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Thread: Operas by Tchaikovsky on DVD/Blu-ray/CD

          
   
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  1. #31
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    I think this flashback concept worked best in the Valencia production. The O figure didn't really interfere with the story - just a reminder that we often regret our youthful follies.
    Natalie

  2. #32
    Opera Lively Coordinator - Donor Member Top Contributor Member tyroneslothrop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amfortas View Post
    Stefan Herheim did something similar in his Amsterdam production, when at times a young dancer doubled for Tatyana--sung, as at the ROH, by Krassimira Stoyanova.

    Poor Krassimira . . . it's as if directors are trying to tell her something.
    Could it be that this has something to do with being 4x Tatyana's age? Nah...
    “The hand of Providence creeps among the stars, giving Slothrop the finger.”
    ― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

  3. #33
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amfortas View Post
    I want to give a belated, public thanks to Dark_Angel and Soave_Fanciulla for turning me on to this:
    And I want to thank you for a truly excellent review, Amfortas! This seems like the kind of Regie that I do like - intelligent, tasteful, with a concept that enhances the telling of the opera's true story rather than deviating wildly from it. And of course, having the beautiful Ms. Opolais in this production makes it even more appealing. I'd buy it if I didn't have such a big unwatched pile now... Maybe later.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); July 8th, 2013 at 03:00 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  4. #34
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Amfortas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    I'd buy it if I didn't have such a big unwatched pile now... Maybe latter.
    Definitely keep it on your shopping list!

  5. #35
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Dark_Angel's Avatar
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    Watched the newest Met EO release and overall was not too impressed, only hardcore Netrebko fans need to own this.......

    The cast is very strong singing and acting, but let down by a lackluster production with little visual excitement or dramatic impact in either the sets or costumes, everything very predictable and by the book (did Gelb really sign off on this?), there are a couple better alternatives out there for video version. I am surprised by all the rave reviews on Amazon USA and wonder if we watched the same performance?

    For a standard straight version I prefer the older Met EO with Fleming, and for a fantasy hybrid version the excellent Opalais is much more visually exciting and memorable........


  6. #36
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Amfortas's Avatar
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    I had a more positive reaction to this DVD. For me, the updated period lent the piece a kind of Chekhovian intimacy, and if the sets were not hugely memorable, the singing and acting were indeed strong, the latter enhanced by some telling directorial touches contributed by Deborah Warner (the repeated "kiss" motif was especially effective).

    I own both of the other productions you mentioned and definitely agree about their merits. But I'm happy to have this one in my collection as well.

  7. #37
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amfortas View Post
    I had a more positive reaction to this DVD. For me, the updated period lent the piece a kind of Chekhovian intimacy, and if the sets were not hugely memorable, the singing and acting were indeed strong, the latter enhanced by some telling directorial touches contributed by Deborah Warner (the repeated "kiss" motif was especially effective).

    I own both of the other productions you mentioned and definitely agree about their merits. But I'm happy to have this one in my collection as well.
    One thing I wonder, is why Peter Gelb needed to update the previous EO production so soon (the blu-ray with Fleming and Hvorostovsky). That one was pretty beautiful, in my opinion. It had many strong points - sleek, tasteful, with nice colors and some amazing touches like the fall foliage. This said, and surprisingly since Anna is in the new one, I haven't seen the new one yet.

    The Met has plenty of productions that needed updating, and that EO was already modern enough, and relatively recent, so why mess with it? I find it very visually appealing and it is one of my favorite blu-ray discs.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  8. #38
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Amfortas's Avatar
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    I had the same question, Alma. Perhaps they really wanted to feature Netrebko as Tatiana, but knew they couldn't market a second DVD of the same stage production?

    In any case, you of all people should check out the new Met DVD. I suspect you'll find enough to like, centered on Anna and her fellow performers, to overlook some of the shortcomings.

  9. #39
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Finally I got this blu-ray out of its plastic wrap and watched it, as advised above.



    Eugene Onegin on blu-ray disc
    Lyric scenes in three acts, premiered in Moscow, 1879
    Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
    Libretto by Konstantin Shilovsky and the composer, based on the eponymous novel in verse by Alexander Pushkin

    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev
    The Metropolitan Opera Chorus, chorus master Donald Palumbo
    The Metropolitan Opera Ballet, choreography by Kim Brandstrup

    Production by Deborah Warner
    Directed by Fiona Shaw
    Sets by Tom Pye
    Costumes by Chloe Obolensky
    Lighting by Jean Kalman
    Video by Ian William Galloway and Finn Ross

    Tatiana - Anna Netrebko
    Eugene Onegin - Mariusz Kwiecen
    Lenski - Piotr Beczala
    Olga - Oksana Volkova
    Madame Larina - Elena Zaremba
    Filippyevna - Larissa Diadkova
    Prince Gremin - Alexei Tanovitski
    Triquet - John Graham-Hall
    A captain - David Crawford
    Zaretski - Richard Bernstein

