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Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 12th, 2011, 01:17 AM
Mozart: Idomeneo on DVD
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I find the performers to be uniformly good, although certainly not the big names of other productions. The singing didn't exactly shine but didn't get in the way either, and the title role by the late Philip Langridge was particularly good. He's got a clear voice and great diction.

It is the Glynbebourne production of 1983 directed by Trevor Nunn, conducted by Bernard Haitink, and the singers are, in addition to Langridge, Yvonne Kenny, Jerry Hadley, Carol Vaness, and Thomas Hemsley. It's a good traditional staging at Glyndebourne (for a change; they always seem to indulge in modernizations that often hit the mark).

Here are my impressions that I wrote down as I watched this production (they focus on the opera itself, not the production):

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I'm very impressed so far, in spite of the fact that the pace is a little slow and there is a tendency to drag for too long in some recitatives. I'm in the first scene of the second act, and find it all beautiful, especially the orchestration (no surprise there, it's Mozart, after all), and since the 3rd act is supposedly much better than the first two, it's definitely looking like an A+.

Highlights so far:

Godiam la pace, the first chorus of freed Troyans
Nettuno s'onori, the second chorus - very impressive

I care less for the rather conventional early love arias and recitatives by Ilia and Idamante. They are beautiful and melodious but no different from hundreds of others.

I like better the interactions between Idamante and Idomeneo, in Spietatissimi Dei! and Il padre adoratto. Ilia gets a lovely aria as well in Se il padre perdei.

But then a little later comes the best moment so far, full of pathos and drama, with spectacular orchestration of a rustling sea; it's pure gold: Fuor del mar, by Idomeneo. Bravo, Mozart!

This is followed by a rather long aria by Idamante, again it drags for too long although it is beautiful. Electra gets her chance at a sweet and plaintif aria that actually sounds better than the ones given previously to Ilia: Idol mio, se ritroso.

I think I like Electra's character better than Ilia's so far; the latter is a bit annoying and whiny in her guilty trip for loving the enemy while Electra is more of an explosive mixture of love and hatred.

On to the second scene of Act II.

Another fabulous chorus, Placido è il mar. I love choruses (one of the reasons I enjoyed Les Troyens so much, with one third of its lines being for chorus), over which Electra takes, with a fine solo, followed by more soothing and peaceful chorus lines.

Next, a spectacular farewell trio, Pria di partir o Dio!, full of dreadful anticipation. Bravo Mozart again. I'm wildly enjoying this.

The trio turns suddenly (yep, Mozart's pace is picking up) into a storm, Qual nuovo terrore, great chorus again (thanks, Mozart) and the seamonster comes, very effectively rendered at Glyndebourne by a threatening shadow that slowly covers the whole stage, it's actually scary. Again Idomeneo has a great aria (pretty much every time he opens his mouth gold comes out of it), Eccoti in me, barbaro, followed by more of the gorgeous chorus. A very satisfactory finale for act II.

I can't wait for act III. The opera is getting better and better.

Act III opens with the best Ilia aria so far, Zeffiretti lusinghieri, in a melancholic minor. Yes, Ilia is whiny and weepy, but at least, melodiously so.

Terrific quartet follows - Andrò ramingo e solo. Great moment, again one is in awe of Mozart's skill.

Arbace's aria that follows is an anticlimax, conventional stuff.

After a nicely orchestrated recitatif, more chorus (yay!) in the second scene of act III - Oh voto tremendo! - actually the best one so far, shockful of gloomy sorrow.

And here comes the last scene.

Act III scene 3 (and last) starts with Idomeneo beautifully pleading to Neptune, once more showing that, doing justice to the fact that he is the title role, not a single note coming out of his mouth is less than gorgeous.

Mozart then pleases us with another piece of fine string orchestration in a terrific accompagnato between father and son, Padre, mio caro padre! - great, if not for the rather tiresome "goodie two shoes" behavior displayed by Idamante: "yes, Dad, please kill me, I understand you have to do it" - I wish sons these days were that accommodating.

A bit of melodrama follows when Ilia asks to be killed instead. Conventional stuff again. But then comes the spectacular offstage voice of Neptune, Ha vinto Amore, bone chilling and effective.

Electra next has two of the best arias of the opera in a row, Oh smania! Oh furie! and D'Oreste, d'Aiace, where she displays all of her scorned rage. Like I said, I like her spunk. If only she could stab her rival or something... This opera is in dire need of a murder.

I feel that from this point on it's another anticlimax. It's a sort of Disney finale, all is good, they'll be happy forever, etc. Idomeneo has his least impressive aria, Torna la pace al core, and everybody is pretty happy in another chorus piece (this one rather unimpressive), Scenda Amor.

Although the third act is indeed magnificent as advertised, I feel that the very end is less powerful. Like Rossini said to the librettista of I Puritani, opera seria needs death and mayhem. Happy endings don't do it as effectively.

So, reluctantly (not exactly Mozart's fault since this was a commissioned work and I suppose the royals wanted the happy end), I guess I'll take away the plus from my expectation of an A+; not for the musical merit, but for the sake of the lesser dramatic impact of the happy feast at the end. Neptune screwed up. He acted as a true deus ex machina by suddenly cancelling the vow and ordering the nice couple to be happy forever. Come on, Neptune, stick to your guns (or tridents) and demand some nice human sacrifice!

A guilty-ridden infanticide followed by a couple of suicides would have been a much better ending.

Therefore, musically an A+, but overall, just an A.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 12th, 2011, 01:19 AM
Mozart: Il Re Pastore on DVD
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This is from the M22 series, but there is an alternative on DVD:
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/514F-31vZrL._SL160_AA160_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Pastore-Vermillion-Marriner-Salzburg/dp/B000CDIOXU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1305603931&sr=8-1)
This one above (which I don't know) was actually released one year before the M22 that I'm reviewing today.

HarpsichordConcert loved the M22, and I'm inclined to agree with him more than with Herkku.

So, folks, are you in the mood for minimalistic, amateur-looking staging, with young, sexy, attractive singers who obviously are enjoying themselves a lot, and some gorgeous and well played/sung baroque music? You got it.

What's not to like? Very pretty women singing divinely, with non-distracting staging that allows us to focus on the music and on their good looks and nice acting. A winner in my opinion.

The trio of eye-candy, yummy female singers is made of:

The very pretty and expressive Annette Dasch as Aminta (trouser role, the king of the title) - the lesser singer of the three but good enough, the one who was given the responsibility of singing the opera's show stopper, the famous L'Amerò, sarò costante and did very well (not as well, of course, as a Lucia Popp, but she sang this aria better than anything else she did during the opera - must have rehearsed it more). And it is mighty beautiful with the violin legatto.
The beautiful, classy Marlis Petersen as Elisa, Aminta's love interest - the intermediate singer, with some nice moments (such as in Barbaro! Oh Dio!)
The sexy brunette Arpiné Rahdjian as Tamiri, a superb singer - one to watch and see how her career develops

The boys, not bad at all:

Kresimir Spicer as Alessandro Magno, very good (not a demanding role, though); Andreas Karasiak as Agenore (Tamiri's love interest), decent singing, but he's the weakest link

So of the 5 singers, 3 are very good, 1 is good, 1 is decent. Not bad at all for such an unknown crew.

Nice stage directing (by the conductor himself); inventive, making a lot out of a low-budget production, interesting costumes and gesticulation. See, for instance, the beautiful effect that is achieved with a simple prop in the aria Se Tu Di Me Fai Dono, wow! I love this tasteful simplicity.

The small chamber orchestra (Balthasar Neuman Ensemble) does very well under the baton of Thomas Hendelbrock.

This is a weird production. It's like your kid's high school show, in a small theater (not even a theater, it's an auditorium in a local university); the scenario is made of some black curtains and some white curtains, with some cardboard figures. Costumes are a mix of contemporary street clothes and some some simple-looking gowns suggesting more ancient times (when not satirical). Props are sheets of paper with the figure of a crown, or of a heart. Then you sit there rolling your eyes and wondering why parents need to attend these things, and the youngsters get on stage *and sing and act and play beautifully!!!!* And you say, whoa, these kids are goood!!! Next thing, you spend a wonderful evening, and watch it all with a smile from the first to the last scene.

This is a very good surprise and I like it a lot. I give it A- and say it's very much recommended. This is only the third one that I watch from my M22 box, and the one I liked the best so far. I hope I'll continue to enjoy other DVDs from this boxset, but I do understand that there is worse.

Edit - I typed the above before the very end. The final scene with the wonderful, exquisitely performed ensemble was so good that I'm upgrading this from A- to A, and I'm calling it highly recommended.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 12th, 2011, 01:20 AM
Mozart: Mitridate, Re di Ponto on DVD
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I'm starting this one now, from the Salzburg M22 collection. 2006, live. Les Musicians du Louvre-Grenoble play under the baton of Marc Minkowski. Stage director is Günter Krämer. The title role is sung by Richard Croft. Aspasia is Netta Or. Sifare is Miah Persson. Farnace is Bejun Mehta. Ismene is Ingela Bohlin. Marzio is Colin Lee, and Arbate is Pascal Bertin.

The DVD is filmed in high definition, widescreen, with DTS 5.1 sound and various subtitles. I got mine from the cheaper set of the M22 box set, without all the technical details and full insert.

The terrific overture is matched by terrific visuals using mirror tricks just like the Gardiner Les Troyens. From then on, the staging goes downhill a bit, with the small stage looking crowded and amateurish. Costumes are modern (and silly/distracting).

Miah Persson as usual is simply spectacular in voice, acting, and looks. Netta Or is much less good in all three aspects, but without Miah's standard to be compared to, one might have found her to be OK. Bejun Mehta so far seems to be the weak link (I'm watching the very beginning while I type this - Richard Croft hasn't made his entrance yet) - I've heard better in the countertenor department.

The orchestra does very well, and sound and image are both of excellent quality. The opera itself is very beautiful, Mozart's first effort at opera seria (at age 14!), and his genius shows already, in rather full expression - this looks like an accomplished work rather than that of a young teenager.

OK, Richard Croft is in, and he sings *very* well. Impressive! And what a beautiful opening aria for him! Ingela (whom I like a lot) is a very fine Ismene.

Obviously this product is musically very good. The weird staging takes a bite out of the enjoyment, but even without seeing it all, I can say "highly recommended," thanks to some fine singing actors and actresses, good conductor and orchestra, and well composed opera.

Edit - Now in the middle of Act II, I have remembered once more the lesson that we can't always judge a soprano at the very beginning of a performance, due to the need to warm up. I'm a lot more pleased with Netta Or now. I continue to think that Mehta is the weakest link, not for being too bad himself, but just because the other principals are better than him.

Edit 2 - I'm minutes to the end. This is an extraordinary performance, from the musical standpoint. Everybody delivered at the end. The singers who weren't that good at the beginning warmed up and became just perfect. The staging and costumes are ugly and distracting. I was saying that Mehta was the weakest link; no, he did just fine; the weakest link is by far the stage director. I'm thinking, what do these extraordinary singing artists feel when they have to go through something like this? I guess they say to themselves - "regardless of how silly, stupid, incompetent, and full of himself the stage director is, let's just go out there and sing and act as best as we can." This group of extraordinary singers made of this an unforgettable experience - highly recommended, indeed - in spite of the very weak staging. Mozart would have been proud of them. They conveyed the power of this masterpiece - composed by a young teenager - with their voices and their faces only, in spite of the incompetent regie. Bravo!

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 12th, 2011, 01:20 AM
Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro on DVD
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The Salzburg Nozze must be the worst DVD of the entire M22 set. And this is a hard thing to accomplish when you have as Susanna none less than Anna Netrebko.

First of all, I'm deeply disappointed with the orchestral playing. Again, this is no weak band. It's the freaking Wiener Philharmoniker, dammit! And the conductor is Harnoncourt! So, exquisite reading of the score, right? Wrong!!! This thing is painfully slow and lacking in energy!!! How did these talented musicians manage to play one of the most thrilling overtures in all of opera as if they were playing a funeral march???

Next, can someone please tell this idiot Claus Guth (stage director) that Le Nozze di Figaro is a comedy, for Pete's sake???? A dead crow in the opening duo? ***?

The Count dragging Susanna into a closet for a quickie in the middle of the Cinque, Dieci aria??? So, you throw out the window the entire premise of the couple's resistance to the Count's advances which is the backbone of the opera, within the first three minutes? What were you thinking???

People in wheelchairs on the verge of a heart attack? Where in the hell did you find these images? Not in da Ponte's libretto, I'm sure.

Singers other than Anna do a rather poor job throughout this whole disaster - and they are otherwise seasoned artists, like Christine Schäffer, Bo Skovhus, and Ildebrando D'Arcangelo (they all look bored - Christine, a little less). But it's just that if you're singing Non più andrai and you have to put up with a slow tempo and you have to smear blood on the face of Cherubino, making of one of the most comic moments in opera something out of a horror movie, you don't really feel like singing well.

The threesome between Rosina, Susanna, and Cherubino is intriguing (and Anna does a fine job in this scene) but this isn't in the libretto and you just can't make of Susanna a s_lut. This is not what the character is!!!

Dorothea Röschmann as La Contessa does a little less poorly, because Rosina's role is a bit more tragic so it fits a bit better the concept. Still, it's the slowest Porgi, Amor I've ever heard. I think I'd be able to go to the kitchen, make myself a sandwich, eat it, take a nap, and she wouldn't have finished it by the time I came back.

And what about this annoying angel that is everywhere? Who needs this? Mozart's and Da Ponte's masterpiece doesn't need improving, and doesn't need another character.

This kind of thing makes me so mad.

At least I get to see Anna's beautiful face, skinny and in great form in 2007. But everything else in this ridiculous production is rather offensive. Anna is clearly not having any fun. She must be thinking "what in the hell am I doing here?? Oh, the things one must go through, to make a living!"

This production with its depressing "psychological drama" take on pathological relationships sucks all the fun out of this otherwise perfect masterpiece. It's the murder of one of the best operas ever written. Stay clear, folks. This is regie stupidity at its worst. This takes the Raspberry Award for worst opera staging I've seen in at least a decade.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 12th, 2011, 01:21 AM
Mozart: Die Schuldigkeit des Ersten Gebots on DVD
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This is the first installment of the M22 boxset from the 2006 Salzburg festival, containing Mozart's earliest operatic works. This piece, K. 35, which was composed by him at age 11, is a sacred Singspiel, and it is incomplete. Mozart composed the first part (which is all that is shown here) and the other two parts were composed by other composers, but did not survive. The title stands for The Obligation of the First and Foremost Commandment. It is the Disc 2 of the set (Disc 1 contains the later work - K. 38 - Apollo et Hyacinthus, which I'll be commenting upon at a later time). There is a Making of bonus, and the technical quality of the DVD is excellent with sharp 16:9 image and perfect sound track in LPCM or DTS 5.1. Subtitles are available in five languages.

Joseph Wallnig conducts the Sinfonieorchester der Universität Mozarteum. Stage director is John Dew.

Justice is sung by Michiko Watanabe, Mercy by Cordula Schuster, Worldliness by Christiane Karg, Christianity by Bernhard Berchtold, and Christian by Peter Sonn. There are 8 devils who are silent roles.

This is supposed to have a religious theme but here it is presented as a comedy, which is done successfully.

Scenarios are very colorful, with huge panels containing the Tables of the Covenant with the Ten Commandments to the sides, and the center background is occupied by a huge naive painting of a medieval town, with plenty of flowers.

The overture is truly excellent, impressive - remember, by a boy of 11! The orchestra and conductor do a wonderful job.

The vocal music is sublime, with very beautiful arias, well sung by this team of singers who are all unknown to me. They are helped by the state-of-the-art DTS 5.1 track with gorgeous balance and surround effects.

This relatively short work (85 minutes of running time) is made of 7 arias and one trio, all of them preceded by recitatives. The libretto by Ignaz Anton Weiser focuses on the conflict between temptation and virtue, with the main character being "a half-hearted but later zealous Christian."

Christianity's opening aria - Mit jammer muss ich schauen - is a showstopper and it is perfectly performed by Berchtold. Bravo!

The singers doing Mercy and Justice are equally impressive in the opening scenes.
The costumes are lots of fun.

The second aria - Ein ergrimmter Löwe brüllet - is another showstopper, oh wow! It's sung - again, perfectly - by Schuster (Mercy). During it we are treated to very funny scenes featuring a furry monster and a hunter. Hard to know what exactly the staging has to do with the music (the content of the aria touches on man's free will and the need to resist evil) but it *is* funny and entertaining. Oh well, I suppose that the monster represents evil, but the words of the long and complex aria don't entirely match the situation - but it's OK, let's not nitpick.

The third aria - equally good, darn, this is looking more and more like an extremely pleasant hidden gem! - is Erwache, fauler Knecht - masterfully delivered by Watanabe (Justice) who looks very weird and funny in her outrageous green costume with white wig.

The background naive paintings keep getting changed scene by scene, they are all visually interesting, and they roll in dragged by the characters themselves - inventive staging.

Christian, the main character, woke up just now. He is also sung by a gifted singer. It looks like they put together a very talented cast for this charming production. He interacts with Worldliness, with the funniest of them all costumes. Her aria - Hat der Schöpfer dieses Leben - is the least interesting so far, but it is still good. Christiane Karg sings well too, and acts very well.

Christian's aria - Jener Donnerworte Kraft - is sung to the background of a trombone which is played on stage by a musician dressed like an angel. Following the pattern in this performance, Peter Sonn is a very good interpreter of this beautiful long aria (10 minutes), delivering one of the most delightful musical moments of this work that is full of them.

Now we are at the point of the sixth aria, Schildre einen Philosophen, by Worldliness. Pretty good, and better than her first one, with some very pleasant coloratura. Karg does a wonderful job and the public shouts Bravo! (should have been brava... hehehe).

Aria #7 is Manches Übel will zuweilen, by Christianity (who was first dressed as a monk, and now is disguised as a doctor) - he vies for control of Christian's vacillating soul, against Wordliness' efforts to attract him to a life of pleasure. She says she knows a better medicine for him: good food, hunting, drinking, etc., while Christianity advocates for meditation and prayer. Christian says that one doesn't exclude the other. Christianity counter-attacks in a very fine aria that he sings while performing a physical exam on poor Christian. The scene has incredible comic flair and reminds me of the Non più andrai scene in which Figaro is manhandling Cherubino (the scene, not the aria, which is good but not *that* good like Non più andrai - after all, Mozart is still young). He checks his reflexes with a hammer but always a different limb jerks up.

This being an incomplete work, there is no resolution. The last piece - the trio Lasst mir eurer Gnade Schein - by Christianity, Mercy, and Justice - talks about how all the efforts made so far by all parts considered have failed to decisively bring Christian to one side or the other. Given the line left by the librettist - that Christian was half-hearted but ultimately zealous - I assume that the next two parts that did not survive will bring about the triumph of the religious sentiments over the pleasures of the flesh.

The trio is beautiful and ends a very rewarding work, presented with the utmost perfection by this talented team of musicians, conductor, singers, and staging artists. I can't imagine how this might be played, sung, and staged any better. Highly recommended.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 12th, 2011, 01:22 AM
Mozart: Apollo et Hyacinthus on DVD
Same cover, same year, conductor, orchestra, stage director, and technical aspects of the above DVD. This is Disc 1 of the above product; I just decided to watch first the above work because chronologically Mozart composed it before this one. For all I can tell, it looks like the two works were presented the same night, in the same theater, since they are relatively short.

This is a complete opera in three acts, sung in Latin.

The libretto is a school drama called Clementia Croesi by Father Rufinus Widl.

Singers include the same Christiane Karg we have encountered in the above work, here singing the role of Melia. Other than for her, the rest of the cast is different:
Oebalus is Maximilian Kiener, Hyacinthus is Jekaterina Tretjakova, Apollo is Anja Schlosser, Zephyrus is Astrid Monika Hofer, and a priest is Norbert Steidl.

Costumes and scenarios are traditional, period-appropriate, very baroque, with period gesticulation (Elgarian will love this).

The overture is delightful just like the one in Die Schuldigkeit, and the opera opens, after a short recitative, with a choral number that is extremely beautiful and is performed by five of the six singers (excluded the one who sings Apollo - I guess that this small production didn't have a full choir). The Latin words help a lot (such a beautiful language!).

Like in the first work, costumes are very brightly colored, and are interesting in themselves (I like this costume designer - his name is José-Manuel Vázquez - I hope to see something by him in the future).

The soprano singing Hyacinthus is terrific! Such a beautiful voice, powerful, perfectly tuned, well phrased and agile, and she is reasonably attractive (I guess, under the heavy baroque make-up I believe a fine-looking woman is hidden). It's her, in green below:

http://pics.livejournal.com/xatai/pic/0004h2ta/s640x480

I'd love to see her again - name is Jekaterina Tretjakova. This is a constant with the M22 series - some productions are weird and subpar, but there are many previously unknown singers who do an excellent job, and one wonders why they don't make it bigger.

