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Thread: Opera by Beethoven on DVD, blue ray, or CD

          
   
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    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Opera by Beethoven on DVD, blue ray, or CD

    First Fidelio Review


    My thoughts on this DVD are colored by the only other Fidelio DVD I have watched, which is the Bernstein one with Gundula Janowitz. The Bernstein Fidelio is great in all respects and every singer is wonderful. Now for the Mehta Fidelio:

    Overall the production is dark with torture instruments in the scenes (Marzelline is ironing on a torture rack). Jaquino is weird, creepy, and spooky to me (partly it's his haircut):

    Marzelline's voice and acting are very good, as is Rocco, Pizarro, and Waltraud. Pizarro is pretty intense and looks nasty. I actually picture the actor for Pizarro in the role of Henry the 8th for one of Donizetti's queens.


    Waltraud sings wonderfully, but in comparison to Janowitz it is out of place to have a mezzo when a soprano is intended. Waltraud does not always put in the emotion that Janowitz does. But I still value this production most of all for Waltraud and her voice is wonderful. So it's different, but very good.

    Florestan has a great voice, perhaps I like it better than the Florestan in the Bernstein DVD. in either DVD, Florestan is too plump for a man who is being starved. Rather odd when Leonore and Florestan are singing their duet to each other about having each other in their arms, yet they are standing 6-8 feet apart.

    The production is often hazy on purpose and there sometimes is what looks like a dirty computer screen (I actually stopped the video and turned off the monitor to see if it was dirty, but it is part of the filming--intended I guess). There are some weird video stuff like when the dungeon music is playing, before Florestan sings, where you are rushing along this dark corridor and a window comes floating past and chains and hooks are hanging in the air. At the end during the finale, which is suppose to be joyous there are creepy images passing by in the background, the kind you might see as you are drifting off to sleep, somewhat formless but creepy.

    The scene where Leonore jumps between Florestan and Pizarro is different in that she does not jump between them but is to the side slightly. Yet, startled, Pizarro stops in his tracks. I like the gun better in this one, but they show her pushing her coat back on one side before pulling it out. Another odd thing is that when Waltraud is about to sing "first kill his wife" she reaches back and pulls wads of hair out from being tucked in so it is cascading down her back. I sort of like this, but on the other hand it is awkward. Ah well, it's just an opera, and things don't always have to be realistic.

    I should add that the tempo is faster in the Bernstein DVD than in this one. Just another difference. I like both and am pleased to have them both in my collection.
    Necessities of life: food, water, air, shelter, and opera.

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    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Second Fidelio Review. This was my first Fidelio DVD, purchased about 1.5 years ago (the one above was just purchased last month), and this is my favorite Fidelio so far (but I have two more DVDs coming in the mail):


    This is an excellent production and all the actors/singers are very good. Lucia Popp is an excellent Marzelline and likewise Adolf Dallapozza as Jaquino. Gundula Janowitz is supreme, her singing is wonderful, my favorite Abscheulicher and sung very emotionally. Gundula acts with emotion that looks very real and hits all the details. The only slip ups seem to be a delay in her being startled after Rocco suggests maybe the prisoner is dead, a strange moment when Rocco brings Marzelline and Fidelio together where just as the curtain is closing Gundula trips, and the part after Leonore reveals her identity in the dungeon has Florestan touching her for the next several moments while she confronts Pizarro. He is continually touching her in amazement at it being her, but it seems very overdone and strange to me. The duet after Pizarro leaves the dungeon is absolutely beautiful. Kollo plays Florestan well and sings well. Rocco (Manfred Jungwirth) does an excellent job also.

    Pizarro (Hans Sotin) is excellent, a stern, dark villain. As he sings glorying in his plans to murder Florestan, his face is twisting in a cruel expression, enhanced by side lighting that emphasizes his distorted features.


    One of many wonderful Janowitz moments is the confrontation scene with Pizarro (Florestan in the background).


    More Janowitz great moments (there are many) where she asks Rocco, "Is it your job to kill him?":

    In my opinion, Janowitz is practically living this opera as a reality, her acting and singing are so good. She appears to be emotionally immersed in the story as she performs.

    The finale of this opera is dynamic, not just a bunch of people standing as if in a choir, but lots of movement. Absolutely wonderful, a must see opera. This is a very realistic and well performed opera. Musically--hey it's Lenny--musically it is great!

    I have the CD, which was done in the studio a couple weeks after the opera was performed. The CD is good, but I prefer to listen to the soundtrack ripped from the DVD because it is live and has more emotional content.
    Necessities of life: food, water, air, shelter, and opera.

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    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Clayton's Avatar
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    Nice review Florestan, it makes me want to watch this.