    A Deutsche Grammophon / The Metropolitan Opera product released on March 11, 2014
    Recorded live from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, on October 5, 2013
    Picture 1081i HD 16:9, All regions
    Sound - PCM Stereo, or DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
    Subtitles in English, German, French, Spanish, Chinese, and Korean (no Russian!)
    Run time: Opera 164 minutes + 11 minutes of extras
    Available on Amazon for $27.35 [clicky]

    Extras (English only): host Debora Voigt interviewing Anna Netrebko, Mariusz Kwiecien, Piotr Beczala, Valery Gergiev, and Donald Palumbo

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

    We are in the presence of a quasi-impeccable musical performance in all of its elements. From this product we get out-of-this-world singing by a mostly Slavic ensemble of principals and comprimarios who are almost all perfect in their voices, supplemented by the phenomenal Metropolitan Opera Orchestra conducted by arguably the currently most seasoned specialist in this repertory, Maestro Gergiev. It doesn't get much better than that.

    Valery Gergiev is restrained, solemn, and precise in his reading of this beautifully romantic score. The orchestra responds to him with perfect dynamics and seamless transitions, as well as with its trademark resonance. Synchrony with the stage is right to the minimum detail. The Metropolitan Opera Chorus is flawless as usual. A++ for the orchestra, conductor, and chorus.

    Anna Netrebko delivers in my opinion one of her best performances in all of her illustrious career. I'd say, top three, together with her poignant Lucia di Lammermoor and her fiery Lady Macbeth. Her letter scene is a thing of beauty with phenomenal acting and touching singing. She demonstrates perfect control of this very long sing, with no fatigue or lost pace - and oh so beautiful timbre. A++

    Mariusz Kwiecen also displays excellent acting in his facial expressions and his singing is elegant and correct in all regards, except that he is a bit underwhelming in the vocal passion department (although this might be deliberate given the character's coldness in the first two acts, but even the last scene still gives me a bit of the same impression that the dramatic acting - largely successful - is a bit less matched by the dramatic singing). A+

    Piotr Beczala, like Anna, gives one of his best showings, with a sublime and delicate "Kuda, kuda" and unlike his colder colleague, his passion says present. A++

    The trio of other important female roles, Oksana Volkova, Elena Zaremba, and Larissa Diadkova are very good, especially the latter, who is an extremely solid Filippyevna, with a surprisingly powerful and well modulated voice for her age. Respectively, A+, A, and A++.

    I was much less impressed with Richard Bernstein and John Graham-Hall, who earn respectively a B+ and a B. Unsurprisingly, they are the non-Slavic cast members (I guess being Slavic does make a difference, for this repertory).

    The choreography is correct but nothing to write home about. B+.

    Lighting is very beautiful with some nice touches like the sunlight in the morning after the Letter Scene, and the bluish snow in the last scene. A+

    Stage direction is good for this concept (or lack thereof) - that is, there is nothing very original or especially compelling but some nice touches here and there do demonstrate secure direction, and the blocking is well done. A-

    Sets and costumes are a letdown as compared to the Met's previous and prematurely retired production of Eugene Onegin. Everything is well-done and realistic (the time was pushed up about a century) but frankly, it is all very conventional and predictable. The wintry backdrops are more successful, but everything else does not prime for imagination. I'd have loved to see this same cast singing in the previous production with its sleek visual impact (I miss that beautiful fall foliage).

    Technically speaking regarding how this blu-ray disc is put together, the Met continues to misunderstand the fact that while watching an opera on video, we don't necessarily want interruptions by the hostess between acts, which disturbs the flow and the immersion. Fortunately the interviews unlike during the live HD broadcast are pushed to the extras, but we still get Debora Voigt introducing each act, which is utterly unnecessary. One regrets the fact that no Russian subtitles are given, which I consider to be a major problem. Even though I don't speak Russian, I like to re-watch an opera with original language subtitles just to better appreciate the phonemes and look at enunciation and diction. Sound and image are perfect and video direction is very good, but the above peccadilloes bring the rating down to a B+.

    The insert contains a decent 2-page essay that does explain the director's updating of the action to the late 19th century, a synopsis, track list with names of the arias, time, and characters, and many black-and-white production pictures, one of them in color featuring Anna in her ball gown. A.

    In summary, we get an A++ musical performance, and a B+ physical production, printed into a mostly technically well-done blu-ray disc, with a couple of flaws. Overall, A-; highly recommended for the musical aspects (and indispensable for Anna's fans), but not especially successful as a production.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); February 14th, 2016 at 08:27 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  10. #40
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Seems they filmed Iolanta staring Anna Netrebko back in 2009 but I am not finding how to get a copy. Assume they would be selling it?