I looked her up, and her schedule stops in June of 2009, after a dozen of relatively minor roles (the two most relevant ones being Musetta and Papagena). I wonder what happened to her. Unfortunately Hyacinthus has only one aria in this opera (he gets killed) so from now on we won't be enjoying Jekaterina, except for a recitative in the third act when his dying self delivers a few lines.

[Edit - added later - as I suspected, she is extremely beautiful. She gives a short interview as part of the Making of bonus film, and she looks stunning in her regular clothes and regular make-up. I'm very curious to know what has happened to her - did she die? Did she quit opera altogether? It's strange, there is no webpage for her, and a Google search only delivers a few references that stop in 2009.]

[Edit 2 - OK, she's not dead, good for her! She seems to be a regular at Hamburg State Opera, where she'll be singing in five different productions in the second semester of 2011, including Rigoletto's Gilda]

http://mozartoper.at/images/stories/tretjakova/jekaterina_tretjakova.jpg

Fortunately the other female singers, while not as attractive, sing almost as well. Karg delivers big time in the second act coloratura aria Laetari, iocari.

A word about the plot: Princess Melia has been promised by her father King Oebalus to the god Apollo in marriage. Zephyrus, supposedly a friend of her brother Hyacinthus, wants her for himself, kills Hyacinthus and blames Apollo for the murder, in the hope of turning off Melia from the idea of marrying the god. His plan initially works, but of course it is not very wise for a mortal to defy a god, since Apollo then changes Zephyrus into a wind (hehehe) and wafts him away. Dying Hyacinthus reveals the name of the real murderer. Apollo discloses that the murderer has been already punished, and Melia then agrees with marrying him. All rejoice.

Astrid Hofer as Zephyrus is a bit of a weak link - she is good, but she pales a bit when compared to her peers who aren't merely good, but rather, excellent - such as the two above mentioned, and Anja Schlosser as Apollo, fabulous in the second act duet with Melia, Discede, crudele. By the way, in this duet Mozart takes off. This work was so far less musically exciting than the above mentioned Die Schuldigkeit, but this duet that ends act II is a good hint of Mozart's genius, still to be fully expressed in his later years, but well represented here in this intense, dramatic, thrilling interaction.

Video direction then treats us during the orchestral intermezzo between second and third acts to very close close-ups of the violins with the hands of the musicians in display, including the hands of the conductor. The effect is beautiful.

Then we have Hyacinthus' death scene - bye, bye, talented and cute Jekaterina! By the way, Maximilian Kiener in the role of Oebalus is another gifted singer, and I guess the ladies here will call him handsome (albeit a bit effeminate so I don't know for what team he bats).

http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Pic-Bio/Kiener-Maximilian-01.JPG

I looked him up too; former boy soprano and choir singer, then when his voice changed to tenor, he engaged in lieder, and then went on to full operatic training. This seems to have been his first major role, and from this he went on to sing Count Almaviva. Someone to watch as well. His performance in the third act aria Ut navis in aequore luxuriante is nothing short of spectacular and draws long applause from the public.

The number before last in this opera is Natus cadit, atque Deus, a very beautiful lamentation (again, Mozart at his young best) by Oebalus and Melia, grieving the death of Hyacinthus and hoping that Apollo will return - which he does, to end the opera with a trio, Tandem post turbida fulmina in which he turns the dead Hyacinthus into a flower.

This fine period performance of an early Mozart work of very good quality (not as big fireworks as we'll see later, of course, but this work could have perfectly been the best one of some other composer if it didn't suffer by comparison with Mozart's phenomenal masterpieces) nicely supplements this excellent DVD, given that its companion is the exquisite Die Schuldigkeit described above.

These two works put together and both staged, played, and sung extremely well, make of this DVD an obligatory buy. Those who don't want to purchase the much more expensive and uneven full M22 boxset should at least get this isolated DVD.

I repeat, highly recommended. It gets the "buy it! buy it! buy it!" seal of quality.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 12th, 2011, 01:22 AM
Mozart: Bastien und Bastienne & Der Schauspieldirektor on DVD
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My exploration of my M22 boxset continues, with the second DVD, which contains two Singspiels combined, Bastien und Bastienne - K. 50, a simple pastoral work, and Der Schauspieldirektor (The Impresario), in spite of the fact that the latter was written 18 years later (K. 486).

2006(LI) - Elisabeth Fuchs - Junge Philharmonie Salzburg
Co-production with the Salzburg Marionette Theatre
Stage director Thomas Reichert

Cast:
Frank, the impresario - Alfred Kleinheinz
Buff, his assitant, and Colas in B&B - Radu Cojocariu
Monsieur Vogelsang, and Bastien in B&B - Bernhard Berchtold (we have already encountered him in the preceding disc of the M22 series, where he did a wonderful job as Christianity)
Mademoiselle Silberklang / Bastienne 1 - Evmorfia Metaxaki
Madame Herz / Bastienne 2 - Aleksandra Zamojska

Technical quality is the same as that of the entire series - that is, very good, with sharp 16:9 image, LPCM and DTS 5.1 with excellent balance, subtitles, bonuses (very interesting Making Of film, plus trailers and catalogue).

All singers are exquisite, especially Bernhard Berchtold and Aleksandra Zamojska who are a notch above the others.

Orchestral playing is less superlative as the one in the previous DVD, but is good enough.

Musically both works are very pleasant and beautiful, with our good Mozart delivering as usual. B&B could be called a little boring, but for the pastoral setting, it is appropriately soothing and nice. It is a delicate and simple work, with a calm beauty.

Der Schauspieldirektor is a lot more energetic and contains the best moment of the DVD: the outstanding trio Ich bin die erste Sängerin. The final chorus, Jeder Künstler streb nach Ehre, is also very appealing.

The adapted dialogue is very funny in several moments, and draws genuine laughter from the audience (and from me - this is one of the funniest opera productions I've ever seen).

By now you must be all aware (from Herkku's review and from the cover picture) that these two works are presented by marionettes (with the human singers performing from the sides of the theater, next to the orchestra).

I must say that this idea is enchanting and charming. The Salzburg Marionette Theater is a very talented troupe, and the movements of the puppets are not only very finely executed but also extremely funny. I loved it.

While musically these two works are less notable than Mozart's first two operatic works that I have described above, it is another very good DVD, which I will also call "highly recommended."

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 12th, 2011, 01:23 AM
Mozart: La Finta Semplice on DVD
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Continuing with the M22 boxset, the third installment is Mozart's first opera buffa, composed at age 12, La Finta Semplice (The Pretended Simpleton; K. 51).

Technically speaking the DVD is just as good as the two ones reviewed above, I won't repeat the technical aspects, they're the same.

What we have here amounts to an abridged concert performance. There are no scenarios, just four inclined white platforms that the singers use sometimes to climb up to a higher plane. Almost all the recitative is done away with, and in order for the events to make sense, there is a narrator who tells the story in between the arias - in German! Poor choice, in my opinion. They should either have staged the whole thing with the recitatives, or at least narrated in Italian, because this bilingual production in my opinion takes away some of the beauty of this work - not to forget that a Regie's idea of a theatrical text doesn't even start to match the beauty of Mozart's recitatives.

Regarding the quality of the opera itself, while this early work is unsophisticated with a very traditional baroque structure (some da capo arias, a parade of arias without much variation), the arias themselves are *very* beautiful - we're back to the lyric quality seen in Mozart's first two operatic works I've commented upon in an earlier post.

Costumes are nonexistent as well - just simple, plain, white clothes - except for the narrator's yellow jogging suit. Some red pieces make an entrance towards the end, supposedly to symbolize the triumph of love over coldness and misogyny. Another downside of the costumes is that they are not flattering, they add to these beautiful ladies' hips.

Musically this production is *very* good. We are again in the company of a fine orchestra, unlike the second installment. The Camerata Salzburg plays exceedingly well, under Michael Hofstetter.

The young singers are again superlative. It's truly impressive how this 2006 festival was able to cast such exceptional - and rather unknown - singers.

Malin Hartelius in the title role of Rosina, the woman who pretends to be a simpleton, is probably the most impressive singer, and she looks good too - a classy, elegant beauty.

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Younger and prettier Silvia Moi is the servant Ninetta, a soubrette role (but she sings a lot better than most soubrettes). She is also a good singer with a clear, pinging voice. Such a beautiful face! We are treated to a scene in which her lover takes out her shirt and she is left with a red bra, which, while not revealing, adds a lot of spice to the scene. I think she is one of the best looking sopranos in the business, check it out:
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Plain-looking Marina Comparato sings Giacinta, and while not gifted in the matter of looks, she has a nice voice.

The boys are just as good, all four of them - bass Josef Wagner as Don Cassandro, tenor Matthias Klink (slightly less good than his peers) as Don Polidoro, and the two best, Jeremy Ovenden, a powerful tenor in the role of Fracasso, and baritone Miljenko Turk as Simone - a young Croatian who should be headed to a successful career.

The actress who does the narration is quite good in her acting, but she doesn't sing. Her name is Marianne Hamre. Finally, there is a silent role, a woman who behaves like a shadow of Rosina, and stays two yards behind her, mimicking her gesticulation, credited as Dark Rosina - a weird addition to this staging done by the Regie and not in Mozart's original, supposedly meant to reflect Rosina's moods. The actress in this role is Anna Tenta. She is cute and appears completely naked in one of the scenes. The effect is not titillating (in spite of the fact that her body is just fine), but rather odd, as she keeps her face down and is partially covered by a Lady Godiva kind of long wig that goes all the way to the floor - which makes her look like one of those ghosts from Japanese horror movies. The particular aria during which this happens is very beautiful, when Rosina feels vulnerable (thus the nudity) and afraid of being hurt by love. It's called Amoretti, che ascosi qui sieti, and is one of the best moments in this opera. Hartelius' singing of this aria is enough to justify a verdict of at least "recommended" for this DVD.

By the way, acting by all principals is just as good as their singing and delivers some genuinely funny moments that make one laugh out loud, like for example the late scene in act II between Rosina and Cassandro, Me ne vo' prender spasso, when she teases him and he doesn't know how to react.

The duel scene in act II is very well done with projections on the white surfaces making up the weapons. Very funny as well, and with nice vocal music - Mozart is clearly evolving already, at age 12. The same can be said of the Act II finale, T'ho detto, buffone.

This is a very fine opera by a young Mozart. The production has its downsides with the decision of doing away with most recitatives, and the quasi-concert format. However the cast is spectacular both in acting, singing, and looks, and the orchestra and conductor are superlative. I'll often give a pass to excessive Regietheater when the production is musically good, and this is the case here.

I'll still say "highly recommended" although I'd have loved to see the same cast in a fully staged performance, with the recitatives included.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 12th, 2011, 01:23 AM
Mozart: Ascanio in Alba on DVD

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This is K. 111, an early pastoral Opera by a youthful Mozart, setting to music an Italian libretto by Giuseppe Parini.

This DVD from the M22 collection shares with the others in the boxset the strong technical qualities of good image and DTS sound; I won't add any more comments on the technical side.

Adam Fisher conducts in 2006 the Orchester des Nationaltheaters Mannheim.

Iris Kupke is Venus, Sonia Prina is Ascanio, Marie-Belle Sandis is Silvia, Diana Damrau is Fauno, Charles Reid is Aceste, Christian Banzhaf is Voyager 1, and Katharina Vötter is Voyager 2 (these "voyagers" are the narrators, see below).

The Chor des Nationaltheaters Mannheim is terrific, as is the orchestra. Singing, as in all other discs of this series I've watched so far, is excellent across the board.

Again, the stage director (David Hermann) adopts the annoying concept of substituting spoken German narration for Mozart's recitativo accompagnato. We get two narrators, one male and one female. I didn't like this solution before, and I continue to dislike it here.

More Regie stupidities are present in the predilection for epileptic seizures this staging seems to have. Chorus members, actors, narrator often engage in seizure-like movements, when they're not behaving like zombies or Frankensteins, sometimes under stroboscopic lights (I guess they want to induce seizures in the audience as well). Why do these idiotic stage directors think that such shenanigans are cool? It's a mystery. I can't fathom who advises these folks or applauds them when they do such things. I have impulses of slapping them silly and making them write 200 times on a blackboard: "I am dumb and I do dumb stagings."

The poor chorus members are very much abused by the stage director. Some sort of chorus singers union should file a law suit. They have to wear silly mustaches, carry around pots of fern (why?), engage in - what else? - seizures, while trying to sing sublimely (they do manage the latter).

If you can get past the silly and annoying staging plus the narrators interrupting the beautiful music all the time to describe the action in a language different from the original one adopted by the libretto, then you may enjoy the musical aspects of this piece. You get a very good orchestra expertly conducted, a very good chorus, and very good singers singing beautiful arias.

Diana Damrau looks impossibly cute as Fauno, and steals the show in her aria Se il labbro più non dice, which she sings while she is pushed around on a swing. It's her on the cover picture, but the picture doesn't do her justice. She looks cuter on the DVD. Unfortunately, Diana sings only twice, it's a small role. When she comes back for her second aria (which she sings just as well) it's exactly the same set-up with the swing. I guess the director ran out of more "clever" ideas to make it different, but one is thankful that he didn't make Diana have a seizure. She does give to the narrator a pair of 3D glasses at the end of the aria. Oh wow, bravo, Mr. Hermann, this was *really* artistic, 3D glasses, how clever!http://www.talkclassical.com/images/smilies/rolleyes.gif There are some geometric figures on the floor drawn on green and red so supposedly if the audience wears 3D glasses as well they'll be treated to some squares and rectangles in 3D. This certainly makes Mozart's music much better, right, Mr. Hermann? Oh boy... By the way, don't be fooled by the cover picture - Diana's two scenes are the *only* moments in this production when the visuals are not utterly ridiculous. Everything else goes downhill from that.

Contralto Sonia Prina in the title role does very well in vocal terms - if only she didn't have to engage in jerky movements all the time like a half-finished Frankenstein...

The costumes seem to be aiming for some sort of contest to pick the most ridiculous and silly looking garments, and they do a good job at that.

The tenor singing Aceste has a very beautiful soaring voice, but the poor guy has to wear a fur jacket. His character is a priest. One wonders why in the hell a priest downs a fur jacket. Whatever.

Marie-Belle Sandis in the role of Silvia is half-decent-looking (on the low side of that half, but with that important characteristic in Alma's appreciation: nice boobs.http://www.talkclassical.com/images/smilies/wink.gif - OK, if the stage director can be silly, why can't I?http://www.talkclassical.com/images/smilies/biggrin.gif). Her voice is very beautiful. Again, I'm impressed with how this festival was able to book scores of excellent but unknown singers.

So here is the bottom line. Some imbecile named David Hermann thought - "I'll look very clever if I stage this opera with ridiculous costumes that have nothing to do with the libretto, and add to the mix lots of seizures and robotic jerking - it will be certainly received as high art. The bad part is that there's this annoying music by this old timer Wolfgang, so let me throw in a couple of narrators to interrupt it at all times so that the public doesn't get distracted by the silly music and pays attention instead to my clever high art."

The only thing that saves Mr. Hermann's production from being one of the worst fiascoes of all times is a group of stubbornly talented singers and musicians who in spite of all the abuse can still render beautifully Wolfgang's excellent arias, choral music, and terrific overture.

Not recommended, unless you rip off the sound track, edit out the narrators' voices, and just listen to the singers and the orchestra. Since this would be too much work, just get a CD of this opera instead; there are six or seven options in the market, and you'll be spared all the silliness.

Edit - at the very end in the final trio both the tenor and the soprano show some vocal strain, so I'm bringing down a notch my enthusiasm for the singing. The contralto continues to do well until the end. Hey, but on the other hand, the stage director treats us to gym mats and the narrators keep walking around, tripping on them and falling, how clever. This certainly makes up for any vocal strain, you know, people tripping and falling, that's funny, right? No? Yeah, I didn't think so either. What a mess of a staging.

In the Making Of bonus feature, the stage director and the set/costume designer Christof Hetzer who should share the blame for this mess, say that they were given "the freedom to change the work." You mean, to ruin the work, right? Why in the hell did you think that Mozart's work needed changing???

I'm also very disappointed in Mr. Fischer. As a seasoned conductor, he should show more respect for Mozart's work. He says in his interview that the way the stage director changed the piece, it helped because then Mozart's recitatives didn't sound silly. Really, Mr. Fischer? Because I think they weren't silly to start with, but your underlings made it so. Talk about denial! As the musical director, sir, it was your responsibility to preserve the musical integrity of this production, and you failed to do so.

One last thing: dressed in her regular womanly clothes and with her womanly hair showing during the interviews of the bonus feature, contralto Sonia Prina is very cute.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 12th, 2011, 01:26 AM
Mozart: Betulia Liberata on DVD


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Continuing my exploration of my M22 boxset, I'm now tackling this oratorio, K. 118, performed in concert by conductor Christoph Poppen and the Münchener Kammerorchester in 2006, with the Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor. Jeremy Ovenden sings Ozìa, Marijana Mijanovic is Giuditta, Julia Kleiter is Amital, Granz-Josef Selig is Achier, and Cabri and Carmi, by respectively Irena Bespalovaite (very cute) and Jennifer Johnston.



Technical quality is excellent as usual for this boxset. Running time is 63:47 for part I and 65:30 for part II.

And this is where the problem resides. I can't say that this concert is able to keep one's attention for 2 hours and 10 minutes. Of all the sublime Mozart music I've been exposed to so far by this boxset, Betulia Liberata is certainly the least exciting piece. The fact that it is an oratorio that is not staged here adds to the relative boredom. The plot does have some theatrical qualities (there is a beheading!), so maybe an attempt to stage it would have produced a more attention-keeping result. Listening to it, you know, it is Mozart, so it's not like the music is not beautiful, and it is very well performed by conductor, orchestra, and singers. But I tend to just close my eyes and sit back while listening to the soothing and delicate melodies (then I feel a bit sleepy), or to listen to it as relaxing background music, but I'm not really feeling like following the libretto.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 12th, 2011, 01:26 AM
Mozart: Lucio Silla on DVD


This is another one of the M22 boxset, containing K. 135, Mozart's opera seria composed at age 16.

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2006 (LI) - Tomas Netopil - Orchestra del Teatro La Fenice
Coro del Teatro La Fenice
Stage director - Jürgen Flimm
Stage design - Christian Bussmann

Cast:
Lucio Silla - Roberto Saccà
Giunia - Annick Massis
Cecilio - Monica Bacelli
Lucio Cinna - Veronica Cangemi
Celia - Julia Kleiter
Aufidio - Stefano Ferrari.
Plus, five dancers

Technical quality - similar to other DVDs in this boxset, see previous reviews. As usual, there is a good Making Of documentary as a bonus feature.

This is a co-production between the Salzburg festival and La Fenice. It is visually appealing with young pretty singers and a very large stage that includes multiple anachronistic environments blending the old and the new in a quite successful way. Lighting is beautiful, and the whole is helped by skilful video direction that captures very well the action, migrating nicely from large panoramic shots to close-ups of the singers.

The attractive female singers do a wonderful job, especially Julia Kleiter with her pure and delicate lyric coloratura with pleasant timbre, not to forget her pretty face.
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Her counterparts in trouser roles perform satisfactorily the difficult coloraturas.

Annick Massis has a more mature beauty and a good agile voice as well.

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Acting is excellent across the board, with these ladies controlling very convincingly their facial expressions, in heartfelt incarnations of their roles. The boxset continues to excel in the matter of singing, even though some of the stagings are questionable.

Roberto Saccà (title role) is definitely less impressive than the females both in singing (lacking power and projection) and in acting, but he does nothing wrong except for letting the orchestra drown him. The other tenor who performs the small role of Aufidio actually seems to hold more promise.

The musicians in the orchestra play well but I'd have liked a more energetic conductor; it all sounds a bit subdued and slowish at times.

The opera itself is very good. Mozart here is still young, but already even more successful than in his earlier efforts I have already commented upon.

This is a good DVD, although somehow it fails to shine too brightly. It's hard to say what exactly doesn't quite soar up high. Maybe it's the stage that is too large (this seems to have been performed in an outdoor stadium of some sort) which dilutes things a little bit, making the singers be a bit too far from the public with the much closer orchestra tending to overwhelm them a little. Maybe it's the conductor who seems kind of bland. Maybe it's the absence of baritones and basses (not this production's fault, obviously). So, it's very good, but we don't quite find that "wow" factor in this production, which makes me call it "recommended" rather than "highly recommended."

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 12th, 2011, 01:27 AM
Based on Mozart: Abendempfindung (a pasticcio of works) on DVD
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This is not an opera but rather a stage play with modern ballet and music. The work was created by Joachim Schlömer and Bettina Auer, based on letters written by Mozart, with incidental music consisting of 18 short pieces or fragments composed by Mozart (mostly not operatic music, but rather string quartets, serenades, songs - like the famous one of the work's title which is sung twice - rondos, adagios for glass harmonica, canons, etc., and three opera arias that Mozart composed to insert in operas by other composers (Martín y Soler's Il Burbero di buon cuore, Mortellari's Arsace, and the German version of Paisiello's Il Barbiere di Siviglia).