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    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Am most of the way through this one and am truly disappointed in it, and glad now that the E-bay seller cancelled the order and I watched on You Tube instead.

    Jonas Kaufmann has an excellent voice, the best for Florestan I have heard next to Placido Domingo, and he plays the part well, though I thought he lacked emotion when he found out Pizarro is the governor of the prison.

    I thought Camilla Nylund was largely without emotion, until the Abscheulicher aria, where she really did a nice job. Nylund also seems to be looking at the conductor much of the time.

    Laslzo Polgar (Rocco) has a great voice but physically is very stiff, like Ed Sullivan, and sort of looks like Dracula.

    Alfred Muff (Pizarro) has a great voice but just does not look the part to me.

    Jaquino is a gun nut and indiscriminate about who he sights his rifle on.

    Instead of ironing, Elizabeth Rae Magnuson (Marzilline) is at an ammo reloading table. I did not think her voice was anything special either. She is a bit of a gun nut too.

    Staging is sparse and the costumes weird.




    Whlle I haven't gotten quite that far (stopped just before Florestan and Leonore's aria), I snuck a peek ahead and see that they do not have the Leonore overture stuck in before the Finale. This is a great thing because in my other Fidelios I have to stop the video and find the end of the overture to continue. Here, it works the way Beethoven wanted it to, with the finale starting within seconds of the end of Florestan and Leonore's duet. They achieve this by having a curtain raise at the back of the dungeon scene exposing the scene for the finale.

    It is worth one viewing, so I recommend this You Tube full opera which has English Subtitles. It is worth it for Kaufmann, and the vocals are very good for Pizarro, Rocco, Fidelio, and Florestan.
    Necessities of life: food, water, air, shelter, and opera.

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    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florestan View Post
    Am most of the way through this one and am truly disappointed in it, and glad now that the E-bay seller cancelled the order and I watched on You Tube instead.

    Jonas Kaufmann has an excellent voice, the best for Florestan I have heard next to Placido Domingo, and he plays the part well, though I thought he lacked emotion when he found out Pizarro is the governor of the prison.

    I thought Camilla Nylund was largely without emotion, until the Abscheulicher aria, where she really did a nice job. Nylund also seems to be looking at the conductor much of the time.

    Laslzo Polgar (Rocco) has a great voice but physically is very stiff, like Ed Sullivan, and sort of looks like Dracula.

    Alfred Muff (Pizarro) has a great voice but just does not look the part to me.

    Jaquino is a gun nut and indiscriminate about who he sights his rifle on.

    Instead of ironing, Elizabeth Rae Magnuson (Marzilline) is at an ammo reloading table. I did not think her voice was anything special either. She is a bit of a gun nut too.

    Staging is sparse and the costumes weird.




    Whlle I haven't gotten quite that far (stopped just before Florestan and Leonore's aria), I snuck a peek ahead and see that they do not have the Leonore overture stuck in before the Finale. This is a great thing because in my other Fidelios I have to stop the video and find the end of the overture to continue. Here, it works the way Beethoven wanted it to, with the finale starting within seconds of the end of Florestan and Leonore's duet. They achieve this by having a curtain raise at the back of the dungeon scene exposing the scene for the finale.

    It is worth one viewing, so I recommend this You Tube full opera which has English Subtitles. It is worth it for Kaufmann, and the vocals are very good for Pizarro, Rocco, Fidelio, and Florestan.
    However it is Mary and My favourite version, and I like the staging. It's fine if you are comfortable with costuming that does not necessarily fit one period, and with suspension of realism. Actually after first watch of an opera, I prefer that kind of staging.
    Natalie

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    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Yup, love Camilla Nylund and der Jonas. I think he doesn't shout and yell when he learns Pizarro is the prison governor because he is too weakened from starvation to do so. (Of course, this doesn't keep him from singing beautifully in the following trio with Leonore and Rocco!). Nylund, likewise, is in Fidelio mode before "Abscheulicher!" She needs to keep her emotions under control so that she doesn't blow her cover, so to speak. In the aria, she is herself again; she's alone and is able to reveal her true thoughts. I really would have preferred Dietrich Henschel as Pizarro -- he sang the role at the 2002 Beethoven Festival in Bonn, and was terrific. (Jonas was making his role debut as Florestan in those concert performances under Helmut Rilling.) But, hey, you can't have everything . . .

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    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    I am glad both of you posted your thoughts. It is a well produced Fidelio. It may be I am just used to more traditional performances. This one also seems to be set in the early 20th century, so a more modern setting. I can handle all that, even the way Rocco and Pizarro look--both have wonderful voices. I think the heavy emphasis on guns was a turn off to me and the two guns in the dungeon scene with Leonore handing Florestan a pistol, seemed strange. Or how about when Leonore is about to club Rocco in the cistern? The staging is strange, but likewise in the Mehta Fidelio I reviewed above. All in all I like the Bernstein one the most.