    Here is the link to the information.

    And another link with a different display.

    Since that night at the Polka, I don't understand you, Sheriff.
    --Ashby, La Fanciulla del West

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  12. #41
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Eugene Onegin on DVD



    Eugene Onegin, lyrical scenes in three acts, sung in Russian, premiered in Moscow, 1879
    Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
    Libretto by Konstantin Shilovsky and the composer, based on the eponymous novel in verse by Alexander Pushkin

    The Bolshoi Orchestra conducted by Alexander Verdenikov
    The Bolshoi Chorus, chorus master Valery Borisov

    In tour, filmed live at the Opéra National de Paris, Palais Garnier, in September 2008

    Directed by Dmitri Tcherniakov
    Sets by Dmitri Tcherniakov
    Costumes by Maria Danilova
    Lighting by Gleb Filshtinsky
    Video direction by Chloé Perlemuter

    Cast (most, Bolshoi soloists)

    Tatiana - the aptly named Tatiana Monogarova
    Eugene Onegin - Mariusz Kwiecien
    Lenski - Andrey Dunaev
    Olga - Margarita Mansirova
    Madame Larina - Makvala Kasrashvilli
    Filipyevna - Emma Sarkisyan
    Prince Gremin - Anatolij Kotscherga
    Triquet - not credited - in this production, a silent role; his music is sung by Andrey Dunaev, with Russian rather than French lyrics
    A captain - not credited
    Zaretski - Valery Gilmanov

    DVD released by BelAir Classiques and the Bolshoi Theater, duration 150 minutes (opera) and 26 minutes (bonus, a documentary of the Bolshoi tour at Palais Garnier), Audio PCM stereo, DD 5.1, DTS 5.1. 2 DVD 9 NTSC 16:9. Region zero (all). Subtitles in French, English, German, Spanish, and Italian. Booklet with credits, track list with characters and duration, 9 color production pictures, synopsis, and a 3-page essay by the stage director Dmitri Tcherniakov, repeated in French, English, and German.

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

    This starts well. Tatiana, our Tatiana (hehe) is an extremely beautiful and classy-looking blonde Russian woman (and Olga is appropriately a bit less attractive brunette). They have the physique du rôle; I hope they sing well. I look forward to Dmitri Tcherniakov's staging, always interesting; what a great director! (Alas, the image on the DVD is not great, quite granular).

    The set is made of a single room in an old mansion, for all acts. According to Tcherniakov in his essay, he did it like this to emphacize Tatiana's inner life in a claustrophobic environment that doesn't suffer much influence from the exterior, from the environment, from society, but is rather a psychological space. The director also engaged in a more biting criticism of society, which is in tune with the original novel by Pushkin, unlike Tchaikovsky's opera that focused more on the romanticism. Costumes are at some indefinite period, maybe around the first half of the twentieth century. There is a long table with several people around it.

    The initial dialogue between Larina and Filipyevna is handled in a merry and lively way instead of the longing and sorrow we see in other productions. Our Filipyevna however is a really old lady whose voice is so shot that we can barely hear her. Tcherniakov said in his essay that the Bolshoi often keeps these old singers, former Tatianas and Olgas, to later be the Larinas and Filipyevnas.

    Instead of peasants coming in, the people around the table sing the peasants' chorus. Wow! The Bolshoi chorus is excellent! Their song throws Larina into a fit of laughter. This was integrated into the scene in a better way than what is typically done in the traditional stagings, when the peasants' chorus appears to have little to do with the rest of the piece. Here, it becomes a drinking song around the table, and it works.

    Olga sings her first aria, and while she has a beautiful dark color to her voice, it is not very well projected, seems small (one can never tell just from a DVD, could be the capture, but it does seem to be in lower volume than the other singer's). Tatiana on the other hand seems fine. Larina sings well too, and Tcherniakov gives her a hysterical twist, either laughing or sobbing dramatically, and she appears to have a rather dysfunctional relationship with her daughters.

    Excellent tenor manning the role of Lensky! And of course we know how good Mariusz is.

    Very effective first scene, and the English subtitles are better than in most DVDs, with more complete and more literary translation of the Russian text.

    The second scene, the letter scene, is again in the same room; just, all guests are gone and there is only Tatiana sitting on the table, and her nanny walking around. Tatiana looks very catatonic.

    What follows is a remarkable letter scene, the best one I've seen to date. It is acted as Tatiana daydreaming and having visions, and both the acting and the singing are extremely convincing, and Tcherniakov's idea of blowing the fuses with the lights going off at the end add a ghostly touch that is goosebumping. Bravo! The Parisian public couldn't stop applauding! The continuation, when Filipyevna comes in, is just as well acted. Also, Gleb Filshtinsky uses lighting very efficiently to convey the passing of the hours of the day and Tatiana's anguished wait. All very well done,. We see Tatiana smiling for the fist time, and oh my God, this artist looks gorgeous! She is so very pretty, and sings well too!