The work is performed by a singer (Ann Murray), an actress (Marianne Hamre), and a dancer (Graham Smith). Words are spoken in German by the actress and in English by the dancer. The vocal music is of course performed by the singer, who also acts extensively (and well).

Running time is 81:12. This is part of the M22 boxset and shares with the other installments the excellent technical qualities of high def image and DTS sound track that I have already mentioned in previous reviews. A short Making Of documentary exists as a bonus.

Music is provided by an outstanding HIP chamber orchestra, the Camerata Salzburg, conducted by equally excellent Michael Hofstetter.

Stage direction is by Joachim Schlömer (also responsible for the choreography, together with the dancer himself), who made of this the second part of a trilogy that includes as part I the 2006 Salzburg Festival staging of La Finta Semplice, and as part III a staging of Mozart's two incomplete operas, Lo Sposo Deluso and L'Oca del Cairo.

Part III which gets the subtitle Rex Tremendus is included in the same DVD with the cover depicted above, if one purchases this as an independent product rather than part of the M22 boxset. What you see on the cover is Marianne Hamme and her magnified digital reflection (one of the clever imagery tricks).

The trilogy was given the title Irrfahrten, which as far as I know means something like "wanderings."

This second part of the trilogy intends to talk about the inner life a person, who is simultaneously represented by the three artists (singer, actress, dancer) - and also by the Chor der Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele - all three artists and chorus members are dressed in similar clothes of the same color. The person - a talented artist whose gender is not clear (it is all of course based on those letters that Mozart wrote when he was dissatisfied with his life in Salzburg, but it is mostly acted by the two women) - stands at a turning point in his/her life as he/she reaches middle age, and finds herself/himself frustrated by his/her dependence on others and lack of freedom/self-determination. He/she hopes for a radical break to force a change of direction. Money is metaphorically used as not being the answer, and he/she contemplates suicide with a handgun.

The staging uses abundantly digital imagery and mirrors, and at one point the actress swims in a swimming pool. There are trap doors, large projection screens, lighting that turns bluish and bright in alternation with dark shadows, several times.

Ann Murray is an aging soprano and she is helped by a microphone taped to her cheek. She can still sing beautifully, though, and puts together a touching performance. The actress and the dancer are pretty good too.

I found this work rather interesting. Unity is achieved by the lyrics of the songs and arias which pretty much depict the states of mind that the play is trying to convey. The incidental music by Mozart is often delightful (and very well performed by the orchestra), and the visuals are rather intriguing with the use of varied scenic resources. It is a suave and meditative play, and the tree artists on stage are very good at their respective arts. Of course it doesn't have the coherence and character development of a full opera and at times it seems static in terms of story line, but its relatively short running time prevents it from becoming boring, thanks not only to Mozart's beautiful music, but also to the visuals provided by the staging.

While it is not something that one would be very eager to see again, it does make for an entertaining hour and a half. Recommended.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 12th, 2011, 01:27 AM
Mozart: Lo Sposo Deluso, and L'Oca del Cairo (two incomplete operas) on DVD
This DVD shares with the one reviewed above the same cover (the 2 discs are included in the same package if purchased separately from the M22 boxset) and the same orchestra/conductor/stage director team, see above for their names.

This was the world première of these two opera fragments, recorded live at the 2006 Salzburg Festival.

Lo Sposo Deluso (K. 430) is an opera buffa that only partially survived. The author of the libretto is not known.

The DVD opens with a song by Mozart that is not part of the opera, Io ti lascio, sung by a very cute young soprano. Then we get to the stimulating overture, about 5 minutes. All that has survived follows - a quartet, two arias, and a trio, plus some recitative, for a running time of about 23 minutes including the overture (so, only some 18 minutes of this opera have survived).

The plot is about an aging bridesgroom - Bocconio (sung by Josef Wagner who is not old) who excitedly awaits the arrival from Rome of a bride he has never met (Eugenia, sung by Marisa Martins). His misogynist friend Pulcherio (Mathias Klink), his vain niece Bettina (beautiful Silvia Moi - see her pictures above in post #130) and courageous Tuscan officer Don Asdrubale (Jeremy Ovenden) make fun of him. The bride arrives and is annoyed that Bocconio did not properly welcome her. She meets Pulcherio who takes an interest in her, and Don Asdrubale who turns out to be one of her former lovers. Total chaos reigns.

During the overture (and during other parts) we are "treated" to modern ballet which is not particularly successful with a choreography that seems rather disconnected from the music (at least one of the dancers, Anna Tenta - is very cute - this seems to happen to women called Annahttp://www.talkclassical.com/images/smilies/smile.gif). The scenarios are a sort of industrial setting, with the orchestra on stage on the left side, and a glass room on the right side with yellow lighting and baroque furniture, from where a singer (the same Ann Murray above) with a mike sings a few lines, and a fortepiano player (Wolfgang Götz) is there too. They perform at the end of the fragment another song by Mozart, An die Hoffnung, K. 390.

Video direction is annoying, with too many close-ups that make us miss some of the action. Acting is over-the-top slapstick comedy, rather silly and with little to do with the plot (for example, one character keeps repeatedly stabbing another one with a fake knife). Costumes are modern, ridiculous, and shining. The ubiquitous Marianne Hammer (she is in all three segments of this "trilogy") does narration in Germany - a device that profoundly irritates me like I've mentioned before. What's wrong with this M22 boxset and the German narration? Gee!!! http://www.talkclassical.com/images/smilies/scold.gif

Singing is top notch and very energetic. Once more, we have a very young and attractive cast with pretty young ladies and handsome young gentlemen. Marisa Martins is cute and a very good singer/actress, and Silvia Moi is good looking too.

Watching this, one profoundly laments that this opera hasn't survived whole, because it does seem musically very, very appealing. The complete thing might have been among Mozart's best. Sometimes old scores that have been lost get rediscovered laying low somewhere. I hope one day a lost copy of the entire Lo Sposo Deluso finds the light of day. I'd love to see the full opera.

I did not like this production. The mediocre ballet keeps interfering with the action, the slapstick elements are gratuitous and silly, and I have already vented about the dreadful German narration. Musically the orchestral playing, conducting, and singing are rather perfect, and the beautiful Marisa Martins provides rather impressive eye candy (her picture below - I had seen her before as Doralice in Dario Fo's staging of Rossini's La Gazzetta), but even these pleasant components don't save the staging.
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Not recommended.

Next, we have L'Oca del Cairo - a drama giocoso, K. 422, with libretto by Giovanni Battista Varesco - of which more music has survived (but not the overture). We have about 40 minutes of it. 4 arias, 2 duets, a trio, a quartet, and a 12-minute finale.

Same team, of course (one performance follows the other, with no pause), with all five singers who performed the first fragment, and two new ones (Malin Hartelius in double roles, as Auretta and Celidora; and Miljenko Turk as Don Pippo). New characters for the first five singers go like this: Jeremy Ovenden gets Biondello, Mathias Klink gets Calandrino, Marisa Martins gets Lavina (one can't see her beauty as well as in the first fragment, given that they have her wear a disheveled blonde wig and heavy make-up), Josef Wagner is Chichibio, and Silvia Moi is Auretta in the finale - while, remember, Malin Hartelius was Auretta before - complicated, no?

Unfortunately the intrusive mediocre ballet continues as well - but, briefly.

To continue the pattern of young pretty people with nice voices, Malin Hartelius is a fine looking woman too, with nice legs and a pretty face.

The plot goes like this: Don Pippo plans to marry Lavina, the companion of his daughter Celidora. As they did not go along with the plan, he had them incarcerated in a tower. Auretta and Chichibio are servants who engage in a dialogue about their contrasting views on love and fidelity. They then talk about helping the two girls marry the men they are in love with (Celidora's sweetheart Biondello, and Lavina's beloved Calandrino). The lovers meet in secret and consider different strategies to escape Don Pippo's designs, but the latter surprises them with his guards. That's all that has survived.

The characters of Auretta and Chichibio are similar to Suzanna and Figaro. Again, one wonders what we've missed; it's another one that could have occupied a major spot in Mozart's operatic offerings, had it survived whole.

Well, we get Marianne Hammer to irritate us a little more with her German narration - by now I'm sick and tired of her. She is a good actress but was given a very regretful role in this trilogy.

Pretty much what I said about the staging of Lo Sposo Deluso applies as well to L'Oca del Cairo. You know, pretty people, eye candy, excellent singers/conductor/orchestra, exciting Mozart music; but silly, annoying staging.

It works a little better for L'Oca del Cairo though, in part because there is more surviving music so the characters get a bit of a better chance of getting developed. The singers/actors seem to be having more fun and there are less slapstick shenanigans when the opera is being performed - but they keep interrupting it with things like a quotation of La Finta Semplice to remind the public of what roles they had performed in the earlier part of the trilogy. In spite of these idiocies, it goes relatively well, and the absence of the mediocre ballet for the most part also helps this fragment.

So, and given that there is no visual media competition for L'Oca del Cairo, I guess I won't say "not recommended." But I wouldn't say "recommended" either. I guess it's recommended for Mozart buffs, but others may want to pass.

OK, last, this DVD contains a Part II that is another pasticcio of various works and fragments by Mozart. It opens with God is our refuge and strenght (K. 20, 1 minute). Then there is a "musical landscape" of 20 minutes duration, made of 12 fragments, with the same incompetent dancers that have annoyed us enough already, appearing under spotlights on the dark stage. The song Abendempfindung is performed for the third time. There is an Allegro Moderato from one of his symphonies, and it all ends with 4 short pieces from his Requiem.

Supposedly, in the words of one of the creators (Bettina Auer), this pasticcio that ends the trilogy is intended as "bodies and fragments [that] combine for a contemplative journey; the true liberation from the process explored in the first two parts of the trilogy is dissolution into nothing." Okaaayyy...

Musically, it's very disconnected and uneven. Choreographically, it sucks. "What remains," she continues, "is a regained stage of innocence and the pure sounds of the Requiem." Whatever, Ms. Auer. I liked it a lot more in the second part, because it is more minimalistic (only 3 artists) and at the same time more imaginative (digital imagery), and with more musical unity. This last segment seems unnecessary.

Again, in the "musical landscape" part there is a profound divorce between the serene and sorrowful sounds of Mozart's fragments and the spastic, epileptic choreography - which becomes painfully apparent when the orchestra pauses but the dancers continue to jerk around.

Modern ballet doesn't get good just by throwing on stage a bunch of people engaging in various contortions to the sound of completely unrelated music. The choreographer should talk to someone from a company like Béjart Ballet Lausanne to learn how to set classical music to modern dance.

When the long and unappealing "musical landscape" ends, Ann Murray again does a fine job with her third rendition of Abendempfindung (what a beautiful song!), and we get a thankful break from the dancers. Her solitary performance with just a fortepiano accompaniment under the spotlight is one of the most haunting moments of these two DVDs, and she gets a well deserved round of wild applause.

Lights off. Musicians reposition themselves on stage, there is a sort of party in the yellow glass room for all the singers that have participated. People toast with beer bottles. They pull a curtain and we only see their shadows, and a handwritten sign - "party - beer - wine."

The orchestra is performing (excellently) Symphony in A major, K. Ahn. 220, I. Allegro moderato.

Then the Requiem starts with the chorus high on platforms and bluish light behind them. VERY beautiful. The light in the glass room goes off. Mozart's spectacular sounds fill the stage.

I'll tell you what. This *ends* so beautifully that when I think of the average - staging of Lo Sposo Deluso not recommended, staging of L'Oca del Cairo recommended for Mozart buffs only, and Part II starting poorly with the mediocre ballet but ending with striking beauty therefore recommended...

I'll have to say that this DVD is recommended, after all. Barely, but it is.

And considering that I have reviewed the two physical discs of this package separately, and gave to the first disc a "recommended" verdict (see post #144), then it tilts the final score of the entire product even more towards the worthy side.

So, yes, you guys can buy this, if you want. It's worth it. Not the most essential purchase, but good enough.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 12th, 2011, 01:28 AM
Mozart: Zaide + Czernowin: Adama on DVD
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ChoKD-gLL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

This is the last M22 DVD that I'll be reviewing for a while, since it completes my journey through all 22 operatic works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. There are a few DVDs left in the boxset that I haven't seen, but they contain works that I know very well already so they aren't my priorities right now, I'll watch them at a later time.

This product contains Mozart's incomplete Singspiel Zaide, K. 344, performed side by side (in alternation) with contemporary (21st century) opera Adama by living Israeli female composer Chaya Czernowin. Her work was commissioned by the 2006 Salzburg Festival specifically to be merged with Mozart's Singspiel.

The Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg is conducted by Ivor Bolton for the Mozart part, and the Österreichisches Ensemble für Neue Musik is conducted by Johannes Kalitzke for the Czernowin part, with electronic music provided by Experimentalstudio für akustiche Kunst e.V., based in Freiburg. Stage director is Claus Guth, scenarios and costumes are designed by Christian Schmidt, and video director is Andreas Morell.

Cast:

For Zaide, Mojca Erdmann sings the title role, Topi Lehtipuu is Gomatz, Johan Reuter is allazim, John Mark Ainsley is Sultan Soliman, and Renato Girolami is Osmin.

For Adama, Noa Frenkel is the Woman, Yaron windmüller is the Man, Andreas Fischer is the Father, Paul Lorenger is the Dancer, and Bernd Grawert is the Actor.

Technical aspects - similar to all M22 DVDs, see above.

I wonder where the Salzburg Festival finds their endless supply of pretty young things who sing well. We get another couple of those, female and male, in the persons of Mojca Erdman in the title role, and her love interest Topi Lehtipuu.

Her voice is angelical. She is rather cute.

http://www.classicalvoice.org/images/Mojca%20Erdmann.jpg

The young guy is very handsome as well. He's been seen around more often than her.

http://www.hollywoodbowl.com/media/people/lehtipuu_topi_110.jpg

The staging is clever. One of the bands is seen in the back of the stage through huge doors, while the other one occupies the pit. When the Adama parts kick in, we get screen projections on the walls of the scenario. They are turned off when the Zaide parts are on.

Windows, doors, furniture are over-sized so that the singers/actors look like dolls (or, another way to see it, the huge size of everything makes the humans look lost and oppressed). Someone walks around wearing a huge doll head (see cover picture above).

I'm typing this as I watch it, and it is pretty clear from the beginning that this is not for everybody. It takes someone who likes contemporary music to enjoy this. I do, so, I'm indeed enjoying it, but I can understand why others may be entirely turned off by this staging which can't get any more avant-garde than this. I've seen Czernowin's other opera, Pnima... ins innere, and I confess that I didn't like that one (it is too monotonous with its endless boy/old man situation punctuated by random sounds - but this one seems to be more coherent and transparent in its intent and concept).

Mozart's arias are very beautiful (what else is new?) and as far as I'm concerned, the alternation between the melodious diatonic music by Mozart and Czernowin's bizarre electronic sounds and shrieking strings with fragmented vocalise is certainly intriguing and impacts on the blend a sort of dream-like (or rather, nightmare-like) character that augments the psychological elements of both works.

The actors/singers doing the Mozart piece interact with the ones doing the Czernowin piece in interesting ways. For example, in the transition between chapter 10 (an Adama piece) and chapter 11 (a Zaide piece), Mr. Lehtipuu slowly approaches Ms. Frenkel (from the other cast) and almost kisses her, but then the orchestra restarts playing Mozart, he seems startled and adopts a listening stance, and with Mozart's music becoming insistent, he seems to suddenly remember that he is from the other cast, gets away from Ms. Frenkel, and restarts singing Mozart and interacting with Ms. Erdman. Neat.

The themes of the two works blend well too. Adama (Earth in Hebrew) is about the impossible love between a Jewish (Israeli) woman and an Arab (Palestinian) man. The two characters try to communicate in various ways but employ different languages (Hebrew, Arab) and try their best to encounter each other, without being fully able to bridge their different worlds. Screen images of Israel and the Palestinian territories illustrate the barriers between them.

Zaide is also about oppression and attempts to get away from it, since it addresses the plea of a woman who has been captured by a sultan, and falls in love with one of his slaves. The couple tries to escape the harem, like the Man and the Woman in Adama try to escape their political realities. Zaide's love for Gomatz is as forbidden as The Woman's love for The Man. The similar situations are underlined by parts in which members of one cast mimic the gestures of members of the other cast.

I guess the silent doll signifies the human fragility when toyed around by more powerful forces. Like the composer says when interviewed for the Making Of documentary, "it's so hard to be an individual in a world that is so fractured."

I like the concept of commissioning a 21st century piece to merge with Mozart on the occasion of his 250th anniversary. It shows a continuity, a survival of this art form, how two radically different styles can be equally relevant to depict the human condition.

First act is ending, and so far I think this DVD is very satisfactory. On to act II which apparently contains some appalling scenes of torture.

Very impressive first scene when the Sultan is day-dreaming of punishing Zaide, very effective and violent scene with the woman-figure plastic doll hanging. This is good theater, folks. Symbolism continues with one of the doll-headed man manipulating one of the actors, inserting his hand under the actor's arms. Lots of blood. This is not for the faint of heart.

The Adama piece turns violent too, with the Father figure moving to order the beating of the two lovers from opposing sides of the political/religious conflict - using - what else? - stones. Very powerful and impressive scene punctuated by loud percussion.

By now, I have decided that I profoundly like this staging, and both works. It hasn't finished yet, I may add something else later, but the verdict for me is clearly "highly recommended" although I'd say that it is so for folks like Some_Guy and St.Lukes, not for folks like Gualtier.

Traditionalists, steer clear from this one. Modernists, enjoy.

A WORD ABOUT THE M22 SET AS A WHOLE

It looks like I've enjoyed this ride a lot more than other people here, such as Herkku and DA. The latter has sold his boxset. I wouldn't sell mine. I believe that there are several DVDs worth watching here, and while there are some striking failures (e.g. the Nozze fiasco), the average is certainly favorable, and the high singing standard is a definite plus. You know, in the worst case scenario, one can always turn the TV monitor off and enjoy the spectacular singing by a large number of talented young singers.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 12th, 2011, 01:28 AM
Mozart: Don Giovanni on DVD
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41bcuvCbPpL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

I said I wouldn't be reviewing M22 DVDs for a while, but actually, like I said to DA, once I saw all the ones that contained operas that I didn't know, I had to check out the Don Giovanni given its reputation for, cough cough, abundant display of various feminine assets.

But no, I didn't like it. I won't be posting a formal review, but I have two problems with this production.

One, the singing and acting. It's not good when a Don Giovanni production has better singing and acting in roles such as Don Ottavio (Piotr Beczala), Masetto (Luca Pisaroni) and Leporello (Ildebrando d'Arcangelo) than in roles such as the Don (Thomas Hampson, atypically for him, seemingly unfocused, indifferent, not trying hard enough), Zerlina (a shrill Isabel Bayrakdarian who lacks the delicacy and flirtatiousness of some of her predecessors - the weakest link), Donna Anna (an insecure Christine Schäffer who appeared miscast or seemed to have failed to rehearse the role long enough, which surprised me because I expected so much more of this artist - she was kind of outmatched, fading away, unlike her fierce self), and Donna Elvira (Melanie Diller who did OK but failed in some coloraturas).

Two, the staging. I think that like the Le Nozze fiasco during the same festival, the staging, although visually appealing and conceptually interesting, sucked the fun out of the mild/buffo parts of this opera. No, the scantly clad women didn't disturb me (although these scenes are anything but sexy) but the insistence in depicting violence against women with half-naked models sporting bloody noses and even a scene depicting a child as a potential victim of the Don's statutory rape certainly made of this otherwise outstanding opera something less pleasant. And then, there is the dreadful changed ending - one DEFINITELY doesn't need to tamper with an opera when this opera is authored by two geniuses like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Lorenzo da Ponte. Come on, don't try to "fix" Don Giovanni, for Pete's sake! This is not some minor opera, Mr. Kusej! This is freaking DON GIOVANNI, dammit!!! Show some respect for two artists who are MUCH MORE TALENTED than you are, Mr. Kusej!

Yes, this kind of thing makes me mad (like the pregnant Brünnhilde in Copenhagen).
I didn't dislike Mr. Kusej's Rusalka. It's not like I mind these concept-rich updates. But I definitely don't like changed endings. It is so pretentious! In his interview in the Making Of documentary, he said that he "questioned" the recitative in the first scene and "because he is a man of theater" he decided to change certain aspects. Who are you, Mr. Kusej, to "question" what da Ponte wrote and Mozart set to music? Have you, self-appointed big man of theater, ever done anything so lasting as this major beloved masterpiece that has enchanted audiences for almost 250 years? Cut yourself to your real size, Mr. Kusej, and leave Mozart's and da Ponte's sublime opera alone!! If the authors had wanted Leporello to murder Don Giovanni, they would have made it so. It's not up to you, Mr. Kusej! So, no more dragging of the Don to Hell by the Commendatore's statue, huh? Bravo, Mr. Kusej, you've just ruined one of the most powerful endings in all of opera. There's a reason why Don Giovanni is so enduring, dumb Mr. Kusej, and the ending is part of it. How dare you? God, I'm so angry, I had to come here the next day and add some more to my anti-Kusej rant!

