Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Beethoven - Fidelio / Levine Mattila Heppner Pape Lloyd Polenzani Metropolitan Opera|
Actors: Heppner, Mattila, Pape, Polenzani, Struckman
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
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For the three principal singers...
Mr. Matthew J. Williams | Sydney, NSW Australia | 06/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When Act 2 of Fidelio is being poured out in the most glorious tones imaginable from Mattila, Heppner and Pape - who can possibly complain? Who would honestly want to replace any of them? Who can fail to be overwhelmed with gratitude to own this disc?If I continue to count our blessings, I might mention the splendid Robert Lloyd drawing us to a thrilling finale as Don Fernando; and Falk Struckmann a convincingly evil Pizarro.So it is certainly not complaining, but fulfilling a reviewer's obligation to tell all, when I admit that Jennifer Welch-Babidge is little more than adequate as Marzelline. One might wish for a purer vocal line in this role - like a Bonney or an Isokoski.The production has a few eccentricities that don't quite work. I could pick holes, but to be fair the production as a whole functions well enough, and with singing - and, in most cases, acting - like this, who cares?Brian Large's cameras are always where you want them. Sound is DTS 5.1; Dolby 5.1 or Stereo. Menu is in English only. Subtitles in German; English; French; Spanish and Chinese.Don't worry, you won't regret it."
Worthwhile even for non-Fidelio fans
Bruce Hodges | New York, NY | 06/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can't recall the first time I ever heard this score, since after a single listen I didn't want to hear it again (my apologies to those who adore it). Perhaps I fell into the myth of "this is Beethoven's only opera and you can see why" that some promote.
In any case, it was only years later that I happened to see this production on PBS, and completely fell in love with it. Jurgen Flimm's towering gray walls seem destined for controversy, despite being handsomely designed and admirably well-suited for the story. The set may be grim to some, but to my eyes it provides a neutral background against which Karita Mattila and the rest of the cast emerge in vivid colors.
Mattila is splendid in the lead role, and just sings and acts up a storm. (I doubt anyone on the operatic stage has ever eaten a banana with more aplomb.) Ben Heppner is also terrific, as are Rene Pape, Robert Lloyd, Jennifer Welch-Babidge and Matthew Polenzani. Only Falk Struckmann, to me, disappoints slightly with some forced-sounding tone, but even he summons such stage presence that I didn't really mind. This is one of the best-acted operatic productions I've seen in quite awhile.
James Levine gives a fleet performance of the score and draws magnificent playing out of the Met Orchestra, which has been praised to the skies and justifiably so. The Met Chorus, attired in Florence von Gerkan's atmospherically gray uniforms, also gives its heartfelt all, especially in the renowned "Prisoner's Chorus" that should stir even the most apathetic of viewers.
The sound quality on the DVD is superb. The filming, by Brian Large, puts you right in the middle of the action when needed, but with plenty of long shots of the large group numbers, which are thrillingly staged. Highly recommended for many reasons."
Don't even consider not buying this
T. Macfarlane | Irvine, CA USA | 01/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I also saw the broadcast, and I would echo the previous reviews, and add a few points.First of all, Mattila. Lord. What amazed me most of all from this very committed performance is her singing at the END of the opera -- you would have no clue that this woman had just finished one of the most punishing roles in the repertoire. Re the comments on Heppner: You know, the singing IS the acting. It is the unique thrill and excitement of the human voice that brings these characters to life. There are many more opera singers throughout history who couldn't act half of what Heppner brought to his role, much less fit the supposed physical requirements. People! Hello! If physique were actually important, we would have to throw out as unimportant all the contributions of Pavarotti, Caballe, Eaglen, Voigt, not to mention the greats of other times like Caruso, Gigli ... the list is impossibly long. Enough said.Finally, the aforementioned hopefully upcoming DVD of Tristan from the Met would have to be shelved, because the combined weight of the two stars easily tops 600 pounds -- and who the hell cares? It was the most eagerly anticipated Tristan of a generation, because here were two singers that could really do justice to the demands of the roles.Bring on Eaglen and Heppner!"
What's your perspective on Fidelio?
Alan Majeska | Bad Axe, MI, USA | 12/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When considering if you want James Levine's 2000 recording of Beethoven's only completed opera, "Fidelio" the question to ask is: "What's your perspective on Fidelio?" Should it be staged to reflect the time in which it was composed? (Ca. 1805) or should it have a more modern set and staging? (as is the case here). James Levine and the Metropolitan Opera orchestra play wonderfully and are - as almost always - very reliable and sensible in tempos, balance, and phrasing. The singers: Mattila, Heppner, Pape, Lloyd, Polenzani, etc. are all excellent. But the staging - which may seem controversial - is modern, with such items as 20th century handguns, American style Khaki military uniforms, and in the last act, the announcement of the President coming (not the governer as would be the case in Austria, 1805). Some who insist on a more authentic, Austrian, period staging of Beethoven's opera may not care for this.
There are elements of humor brought out on the stage in some places, and I found the Prisoners' Chorus very moving. I can't comment blow by blow on the singers, as I'm not a singer myself, but it all sounds excellent to me: well balanced with the orchestra and chorus, and in the bigger choral numbers, everyone is right in the action and on cue/target musically as well.
I love Beethoven's music, and always feel great comfort and a sense of victory and rightness about the world when listening to/watching FIDELIO, or hearing the incidental music to EGMONT. Beethoven had a firm belief in democracy, the triumph of right over wrong: justice for the accused who are innocent, and that one man/woman or class should not rule over another - he hoped for an egalitarian society somewhat as the French Revolution, Socialism, or later in Russia, Bolshevism promised, but did not deliver. I think Beethoven would have liked living in a democracy as the United States, or Austria today, more of a parliamentary democracy for sure than it was 200 years ago during his lifetime.
If you don't want Levine's Met. production of FIDELIO, consider the following CD releases: Klemperer/Philharmonia (EMI) or Bohm/Dresden State Orchestra (DG, 1969, recently re-released)."