The Bassarids


Hans Werner Henze The Bassarids opera to libretto by W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman. Directed 2018 by Krzysztof Warlikowski at the Salzburg Festival. Stars singers Sean Panikkar (Dionysus), Russell Braun (Pentheus), Willard White (Cadmus), Nikolai Schukoff (Tiresias/ Calliope), Tanja Ariane Baumgartner (Agave/Venus), Károly Szemerédy (Captain/Adonis), Vera-Lotte Böcker (Autonoe/Proserpine), Anna Maria Dur (Beroe). Bassarid dancers are Rosalba Guerrero Torres, Hector Buenfil Palacio, Flavie Haour, Katharina Platz, atd Javier Salcedo Hernandez. Kent Nagano conducts the Wiener Philharmoniker and the Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor. Designs by Małgorzata Sczczęśniak; lighting by Felice Ross; video by Denis Guéguin; choreography by Claude Bardouil; dramaturgy by Christian Longchamp. Directed for TV by Tiziano Mancini. Sung in English. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

The Bassarids are based on the Bacchae or Bacchants from the play by Euripides. This production is Henze’s original 1-act English language score from 1966 with a prologue plus an intermission with dancers. The musical style is a mixture of traditional and atonal elements called by some “Strauss gone sour.” The critics seem to admire the high quality of this production of an opera seldom performed. This HDVD will instantly be the definitive recording of The Bassarids (ArkivMusic lists one 1991 mono-sound CD version of the opera as it was broadcast on radio in German translation).

Here’s a trailer from Arthaus Musik: