Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Cavalli - La Calisto|
Actors: Maria Bayo, Marcello Lippi, Rene Jacobs, Barry Banks, Louise Winter
Director: Herbert Wernicke
Genres: Indie & Art House, Musicals & Performing Arts
Monteverdi meets Benny Hill?
Steven Guy | Croydon, South Australia | 01/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Now this is fun!
I cannot describe this opera production to you, you'll just have to see it for yourself. However, let me say that the whole thing is done with a great sense of fun and it is utterly camp. "Tongue in cheek"? You betchya!Sort of the musical equivalent of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream", and, yes, it is that good! The production is character driven and the small stage features few sets, however this is a very colourful and visually satisfying production. The walls around the stage are a riot of colour and design and the costumes are beautiful and "kind-of" authentic, well, at least they look typically Baroque in a generic Baroque way!
The cast is perfect. Maria Bayo is simply wonderful and beguiling as the chaste and "chased" Calisto. Marcello Lippi in both baritone and countertenor modes is delightful as the "Don Giovanni-esque" Giove and only too willing to get into drag to get the girl! Hans Peter Kammerer is his sidekick, Mercurio, a very Leporello-ish role. Great Aussie countertenor, Graham Pushee, is marvellous the heroic Endimione. French countertenor, Dominique Visse, is incredible as Satirino and he shows, once again, that he is probably one of the best character actor Baroque singers in the business.
The orchestra of Concerto Vocale consists of strings, cornetts, recorders, dulcian and lots of keyboards and lutes. Fans of the cornetto will be in for a real treat! The Bear ciaconna is a highlight.
The whole thing is a fabulous romp from start to finish. Francesco Cavalli was certainly an incredible composer and he seems to have known how to provide a great night's worth of entertainment. Sure, he was no Monteverdi, and don't expect this work to rival "L'incoronazione di Poppea" or "Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria" for depth or insight into the human experience (Cavalli wasn't the psychologist and intellectual Monteverdi was), Cavalli was simply out to entertain with "La Calisto" and "entertain" he certainly does. So "La Calisto" is great adult entertainment and it was written for sophisticated adults who enjoy a good laugh, a bit of sex, a bit of "Camp" [with a capital "C"] and have a sense of the absurd.
Great to see Harmonia Mundi France finally getting into the DVD market.
IF I COULD GIVE IT MORE STARS, I WOULD
Paco Rivero | Miami, FL | 08/18/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"LA CALISTO has become one of my favorite operas. I like the kaleidoscopic range of voices. Marcello Lippi, in a taxing role, plays both Jove AND Jove impersonating Diana. The role requires him to sing in two totally different ranges. But the whole cast is excellent. Maria Bayo is very good here as la Calisto. A previous reviewer called this opera "camp," but it's too fine to be camp (despite the cross dressing). The classical subject (how the nymph Calisto is seduced by Jove, transformed into a bear by his jealous wife Hera, and eventually becomes the constellation Ursa Major) is very elegantly handled. The production has an intimate-yet-lavish feel, like a royal masque. It's conducted to perfection on period instruments by Rene Jacobs (in very fine form here), and sung to the hilt by the entire cast. And the music itself? As if Orpheus had written it, a cross between Monteverdi and Handel. I'll definitely be looking for more Cavalli in the future. Also included is a one hour "making of" feature, and a few other extras. The 2 disc set is exquisitely packaged by Harmonia Mundi. I give it my highest and most enthusiastic recommendation, particularly if you're a fan of baroque opera. The opera is geared to adults. It has phallic imagery and the sexual theme is sometimes treated explicity (although there's no nudity).
By the way, I fell so in love with this opera, that I did some reading on Francesco Cavalli, a composer of whom I was totally ignorant. Unfortunately, I was not able to find more of his operas on DVD, but for your information (and delectation), here's a little bit about him, quoted from BAKER'S BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF MUSICIANS, FOURTH EDITION: "A pupil of Monteverdi, his chief works were dramatic (41 operas), which show a marked advance, both in breadth of form and power of expression, rhythmic and melodic, over his master. His 'Giasone' (Venice, 1649) was applauded on all the chief stages of Italy; his 'Serse' (Venice, 1654) was the opera chosen for the marriage festivities of Louis XIV in 1660, and his 'Ercole amante' was written for the inaugeration of the hall of the Tuileries (1662). [Cavalli] was also a fine organist, and composed a noble Requiem, and much good church-music." Let's hope more of Cavalli's 41 operas find their way onto our contemporary stage!"
Dr. J. J. Kregarman | Denver, Colorado United States | 02/02/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"La Calisto is a sexy comedic drama with some gorgeous music well played by Rene Jacob's musicians and beautifully sung by a cast who command the stage. An informative 54' documentary and an excellent enclosed booklet complete the package. The sound and picture quality are both excellent."
Seamless music, Vibrant acting, Venetian Carnival & Comedia
Marcolorenzo | Italy | 01/02/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The music is seamless, the declamatory and the sung parts flow fluidly one into the other. This is no small feat considering that there is much improvised music and music added from other composers to fill in spaces. etc.
The overall concept scenically is one of a child's toy box or a pop-up book, or Christmas advent card. It is more graphic (i.e. 2 dimensional) than architectural. This has the advantage of giving space to the music and the acting but also limits the potential artistic vision inherent in the work. Although the set designer in his interview in the special film at the end of the DVD says there were only 2 approaches to this work, an historical one and a more contemporary one, (which he chose), this of course is not true; there are many other possibilities. Considering that this is the only DVD of this work ever made, and that it is a very fine musical and theatrical production it is to be savoured. It won a Choc award from the French magazine Monde de la Musique.
Many of the characters' costumes are from the Venetian Comedia dell'arte stock of characters. Pulcinella, Arlechino, etc. play the roles of others: i.e. sheperds, Pan etc. This decision on the designer's part to use Comedia dell'arte characters for other characters of Cavalli's creation does create an atmosphere of Venetian Carnival and the popular Venetian theatre, but it also does confuse things, and is a bit intrusive. The work is full of eroticism, more carnal than artistic and breathes more the air of popular theatre, highly sexually charged, than that of the theatre of the nobility. The balance is definitely in the direction of popular vulgarity (in a good sense) than in the direction of virtuous nobility. Cavalli has both in an equal dose however. There is something of the decadence of our time here, with phallic graffiti on the stage trap doors etc., which seems out of place however, and is different from the eroticism of the time of the Venetian theatre and Venetian carnival of the 17th century.
The singing is very fine indeed, and the acting and dancing superb. (There's even a dancing bear, an actress dressed as a bear who substituted at the last minute for a real dancing bear when it couldn't learn its role !)
One of the best features of the video is the 58 minute film at the end on the making of this production, where Jacobs, musicians, set and costume designer speak their mind.
Overall a quite brilliant production of a work of a great opera composer after Monteverdi. You will feel the Venetian carnival, the popular Venetian theatre and breathe in a world of opera after Monteverdi and before Scarlatti and Handel."