The film was half the length of the opera but included some additional
scenes such as a huge outdoor battle scene – the FeldMarschall, absent from
the opera, is seen doing his patriotic duty on the battlefield when he
learns of his wife’s dalliances at home – an open-air masked ball and a
garden fête coloured by some delicate 18th-century dances.
On Monday 12th April 1926 Strauss travelled to London to present
the film at the Tivoli Theatre on the Strand, accompanied by a chamber
version arranged and conducted by Strauss – an event described by the Evening Standard the following day as ‘the most distinguished event in the history of cinematographic entertainment’. However, the emergence of ‘talkies’ in 1927 interrupted plans for a US tour and subsequently the film was lost, until musicologist and film music
specialist, Berndt Heller, reassembled a print from sources in London,
Prague and Vienna.
I ask conductor Thomas Kemp how he came to be involved in the screening of
the original film which will take place during the Oxford Lieder Festival, where he will conduct the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment as they accompany the silent film with Strauss’s own chamber orchestra arrangement.
Source: Opera Today