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Fall: Paroli

CD Button Krabbe, Bönig; Dürmüller, Roider, Lukas. WDR Rundfunkchor Köln, WDR Funkhausorchester Köln, Kober. No texts or translations. CPO 777 899-2

Recordings Paroli Cover 1215

THIS EXUBERANT RECORDING conveys the melodious fun of this little-known turn-of-the-century singspiel by Viennese composer Leo Fall, best known for Die Dollarprinzessin (The Dollar Princess). The original title of this trifle was Frau Denise, and the plot leans heavily on Beaumarchais: a wealthy nobleman tries to seduce a woman of a lower class and is outwitted. The recording’s principal liability is the lack of a libretto, either in German or in translation. The plot summary, buried in a longer booklet essay about Fall, is difficult to follow, so the recording is left to succeed on its musical merits. (There is some interstitial narration and minimal dialogue in German, tracked separately for easy culling.) 

Soprano Anke Krabbe is engaging as Denise, the object of the Marquis’s affections (an authoritative Ralf Lukas), while mezzo Andrea Bönig is his sturdy wife. Tenor Jörg Dürmüller strains a bit on top as Jean, Denise’s true love. Tenor Michael Roider’s character, Josef Drechsler, is not mentioned in the plot summary, so I can’t comment on his contribution. The orchestra under the direction of Axel Kober plays vigorously—a little too much so in the heavily orchestrated final quartet, where they overwhelm the soloists. The chorus, which Fall intended as optional, chimes in at the beginning and the end. Though the music is appealingly Lehár-like, it’s difficult to gauge the work’s stageworthiness without a real understanding of what’s going on. At the very least, character names appended to the tracks would have been helpful. —Joanne Sydney Lessner

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