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Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 1st, 2012, 10:56 PM
This one is really good:

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Kiri Te Kanawa shines in this one!
What a beautiful voice, precise and classy!
A bonus is a very young Natalie Dessay as Milli. It was a surprise for me, I hadn't noticed that she was in this, since at the time she was probably unknown and her name is not even on the DVD cover. But the star of the show is Kiri, no doubt about it. Even though in looks she is too old for the role of Arabella, her singing and her classy stance are so incredible that one doesn't even notice that a teenager is being portrayed by a middle aged woman.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 1st, 2012, 10:57 PM
Richard Strauss: Daphne on DVD
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The opera itself is beautiful. The big star is R. Strauss' orchestration.
The production has very good singing and good playing/conducting.
That's where the good ends.
This is a non-staging. It's staging minimalism pushed to an extreme.
This is no different from a CD.
The images don't add *anything* to the opera.
Nothing happens in terms of staging. Apollo has no arrows. Every time people talk about his arms, he just stands there with no arms whatsoever. Daphne doesn't change into a tree, she just walks around during the famous metamorphosis scene. The ballet is very mediocre. The characters most of the time throughout this production just stand and sing. They sing well, but there is no need to buy this as a DVD. Just get a CD. And by the way, the soprano who does Daphne looks much older than her mother Gaea. Apollo doesn't look godly at all, much less the Sun god, dressed in... guess what? A simple black gown. And don't get fooled by the cover. There is nothing inside that looks like the cover.
This is complete dissociation between the music/libretto, and the staging. Complete. If I didn't have the stage directions from a libretto that I downloaded from the internet, I wouldn't have understood the plot, because when essential events are happening during the vocal or the orchestral numbers as per the narration in the stage directions (e.g., "Apollo points an arrow at Leukippos while Daphne tries to get in between them") on the screen there is absolutely nothing happening... just people standing and singing or waiting for the orchestra to get to the next part. It's like a concert version, except that there is this elaborate machinery in the middle of the stage with holes and moving parts (which makes no sense whatsoever). At least in the first scene there is a tree - the only prop in the whole thing. If you happen to bump into this DVD and it's cheaper than a CD version, then buy it, put it in your DVD player but turn the TV off and just listen to the opera (which is beautiful enough).

Sometimes stage directors do too much. This one did too little. Weird. Because if they wanted a concert version, then why have the elaborate stage machinery? With the money they spent with the moving parts of the stage, they could have bought some arrows for Apollo and had some leaves sprig on Daphne...

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 1st, 2012, 10:59 PM
Richard Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos
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Probably not the best version around but good enough, especially because of outstanding singing from Susan Anthony in the title role, pretty good Bacchus with Jon Villars, and excellent Zerbinetta in terms of acting (not as much in terms of singing, small voice) with Iride Martinez, plus very good conducting by Sir Colin Davis. Sophie Koch was a rather annoying Composer. The minor roles were OK. Staging was rather ugly and bleh in the first act, better in the second act. Anyway, Ariadne auf Naxos is an opera that takes a while to get going (the entire first act is rather boring with all the whining) but when it does, it delivers (the second act has some of the best R. Strauss music). It is theatrically problematic with a lack of unity, and too messy in its attempt to mix opera buffa and lyric tragedy, so, it's one of these operas better listened to than seen, except that this version is pretty good in terms of acting as far as Zerbinetta is concerned, so it's nice to watch that part.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 1st, 2012, 10:59 PM
Richard Strauss: Elektra on DVD
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Eva Marton is a fearsome Electra. She is a little passed her prime with some wobble but one hardly notices it thanks to her excellent acting, powerful stage presence, and intense emotional impact with her her heart and soul fully expressed to the point of tears while she sings. Claudio Abbado in my opinion was excellent and got from the Vienna State Orchestra a rather full and resonant sound, I really can't understand why he was booed at the end. Brigitte Fassbänder steals the show even though Klytemnestra has less stage time. She is crazed, decrepit, deranged, frightening, incredibly effective. Cheryl Studer is excellent as Chrysothemis as well. It's a rather fabulous cast.

The staging is another high point of this production. It is appropriately dark, with a huge statue of Agamemnon that has been decapitated. The head lies on the ground at the back of the stage, and Elektra roams all the time around the feet of the statue, with very interesting symbolic effect. There are ropes hanging from the top of the statue like they're preparing to finish bringing it down, and the characters keep getting entangled in the ropes, adding to the oppressive atmosphere.

Highly recommended, folks!

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 1st, 2012, 11:01 PM
Richard Strauss: Die Frau Ohne Schatten on DVD
It is phenomenal!!!

Lush orchestration with 164 instruments, very good libretto, interesting symbolic and poetic work, plenty of opportunities for brilliant singing!

This is the real thing, folks!

I was bored one of these days, looking for easy/pleasant works with pretty sopranos...

OK, this one is not easy, not pleasant in that sense (but very rewarding!) and the female singers on the DVD I'm watching are all but attractive (but fortunately, they can sing!)

But wow! I see that the right antidote for boredom is high quality. This is of the highest possible quality, up there with the best Wagner works.

The sheer scope of this work, with 3h25' of running time not counting intermissions, 13 singing roles with the whole gamut of fachs plus singing lines for 5 unborn children, 3 servants, 3 watchmen and 6 other solo voices commenting upon the action, plust the above mentioned 164-instrument orchestra and full chorus, several scene changes, and some rather supernatural scenes, puts it into the category of hard-to-stage, demanding pieces that most opera companies can't afford, which likely explains its lack of popularity.

In my opinion, this is the best Richard Strauss opera I've seen so far, and this is not small peanuts because I'm a big fan of some of his operas.

About the production:

Spectacular playing/conducting, it's the Wiener Philharmoniker under Sir Georg Solti, enough said!

Singing is uniformly good, with Studer, Moser, Marton, Hale, Lipovsek, and even the luxury of having Terfel in a minor role. A star-studded production! No weak link anywhere.

Staging is very effective - traditional in costumes, relatively minimalistic, but also visually striking and with tasteful scenarios. (I particularly like the visual effect of the red falcon perched on a tree while the orchestra makes falcon-like sounds).

This is an A+ opera in an A+ production. A sure winner! Get it, folks!

