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

          
   
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  1. #31
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    The similarities to the Zürich Opera production are no accident -- Jürgen Flimm directed both of them.

  2. #32
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
    The similarities to the Zürich Opera production are no accident -- Jürgen Flimm directed both of them.
    Ah, I should have figured. The big difference is that the Zurich production is in a more traditional setting. At first I was glad I didn't get that one (sale was cancelled by seller) and had watched it on You Tube, but Nylund and Kaufmann were so good and the setting sufficient that I went ahead an bought a copy.
    Necessities of life: food, water, air, shelter, and opera.

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  4. #33
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Finished this one last week but got behind on writing it up.


    I'll say that Chirsta Lutwig is an excellent Fidelio as many of you already know from various audio recordings of Fidelio starring Christa. She puts a lot of emotion into the role, and I find her style, her mannerisms in the acting of the part, to be similar to that of Gundula Janowitz (which just makes me like this one even more). She may be the second best Leonore after Janowitz fo me.


    The whole cast is pretty good and the setting is very traditional. The black and white filming gives it an extra aura of authenticity for the era when the action was to have occurred.

    The reunion scene is very well done.


    Sound is a bit compressed, what to me is kind of like that slightly sounding like it is in a tin can, but not bad.

    Finishing another one, and a good one at that, tonight, and will try to get some info up in next couple days. Have three more to go after that.
    Necessities of life: food, water, air, shelter, and opera.

  5. #34
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Here is a really great Fidelio I watched last week:


    Every character in this production is wonderful. Of course Lucia Popp is fantastic, as she is in the production conducted by Bernstein, but she is younger here. There is a lot of drama and emotion. The setting is traditional and very well done. When Leonore (Anja Silja) reveals that she is Florestan's wife, it is dramatic as she pulls off her hat and her red hair is exposed. This one is right up there with Gwyneth Jones and Christa Ludwig, second only to Gundula Janowitz for me. It flows from the duet to the finale after 2 seconds of silence, without the intrusion of the Leonore III overture that some include.



    Necessities of life: food, water, air, shelter, and opera.

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  7. #35
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Then I watched this one, er ah, that is I watched the first 54.5 minutes of it, through the end of Abscheulicher. After that my son and I cut our losses and just checked out several parts in Act II.


    The only good thing I can say about this is that Elisabeth Soderstrom played a decent Fidelio and has a food voice. I also noticed that Rocco has a pretty good voice. But for me Rocco has to get rid of the hat and glasses, it just made him not look like Rocco. Didn't care for Elizabeth Gale (Marzelline).

    Didn't care for Florestan either.


    But on Amazon this one gets rave reviews so I must not have the same view of what is good in an opera.
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    Necessities of life: food, water, air, shelter, and opera.

  8. #36
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Then I watched this gem. I like this one a lot especially for Janowitz but I think she is even better a year later in the one conducted by Bernstein. Here is the whole opera with Spanish subs, a shame it is not English subs and better picture quality. And I'll showcase my favorite part here:


    The scenery is fantastic, shot in an old castle of some sort in Orange, France. I like all the actors and voices in this one.
    Necessities of life: food, water, air, shelter, and opera.

  9. #37
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    I wish a recording had been made of one of the performances of this opera at the Deutsche Oper Berlin in the early '80s, when Janowitz had Siegfried Jerusalem as her Florestan. Would have loved to hear that!

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  11. #38
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Finally, I watched this Fidelio movie


    It is a unique Fidelio production that you can read about here or just read my condensation of that article in the following paragraph:

    In a post-WWII Austria, the Soviets ran the studio, leading to numerous textual and musical changes due to military censors. The studios ended up with enormous debts and no funds to finish dubbing, complete complex editing sequences, or re-shoot the final scene. Further major musical cuts were made in material already shot. Finally the film was finished. It is deliberately and defiantly old-fashioned. Thoughts are handled different than spoken words. When Rocco sings openly in the act II dungeon scene, Florestan’s thoughts are sung in his mind. It all looks so real that the viewer seems almost an invader upon something holy and private. I can think of no other production of Fidelio that captures as much of its raw spirit. Sound is PCM stereo, though there is some moderate loss of the upper frequencies. The picture, at times, has overly contrasted and occasionally unevenly lit sequences, but for the most part there is great definition to the screen image. If Fidelio moves you as an expression of human empathy, you really should see this.

    In most cases the singers are dubbed in to actors. In the case of Leonore, there are three women: one to act, one to sing, and one to do the spoken parts. The thought parts are sung but the actors don't lip sync those parts to show they are thoughts.

    The movie starts with the Fidelio overture and scenes from post war Austria leading to an old castle/fort. After the overture is a scene without music where food it brought to the prisoners. This is followed by Marzeline's aria and there is not duet between Jaquino and Marzelline. This is followed by some spoken parts and then the quartet. A man then opens the window and hollers into the house that the governor is coming. Everyone jumps into action to get ready, and many of the people at the castle/fort go hide to avoid the governor. Pizarro reads his warning note and goes directly into the duet with Rocco to gain help in carrying out the murder. Then Pizarro ascends a tower and sings his aria with storm and flood scenes flashing by. After the prisoners are let out and then returned to their cells, the music for Act II begins as Rocco and Fidelio descend to the dungeon.

