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Thread: Operas by Mozart on DVD, blu-ray, and CD

          
   
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  1. #106
    Senior Member Veteran Member Aksel's Avatar
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    The Guth DG is my favourite. Excellently sung (seriously. Worth it for Dorothea Röschmann's Donna Elvira alone) and a very interesting production.

  2. #107
    Staff Writer & Reviewer - Life-time Donor Veteran Member Jephtha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    My preferred one is a really old-timer:
    I've got you beat, Alma! My favorite DG is even older: the 1954 Paul Czinner film conducted by Furtwängler. Erna Berger is patently too old for Zerlina(she was in her fifties!), but her singing is glorious, and my beloved Elisabeth Grümmer casts her usual radiant glow over Donna Anna. The production is rather tatty, but it is a fine opportunity to experience a Salzburg Festival Mozart production from a golden era. I guess nostalgia also plays a part for me: I saw Siepi as the Don in San Francisco(with Taddei as Leporello), and it was an unforgettable evening.
    How far that little candle throws his beams!
    So shines a good deed in a naughty world.


    The Merchant of Venice, V, i.

  3. #108
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Amfortas's Avatar
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    I'm not usually one to write reviews, but I did enjoy this video recently:



    It's one of many revivals of the Giorgio Strehler Paris Opera production from 1973, now something of a beloved classic. It's an unabashedly traditional staging, with a beautiful perspective box set bathed in lovely golds and ambers.

    The cast is youthful and vivacious, the physical direction energetic and detailed (sometimes perhaps even exuberant to a fault).

    Luca Pisaroni, a name we know well here, sings to his usual high standard and has great fun with Figaro (though wearing an odd period snood throughout the proceedings). I hadn't seen or heard Ekaterina Siurina before, but she made for an attractive, pert, well-sung Susanna, with a lovely crystalline voice. Barbara Frittoli may not have quite the creamy, lyrical voice I'm used to for Countess Almaviva--there's a slightly Verdian tinge--but was nonetheless effective. Ludovic Tézier was not the most fully characterized of Counts, but he sang ably and his third-act aria was well received. Similar accolades greeted the Cherubino of Karine Deshayes, who is energetic and possessed of considerable vocal resources, though I found her most effective when reining in her ample volume just a bit.

    As for the smaller roles, it's nice to see Robert Lloyd still active, but his voice is a bit too cavernous and, at this age, ungainly for Bartolo. The biggest vocal drawback, though, was the Marcellina of Ann Murray. The voice is large, strident, and wobbly, not necessarily wrong for the character but a real sore thumb in at least one of the big ensembles. In this instance, the loss of Marcellina's Act IV aria was not so regrettable.

    Philippe Jordan leads the Orchestra and Chorus of the Opéra National de Paris in a quick, sprightly reading in keeping with the tone of the production.

    There is of course a wealth of Figaro DVD's on the market (including another traditional production also featuring Pisaroni and Frittoli). This one doesn't break any new ground conceptually, and I can't even say how it may stack up against other traditional versions (though I wouldn't put it above the McVicar/Pappano Royal Opera House production).

    Nevertheless, it's an attractive, lively, mostly well-sung offering, featuring a fresh, youthful cast in an old, time-tested production. If you love Figaro, this might well be worth adding to your collection.

    The following trailer gives a helpful sampling:


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  5. #109
    Member Recent member jhar26's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) View Post
    I think Peter Sellars is rather highly regarded as a stage director by most of our members, no? I seem to recall mostly praise for his stagings, over here, if I'm not mistaken. I personally like most of them.
    Not by me. I prefer Mozart's Mozart over Sellers' any day.

  6. #110
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    I am watching again Glyndebourne's Così to refresh my memory while I write up questions to ask of our partners NC Opera's cast for the piece which they'll be showing in early October. I've said it before and others have as well, but what a *spectacular* production! This should be taught in stage directing courses for how to *perfectly*stage an opera. This, added to the excellent orchestra and the outstanding and attractive singers, makes of this one of the most rewarding operas in video medium ever released. This is one of the top 10 best opera DVD/Blu-rays ever produced.

