Nicolai: Die Heimkehr des Verbannten

Reviewed on Tue 02 May, 2017

The trio of lovers – Julia Bauer caught between the competing claims of tenor Bernhard Berchtold and baritone Hans Christoph Begemann – sing with conviction.

Otto Nicolai’s reputation rests almost solely on his oft-recorded Die lustigen Weiber (The Merry Wives of Windsor). This belated release of the first staging of Die Heimkehr des Verbannten (The Return Home of the Exile) since its 1844 Vienna premiere comes six years after its pioneering revival by Chemnitz Opera under the assured baton of Frank Beermann. Itself a revision of Il Templario, first seen in Turin in 1840, its tale of a tragic love triangle in War of the Roses-era England prompts a colourful Italianate score with much to recommend it. The trio of lovers – Julia Bauer caught between the competing claims of tenor Bernhard Berchtold and baritone Hans Christoph Begemann – sing with conviction if, in Bauer’s case, not always consistent quality. There is strong support in depth, the Chemnitz Chorus ardently committed, and characterful playing from the Robert-Schumann-Philharmonie. A curio, certainly, but one, with detailed synopsis, full libretto and excellent background notes, well worth investigating.
–Michael Quinn