    In Florestan's aria he sees a vision of Leonore in a dress on a grassy hill. She walks to him and touches his outstretched hands and his chains fall off. Then he falls back to the dungeon floor as Rocco and Fidelio enter. Act II seems to be pretty much intact and has a lot of good acting with emotion from Leonore. After Leonore and Florestan's duet, we enter into the finale. An interesting twist in the finale is that the last 5 minutes switches from the prison courtyard to evening in town, with Florestan and Leonore all cleaned up (Florestan shaved) and dressed up for the celebration, where they are paraded through town with the celebrants.

    The glimpses of Leonore as a lady in a dress (one earlier in the film, one in Florestan's aria, and the last 5 minutes of the finale), reveal her vulnerability and give a deeper sense of awe at what this lady has done to free her husband.

    While this has some quirks and some cheesy film effects (that were probably pretty cool in the time it was made), I really liked this production. Some voices were pretty good, Rocco and Pizarro in particular, and all the actors were good. I especially like Leonore in this. She played the part well, but the person singing for her has a squeaky voice on the high notes that seemed out of place for an otherwise solid Leonore. The spoken voice for Leonore is good.

    Another interesting thing that I don't recall in the other 10 Fidelios I have watched is that when she reveals that she is Leonore and Florestan starts grabbing her, she pushes him back. This made sense to me as she needs to have freedom of movement to pull her pistol to stop Pizarro, and that was the one thing in the Bernstein Fidelio that I did not like (that Florestan is pawing at her the whole time she is holding off Pizarro).

    The part where Leonore guesses that the man in the dungeon must be a great criminal and Rocco responds that or he may have great enemies is changed. In this movie, it is Marzelline who suggests he must have been a great criminal, and it is Leonore who suggests that he may have great enemies. This is an interesting change and I wonder if the military censors required it, perhaps thinking it beneath a jailer to suggest such a thing.

    Some stills from the movie in the next post.
    Necessities of life: food, water, air, shelter, and opera.

  12. #39
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Necessities of life: food, water, air, shelter, and opera.

  13. #40
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Just finished Act one and really like this production. The only thing I don't like is the lack of dialog and the really strange noises in its place. I am still trying to understand the extra people. As far as I can tell there is an extra Leonore and an extra Pizarro.

    The second Leonore I believe is showing her real self vs the one dressed up as Fidelio, but then I don't always understand what she is doing, seems like a lot of sign language. Maybe if I knew sign language I would get more out of it. But she seems to be trying to guide Fidelio, tell Fidelio what to do at various stages. The extra Leonore makes sense since she is in disguise but then you have this creepy thin guy with the switch blade which apparently represents the inner Pizarro. And I guess in a sense Pizarro is also in disguise, pretending to be an upstanding government official when he really is nothing but a punk hoodlum. I guess nobody else has an extra because they are really being themselves.

    All the singing is quite good and of course Kaufmann is amazing. I think this is a Fidelio that one could watch multiple times and keep getting more out of it. As for Florestan falling down dead at the end (which really turned me off when I first checked it out on You Tube), it doesn't really say he died, so maybe he just passed out from exhaustion, which makes sense for a starving man who suddenly goes through all the excitement of nearly being knifed to death, then freed. And this Fidelio does have him staggering around such as a starving man might, instead of bouncing all around the place, full of energy and vigor as Kollo does on the Bernstein video (my favorite Fidelio video by the way).
    Necessities of life: food, water, air, shelter, and opera.

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  15. #41
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Fidelio DVD review continued. Finished and already want to watch it again. That has not happened with any other Fidelio DVDs (and I have viewed over a dozen) but for the Bernstein set, which tells you something about how much I enjoyed this production.

    The imagery in this DVD is used to reinforce the story with excellent use of camera, lighting, and shadows. It is a very well thought out and produced performance. At the end of Florestan's area I appreciated the weird noises because they added to the psychological impact of Florestan's predicament.

    When I got to the finale, I expected Florestan to be rejoicing, but he was not. He acted more like he was afraid of the joy that was present and recoiled at the jubilant music. I think the poor guy has Post Traumatic Stress symptoms and is going to need a support group. Really, he showed signs of this throughout the opera.

    One of my favorite parts is the transition from the duet to the finale, which I once read, Beethoven wanted 7 seconds of silence between the two--not an overture that he had discarded in favor of a newer overture. I am happy to say that with Handbrake I could burn the DVD in two parts, omitting the Leonore overture, then on VLC Media Player I put both parts in the queue and it transitioned seamlessly, though in this case took 10 seconds.

    As for Florestan collapsing at the end (also the chandelier went out the same instant), I was very happy that it was immediately followed by the curtain call where I saw Florestan alive and well. I guess that is a good feature of curtain calls. No matter who dies in a opera, they come back to life in the end.
    Necessities of life: food, water, air, shelter, and opera.

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