On November 9th was the long-awaited premier of Eric Peters’s opera Die Taubenwirtin in the Kreuzherrenpalais in Vienna. It was so brilliant that I went again on the 11th. Eric Peters’s achievement is really astonishing— sparkling, inventive music, with a great range, from comic to tender to noble. It is in the style of Mozart, but listening to it I was reminded of something that Msgr. Ronald Knox remarks of the satyrical poems that Hilaire Belloc had written in the style of Alexander Pope:
… to be capable of such pastiche is to be capable of something beyond mere imitation. One who could so master the secret of Drydan and Pope could, given the opportunity, have written as they did. (Literary Distractions, p. 203).
I hope that Eric Peters will be many more opportunities to compose as Mozart did.
The performers entered into the spirit of the piece with great élan. Johanna Kräuter was charming as the titular innkeeper. Ágnes Jordanov gave great presence to the cook Ludmilla with her powerful sophrano. Ali Magomedov was tender and expressive in the role of the Spanish slave escaped from the Moroccan ambassadors, who eventually falls in love with the Taubenwirtin.
The élan of the singers was supported by Clemens Fuchs’s scenery and Leni Fuchs’s costumes, which were just right. And above all by Ralf Siebenbürger’s libretto, which not only caught the style of 18th German, but was also genuinely funny and clever. It had just enough arch references to “future” events to remind us that it was written in the 21st century. As an example of his style, consider Ludmilla’s portrait of the Viennese character in her aria Ach, liebe Herrin (no. 6):
Ach, Liebe Herrin, seyd doch froh,
Ihr wißt, die Wiener sind halt so.
Sie sind gern wichtig, nörgeln gern
Doch sonst gemütlich sind die Herr’n.
Sie schimpfen, machen alles schlecht,
Und kommen wieder — alles recht!
Drum thut Euch nur nicht ennuyirn.
Bey ihrem Grant thut nix passirn.