Another bagpiper

Commenting on Facebook about my Dudelsack posting (with its digression into Scottish bagpipe music), John Lawler reported on the “coolest opera name ever”: Schwanda der Dudelsackpfeifer (Schwanda the Bagpiper). Granting that bagpipes are a rarity in opera, this one has several operatic staples in it: folk characters, magical music, and the Devil, in particular.

Digression: a rarity in the opera world, yes, but not entirely unknown. There is, in fact, this oddity:

Tulsa: A Bagpipe Opera in Three Acts, “the story of [Presbyterian minister] Rev. Dr Charles Kerr and his part in the 1921 Tulsa Race War” (libretto in Scots by Tom Hubbard, music by Lindsay Davidson), commissioned by the Baron of Ardgowan (link to Davidson’s website)

(which has not yet been performed in its full operatic form, only in a concert suite version).

On to Schwanda. From Wikipedia:

Švanda the Bagpiper (Czech: Švanda dudák; also known with the German spelling as Schwanda the Bagpiper), written in 1926, is an opera in two acts (five scenes), with music by Jaromír Weinberger to a Czech libretto by Miloš Kareš, based on the drama Strakonický dudák aneb Hody divých žen (The Bagpiper of Strakonice) by Josef Kajetán Tyl. Its first performance was in Prague at the Czech National Opera on 27 April 1927. It premiered in German, with the translation by Max Brod, at Breslau on 16 December 1928. Other productions quickly followed [Brod is the friend, biographer, and llterary executor of Franz Kafka who, instead of following Kafka’s instructions to burn his life’s work, had it published]

… the opera has fallen from the repertory, although in orchestral performances and recordings, the “Polka and Fugue” now together form a concert work that is heard more often than the opera itself.

The libretto is complex enough that I can’t see a way to summarize it. But the opera sounds like fun.

The Polka and Fugue:

I don’t think I’ve heard the concert work, but the Polka nevertheless sounded eerily familiar to me, probably because of its similarity to Dave Grusin‘s theme music for the tv show The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, which I greatly enjoyed. The theme:

About the show, from Wikipedia:

The Ghost & Mrs. Muir is an American sitcom based on the 1947 film of the same name, which was based on the 1945 novel by R. A. Dick. It premiered in September 1968 on NBC. After NBC canceled the series, it aired on ABC for one season before being canceled a final time. [cancellations despite Hope Lange’s winning two Emmys for her performance]

The series stars Hope Lange as Carolyn Muir, a young widow who rents Gull Cottage, near the fictional fishing village of Schooner Bay, Maine along with her two children, housekeeper and their dog. The cottage is haunted by the ghost of its former owner Daniel Gregg, a 19th-century sea captain, played by Edward Mulhare.

Earlier postings on classical music as theme music, here and here.

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