    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  7. #111
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Dark_Angel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) View Post
    I am watching again Glyndebourne's Così to refresh my memory while I write up questions to ask of our partners NC Opera's cast for the piece which they'll be showing in early October. I've said it before and others have as well, but what a *spectacular* production! This should be taught in stage directing courses for how to *perfectly*stage an opera. This, added to the excellent orchestra and the outstanding and attractive singers, makes of this one of the most rewarding operas in video medium ever released. This is one of the top 10 best opera DVD/Blu-rays ever produced.

    It is a reference Cosi for sure, but as I recall you intitially were trying to convince us the other Cosi with Miah Persson was even better, then you later regained your senses




  8. #112
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    True!
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  9. #113
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Don Giovanni on DVD

    Il dissoluto punito, ossia il Don Giovanni, dramma giocoso in two acts sung in Italian, premiered in Prague (Estates Theatre) on October 29, 1787
    Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte, based on the legend of Don Juan, dramatized for the stage by Spanish playwright Tirso da Molina

    Salzburg Festival, 2008

    Wiener Philharmoniker conducted by Bertrand de Billy
    Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor, chorus master Thomas Lang
    Stage music - members of the Angelica Prokopp Summer Academy of the Wiener Philharmoniker

    Directed for the stage by Claus Guth
    Sets and costume design by Christian Schimidt
    Lighting by Olaf Winter
    Choreography by Ramses Sigl
    Video direction by Brian Large

    Recorded live at the Salzburg Festival in July/August 2008

    Cast

    Don Giovanni - Christopher Maltman
    Il Commendatore - Anatoli Kotscherga
    Donna Anna - Annette Dasch
    Don Ottavio - Matthew Polenzani
    Dona Elvira - Dorothea Röschmann
    Leporello - Erwin Schrott
    Zerlina - Ekaterina Siurina
    Masseto - Alex Esposito



    EuroArts DVD (2 discs) released on August 30, 2010 (co-production Unitel Classica, ORF, 2DF, and 3sat)
    All regions. Aspect ratio 1.78:1 (16:9); NTSC, subtitles in Italian, English, German, French, Spanish, and Chinese.
    Sound tracks: PCM 2.0, DD 5.0, and DTS 5.0
    The insert contains 7 production pictures (2 of them in color), credits, track list with musical numbers, characters, and duration; a 1 1/2 page essay and a 1/2 page synopsis, repeated in English, German, and French. Bonuses only include four trailers on Disc 2 for other EuroArts operatic DVDs (Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Così fan Tutte, Orlando Paladino, and Palestrina). Runtime 178 minutes.

    -------

    In the context of the upcoming in-person Opera Lively interview with Christopher Maltman (stay tuned; scheduled for November 19 at the Met), I'm watching and reviewing only today this 6-year-old performance.

    The overture is played without any particular enthusiasm by the Wiener Philharmonic, which is atypical of it. The stage is dark and made of woodlands by night. Image definition is not the best by the sparse lighting with some granulation seen on the trunks of the trees. Brian Large's camera is - also atypically - quite mobile, turning slowly around the scene - oh wait, never mind. The sets are turning, not the camera. It's a mobile round platform. Costumes are contemporary. A very pretty and sexy Donna Anna (Annete Dasch) has obviously consensual sex with the Don.



    When surprised by the Commendatore, Don Giovanni kills him by hitting him in the head with a stick, not before being shot in his flank.

    Acting by Christopher Maltman and Erwin Schrott is simply phenomenal and entirely convincing. The Don is a drug addict (Leporello, dressed like a homeless bum, injects him with drugs). Singing by both artists is as good as their acting (I consider, from YouTube clips, this one to be Erwin Schrott's best vocal performance I've ever heard, and getting it on the LPCM track is of course even more compelling than from YouTube). Don Ottavio is our friend Matthew Polenzani, in my opinion one of the best tenors in activity, and always strangely under-rated by reviewers. He does very well, as usual. Annette Dasch's singing is a bit less impressive than her looks. Soon we get the excellent Dorothea Röschmann, confirming the good impression I had of her when I heard her live in Theodora.

