A Forgotten Opera by Weingartner
Following the publication of Carl Orff’s Gisei, an opera from his early years, we are now releasing its sister work: Felix von Weingartner’s one-act Die Dorfschule (The Village School) is likewise based on the plot of Terakoya and thus on the same background material. While the eighteen-year-old Orff completed his first opera in 1913, Weingartner designed his one-act work in 1916. He added new texts of his own authorship to important passages in Karl Florenz’s translation. The source material has been adapted to dramaturgical convention, and the foreign element is deemphasized. The idea that Orff met Weingartner, possibly telling him about the story he had set almost five years before as his first »music drama,« is an intriguing thought. Perhaps such a meeting never occurred, but it is nevertheless fascinating to compare the two works: Weingartner’s masterfully crafted realization of the ancient Japanese drama centering on a village school, where a high official sacrifices his own son in order to save his lord’s son, and the young Carl Orff’s carefully groping version with suggestions of the avant-garde.