It's not like this production doesn't have redeeming qualities. The singing and acting in the supporting roles was a nice surprise. The Wiener Philharmoniker under Harding as expected does a superb job. Certain parts of the staging were very interesting both visually and artistically (I liked the ingenious round stage, the lighting, etc.). But with the two major problems above, I can't recommend this production, regardless of these redeeming qualities.

Not recommended.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 12th, 2011, 01:35 AM
Così fan Tutte on DVD - Salzburg production

This is so excellent in so many levels!
I could subtitle it "the Patricia Petibon show" - you have to see it to believe it, she does a spectacular job. Miah and Isabel are stunningly beautiful and gifted actresses and singers. Their male counterparts do a fine job as well, not to forget the Wienner Philharmoniker.


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

Yep, gorgeous blu-ray with DTS sound track. Everything about this blu-ray disc is excellent. I've rarely been this content with a purchase. You gotta get it. But be aware that this one is a keeper, you won't be able to re-sell it, it's just too good to let go.

Just like my recent enthusiasm with Cecilia Bartoli's Il Turco in Italia DVD, stage directors need to take a good hard look at this one, so that they understand that you can perfectly update and modernize a setting *without* distorting the work and introducing distracting or radical ideas that appeal only to themselves. This blu-ray is the anti-Regietheater.

This production *is* Mozart's and Da Ponte's Cosi fan tutte, in spite of the modern home and modern clothes, in spite of Despina coming to work with a biker's helmet, and the people drinking Heinneken beer.

Some of the staging solutions (such as some freezing pauses, some facial expressions, some unexpected actions) are wickedly funny; I laughed out loud several times. In no other version I had realized how fine a comedy Cosi fan Tutte is.

And most importantly, musically (singing, orchestra) this production is just perfect. Acting is superlative as well, we get all the impact of the girls' foolishness, of Despina's street wise ways, of the increasingly desperate fiances, and of the Don's sadistic manipulation. All six principals played their roles to perfection; there isn't any weak link.

Glyndebourne recently did a fine Cosi, also with Miah and a young and attractive cast (I own that one as well).

Musically there isn't much of a difference, they are both good, both have excellent orchestras and solid singing, but it is elsewhere that I find superiority in the Salzburg version.

It has everything that the Glyndebourne one does, and more - especially, a much better sense of comedy. You know, when you watch an opera that you know very well, and *still* laugh out loud at the new ways they have found to be funny, that's something to be applauded. I know Cosi fan tutte upside down and inside out, and still had plenty of pleasant surprises in this production.

Eye candy factor - the girls look prettier in the Salzburg version (and Miah looks prettier than her own self at Glyndebourne). I don't know about the boys, you may feel differently. I seem to remember that the boys at Glyndebourne were good looking but I don't pay attention to boys.http://www.talkclassical.com/images/smilies/smile.gif

Acting is better too. Far better, especially in the case of the two outside parts to the two couples - Despina and Don Alfonso (like I said, Patricia Petibon is just spectacular, and I have never seen such a wicked Don). The sibling chemistry between the two girls is uncanny, they seem more spontaneous and juvenile, more like teenagers would act in our culture - literally jumping up and down the sofa (not like Tom Cruise, hehehe). Certain solutions - like having them be drunk while they sing Guarda Sorella - were extremely clever.

I wouldn't sell my Glyndebourne.

----

PS - days after I posted this review, I ended up changing my mind and finding the Glyndebourne version to be superior, especially it's second act - the Salzburg second act is not as successful as its first act.

science
December 14th, 2011, 07:56 AM
Hello! I have Fricsay's recording of Don Giovanni, and I'm aware that Rene Jacob's recording caused quite a sensation a while back. I wonder:

- is there a recording of Don Giovanni on CD that you consider the best?
- is there a recording of Don Giovanni on CD that you consider the most famous?
- is there a recording of Don Giovanni on CD that you consider your favorite?
- are there recordings of Don Giovanni on CD that you consider historically significant?
- are there any other recordings of Don Giovanni on CD that you consider essential?

Thank you!

jflatter
December 14th, 2011, 07:58 AM
The answer to all your questions is Giulini's recording.

science
December 14th, 2011, 06:07 PM
Thank you! You seem to be right.

DrMike
December 14th, 2011, 06:36 PM
I prefer the Rene Jacobs recording.

Soave_Fanciulla
December 14th, 2011, 11:16 PM
I prefer the Rene Jacobs recording.

I'm with you on that Dr Mike.

jflatter
December 15th, 2011, 08:17 PM
The Giulini recording had the far better singers plus I ain't HIP. Which is something I may start a thread on...

Aksel
December 18th, 2011, 12:13 AM
PS - days after I posted this review, I ended up changing my mind and finding the Glyndebourne version to be superior, especially it's second act - the Salzburg second act is not as successful as its first act.

I haven't seen the Glyndebourne one, although it doesn't have Bo Skovhus, and so it's automatically much better. Although the Salzburg production is spectacular!

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 18th, 2011, 04:19 AM
I saw the Glyndebourne production again today. What was I thinking when I considered Salzburg to be valid competition? The Glyndebourne is so spectacular! And the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment does such a superlative job!

Basically the Glyndebourne Così is absolutely flawless. Six singers who can sing, can act, and look the parts. No weak links whatsoever, everybody does very well. Attractive principals. Great comedic flare. Beautiful scenarios that are simple and tasteful. Lots of space for dynamic use of the stage, and they make good use of it. Costumes are appropriate and not intrusive. The music flows at perfect pace. HIP orchestra with beautiful period instruments. Excellent conductor.

The Glyndebourne production is a lesson on how to successfuly stage an opera in every and each aspect of it. It's stuff for opera studies in music schools. It sets an example and raises the bar of standards.

Gorgeous! Spectacular! Sublime!

Dark_Angel
December 18th, 2011, 09:26 PM
I saw the Glyndebourne production again today. What was I thinking when I considered Salzburg to be valid competition? The Glyndebourne is so spectacular! And the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment does such a superlative job!

Basically the Glyndebourne Così is absolutely flawless. Six singers who can sing, can act, and look the parts. No weak links whatsoever, everybody does very well. Attractive principals. Great comedic flare. Beautiful scenarios that are simple and tasteful. Lots of space for dynamic use of the stage, and they make good use of it. Costumes are appropriate and not intrusive. The music flows at perfect pace. HIP orchestra with beautiful period instruments. Excellent conductor.

The Glyndebourne production is a lesson on how to successfuly stage an opera in every and each aspect of it. It's stuff for opera studies in music schools. It sets an example and raises the bar of standards.

Gorgeous! Spectacular! Sublime!

We were getting worried there for a second, perhaps having Miah Persson in both productions blinded you, it is good that now you see the light! :rolleyes:

I recall when voting first started at that "other forum" I was thinking there would be 100% agreement on best Cosi DVD it was so impressive, I was surprised when several others voted for Salzburg Cosi also making a closer vote........

science
December 19th, 2011, 08:20 AM
Wow, man, those are some obscure operas!

Aramis
December 26th, 2011, 09:26 PM
Saw DVD anyone did this:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51rlJXIAHTL._AA500_.jpg

Fragments on YT seem promising:


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

And so I'm considering buying it.

HarpsichordConcerto
December 26th, 2011, 11:16 PM
I have several Figaro on DVD/Blu-ray but not this one (I don't know it), so buy it and tell us what you think!

Festat
December 27th, 2011, 12:00 AM
I ordered that just a couple of days ago, it hasn't arrived yet. I'm confident it's at least fine, it was an impulse-buy.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 27th, 2011, 08:04 AM
We were getting worried there for a second, perhaps having Miah Persson in both productions blinded you, it is good that now you see the light! :rolleyes:

I recall when voting first started at that "other forum" I was thinking there would be 100% agreement on best Cosi DVD it was so impressive, I was surprised when several others voted for Salzburg Cosi also making a closer vote........

DA, what blinded me was Isabel Leonard's cleavage.:love-struck:

Soave_Fanciulla
December 27th, 2011, 08:23 AM
Goodness I was getting worried at the rampant lack of cleavage jokes. Alma's himself again.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 27th, 2011, 08:42 AM
As the construction work approaches its end, I'm relaxing and thinking of my favorite cough cough *assets* again.:tongue-new:

Ann Lander (sospiro)
December 27th, 2011, 09:59 AM
As the construction work approaches its end, I'm relaxing and thinking of my favorite cough cough *assets* again.:tongue-new:

Thank goodness. Does this mean we can start a 'sexy baritone' thread? And in this case to celebrate Mozart's genius (of course).

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_2XQGh7lO9OU/STv8miIaMyI/AAAAAAAACgk/HeCmCCk0gDU/s1600/Simon+K+4.jpg

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 27th, 2011, 03:41 PM
Thank goodness. Does this mean we can start a 'sexy baritone' thread? And in this case to celebrate Mozart's genius (of course).

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_2XQGh7lO9OU/STv8miIaMyI/AAAAAAAACgk/HeCmCCk0gDU/s1600/Simon+K+4.jpg

Hmmm.... if it's really hidden behind some very innocent title... let's see... "chest voice":nightmare:

Soave_Fanciulla
January 2nd, 2012, 07:13 AM
I watched this wonderful opera twice in the first week I got it, and it's still one of my favourites:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ELjLI5hVL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

The cast of young singers is gorgeous, particularly Ruth Ann Swenson as Constanze, the Osmin is suitably swaggering although quite touching when he realises he is going to loose his Blonde, and the non-singing part of the self-renouncing Pasha Selim is a revelation in terms of committed stage acting. Just watch his face when he realises he has the son of his greatest enemy in his power.

The staging and costumes are traditional, in the intimate setting of the Schwetzingen Festival house. Add to that Mozart's music, rollicking and lyrical in turns, and it's a winner.

Karenpat
January 5th, 2012, 01:00 PM
132

I was in Rome recently and of course I couldn't walk out of Feltrinelli empty handed.. I was curious about this one because
1) I've seen clips of it on youtube and being a Jonas Kaufmann fan I wondered how he would tackle Mozart - I was surprised that the production was from 2007 as I thought he had only done Mozart when he was younger and had a lighter voice
2) I had seen Vesselina Kasarova in the same role (Sesto) in the Salzburg production on youtube (where she impressed me because I had previously only seen her in Carmen, which was a disaster) and so I expected her to be good
3) I like modern productions/stage sets/costumes so I was intrigued by the bits and pieces I had seen

In terms of vocal performance I suspect that Jonas Kaufmann would indeed have sounded better with his "younger voice" for certain passages - however if he missed a few notes in coloratura he made up for it with the two qualities which I always admire in him - dynamic, nuanced vocals and great acting skills. The latter came especially in handy as all the recits in this production were in fact spoken.

Vesselina Kasarova also proved to be a good actress and I felt she played Sesto more convincingly than she played Carmen (although it may not sound like a compliment that she's better at playing a man than a seductive woman...), and I did get impressed by her big arias. However there is still something about her voice that bothers me, I suppose it is the tone of her chest voice that doesn't appeal to me, however in the higher register the tone is much more pleasant.

I have to say though that vocally she was, to my ears, overshadowed by Eva Mei, who up until now had only been a name to me. She could easily make my favourite sopranos list.

Overall the production left me with a very positive feeling; a combination great music, great cast, interesting stage production and a way of communicating a story in an engaging way made me want to see it again shortly after I'd seen it the first time. :adoration:

Festat
January 5th, 2012, 02:21 PM
The cast of young singers is gorgeous, particularly Ruth Ann Swenson as Constanze, the Osmin is suitably swaggering although quite touching when he realises he is going to loose his Blonde, and the non-singing part of the self-renouncing Pasha Selim is a revelation in terms of committed stage acting. Just watch his face when he realises he has the son of his greatest enemy in his power.
YES! The Pasha and Osmin are really unpaired in this.

Aksel
February 20th, 2012, 11:35 PM
So I've just finished watching the Glyndebourne Cosí fan tutte as the part two of my Winter Holiday Operavaganza, and I have the following to say about it:

http://images.blu-ray.com/movies/covers/5838_front.jpg

Wow. Just wow.

Ivan Fischer conducted the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment, and it was really quite wonderful. Tempos were generally on the fast side, especially the overture and the first act. There was, however, a feeling during the beginning of the first act that Fischer rushed the performance along, not allowing for a few seconds of silence, and taking the recitatives just a tad too quickly at times. But that's very picky nitpicking. Generally, the orchestra was a true delight. Also, major kudos to whoever played the natural horn obbligato during Per pietá, ben mio, perdona. That can't have been easy. Also, they get massive waffle points for using a pianoforte for the recitatives.

The singers are all great, also young and rather good looking, all of them.

Miah Persson sang Fiordiligi, a role that seemed to fit her like a glove. She went straight for the very demanding coloratura passages, at times at breakneck speed - as evidenced by a Come Scoglio (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gqnz4K5ORSM) that made my hairs stand on end - and didn't miss a single note (why doesn't this lady sing Rossini?). The rest of the role was equally well served, although I did wish for a little more powerful chest voice. Her acting was nothing short of absolutely wonderful, and she looked like she was having a lot of fun.

Anke Vondung sang a somewhat hysterical Dorabella. Like Miah Persson, she sang very well indeed, and I just need to say how amazed I was at her and Miah's coloratura passages in parallel thirds. Amazingly executed and remarkably in tune, which is no small feat, especially not at that tempo. Her acting was somewhat (as in very) over the top, especially in the first act, but it all worked.

Topi Lehtipuu sang Ferrando, and sang it very well. It is a shame that he doesn't have a trill (are there any tenors apart from J-Flo who have one these days?), but apart from a slightly disappointing ending to Un aura amorosa, he sang very well. His acting was very good.

Luca Pisaroni sang Guglielmo, and was, unexpectedly, brilliant. Like the rest of the cast, he delivered an amazing performance. His singing was very good, as was his acting.

Despina was sung by Ainhoa Garmendia. Her singing was very good, but I think she lacked the necessary chest notes for Despina. Especially the first act finale and her first act aria came off as a tad underpowered. But she more than made up for it with a cynical, deliciously sardonic and brilliantly acted Despina.

Nicolas Rivenq sang a surprisingly friendly Don Alfonso. His singing was very good, as was his acting.

The production was as traditional as traditional gets, but the show was very well-directed and there was never a dull moment. As it shares a third of the cast with the Salzburg Cosí, I think a little comparison is called for. The Glyndebourne is generally much more comedic than the Salzburg, and I'd say it is also better sung (really, only because Bo Skovhus is missing). Also the costumes are much prettier in the Glyndebourne version. I do think, however, that Klaus Guth's more serious and much more cynical modern take on Cosí is much more interesting than this one.
But it's still an amazing, amazing production of an amazing, amazing opera, featuring very good young singers that all should have. Get it.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
February 21st, 2012, 12:20 AM
Fischer running a bit too fast - it happens. It's live theater. You shouldn't hold it against him. It's rarely perfect, and this one was very close to being perfect.

Anke Vondung over-acting: not a problem. This is a kind of farce. She got a good reading on it.

Luca Pisaroni, *unexpectedly* brilliant? Why weren't you expecting it? Luca Pisaroni *is* brilliant!

Ainhoa Garmedia - vocally the weak link, but yes, great actress.

Salzburg - yes, conceptually a bit more advanced, but the second act just didn't work. At one point I'd considered the Salzburg one to be superior, but then I changed my mind.

I still hold this Glyndebourne Così as the best one ever, and a lesson on how to stage opera. The dynamic use of space, the relatively sparse setting but extremely effective and beautiful, the formidable comic flair, the spectacular total immersion of these actors/singers who believed in their roles and were having a great time, the outstanding period orchestra... This is something that Mozart and da Ponte would have loved to see. This is opera at its best. This is one of the best operatic videos of all time, and a must have for any serious opera lover.

Aksel
February 21st, 2012, 12:33 AM
Luca Pisaroni, *unexpectedly* brilliant? Why weren't you expecting it? Luca Pisaroni *is* brilliant!


I was expecting him to be brilliant. It may be because it's way past my bed-time here, but what I meant was that I wasn't surprised when he turned out to be amazing.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
February 21st, 2012, 12:47 AM
I was expecting him to be brilliant. It may be because it's way past my bed-time here, but what I meant was that I wasn't surprised when he turned out to be amazing.

Yes, he's great; unfortunately, a bit under-rated. He deserves more recognition as one of the best singers/actors of his generation.

Aramis
February 21st, 2012, 12:49 AM
I liked this production a lot too, but my complain is that the two ladies did produce some annoying and overdosed laughter in few scenes.

Aksel
February 21st, 2012, 12:50 AM
Yes, he's great; unfortunately, a bit under-rated. He deserves more recognition as one of the best singers/actors of his generation.

I think he's getting it, or at least is starting to get it, especially with his two appearances at the Met this season, which I do believe thrust him into the spotlight of many (myself included).

Dark_Angel
March 19th, 2012, 08:34 PM
Just watched the 2011 MET Don Giovani with Kwiecien as Don G......recently posted on MET player website

I cannot recommend this dreary production despite a high quality cast. The stage set consisted of 3 story high set of paint peeling shutters and old doors looking like a run down back alley, combined with dimly lit stage produced a most unpleasant oppressive backdrop for our singers, waste of singing talent here unfortunately in this production. A couple short scences the large shutter walls opened partially to allow some light on things for indoor cheery party scences but these were brief respites of relief.

During the final descent of Don G to hell some ghoulish figures appear in the shuttered window areas lending a thread of rationale for stage design but this is only 1% of the opera, the remaining 99% of opera is saddled with this dreary set that I did not like

The same group in a quality creative production would pull it off quite well I suspect.....alas.
The period costumes seemed very good.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-vFOYf9-WLa0/TrQ-6h3SedI/AAAAAAAARtQ/v74r8fTQ4rQ/Captura%20de%20pantalla%20completa%2004112011%2020 3133.jpg

One more casting oddity that sometimes happens I find distracting, Leporello is much taller than Don G (his master)

rsmithor
March 24th, 2012, 08:50 AM
Thank goodness. Does this mean we can start a 'sexy baritone' thread? And in this case to celebrate Mozart's genius (of course).

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_2XQGh7lO9OU/STv8miIaMyI/AAAAAAAACgk/HeCmCCk0gDU/s1600/Simon+K+4.jpg

You want a sexy Juan... try this:

Kasper Holten's film "JUAN" based on Mozart's Don Giovanni

It's Mozart's Don Giovanni, with score and libretto abridged, yes... but it's so much fun watching. Sung in English with subtitles... great, so you won't miss one juicy word of this translation. The story is updated to "now". Instead of Leporello writing down Juan's conquests in a ledger... now he secretly records all encounters (hit and misses) on thousands of videos. I luv the singing, in the streets, in the shower, uptown, downtown, in train stations... everywhere. It fits the style of the whole film. What you do get in this production is no lip syncing. The singers were fitted with blue tooth ear buds feeding them the Mozart score, hi-tech audio mics were used to capture the live vocals and at the same time minimize the street noise. I liked the way voice overs were used, when their characters were deep in thought. (that aspect you don't get in the opera house) This variation of the Don G opera fits the singing, and acting. Filmed in the streets, back drops, of a big city, this film is modern. With it's cell phones, trains, subways, cars, etc... propel the story along. The score and text are trimmed, but the action is non stop. It feels sexy, dark, with danger around every corner. We know all about Mozart's Don Diovanni with his class privilege, that he's monied, and is a master opportunist. His list of victims and conquests are a mile long. In this "Juan" you see hundreds of his conquests with their on their own i-Tunes file spinning on Leporello's Macbook... Just watch Zerlina begging for her lover's forgiveness, while she's fantasizing about sex with Juan... The scene feels real, heady, and has bite. The cheeky language fits the film like a glove. "Juan" is a imported Blu-Ray DVD. It's coded for Region 2 - Europe. To play this Blu-Ray in the US, you need a Region Free Blu-Ray Player. "Juan" Blu-Ray will get a USA release date soon. It's been showing up at film festival's around the world... a must see. "Awesome, sexy, fun"...


http://youtu.be/P_J8BjbvKrg

317

HarpsichordConcerto
April 7th, 2012, 06:15 AM
Anybody here have any opinion of this version of Zaïde? I'm generally not a fan of Peter Sellars who often consistently puts the music after himself with the weird mumbo-jumbo staging. But I'm willing to put up with it if the musical performance is a good one.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51o%2BRFCJVIL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
April 7th, 2012, 12:09 PM
No, I only know the probably even weirder M22 version, which as a matter of fact I liked quite a lot.

Soave_Fanciulla
April 7th, 2012, 08:16 PM
It's on special in the Presto Classica DVD Sale.....http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/Medici%2BArts/3078358

Soave_Fanciulla
May 1st, 2012, 04:10 AM
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51jb2RiA%2BrL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Well this is a mixed bag.