    The next scene brings in a run-down bus stop as the main set device.



    The Don climbs on top of it. Leporello and Dona Elvira sit on the chairs, and deliver one of the most spectacular Catalog Arias I've ever seen. Particularly well done is Erwin's acting, full of motor tics, and he matches the convincing body language with vocally sublime interpretation of the famous aria. Meanwhile the Don is getting delirious from his wound and the drugs, and falls from the roof of the bus stop.

    This extraordinary scene is on YouTube:



    The wedding party approaches - Zerlina is also pretty (Ekaterina Siurina - by the way, the insert commits the blunder of calling her Alex, and calling the real Alex Esposito - our Massetto, a good singer, by the way, Ekaterina, in the credits - I was wondering, what the hell, did they cross the genders as a Regie trick? Fortunately, they didn't; it's only a question of wrong credits; they are correct on the back cover but not in the insert). Her white wedding gown is a nice contrast for the low lighting and the effect is beautiful.



    The "Là ci darem la mano" has her swinging on a swing while Don lays down below her. The scene is well sung as well (more by him than by her, but she is acceptable).



    A real car enters the stage, with Donna Anna and Don Ottavio. She looks stunning (reminds me of Catherine Deneuve).



    She kisses the Don when her fiancé is not looking. Musically her performance improves, as her voice warms up. Matthew's voice is in great shape in this DVD.

    I really like this staging. It's bringing up the darkness and the human dimension of the opera much better than the pretty Seville squares of most stagings. While Matthew is singing beautifully "Dalla sua pace" the Don comes back, touches his abdominal wound, and draws a heart with his blood, on the windshield of the car. Powerful scene.

    One aspect I'm definitely not liking is conducting. For example, maestro de Billy runs over Chris Maltman in the "Fin ch'han dal vino" - the singer tries to take it a little slower, and the maestro keeps accelerating. Even the excellent Wiener Philharmoniker seems a bit harsh in the transitions. There are other examples of poor synchrony between the orchestra and the singers. One might think this is the fault of the singers, but in my opinion every time it happens consistently, it's rather a conducting issue. The best operatic conductors are usually able to adapt to the singers.

    The "Batti, batti, o bel Masetto" scene is sexy in a kinky way, and very interesting. Definitely this staging is one of the examples of "good Regie" that makes musical and dramatic sense.

    The next scene is nothing short of brilliant in terms of blocking and choreography with the platform now spinning faster and the lights getting dimmed even more. We get to the Act I finale with seven singers and some of them hold flashlights, in another clever idea. Masetto, Leporello, Don Giovanni, and Zerlina smoke pot. Singing is great.

    When the scene gets to its climax after the Don is accused, he flees to a green-lit, eery area of the stage in another bit of nice directing. Unfortunately the orchestra drowns his voice in parts (something not easy to do since Chris Maltman does have a lot of power and projection - again, I blame the conductor - this is a small theater - the Haus für Mozart, and the namesake's music needs to be played with a bit more delicacy, even in the loud parts).

    OK, Disc 2. I'm watching the trailers. I know two of the four productions (you'll get to see Patricia Petibon playing air guitar in her famous Salzburg Così - the one depicted two posts above), and the Haydn seems very enticing (Orlando Paladino). The Palestrina is a nice product that I also own. The Serail on the other hand seems quite generic.

    Act 2 opens with another bit of excellent acting by the two male leads. Donna Elvira joins them. Exquisite singing continues. The serenade here takes another dimension. The Don has been bleeding since the gunshot wound at the very beginning, growing weaker and delirious, and the serenade seems more like daydreaming. He sings it alone in the woods. Brilliant.

    I'm curious to see how this staging ends, with the statue/descent to Hell scene, but I don't think I need to continue the detailed description.

    It is quite clear already what the grade for this product must be. Not A++ due to some orchestral mishaps, but that's pretty much the only problem. Everything else works very well, with very intelligent staging and excellent singing and acting. This is becoming my favorite Don Giovanni on DVD. I used to like a very old-timer (a von Karajan), but I think this is better. So, A+, highly recommended.