    The tense dialogue between Tatiana and Onegin is well done too, and we got to her birthday ball where again she appears catatonic and like a deer on the headlights. There is no French song by Triquet, but rather, Lensky takes that scene from him and sings it in Russian. Acting remains superb. Lensky's poetry folder gets tossed around during the cottillon dance, he gets cake on his face, and people laugh at him, setting his mood even lower which enhances the impact of the scene and makes what will happen next more believable. Good touch, Tcherniakov!

    During Lensky's tantrum people laugh more at him, and when Larina tells him "not in my house" she slaps him. Tatiana is the only one who comforts him at the end of the scene. End of Act II scene one. Very, very well done! Great acting, blocking, and singing!

    During the "Kuka, Kuda" aria which was interpreted to perfection by Dunaev, maybe the best I've ever heard in modern times. Larina tries to comfort Lensky, tries to bring Olga in but she dismisses it, annoyed. After he has started singing, Olga does comes in, looking upset (one assumes, because Lensky is about to risk his life), looks around, drinks a glass of champagne, and finds the earring she seems to have lost during the party (which is what she was upset about), and leaves content, completely indifferent to Lensky. An old lady sitting next to him is the only one paying attention, and she sobs uncontrollably with the sadness of the song. Wow! Again, goosebumps!

    The duel is not one. Lensky, seemingly in a suicidal mood, tosses a rifle to Onegin who tries not to take it. Lensky insists, shoves it into Onegin's hands, they fight, the rifle goes off apparently unintentionally, and kills Lensky. Interesting take, but I don't know if I like it. It partially takes down the aspect of guilty for Onegin. On the other hand it does fit better this modern production given that true duels are a thing of the past.

    The third act is also in a similar room but now all painted in red, with a beautiful chandelier and guests are dressed luxuriously in rather beautiful costumes. The chairs are also different, with more ornaments.

    Onegin tries to walk around and mingle but people generally avoid him and look at him with scorn. After his aria when he says he is bored (which he delivers to the crowd instead of as an introspection, which is certainly interesting), a chorus commenting extensively on him is sung - I have never seen this piece before; it's probably cut from other productions, or newly found and inserted.

    The scene continues beautifully, with Gremin's aria being also well executed. For the final scene, the director also introduces some touches. First, Tatyana's confession that Onegin still troubles her is issued in front of her husband, who nevertheless has an understanding stance and he comforts her, and leaves her alone to sort it out with Onegin. The very emotional scene ensues, and at the end Onegin draws a pistol, the husband comes in, Tatyana lives with him not before Onegin pointing the pistol to them, then dramatically to himself, but they leave, indifferent, and Onegin doesn't have the courage to commit suicide. Curtain.

    Phenomenal production! A++ in all aspects, and one of the best Eugene Onegin DVDs ever (and the competition is fierce!), with way more psychological rawness than usual . Highly recommended, not to be missed! It is interesting to know that the public in Moscow, used to the traditional staging that survived at the Bolshoi for 60 years until this one took over, left this production in droves before its end, and Galina Vishnevskaya, the prestigious old soprano, said she would never come to the theater again (didn't even come for her planned 80th anniversary gala, so enraged she was with this version. Well, I disagree. This was a very interesting rethinking of the piece, and it was strongly sang and acted. By the way, I forgot to mention, the orchestra and the conductor did a great job too.

    The bonus feature is extremely interesting. It's a 28-minute documentary with all the main artists telling us about their take, especially the stage director's. It makes a lot of sense, and is fascinating.

    Some interesting insights from the interviews in the bonus feature:

    Mrs. Kasrashvili: "I didn't know it could be played like that. In other productions she is very strait-laced, boring. Frankly there isn't much to sing. But the stage director's proposal was interesting to me. She has abrupt mood swings. One minute she's roaring with laughter, the next she's sobbing. As an actress, it's important for me to bring something to the character rather than just singing the role."

    Tcherniakov: "We are telling the story of people in whom the audience will recognize themselves. We didn't want to situate it in any specific era. Maybe the mid of the 20th century. We know nothing of the weather, who is in power, where the hero leaves for; setting it in an era would prompt questions irrelevant to this timeless story. Our eyes are focused on the family. Many background elements have disappeared. We don't leave the rooms. Why the table? It symbolizes togetherness. I wanted an object or ritual that would allow me to reveal this group of individuals, this standardized society, these everyday people, conventional, ordinary. I imagined their leisure time and obviously from a Russian perspective, it's around a table. There's no other way to pass the time. The table is the oppressive character of a normal life."

