Richard Strauss (1904-1910) The emancipation of the Wagnerian bonds. Hugo von Hofmannsthal becomes part of the scene. From the psychoanalytic and avant-garde opera (Salomé, Elektra) to the subtle and anachronistic délicatesse of The Knight of the Rose.

Lesson 3. The crisis. Vienna I (1911-1923) With no particular destination in mind. Hellenism-classicism (Ariadna in Naxos). Humanism-simbolism of intellectual high-level (The Woman without a Shadow). Domestic comedy (Intermezzo).

Lesson 4. Vienna II. Living off of private incomes (1923-1934) Egyptian Helena, Bel Canto Strauss's opera. Hofmannsthal give up. A realistic shift with a touch of operetta: Arabella. A new (and ephemeral) librettist, Stefan Zweig. At last a comic opera: The Silent Woman.

Lesson 5. The dark years. Death and transfiguration (1935-49) Anti-war allegation in Nazi Germany: Day of peace. Return to Hellenism. Bucolic Tragedy (Daphne). The Opera of the Five Libretists (The Love of Danae). Latest reflections (Metamusic): Capriccio. The Luminous Autumn of Strauss (Four Last Songs).