    I'll come back to this one (Harnoncourt) for Florestan's aria and for the Abscheulicher aria. I'll come back to Mehta for Waltraud Meier. But the Bernstein one, while my favorite for all the characters acting and voices, and the staging, is wearing a bit thin from too frequent viewing. It needs a rest. So I have the Bohm Fidelio DVD, staring Gwyneth Jones, coming in the mail and I have high expectations for it. Will post my thoughts here after the first viewing. I expect it will be a close second to the Bernstein Fidelio for me.
    Necessities of life: food, water, air, shelter, and opera.

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    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florestan View Post
    I am glad both of you posted your thoughts. It is a well produced Fidelio. It may be I am just used to more traditional performances. This one also seems to be set in the early 20th century, so a more modern setting. I can handle all that, even the way Rocco and Pizarro look--both have wonderful voices. I think the heavy emphasis on guns was a turn off to me and the two guns in the dungeon scene with Leonore handing Florestan a pistol, seemed strange. Or how about when Leonore is about to club Rocco in the cistern? The staging is strange, but likewise in the Mehta Fidelio I reviewed above. All in all I like the Bernstein one the most.

    I'll come back to this one (Harnoncourt) for Florestan's aria and for the Abscheulicher aria. I'll come back to Mehta for Waltraud Meier. But the Bernstein one, while my favorite for all the characters acting and voices, and the staging, is wearing a bit thin from too frequent viewing. It needs a rest. So I have the Bohm Fidelio DVD, staring Gwyneth Jones, coming in the mail and I have high expectations for it. Will post my thoughts here after the first viewing. I expect it will be a close second to the Bernstein Fidelio for me.
    I love it when someone is so passionate about one opera. It makes my obsession with Simon Boccanegra not quite so bonkers!
    "The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and storytellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland."
    Lucy Maud Montgomery

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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sospiro View Post
    I love it when someone is so passionate about one opera. It makes my obsession with Simon Boccanegra not quite so bonkers!
    Darn. Nobody helps me with feeling less bonkers about my obsession with Anna Netrebko...
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) View Post
    Darn. Nobody helps me with feeling less bonkers about my obsession with Anna Netrebko...
    That's because your obsession with Trebs is about basic instinct rather than the appreciation of a masterpiece of collaboration between composer and librettist.

    Taking a cold shower won't help Florestan's obsession, it won't help mine but it might help yours.
    "The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and storytellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland."
    Lucy Maud Montgomery

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    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sospiro View Post
    That's because your obsession with Trebs is about basic instinct rather than the appreciation of a masterpiece of collaboration between composer and librettist.

    Taking a cold shower won't help Florestan's obsession, it won't help mine but it might help yours.
    Crying with laughter here.
    Natalie

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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sospiro View Post
    That's because your obsession with Trebs is about basic instinct rather than the appreciation of a masterpiece of collaboration between composer and librettist.

    Taking a cold shower won't help Florestan's obsession, it won't help mine but it might help yours.
    I took a cold shower. Then I dumped all the content of the ice bucket from my fridge into the bathtub and took an even colder bath.

    I regret to inform you that... it didn't work.

    I still want Anna.
    Any other suggestions?
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) View Post
    I took a cold shower. Then I dumped all the content of the ice bucket from my fridge into the bathtub and took an even colder bath.

    I regret to inform you that... it didn't work.

    I still want Anna.
    Any other suggestions?
    I think you would have to join this guy to get rid of your Anna obsession. Which seems a little drastic.

    Natalie

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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    I think you would have to join this guy to get rid of your Anna obsession. Which seems a little drastic.

    That would definitely work. However, thanks, but no thanks. I'd rather find a solution that would keep me in one piece, please.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Just finished the Harnoncourt Fidelio DVD with Camilla Nylund and Jonas Kaufmann. Really liked the duet, but the finale was strange (to me). They did a beautiful job going from the duet to the finale, with 6 seconds from the end of the last note of the duet to the beginning note of the finale. I read somewhere that Beethoven wanted no more than 7 seconds to elapse.

    I do like both Nylund and Kaufmann in in their separate arias and their duet. Would like the sound track, but I see there is a CD of Fidelio with Kaufmann but it is rather expensive, but I’ll keep it on my wish list.

    Kaufmann's voice is phenomenal. It has a quality that seems to be rare, if not unique, and there was none of the sharpness in the higher notes that so often jangle my ears with most tenors. But then I don't think Florestan has many high notes in Fidelio. Would like to hear Kaufmann sing the eight high Cs of La Fille du Regiment. He is definitely worth exploring further.
    Necessities of life: food, water, air, shelter, and opera.

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