    Vedernikov, the conductor, about the Letter Scene: "The real difficulty is the need to attain a certain balance. Firstly, between freedom and determinism, given that all the music flows from the sphere of romanticism. Secondly, we need to find the right limit between the sincerity of the declaration and a certain reserve, a certain intimacy, in order to avoid an emotional excess and a possible slide towards sentimentalism, which might seem to be an imitation of emotion."

    Ms. Kasrashvili: "When I saw the Letter Scene in this production I was in tears. It veers toward tragedy."

    Tcherniakov: "The Letter Scene is an attempt to destroy the ordinary. It's a way of breaking free from the constraints of daily life. The Letter Scene with its orchestral force and the role of the brass, attains a state of ecstasy."

    Gleb Fishtinsky, lighting designer, about the Letter Scene: "The height of passion goes beyond all comprehension and normal physical phenomena. It becomes metaphysical. The chandelier explodes and the windows fly open. The new day rushes in."

    Tatiana Monogarova: "I'm petrified that the lamp will shatter and the splinters will hit my face. I dread that moment! It must be spectacular to watch. The rushing wind generates emotions and gives birth to a storm all around."

    ---------

    That's an example of how a concept can enrich an opera, and all the artists need to come together to fulfill the vision of the stage director. The documentary spends a long time going over the disagreements between Mariusz Kwiecien - who was the only non-Bolshoi singer - and Tcherniakov. The singer had his own ideas, having sung the role in five other productions, but according to him, Tcherniakov was tenacious, like a tank, going and going, and demanding his vision to be enacted - but ultimately accepting some compromise.

    Mariusz said he came to agree to do certain things when he watched the Letter Scene. He went back to the hotel and thought: "If Tatiana Monogarova could do that, then I can, and shall, do as well what Dmitri is asking of me!"

    The documentary shows Dmitri and Mariusz discussing line by line - and it is evident that Dmitri knows the music too - and there are various interesting moments, for example when Mariusz wants to be judgmental with Tatiana and Dmitri says "you are singing 'Don't deny it' like a prosecutor, and I want you to be gentle and caring, trying not to hurt her feelings." Then we see that "Don't deny it" and Mariusz nails it.

    Again, a fascinating documentary that only adds more to the A++ nature of this DVD. Get it!
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); December 31st, 2017 at 01:05 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  14. #42
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Eugene Onegin on Blu-ray Disc



    Eugene Onegin, lyrical scenes in three acts, sung in Russian, premiered in Moscow, 1879
    Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
    Libretto by Konstantin Shilovsky and the composer, based on the eponymous novel in verse by Alexander Pushkin

    Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana conducted by Omer Meir Wellber
    Cor de la Generalitat Valenciana, chorus master Francesc Perales

    Filmed live at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia, Spain
    A production of the Teatr Wielki, Polish National Opera, Warsaw
    The package does not say when the show was filmed; since the copyright for the spectacle is from 2011, I assume it was that year, given that the blu-ray disc itself has a copyright from 2013.

    Directed by Mariusz Trelinski
    Sets by Boris Kudlicka
    Costumes by Joanna Klimas
    Lighting by Felice Ross
    Choreographer Emil Wesolowski
    Video direction by Tiziano Mancini

    Cast

    Tatyana - Kristine Opolais
    Eugene Onegin - Artur Rucinski
    Lenski - Dmitry Korchak
    Olga - Lena Belkina
    Madame Larina - Helene Schneiderman
    Filipyevna - Margarita Nekrasova
    Prince Gremin - Günther Groissböck
    Triquet - Emilio Sánchez
    A captain - Aldo Heo
    Zaretski - Simon Lim
    Guillot - Toni Navarrate (silent role)
    O*** - Emil Wesolowski (the ghostly older Onegin, silent role non-existing in the original opera)

    Blu-ray disc released by Kultur and Unitel Classica, region A/1, NTSC, 150 minutes, 16:9, LPCM or DTS-HD MA 5.1, subtitles in English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. No insert at all, except for one little page with track list with the name of the musical numbers and characters but no duration. Period, full stop. Not a lot of information in this package. No bonus, except for trailers.
    The DTS track is excellent and with more auditory punch than the LPCM one. Image is spectacular as usual with most blu-ray discs.

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

    The initial scene in this production entirely cuts the chorus music for the peasants and the one for the young girls. I don't like it. This is not a long opera. It doesn't really need or deserve cuts. Things look up when a pretty Olga starts singing in great voice - one of the best Olga's I've seen. Then of course I'm very fond of Kristine Opolais so having her for two hours and a half on my screen and speakers is a treat.

    We get a very affable Lensky but a very sinister Onegin, more akin to the devil in other operas like Faust or The Rake's Progress.

