Trailer: Wagner's Lost "Opera": Männerlist größer als Frauenlist - Soon On DVD

Written By The Wagnerian on Friday, 29 November 2013 | 7:11:00 pm

"The likelihood of previously unknown music of Wagner's coming to light over a century after his death might be thought remote. Yet that is exactly what happened in the summer of 1994, when sketches for Wagner's youthful comic opera Männerlist grösser als Frauenlist oder Die glückliche Bärenfamilie (Men are more Cunning than Women, or The Happy Bear Family), WWV48, previously thought to be irretrievably lost, surfaced in a private collection. Männerlist, which dates from 1838 - in other words immediately prior to Rienzi and Der fliegende Holländer - was to have been an opera in the light French style. Why was Wagner contemplating writing an opera in what was surely an antipathetic style to him? What would it have sounded like? And why did he abandon it?" Barry Millington: The Wagner Journal (vol. 1 No. 3) - Happy Families: A Wagner Singspiel Rediscovered

Männerlist größer als Frauenlist, oder Die glückliche Bärenfamilie (Men Are More Cunning Than Women, or The Happy Bear Family) is Wagner's unfinished Singspiel (written between 1837 to 1838)

Männerlist was Wagner's last operatic project before he embarked on Rienzi. Although the book of the opera (which Wagner as usual wrote himself) has long been available, the full text (including dialogue) and three completed musical numbers (in piano score), were discovered in a private collection in 1994 and later acquired by the archives of the Richard-Wagner-Stiftung in Bayreuth. Wagner refers to this project in his "Red Pocketbook" and his autobiographical works A communication to my friends (1851) and My life 1870-1880). In the latter he describes the work as "in a light neo-French style," which he began to write in Königsberg, but that later when he took it up in Riga for completion, "I was overtaken by utter disgust at this kind of writing."

Back in 2007, Two numbers from Männerlist realised by James Francis Brown and were given their UK premieres on 13 October 2007 at the Linbury Studio Theatre, London. (James talks about this here)

Then, early this year, Germany's Pocket Opera Company, produced the work "complete" for the first time - orchestrating - and "building-upon"  - the three existing musical fragments.

This performance will shortly be available on DVD - see link below.


The story is drawn from the Arabian Nights, but relocated in 19th-century Germany. The jeweller Julius Wander, pretending to be an aristocrat, is tricked into promising to marry the ugly Aurora, daughter of the class-conscious Baron von Abendthau, by her cousin Leontine. He escapes when he recognises a passing bear-keeper, Gregor, as his father - and indeed that Gregor's dancing "bear" is in fact his own brother Richard in a bear-skin. Announcing his parentage, Wander is renounced by the snobbish Abendthau, and is free to marry Leontine.


Also, on November 21st  Pocket Opera Company  started revival performance series of their production “WASH HOUSE ADVENTURE”, a 1-hour, parody, of “Der Fliegende Holländer”, set in a real laundromat. A trailer can be seen below:



For more information about Pocket Opera Company and to buy the dvd when it becomes available CLICK HERE

For an indepth article (in english) about the work click here.

Wagner's original manuscript