Fresco Opera’s Clara looks at an unsung heroine — and a scandal
By Holly Henschen
Clara Schumann shattered gender norms and may have broken hearts in 19th-century Germany.
In Clara, Fresco Opera Theatre tackles the scandalous tale of one of history’s finest yet most frequently overlooked musicians. Performances run April 1-3 at Overture Center’s Promenade Hall.
“It’s a true, tragic love story straight from a soap opera. You can’t make this stuff up,” says Frank Cain, Fresco Opera Theatre’s executive director, co-founder and co-writer of the libretto.
Not only was Clara Schumann a child prodigy and groundbreaking female performer and composer, she was also at the center of a Romantic-era love triangle with Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms. She battled for emancipation from her stage father in order to marry Schumann. Robert, supposedly envious of her renowned talent, later attempted suicide, went mad and died in an asylum. Meanwhile, superstar Clara developed an intriguing and intimate relationship with the Schumanns’ student, Johannes Brahms. Supposedly, the two lovers actually burned their letters at one point to avoid detection. Rumor has it that Clara’s eighth child, born when Robert was institutionalized, was actually Brahms’ son.