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Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 1st, 2012, 11:02 PM
Richard Strauss: Capriccio on DVD
This is a flawless performance:

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Traditionalists will love it, with the lavish period costumes. Kiri is in great form, and we see Troyanos for the last time before she died two months later. The boys are great as well. There is nothing negative about this DVD and I can recommend it even without checking out the competition (Fleming).

The opera itself is not my R. Strauss' favorite, due to some longueurs (the Theater Director's monologue goes on forever and ever) and lack of action, but it is on the other hand interesting for its tribute to the artform and for several strong musical numbers, especially the spectacular last scene.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 1st, 2012, 11:03 PM
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OK, I'm watching this, and I'm disappointed. Granted that I wasn't paying close attention because I had it playing while I was processing the Meistersinger post for the Recommended DVDs project (and it's time consuming, 90 minutes working on it) so I half-watched, half-missed three fifths of the opera.

But still, this must be R. Strauss's weakest work, at least among the ones I know (this is the 9th one of his that I see). The contrast is even more striking because I recently watched his Die Frau ohne Schatten, which is an astounding masterpiece. This one seems very lightweight by comparison, although they were composed one right after the other.

I may have to give it another chance paying more attention, and most importantly, getting a version sung in German. This one is sung in English, and I hate opera in translation. Oops, too bad, I looked it up, it looks like there aren't any other DVD versions of this opera. There is an old VHS version with the Bayerisches Staatsorchester conducted by Joseph Keilberth (1963), and this one. That's it. At least the VHS one is sung in German.

Anyway, the story is based on the real relationship between Strauss and his wife Pauline, and on a real life event when they almost divorced each other in the context of her being jealous of him. But it you ask me, I find this libretto (authored by R. Strauss himself, unlike those of his other operas) terribly boring. Hearing about a nagging, neurotic and impulsive wife for 2 and a half hours is not exactly my idea of fun - although, of course, at the end they reconcile and make up (their real life marriage is said to have been a very loving one).

Apparently, during the world premiere, when Pauline Strauss was told "it's gotta be pretty exciting to have an opera based on you" - she said "I don't give a damn."http://www.talkclassical.com/images/smilies/lol.gif
I wonder what kind of ego trip R. Strauss was going through, to expose his marital problems for the world to see, like this. Weird.

Edited later: Ego trip indeed. The opera ends with her singing to him: "You are my handsome, faithful, wonderful man." Go figure. LOL

Strauss' orchestral music doesn't disappoint, especially and appropriately, during the intermezzi... but the vocal music for me is marred by the fact that it is sung in English. I don't care much for Felicity Lott's performance here, and even less for John Pringle's.

Maybe the best feature of this DVD is that every time there is an orchestral intermezzo, they show real life pictures of R. Strauss and his family. If I could edit it and just listen to the orchestral pieces while watching the pictures, I'd probably like it better.

The technical quality of this DVD is not great, and both the orchestra and the singers can't be heard very well. The only options are English subtitles on and off, and scene selection. No bonus features. The production is outdated, and the image is 1.33:1.

So, definitely I can't recommended this DVD (except for the clever slide shows of R. Strauss's family pictures), but maybe if this opera gets another DVD version, I'll be willing to explore it again.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 1st, 2012, 11:04 PM
Richard Strauss: Salome on DVD
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Based on the fact that this DVD won the Salome round in our "most recommended DVDs" project, I finally got to see it today.

This is as close to perfection as filmed opera can be. *Everything* works in this production. First of all, you take an operatic masterpiece by one of the best opera composers in history, based on top quality literary material with biblical source tinted with madness and sex and corruption, with innovative music for its time, powerful orchestration, terrific pace, outstanding dramatic impact. Then you add spectacular singing, exquisite acting, fabulously homogeneous cast with no weak links even in supporting roles and with everybody looking the part, very successful scenarios, good direction and camera work in a period staging with no Regie **, well done lip syncing, incredibly good orchestra and conductor, and the result is one of the most essential DVDs for any opera collection. Absolutely fascinating! A++!

Buy it! You won't regret it. The whole thing is so atmospheric and so dramatic! Teresa Stratas delivers one of the best singing and acting jobs I've ever seen in the operatic universe. Her facial expressions are unbelievable! This is a flawless interpretation - or almost flawless (she did mess up vocally a couple of times, but one needs to be a nitpicker like me to even notice it). But her portrait of a spoiled brat in the first half and of a completely unhinged woman in the second half is something for the ages.

Astrid Varnay of course is way past her vocal prime but it doesn't really matter since her acting is incredible and one expects from the grotesque Herodias a shaky and rough voice anyway.

It's quite incredible how everything clicks in this production, every single scene is well done with just the right amount of movement from the actors/singers, the best possible camera angles, precise use of close-ups, good balance between the orchestra and the singers, in summary, everything! This is a masterful work from start to finish by a mightily competent team of artists.

My one complaint is that Teresa Stratas didn't risk a nude scene like her colleagues Malfitano, Ewing, and Mattila did... the only downside...http://www.talkclassical.com/images/smilies/lol.gif

The image and sound are of surprisingly good quality for a 1974 film.

The only room for improvement in this video masterpiece would be the technological side (I'd love to have this same production on widescreen, DTS, and blu-ray high def - and while we are in dreamland, some more daring from Teresa in the Dance of the Seven Veils, LOL).

But opera on DVD can't get much better than this. It's hard to beat this one.

Soave_Fanciulla
January 2nd, 2012, 07:36 PM
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When I saw this for the first time I fell head over heels in love with it - so much so that I stayed up too late and actually had to get up early next morning to finish watching it - absolutely riveting. I enjoyed it more than Rosenkavalier (of course musically it never quite reaches the heady heights of the presentation of the rose and final trio, although there is a duet in the first act that is utterly gorgeous). Although the story is unbelievable the themes are well explored - a young girl's longing for Mr Right, jealousy and forgiveness, and of course the wry little pokes at Viennese society.

This particular production is carried by the singing and acting talents of the wonderful Kiri te Kanawa. What's not to like? She sounds utterly glorious and is totally invested in her character. I can't help comparing her to another famous diva, Angela Gheorghiu, whom I recently watched in la Traviata. Gheorghiu sang to the audience, and all you got is "look at gorgeous moi". Te Kanawa sings to her interlocutor, and her face and movements reflect the words and the action. Someone (was it on this forum, or an Amazon reviewer) mentioned the first moment when she meets the mysterious man who is to be her true love - her reaction was brilliant, no grand opera gestures, just a shift in expression, masterly stuff.

As a female, I also enjoyed the presence of some real male romantic leads, including in this version the delectable David Kuebler. All those women get a bit wearying in Rosenkavalier, and Ochs is not a strong contender in the hot guy field:D.

Soave_Fanciulla
January 2nd, 2012, 07:43 PM
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An electrifying portrayal by Teresa Stratas of this beautiful unhinged girl-woman adrift in a corrupt court. The staging is very good and the supporting cast excellent, especially Astrid Varnay as the haggish Herodias (not vocally great, but the acting is fantastic). It's a film but I didn't mind the lip-synching - they seemed to be actually singing the words and it's not a distraction.

I definitely recommend it.

HarpsichordConcerto
January 2nd, 2012, 09:05 PM
Richard Strauss: Daphne on DVD

The opera itself is beautiful. The big star is R. Strauss' orchestration.
The production has very good singing and good playing/conducting.
That's where the good ends.
This is a non-staging. It's staging minimalism pushed to an extreme.
This is no different from a CD.
The images don't add *anything* to the opera.
Nothing happens in terms of staging. ...

I watched that several weeks ago. I agree with your summary. I thought the music was as exquisite as ever by Strauss, with an especially beautiful solo ending to the whole work.

The staging was "minimalism" in a recognisably modern feel. Sometimes I think just because an opera was based on classical themes like Daphne, stage directors either go one extreme avant-garde route or minimalism; rarely a period-ish staging becasue that would be too "boring" to have Apollo wearing robes and other characters with wings and clouds. But that's what the whole opera was about.

Aksel
January 5th, 2012, 05:36 PM
So I just watched the 1980 Met Elektra with Birgit Nilsson and Leonie Rysanek.


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First of all; wow. Just wow. This is by no means the best Elektra out there, but it is in no way the worst.

There are several drawbacks to this production. For one, the cast is generally rather old. But I won't deny that the fact that Birgit Nilsson at 62 still had the voice to sing Elektra, is rather impressive. And impressive it is.
The second is the staging, but we'll get to that soon enough.

So, let's get to the heart of the matter, which is the very strange sensation of hearing someone like Birgit Nilsson sing one of the toughest soprano roles ever written at the ripe old age of 62, well past her prime. With just about every other singer attempting something like this at that age, this would manifest itself in excessive wobble at least a fourth wide, but the performance can still be saved if the performance is dramatic enough. What I found the most stunning about Birgit Nilsson's Elektra is the fact that the wobble isn't there. Sure, yes, there are some iffy high notes to begin with, where the minimal amount of vibrato sounds somewhat uncontrolled, as well as a few notes where the intonation was rather interesting. But nevermind that. This is really totally forgiveable stuff that I don't really have any beef with. The lady was 62 when she did this, for heaven's sake.
But let's get back to the matter at hand. From a few minutes into Elektra's opening monologue right after the maids' scene, Birgit Nilsson proves what a force of nature she was (Of course this shouldn't be doubted as she could sing this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6HizoORuYw) at 78, but ah). Elektra's opening monologue is truly a hard bit of music to sing, with high notes flying at you at just about every opportunity, and very surprisingly, Birgit Nilsson navigates them with ease. The final high C comes out like nothing. Although the beginning of the monologue is somewhat iffy, both in intonation and voice, but not to worry, the last third is sensational!
From there, things just get better and better. At times I really had to wonder if the lady singing actually was a 62 year old Birgit Nilsson, and not a lot younger. She sounded fresh and in good form, and drowned the Metropolitan opera orchestra with her singing.
Her Elektra was surprisingly alert and present, and not as visibly mad I picture the character. She was refreshingly sardonic both in the scene with Leonie Rysanek's Chrysostemis and in the scene immediately following it withMignon Dunn's Klytämnestra, and yet she managed to also be loving and almost manic, especially in the scene with Orest. A very neuanced portayal with some rather good acting as well.

Elektra's sister, Chrysostemis, was sung by none other than Leonie Rysanek, a role she had done to great renown. While not exactly in her prime (she was 54 when she did this), she still manages to pull the role off in spectacular fashion. Her own monologue is surprisingly neuanced, and because of her age, there is a certain poignancy added to it. Not only is Chrysostemis desperate to live a normal life, but she has been dreaming about it for so long that she is too old to do so.
Generally, a fantastic portrayal sung very well indeed, although she had a tendency of getting drowned by the orchestra, especially during the "Elektra, Schwester!" bit.

Elektra's mother, Klytämnestra was sung by maybe the least famous out of all the singers; Mignon Dunn. But do not be afeard, because she delivers a glowing performance of a decrepit, old, paranoid, scared and superstitious queen, without resorting to caricature. There were some tendencies of park&bark, but I didn't really mind. She's a queen! Her delivery of "Ich habe keine gute nächte" sent shivers down my spine. The end of hers and Elektra's scene was chilling!

Elektra's brother, Orest, was sung by Donald McIntyre. I got the feeling he was just reciting lines of text, and didn't think his perfomance better than good to average. He did have very nice legs, though, of which he showed plenty. Out of all the main characters, I felt he was the most one-dimensional.


The Met orchestra was conducted by James Levine, looking a lot better than how we're used to seeing him today. I felt that there were some very good moments, but others were uninteresting or just plain boring. I felt that especially the entrance of Klytämnestra should be played as vulgarly and horribly as possible, almost making the listener/viewer feel unwell as the procession is striding across the stage. But, I will say that the largely one-dimensional and at times rather boring orchestral playing might very well be because of the rather poor sound quality, which is nothing more than just passable.
The image quality is also that; just OK, nothing spectacular.


The staging was perhaps the least interesting thing of it all. It showed the courtyard in endless tones of brown and black, with the stone flooring all cracked and leveled and a opening in the back. The staging was effective, although very uninteresting and didn't really add anything to the performance.

