DVD „Graf Ory“
In 2010, Matthias Henneberger, the in-house counsel and media representative of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, inspired the Arthaus Musik label with the idea of releasing early television recordings of opera productions on DVD for the first time to mark the 100th anniversary of the Deutsche Oper. This involved a total of 15 recordings from the years 1961 to 1987, seemingly inaccessible and waiting to be rediscovered in the archives of rbb (formerly SFB) and ZDF with broadcasting rights that had long since expired.
It took two more years of intensive and worldwide research to find out the whereabouts of all the artists in the recordings or, if they were already deceased, their heirs, and to obtain the necessary consents for publication. The publications then began with Mozart's DON GIOVANNI; the recording of the legendary 1961 opening production of the new Deutsche Oper Berlin building, directed by Carl Ebert and featuring Ferenc Fricsay, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Elisabeth Grümmer, Pilar Lorengar, Walter Berry, Donald Grobe, Josef Greindl and Erika Köth. Up to 2014, 12 further opera productions followed, including recordings such as OTELLO (1962) with Renata Tebaldi, FIDELIO (1963) with Christa LudwIg as well as Korngold's DIE TOTE STADT (1983) and Offenbach's ORPHEUS IN DER UNTERWELT (1984), both staged by Götz Friedrich.
After a break of several years, the edition is to be completed in the 2021/22 season with the last two remaining recordings. The first will be the recording of Franz Lehár's DIE LUSTIGE WITWE from 1979 directed by August Everding with Gwyneth Jones, René Kollo, Siegfried Jerusalem and actor Erik Ode. It will be followed by Gioacchino Rossini's rarely performed comic opera GRAF ORY.
GRAF ORY, a recording from 1964, is not the earliest recording in the edition, but it goes back further in the history of the Deutsche Oper Berlin than any other recording in this series. The premiere, staged by the then artistic director Carl Ebert, took place on 4 March 1957 still in the Städtische Oper, which had found quarters in the Theater des Westens after the destruction of the main building on Bismarckstraße due to the war. With 40 performances in two years, the production of Rossini's unknown opera became an unexpectedly great success with audiences, which was probably due in no small part to the equally surprising and ravishing set design by Jean-Pierre Ponelle (1982-1988), who was then still at the very beginning of his world career as a set designer and opera director.
The production of GRAF ORY, just like the other productions of the Städtische Oper, was not transferred to the newly built building of the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 1961 because of the much smaller stage dimensions of the Theater des Westens. However, the success of the production was so vividly remembered that in 1964 the SFB decided to reconstruct the staging and set of GRAF ORY for recordings in the Berlin studios of Accord Filmproduktion and to film it with conductor Hans Hilsdorf, the orchestra and chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the soloists Martin Häusler, Stina-Britta Melander, Ernst Krukowski, Fritz Hoppe and the great contralto Margarete Klose (1902-1968) in the small role of Apollonia.
Only one copy of this film, which was shot in black and white according to the practice of television stations at the time, could be found in the archives. Although otherwise in excellent quality, the film reel had a continuous optical defect in the shots of the 2nd and 3rd acts. This made it necessary to extensively restore the damaged parts of the film at Arthaus Musik's studios in Halle. Once this restoration work has been completed, the DVD will be released in 2022 as the 15th and last opera recording in the Deutsche Oper Berlin's large DVD edition.