Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Berlioz - Les Troyens / Polaski Villars Braun Martirossian Lloyd Cambreling Salzburg Festpiele|
Actors: Jon Villars, Russell Braun, Tigran Martirossian, Robert Lloyd, Ilya Levinsky
Director: Alexandre Tarta
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
I. Martinez-Ybor | Miami, FL USA | 03/16/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Without being outstanding, there are solid musical values in this performance, particularly by conductor, orchestra and choruses. The singers acquit themselves professionally without providing thrills. Ms. Polaski makes a fine Cassandra but falls far short for Dido...the voice isn't rich enough.... very few can perform both parts ably; only Jessye Norman comes to mind. Dido sounds better as a mezzo than as a soprano (Christa Ludwig wins my sweepstakes, closely followed by Jessye). Mr. Villars is quite a find for this very difficult part. No one in my memory has owned the role as decisively as Jon Vickers. Mr. Villars' instrument is quite different from Vickers' in timbre and heft, but on his own terms, he is quite outstanding. And it's a fresh, young voice.The disappointment is the production. And a huge disappointment it is. It amounts to a white, plaster cyclorama with a narrow crack in the middle through which one gets glimpses of what is supposed to be happening. This is just totally unsatisfactory. One can put up with such nonsense in Troy..... after all, it's going to get destroyed..... but Carthage? The Carthage music is some of the most sensuous, poignant compositions ever written.... this production goes out of its way to annihilate beauty and delight. One is left with Messrs. Wernicke's and Tarta's arid pretensions. For all its Salzbourg pedigree, the production looks cheap. It is a shame. Les Troyens is one of the greatest operas ever written. It is powerful drama conceived in extraordinarily beautiful musical terms. It is not performed frequently. It adds insult to injury that Salzbourg, with all its financial resources, could not come up with something better than this. It's shameful.So..... should you buy this DVD? The Met's old production is infinetly better and it is served well in its DVD. As for this contraption..... well, it's ok if you like to watch your DVD operas with your eyes closed."
Unconventional but no less stunning
Mark the music lover | Virginia | 10/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I feel that I must strongly disagree with the reviewer who stated that this production was cheap. Although this produciton is spartan, I believe it goes alot farther in revealing the dramatic truth of Berlioz's score. When I first viewed this DVD, I was dissapointed with the production. However, when I read the concept of Wernicke, the production director, everything began to make sense. This production is bright, clean, and immensely refreshing, and I find that the black, and bright rich blues, reds, and golds, contrast superbly against an all white backdrop so that all this action is clearly defined. I am terribly sick of these opulent but dramatically inept opera productions. The met's DVD of this opera is laughable beyond belief. The sets make no sense, and the production as a whole looks as though it was resurrected from a drab dustheap. I also think, call me crazy, that Jessye Norman, although vocally flawless, is over the top and overacts the role of Cassandra, to the point of campiness. The costumes and wigs just look too ridiculous to believe and Domingo is subpar. Singing the dual roles of Cassandre and Didon is the stunning Deborah Polaski whose voice is huge, immensely powerful, and crystaline. Her interpretation is tightly controlled and focused. Polaski does not sing Cassandre as a lunatic, but rather an ordinary woman who struggles with her calling as a prophetess, and is deeply disturbed by the visions of her destroyed homeland. Polaski remains within the confines of stoic, classical tragedy in the tradition of Gluck. It is because of this that her performance is so much more dramatic (think of Callas's later interpretations of Medea as opposed to the one with Bernstein and you'll see what I mean). You can just feel the nervous tension boiling just beneath the surface. You begin to understand that Cassandre's gloom is not just because of her visions, but also because of the price she has ultimately had to pay to be the bearer of such an staggering gift from the gods. As Aeneas, Jon Villars is exellent visually and vocally, the guy is a hunk, and is such a refreshing alternative from Domingo, and his music is not transposed like Domingo's. This production is deeply psychological is nature. I love how the director stripped Les Troyens of all it's hollywood MGM excesses to make us think about what was really going on and how such a masterful work still speakes to us today. Seeing the modern day helmets, trenchcoats, and machine guns on stage make me think of the similarities between Troy and war torn Bosnia, it's all so relative. Wernicke is also brilliant in cutting the ballet sequences which makes the whole production much more cohensive ( I've always thought that the ballets were an interuption to the drama much like Vissi d'arte is to Tosca, But of course Berlioz was keeping in tradition with Grand Opera.The Royal Hunt and Storm scene is handled superbly without the nonsense of fauns, nymphs etc. Rather it is presented as a psychological struggle in Aeneas's mind to choose love or follow his destiny. The orchestra, chorus, supporting roles and conducting are all superb!!!!! The Chatelet DVD version with Antonacci, Graham, and Gardiner is just as great if not better. But do yourself a favor and skip the met's version!!!!"
A feast of voices
Mark the music lover | 05/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This delicious score with these excellent singers deserves high praise. The production is a little silly (wish I had the glove concession), but the acting is sincere and the singing wonderful. Don't be put off by the superficial here. Buy it and give in to the absolutely exquisite music and often thrilling singing. Buy the older Met version too. This opera is so rich and vast that one production cannot possibly be enough.I am waiting (I hope not in vain) for the recent Met production with Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson on DVD or CD or whatever. That was a knock-out production...aurally at least (via the Met Broadcast)"