All in all, a spectacular performance by spectacular singers, maybe not in their prime, but nonetheless, an amazing feat. Highly recommended.

jflatter
February 8th, 2012, 08:54 PM
http://img.bluray-disc.de/files/filme/Strauss-Elektra-Lehnhoff.jpg

I watched this for the first time a couple of weeks ago and was so impressed that I watched it again pretty shortly afterwards. I personally feel that this is the best Elektra DVD since the Abbado effort from Vienna.

The production is another of Nikolaus Lehnhoff's wonderful efforts and is right up there with his very best productions. What he does well is turn the sympathies of the audience on their heads. For once I felt sorry for Klytaemnestra as she seemed to be this woman who totally paralysed by fear and did not seem to have any bravado. She also did not get portrayed as some sort of old hag as seen in other productions. It is a modern production but worked very well.

Irene Theorin is a powerful Elektra who maybe doesn't have the vocal power to get through the role effortlessly, but who does. What she does convey well is the hell bent obsession on destroying her murderous mother.

Waltraud Meier as Klytaemnestra was sensational. Dressed up like a Garbo/Gloria Swanson type figure who was from another age. However she was stylish yet very vunerable. Her scene with Elektra was of the highest quality.

Eva-Maria Westbroek was a pretty good Chysothemis, although at some point her voice did seem a bit wobbly and I think that it's possible that she may have been suffering from an indisposition at the time this was recorded.

Rene Pape was a magnificent Orestes. I would actually say that he was possibly the finest that I have heard. The recognition scene was again top drawer and possibly the best I have heard that particular segment of the opera.

Robert Gambill took the role of Aegisth in which is a pretty thankless role.

I also have to say that another major factor with this blu ray is the conducting of Daniele Gatti and the Vienna Philharmonic. Obviously the Vienna Phil know this piece very well but it was a beautifully paced and emotional reading from Gatti which sounded absolutely divine.

Overall a strong contender to be one of the best Elektra's around.

Aksel
February 8th, 2012, 09:44 PM
Great review! It's in my UWP, and I've been looking forward to watching it.

HarpsichordConcerto
February 8th, 2012, 10:29 PM
Overall a strong contender to be one of the best Elektra's around.

Thanks for the notes. I'll take your word. The staging looked crap, which was one reason I haven't yet bought it.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
February 8th, 2012, 11:54 PM
http://img.bluray-disc.de/files/filme/Strauss-Elektra-Lehnhoff.jpg

I watched this for the first time a couple of weeks ago and was so impressed that I watched it again pretty shortly afterwards. I personally feel that this is the best Elektra DVD since the Abbado effort from Vienna.

The production is another of Nikolaus Lehnhoff's wonderful efforts and is right up there with his very best productions. What he does well is turn the sympathies of the audience on their heads. For once I felt sorry for Klytaemnestra as she seemed to be this woman who totally paralysed by fear and did not seem to have any bravado. She also did not get portrayed as some sort of old hag as seen in other productions. It is a modern production but worked very well.

Irene Theorin is a powerful Elektra who maybe doesn't have the vocal power to get through the role effortlessly, but who does. What she does convey well is the hell bent obsession on destroying her murderous mother.

Waltraud Meier as Klytaemnestra was sensational. Dressed up like a Garbo/Gloria Swanson type figure who was from another age. However she was stylish yet very vunerable. Her scene with Elektra was of the highest quality.

Eva-Maria Westbroek was a pretty good Chysothemis, although at some point her voice did seem a bit wobbly and I think that it's possible that she may have been suffering from an indisposition at the time this was recorded.

Rene Pape was a magnificent Orestes. I would actually say that he was possibly the finest that I have heard. The recognition scene was again top drawer and possibly the best I have heard that particular segment of the opera.

Robert Gambill took the role of Aegisth in which is a pretty thankless role.

I also have to say that another major factor with this blu ray is the conducting of Daniele Gatti and the Vienna Philharmonic. Obviously the Vienna Phil know this piece very well but it was a beautifully paced and emotional reading from Gatti which sounded absolutely divine.

Overall a strong contender to be one of the best Elektra's around.

Yes, I saw this recently at a friend's house - did not publish a review at the time, but now I don't even need to, because you said exactly what I'd have said, I entirely agree with your review. Irene Theorin indeed has her voice in poor shape at her age but nevertheless delivers a wonderful performance, especially in her acting. Waltraud Meier as usual is excellent, what does this woman do that is not of the highest possible quality? Such an artist! Eva-Maria is another super talented actress, she portrayed the vulnerability of her character very well. The Vienna Phil like you said was superb. I thought the bleak scenarios worked very well for this piece, and like you, I believe that this is one of the best Elektras on video in spite of Theorin's vocal troubles. It's one of these videos that show that opera as a theatrical art is not only in the singing, when a production in which the principal singer is past her prime can still be one of the best available renditions of an opera.

jflatter
April 19th, 2012, 06:59 PM
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Some of the members of this forum may recall that I don't mind a modern production. So maybe you would suspect that I wouldn't mind this production by Christof Loy from 2011 in Salzburg. I certainly liked his controversial Tristan und Isolde at Covent Garden when many people didn't. What Loy does here is to try and reset the opera to the recording that Karl Bohm made of the peice in 1955. To be clearer, it is mainly set in the recording studio. However a clever and innovative concept that this may be Loy has managed to turn a piece that is notoriously difficult to stage into a rather boring virtual concert performance with the singers wearing post war fashions. I would have been seriously cheesed off if I had paid Salzburg ticket prices to see that when I could have seen a cheaper concert performance in your local concert hall. In fact for much of the time I was bored. Maybe I was in the wrong mood for this I don't know and will give it a second viewing before unequivocally dismissing it but I did not get on with this.

The perverse part of course was that the music was of a great standard. Thielemann conducted magnificantly and the cast, particularly Wolfgang Koch and Evelyn Herlitzius as the Dyer and his wife were in my view very good. Honourable mentions also go to Stephen Gould and Anne Schwanewilms.

If you like this opera a lot it may be worth getting for the musical highpoints but I would not recommend this to first timers. I understand that the Claus Guth production in La Scala was a lot more successful and will be at Covent Garden in Autumn 2013. So I would hope that gets a DVD release as well at some point.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
April 19th, 2012, 08:32 PM
Oh bummer. This is one of my all time favorite operas and I was hoping for a very good production. Too bad. I'll stick with the Solti.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51fHgY24KVL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

HarpsichordConcerto
April 20th, 2012, 09:28 PM
Here's my version of Die Frau Ohne Schatten . Adequate and fine staging.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZFH-vwYrZA&feature=player_embedded

Amfortas
April 20th, 2012, 10:07 PM
Here's my version of Die Frau Ohne Schatten . Adequate and fine staging.

