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Local News

April 8, 2013

Lamar Opera Theatre presents the comic opera ‘Der Betrogene Kadi’

BEAUMONT — Lamar Opera Theatre will perform “Der Betrogene Kadi,” originally “Le Cadi Dupé,” or “The Duped Judge,” a comic opera in one act by Christoph Willibald Gluck, at 7:30 p.m. April 19 - 20.  

The opera will be performed in German, with English dialogue and supertitles, in the Rothwell Recital Hall of the James M. “Jimmy” Simmons Music Building on the Lamar campus.

“It’s a very universal story of a bad guy being punished by a smart girl,” said Serdar Ilban, director of Lamar Opera Theatre, and assistant professor of voice in the Mary Morgan Moore Department of Music. “It’s also an opera that was not being done much on the American stage, and vocally-speaking, is a good match for our students.”

The action of the opera centers on the Cadi, a local judge with almost unlimited powers, who decides to take a second wife. When the beautiful Zelmire rejects him, he takes revenge by attacking her fiancé, and stealing his fortune. Zelmire, a woman of independent spirit and will, then plots her own revenge on the Cadi, and thus begins the elaborate “duping” of the judge.

One of the great masters of 18th century opera, Gluck is known for his elegant synthesis of the French and Italian operatic traditions. While Gluck achieved wide fame in his own time, his works are rare in opera houses today; he is primarily remembered as a reformer and revolutionary. A native of the state of Bavaria in Germany, Gluck first studied with the Czech cellist and composer (and Franciscan friar) Bohuslav Cernohorsky, later continuing his studies with Sammartini in Italy. He married in 1750, settling in Vienna as an opera conductor.

“Gluck blended classical ideas and Baroque characteristics together. He reformed and streamlined music, which set the path for the likes of Mozart and others to follow,” said Ilban.

 “Der Betrogene Kadi” was first performed in Vienna in 1761, preceding his famous reform opera “Orfeo ed Euridice” by one year. “Kadi” was Gluck’s first foray into the world of Turkish themed opera.

“Since the Ottoman Empire pushed its armies all the way over to Vienna in the 17th century, making fun of all things Turkish had become standard fare in European comedies,” said Ilban, who is himself a native of Turkey. “In a way, this was a defensive reaction to a foreign and threatening world. ‘Alla Turca’ themes flooded the stages of folk theaters. This work is a famous representative of Turkish themed opera, which matches nicely with my own background.”

According to Ilban, “Der Betrogene Kadi” represents the musical culture of the Ottoman Empire in a Western format. It has the standard musical idioms of the “Turkish Opera,” with “limping rhythms in even time, dark minor keys hinting exotic color and locale and scoring for instruments found in “Jenissary” (Ottoman marching band) orchestras, such as piccolo, triangle, dulcimer, large and small drums.

The opera was originally composed to a French libretto written by Pierre René Le Monnier. Fritz Krastl later adapted it to German. Interestingly, “Der Betrogene Kadi” is only performed in German today because the original orchestral score was lost. For more than 100 years, it was believed the opera was lost entirely until a German copy was discovered in the archives of the Hamburg State Opera in the mid-1950s.

Ilban translated the opera to English, in order to use English dialogue and supertitles in the performance.

“Audiences will enjoy this show because its beautiful music and charming ensembles,” said Ilban. “And the action is almost like today’s situation comedies on TV, where we find a way of laughing at someone else’s misfortune because they put themselves in that situation and get their richly deserved comeuppance. It’s our hope that audiences will find our production musically and dramatically rewarding, and, of course, entertaining.”

The opera is one hour long. Lamar music instructor Dwight Peirce provides piano accompaniment direction for the production.

General admission is $10, and tickets may be reserved in advance. For tickets or more information, call the Mary Morgan Moore Department of Music at 409-880-8144.

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