    I'll add to this if anything changes, but for now I'm signing out and just enjoying it 'till the end.

    ------

    The final scene was interesting and realistic (the Don falls to his grave dug by the Commendatore, not to Hell - Anatoli Kotscherga sings well). OK, all very impressive, but as a matter of fact I'll subtract another bit from my final score. The female singers are very attractive but I'm thinking of other vocal performances of this piece, and while all four males hold their own, the females are less accomplished (maybe except for Dorothea who is the best one). Annette Dasch for example, in "Non mi dir, bell'idolo mio" seems vocally tired and she lacks agility where it is needed at the end of the Rondo. The males really own this performance. For A+ maybe we'd need the ladies to be at the same level (and for A++ the conductor would have to display no failures either - by the way, there are more orchestral synchrony problems in the Act 2 finale). So, OK, let's make it A, very recommended, without the +.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); October 6th, 2014 at 02:20 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  11. #114
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Juan - 2010 film adaptation based on Mozart's Don Giovanni, on DVD

    The original work:

    Don Giovanni, dramma giocoso in two acts sung in Italian, premiered in Prague (Estates Theatre) on October 29, 1787
    Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte, based on the legend of Don Juan, dramatized for the stage by Spanish playwright Tirso da Molina



    This Danish film adaptation is sung in English and is co-produced by Zentropa, Eurofilm, Danmarks Radio, SVT, Film I Väst, and Trollhättan Film AB.

    Director - Kasper Holten
    Cast -
    Christopher Maltman, Mikhail Petrenko, Elizabeth Futral, Maria Bengtsson, Eric Halfvarson, Katija Dragojevic, Peter Lodahl, Ludvig Lindstrom

    Orchestra Concerto Copenhagen conducted by Lars Ulrik Mortensen
    The English translation of excerpts from the libretto are by Christopher Maltman himself, and Henrik Engelbrecht

    Casting - Eva Wagner-Pasquier
    Costumes - Marie I Dali
    Make-up Louise Hauberg
    Production Design - Steppen Aarfing
    Sound Design - Hans Moller
    Cinematography - András Nagy H.S.C.
    Screenplay - Kasper Holten and Mogens Rukov
    Producers - Malene Blenkov and Michel Schonnemann
    Executive Producer - Peter Garde

    Format - Import, widescreen 1.78:1, PAL Region 2 (it won't play in American DVD players unless you have a Region 2 player capable of playing PAL format or a multi-region dual PAL/NTSC one - simple ones with no frills, just to play import DVDs, are available for some $60 from various vendors; also, one can change the DVD drive on an old laptop to region 2 just to play these discs). The import is available from Amazon marketplace vendors for $52 [clicky] shipping from New Jersey - there is a blu-ray disc for $60 but then you'd need a PAL/Region 2 blu-ray disc player as well.

    Subtitles - English and Danish
    Sound - Dolby 2.0 only
    Not rated - runtime 104 minutes (it's a compressed adaptation of the opera with huge cuts)

    ----------

    In the context of the upcoming in-person interview with Christopher Maltman, I'm reviewing his intriguing filmed Don Giovanni adaptation, only available in European markets. The film is set in modern day Copenhagen and opens with a police car persecution but then cuts to an opera house where our Chris is watching the opera, so that we get to hear the full overture - he does leave the house in the middle of it and goes to a bar with his Donna Anna, then they go to her luxurious apartment to have sex.

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    Leporello lingers behind and records his boss' tryst with a videocamera. His first aria included the f... word, which apparently is a frequent event in this movie.

    Her father surprises them, gets a gun, they fight, the gun goes off and the old man gets shot; yeah, yeah, very familiar. Police and an ambulance are summoned.

    Apparently the singers sang in real time with no lip-synching - I find this hard to believe, including because there are scenes when they are quiet but their voices keep singing in the background.

    Our Donna Anna (Maria Bengstsson) is very pretty but her singing is not great.

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    Neither is Leporello's (Mikhail Petrenko). Don Ottavio (Peter Lodahl) loses all his arias and only sings some recitatives. Chris Maltman as usual sings well but definitely is not as invested in it as he is in the opera house. He is, again as usual, an excellent actor.

