The Nazis condemned as “degenerate” the decadent, Freudian delirium of Franz Schreker’s once popular Der ferne Klang (The Distant Sound) and Die Gezeichneten (Those Who Bear the Mark). It took decades upon decades for these operas to start inching back into favor. For Schreker’s final opera, the wait has been even longer, though it might actually be an easier sell. Der Schmied von Gent strikes out in a deliberately more tuneful, populist direction. The composer labeled it a “magic grand opera” (shades of Mozart’s Flute?). Our hero, the blacksmith of Ghent and once a champion of Flemish independence, has been cutting side deals not only with the inquisitorial Spanish oppressors but also the devil. Consider the possibilities. For a special thrill, catch the performances in the blacksmith’s picturesque hometown. —M.G.
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