On one hand you get some lovely singing, particularly from Malin Hartelius as Konstanze and Piotr Beczala as Belmonte. You get Patricia Petibon as Blonde whom I wouldn’t wish as a slave on my worst enemy; she runs rings around poor old blustering Osmin, sung by Alfred Muff, who does the best drunk on opera DVD. You get Klaus Maria Brandauer as Pasha Selim :love_heart:.

Jonathan Miller tell the story directly and without updating, adding interest to the conventional pairings by making it clear that if Konstanze hadn’t made her vow of faithfulness, and if spoiled boy Belmonte hasn’t appeared, she’d have given in, and she didn’t really want to leave the Pasha. Malin Hartelius is as good an actress as she is a singer in this kind of role.

But, and there is always is a but. The video direction has been entrusted to the dreadful Chloe Perlemuter of Tannhaüser notoriety (clicky (http://operalively.com/forums/showthread.php/323-Operas-by-Wagner-on-DVD-Blu-Ray-CD?p=3200&viewfull=1#post3200)for my rant about this). Here she goes all post-modern on us again, focusing on random clothing details and singers warming up backstage during moments of great beauty and emotion, and frequently fixating on who ever ISN’T singing during someone’s else's aria. The effect is alternately infuriating and discombobulating.

If it wasn’t for her, this would now be my Entführung DVD of choice.

Vesteralen
October 30th, 2012, 03:18 PM
Mozart: La Finta Semplice on DVD
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ZfH1psISL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Continuing with the M22 boxset, the third installment is Mozart's first opera buffa, composed at age 12, La Finta Semplice (The Pretended Simpleton; K. 51).

Technically speaking the DVD is just as good as the two ones reviewed above, I won't repeat the technical aspects, they're the same.

What we have here amounts to an abridged concert performance. There are no scenarios, just four inclined white platforms that the singers use sometimes to climb up to a higher plane. Almost all the recitative is done away with, and in order for the events to make sense, there is a narrator who tells the story in between the arias - in German! Poor choice, in my opinion. They should either have staged the whole thing with the recitatives, or at least narrated in Italian, because this bilingual production in my opinion takes away some of the beauty of this work - not to forget that a Regie's idea of a theatrical text doesn't even start to match the beauty of Mozart's recitatives.

Regarding the quality of the opera itself, while this early work is unsophisticated with a very traditional baroque structure (some da capo arias, a parade of arias without much variation), the arias themselves are *very* beautiful - we're back to the lyric quality seen in Mozart's first two operatic works I've commented upon in an earlier post.

Costumes are nonexistent as well - just simple, plain, white clothes - except for the narrator's yellow jogging suit. Some red pieces make an entrance towards the end, supposedly to symbolize the triumph of love over coldness and misogyny. Another downside of the costumes is that they are not flattering, they add to these beautiful ladies' hips.

Musically this production is *very* good. We are again in the company of a fine orchestra, unlike the second installment. The Camerata Salzburg plays exceedingly well, under Michael Hofstetter.

The young singers are again superlative. It's truly impressive how this 2006 festival was able to cast such exceptional - and rather unknown - singers.

Malin Hartelius in the title role of Rosina, the woman who pretends to be a simpleton, is probably the most impressive singer, and she looks good too - a classy, elegant beauty.

http://festivalbeaune.pagesperso-orange.fr/2010/images/hartelius420.jpg

Younger and prettier Silvia Moi is the servant Ninetta, a soubrette role (but she sings a lot better than most soubrettes). She is also a good singer with a clear, pinging voice. Such a beautiful face! We are treated to a scene in which her lover takes out her shirt and she is left with a red bra, which, while not revealing, adds a lot of spice to the scene. I think she is one of the best looking sopranos in the business, check it out:
http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRPavd0uXfgrUkWkVFn-zIxL1WtfGQ-PsnWyg3_2pvOnww-nEkK2A&t=1

http://www.kammermusikk.no/assets/Silvia_Moi.jpg

Plain-looking Marina Comparato sings Giacinta, and while not gifted in the matter of looks, she has a nice voice.

The boys are just as good, all four of them - bass Josef Wagner as Don Cassandro, tenor Matthias Klink (slightly less good than his peers) as Don Polidoro, and the two best, Jeremy Ovenden, a powerful tenor in the role of Fracasso, and baritone Miljenko Turk as Simone - a young Croatian who should be headed to a successful career.

The actress who does the narration is quite good in her acting, but she doesn't sing. Her name is Marianne Hamre. Finally, there is a silent role, a woman who behaves like a shadow of Rosina, and stays two yards behind her, mimicking her gesticulation, credited as Dark Rosina - a weird addition to this staging done by the Regie and not in Mozart's original, supposedly meant to reflect Rosina's moods. The actress in this role is Anna Tenta. She is cute and appears completely naked in one of the scenes. The effect is not titillating (in spite of the fact that her body is just fine), but rather odd, as she keeps her face down and is partially covered by a Lady Godiva kind of long wig that goes all the way to the floor - which makes her look like one of those ghosts from Japanese horror movies. The particular aria during which this happens is very beautiful, when Rosina feels vulnerable (thus the nudity) and afraid of being hurt by love. It's called Amoretti, che ascosi qui sieti, and is one of the best moments in this opera. Hartelius' singing of this aria is enough to justify a verdict of at least "recommended" for this DVD.

By the way, acting by all principals is just as good as their singing and delivers some genuinely funny moments that make one laugh out loud, like for example the late scene in act II between Rosina and Cassandro, Me ne vo' prender spasso, when she teases him and he doesn't know how to react.

The duel scene in act II is very well done with projections on the white surfaces making up the weapons. Very funny as well, and with nice vocal music - Mozart is clearly evolving already, at age 12. The same can be said of the Act II finale, T'ho detto, buffone.

This is a very fine opera by a young Mozart. The production has its downsides with the decision of doing away with most recitatives, and the quasi-concert format. However the cast is spectacular both in acting, singing, and looks, and the orchestra and conductor are superlative. I'll often give a pass to excessive Regietheater when the production is musically good, and this is the case here.

I'll still say "highly recommended" although I'd have loved to see the same cast in a fully staged performance, with the recitatives included.


I loved the singing (and Silvia Moi's face) in this DVD that I borrowed from the library so much that I purchased a copy for myself. The costumes and staging I didn't love nearly as much (except for the impromptu dance competition by the two main characters which was hilariious).

In short, I totally agree with Almaviva's assessment of this production. :)

Vesteralen
November 5th, 2012, 12:04 PM
Mozart: Apollo et Hyacinthus on DVD
Same cover, same year, conductor, orchestra, stage director, and technical aspects of the above DVD. This is Disc 1 of the above product; I just decided to watch first the above work because chronologically Mozart composed it before this one. For all I can tell, it looks like the two works were presented the same night, in the same theater, since they are relatively short.

This is a complete opera in three acts, sung in Latin.

The libretto is a school drama called Clementia Croesi by Father Rufinus Widl.

Singers include the same Christiane Karg we have encountered in the above work, here singing the role of Melia. Other than for her, the rest of the cast is different:
Oebalus is Maximilian Kiener, Hyacinthus is Jekaterina Tretjakova, Apollo is Anja Schlosser, Zephyrus is Astrid Monika Hofer, and a priest is Norbert Steidl.

Costumes and scenarios are traditional, period-appropriate, very baroque, with period gesticulation (Elgarian will love this).

The overture is delightful just like the one in Die Schuldigkeit, and the opera opens, after a short recitative, with a choral number that is extremely beautiful and is performed by five of the six singers (excluded the one who sings Apollo - I guess that this small production didn't have a full choir). The Latin words help a lot (such a beautiful language!).

Like in the first work, costumes are very brightly colored, and are interesting in themselves (I like this costume designer - his name is José-Manuel Vázquez - I hope to see something by him in the future).

The soprano singing Hyacinthus is terrific! Such a beautiful voice, powerful, perfectly tuned, well phrased and agile, and she is reasonably attractive (I guess, under the heavy baroque make-up I believe a fine-looking woman is hidden). It's her, in green below:

http://pics.livejournal.com/xatai/pic/0004h2ta/s640x480

I'd love to see her again - name is Jekaterina Tretjakova. This is a constant with the M22 series - some productions are weird and subpar, but there are many previously unknown singers who do an excellent job, and one wonders why they don't make it bigger.

I looked her up, and her schedule stops in June of 2009, after a dozen of relatively minor roles (the two most relevant ones being Musetta and Papagena). I wonder what happened to her. Unfortunately Hyacinthus has only one aria in this opera (he gets killed) so from now on we won't be enjoying Jekaterina, except for a recitative in the third act when his dying self delivers a few lines.

[Edit - added later - as I suspected, she is extremely beautiful. She gives a short interview as part of the Making of bonus film, and she looks stunning in her regular clothes and regular make-up. I'm very curious to know what has happened to her - did she die? Did she quit opera altogether? It's strange, there is no webpage for her, and a Google search only delivers a few references that stop in 2009.]

[Edit 2 - OK, she's not dead, good for her! She seems to be a regular at Hamburg State Opera, where she'll be singing in five different productions in the second semester of 2011, including Rigoletto's Gilda]

http://mozartoper.at/images/stories/tretjakova/jekaterina_tretjakova.jpg

Fortunately the other female singers, while not as attractive, sing almost as well. Karg delivers big time in the second act coloratura aria Laetari, iocari.

A word about the plot: Princess Melia has been promised by her father King Oebalus to the god Apollo in marriage. Zephyrus, supposedly a friend of her brother Hyacinthus, wants her for himself, kills Hyacinthus and blames Apollo for the murder, in the hope of turning off Melia from the idea of marrying the god. His plan initially works, but of course it is not very wise for a mortal to defy a god, since Apollo then changes Zephyrus into a wind (hehehe) and wafts him away. Dying Hyacinthus reveals the name of the real murderer. Apollo discloses that the murderer has been already punished, and Melia then agrees with marrying him. All rejoice.

Astrid Hofer as Zephyrus is a bit of a weak link - she is good, but she pales a bit when compared to her peers who aren't merely good, but rather, excellent - such as the two above mentioned, and Anja Schlosser as Apollo, fabulous in the second act duet with Melia, Discede, crudele. By the way, in this duet Mozart takes off. This work was so far less musically exciting than the above mentioned Die Schuldigkeit, but this duet that ends act II is a good hint of Mozart's genius, still to be fully expressed in his later years, but well represented here in this intense, dramatic, thrilling interaction.

Video direction then treats us during the orchestral intermezzo between second and third acts to very close close-ups of the violins with the hands of the musicians in display, including the hands of the conductor. The effect is beautiful.

Then we have Hyacinthus' death scene - bye, bye, talented and cute Jekaterina! By the way, Maximilian Kiener in the role of Oebalus is another gifted singer, and I guess the ladies here will call him handsome (albeit a bit effeminate so I don't know for what team he bats).

http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Pic-Bio/Kiener-Maximilian-01.JPG

I looked him up too; former boy soprano and choir singer, then when his voice changed to tenor, he engaged in lieder, and then went on to full operatic training. This seems to have been his first major role, and from this he went on to sing Count Almaviva. Someone to watch as well. His performance in the third act aria Ut navis in aequore luxuriante is nothing short of spectacular and draws long applause from the public.

The number before last in this opera is Natus cadit, atque Deus, a very beautiful lamentation (again, Mozart at his young best) by Oebalus and Melia, grieving the death of Hyacinthus and hoping that Apollo will return - which he does, to end the opera with a trio, Tandem post turbida fulmina in which he turns the dead Hyacinthus into a flower.

This fine period performance of an early Mozart work of very good quality (not as big fireworks as we'll see later, of course, but this work could have perfectly been the best one of some other composer if it didn't suffer by comparison with Mozart's phenomenal masterpieces) nicely supplements this excellent DVD, given that its companion is the exquisite Die Schuldigkeit described above.

These two works put together and both staged, played, and sung extremely well, make of this DVD an obligatory buy. Those who don't want to purchase the much more expensive and uneven full M22 boxset should at least get this isolated DVD.

I repeat, highly recommended. It gets the "buy it! buy it! buy it!" seal of quality.


Although I'm not going to rush out and buy this one, I did enjoy it. As usual, Almaviva's comments are spot on.

I've heard that overture before, but not as the overture to this opera. It sounds a bit like the first movement from one of Mozart's early symphonies, though I'm not sure. It may have been reused in another setting - not an uncommon practive for WAM.

The costumes and staging of this piece were bizarre for modern tastes, but probably gave a pretty good idea of what a production in Mozart's day might have looked like. Would the soprano parts that were male characters have been originally played by countertenors or castratos? At any rate, I'm glad this production handled them as trouser (albeit very strange trousers) roles.

I'll have to try the other opera in this set again based on Almaviva's comments. The costumes in the opening sequence were so hokey I just couldn't watch it and ended up fast forwarding to see if anything caught my eye. From the liner notes, I didn't expect the music to be that good, but I guess I was wrong.

Aksel
November 5th, 2012, 02:05 PM
At least according to Wikipedia, all of the parts were played by men.

Dongiovanni
November 25th, 2012, 07:03 PM
I have been enjoying this Don Giovanni:
1330

Through the other forum I have discovered Jacobs. So I have the Don on CD and now a production of the Don on DVD. And it is really very good. The singers are outstanding. It is the style we know from Jacobs, with improv, "free singing". Lots of improv at the fortepiano during the recitatives. I love this.

The staging is not very good or bad, it's OK.

Above all, it should be said that the orchestra sounds fantastic. Tempi are great and Jacobs is very historically informed. As a generous bonus there is a documentary of 50 minutes where Jacobs gives his vision about interpreting the opera, and we see some "making of" scenes. His views are very outspoken. It's very interesting to learn this after seeing the opera.

Highly recommended !

Aksel
November 25th, 2012, 07:09 PM
I have been enjoying this Don Giovanni:


Through the other forum I have discovered Jacobs. So I have the Don on CD and now a production of the Don on DVD. And it is really very good. The singers are outstanding. It is the style we know from Jacobs, with improv, "free singing". Lots of improv at the fortepiano during the recitatives. I love this.

The staging is not very good or bad, it's OK.

Above all, it should be said that the orchestra sounds fantastic. Tempi are great and Jacobs is very historically informed. As a generous bonus there is a documentary of 50 minutes where Jacobs gives his vision about interpreting the opera, and we see some "making of" scenes. His views are very outspoken. It's very interesting to learn this after seeing the opera.

Highly recommended !

I haven't seen the DVD, although the CD recording is one of my all time favourites. Love, love, love Alexandrina Pendatchanska's Donna Elvira.

Yashin
January 3rd, 2013, 02:09 AM
On holiday today and feel like watching/listening to some Don Giovanni. On DVD there is lots of choice but i still go back to the DVD from Glyndebourne. It the Deborah Warner production from around 1995. Gilles Cachemille is a wonderful Don and Steven page is a really great actor as Leporello.

The sets are minimal-ish!

Some scenes courted controversy when this production was first out - but overall i like the style.

Its one of my favourite operas to watch in the theatre and listen too on my itunes. For listening, there is much more choice. I don't think i would want to be without my Cesare Siepi/Josef Krips cd, no my Keenlyside/Terfel conducted by Abbado (probably my favourite modern cd). And then my personal favourite but probably no one else likes it is one conducted by Alain Lombard. It has Boris Martinovich as a deadly dark voiced Don, Marcos Fink as Leporello. Its one of the slowest Don's i have but i love the sound quality, the time it all takes....just feels luxurious! Then i like to go back to the Abbado for the speed, the quick recitatives, the fine playing by Abbado's orchestra.

What about you guys? A dark or light voiced Don? Quick recitative or slow? Speedy playing of the orchestra or slow languid?

Itullian
January 3rd, 2013, 04:38 AM
On holiday today and feel like watching/listening to some Don Giovanni. On DVD there is lots of choice but i still go back to the DVD from Glyndebourne. It the Deborah Warner production from around 1995. Gilles Cachemille is a wonderful Don and Steven page is a really great actor as Leporello.

The sets are minimal-ish!

Some scenes courted controversy when this production was first out - but overall i like the style.

Its one of my favourite operas to watch in the theatre and listen too on my itunes. For listening, there is much more choice. I don't think i would want to be without my Cesare Siepi/Josef Krips cd, no my Keenlyside/Terfel conducted by Abbado (probably my favourite modern cd). And then my personal favourite but probably no one else likes it is one conducted by Alain Lombard. It has Boris Martinovich as a deadly dark voiced Don, Marcos Fink as Leporello. Its one of the slowest Don's i have but i love the sound quality, the time it all takes....just feels luxurious! Then i like to go back to the Abbado for the speed, the quick recitatives, the fine playing by Abbado's orchestra.

What about you guys? A dark or light voiced Don? Quick recitative or slow? Speedy playing of the orchestra or slow languid?

i like Klemperer in these operas. slow and profound.

Yashin
January 3rd, 2013, 09:07 AM
i like Klemperer in these operas. slow and profound.

To my shame i don't think i have heard that one. For me Don Giovanni is a bit like Madame Butterfly, sometimes i like a younger sounding couple and sometimes i prefer the older couple - more Tebaldi/Campora and less girly! Sometimes the slow recitative can drag the opera down a bit and therefore i like the natural spoken speed or a bit quicker. Think that is also true in Carmen and Die Zauberflote.

Jephtha
January 3rd, 2013, 04:31 PM
i like Klemperer in these operas. slow and profound.

I love the Klemperer Cosi for the unmatched trio of ladies: Margaret Price, Yvonne Minton and Lucia Popp. I have also been frustrated in my attempts to hear his fabled recording of Abduction, with Werner Hollweg as Belmonte. I've a feeling it was never released to the public, and I cannot find anyone beside myself who has even heard of it. Sometimes I think I must have dreamt about it, and my aging memory is confusing the dream with reality.

MAuer
January 3rd, 2013, 06:56 PM
I have three audio recordings of Don Giovanni, each of which I like for a different reason.

The Karl Böhm version has Sherrill Milnes in the title role -- my favorite Giovanni -- and the wonderful Walter Berry as Leporello. Edith Mathis and Dale Duesing are charming as Zerlina and Masetto, but I'm much less enthusiastic about the Donna Anna and Don Ottavio of Anna Tomowa-Sintow and Peter Schreier.

http://i.prs.to/t_200/dg4775655.jpg

I also like Ferenc Fricsay's late 1950s recording, primarily for Sena Jurinac's Donna Anna. Fischer-Dieskau would be my second choice in the title role (you can see that I prefer baritones here), and Ernst Haefliger is a respectable Ottavio. Maria Stader (Donna Elvira) has a pretty voice, but her Italian pronunciation needs work -- lots of "qvestas" and "qvellas" here.

http://classicstoday.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/coverpics/3416_coverpic.jpg

Finally, there is the live recording from Rome, 1970, under Carl Maria Giulini. It's quite a fine cast, with Ghiaurov (Giovanni), Janowitz (Donna Anna), Jurinac (Donna Elvira), Sesto Bruscantini (Leporello), and perhaps best of all, Alfredo Kraus as Don Ottavio.

http://i.prs.to/t_200/operadoroopd7080.jpg

There is yet another version I'd like to find, with Joan Sutherland as Donna Anna (and, I suspect, Richard Bonynge conducting) and Werner Krenn as Don Ottavio. He's one of my favorite Mozart tenors, but always somewhat underrated and now all but forgotten.

Jephtha
January 3rd, 2013, 08:15 PM
I have three audio recordings of Don Giovanni, each of which I like for a different reason.

The Karl Böhm version has Sherrill Milnes in the title role -- my favorite Giovanni -- and the wonderful Walter Berry as Leporello. Edith Mathis and Dale Duesing are charming as Zerlina and Masetto, but I'm much less enthusiastic about the Donna Anna and Don Ottavio of Anna Tomowa-Sintow and Peter Schreier.

http://i.prs.to/t_200/dg4775655.jpg

I also like Ferenc Fricsay's late 1950s recording, primarily for Sena Jurinac's Donna Anna. Fischer-Dieskau would be my second choice in the title role (you can see that I prefer baritones here), and Ernst Haefliger is a respectable Ottavio. Maria Stader (Donna Elvira) has a pretty voice, but her Italian pronunciation needs work -- lots of "qvestas" and "qvellas" here.

http://classicstoday.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/coverpics/3416_coverpic.jpg

Finally, there is the live recording from Rome, 1970, under Carl Maria Giulini. It's quite a fine cast, with Ghiaurov (Giovanni), Janowitz (Donna Anna), Jurinac (Donna Elvira), Sesto Bruscantini (Leporello), and perhaps best of all, Alfredo Kraus as Don Ottavio.

http://i.prs.to/t_200/operadoroopd7080.jpg

There is yet another version I'd like to find, with Joan Sutherland as Donna Anna (and, I suspect, Richard Bonynge conducting) and Werner Krenn as Don Ottavio. He's one of my favorite Mozart tenors, but always somewhat underrated and now all but forgotten.

