• DVD Review: La Cenerentola (1989, Salzburg)

      2 Bravos & Boos (Comments)

    La Cenerentola

    1988, Salzburg Festival

    (Ann Murray, Francisco Araiza, Walter Berry, Gino Quilico, Wolfgang Schöne, Angela Denning, Daphne Evangelatos; Wiener Staatsopernchor; Wiener Philharmoniker, cond. Riccardo Chailly)

    (dir. Michael Hampe; video dir. Claus Viller)

     

    This elegant Cenerentola is possibly the most perfect staging I’ve ever seen of Rossini’s opera. Not necessarily my favorite, since other productions offer so many joys as well, but the most perfect. The realistically rendered wing-and-drop sets are simple yet ornate and beautiful, as are the authentic-looking Regency era costumes. Michael Hampe’s staging Read the rest of this entry »

  • DVD Review: Il Barbiere di Siviglia (1982, Glyndebourne)

      0 Bravos & Boos (Comments)

    Il Barbiere di Siviglia

    1982, Glyndebourne Festival Opera

    (John Rawnsley, Maria Ewing, Max-René Cossotti, Claudio Desderi, Ferruccio Furlanetto, Catherine McCord; Glyndebourne Chorus; London Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Sylvain Cambreling)

    (dir. John Cox; video dir. Dave Heather)

     

    This colorful, intimate Barbiere never fails to bring a smile to my face. Both sets and costumes are charming, with the two-dimensional cutout backdrops truly evoking Seville’s architecture, and the staging is top-notch. A few scenes are handled conservatively (e.g. the stand-and-sing Act I finale), but other moments are inventive (e.g. the transition from the street to Figaro’s barbershop at the end of the first scene), and all the interactions Read the rest of this entry »

  • DVD Review: Madame Butterfly (1995, Mitterrand film)

      1 Bravos & Boos (Comments)

    Madame Butterfly           

    1995, Erato Films

    (Ying Huang, Richard Troxell, Ning Liang, Richard Cowan, Jing Ma Fan; Choeurs de Radio France; Orchestre de Paris, cond. James Conlon)

    (dir. Frédéric Mitterrand)

     

    This gorgeous film, following in the footsteps of such cinematic ventures as Zeffirelli’s La Traviata and Rosi’s Carmen, brings Puccini’s beloved tragedy to life like never before. Shot in Tunisia, it employs a naturalistic setting, rich color (with emphasis on romantic reds, pinks and purples), vivid historical detail and poetic camerawork to create a lovely realistic vision of early 20th century Nagasaki. All the Japanese characters are portrayed by Asian singers, with Read the rest of this entry »

  • DVD Review: Orfeo ed Euridice (1982, Glyndebourne)

      1 Bravos & Boos (Comments)

    Orfeo ed Euridice

    1982, Glyndebourne Festival Opera

    (Janet Baker, Elisabeth Speiser, Elizabeth Gale; Glyndebourne Chorus; London Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Raymond Leppard)

    (dir. Peter Hall; video dir. Rodney Greenberg)

     

    This production, created as Dame Janet Baker’s farewell to the stage, is unique in the catalogue of filmed Orfeos. It maintains the traditional Greek imagery, yet feels fresh, avoiding stilted neoclassical prettiness and instead, in keeping with Gluck’s “reform” aesthetic, emphasizing simplicity and humanity. The set design is fairly minimalistic, the costumes are simple tunics in solid colors, and the performance is carried not by any fancy visual concept but by Read the rest of this entry »

  • DVD Review: Carmen (1985, Glyndebourne)

      0 Bravos & Boos (Comments)

    Carmen

    1985, Glyndebourne Festival Opera

    (Maria Ewing, Barry McCauley, David Holloway, Marie McLaughlin; Glyndebourne Festival Chorus; London Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Bernard Haitink)

    (dir. Peter Hall; video dir. Robin Lough)

     

    This simple yet compelling production, filmed on the Glyndebourne stage but without an audience, is the antithesis of “Carmen as grand opera.” The scale is small and intimate, with no unnecessary spectacle, and the atmosphere is one of gritty, earthy realism. Costumes are mostly in earth tones, with appropriate amounts of dirt, sweat and tatters on the lower-class characters, and the exoticism of the Spanish setting is downplayed in favor of emphasis on Read the rest of this entry »

  • DVD Review: La Cenerentola (2005, Glyndebourne)

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    La Cenerentola

    2005, Glyndebourne Festival Opera

    (Ruxandra Donose, Maxim Mironov, Luciano di Pasquale, Simone Alberghini, Nathan Berg, Raquela Sheeran, Lucia Chirillo; Glyndebourne Chorus; London Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Vladimir Jurowski)

    (dir. Peter Hall; video dir. Robin Lough)

     

    This second Glyndebourne Cenerentola DVD couldn’t be more different from the first: the atmosphere of Sir Peter Hall’s production is worlds away from the storybook charm of John Cox’s 1983 staging. While the Regency-era setting is traditional, its look and feel is characterized by stark, gritty realism. Don Magnifico’s mansion is truly shabby, the royal palace is elegant yet austere, and the color scheme consists mainly of earth tones, with only the men of the court in bright colored satins. Slapstick among the comic characters Read the rest of this entry »

  • DVD Review: Il Barbiere di Siviglia (2005, Madrid)

      0 Bravos & Boos (Comments)

    Il Barbiere di Siviglia

    2005, Teatro Real, Madrid

    (Pietro Spagnoli, Maria Bayo, Juan Diego Flórez, Bruno Praticó Ruggero Raimondi, Susanna Cordón; Coro de la Comunidad de Madrid; Orquestra Titular del Teatro Real, cond. Gianluigi Gelmetti)

    (dir. Emilio Sagi; video dir. Ángel Luis Ramirez)

     

    This Barbiere has quickly become one of the most popular and easiest to find. When I first saw it, I was caught off guard by its unusual atmosphere, but since then I’ve come to appreciate it as a production filled with talent and creativity. Both sets and costumes are entirely in black and white for most of the opera, but as the happy ending draws near and rebellion triumphs over the old social order that Bartolo represents, bright colors finally appear and take over. The sets, which are moved by costumed stagehands a la Brecht Read the rest of this entry »