Though not complete like the Solti. Always some fly in the ointment. ;)

Dark_Angel
May 12th, 2012, 06:08 PM
http://img.bluray-disc.de/files/filme/Strauss-Elektra-Lehnhoff.jpg

I watched this for the first time a couple of weeks ago and was so impressed that I watched it again pretty shortly afterwards. I personally feel that this is the best Elektra DVD since the Abbado effort from Vienna.

Overall a strong contender to be one of the best Elektra's around.

Love the Klytamnestra by Waltraud Meier here, nice modern update version character......

I would buy this but Elektra not one of my very fav operas and already have the Bohm film version, blu ray makes it even more tempting

http://www.merkur-online.de/bilder/2010/08/09/872336/133401743-klytaemnestra.9.jpg

Herkku
September 23rd, 2012, 03:30 PM
944

and

945

For many years I waited for a modern recording of Die Liebe der Danaë and imagined that the penultimate opera of Richard Strauss would be something spectacular, completely ignoring the fact that it had not been performed anywhere and that there could be a reason for it. I just wanted it to be great! Well, the composer himself didn’t live to see the first public performance, because after the failed attempt to have a “final solution” with Hitler that kind of happenings were banned. There is a photograph with the composer taken from the semi-public dress rehearsal in 1944 in the accompanying booklet of the CDs. That’s how far it went.

943

Now I have the opera on both CD and DVD and I am not sure what to think of it. I have listened to it and watched it several times, but although I kind of like the music, which is unmistakably Straussian, I don’t see and hear the masterpiece I was hoping for. Something like Vier letzte Lieder (although Capriccio was still to come). Accordingly, I am a little disappointed and others (coming to it without my overenthusiastic hopes) may find it more rewarding.

It took me several times to understand the message of the opera. Perhaps I wasn’t paying attention or I’m falling victim to presenile (?) dementia, but it tells something of the captivatingness (is there such a word?) of it. Anyway, it seems to be crystallized in the end in Jupiter’s words: “Menschenliebe: Gefahr dem Gotte!”, which reminds me of Wagner’s The Ring of Nibelungs. The earthly love rules!

Die Liebe der Danaë was based on Hugo von Hoffmanstahl’s ideas, but the libretto is by Joseph Gregor. Pollux, the king of Eos, is desperately short of cash. A wealthy suitor for his daughter is hoped for. King Midas (rumoured to be filthy rich) faking to be his servant appears and Danaë falls in love with him. Jupiter arrives purporting to be the king coming to woo Danaë (everything is a ruse to hide his worldly ways from Juno!), but it’s a no-go. Danaë has set her sights firmly on the messenger (who in reality is a donkey driver from Syria). Jupiter is not amused and curses “Midas” with the gift of turning everything he touches into gold (a man like that would be in great demand these days!). Unfortunately this causes Danaë to turn into (stone cold) gold. To reverse the curse, poverty has to be accepted, but it’s OK with Danaë and the donkey driver from Syria. Love prevails, conquers all etc.

Incidently we have the same soprano, Manuela Uhl, on both the CD and the DVD singing Danaë. I like her more on CD, but the sound recording of the DVD may be partly at fault. Her voice isn’t exceptionally beautiful, but it isn’t bad either, and she hits the notes. She sounds better on the CD recording, which is a live take from Munich 2003. The DVD has been recorded in Berlin, 2011. Midas, Matthias Klink on the DVD and Robert Chafing on the CD, is plausible on both media. So is the rather Wotanesque character of Jupiter, Mark Delavan and Franz Grundheber, respectively. The quartet of Jupiter's earlier partners (Semele, Europa, Alkmene and Leda) is definitely better on the CD version. Andrew Litton conducts the DVD, Ulrich Windfuhr the CD version. I fail to notice much difference there. I should mention, though, that to properly discern what goes on in the orchestra, I have to use headphones! The staging on the DVD version is simple but OK, the gold very much in evidence as befits the theme. What bothers me a little is the grand piano hanging upside down above everything all the time. In the beginning it seems that the debtors of Pollux are confiscating it, but is it meant to remind us of the power of money for the rest of the opera? If you have an explanation, pray, tell me!

The final verdict: the CD version is better, but if you prefer DVDs, there is no competition.

Schigolch
October 19th, 2012, 11:25 AM
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41G8F7QAS6L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Vitalija Blinstrubyte, Helena
Stephen O’Mara, Menelaus
Yelda Kodalli, Aithra
Johannes von Duisburg, Altair
Ulfried Haselsteiner, Da-Ud
Regina Mauel, Die allwissende Muschel
Giulia Mattana, Hermione

Orchestra Teatro Lírico de Cagliari
Gérard Korsten, conductor


To many, this wouldn't look at first sight like a good option to hear Strauss's neglected opera Die ägyptische Helena.

However, it's arguably the best one available to me.

Helena is a problematic opera. Starting from Maria Jeritza's retirement from the project (she would be replaced at the Dresden's premiere by Elisabeth Rethberg, despite Hofmannsthal's protestations. Jeritza sang the part later, at Vienna and New York). The plot, pivoting on the legend of a false Helen of Troy being kidnapped by Paris, while the true Helen remained hidden in Egypt, is also very convoluted, featuring perhaps the most outrageous operatic role ever: The omniscient sea-shell.

Five years after the premiere Strauss introduced some changes, and the opera toured again in Europe and America, but never won a secure place in the repertory. There is some glorious music to be played and to be sung, but as the full opera goes, it's not among Strauss's finest efforts. On top of that, the score makes terrific demands on the principal singers.

But even in a place so unrelated to Strauss as Cagliari, the capital of the island of Sardinia, good opera performances can be heard. This Helena, live from the year 2001, is one of them. I've heard live Mr. O'Mara and his voice is not powerful enough for Menelaus, but he made a decent effort. And his was the weakest part in the cast. The other, and even less known singers, provided a very nice performance, as a team, especially Yelda Kodalli's Althira and Vitalija Blinstrubyte's alluring Helena.