    No subtitles are necessary for English speakers. It is all very clear and understandable.

    Elizabeth Futral, an artist I very much like like is Donna Elvira. I've always found her very attractive, and she doesn't disappoint in this regard.

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    The sound track is very thin; this is more of a curiosity than a musical experience. We are very far from the full experience of the opera's musical impact.

    The whole Catalog Aria scene happens in the subway and train station. The list of conquests is shown to Elvira by Leporello on a laptop. We see that all the videorecording Leporello does is so that his boss can keep the videoclips of his conquests. Nudity occurs in the fragments of videoclips shown. Even though singing is lousy, the scene is quite interesting with nice acting by Elizabeth. She takes the laptop and sees her own clip.

    Zerlina is a very, very sexy woman (Katija Dragojevic). The "Là ci darem la mano" is well sung by both singers, and the best musical moment so far.

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    Unlike in the opera, Zerlina and Juan do get in bed and she is seen topless but Elvira interrupts them. Juan puts the TV on and learns that Anna's father has died.

    Meanwhile she reports the "rape" to Ottavio, while simultaneously we see the scene where they make very consensual love.

    We see Juan in his industrial-setting-looking loft, where he indulges in watching the clips of his conquests in three computer screens. The famous scene with a fully naked Maltman sings "Fin ch'han dal vino calda la testa" under the shower is eye candy for our nice female friends.

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    "Batti, batti o bel Masetto" becomes "hit me, hit me" and the phonetic change definitely doesn't work for the aria. While she sings it, she fantasizes of making love to Juan.

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    This scene doesn't work so well, and her singing is much, much worse than in the earlier scene - cringe worthy, actually. Our Masetto, Ludvig Lindström, is unremarkable.

    In the party in Juan's loft, there is a cameo by Plácido Domingo who is seen for a few seconds, in a non-singing part.

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    There's a homeless hooded man who is seen from time to time; Juan looks frightened of him. He seems to symbolize death.

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    The whole scene that corresponds to the Act I finale is very well done and successful. Juan sets fire to the loft in order to escape the police.

    We're just 30 minutes from the end so Act II will have to be a lot more compressed than the 68-minute long act I.

    The serenade is well sung by Chris, in another good musical moment. It is filmed in close-up with the Don crying and with his face very close to that of another pretty girl, which is what the cover of the DVD depicts.

    After a couple of rather unremarkable scenes, we get to the climax, and it's under a lot of rain and very well done. Unfortunately our Leporello sinks the ship a bit as he has terrible accent in English and is not a good actor or singer for that matter.

    Maltman is very impressive in this scene.

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    Juan goes completely rogue, robs a convenience store, kills the clerk, drives away, hallucinating, seeing the figure of the hooded man who sings the Commendatore part (and does it well, in very well articulate English with good diction - Eric Halfvarson); police cars rush in pursuit.

    The sound track for the last scene does get a bit fuller, and its all very clever and impressive, and fateful to the opera. The twist is that the hallucinated hoodie is Maltman himself. Juan loses control of the car; crashes, the car bursts into flame, not before Leporello manages to jump out. The end.

    Time for the verdict. I liked it. Chris Maltman proved once more that he is a talented actor and excellent singer. The cast is made of generally very attractive people. Some scenes are well done, especially the finale, and there are good musical moments. It's an interesting and entertaining film, with good cinematography, and sexy scenes. It is not in any way a musically rewarding piece of work, and it's of course very abridged, with not more than half the music if that much. One wonders if it will attract more fans to the operatic art form. I don't think so, actually... This thing is cute but there is nothing like the real thing... The same singer/actor is in the much more impressive full version reviewed above this post.

