CARL NIELSEN Maskarade
29 July 2016
As befits a comic opera about masquerades, Carl Nielsen’s 1906 comic opera Maskerade is full of polonaises, minuets, gavottes, and polkas - long before we reach the third act masquerade party at a Copenhagen playhouse. Based on Ludwig Holberg’s classic 1724 play, the opera features a young couple who meet at a masquerade (not knowing that their fathers intend for them to marry) and encounter complications largely sorted out by Henrik, the clever servant. The lively rhythms move the action up to the final unmasking.
Highlights include Magdelone’s Dance song, in which young Leander’s mother discloses her love of dancing, while in the third act we also have the lively Dance of the Cockerels and the contrasting Mars and Venus pantomime, as well as the dances of the masqueraders leading to a lively conclusion.
The many pleasures of this very Danish score (with touches of Verdi’s Falstaff) seem to come naturally to Johann Reuter as Henrik, Niels Jørgen Riis and Dénise Beck as the lovers, and Anne Margrethe Dahl and Stephen Billing as Leander’s parents. There are at least four good recordings of Nielsen’s second opera, but well recorded, with full background notes and the libretto, this one can be recommended.