Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Joan Sutherland, Isobel Buchanan, Huguette Tourangeau, Jennifer Bermingham, Rosina Raisbeck
Director: Norman Ayrton
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
Delibes' story is set in India in the mid-19th century when the British were imposing a suppressive rule over the many religious sects. Nilakantha, the leader of one of these forbidden sects, is secretly bringing up his da... more »
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At the time of this recording, Dame Joan had one of the most beautiful and sensuous voice before the public. And she was a true DRAMATIC coloratura soprano, the rarest of all voices only hinted by the legendary sopranos of Donizetti and Bellini's time. But of course, Dame Joan was the REAL thing, and luckily we have the recordings to prove it. This lakme outshines all others. Sutherland's notes...all the way up to high E were all effortless, with all staccati, trills and fioritura done to perfection. For even more incredible singing however, go buy Dame Joan's " The Art of the Prima Donna"( The greatest achievement by any human voice in memory ). You will not be disappointed. Prima Donna Assoluta..."
Delibes, Sutherland...that's all you need to know
C. Boerger | Columbus, OH USA | 07/25/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While this production of Lakme is far from perfect, the opportunity to see a rarely performed work of extreme lyrical beauty featuring the great Joan Sutherland in one of her signature roles is more than enough justification for purchasing the DVD.
Lakme is an unfairly neglected opera, more known for its showpieces than for the work as a whole, and it is difficult to understand why. Personally, I think audiences would take to this score, which is chockful of memorable melodies and is obviously influenced by Bizet, because of its post-Carmen sound(especially apparent in the orchestration) mixed with the exoticism that was so popular in French opera at that time. Granted, Lakme lacks the depth of Carmen, the uniqueness, the sheer untethered ingenuity, not to mention the standout characters, and the romantic connection here seems forced and unconvincing. Basically, it's all about the music, but what music. Lakme might be fluff, but fluff has seldom sounded better.
The title role is a great one for any dramatic lyrical soprano, since the Indian princess is onstage for much of the opera and is given a plethora of lovely music, from the well-known Bell Song and Flower Duet to some very moving introspective arias(my personal favorite is Act Three's Sous le ciel tour etoile...just devastating) to a couple of long winding love duets, finally to a dramatic death scene. Basically, Lakme is the soprano's baby all the way, a showcase for a true diva, and Dame Joan Sutherland is a diva-and-a-half.
This production was obviously done with the intention of promoting her above everything else. The performance is by the Australian Opera, where Sutherland is both a beloved native and a familiar presence, practically royalty, and it is led by her doting husband Richard Bonynge who conducts with loving attention to her voice. The supporting cast, lacking any big names, is serviceable but unspectacular(the inconsistent tenor gets an understandably tepid response from the audience during his curtain call), as though the powers that be were careful not to cast anyone who might upstage Dame Joan. This makes for a less fulfilling performance overall. Still, if you are going to revolve a whole production around a single performer, you can't do better than Joan Sutherland, and the diva doesn't disappoint.
This was done in the mid-70's when Dame Joan was probably a few years past her prime, yet you would hardly know it based on her performance; the only weakness I could detect was the occasional tendency not to sustain some of the high notes for as long as she would have in her youth. Otherwise, the voice, that incredible voice, is still there, in all its power and glory, in all its heartbreaking beauty. Sutherland has never been known for her physical pulchritude, or for her acting ability, her main strength, aside from that distinctive voice, is a little thing called presence. Here she is as regal, as feminine, as strong-willed, as powerful, as larger-than-life as ever.
Bonynge has a reputation for being a by-the-numbers conductor, and that is in evidence here. He brings out the score's inherent beauty, but loses much of the passion(his reading from the '60's for Decca Records, also with his wife, is better, more definitive, but he is helped along by an abler cast). The production is pretty and colorful, appropriately atmospheric and exotic(giving a real sense of place) if a bit crowded for the somewhat compact stage. The picture and sound quality are superior for a broadcast from that era.
Vanity projects don't often succeed, but this is an exception. It helps to have a centerpiece with the chops of Joan Sutherland. And to have the lovely music of Leo Delibes, of course."
Excellent all round production
VIRGO | Toronto, Ontario Canada | 09/19/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The singing is the strongest plus of this production. All of the singers do a splendid job with their respective roles. The acting is undistinguished and the stage settings although adequate to create an appropriately lavish, indian setting smacked of plastic.
For a 30 year old production the transfer to DVD is acceptable. Non removable English sub-titles are included as is a brief description of the plot during the orchestral prelude to each act.
This is one of my favourite operas and this production has earned itself a top shelf location among my opera DVDs. I wholeheartedly recommend this DVD to anyone who has an interest in either Lakme and/or Joan Sutherland."
What an unbelievable voice
Doug Urquhart | Southport, CT USA | 03/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I tend to favour Wagnerian operas, so up until now my only exposure to Joan Sutherland's voice was her performance as the woodland bird in Solti's Siegfried.
I had no idea her voice was so magnificent; flawless notes from the lower register up into the stratosphere. And what warmth and expression; I now understand why she was described as the voice of the century.
What a shame she never performed Brunnhilde (as far as I know).
As far as the production itself is concerned, the sound is a bit ragged, and shows signs of heavy noise reduction. I suppose that means that we'll never see this production on DVD. Pity.