    My rating for this one is B, recommended only to some niche audiences.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); October 26th, 2014 at 12:37 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  13. #115
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Don Giovanni on blu-ray disc



    Il dissoluto punito, ossia il Don Giovanni, dramma giocoso in two acts sung in Italian, premiered in Prague (Estates Theatre) on October 29, 1787
    Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte, based on the legend of Don Juan, dramatized for the stage by Spanish playwright Tirso da Molina

    A production of the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, July 2010, in co-production with Teatro Real de Madrid, Canadian Opera Company, and the Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow

    Freiburger Barockorchester conducted by Louis Langrée
    English Voices

    Directed for the stage by Dmitri Tcherniakov
    Sets and costume design by Dmitri Tcherniakov, costume design also by Elena Zaitseva
    Lighting by Gleb Filshtinsky
    Video direction by Andy Sommer; video production by François Duplat / Bel Air Media

    Recorded live at the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, Théâtre de l'Archevêché, July 2010
    The version used is the Prague one, with all the arias for Don Ottavio

    Cast

    Don Giovanni - Bo Skovhus
    Il Commendatore - Anatoli Kotscherga
    Donna Anna - Marlis Petersen
    Don Ottavio - Colin Balzer
    Dona Elvira - Kristine Opolais
    Leporello - Kyle Ketelsen
    Zerlina - Kerstin Avemo
    Masseto - David Bizic

    ---------

    Blu-ray disc released in 2013 by Bel Air Classiques and Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, video HD 1080i 16:9, audio PCM Stereo, DTS HD Master Audio 5.1. Region A, B, C. Subtitles in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish for the opera; subtitles in English and French for the bonus feature: "Don Giovanni in Aix-en-Provence" (27 minutes). Opera runtime 183 minutes. Insert with 13 color production pictures, credits, list of musical numbers with duration and characters, and a two-page synopsis in French, English, and German. The synopsis is authored by the stage director but he does not talk about his concept in it. He does, extensively (and it is very interesting) in the very good bonus feature. The sound is excellent. The image, not as much (when the singers move on stage they become a little blurry).

    ---------

    This product is available from Amazon for $39, also available on DVD for $20. Click [here]

    ---------

    The director's concept changes the relationships between some of the characters. While Donna Anna is still the Commendatore's daughter and Don Ottavio is still her fiancé, Zerlina is Donna Anna's daughter from a previous relationship. Donna Elvira is Donna Anna's cousin. Don Giovanni is currently married to Donna Elvira, and Leporello is a young relative of the Commendatore, who lives in the household.

    ---------

    This is a production from six years ago and only now I got to see it complete with the proper sound on blu-ray, although I had seen parts of it on YouTube. The reason I purchased this product only now, is that a month ago I attended the 2016 Festival d'Aix-en-Provence and was highly impressed with its quality, then I looked for other productions from Aix on DVD and blu-ray.

    I'm not disappointed. Just like in my live experience in this lovely city in Southern France, casting at the Aix festival is outstanding. We get phenomenal singers at their best, and even one I never much liked, this time put together maybe his best performance ever: Bo Skovhus. He is unrecognizable. I used to blame him for a lack of refinement, with phrasing that was all but subtle. Here, however, he sings significantly better, and his acting is of the highest quality.

    Marlis Petersen is a force of nature and steals the show, with electrifying stage presence and incredibly beautiful and well-controlled voice. She also looks great and is very sexy. Our Don Ottavio is a bit overwhelmed, being no match for her intensity - but then, that's what the role requires, anyway. His voice is without great flights of fancy, but is correct.

    Kristine Opolais does an angry, bitter, sarcastic, depressed Donna Elvira who at times bursts in maniac laughter. She sings well and delivers once more her usual spectacular acting. Kyle Ketersen of whom I had never heard before is a great surprise, with one of the best singing jobs for Leporello of late.

    Kerstin Avemo is another surprise. This young lady is charming and a very gifted actress, who nails to perfection her dysfunctional character in this staging. Her singing is a bit less good than her acting.

    David Bizic is somewhat unremarkable as Masetto. The short role of the Commendatore is well handled by Anatoli Kotscherga.

    The sets are simple: a room in a mansion, with bookshelves and tables, and large glass doors. The latter serve some interesting functions. These sets are efficient and appropriate. Costumes are contemporary and a bit over-the-top with some exuberant touches. Kristine at one point shows up with a very revealing plunging cleavage.

