Talk about sangfroid. To cultivated Germans, Egmont is the title of a tragedy by Goethe, much influenced by Shakespeare. To concert audiences, the name is synonymous with a Top 40 overture and tingling incidental numbers by Beethoven, who for a time lived under the roof of the very theater that has now commissioned a new opera by the same name without so much as a tip of the hat to Goethe or Beethoven. But to judge by the lineup of characters, the composer Christian Jost and his librettist Christoph Klimke, are sticking close to Goethe’s scenario. Egmont, a Dutch freedom fighter of the 16th century (sung by the impassioned Lithuanian tenor Edgaras Montvidas), faces off against the Duke Alba, the iron-fisted representative of Spain (the veteran Danish baritone Bo Skovhus). Will Clara (the Swedish soprano Maria Bengtsson) still get to sing that ecstatic war song, “Die Trommel gerühret” (“Beat the drum”)? As Egmont leads his army to war, Clara is jumping out of her skin, wishing to march along—and not as a girl, but in doublet and hose: “What joy is there greater than being a man!” —M.G.
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