MAuer, I am so glad you mentioned the Fricsay Don Giovanni. This is also one of my faves, like you for Sena Jurinac as Anna. Elvira was her usual role on stage, and I find that her intensity and straightforward vocalism are more suited for the Commendatore's daughter. Even more, though, I love this recording for the clarity and point of Fricsay's conducting. Not only is the score brisk and refreshing in his hands, but it has all the good aspects we expect from a live performance: urgency, theatricality and a strong sense of forward motion. And it helps that Zerlina is played by my beloved Irmgard Seefried! :D If you haven't already done so, check out the Fricsay Magic Flute and Abduction, too. The latter features Maria Stader as Konstanze, a role far more congenial to her than Elvira (she sang the Queen of Night at Covent Garden) and the great Rita Streich as Blondchen.

I remember hearing the Bonynge when I was at school, and it was rather odd, IMO. He double-dots all over the place, which is a questionable practice in Mozart: this composer usually wrote out double-dots when he felt they were necessary, as in several of the later symphonies. Bonynge even makes Pilar Lorengar double-dot her rising arpeggios at the end of 'Ah, chi mi dici mai', which turns a vocal line that masterfully expresses the desire for vengeance into a jaunty, bouncy jog-trot that loses all sense of menace. And as I recall, Zerlina's arias are transposed down a whole tone for Marilyn Horne. Still, it is worth a listen, and it has been so long since I heard it that I am doubtless distorting its true value in my memory.

Yashin
January 4th, 2013, 01:12 AM
Yes, i recall the Fricsay Don and quite liked it as i remember, must dig it out. I quite like Fricsay in his Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail. Wonder what his Zauberflote is like??

Jephtha
January 4th, 2013, 01:26 AM
Yes, i recall the Fricsay Don and quite liked it as i remember, must dig it out. I quite like Fricsay in his Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail. Wonder what his Zauberflote is like??

It is much in the same vein as his other Mozart opera recordings: light and reasonably brisk with a good sense of the theatre. The spoken dialogue is cut to a minimum, and what is left is largely re-written. Streich is the Queen of Night in not quite her finest traversal of the role; the repeated staccati in the Vengeance Aria have an unfortunate yapping quality that is reminiscent of an angry Pekinese. She is much better in the RAI recording with Schwarzkopf and Taddei. Fischer-Dieskau is the birdcatcher and very delightful he is, too; he manages to keep everything light and airy in keeping with Fricsay's approach. Stader is somewhat miscast as Pamina; her lovely tone has more than a hint of vinegar and lemon to it in this set. Perhaps it was a rough patch through which she was passing. Ernst Haefliger is Tamino, and I find him excellent. I know some people object to his basic vocal tone quality, but to me it has an attractive, resinous character that rewards careful listening. The only fly in the ointment is Josef Greindl as Sarastro. His singing, like that of Kurt Boehme on the Karl Boehm Vienna set, is wobbly and Alberich-like. No wonder Pamina is afraid of him at first! Otherwise, a lovely performance by all concerned.

MAuer
January 4th, 2013, 06:50 PM
I have the Fricsay Die Zauberflöte, and it sounds like his Entführung aus dem Serail may be worth acquiring. Right now, I have the Wallberg version with Gruberova and Araiza as Konstanze and Belmonte. If it weren't for Erika Köth's twittery, Minnie Mouse Konstanze on the Jochum version, I'd have purchased it just for Wunderlich's Belmonte. Though I think there may be an earlier recording of Die Entführung with him currently available . . .

Jephtha
January 4th, 2013, 08:04 PM
I have the Fricsay Die Zauberflöte, and it sounds like his Entführung aus dem Serail may be worth acquiring. Right now, I have the Wallberg version with Gruberova and Araiza as Konstanze and Belmonte. If it weren't for Erika Köth's twittery, Minnie Mouse Konstanze on the Jochum version, I'd have purchased it just for Wunderlich's Belmonte. Though I think there may be an earlier recording of Die Entführung with him currently available . . .

MAuer, do you like the Wallberg? I love Araiza's performance, but Gruberova sounds to my ear as if she has not yet acquired the polish she later exhibited in this role, and Gudrun Ebel's Blondchen strikes me as grey and anonymous. However, it is the only Abduction I am aware of that includes every syllable of the spoken dialogue, including Pedrillo's revelation that the Pasha is a Renegade(in the ancient sense of the word: a Christian who renounces the faith to embrace Islam), an important plot point. The only Abduction with Wunderlich besides the Jochum that I know of is a live recording from Salzburg with Ruth-Margret Puetz as Konstanze.

Yashin
January 5th, 2013, 01:21 AM
It is much in the same vein as his other Mozart opera recordings: light and reasonably brisk with a good sense of the theatre. The spoken dialogue is cut to a minimum, and what is left is largely re-written. Streich is the Queen of Night in not quite her finest traversal of the role; the repeated staccati in the Vengeance Aria have an unfortunate yapping quality that is reminiscent of an angry Pekinese. She is much better in the RAI recording with Schwarzkopf and Taddei. Fischer-Dieskau is the birdcatcher and very delightful he is, too; he manages to keep everything light and airy in keeping with Fricsay's approach. Stader is somewhat miscast as Pamina; her lovely tone has more than a hint of vinegar and lemon to it in this set. Perhaps it was a rough patch through which she was passing. Ernst Haefliger is Tamino, and I find him excellent. I know some people object to his basic vocal tone quality, but to me it has an attractive, resinous character that rewards careful listening. The only fly in the ointment is Josef Greindl as Sarastro. His singing, like that of Kurt Boehme on the Karl Boehm Vienna set, is wobbly and Alberich-like. No wonder Pamina is afraid of him at first! Otherwise, a lovely performance by all concerned.

Wonderful review...thank you!

MAuer
January 5th, 2013, 07:26 PM
MAuer, do you like the Wallberg? I love Araiza's performance, but Gruberova sounds to my ear as if she has not yet acquired the polish she later exhibited in this role, and Gudrun Ebel's Blondchen strikes me as grey and anonymous. However, it is the only Abduction I am aware of that includes every syllable of the spoken dialogue, including Pedrillo's revelation that the Pasha is a Renegade(in the ancient sense of the word: a Christian who renounces the faith to embrace Islam), an important plot point. The only Abduction with Wunderlich besides the Jochum that I know of is a live recording from Salzburg with Ruth-Margret Puetz as Konstanze.

My reaction is similar to yours. I think Araiza's Belmonte is the best part of the recording, and I also like the Pedrillo of Norbert Orth in his pre-heldentenor days. My favorite Konstanze is probably Ileana Cotrubas.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 6th, 2013, 05:52 PM
Mozart - Die Zauberflöte on DVD

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

Die Zauberflöte, Singspiel in two acts, K.620
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder

Salzburger Festspiele - co-production with De Nederlandse Opera, Amsterdam - released both as an isolated DVD, and as part of the M22 Boxset. Sung/spoken in German.

2006 - Live - Riccardo Muti conducts the Wiener Philharmoniker
Chorus of the Wiener Staatsoper

Stage Director Pierre Audi
Set Design Karel Appel
Costume Design Jorge Zara
Video Direction Brian Large
Producer Bernhard Fleischer

Cast

Sarastro - René Pape
Königin der Narcht - Diana Damrau
Tamino - Paul Groves
Papageno - Christian Gerhaher
Pamina - Genia Kühmeier
Papagena - Irina Bespalovaite
Erste Dame - Inga Kalna
Zweite Dame - Karine Deshayes
Dritte Dame - Ekaterina Gubanová
Die drei Knaben - only credited as "members of the Vienna Boys' Choir"
Monostatos - Bulkhard Ulrich

Excellent, sharp, brightly colored image. High-quality, perfectly balanced sound tracks, in LPCM Stereo or DTS 5.1
Optional subtitles and various languages including original German, English, French, Spanish, and Japanese
Bonus tracks: The Making Of Mozart 22; trailers - Petter Sellars directs Mozart; Mozart on Decca and Philips
2 DVDs - Act 1 - 1 hour 13 minutes; Act 2 - 1 hour 42 minutes
The Boxset insert contains list of tracks with duration and characters, and synopsis. I do not own the isolated feature so I can't say anything about its insert.

--------

This is a very charming production. The musical values are outstanding, with singers homogeneously doing an excellent job, and Maestro Muti with the Wiener Philharmoniker delivering lush, well-paced orchestral playing; the chorus is also great. Acting is generally good except that Paul Groves is a much better singer than an actor (his full and warm voice is a pleasure to hear), and I've seen funnier Papagenos (Gerhaher's singing is fine but he just doesn't have the same impact of the other singers). Diana Damrau looks positively beautiful and sings admirably, with dazzling coloratura, in one of her best outings in this role that she masters so well. Her two big arias are sung with incredible flair and are among the best renditions I've ever heard of these two difficult pieces. I actually think she did better here than in her famous blu-ray recording. While Genia Kühmeier is not on the same level, she doesn't disappoint at all and is a good surprise. Some of the comprimarios are truly excellent singers, such as the three ladies, Papagena, and Monostatos. And then, as a bonus we get the great René Pape with his fine acting and fabulous voice (even though the role is a bit too low for him and there's a couple of shaky lower register moments).

The cartoon-looking, brightly colored sets and oversized papier-maché props are cute in my opinion - I've seen people who were put off by the excesses of this kindergarten-looking sets, but I rather think they're an asset of this production - I see absolutely no problem in presenting the opera this way, since it does appeal to children. Some of the costumes are not as imaginative as the sets and could have used some more daring, especially the ones for the main characters (paradoxically, the costumes for the comprimarios and extras are more interesting than those for the principal characters such as Tamino and Pamina, and even Papageno). Stage direction is efficient and harmonious, and lighting is good. Brian Large as usual delivers competent video direction that is to the point and avoids the pitfalls we see elsewhere. There's very brief, partial nudity (and very generous Papagena cleavage). This version is not abridged, and includes the lenghty, fairly integral spoken dialogue (which does get to be a bit longish especially in the second act).

This is a vivacious, visually pleasing production that is well directed, well filmed, with some notable singers, and an exquisite orchestra lead by a great conductor, that is delivered in a technically state-of-the-art product; therefore my overall verdict is grade "A" - highly recommended. It doesn't get to A+ due to some less-than-ideal acting here and there, incomprehensibly sober costumes for some of the principals in such an otherwise visually extravagant production, and a rather generic Papageno.

Dark_Angel
January 6th, 2013, 06:09 PM
Mozart - Die Zauberflöte on DVD

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


This is a vivacious, visually pleasing production that is well directed, well filmed, with some notable singers, and an exquisite orchestra lead by a great conductor, that is delivered in a technically state-of-the-art product; therefore my overall verdict is grade "A" - highly recommended. It doesn't get to A+ due to some less-than-ideal acting here and there, incomprehensibly sober costumes for some of the principals in such an otherwise visually extravagant production, and a rather generic Papageno.

This is definitely one of the 3 best operas in the M22 boxset for me.....
Since Magic Flute is a fantasy tale the bold colorful highly imaginative sets and costumes seem like great ideas to me, some of the visuals are just stunning and highly creative making very dramatic impact, we need more like this (and the Julie Taymor MET Flute)

Hats off to Damrau, a good sport to act the queen of the night looking like a gumbi toy, he he :laugh4:



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZG90IhvGZk&feature=player_detailpage

Aksel
January 6th, 2013, 07:47 PM
All I can think when I see that production is that Damrau looks like the Queen of the Broccolis!

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 6th, 2013, 08:05 PM
All I can think when I see that production is that Damrau looks like the Queen of the Broccolis!

That's probably why I thought she was yummy!:biggrin:

HarpsichordConcerto
January 7th, 2013, 08:53 AM
This is definitely one of the 3 best operas in the M22 boxset for me.....


Agree, definitely one of the best of out of the M22 series (though not amongst my favourite Die Zauberflöte per se). The staging was nicely done from the fantasy point of view.

Jephtha
January 10th, 2013, 04:44 PM
My favorite Konstanze is probably Ileana Cotrubas. Is there a complete Abduction with Cotrubas? I know she recorded 'Ach, ich liebte' for a CBS recital in the '70s, and she performed the role at Salzburg under Maazel, but I am unaware of any studio recordings of the whole opera with her. Perhaps Orfeo will release a CD set of the Salzburg performances.

MAuer
January 10th, 2013, 07:08 PM
Is there a complete Abduction with Cotrubas? I know she recorded 'Ach, ich liebte' for a CBS recital in the '70s, and she performed the role at Salzburg under Maazel, but I am unaware of any studio recordings of the whole opera with her. Perhaps Orfeo will release a CD set of the Salzburg performances.

Unfortunately, no -- or at least none that I've been able to find. I'd heard her on a radio broadcast.

Vesteralen
January 12th, 2013, 12:39 PM
1484

A shame. I loved some of the voices in this performance. But, the sound quality seemed really poor. It is an older performance, of course. The Hockney sets were okay, but the dragon was just too silly for words.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 12th, 2013, 02:39 PM
Is there a complete Abduction with Cotrubas? I know she recorded 'Ach, ich liebte' for a CBS recital in the '70s, and she performed the role at Salzburg under Maazel, but I am unaware of any studio recordings of the whole opera with her. Perhaps Orfeo will release a CD set of the Salzburg performances.

I checked the database, and no, she never recorded the opera, there isn't even any bootleg available.

Dark_Angel
January 18th, 2013, 03:16 PM
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61MrrOtuYDL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B007X98ROM/ref=dp_image_z_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)

This latest Jacobs release La Finta Giardiniera is one of the very best in this series, I was really impressed and have a whole new outlook on this opera. My first exposure was in the M22 Mozart boxset, a very modern austere staged production with white costumes and white angular stage props, didn't leave a great memorable impression with me, the new CD version sounds so much more fun and exciting

Jacobs works his magic here, this lively recording brings everything to vibrant life, a saucy romantic comedy with jilted lovers, assumed identities, temporary maddness, after many twists and turns in the end true love prevails. As usual with this series excellent sound quality and deluxe boxset packaging including the huge 300+ page booklet.

Everything sparkles with life and imagination here, the singers are fully engaged and provide delightfully animated performances, very impressive overall making me elevate the standing of the early opera by 18 year old Mozart to be one of his best works outside of his late da ponte masterworks.......close to the same level as Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail, this is an essential purchase for Mozart opera fans, the price is high but it offers great rewards, buy buy buy

Aksel
January 18th, 2013, 10:12 PM
^I generally agree with that. I think it's really, really great, but I can't help but think that Nicholas Rivenq was rather miscast as Il Podestà.

Dark_Angel
January 19th, 2013, 12:04 AM
^I generally agree with that. I think it's really, really great, but I can't help but think that Nicholas Rivenq was rather miscast as Il Podestà.

I am not really familiar with Rivenq except noticing he appears in another Jacobs Mozart opera I have......
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Sgn6EFxhL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B001OBV9YU/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)

Dongiovanni
January 19th, 2013, 03:29 PM
I watched this Don Giovanni:

1518

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Glyndebourne Chorus
Vladimir Jurowski conductor

Brindley Sherratt (The Commendatore)
Anna Samuil (Donna Anna)
William Burden (Don Ottavio)
Gerald Finley (Don Giovanni)
Luca Pisaroni (Leporello)
Kate Royal (Donna Elvira)
Anna Virovlansky (Zerlina)
Guido Loconsolo (Masetto)

Usually we get a version that is a combination of Prague and Vienna, but this is the Vienna version. I loved it. Singing is great, in all roles. I loved Zerlina, one of the best I have seen so far. The production is very good, some funny moments, and a spectacular commendatore scene. Even better: the orchestra and the conducting (HIP). Jacobs has great sound, but the production I saw on DVD (reviewed earlier here) can't compete with this one.

Dark_Angel
January 20th, 2013, 12:22 AM
I watched this Don Giovanni:

1518

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Glyndebourne Chorus
Vladimir Jurowski conductor

Brindley Sherratt (The Commendatore)
Anna Samuil (Donna Anna)
William Burden (Don Ottavio)
Gerald Finley (Don Giovanni)
Luca Pisaroni (Leporello)
Kate Royal (Donna Elvira)
Anna Virovlansky (Zerlina)
Guido Loconsolo (Masetto)

Usually we get a version that is a combination of Prague and Vienna, but this is the Vienna version. I loved it. Singing is great, in all roles. I loved Zerlina, one of the best I have seen so far. The production is very good, some funny moments, and a spectacular commendatore scene. Even better: the orchestra and the conducting (HIP). Jacobs has great sound, but the production I saw on DVD (reviewed earlier here) can't compete with this one.

Yes there seems to be some good stuff here, Finley is very dependable good performance with Mozart, seems to be an interesting modern staging without reggie absurdity, finale looks like some scence from a Fellini movie party.......in the buy basket it goes. (Soave right behind me pushing buy button with Finley on board)

Jurowski sounds great with orchestra, yes this looks like a buy

How can I lose with a recommend from Don G. himself?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRTT3c3-S44&feature=player_detailpage


Promo Video:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MP8pVz3d9wQ&feature=player_detailpage

HarpsichordConcerto
January 20th, 2013, 05:42 AM
I agree with the observations. But I hated the staging. I bought it for the performance.

Dongiovanni
January 20th, 2013, 01:56 PM
Yes there seems to be some good stuff here, Finley is very dependable good performance with Mozart, seems to be an interesting modern staging without reggie absurdity, finale looks like some scence from a Fellini movie party.......in the buy basket it goes. (Soave right behind me pushing buy button with Finley on board)

Jurowski sounds great with orchestra, yes this looks like a buy

How can I lose with a recommend from Don G. himself?

I'm so glad I found this. I'm watching this on Midici.tv, now for the second time. Seems like a very good source, always good quality. I got a month subscription.

Anna Samuil really impresses with her last aria (Non mi dir), wow ! It takes a little getting used to her voice though.

I saw Finley as the Don in the ROH, no doubt his performance is top class. And this staging really appeals to me.

Luca Pisaroni is also a real treat as Leporello.

The commendatore scenes also work out really well. The killing scene is very convincing. The final commendatore scene is really terrifying. Wow again.

Tardis
January 22nd, 2013, 09:29 PM
This is one of my favorite Don Giovannis.
I think it really explores the master-servant relationship between Don Giovanni and Leporello. The scene where Don Giovanni forces Leporello to invite the Commendatore is wonderfully done.
Luca Pisaroni is fast becoming one of my favorite singers. I honestly haven't seen him in a bad production.
And I agree with Dongiovanni that Virovlanksy is excellent here. "Batti, batti o bel Masetto" has a lot of undertones within it, playful, reconcilatory, even a little sexual, and it's really well portrayed here.
I also thought William Burden sang beautifully here. His "Dalla sua pace" is sung with great lyricism.
This was a great cast all-around.

In my opinion, Glyndebourne does Mozart as well as anyone.

Dongiovanni
January 22nd, 2013, 09:55 PM
This is one of my favorite Don Giovannis.
I think it really explores the master-servant relationship between Don Giovanni and Leporello. The scene where Don Giovanni forces Leporello to invite the Commendatore is wonderfully done.
Luca Pisaroni is fast becoming one of my favorite singers. I honestly haven't seen him in a bad production.
And I agree with Dongiovanni that Virovlanksy is excellent here. "Batti, batti o bel Masetto" has a lot of undertones within it, playful, reconcilatory, even a little sexual, and it's really well portrayed here.
I also thought William Burden sang beautifully here. His "Dalla sua pace" is sung with great lyricism.
This was a great cast all-around.

In my opinion, Glyndebourne does Mozart as well as anyone.

Yes, there are many other productions at Glyndebourne that I love, for example the Cosi with Fischer, or an older Figaro under Haitink with Alison Hagley. Maybe I should attend a performance !

I had high expectations of the Scala 2011 Don, but I had mixed feelings (Production was so-so, Ottavio was terrible, Masetto and Zerlina mehh). But here finally something where everything is good !

I also like that the Don's corpse remains on stage for the sextet, and Leporello taking his last catalog picture, of the Don ! And no break before the sextet. And Leporello humming Figaro's aria, that was hilarious.

Hoffmann
January 31st, 2013, 02:34 AM
I see a couple of references to Peter Sellars. Not everyone's idea of a good time, I know. I was struck, however, many years ago by his Don Giovanni staged in the Bronx/Brooklyn, starring African-American twins - I was rivetted:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25Kf-UmRTTE&playnext=1&list=PL2E19A36FF002FBE6&feature=results_main

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 31st, 2013, 02:49 AM
I see a couple of references to Peter Sellars. Not everyone's idea of a good time, I know.

I think Peter Sellars is rather highly regarded as a stage director by most of our members, no? I seem to recall mostly praise for his stagings, over here, if I'm not mistaken. I personally like most of them.

Hoffmann
January 31st, 2013, 03:34 AM
Sellars was in residence at the Kennedy Center charged with putting the American National Theater on solid footing. If I remember correctly, he didn't last very long. Washington tends to be very conservative overall in its theater and music tastes.

I favor edgy opera productions, so I did like Sellars' Don G!

Aksel
February 1st, 2013, 12:01 AM
I think Peter Sellars is rather highly regarded as a stage director by most of our members, no? I seem to recall mostly praise for his stagings, over here, if I'm not mistaken. I personally like most of them.

