New Year´s Eve at Theater an der Wien
Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss
Richard Wagner – a filmbiography
Music by J. Haydn, W.A. Mozart, L. van Beethoven,
G. Rossini and G. Becce to the silent film by Carl Froelich (1913),
reconstructed by Bernd Schultheis (2013)
Silent films have been back in fashion for several years now. They represent a complete contrast to today’s movie technology which can offer viewers three dimensions and sometimes even four or five. For many cinema-lovers, silent movies are a welcome change because, depending on their individual preferences, each can concentrate on the most important aspects of the movie or the fundamentals of the art of filmmaking, such as the plot or the actors’ facial expressions and gestures. Richard Wagner’s 100th birthday in 1913 provided the opportunity to produce the first-ever film biography of a famous person. The director Carl Froelich (1875 -1953) filmed Wagner’s life, and consequently his varied and fascinating career, from the composer’s 17th year up to his death in Venice in 1883. In 1913, Wagner’s music could not yet be used for copyright reasons, so the leading actor, Giuseppe Becce, wrote a film score that used many different composers including Haydn, Mozart and Rossini. To mark Wagner’s 200th birthday this biographical silent movie has now been reconstructed and made available through a production by the television networks ZDF and ARTE. Bernd Schultheis has produced a new arrangement of Giuseppe Becce’s score which nevertheless remains faithful to the original.
The performance begins with Angela Denoke singing the famous Four Last Songs to mark the 150th birthday of Richard Strauss and the passing of the old year.