Overall: B


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSXXJbP9xvI

Vesteralen
December 17th, 2012, 12:26 PM
944

Incidently we have the same soprano, Manuela Uhl, on both the CD and the DVD singing Danaë. I like her more on CD, but the sound recording of the DVD may be partly at fault. Her voice isn’t exceptionally beautiful, but it isn’t bad either, and she hits the notes. She sounds better on the CD recording, which is a live take from Munich 2003. The DVD has been recorded in Berlin, 2011. Midas, Matthias Klink on the DVD and Robert Chafing on the CD, is plausible on both media. So is the rather Wotanesque character of Jupiter, Mark Delavan and Franz Grundheber, respectively. The quartet of Jupiter's earlier partners (Semele, Europa, Alkmene and Leda) is definitely better on the CD version. Andrew Litton conducts the DVD, Ulrich Windfuhr the CD version. I fail to notice much difference there. I should mention, though, that to properly discern what goes on in the orchestra, I have to use headphones! The staging on the DVD version is simple but OK, the gold very much in evidence as befits the theme. What bothers me a little is the grand piano hanging upside down above everything all the time. In the beginning it seems that the debtors of Pollux are confiscating it, but is it meant to remind us of the power of money for the rest of the opera? If you have an explanation, pray, tell me!

The final verdict: the CD version is better, but if you prefer DVDs, there is no competition.

Overall, I loved this DVD. I thought the final scene was genuinely moving. Ms. Uhl is as fine an actress as she is a singer, and I think the cast and crew made as good a case for this piece as they possibly could.

The piano didn't bother me at all. I can't say I really understood its significance, but whatever it was intended to symbolize, it did have the effect of enforcing a kind of unanimity of theme on the whole performance. I did get a little caught up in the possibility of a connection between music (maybe the music business?) and materialism, especially since, in addition to the hanging piano, the shower of gold was actually a shower of music manuscript pages - but, I really have no idea where that idea goes.

Vesteralen
December 21st, 2012, 03:37 PM
http://img.bluray-disc.de/files/filme/Strauss-Elektra-Lehnhoff.jpg

I watched this for the first time a couple of weeks ago and was so impressed that I watched it again pretty shortly afterwards. I personally feel that this is the best Elektra DVD since the Abbado effort from Vienna.

The production is another of Nikolaus Lehnhoff's wonderful efforts and is right up there with his very best productions. What he does well is turn the sympathies of the audience on their heads. For once I felt sorry for Klytaemnestra as she seemed to be this woman who totally paralysed by fear and did not seem to have any bravado. She also did not get portrayed as some sort of old hag as seen in other productions. It is a modern production but worked very well.

Irene Theorin is a powerful Elektra who maybe doesn't have the vocal power to get through the role effortlessly, but who does. What she does convey well is the hell bent obsession on destroying her murderous mother.

Waltraud Meier as Klytaemnestra was sensational. Dressed up like a Garbo/Gloria Swanson type figure who was from another age. However she was stylish yet very vunerable. Her scene with Elektra was of the highest quality.

Eva-Maria Westbroek was a pretty good Chysothemis, although at some point her voice did seem a bit wobbly and I think that it's possible that she may have been suffering from an indisposition at the time this was recorded.

Rene Pape was a magnificent Orestes. I would actually say that he was possibly the finest that I have heard. The recognition scene was again top drawer and possibly the best I have heard that particular segment of the opera.

Robert Gambill took the role of Aegisth in which is a pretty thankless role.

I also have to say that another major factor with this blu ray is the conducting of Daniele Gatti and the Vienna Philharmonic. Obviously the Vienna Phil know this piece very well but it was a beautifully paced and emotional reading from Gatti which sounded absolutely divine.

Overall a strong contender to be one of the best Elektra's around.

Forgive me for this, but I just can't help myself:

Here is a picture of Irene Pappas in the film version of Elektra - 1404

Every opera version of Elektra I've seen advertised on DVD (including the one above) features a singer about twice the size of Ms Pappas. Is there a reason for that?

Jephtha
December 21st, 2012, 04:23 PM
Forgive me for this, but I just can't help myself:

Here is a picture of Irene Pappas in the film version of Elektra - 1404

Every opera version of Elektra I've seen advetised on DVD (including he one above) features a singer about twice the size of Ms Pappas. Is there a reason for that?

Well, Miss Pappas does not need to project her voice into a two-thousand seat auditorium over a 110-piece orchestra playing fortissimo. Large ladies seem to have extra vocal power, generally speaking. I saw Linda Kelm, a far from petite lady, as Salome in a concert performance once, and even with the entire St. Louis Symphony behind her, her unamplified voice carried effortlessly. I doubt this would have been the case had she had the figure of a ballet dancer. Having said that, I will point out that the great Inge Borkh was a lithe lady who actually WAS a dancer, and seemed to have little trouble riding the huge orchestra as Agamemnon's daughter. Gwyneth Jones is another tiny lady whose voice came at you with the force of a gale blast. I saw her as Elektra in San Francisco opposite Helga Dernesch as her mother, and the large-voiced Dernesch sounded like a boy soprano next to Jones. Jones's voice was bigger (to my ear, at least)than Birgit Nilsson's. So I guess it has more to do with technique than with actual physical size.

Vesteralen
December 21st, 2012, 04:54 PM
Well, Miss Pappas does not need to project her voice into a two-thousand seat auditorium over a 110-piece orchestra playing fortissimo. Large ladies seem to have extra vocal power, generally speaking. I saw Linda Kelm, a far from petite lady, as Salome in a concert performance once, and even with the entire St. Louis Symphony behind her, her unamplified voice carried effortlessly. I doubt this would have been the case had she had the figure of a ballet dancer. Having said that, I will point out that the great Inge Borkh was a lithe lady who actually WAS a dancer, and seemed to have little trouble riding the huge orchestra as Agamemnon's daughter. Gwyneth Jones is another tiny lady whose voice came at you with the force of a gale blast. I saw her as Elektra in San Francisco opposite Helga Dernesch as her mother, and the large-voiced Dernesch sounded like a boy soprano next to Jones. Jones's voice was bigger (to my ear, at least)than Birgit Nilsson's. So I guess it has more to do with technique than with actual physical size.