Yes, at least among the Regie crowd.

Jephtha
February 1st, 2013, 12:37 AM
Sellars was in residence at the Kennedy Center charged with putting the American National Theater on solid footing. If I remember correctly, he didn't last very long. Washington tends to be very conservative overall in its theater and music tastes.

I favor edgy opera productions, so I did like Sellars' Don G!

I think Sellars' Don Giovanni is the most successful of his Mozart-da Ponte productions. The overall dark atmosphere seems to bring out the best in this director. There are so many wonderful moments, but my favorite is the inscription on the Commendatore's monument falling seemingly from the sky(really a slip of paper dropped by the 'stone guest' from his position on an upper-floor fire escape). The incredible frisson of such a threatening item dropping apparently from Heaven has stayed with me ever since my first viewing many years ago.

I also like the approach of Sellars' partner in crime, music director Craig Smith, who ensured that the latest musicological findings as per apoggiaturas, vocal cadenzas and embellishment were a part of the proceedings. The same musical excellence, both vocal and conductorial, is to be found also in the Sellars-Smith Giulio Cesare, which unfortunately is not as perceptive dramatically as the Mozart productions.

Itullian
February 11th, 2013, 03:51 PM
A recommendation to all my friends here.
Next months EMI Otto Klemperer box set will be the 4 Mozart operas.
Get it while you can. Brilliant conducting and singers that are amazing.
just my humble 2 cents.
these recordings are my favorites for all 4 operas.

Jephtha
February 11th, 2013, 10:58 PM
A recommendation to all my friends here.
Next months EMI Otto Klemperer box set will be the 4 Mozart operas.
Get it while you can. Brilliant conducting and singers that are amazing.
just my humble 2 cents.
these recordings are my favorites for all 4 operas.

Too bad the fabled Abduction with Werner Hollweg as Belmonte will not be part of the set.

Itullian
February 12th, 2013, 04:00 PM
Too bad the fabled Abduction with Werner Hollweg as Belmonte will not be part of the set.

was that an EMI recording?
Beechams my favorite Abduction

Jephtha
February 12th, 2013, 04:20 PM
was that an EMI recording?
Beechams my favorite Abduction

I am assuming it was EMI. I don't think it has ever been released to the public. The only way I know about it is through Hollweg's curriculum vitae in the original Telefunken LP set of Handel's Jephtha, which mentions it. All I know is that Klemperer conducted and Hollweg was Belmonte; I know no other details.

As far as favorite Abductions, I love the Krips on EMI with Gedda and Rothenberger. For an uncut version(i.e., one that includes the long versions of Martern aller Arten, Wenn der Freude Tranen fliessen and Blondchen's arias, I like the Harnoncourt.

Itullian
February 12th, 2013, 05:53 PM
I am assuming it was EMI. I don't think it has ever been released to the public. The only way I know about it is through Hollweg's curriculum vitae in the original Telefunken LP set of Handel's Jephtha, which mentions it. All I know is that Klemperer conducted and Hollweg was Belmonte; I know no other details.

As far as favorite Abductions, I lvoe the Krips on EMI with Gedda and Rothenberger. For an uncut version(i.e., one that includes the long versions of Martern aller Arten, Wenn der Freude Tranen fliessen and Blondchen's arias, I like the Harnoncourt.

i have a real hard time with Harnoncourt. his interpretations just dont sit well with me.

Jephtha
February 12th, 2013, 06:04 PM
i have a real hard time with Harnoncourt. his interpretations just dont sit well with me.

I can well understand that. I think a lot of people have the same reaction you do. While he has been my favorite conductor for the better part of forty years, there are mannerisms of his that even I have trouble with. What I like and respect about him is that he restudies and rethinks everything he performs; there is never a hint of the routine or the everyday about his interpretations.

Dongiovanni
February 14th, 2013, 02:16 PM
Yes there seems to be some good stuff here, Finley is very dependable good performance with Mozart, seems to be an interesting modern staging without reggie absurdity, finale looks like some scence from a Fellini movie party.......in the buy basket it goes. (Soave right behind me pushing buy button with Finley on board)

Jurowski sounds great with orchestra, yes this looks like a buy

How can I lose with a recommend from Don G. himself?

So did you get it, and what is your opinion ? I hope my recommendation is succesfull :-)

Hoffmann
February 14th, 2013, 04:10 PM
I was reading back through some of the postings on this thread looking for a recommendation for a great Idomeneo recording - DA, what do you think about the Harmonia Mundi Idomeneo you posted on 1/18 - as good as their La Finta Giardiniera?

I also noticed that I missed DonG's reference to MediciTV, which looks like a great find. I wonder if there is a way to flip the MediciTV signal to a large screen TV?

Soave_Fanciulla
February 14th, 2013, 05:49 PM
Yes there seems to be some good stuff here, Finley is very dependable good performance with Mozart, seems to be an interesting modern staging without reggie absurdity, finale looks like some scence from a Fellini movie party.......in the buy basket it goes. (Soave right behind me pushing buy button with Finley on board)


It's on deep discount at Presto Classical (http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/advsearch.php?composer=&work=don+giovanni&performer=finley&medium=DVD+video&label=&cat=)(US$10) so I did get it even though I've already seen it on Medici.

Soave_Fanciulla
February 14th, 2013, 05:51 PM
I also noticed that I missed DonG's reference to MediciTV, which looks like a great find. I wonder if there is a way to flip the MediciTV signal to a large screen TV?

What about using an HDMI cable to link your computer to the TV?

Dark_Angel
February 14th, 2013, 06:25 PM
It's on deep discount at Presto Classical (http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/advsearch.php?composer=&work=don+giovanni&performer=finley&medium=DVD+video&label=&cat=)(US$10) so I did get it even though I've already seen it on Medici.

Arrrrrgggghhhh......I paid much more than that recently at Amazon USA :mad-new:

Dongiovanni
February 14th, 2013, 06:25 PM
Especially for Medici I hooked up a small PC to the TV over HDMI. Hours and hours of concerts, operas, docu's, it's great! The interface to operate Medici is not optimal for watching it from a distance though.

And for 10 bucks I'm getting that DVD ! Super bargain.

Itullian
February 19th, 2013, 06:38 PM
a Mozart bargain........

http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Opern-Operas-Gesamt-Complete-Anton-Dermota/dp/B009SEWIQS/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1361299004&sr=1-1&keywords=mozart+zyx

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
May 5th, 2013, 01:30 AM
Don Giovanni (Glyndebourne) on DVD with Gerald Finley, Luca Pisaroni, and maestro Vladimir Jurowski - EMI

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51UFin4R47L._AA160_.jpg

I don't get what's the fuss about this performance. I know it's been among the favorites of some of our members. I find it rather bland. I'm not even sure if I'll watch it until the end. The female singers are rather weak and even annoying with unpleasant timbre and either small voices, or when big, shrill (Anna Samuil, although attractive, is a whiny Donna Anna; a disappointing Kate Royal who has done better elsewhere is Donna Elvira, and Anna Virovlansky is charming but doesn't sing Zerlina all that well). Gerald Finley is OK but nothing to write home about. Luca Pisaroni as usual is a fine Leporello and by far the best feature of this DVD. Guido Loconsolo (I've just seen him live in Rigoletto a couple of days ago) is impressive as a good comprimario (Masetto). William Burden is an unremarkable Don Ottavio. The Fellini-era staging ends up a bit tiresome and does not rise to the usual Glyndebourne imaginative standards. Jurowski and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment are correct but also not earth-shattering.

No wonder this product's price dropped on Amazon from $30 to less than $14. For me, this is a deviation of the usual Glyndebourne high production and casting values, and something I'd rather return if I could, even considering the bargain price.

Maybe I'm being unfair because I'm basing my judgment on the first hour of the show and maybe these people will warm up and the staging will get more interesting, but I'm quite bored and about to turn this off.

PS - That's it, I quit. I got to the end of the first DVD (Act 1) and won't be playing the second one. Not recommended.

Dongiovanni
May 8th, 2013, 12:05 PM
I'm one of those who think it's great, I've talked about that elsewhere. I never would have expected you would dislike is so much, strange but it happens :-)

If you don't like act 1, act 2 will not impress you either.

Just curious, what is your standard for DG on DVD ?

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
May 8th, 2013, 02:38 PM
I'm one of those who think it's great, I've talked about that elsewhere. I never would have expected you would dislike is so much, strange but it happens :-)

If you don't like act 1, act 2 will not impress you either.

Just curious, what is your standard for DG on DVD ?

Well, there's no right or wrong about this, I guess this production just didn't agree with my tastes, and it did with yours, that's fine.
My preferred one is a really old-timer:
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/211BYNW03NL._AA160_.jpg
I thought Sam Ramey and K. Battle were superb. This is as traditional as it can be. Regarding updated Dons, and even considering that I haven't seen it whole (but rather, several clips from it) so probably I shouldn't be passing judgment, I think this one has good singers/actors and interesting concepts:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/519q4JPXtZL._AA160_.jpg

Aksel
May 8th, 2013, 03:31 PM
The Guth DG is my favourite. Excellently sung (seriously. Worth it for Dorothea Röschmann's Donna Elvira alone) and a very interesting production.

Jephtha
May 8th, 2013, 03:36 PM
My preferred one is a really old-timer:
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/211BYNW03NL._AA160_.jpg

I've got you beat, Alma! :) My favorite DG is even older: the 1954 Paul Czinner film conducted by Furtwängler. Erna Berger is patently too old for Zerlina(she was in her fifties!), but her singing is glorious, and my beloved Elisabeth Grümmer casts her usual radiant glow over Donna Anna. The production is rather tatty, but it is a fine opportunity to experience a Salzburg Festival Mozart production from a golden era. I guess nostalgia also plays a part for me: I saw Siepi as the Don in San Francisco(with Taddei as Leporello), and it was an unforgettable evening.

Amfortas
June 15th, 2013, 12:01 AM
I'm not usually one to write reviews, but I did enjoy this video recently:

http://www.lucapisaroni.com/img/recordings/figaro_strehler.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following trailer gives a helpful sampling:


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

jhar26
August 1st, 2013, 11:07 AM
I think Peter Sellars is rather highly regarded as a stage director by most of our members, no? I seem to recall mostly praise for his stagings, over here, if I'm not mistaken. I personally like most of them.

Not by me. :noway: I prefer Mozart's Mozart over Sellers' any day.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
August 25th, 2013, 04:29 PM
I am watching again Glyndebourne's Così to refresh my memory while I write up questions to ask of our partners NC Opera's cast for the piece which they'll be showing in early October. I've said it before and others have as well, but what a *spectacular* production! This should be taught in stage directing courses for how to *perfectly*stage an opera. This, added to the excellent orchestra and the outstanding and attractive singers, makes of this one of the most rewarding operas in video medium ever released. This is one of the top 10 best opera DVD/Blu-rays ever produced.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51b16YmnxKL._AA200_.jpg

Dark_Angel
August 25th, 2013, 07:00 PM
I am watching again Glyndebourne's Così to refresh my memory while I write up questions to ask of our partners NC Opera's cast for the piece which they'll be showing in early October. I've said it before and others have as well, but what a *spectacular* production! This should be taught in stage directing courses for how to *perfectly*stage an opera. This, added to the excellent orchestra and the outstanding and attractive singers, makes of this one of the most rewarding operas in video medium ever released. This is one of the top 10 best opera DVD/Blu-rays ever produced.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51b16YmnxKL._AA200_.jpg

It is a reference Cosi for sure, but as I recall you intitially were trying to convince us the other Cosi with Miah Persson was even better, then you later regained your senses :laugh4:



http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ytN8OUEmL._SY300_.jpg

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
August 25th, 2013, 08:05 PM
True!

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
October 5th, 2014, 11:08 PM
Don Giovanni on DVD

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

Salzburg Festival, 2008

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

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

Recorded live at the Salzburg Festival in July/August 2008

Cast

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

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/512COuL6WcL.jpg

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

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

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

http://ww2.heidelberg.de/stadtblatt-online/artikel-bilder/119/Dasch_HDF_08_fmt.jpg

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

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

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

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_dGx97doCdyE/TGEp5VfAqxI/AAAAAAAACAA/GvjYg6wIk8A/s400/dg1

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

This extraordinary scene is on YouTube:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAgkGXEW98Y

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

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_dGx97doCdyE/TGEp8tIg6HI/AAAAAAAACAQ/mXnhix3SHa0/s400/dg3

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

http://www.askonasholt.co.uk/uploads/images/artists/ekaterina-siurina/746.jpg

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

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_dGx97doCdyE/TGEp7Ei0dnI/AAAAAAAACAI/BhCmicFteVs/s400/dg2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
October 26th, 2014, 02:23 AM
Juan - 2010 film adaptation based on Mozart's Don Giovanni, on DVD

The original work:

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

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41RlobQhqZL.jpg

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

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

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

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

Format - Import, widescreen 1.78:1, PAL Region 2 (it won't play in American DVD players unless you have a Region 2 player capable of playing PAL format or a multi-region dual PAL/NTSC one - simple ones with no frills, just to play import DVDs, are available for some $60 from various vendors; also, one can change the DVD drive on an old laptop to region 2 just to play these discs). The import is available from Amazon marketplace vendors for $52 [clicky (http://www.amazon.com/Juan-Region-2-Christopher-Maltman/dp/B006W1TISG/)] shipping from New Jersey - there is a blu-ray disc for $60 but then you'd need a PAL/Region 2 blu-ray disc player as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5415

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

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

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

5421

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maltman is very impressive in this scene.

5423

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

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

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

My rating for this one is B, recommended only to some niche audiences.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
August 14th, 2016, 04:49 AM
Don Giovanni on blu-ray disc

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71xzdTXMrjL._SY445_.jpg

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

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

Freiburger Barockorchester conducted by Louis Langrée
English Voices

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

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

Cast

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

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

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This product is available from Amazon for $39, also available on DVD for $20. Click [here (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71xzdTXMrjL._SY445_.jpg)]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fans of Don Giovanni who have several versions do need to get this one too! And don't forget to watch the bonus feature. The documentary is excellent and demonstrates how good Tcherniakov is. I learned that he was a violinist and knows intimately the score of the operas he directs. No wonder his ideas fit the music so well.

Ann Lander (sospiro)
November 1st, 2016, 01:14 PM
Has anyone got/heard either of these and if you have what do you think? The reviews on Amazon.com are very mixed.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/717DoysV9IL._SX425_.jpg

Le nozze di Figaro reviews (https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-nozze-Figaro-W/product-reviews/B00GK8P1EG/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_viewpnt_rgt?ie=UTF8&filterByStar=critical&reviewerType=all_reviews&showViewpoints=0&pageNumber=1)

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71hTsM4-JRL._SX450_.jpg

Così fan tutte reviews (https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-nozze-Figaro-W/product-reviews/B00GK8P1EG/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_viewpnt_rgt?ie=UTF8&filterByStar=critical&reviewerType=all_reviews&showViewpoints=0&pageNumber=1)

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

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71DY7V3HqNL._SX425_.jpg

Mika Kares


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0yeMzwA9YA&feature=youtu.be

Festat
November 1st, 2016, 10:27 PM
I've talked about them in the listening thread, will see if there's a way of findings the posts. But, yeah, my opinions were also mixed.

Festat
November 1st, 2016, 10:40 PM
Here: Così (http://operalively.com/forums/showthread.php/37-What-opera-have-you-been-listening-to-lately?p=51497&viewfull=1#post51497) and Figaro (http://operalively.com/forums/showthread.php/37-What-opera-have-you-been-listening-to-lately?p=52148&viewfull=1#post52148).

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

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
November 1st, 2016, 11:38 PM
Here: Così (http://operalively.com/forums/showthread.php/37-What-opera-have-you-been-listening-to-lately?p=51497&viewfull=1#post51497) and Figaro (http://operalively.com/forums/showthread.php/37-What-opera-have-you-been-listening-to-lately?p=52148&viewfull=1#post52148).

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

It won't be bad, just, mixed... LOL

Ann Lander (sospiro)
November 2nd, 2016, 07:16 AM
I've talked about them in the listening thread, will see if there's a way of findings the posts. But, yeah, my opinions were also mixed.

Ooops, sorry. Missed them.

- - - Updated - - -


Here: Così (http://operalively.com/forums/showthread.php/37-What-opera-have-you-been-listening-to-lately?p=51497&viewfull=1#post51497) and Figaro (http://operalively.com/forums/showthread.php/37-What-opera-have-you-been-listening-to-lately?p=52148&viewfull=1#post52148).

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

Thank you! :kiss.1:

Hoffmann
November 3rd, 2016, 09:12 PM
Has anyone got/heard either of these and if you have what do you think? The reviews on Amazon.com are very mixed.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/717DoysV9IL._SX425_.jpg

Le nozze di Figaro reviews (https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-nozze-Figaro-W/product-reviews/B00GK8P1EG/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_viewpnt_rgt?ie=UTF8&filterByStar=critical&reviewerType=all_reviews&showViewpoints=0&pageNumber=1)

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71hTsM4-JRL._SX450_.jpg

Così fan tutte reviews (https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-nozze-Figaro-W/product-reviews/B00GK8P1EG/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_viewpnt_rgt?ie=UTF8&filterByStar=critical&reviewerType=all_reviews&showViewpoints=0&pageNumber=1)

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

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71DY7V3HqNL._SX425_.jpg

Mika Kares


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0yeMzwA9YA&feature=youtu.be



A review of Currentzis' Mozart recordings from "The Guardian" popped up on Apple News this morning. I don't know the reviewer, who states up front that he has always loathed opera. But. But! Then he listened to the Currentzis Mozart operas and went nuts. Fascinating review. Oh, he also loves the new Don G. CD set as well, but you will need to read almost all the way thru to see what he says.

I'm intrigued, but (of course) trust Festat way more than this guy. See what you think.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/nov/03/james-rhodes-on-teodor-currentzis-mozart-operas?CMP=oth_b-aplnews_d-1

Festat
November 3rd, 2016, 11:15 PM
I kinda understand how somebody who doesn't like opera could like those. It doesn't feel entirely opera-like. It constantly reminds you that it is a studio recording. Singing is generally very... intimate? Hushed perhaps. Singers occasionally will go into a quasi-whisper. The orchestra is indeed phenomenal but it is probably also the most closely miked in the recordings business. Music seems to come from a virtual vacuum and to be directly injected into your head without an intermediary. You can tell Currentzis isn't in the least interested in Così as theatrical piece in, he almost says so in the booklet — which is almost entirely dedicated to himself and how grateful we must be that he is saving Mozart from mediocrity.

But I maintain my recommendation for Annie: go for it! I will definitely buy Don Giovanni too when it's out because I'm that guy... We can exchange impressions then!

Ann Lander (sospiro)
November 4th, 2016, 05:45 AM
A review of Currentzis' Mozart recordings from "The Guardian" popped up on Apple News this morning. I don't know the reviewer, who states up front that he has always loathed opera. But. But! Then he listened to the Currentzis Mozart operas and went nuts. Fascinating review. Oh, he also loves the new Don G. CD set as well, but you will need to read almost all the way thru to see what he says.

I'm intrigued, but (of course) trust Festat way more than this guy. See what you think.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/nov/03/james-rhodes-on-teodor-currentzis-mozart-operas?CMP=oth_b-aplnews_d-1


I kinda understand how somebody who doesn't like opera could like those. It doesn't feel entirely opera-like. It constantly reminds you that it is a studio recording. Singing is generally very... intimate? Hushed perhaps. Singers occasionally will go into a quasi-whisper. The orchestra is indeed phenomenal but it is probably also the most closely miked in the recordings business. Music seems to come from a virtual vacuum and to be directly injected into your head without an intermediary. You can tell Currentzis isn't in the least interested in Così as theatrical piece in, he almost says so in the booklet — which is almost entirely dedicated to himself and how grateful we must be that he is saving Mozart from mediocrity.

But I maintain my recommendation for Annie: go for it! I will definitely buy Don Giovanni too when it's out because I'm that guy... We can exchange impressions then!

:encouragement:

Thanks guys! It's on my list.

Hoffmann
November 5th, 2016, 12:07 PM
Ok. Festat, now I'm really interested to hear what all those effects (affectations?) sound like. After you have listened to the Don G., please report back with your assessment of which of the three sets is most worthwhile. That can be the best of the three or the most exaggerated of the three - your choice.

malka
April 2nd, 2017, 05:21 PM
Have you seen Mozart: The Magic Flute (Metropolitan Opera)? Probably yes, so I would like to apolgize for reapiting. It's absolutety adorable!

Amfortas
April 2nd, 2017, 06:49 PM
Have you seen Mozart: The Magic Flute (Metropolitan Opera)? Probably yes, so I would like to apolgize for reapiting. It's absolutety adorable!

Yes, it's a fun production; I've got the DVD.

Welcome to the forum, malka!

