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Florestan
July 30th, 2015, 12:05 PM
First Fidelio Review
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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):


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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.


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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.

Florestan
August 6th, 2015, 04:48 AM
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):
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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.

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

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

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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.

Clayton
August 6th, 2015, 08:12 PM
Nice review Florestan, it makes me want to watch this.

Florestan
August 8th, 2015, 05:23 AM
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.
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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.


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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.

Soave_Fanciulla
August 8th, 2015, 06:08 AM
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.
http://pxhst.co/avaxhome/a7/c0/0015c0a7_medium.jpeg
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.


[Link to video deleted by Admin - video no longer available]

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.


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.

MAuer
August 8th, 2015, 11:34 AM
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 . . .

Florestan
August 8th, 2015, 03:31 PM
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.

Ann Lander (sospiro)
August 8th, 2015, 04:05 PM
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! :laugh4:

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
August 8th, 2015, 04:43 PM
I love it when someone is so passionate about one opera. It makes my obsession with Simon Boccanegra not quite so bonkers! :laugh4:
Darn. Nobody helps me with feeling less bonkers about my obsession with Anna Netrebko... :sad1:

Ann Lander (sospiro)
August 8th, 2015, 04:59 PM
Darn. Nobody helps me with feeling less bonkers about my obsession with Anna Netrebko... :sad1:

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. :p

Soave_Fanciulla
August 8th, 2015, 11:40 PM
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. :p

Crying with laughter here.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
August 8th, 2015, 11:56 PM
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. :p

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. :concern:

I still want Anna.:heart-borken:
Any other suggestions? :pray.2:

Soave_Fanciulla
August 9th, 2015, 12:03 AM
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. :concern:

I still want Anna.:heart-borken:
Any other suggestions? :pray.2:

I think you would have to join this guy to get rid of your Anna obsession. Which seems a little drastic.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
August 9th, 2015, 12:07 AM
I think you would have to join this guy to get rid of your Anna obsession. Which seems a little drastic.

http://gramilano.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Carlo-Broschi-Farinelli.jpg

That would definitely work. However, thanks, but no thanks. I'd rather find a solution that would keep me in one piece, please.:nightmare:

Florestan
August 9th, 2015, 12:14 AM
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.

MAuer
August 9th, 2015, 11:23 AM
I agree that Flimm's staging can be strange. I don't like the way he turned Jaquino into a gun-toting opportunist, either. (Did you notice that he shoots Pizarro in the final scene?) And I also agree that the business with the two pistols is superfluous. The costumes look to me generally early 19th century, especially the empire-waisted dresses the women wear. But I love Nylund's and Kaufmann's singing so much that I'm willing to overlook some oddities in the staging (and in Harnoncourt's conducting).

I remember watching the Vienna State Opera Fidelio when it was televised in 1978 or '79, and Janowitz really was wonderful. In fact, she probably gets the blame for my Fidelio obsession. Unfortunately, Kollo is one of those singers who I realize from an objective standpoint is great (and many people like him), but I just can't warm up to his voice.

Florestan
August 9th, 2015, 12:21 PM
I agree that Flimm's staging can be strange. I don't like the way he turned Jaquino into a gun-toting opportunist, either. (Did you notice that he shoots Pizarro in the final scene?) And I also agree that the business with the two pistols is superfluous. The costumes look to me generally early 19th century, especially the empire-waisted dresses the women wear. But I love Nylund's and Kaufmann's singing so much that I'm willing to overlook some oddities in the staging (and in Harnoncourt's conducting).

I remember watching the Vienna State Opera Fidelio when it was televised in 1978 or '79, and Janowitz really was wonderful. In fact, she probably gets the blame for my Fidelio obsession. Unfortunately, Kollo is one of those singers who I realize from an objective standpoint is great (and many people like him), but I just can't warm up to his voice.

I agree with you 100% on both the high points of the Harnoncourt DVD and Kollo. As good as Kollo is, he is the weak point in that Fidelio. I expecially thought it very artificial where he kept pawing Leonore during the dungeon confrontation scene. Yes I saw Jaquino shoot Pizarro in the finale. Weird. Sounded like a cap gun. Pizarro went down. Also Marzellene was going to shoot heself in the head, which was really weird. I am sure LvB would not approve.

Soave_Fanciulla
August 9th, 2015, 07:53 PM
Also Marzellene was going to shoot heself in the head, which was really weird. I am sure LvB would not approve.

Actually I think that it's quite believable that Marzelline would want to do something drastic. She must be feeling a terrible combination of shame (her great love is a woman not a man), despair (only fallback is Jaquino, ugh) and rejection, and what's worse is that everyone else is happy and rejoicing. LvB could have given her some thought, instead he leaves her hanging.

Florestan
August 9th, 2015, 08:28 PM
You have a point about Marzelline and the pistol. Some of the stuff in the Harnoncourt Fidelio DVD really bugs me but the singing is wonderful, so much so that I can't leave it alone. I am hooked in spite of the weirdness.

Amfortas
August 9th, 2015, 11:51 PM
I think you would have to join this guy to get rid of your Anna obsession. Which seems a little drastic.

