“That was simply amazing!” a normally jaded music executive exclaimed to me after the second act of Franz Schreker’s provocative “Der Ferne Klang” (“The Distant Sound”). Hounded to death as a “degenerate” composer by the rising Nazis, Schreker’s defiantly louche, wildly successful 1909 opera disappeared and had to wait a century for its first American production at the Bard Summerscape Festival. Though belated, it was an exhilarating performance and a brilliant production of a thrilling, involving, distinctive genius of a work.
I don’t often rave, but this was a superlative event in every way possible. Whatever small reservations I had after hearing “The Distant Sound” in concert in 2007 disappeared upon seeing it staged. Leon Botstein conducted the opera’s astonishingly complex score for huge (and multiple) orchestras with passion and clarity, revealing the sudden depths and multilevel range of the music.