    We get in this production a vocally much better Filipyevna as opposed to the last one I reviewed. The letter scene here is also impressive. Opolais does a good job both acting-wise and singing. The singers here have the advantage of body mikes as opposed to the Bolshoi touring production in Paris. Anyway, Opolais sings great the scene but overall I still prefer the one from the Bolshoi.

    The ball that opens the second act is simply gorgeous. A blindfolded Tatiana stumbles around, and an explosion of color ensues, with dancers having animal heads, including the ghost of Onegin with a rat mask. It's visually stunning, the symbolism while a bit obvious featuring how hypocritical and ferocious society is, works reasonably well (well, kind of). Lensky is then blindfolded too, signaling, obviously, that he blindly walks into his perdition. Simply fabulous choreography! However it is only instrumental; the words sang by the guests in the libretto are not present.

    The least convincing singer/actor here is Rucinsky, which is a pity. The conducting is also not that great, tending to be sluggish in parts. The orchestra is enthusiastic enough in the more lively parts of the score but lacks a bit of the elegance that the Bolshoi orchestra displayed in Paris.

    Monsieur Triquet's costume is really over-the-top, pink, with pink hair. He is accompanied by three dancers who display effeminate gestures. There is a big flower that opens with a female dancer inside, who then floats in the air with multicolored wings. I find that the garish sets and costumes are a bit off, when compared to the start, sleek sets used for the other scenes. The singer doing Triquet is not good and has awful diction.

    Dmitri Korchak sings "V vashem dome!" very delicately and beautifully. This young fellow is handsome too. Our Onegin, though, with his evil, rat-looking characterization, makes us wonder what on Earth the beautiful Tatiana saw in him.

    Unlike the previously reviewed production that featured a cynical Olga who wasn't innocent at all, this one does seem to care for Lensky and be dismayed at the whole thing.

    For the duel scene, the sets change into a snowy landscape over black background with one area of ghostly trees being lighted. Very striking! Simon Lim is a good comprimario, singing well the short role of Zaretsky. Korchak's "Kuda, Kuda" is delivered with the same delicacy in low volume that he used for his previous aria, but the version by Dunaev in the Bolshoi production is far superior. Given that I watched both today, I can't help but compare. This one is correct but lacks the emotional punch, depth, and especially the colors that Dunaev was able to deliver.

    We do get a real duel. As Lensky gets killed, the ghost of the old Onegin despairs, while the young one just walks away. Beautiful scene.

    Act III opens with the scene that is on the cover of the disc. The huge down-pointing arrow again is a bit of excessive symbolism (yes, we know that Eugene's life is going downhill). The costumes are interesting, though - a parade of robot-like or zombie-like figures coming down the stairs and strolling throughout the stage while the gorgeous waltz plays. Do we need to be reminded again of how stereotypical civilized society is? I like better Tcherniakov's more subtle symbolism instead of this on-your-face one. Lensky now in ghost form makes an appearance. Kristine looks great in her pink dress of the last act. Just looking at her is a blast. This is the enduring image, iconic of this entire production. Groissböck does a very good Prince Gremin. Rucinski's singing improved towards the end, properly warmed up. He had a pretty good third act.

    Opolais, who was kept by the director cold and restrained throughout acts I and II and the first half of act III (even her letter scene is a bit icy), finally is allowed to explode more with emotion, in the very last scene. She is phenomenal and her third act is better than the one by our Boshoi's Tatiana, Ms. Monogarova (who beat Ms. Opolais in acts I and II, though).

    In the end, we seem to see the death of the elderly Onegin, signaling that the whole opera was his remembrance of this episode of his life. That was intriguing. Apples run around (I forgot to mention that an apple tree is featured prominently in the opening scene - more heavy symbolism).

    This production has strengths. It is visually stunning. The sets, lighting, choreography and costumes are great. Kristine Opolais is always a plus, and our Olga here is quite attractive too, and in good voice. However, other than a better Filipyevna here, and maybe our Olga, pretty much all remaining singers from the Bolshoi production beat these singers (Gremin is a tie). Also cutting some of the music wasn't cool and is totally unnecessary for an opera that is only two and a half hours long. I guess the director didn't want the happy dissonance of the two peasant choruses as compared to the darker feeling of the rest of the opera, but he could have learned with Tcherniakov, who integrated well those choruses into his concept, without any loss of dramatic impact. That's what good direction is.

    The public in Valencia seems to be discerning enough, since their applause for Rucinski, the weakest singer in this production, was quite restrained.

