• DVD Review: Madama Butterfly (1986, La Scala)

      1 Bravos & Boos (Comments)

    Madama Butterfly

    1986, Teatro alla Scala, Milan

    (Yasuko Hayashi, Peter Dvorsky, Hak-Nam Kim, Giorgio Zancanaro, Ernesto Gavazzi; Choro del Teatro alla Scala; Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, cond. Lorin Maazel)

    (dir. Keita Asari; video dir. Derek Bailey)

     

    This visually lovely Butterfly has the most thoroughly Eastern atmosphere of any on DVD. The set, consisting only of a simplified Japanese house, a Zen-style garden of stone, and a backdrop of sky studded with a flock of shimmering butterflies, is a picture of austere, watercolor-like beauty. Keita Asari’s staging is filled with authentic Japanese detail and infused with the flavor of kabuki theatre. Black-clad “invisible” stagehands move the shoji back and forth, the Flower Duet consists of Butterfly and Suzuki scattering Read the rest of this entry »

  • DVD Review: Turandot (1987, Met)

      0 Bravos & Boos (Comments)

    Turandot

    1987, Metropolitan Opera

    (Eva Marton, Plácido Domingo, Leona Mitchell, Paul Plishka; Metropolitan Opera Chorus; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, cond. James Levine)

    (dir. Franco Zeffirelli; video dir. Kirk Browning)

     

    This Turandot was one of the first filmed opera performances I ever saw and is still the closest to a definitive Turandot that I’ve ever seen. Franco Zeffirelli’s magnificent scenery, some of the grandest in the Met’s repertoire, and the sumptuous costumes of Dada Saligeri and Anna Anni create a stunningly lavish vision of mythical China, a perfect match for the grandeur of Puccini’s score. The massive glittering throne room in which the Riddle Scene and the opera’s finale take place is a sight Read the rest of this entry »

  • DVD Review: Don Giovanni (1954, Salzburg Festival)

      2 Bravos & Boos (Comments)

    Don Giovanni

    1954, Salzburg Festival

    (Cesare Siepi, Otto Edelmann, Elisabeth Grümmer, Anton Dermota, Lisa della Casa, Erna Berger, Walter Berry, Deszö Ernster; Wiener Staatsopernchor; Wiener Philharmoniker, cond. Wilhelm Furtwängler)

    (dir. Herbert Graf; film dir. Paul Czinner)

     

    This Don Giovanni was filmed in Salzburg’s open-air Felsenreitschule theatre as part of director Paul Czinner’s movement to preserve renowned theatre performances for posterity. Performed on an elegant unit set (convincing as either a town square or a courtyard) with Herbert Graf’s intelligent staging and a cast of vintage Viennese gold, in mono sound, this production is a quintessential Giovanni of its time and place. The costumes are traditional 1600s garb, German accents abound with constant ‘qvi’s and ‘qva’s instead of ‘qui’s and ‘qua’s, the acting is very broad, and characterizations are Read the rest of this entry »

  • DVD Review: Il Barbiere di Siviglia (1992, Netherlands Opera)

      0 Bravos & Boos (Comments)

    Il Barbiere di Siviglia

    1992, The Netherlands Opera

    (David Malis, Jennifer Larmore, Richard Croft, Renato Capecchi, Simone Alaimo, Leonie Schoon; The Netherlands Opera Chorus; The Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, cond. Alberto Zedda)

    (dir. Dario Fo; video dir. Hans Huschler)

     

    “Rossini Goes to the Circus” would be a good subtitle for this production. While the set design is starkly traditional and the costumes are strictly early-19th century (albeit cartoonishly colorful), the staging is far from conventional. Under Dario Fo’s direction, Figaro and co. inhabit a madcap world where donkeys dance and sing, sneezes are powerful enough to knock down scenery, young girls play racquetball with samplers and balls of yarn, old men are tossed up and down Read the rest of this entry »