• CD Review: Die Zauberflöte (1955, Fricsay)

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    Die Zauberflöte

    1955, Deutsche Grammophon

    (Ernst Häfliger, Maria Stader, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Rita Streich, Josef Greindl, Martin Vantin; RIAS Kammerchor; RIAS Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, cond. Ferenc Fricsay)


    This ‘50s Flute is a bit less well known than others, but it still has its fare share of devotees. To this day the Salzburg Marionette Theatre uses it as the “soundtrack” for its Flute performances. While I wouldn’t call it outstanding, it’s still a fine way to enjoy the opera, with a solid cast and an orchestra led with superior skill by Ferenc Fricsay. His interpretation avoids the Romantic weight that his contemporaries tended to favor and makes the opera into a lively experience with Read the rest of this entry »

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

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    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)

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    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 »