Yeah, or this guy. Just as drastic.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2013/02/18/arts/18parsifal3/18parsifal3-popup.jpg

MAuer
August 10th, 2015, 12:56 PM
I guess J. N. Bouilly, author of the original source material for Fidelio, gets at least some of the blame for the treatment of Marzelline at the end. The situation is the same in Paer's Leonora -- the girl is just expected to get over the shock and be happy that Giacchino is making himself available (and Leonora is offering to provide her with a dowry). There's no Jaquino figure in Mayr's L'Amor Coniugale, but Floreska (the Marzelline figure) gets the same treatment. In fact, she doesn't even appear in the final scene when the hero's brother (instead of a government minister) shows up. It's as though she's just a secondary character who is there to fulfill a dramaturgical purpose, and once she's fulfilled it, neither librettists nor composers give her much thought.

Soave_Fanciulla
August 10th, 2015, 07:23 PM
I guess J. N. Bouilly, author of the original source material for Fidelio, gets at least some of the blame for the treatment of Marzelline at the end. The situation is the same in Paer's Leonora -- the girl is just expected to get over the shock and be happy that Giacchino is making himself available (and Leonora is offering to provide her with a dowry). There's no Jaquino figure in Mayr's L'Amor Coniugale, but Floreska (the Marzelline figure) gets the same treatment. In fact, she doesn't even appear in the final scene when the hero's brother (instead of a government minister) shows up. It's as though she's just a secondary character who is there to fulfill a dramaturgical purpose, and once she's fulfilled it, neither librettists nor composers give her much thought.

So good for Flimm for redressing the balance.

Florestan
August 11th, 2015, 06:39 PM
Another thing about the Harnoncourt Fidelio DVD. When Don Fernando hands the knife to Leonore to free Florestan, he hands it to her point at her face. Then when Leonore cuts the rope (what happened to chains they sing about?) she pulls the knife towards her face. These people obviously do not know the most basic knife safety information. Ha, but as much as the rope is weird, it apparently was done so that cleverly, the instrument intended for Florestans death turns into the instrument for Florestans release from his chains (rope). And was that a switchblade that Pizarro wielded? Did they have switchblades back then.

By the way, besides two Fidelio DVDS I own, and two I watched/am watching on You Tube (and will buy if I can find at the right price used), I have two more in the mail to me, and a burning desire to buy a couple more after that.

I won't be getting the one starring Melanie Diener (Haitink) though, after seeing this in a couple of reviews:


There are some curiously token moments as well, as when Leonore, announcing to Pizarro that she is a woman, does so not by letting down her hair but instead yanking both sides of her shirt open a la Demi Moore in Striptease, revealing her naked breasts.



A tall woman, she acts convincingly, except learning how to walk like a man, and reveals herself as a woman to Pizarro by tearing open her tunic to reveal naked female breasts; soft porn reaches opera!

Amfortas
August 11th, 2015, 10:37 PM
Thanks for the tip! I've ordered it to add to my soft porn opera collection.

Soave_Fanciulla
August 12th, 2015, 04:40 AM
Thanks for the tip! I've ordered it to add to my soft porn opera collection.

Better get this too. Everyone is starkers for the whole of the prologue.

http://i.prs.to/t_200/alphaalpha710.jpg

Florestan
August 12th, 2015, 11:29 AM
Thanks for the tip! I've ordered it to add to my soft porn opera collection.

A 2 hour opera for 2 seconds of soft porn? Hardly worth adding to your collection.

BTW, Beethoven surely would not have approved of this little twist to the opera.

MAuer
August 12th, 2015, 12:03 PM
It just sounds silly. The men may initially be astonished when she reveals that she's Florestan's wife, but I don't think they question her word or would need such graphic proof.

Amfortas
August 13th, 2015, 02:55 PM
It just sounds silly. The men may initially be astonished when she reveals that she's Florestan's wife, but I don't think they question her word or would need such graphic proof.

Some of us can be *very* demanding.

Florestan
August 22nd, 2015, 05:51 AM
Just finished another Fidelio (#5, with 4 more to go):
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If you can get this on CD, go for it. The music and vocals are wonderful. Ben Heppner, in particular, sings a great Florestan. I'll add that Karita Mattila did not show near the emotion that Gundula Janowitz (Bernstein) or Gwyneth Jones (Bohm) showed, but has a very nice voice.

Visually, everything in this is wrong, including the Rocco who is not old enough to be Marzelline's father. It also has many similarities to the Harnoncourt Fidelio DVD, including a rope instead of chains for Florestan, Leonore not knowing how to handle a knife and pulling it up and towards her face to cut the rope, a big slab/metal cover propped up from a hole in the floor at the cistern, tossing of money during the gold aria and Marzelline and Leonore scampering after it. Now which of these operas is the first? The stage director of the second one must have liked the other very much to copy it so much.

But frankly, this was in my opinion more of a farcical production and I will be getting rid of the DVD. I am strongly oriented towards the traditional productions, and this one is not.

MAuer
August 22nd, 2015, 11:29 AM
The similarities to the Zürich Opera production are no accident -- Jürgen Flimm directed both of them.

Florestan
August 22nd, 2015, 01:45 PM
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.

Florestan
September 9th, 2015, 12:35 AM
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.
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31VC95u5mAL.jpg

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.
http://i.ytimg.com/vi/rnWJhdtUcNU/hqdefault.jpg

But on Amazon this one gets rave reviews so I must not have the same view of what is good in an opera.

MAuer
September 9th, 2015, 11:13 AM
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!

Florestan
September 12th, 2015, 05:15 AM
Finally, I watched this Fidelio movie
http://cdn.naxos.com/SharedFiles/images/cds/others/101301.gif

It is a unique Fidelio production that you can read about here (http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=300381) 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.

Florestan
April 8th, 2017, 02:06 PM
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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).

Florestan
April 9th, 2017, 04:49 AM
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.