Double premiere – first recording and first performance: Franz Liszt never finished his mature opera Sardanapalo. Now 170 years old, the first act refracts the world of mid 19th-century opera through the prism of Liszt’s unmistakable voice. Kirill Karabits directs Liszt’s own orchestra in Weimar, where the music was composed, in a programme of burning, Byronic romanticism. more
“Sardanapalo is absolutely fascinating ... An eminent discovery. What a pity Liszt didn’t continue along this path.“ (Die Welt)
Further reading (David Trippett). David Trippett is University Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Cambridge. His numerous publications include Wagner’s Melodies (Cambridge: University Press, 2013) and he is recipient of several international awards. The surviving manuscript of Sardanapalo’s first act was deciphered, edited and orchestrated by him
Contrary heroes: Mazeppa and Sardanapalo performed by Karabits and the Weimar Staatskapelle
Sardanapalo, who prefers wine and concubines to politics and warfare, and Mazeppa, who dies with glory, having endured pain and humiliation: dramatic literary models, impressively set to music by Franz Liszt. Written at the same time, these works represent Liszt's ideas striving to unite literature and music, on the one hand modernising Italian opera and on the other advancing towards the symphonic poem in his orchestral writing.
The Sardanapalo manuscript comprises the first act. For 170 years the material lay dormant in the Goethe and Schiller archive in Weimar: it was only in 2017 that David Trippett deciphered, edited and orchestrated the manuscript at the University of Cambridge.
Kirill Karabits conducts the Weimar Staatskapelle: Liszt's orchestra in the city in which he composed the opera. audite continues its series of the great Weimar Kapellmeister-composers.