    This is a visually beautiful production but a bit cold; not as emotional as the Bolshoi's, which also overall featured better singing, chorus, conducting, and orchestral playing. The package is dreadful, with no booklet, and we can't even tell when this production was filmed (a Google search confirms that it was indeed in 2011). This one is not A++ like that one. Still, given the assets, I'll give it an A. More likely it would be a B+ but Opolais and the visual beauty of the physical production push it up to A. Not among the very top recent productions, but recommended, nevertheless.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); December 31st, 2017 at 01:26 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Tatiana - the aptly named Tatiana Monogarova

    I heard her live in this role with the Cincinnati Opera several years ago, and she was wonderful. (Nathan Gunn was her Onegin.)

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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
    Tatiana - the aptly named Tatiana Monogarova

    I heard her live in this role with the Cincinnati Opera several years ago, and she was wonderful. (Nathan Gunn was her Onegin.)
    Wow, lovely. I hope she comes back this side of the pond, now that I'm aware of her. I could locate only two other US appearances other than the one you are reporting. Both in concert, at Avery Fisher Hall, and Houston Grand Opera.

    But I don't know what happened to her. Operabase only has her scheduled until July 2016 (Mimì in Barcelona; previously Iolanta in Florence and Warsaw). Her biography at the Bolshoi website doesn't appear to be updated.





    I hope she didn't quit or something. Or retired. Not impossible. I learned from her French Wikipédia biography that she is actually 50 years old, now. Depending on how she used her voice - which may have suffered overuse when you are a permanent ensemble member in such a prolific opera company like the Bolshoi - maybe her career is already over.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); December 31st, 2017 at 02:40 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Eugene Onegin on DVD



    Eugene Onegin, lyrical scenes in three acts, sung in Russian, premiered in Moscow, 1879
    Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
    Libretto by Konstantin Shilovsky and the composer, based on the eponymous novel in verse by Alexander Pushkin

    Filmed live at the, then, Kirov Opera and Ballet Theatre, now the Mariinsky, in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1984.

    The Kirov Opera Orchestra, conducted by Yuri Termikanov (not credited)
    The Kirov Opera Chorus (chorus master, not credited)

    There are no credits for the stage director and the rest of the crew, either

    Cast

    Tatiana - the also aptly named Tatiana Novikova
    Eugene Onegin - Sergei Leyferkus
    Lenski - Yuri Marusin
    Olga - Larissa Dyadkova
    Madame Larina - Evgenya Gorkovskaya
    Filipyevna - Ludmila Filatova

    Other roles - not credited.

    DVD running time 155 minutes, no bonus. Region All. NTSC Color, 4:3. Sound Dolby 2.0 only. Subtitles in English, which can't be turned off. No insert other than one page with a brief synopsis and a chapter list with no other information. The image is very granular and the sound is not great, with a delay between image and sound so that sometimes the singers' lips appear out of sync. Apparently those who have receivers that can delay the sound (mine does have this function but I don't feel like looking up how to do it in the huge user manual) can fix this problem by entering a delay of 132 milliseconds. Sound capture and balance are primitive, capturing more the singers than the orchestra which sometimes can be barely heard.

    -----------

    The first scene features traditional, period sets and costumes (it doesn't get any more period than that), with some real parts (like the door and stairs) apparently mixed with painted backdrop that looks quite fake. The initial dialogue between Larina and Filipyevna is sung simultaneously instead of each one singing their parts in alternation. Larina is in excellent voice, powerful and well-modulated. On the other hand, it looks like these Russian productions do take the old age of Filipyevna seriously, and cast this role with elderly veterans. It's the case here, resulting, just like in the more recent Bolshoi production, in a singer whose voice is not that good, and this one has an unpleasant quality to her timbre, but at least she can be heard clearly unlike the one from the Bolshoi.

    Not all the lyrics get translated, such as the first part of the peasants' chorus which is shown in abridged form (the music, I mean), without subtitles. The peasant girls' chorus is also minimally translated, and the choreography of their dances is rather conventional and not very well executed. The scene is very brief, skipping some repetitions that other productions have.

    Here we get the hair colors the other way around as compared to the two productions I recently reviewed. Tatiana is a brunette, and Olga is a blonde. They both look their parts, being reasonably attractive and young-looking, and Olga sings well. Tatiana, less so; Tatiana Novikova while decent, is definitely less good a singer than Tatiana Monogarova and Kristine Opolais, not to forget Anna Netrebko and Renée Fleming, in other Eugene Onegin DVDs.

    We get the two men, and they are both good singers. During the quartet in which Eugene and Vladimir are commenting upon Olga and Tatiana, the DVD skips the task of translating several parts of it, which are sung with no subtitles. If I didn't know by heart these lines by now, I'd be a bit confused. The rate is kind of two or three lines subtitled for every ten...

    During the instrumental parts sound capture does get the orchestra well, and it is a good one. Transitions are smooth and playing is delicate.

    The second scene in Tatiana's room features quite unattractive sets. Inexplicably, the boughs of foliage dropping from the roof which made sense in the first scene out in the garden, do not get removed, making for the weirdest of effects. What were they thinking? So now, foliage grows from the roof inside Tatiana's room?