Well, I suspected as much. So, would you say that some sopranos actually beef up on purpose to project better in some of these more demanding roles?

If they do, but it really is more a matter of technique than size, then that would seem to be a rather ill-conceived strategy.

Opera News in December said that Christine Goerke (from the photo it would seem another rather large person) brought down the house at Chicago's Lyric Opera in the role recently.

I'd love to experience a really good performance of this on DVD, but I'm afraid that, sad and shallow as it might seem, I'm going to wait for a performance that is both listenable and watchable before I take the plunge.

Jephtha
December 21st, 2012, 05:13 PM
Well, I suspected as much. So, would you say that some sopranos actually beef up on purpose to project better in some of these more demanding roles?

If they do, but it really is more a matter of technique than size, then that would seem to be a rather ill-conceived strategy.

Opera News in December said that Christine Goerke (from the photo it would seem another rather large person) brought down the house at Chicago's Lyric Opera in the role recently.

I'd love to experience a really good performance of this on DVD, but I'm afraid that, sad and shallow as it might seem, I'm going to wait for a performance that is both listenable and watchable before I take the plunge.

All of the singers I have spoken with about this issue say it is more a matter of what size your body is when you first 'firm up' your vocal technique. They told me that the muscle memory goes back to what it was when you learned to sing correctly. This may be true; I saw Kenneth Cox as Osmin in Il Seraglio about twenty-five years ago, and his voice was was quite large and evenly produced, and his many shirtless scenes revealed a slim and trim body.

As far as a good DVD, try the Unitel film on Deutsche Grammophon with Rysanek as Elektra. It has the usual theatre cuts, and Ligendza and Varnay just skirt the edge of listenability, but Rysanek is astounding in the title role. She is savage and relentless, but also tender and heartbreaking, most of all in the scenes with Orest(a commanding Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau). I also think Hildegard Behrens' performance on the DVD from the Met is quite good.

Vesteralen
December 21st, 2012, 05:33 PM
All of the singers I have spoken with about this issue say it is more a matter of what size your body is when you first 'firm up' your vocal technique. They told me that the muscle memory goes back to what it was when you learned to sing correctly. This may be true; I saw Kenneth Cox as Osmin in Il Seraglio about twenty-five years ago, and his voice was was quite large and evenly produced, and his many shirtless scenes revealed a slim and trim body.

As far as a good DVD, try the Unitel film on Deutsche Grammophon with Rysanek as Elektra. It has the usual theatre cuts, and Ligendza and Varnay just skirt the edge of listenability, but Rysanek is astounding in the title role. She is savage and relentless, but also tender and heartbreaking, most of all in the scenes with Orest(a commanding Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau). I also think Hildegard Behrens' performance on the DVD from the Met is quite good.

Thanks. What's good about that is that I can order it from my library system first. (And I just did.)

Jephtha
December 21st, 2012, 05:48 PM
Great! I hope you enjoy it.

Aksel
December 21st, 2012, 07:13 PM
The DVD with Birgit Nilsson and Rysanek from the Met is also amazing!
Nilsson sounds remarkably fresh for a then 62-year-old. I reviewed it a little back in this thread.

Jephtha
December 21st, 2012, 08:39 PM
The DVD with Birgit Nilsson and Rysanek from the Met is also amazing!
Nilsson sounds remarkably fresh for a then 62-year-old.

Yes, I agree. Phrases are a little short-breathed, and her lifelong tendency to sing sharp has grown noticeably worse, but really she is only competing with her younger self. Thank God this performance was preserved on video. It's just too bad Regina Resnik had given up Klytaemnestra by the time this was taped. Mignon Dunn is fine, but I would love to have seen Resnik and Nilsson sparring in the long scene they have together.

Amfortas
December 21st, 2012, 09:45 PM
I'd love to experience a really good performance of this on DVD, but I'm afraid that, sad and shallow as it might seem, I'm going to wait for a performance that is both listenable and watchable before I take the plunge.

If it helps, bear in mind that Elektra does not have to be portrayed as a conventionally pretty young girl. She's no one's love interest, and she certainly makes no effort to look attractive. Her sole obsession is revenge, and her appearance can be just as harsh and off-putting as her soul.

Jephtha
December 21st, 2012, 10:59 PM
If it helps, bear in mind that Elektra does not have to be portrayed as a conventionally pretty young girl. She's no one's love interest, and she certainly makes no effort to look attractive. Her sole obsession is revenge, and her appearance can be just as harsh and off-putting as her soul.

That's a good point. And as Vesteralen indicated, this is an example of an operatic character who is supposed to be starving to death, usually being portrayed by a singer with a sizeable avoirdupois. Another one would be Florestan in Fidelio. For someone who has been deliberately and gradually starved for two years, he is often played by someone who looks as if they have never stopped eating for two years! :ohmy:

Aksel
December 21st, 2012, 11:49 PM
Yes, I agree. Phrases are a little short-breathed, and her lifelong tendency to sing sharp has grown noticeably worse, but really she is only competing with her younger self. Thank God this performance was preserved on video. It's just too bad Regina Resnik had given up Klytaemnestra by the time this was taped. Mignon Dunn is fine, but I would love to have seen Resnik and Nilsson sparring in the long scene they have together.

Nilsson was 62. She gets a break for singing a bit sharp. And in any case sharp is far better than flat.

And yes. Resnik would have been great.

Aramis
December 21st, 2012, 11:56 PM
And in any case sharp is far better than flat

Agreed. That's why, for example, I always play A# instead of Bb when I play in D minor

Soave_Fanciulla
December 22nd, 2012, 07:25 PM
TAnother one would be Florestan in Fidelio. For someone who has been deliberately and gradually starved for two years, he is often played by someone who looks as if they have never stopped eating for two years! :ohmy:

Heppner in the Met version. Mattila could hardly get her arms around him for an embrace. I'm afraid it made me giggle.

Vesteralen
December 24th, 2012, 03:35 PM
That's a good point. And as Vesteralen indicated, this is an example of an operatic character who is supposed to be starving to death, usually being portrayed by a singer with a sizeable avoirdupois. Another one would be Florestan in Fidelio. For someone who has been deliberately and gradually starved for two years, he is often played by someone who looks as if they have never stopped eating for two years! :ohmy:

Yes. I agree with this. Irene Pappas was not what I would consider a conventionally pretty girl, even in her prime. She had a countenance that could expressively relate a character like Antigone or Elektra. It's just that she wasn't hefty.

