Verlobung im Traum (Betrothal in a Dream, 1933) is based on the tragic-comic novella Uncle's Dream by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The doddering foolish Prince is tricked by social climber Maria Alexandrovna into proposing to her daughter Zina. The Prince is soon just as easily tricked by Paul, Zina's suitor, to believe the betrothal was all a dream.
Musically, the opera is charming and dramatic, as well as poignant without being sentimental. The styles in the opening scenes sound like a deranged marriage between Giacomo Puccini and Arnold Schoenberg, whom Krasa worshipped. The abrupt changes from tender tonalism to spitting dissonance is all Krasa's though. He plays with contrasts in the natural speech sequences too. -- Conductor Lothar Zagrosek seems to have dwelled in Krasa's cabarets and absorbed their revue patter songs. His complex tempo shifts and keen dramatic sense lured me into Act II, eager for the next bar. He didn't disappoint. In this resolution, Krasa's characters hum, whistle, declaim, and sing their machinations to each other and themselves. Krasa's skill at handling ensembles, his peppery dissonance, and his subtle orchestration at the Chekovian climax make this bittersweet work more engaging and memorable than his other vocal works, such as the simplistic children's opera, Brundibar.---------
The other piece on this CD is the Symphonie (1923), a youthful tone poem with Debussy's and Stravinsky's shadows shimmering against its walls. French critic Roland-Manuel spoke of Krasa's "spirit of ironic poetry." The final movement is an atonal aria of Rimbaud's eerie poem "The Lice-Pickers." Musically, it is neither shocking or beautiful, nor does it break any new ground. However, it is an intriguing miniature and a worthy item in any Entartete Musik collection.