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Peter Ronnefeld: Nachtausgabe

(Arranger: Ernst Märzendorfer)

  • new version
  • 1 1 1 1 - 1 2 1 0 - timp, perc(2), pno, str (soloistic)
  • Instrumentation details:
    flute (+picc)
    oboe (+c.a)
    clarinet in Bb (+bass cl)
    horn in F
    1st trumpet in C
    2nd trumpet
    tenor trombone
    1st percussion
    2nd percussion
    1st violin
    2nd violin
    double bass
  • Roles: Emma Bachofen, room renter ... bass Anna Pachulke, her friend ... soprano Renée Pachulke, her daughter ... high soprano Lothar Witzlaff, student and poet ... baritone Mario Caraccini, student and painter ... tenor Ping Schma Fu, student und photographer ... tenor Dr. Erich Stielicke, chief editor of the ‘Nachtausgabe’ ... tenor Karin Mikoleit, his secretary ... mezzo-soprano Sternhagel, a sergeant ... baritone Stramm, a commissioner ... baritone four juvenile newspeople: 1) Frauke ... soprano 2) Wibke ... soprano 3) Heike ... mezzosoprano 4) Hauke ... tenor
  • Composer: Peter Ronnefeld
  • Arranger: Ernst Märzendorfer
  • Text author: Peter Ronnefeld
  • Text adapter: Richard Bletschacher

Work introduction

Peter Ronnefeld was only 20 when he composed his chamber opera Nachtausgabe [Night Edition] – opera piccola in 5 scenes (1955-56). It was not his first work for the stage, but earlier ones only survive as fragments. Ronnefeld was already teaching at the time at the Mozarteum in Salzburg; he wrote Nachtausgabe mainly for his students’ study purposes at the International Summer Academy. Although it is a modern opera buffa, its subject is timeless – it is about sensational stories, gossip and tittle-tattle in the tabloid press, the persons involved and scandal-sheet readers.

Ronnefeld brought is great musical and linguistic talents to bear in a manner reminiscent of his own personality - shrewd, impudent, ironically jocular. In conversation, his contemporaries all mention Ronnefeld’s sparkling sense of humour, obviously not forgotten; even Thomas Bernhard (who had a speaking role at the premiere performance) said afterward that he had never laughed so much as he did during the time he spent with Peter Ronnefeld, one of his best friends. [1]

Boris Blacher, Ronnefeld’s teacher, was the musical influence; Ronnefeld esteemed him highly, and his stimulus is plainly evident. The freely tonal composition bristles with brilliant ideas, for example the moment when the reporter, a singer on the telephone, receives the replies to his words from the orchestra in a sonic jumble of voices – punch lines are often triggered by the instruments in the ensemble instead of human voices. Ernst Märzendorfer reworked the piece in 1987, leaving the opera’s essentials untouched but carefully “smoothing it over.” For instance, a secretary now has a mezzo part, Bernhard’s speaking role at the premiere is now sung and the music regrouped in some places. The press was uniformly enthralled at the premiere when the new version was given in 1987 (on the studio stage of the Vienna State Opera in the Künstlerhaus); many of the Austrian and German media raised their voices to praise the work and the performers to the skies.

[1] Thomas Bernhard, letter to the editor of the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper on 20 February 1987. It was published with the title “…but only as the leader of the basses.”


The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

World première

Staatsoper, Wien (AT)
Ernst Märzendorfer
Main soloists:
Heinz Holeczek, Alfred Sramek, Anton Wendler, Claudio Otelli, Ludmila Zelenka, Jungmin Lee, Gunilla Wallen, Mariko Yoda, Ramon Vargas-Agylar, Luise Carmens, Tammy Hensrud-Kerian, Yasmina Simonida, Peter Köves, Kanichi Morioka, Guido Pikal

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