During the 19th century, novels and operas began to move out of their familiar domestic settings and into exotic locations. Novels started to tell stories that spanned the globe from India to the Arctic to Africa, and operas and operettas began to be set in exotic places, too.
Suppe, an Austrian composer, wrote over four dozen light operas and operettas. Some of them have since been sung or played at symphonic pops concerts, but the bulk of his work has now largely vanished from memory. His overtures, though, have survived and they are often played by orchestras.
The ‘Poet and Peasant’ Overture
This was one of the first of Suppe’s many overtures written when he was just starting out on his career. It is a very good example of the conciseness and spark that Suppe brought to his overtures.
The ‘Light Cavalry’ Overture
This is another of Suppe’s early overtures that is a favourite of many. It is a witty and sprightly piece, a bit like the ‘Academic Festival Overture’ by Brahms but with a lot more structure.
The ‘Up Hill and Down Dale’ March
There are plenty of marches in Suppe’s repertoire but this is a very attractive one. It is based on the theme of a well-known operetta by Max Schonherr and features some fine trumpet fanfares in the opening section.
The ‘Juanita-March’ is another of Suppe’s little pieces that is set in Spain during the Peninsular War and has some attractive castanets for local colour.
He also composed a few overtures for unfinished operas, such as the ‘Die Afrikareise’ Overture (which was never completed). The ‘Humorous Variations on a Student Song’ is another rarity and is a delight to listen to.
‘Die Vergissmeinnicht’ Overture
Suppe is best known for his ‘Dichter und Bauer’ Overture, but he wrote a number of other overtures that were never used in any of his operas. These include ‘Die Vergissmeinnicht’, the ‘Happy Little Juanita-March’, and ‘Up Hill and Down Dale’. Sommersuppe