Strauss: Friedenstag - Metternich, Hillebrecht, Proebstl, Holm, Kusche; Keilberth. München, 1960
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Friedenstag is closer to an oratorio than an opera in many ways. The drama is somewhat static and to a great extent nothing really happens. The plot centers around the end of the thirty year war and a new era of peace for a generation that had only known war and famine. It is a sad irony that World War II would break out in just one year from the premiere. The episodes which comprise the action are heartfelt and one feels that Strauss has a personal stake in advocating peace in a troubled time. The finale of the opera is a stirring ensemble evoking the last scene of Fidelio. This performance comes to us just fifteen years after the end of the war and the emotions must still have been somewhat raw. Joseph Metternich sings the part of the Kommandant. Although the opera is relatively short, this part requires some long and taxing singing and Metternich does admirably. Although Hildegard Hillebrecht's tone was always a little too limpid for my tastes, she proves herself a deft Straussian soprano. The sound is good.