    This is a very dark staging - and I'm not talking about the lighting. It is psychologically intense and powerful. It depicts a dysfunctional family, and while Da Ponte's text is entirely preserved and doesn't match all situations, just the acting conveys very efficiently the director's deviations from the story, in his concept. It is like the slightly altered relationships among the characters run in parallel to the libretto, and it all works very well. Tcherniakov is one of my favorite directors. I'd call him a genius.

    In this staging the way the Don attracts the women is that they feel pity for him. He oscillates between being despondent and manic (it's the Bipolar Disorder Don!), the latter hitting him when people in the family follow his lead. He remains the outsider, the element that does not agree with the family's values and preferred standards of behavior.

    Louis Langrée avec whom I had the pleasure of chatting briefly in a reception in Aix a few weeks ago is a very experienced Mozart conductor. His reading of the score is lively and energetic, matching well the pace and affective tonality of this production, which gets some hectic proportions in some passages, and is particularly deep. His orchestra performs very well, reacting with agility to what is asked of them. This is musically a very satisfactory Don Giovanni, in all regards.

    It is not every day that a staging adds more quality to a masterpiece like Don Giovanni. This one does. The opera gets to feel even more impressive under Tcherniakov's secure hands. I'm still amazed at how well the director's concept is expressed in acting only, but then Mozart's music seems to fit it perfectly, in spite of some divergent content in the libretto. According to Langrée, certain things are not in Mozart and Da Ponte, but he believes that if they were alive and saw this staging, they'd like it.

    Grading this product is a no-brainer: it achieves maximum score in many items. Acting is the best asset and an easy A++ (I'd grant it a third + sign if we had one). Singing is slightly less good but still very, very exquisite: A+ (with Petersen and Ketelsen getting A++ as the two best singers, with Skovhus and Opolais not far behind). Great costumes, A+. Fabulous orchestra and precise conducting, A++. Efficient sets with good lighting, A+. Interesting blocking with good use of the glass doors. A++.

    The overall feeling that I get from this show is unquestionably A++, highly recommended. Time flies in this interesting staging, the musical elements are a pleasure, therefore this Don Giovanni gets to be one of my top three favorites (together with an old favorite conducted by von Karajan with Battle as a memorable Zerlina, and another recent one reviewed above from Salzburg with Chris Maltman, directed by Claus Guth). Wow! The Festival d'Aix did it again! They are definitely one of the elite companies in the world.

    Fans of Don Giovanni who have several versions do need to get this one too! And don't forget to watch the bonus feature. The documentary is excellent and demonstrates how good Tcherniakov is. I learned that he was a violinist and knows intimately the score of the operas he directs. No wonder his ideas fit the music so well.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); August 14th, 2016 at 08:04 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  15. #116
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Has anyone got/heard either of these and if you have what do you think? The reviews on Amazon.com are very mixed.



    Le nozze di Figaro reviews



    Così fan tutte reviews

    The third part of this trilogy, Don Giovanni, is due out soon and I'd quite like to get it. The bass who sings 'Il commendatore' is Mika Kares who I saw live in Seattle singing Attila in an alternate cast. I'd gone to Seattle especially to see John Relyea sing the role but I'd also got a ticket for the alternate cast and I have to confess, I actually preferred Mika Kares' voice.



    Mika Kares

    "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

  16. #117
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Festat's Avatar
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    I've talked about them in the listening thread, will see if there's a way of findings the posts. But, yeah, my opinions were also mixed.

  17. #118
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Festat's Avatar
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    Here: Così and Figaro.

    I'd say go for it. It certainly won't be bad.

  18. #119
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Festat View Post
    Here: Così and Figaro.

    I'd say go for it. It certainly won't be bad.
    It won't be bad, just, mixed... LOL
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  19. Likes Ann Lander (sospiro) liked this post
  20. #120
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Festat View Post
    I've talked about them in the listening thread, will see if there's a way of findings the posts. But, yeah, my opinions were also mixed.
    Ooops, sorry. Missed them.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Festat View Post
    Here: Così and Figaro.

    I'd say go for it. It certainly won't be bad.
    Thank you!
    "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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