Byron & Schumann: ‘Manfred’ met Jed Wentz, Artem Belogurov, Octavie Dostaler-Lalonde & Cecilia Bernardini

19 mei 2024, 15.00
Huis Midwoud / het Oude Raadhuis, Midwoud
Jed Wentz, recitant Artem Belogurov, fortepiano Cecilia Bernardini - viool Octavie Dostaler-Lalonde - cello
Manfred Jed emelie_schäfer

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. [Hamlet, I.v.166-67]

Byron’s Manfred – a dramatic reading
with incidental music by Robert and Clara Schumann, and Fanny Hensel-Mendelssohn

Published in 1817, Byron’s Manfred was both a scandal and an overnight sensation. In verses of sublime poetry inspired by Goethe’s Faust, Byron tells the story of a doomed magician defiantly challenging the authority of both God and the devil. With Manfred, he created the model for the romantic anti-hero, the so-called ‘Byronic hero’: a daemonic, brooding and wounded character who
causes physical and emotional suffering to everyone around him, while suffering even more greatly himself. Manfred’s magical powers arise from a terrible secret, from some guilty deed in his past,
some act too horrible to even be named, and from the irremediable torture his soul endures because of it. No mortal or immortal being can conquer Manfred, for none is as guilty – nor has suffered as
much – as he.
Throughout the 19th century, Manfred was performed in Britain and the United States of America as a one-man show. Using elaborate gestures and melodious declamation, a single actor read Byron’s
verses, using his voice to create and animate all of the different characters. The intermittent musical accompaniment sometimes interrupted and sometimes coincided with the declamation, creating
melodramatic moments of great intensity by uniting and contrasting music with text. Inspired by accounts of this lost performance tradition, the musicians of Postscript and historical actor Jedidiah
Wentz have created a new, intimate chamber version of Manfred. The incidental music is made up of pieces by Robert and Clara Schumann interpolated into a revised and shortened version of Byron’s original English text.
The score contains music from Robert Schumann’s Manfred: Dramatisches Gedicht in drei Abtheilungen arranged for piano trio, including the best-loved sections such as the
Overture, Erscheinung eines Zauberbildes, Zwichenactmusik, Die Alpenfee, and Ansprache an Astarte.
To these are added Robert Schumann’s Abendlied, the Fantasie in g minor by Fanny Hensel-Mendelssohn and Clara Schumann’s Romanzen op. 11 no. 2 and op. 22 no. 1, as well as the Scène
Fantastique op. 5 no. 4.

Our aim has been to highlight the most emotional scenes of the poem: the audience is invited to empathize with Manfred, to experience his torment at the death of his beloved Astarte, his scornful defiance of the authority of God and the devil, and his conviction that his sorrow, his sin and his guilt are his very essence because they give him his greatest power.
To this end, we do not send Manfred to heaven in a last-minute act of divine intervention, as Robert Schumann did in his musical setting.
Rather, following Byron’s original, we allow the listener to decide if Manfred has descended into eternal hell-fire, or if he has finally found the oblivion he seeks.

left: Manfred, 1st ed. John Murray, London, 1817. Right: Jed Wentz in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, 4-12-2022, Leiden

Korte samenvatting:

Manfred is een Faustiaanse edelman die in de Bernese Alpen woont. Inwendig wordt hij gekweld door een mysterieuze schuld, dat van doen heeft met de dood van zijn geliefde, Astarte. Hij gebruikt zijn meesterschap in taal en betovering om zeven geesten op te roepen, van wie hij vergetelheid verlangt. De geesten kunnen echter geen voorbije gebeurtenissen beheersen, en zijn dus niet in staat aan Manfreds verzoek te voldoen. Zelfmoord is het enige dat nog voor hem openstaat ….. (bron: Boekmeter)


Weltschmerz, Mal du siècle, Discontent, Romanticism, Melodrama


George Gordon, Lord Byron Manfred
(1788-1824) Overture
Act I
Act II

Cecilia Bernardini, violin
Octavie Dostaler-Lalonde, violoncello
Artem Belogurov, piano
Jedidiah Wentz, historical actor

Foto’s: Emelie Schäfer


Manfred Jed emelie_schäfer

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Manfred Jed emelie_schäfer

Jed Wentz, recitant

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Manfred Jed emelie_schäfer

Artem Belogurov, fortepiano

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Manfred Jed emelie_schäfer

Cecilia Bernardini - viool

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Manfred Jed emelie_schäfer

Octavie Dostaler-Lalonde - cello

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19 mei 2024, 15.00
Huis Midwoud / het Oude Raadhuis, Midwoud