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 27th, 2017, 10:01 PM
Così fan tutte on DVD

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51KkrfX1UwL.jpg

Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti, dramma giocoso in two acts (K.588), sung in Italian
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte (not based on any known source; probably da Ponte's own creation)
Premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna on 26 January 1790

Recorded live at Het Muziektheater, Amsterdam, December 2006

Netherlands Chamber Orchestra
Chorus of De Nederlandse Opera

Conducted by Ingo Metzmacher
Stage directors Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito
Set designer Barbara Ehnes
Costume designer Anja Rabes
Lighting designer David Finn
Video director Misjel Vermeiren

A co-production of De Nederlandse Opera and NPS in association with Opus Arte, released on DVD by Opus Arte and Kultur, in 2008

Cast

Fiordiligi - Sally Matthews
Dorabella - Maite Beaumont
Guglielmo - Opera Lively interviewee Luca Pisaroni
Ferrando - Norman Shankle
Despina - Opera Lively interviewee Danielle de Niese
Don Alfonso - Garry Magee

Two DVDs, one for each act, NTSC standard definition, all regions, running time 209 minutes, 16:9 anamorphic, sound LPCM Stereo or DTS 5.1, subtitles in English only. The insert only contains a synopsis, a list of musical numbers with characters and duration, and two color production pictures. The back cover has four additional thumbnail pictures. The package could benefit from more subtitle languages, and a more substantial insert with essays. Sound capture is not great and the analog image is only correct.

-------

This is one of my favorite operas, and it is always a pleasure to see it staged and sung competently. This is a rather almost flawless production with a luxury cast and imaginative sets. The action is updated to a youth hostel on the beach in the 1960's, with a revolving set that includes the lobby, the cafeteria, and the girls' bedroom, surrounded by sand. Costumes are intentionally tacky and acting is presumably also intentionally over-the-top with a lot of over-acting done on purpose, with some pretty hilarious facial expressions. In spite of all the exaggeration, the acting is actually rather convincing as all six singers look their parts and do an excellent characterization.

While Luca Pisaroni, a veteran of this role, is excellent as usual, and his two male companions are no slouches (Norman Shankle is excellent too; Garry Magee only a bit less good), the show belongs to the three girls who are out of this world in their acting and singing.

Così fan tutte is lucky to be represented on video by many outstanding productions, beginning with the standard-setting Glyndebourne show, a fan favorite, including the great Salzburg festival production, and more recently, not on DVD or blu-ray but shown worldwide on TV and online streaming, the phenomenally impressive Aix-en-Provence rendition, arguably the best ever in the modern era.

So, it's hard for still another one to compete. But this one does. And it does, not only thanks to the very precisely calculated staging that in all moments brings a smile to the spectator's face (for example, the costumes are great, moving the nerdy boys of the first scene to a look that is actually very different, so it seems less absurd that they are not recognized), but to truly outstanding singing by these three excellent artists, Sally Matthews, Maite Beaumont, and Danielle de Niese. It is quite interesting to see them sing very proficiently all the beautiful Mozart arias, duets, and ensembles, while engaging in rather crazy acting. It must be hard to keep the focus on the phenomenal singing while taking care of all the facial expressions and funny interactions between the characters, without breaking down laughing.

Showstoppers: Norman Shankle does a memorable job with "Ah, lo veggio: quell'anima bella" just to be matched right after by Sally Matthews in "Per pietà, ben mio, perdona" - this sequence is arguably the best one in this performance.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Shg25oDxR5E


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufPHmCeStpM

This DVD is very entertaining. I do prefer the Aix dark and somber approach, since this opera is more dramma than giocoso, but if you like a funny Così, this one is it - at least in the lighter/funnier first act (the second act does darken a little since the opera also does).

YouTube does have some clips from this performance; in addition to the two above, I posted three more earlier inside the Singers-Oriented thread I started for the fabulous Sally Matthews. Click [here (http://operalively.com/forums/showthread.php/2977-Sally-Matthews-incredible-soprano)] to get to them. This one shows the revolving set and Norman and Luca singing a duet (the latter looks hilariously a bit like Elvis Presley):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ed_6aQ0quWk

As for a review score, the orchestra is not outstanding. It actually takes quite a second role to the singers, which is good in one sense (it never smothers them), but I'd call this interpretation of the score rather conventional and nothing to write home about. They don't make mistakes, but don't shine (the chorus, though, is good). Like I said, Garry Magee is not as good as the other five singers (but he doesn't sink the ship either). The DVD is technically limited (so-so sound and image) and the package is poor (bare-bones insert).

Still, with all the qualities of this show, I will only deduct one + sign from the overall score, more for the technical glitches than the singing/acting ones, and I'll give this product an A+, and call it highly recommended.

Maite and Sally as Dorabella and Fiordiligi for De Nederlandse Opera
http://www.operamagazine.nl/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Maite-Beaumont-Cos%C3%AC-fan-tutte-AT-Schaefer.jpg

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 27th, 2017, 10:53 PM
One thing I don't understand is why Sally Matthews is not as famous as some of the other sopranos in activity, at least here in America (maybe in Europe she has a bigger following). She is as good as it gets. Incredibly good acting (it is very rare to see such a phenomenal actress on the operatic stage; we only see this perfection in the likes of Natalie Dessay), beautiful voice timbre, impeccable technique with not a single vocal defect to be spotted (what a voice!), excellent musicality, and she looks very good too. What's not to like?

https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/640x360/p01g79km.jpg

She came to America recently in a very small role in The Exterminating Angel (did very well as usual). One would like to see her over here, this side of the pond, performing a long leading role. American opera companies, please wake up to this outstanding artist!

Maite Beaumont's mezzo instrument is also as good as the ones owned by our best mezzos in activity.

Danielle in this production had one of her best singing performances of her entire career, I think. She looked great as usual; what a charming artist, and her acting is top-notch too!

A Così with these three is pure pleasure. I'd kill to score a ticket to see it in person.

Not to forget that Luca and Norman also dazzled. This was one of the best sung Cosìs I've ever heard.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 1st, 2018, 08:21 AM
Die Entführung aus dem Serail on blu-ray disc

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91JzTaIT4pL._SX342_.jpg

Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Singspiel in three acts, sung in German
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Libretto by Christoph Friedrich Bretzner adapted by Gottlieb Sephanie the Younger
Premiered in Vienna, Austria, at the Burgtheater, 1782 (Commissioned by Emperor Joseph II)

This is a review of the Glyndebourne new McVicar production of the opera, recorded live on 19 July 2015 and released on blu-ray disc by Opus Arte and François Roussillon et Associés (FRA Musica). It's a co-production of Glyndebourne, FRA Musica, and ZDF in collaboration with ARTE and the participation of NRK and Mezzo.

It uses the new critical edition of the score by Gerhard Croll (Neue-Mozart Ausgabe).

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by Robin Ticciati
The Glyndebourne Chorus, master Jeremy Bines
Film Director - Opera Lively interviewee François Roussillon

Stage director David McVicar
Set and costume designer Vicki Mortimer
Lighting designer Paule Constable
Choreographer Andrew George

Cast

Konstanze - Sally Matthews
Belmonte - Edgaras Montvidas
Osmin - Tobias Kehrer
Blonde - Mari Eriksmoen
Pedrillo - Brenden Gunnell
Pasha Selim, non-singing role, actor Franck Saurel
Klaas - non-singing role, actor Jonas Cradock

Blu-ray disc released on 24 June 2016. All regions. Subtitles in English, French, German, Japanese, and Korean. Audio LPCM 24-bit 2.0, or DTS-HD MA 5.1. Image 16:9, 1080p. Running time 168 minutes (opera) + 12 minutes (Bonus: "Concept, craft, and Collaboration - the Visual Story" + cast gallery). The booklet contains four color production pictures, credits, an excellent 4-page interview with Set and Costume Designer Vicki Mortimer, a 2-page essay on the opera by dramaturg Cori Ellison, and a 2-page synopsis, all repeated in English, French, and German. Unfortunately, no track list with musical numbers, characters, and duration.

----------------

I'm watching this as I can, in small stretches each time, since I have guests for a New Years Eve brunch that will start in half an hour. So far I've only watched until the 26 minutes mark. I did read the entire booklet and watched the bonus feature, and it was all very interesting. David McVicar and Vicki Mortimer explained in detail their take. Basically they tried to be as faithful to the original as possible (and it helps that the OAE is a highly competent period ensemble). See, this is a Singspiel, and modernly these pieces get staged as an opera, with profound cuts to the spoken dialogue, which is abridged, rewritten, or plain absent. Glyndebourne decided to include 90% of the original dialogue, including, the revelation that the Pasha is actually a Spaniard who converted to Islam, which no other production ever mentions, and does have a psychological impact on the plot. Mortimer said her sets are ultra-realistic, including, she traveled to Istanbul and took hundreds of pictures to be sure to reproduce an 18th century Turkey that would be faithful to how things actually looked (including the costumes). The result is visually appealing, except for the sea outside which when the camera looks at it closer, appears fake. They should have made it shimmer and move with waves, which is possible and has been done in other productions. I mean, it wouldn't have been necessary in other productions. But if you really want to be as realistic as possible, having that immobile ocean outside kind of ruins the effect.

I'm totally in awe of Sally Matthews which is why I've been buying and reviewing all her DVDs. She is truly extraordinary with fabulous voice, great technique, excellent acting skills, and very pretty looks. She just made her first entrance, at the 30-minute mark.

Like Amazon reviewers said, this is a cast with no vocal weak link whatsoever. All roles are staffed by excellent singers, and the conductor and the orchestra are both top-notch. So musically this product is near perfection.

I have never seen, on DVD, video file, or in person, a The Abduction from the Serail that I liked. You can see my review of the pale and bland Met version (in spite of nice sets) in the live show review thread.

So under the advice of our Baroque expert Natalie, I got this one, and so far I like it. We'll see. I'll continue later.

Sally has just sung her first and very exposed aria with high coloratura. She didn't do it that well, surprisingly, but this is not unusual in live productions: singers start cold, especially when their first number is demanding with many high notes, given that in spite of backstage exercises, the voice only warms up completely as the real on-stage performance goes on. So I'll give her the benefit of the doubt here. She will probably improve later.

-----------

OK, continuing this review. I am a bit disappointed with one aspect of this show. Maybe I'm disappointed in myself. I thought I'd greatly enjoy the fact that this production uses almost the entire original spoken dialogue. I was thinking, "great, finally a production that treats the audience like adults with appropriate attention span and doesn't cut corners, assumed that we are all dumb and can't take the full thing."

Well actually... maybe we can't (or at least I can't). It drags on and on. The dialogues are just too long with the musical parts appearing to be far and in-between. Apparently this is what Singspiel is supposed to be: essentially, a stage play with some incidental music, and traditionally, to please the opera audiences, they've been staged outside of Germany/Austria like an opera, with abridged dialogues so that the music is more constant.

It's not that I don't have sufficient attention span. It's rather because I prefer the operatic art form to the spoken theater art form. This endless spoken dialogue is boring me. If I want to see a stage play, I go to a stage play (which I don't do that often, but when I'm in that kind of spirit, if it's a good one, I'll enjoy it). But when I want to see an opera... I do expect more constant music.

So, yes, all characters are manned by excellent singers (those who do sing; of course we do have two non-singing characters). But all this yapping yapping is frankly tiresome.

And then, this is a rather light work with some comedic parts and this production chose to make it all more frightening with Osmin being more terrifying, and unfortunately the result is... that it isn't that funny. On top of this, Tobias Kehrer sings well but I don't find him to be a terrific actor. His Osmin ended up being kind of annoying. And then, the famous low Ds in his third act aria weren't that well delivered. He lost volume to a point that we could barely hear him.

Even Sally didn't show a lot of acting range like she did in the Così I just reviewed. She just looked scared most of the time. And then, the costumers and hairdos weren't flattering for her. She looked less pretty than in other productions.

The more frightening concept did produce a remarkable scene, in the Pasha's bedroom, when he almost rapes Konstanze but at the last moment is able to refrain from it. It was a very well-acted scene by both artists, and very well sung by Sally.

Our Pasha is a very good actor and remarkably looks the part. The sets are indeed very realistic. But diluting Mozart's music in a sea of spoken dialogue, even thought this is how Mozart originally did it, didn't really work for me that well. I kept having the paradoxical impression that this was a stage play adaptation of an opera... I know it isn't... I know it's been done the way the original creators intended... but... maybe I do like it better when they make Singspiel pieces feel and sound more like operas.

Ultimately, I won't say it's not recommended. It's very well done, musically sound, and visually appealing. But it's just not for me. This is not a show I'll be watching again.

So, what I initially said - that "I have never seen, on DVD, video file, or in person, a The Abduction from the Serail that I liked" - remains true, unfortunately.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 11th, 2018, 04:17 AM
Le Nozze di Figaro on blu-ray disc

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91rg1Bco04L._SX342_.jpg

Le Nozze di Figaro (K492), opera buffa in four acts, sung in Italian
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte after the stage play by Pierre Beaumarchais, La Folle Journée, ou Le Mariage de Figaro (1784)
Premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna on May 1st, 1786

A production of Glyndebourne, in co-production with Houston Grand Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, premiered on 27 June 27, 2012, released on blu-ray disc (also available on DVD) by Opus Arte, filmed live in August 2012 at the Glyndebourne Opera House, Lewes, East Sussex, UK, by FRA Musica (François Roussillon et Associés, with Mezzo, TF1, and CNC.

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by Robin Ticciati
The Glyndebourne Chorus, chorus master Jeremy Bines

Stage Director Michael Grandage
Designer Christopher Oram
Lighting Paule Constable
Movement Director Ben Wright
Film Director - Opera Lively interviewee François Roussillon

Cast

Countess Almaviva - Sally Matthews
Figaro - Vito Priante
Count Almaviva - Audun Iversen
Susanna - Lydia Teuscher
Cherubino - Opera Lively interviewee Isabel Leonard
Marcellina - Ann Murray
Bartolo - Andrew Shore
Barbarina - Sarah Shafer
Don Curzio - Colin Judson
Don Basilio - Alan Oke
Antonio - Nicholas Folwell
Bridesmaids - Ellie Laugharne, Katie Bray

-------------

Continuing my attempt to acquire all video recordings featuring the phenomenal Sally Matthews, I got this, and didn't regret it. While I wasn't highly impressed with the Serail I just reviewed above, here Sally is as good or better as in Deidamia (see my review in the Handel thread) and Così (reviewed above as well). She looks very pretty, sings divinely, and acts the role with perfection.

In her acting she is matched by every single artist in this production, possibly the best acted Nozze I've ever seen. For this alone, this product is highly recommended, but it has many other qualities.

Glyndebourne did it again, with a near-perfect show. The physical production is very beautiful and realistic, depicting a Spanish mansion to perfection, together with nice lighting and beautiful props, including a vintage sports car (the setting is updated to the sixties, which is very well done in terms of costumes and wigs). Blocking is very good. All elements of the physical production earn the maximum score of A++.

The three female principals are all three very attractive. I don't know why they picked this cover picture, it definitely doesn't do justice to Lydia Teuscher's beauty; she looks ten times better than that.

We get the excellent OAE delicately playing the score like only a HIP ensemble can do, so that the singers are given all the aural landscape they need to shine without being smothered by the loudness of modern orchestras. This said, this was not the best orchestral and conducting performance I've heard for Nozze, even though it was pretty good. I grant it a sub-maximum score, A+. This as we know is not a chorus-rich opera, but when called upon, the Glyndebourne Chorus did reasonably well. A.

Now, the singing was superb. As much as he is a simply spectacular actor, Vito Priante's singing was a notch below his colleagues', with a less than ideal rendition of "Non più andrai" - his voice is beautiful and potent, but his phrasing tends to be a bit abrupt, and in parts, I missed Bryn Terfel, maybe my favorite Figaro. Still, he was still rather good overall. A.

The other principal singers, though, all get an A++. Sally Matthews, oh my God! I was mesmerized each time she was singing. Isabel was formidable, and portrayed the teenage boy to perfection in her very convincing body movements. Our Rosina was charming and funny, and with a voice to die for. Our Count Almaviva was one of the best I've ever seen. Their acting was homogeneously excellent as well - not only very natural but pretty darn funny! Comprimarios were of a very high level.

Overall this is a remarkable performance of one of the best operas in the repertory; a pleasure from beginning to end, and one of the best blu-rays I've seen. Highly recommended, A++ maximum score.

One word of caution: don't judge it prematurely because it starts a bit cold (as it happens to many other productions; singers need some time to warm up) but it gets better and better as time goes by, and the last act is a thing of beauty, musically, with all singers and the orchestra performing at top notch quality.

Regardless of how many Nozzes one has in his/her collection, this one is a mandatory purchase.

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1080i HD blu-ray disc, NTSC, 16:9, all regions, LPCM stereo 24 bit, DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (excellent sound and image), subtitles in English, French, German, Japanese, and Korean (one regrets the lack of Italian), running time 154 minutes (opera) + 22 minutes bonus (2 short documentaries, a cast gallery, incorrectly listed on the cover as 14 minutes which is just the first one), the booklet contains credits, no track list (regrettable), a rather useless 2-page essay (focusing more on the performance history of the piece at Glyndebourne than on this production itself), a synopsis, repeated in English, French, and German, and 4 color production pictures. The lack of substance in the booklet essay is compensated by the bonus features that do provide insight into the building of the gorgeous sets and the stage direction, also featuring mini-interviews with the singers. The second documentary is about the music of the opera and it is also very good.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
November 17th, 2018, 04:31 PM
I'll be traveling later this coming week to Naples specifically (and shortly; for two and a half days) to attend the opening night of the Teatro di San Carlo season, featuring Così fan tutte conducted by maestro Riccardo Muti (I'm honored to say that he personally invited me to attend) and stage-directed by his daughter Chiara Muti.

To refresh my memory (although I've seen it so many times) I'm watching today a blu-ray disc of it, by the Royal Opera House and Opus Arte, in a production that I hadn't seen before.

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Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti, dramma giocoso in two acts (K.588), sung in Italian
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte (not based on any known source; probably da Ponte's own creation)
Premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna on 26 January 1790

Recorded live at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden on October 17, 2016 (this production premiered on September 22, 2016)

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Royal Opera Chorus

Conducted by Semyon Bychkov
Chorus master William Spaulding
Stage director Jan Philipp Gloger
Set designer Ben Baur
Costume designer Karin Jud
Lighting designer Bernd Purkrabek
Dramaturg Katharina John
Video director Rhodri Huw

A production of The Royal Opera House, in association with Opus Arte, released on blu-ray disc by Opus Arte in August 2018, catalog #OA BD7251 in a box set together with Le Nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni, also available on DVD.

Cast

Fiordiligi - Corinne Winters (American soprano)
Dorabella - Angela Brauer (American mezzo-soprano)
Guglielmo - Alessio Arduini (Italian baritone)
Ferrando - Daniel Behle (German tenor)
Despina - Sabina Puértolas (Spanish soprano)
Don Alfonso - Johannes Martin Kränzle (German baritone)

As far as Così fan tutte is concerned, the booklet contains an insightful 4-page essay by Tim Carter (close to home - he is a professor of music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a couple of miles from Opera Lively's headquarters), and a 1-page synopsis by Katharina John, as well as color production pictures, and credits. The texts are repeated in English, French, and German. The blu-ray disc plays in all regions, with sound tracks including LPCM 2.0 and DTS-HD Master Audio surround, video 1080i, picture format 16:9. The only extra is a cast gallery (there are other extras for the two other operas in this box-set). Running time 184 minutes. Subtitles in English, French, German, Japanese, and Korean (for Così; they are different for the other operas).

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This starts well. The orchestra issues a powerful sound (the maestro chooses relatively slow tempi, which is fine - a matter of interpretation) and the male trio sings well (particularly, our Don Alfonso is great). The two sisters are very beautiful women, and good singers, too. The sets are contemporary, as well as the costumes, with props including iPhones (with the taking of selfies). Don Alfonso, however, wears period costumes, and carries a sword. Video direction is conventional (that is, not the obnoxious kind).

The two male lovers pretend to depart off to war from a train station rather than a port and a ship. This scene is very effective, with fabulous performance by the Royal Opera Chorus, and it is theatrically well done with good blocking.

The next scene, we see Despina as a sexy bartender. She sings and acts well too, completing the ensemble of six very competent singers in this production. She seduces and discards the male patrons at the bar, jumps on the counter to singer her aria, and is generally very convincing. Not bad! She draws enthusiastic applaud from the audience.

Soon enough we get to my favorite aria in this piece, "Come scoglio immoto resta" - and it is expertly rendered! Liking the singer who delivers this piece is an essential condition for me to enjoy a Così fan tutte production.

The directorial concept has original touches, but without departing too much from the libretto, and going too far. It is good enough, without being phenomenal.

Even though I haven't seen the whole thing yet, it is already easy to pass judgment on this production and these artists. The quality is quite high. I wouldn't say it rises to the level of the most spectacular Così fan tutte productions I've ever seen (the famous Glyndebourne one, and the recent edgy and daring show in Aix-en-Provence), but it certainly ranks among the best and is definitely recommended. Overall, A+.