    The singers in this production do try to engage in some acting and it's not terrible, but it is not as good as what we came to expect from contemporary singers, who generally these days get more acting lessons during their training than the singers of the past. Our Tatiana however does deliver a decent Letter Scene, well sung and actually rather well acted (she does seem to possess more acting range than that of her colleagues).

    For the next scene, the sets are made of painted backdrop with a rural landscape. This one looks a bit better than the two previous ones (although still not very realistic, since even in this granular image, one can see very well the canvas and its imperfections). The Kirov chorus sings beautifully the "Pretty maidens" number.

    Our Onegin is very gentle with our Tatiana, doing the "don't deny it" the way Tcherniakov recommended in his production. The singer is more of the "park and bark" variety, not acting the part as well as our Tatiana does. I'm actually liking her more and more as the performance goes on (as usual, passing judgment at the very beginning is not ideal since in these live stage recordings as opposed to a studio one, singers start cold and need some time to warm up their voices). Sergey Leferkus has good musicality and his stylistic Russian singing is pleasant to the ears, and very beautiful, with good emotional color. His aria scolding and lecturing Tatiana is so far the best vocal performance of this show.

    The next scene has sets depicting a large ballroom in the Larin's residence, and yay, they finally removed the foliage dropping from the roof. Oh wait, they didn't. The foliage is not there but dry branches are - maybe to signal that time has passed and now it is winter, but again, it doesn't work so well for these sets showing an interior room.

    This scene is better done than the preceding ones, theatrically speaking, with better blocking and choreography, and the chorus continues to perform well. Costumes are appropriate and non-distracting, although not very luxurious as one might expect from a traditional staging. They are discreet, but tasteful.

    Triquet is not a great singer and he weirdly performs his part with a very slow tempo that detracts from the comic effect and makes it more romantic than funny. He sings in Russian rather than in French as it is usually done. Apparently, though, Tchaikovsky's original version did have this part sung in Russian.

    Again, being this the Kirov Opera *and Ballet* company, I expected more of the cotillion dancing scene, and the choreography is not that well executed with the couples keeping imperfect symmetry and irregular positioning on stage. I know I'm nitpicking...

    Next scene, painted backdrop of a snowy landscape with a hint of dawn lights. Not bad, the prettiest so far. The orchestra continues to play very, very beautifully.

    So, let's talk about this "Kuda, Kuda." I didn't like it. The singer used a very high volume, which gave it a shouty character that could use a more subtle approach. The voice is also too lachrymose, and the piercing high notes get to be a bit hurtful to the ears. This is the worst version of the last ones I've been reviewing.

    The duel scene is convincingly acted. Actually maybe one of the best I've seen, acting-wise.

    On to Prince Gremin's house. The sets are the best looking ones, and fairly grandiose. For the dancing, all ladies in white gowns and all gentlemen in black tuxedos make for a good-looking scene. Blocking and choreography are way better organized than in the previous scenes. This is finally looking like a Kirov production.

    Tatiana's outfit is not very flattering. Weird hat. The singer doing Prince Gremin, although in tired voice (looks quite the veteran, too), is fairly emotionally delivered, in terms of the phrasing of the musical line. Pitch control is not great. Overall, in spite of the decent phrasing, it's a weak version.

    The last scene with Onegin begging Tatiana to accept him is fine; again with her acting being better than his; both sing it well.

    So, here are the strengths: very delicate orchestral playing, subtle and elegant, with smooth transitions (a bit on the slow side, in terms of pacing, and definitely not lively). Some good singing - especially from Olga, Tatiana, and Onegin, with a good Larina too. Lensky, Filipyevna, Triquet, and Prince Gremin, not so much. Good chorus. Fairly good-looking Act III scenery with nice choreography and costumes. Well acted Letter Scene and duel scene. An overall fine Tatiana.

    The downsides: the above mentioned less-than-ideal singers, unattractive sets for act I and half of act II, traditional production with little imagination (sort of bland). Disappointing blocking and choreography in acts I and II. Primitive image and sound, bare-bones product with no insert and other technical problems including an audio-video sync issue, and fixed subtitles that can't be removed and fail to translate some stretches.

    Overall, B, not recommended. I understand the "classic" appeal, but there are much better products out there. Those who love traditional productions, though, might enjoy a fine Tatiana and a decent Onegin, singing over a competent orchestra.

    In the end, the credits that roll do appear to be way more complete, with a long list of names so I suppose we'd have learned the names of the other crew members and comprimario roles, but it's all in Cyrillic alphabet and while I would be able to decipher it if I took my time to look at each name, I don't feel like doing it, so the review goes without the names of all the artists and crew members.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); December 31st, 2017 at 05:23 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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