Markus Werba’s love of Lieder (songs composed to German poetry), has had him likened to an extinct creature.

Therefore the opera singer’s “Liederabend” (Evening of Songs) at Tokyo’s Suntory Hall could be a rare chance to hear a passionate performance of the 19th Century art form.

Werba was born in southern Austria and grew up in a family of Lieder lovers. As a child, he often listened to Lieder by great composers such as Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms and Hugo Wolf.

At 16 years old, he took piano lessons from his great uncle, the well-known Lieder piano accompanist Erik Werba. After Erik’s death, Markus studied under his great uncle’s best friend, the opera singer Walter Berry.

According to Suntory Hall, romantic baritone Werba says that he is happiest when singing Lieder.

The Liederabend performance is set to include “To the Distant Beloved” op. 98 by Ludwig van Beethoven, “The Poet’s Love” op. 48 by Robert Schumann, and “Three Songs” D.902 by Franz Schubert.

Werba will perform with piano accompaniment by Nicola Luisotti, who debuted as a conductor at Milan’s La Scala opera house in 2002.

Luisotti has conducted various operas and concerts, such as “Tosca” at the Metropolitan Opera House in 2006. Werba says he trusts Luisotti, and is at peace when the Italian-born musician conducts.

Lieder (Lied when it is singular) started in Europe in the 1800s when musicians and fans gathered for salon concerts that featured the musicians singing poems, the tradition is closely linked to the German language.

After their performance, the audience will have the opportunity to be able to talk with both Werba and Luisotti. This concert comes before their main stage for opera “Cosi fan tute” starting from March 14.

“Markus Werba & Nicola Luisotti — Liederabend” will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 26. Admission costs ¥10,000 and includes a drink ticket. Tickets are available for sale through Pia or Suntory Hall Ticket Center. For more information, visit suntory.jp/hall/

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