Jephtha
December 24th, 2012, 06:11 PM
Heppner in the Met version. Mattila could hardly get her arms around him for an embrace. I'm afraid it made me giggle.

For an interesting production with a slim Florestan, see the Zurich Opera DVD conducted by Harnoncourt. It is handicapped by the dramatic cipher of Camilla Nylund as Leonore, but Jonas Kaufmann finally gives us a Florestan with both the right voice and physique. No way this guy was snacking on the side!

Soave_Fanciulla
December 25th, 2012, 02:53 AM
For an interesting production with a slim Florestan, see the Zurich Opera DVD conducted by Harnoncourt. It is handicapped by the dramatic cipher of Camilla Nylund as Leonore, but Jonas Kaufmann finally gives us a Florestan with both the right voice and physique. No way this guy was snacking on the side!

Yes, thanks Jephtha, I have got that too. Actually I like Camilla Nylund as well as Kaufmann.

MAuer
December 26th, 2012, 06:59 PM
For an interesting production with a slim Florestan, see the Zurich Opera DVD conducted by Harnoncourt. It is handicapped by the dramatic cipher of Camilla Nylund as Leonore, but Jonas Kaufmann finally gives us a Florestan with both the right voice and physique. No way this guy was snacking on the side!

This is actually my favorite version of the opera. Nylund and Kaufmann are my "Traumpaar" in the two leads . . . though I'd be curious to hear a Harteros/Kaufmann pairing (assuming she doesn't cancel.)

Jephtha
December 26th, 2012, 07:13 PM
This is actually my favorite version of the opera. Nylund and Kaufmann are my "Traumpaar" in the two leads . . . though I'd be curious to hear a Harteros/Kaufmann pairing (assuming she doesn't cancel.)

I should have qualified my criticism of Nylund with 'IMO', and I hasten to add I am only speaking of the dramatic side. It's just that, after Jones, Silja and Mattila, Nylund strikes me as a little anonymous. But I do like the production overall, and as Harnoncourt is my favorite conductor, I trust his judgement.

HarpsichordConcerto
December 31st, 2012, 03:11 AM
Just a brief note to mention this very fine recording and production.

Die Frau ohne Schatten (1918)

1446

Peter Seiffert (Der Kaiser), Luana Devol (Die Kaiserin), Marjana Lipovšek (Die Amme), Jan-Hendrik Rootering (Der Geisterbote) Alan Titus (Barak, der Färber), Janis Martin (Färberin), Bayerische Staatsoper, Wolfgang Sawallisch (conductor) & Ennosuke Ichikawa (stage director). Set by Setsu Asakura. Live Recording from The Aichi Prefectural Art Theatre, Nagoya, Japan, 1992.

A beautiful production that did not rubbish the story with minimal sets (but not minimlism) and Japanese-looking costumes and other oriental motifs, that keep me interested as far as what went on the stage.

The music was purely compelling, Straussian dramatic effects through the use of orchestral textures rather than the more lyrical styles of say, Der Rosenkavalier (relatively speaking). There must have been lots going on during the first few decades of the 20th century that sparked the use of these types of orchestral textures. Singing wise, nothing to fault. The roles must have been demanding to sing. I think the conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch must have really understood Strauss' music.

Jephtha
December 31st, 2012, 05:53 PM
Just a brief note to mention this very fine recording and production.

Die Frau ohne Schatten (1918)

1446

Peter Seiffert (Der Kaiser), Luana Devol (Die Kaiserin), Marjana Lipovšek (Die Amme), Jan-Hendrik Rootering (Der Geisterbote) Alan Titus (Barak, der Färber), Janis Martin (Färberin), Bayerische Staatsoper, Wolfgang Sawallisch (conductor) & Ennosuke Ichikawa (stage director). Set by Setsu Asakura. Live Recording from The Aichi Prefectural Art Theatre, Nagoya, Japan, 1992.

A beautiful production that did not rubbish the story with minimal sets (but not minimlism) and Japanese-looking costumes and other oriental motifs, that keep me interested as far as what went on the stage.

The music was purely compelling, Straussian dramatic effects through the use of orchestral textures rather than the more lyrical styles of say, Der Rosenkavalier (relatively speaking). There must have been lots going on during the first few decades of the 20th century that sparked the use of these types of orchestral textures. Singing wise, nothing to fault. The roles must have been demanding to sing. I think the conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch must have really understood Strauss' music.

I also am quite fond of this production. After years of the Lehnhoff production in San Francisco, it was fascinating to see the Japanese costumes and attitudes in this DVD. It still has all the usual stage cuts, but that is not unusual: in thirty-eight years of opera-going, I have never once seen an uncut Frosch live in the house. In fact, the Solti DVD from Salzburg was the first time I saw an uncut production.

Vesteralen
January 11th, 2013, 04:42 PM
All of the singers I have spoken with about this issue say it is more a matter of what size your body is when you first 'firm up' your vocal technique. They told me that the muscle memory goes back to what it was when you learned to sing correctly. This may be true; I saw Kenneth Cox as Osmin in Il Seraglio about twenty-five years ago, and his voice was was quite large and evenly produced, and his many shirtless scenes revealed a slim and trim body.

As far as a good DVD, try the Unitel film on Deutsche Grammophon with Rysanek as Elektra. It has the usual theatre cuts, and Ligendza and Varnay just skirt the edge of listenability, but Rysanek is astounding in the title role. She is savage and relentless, but also tender and heartbreaking, most of all in the scenes with Orest(a commanding Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau). I also think Hildegard Behrens' performance on the DVD from the Met is quite good.

I watched this yesterday. Rysanek was very effective as you said - perhaps a tad overfed for the part (I see Elektra as almost skeletal, ideally), but, in every other way, wonderful. As far as the rest of the cast and the production generally, everything seemed a bit over-the-top. I could have used a little more subtlety, myself. I don't think it's necessary to make a morally repugnant character like Clytemnestra also physically repulsive, for example. But, I guess that was the director's vision.

Itullian
April 17th, 2013, 06:44 PM
the Bohm Capriccio on DGG.
fantastic singing and excellent stereo.
recommended.