Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Donizetti - Roberto Devereux|
Actors: Edita Gruberova, Albert Schagidullin, Jeanne Piland, Roberto Aronica, Nikolay Borchev
Directors: Friedrich Haider, Christof Loy
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
A good opera ruined by the staging
A. BOSS | Mountainside, NJ United States | 08/11/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Musically this is a very nice (but not outstanding) opera. However the staging and direction detract from it. One rather uninteresting set (it looks like a waiting room with a few chairs, a water cooler (from which cast members frequently get drinks for no reason) and a newspaper rack (the cast frequently reads newspapers which is probably more interesting than watching the action on stage) serves as a hall in Westminster, the duchess's private chamber, and a cell in the Tower. Costumes are not very fashionable modern dress.
The best way to enjoy this performance is to close your eyes."
A frustrating production even though Gruberova shines
Toni Bernhard | Davis, CA United States | 08/25/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It's a joy to see and hear Edita Gruberova, approaching 60, playing Queen Elizabeth I with almost the same agility and control as she exhibited 25 years earlier in such roles as Constanze in Mozart's "Abduction from the Seraglio" (1980) and Gilda in Verdi's "Rigoletto" (1981) - also available on DVD. She is still a master of coloratura technique; I especially love her delicate trills. Yes, some of her high notes sound strained (just as Sutherland's did toward the end of her performing career) but it doesn't detract from the excitement of her performance. The supporting cast is very good, especially Roberto Aronica (as Devereux) who has an expressive, full-bodied tenor voice. However, this opera belongs to Elizabeth. Donizetti gave her all the coloratura pieces and Gruberova doesn't disappoint.
But now I have to start subtracting stars from Gruberova's five-star effort. The setting of the opera is updated, a bold move in a opera based on historical figures. I'm game though (it's not as if Donizetti and his librettist stuck to the historical record), but the director's vision must make sense. This staging does not. The opera takes place in a big room that is unidentifiable and bears no relation to the action. It looks like it could be the waiting room at a train station or a hotel lobby or perhaps the reception area of some multinational corporation. The soloists and chorus, when not singing, alternate between reading tabloid newspapers and filling their cups from a water cooler. Almost everyone is in a suit, most of them as grey/brown as the dreary chairs and the walls around them. But most puzzling is: who is this Elizabeth supposed to be? The words are there in the subtitles - Queen, crown, kingdom - but no one treats her like royalty. (She just joins everyone in the cavernous room - no one bows or treats her with deference.) She looks like a corporate executive at a conference, even clutching a handbag as she moves around and sings. It's hard to believe this Elizabeth has the power to order Devereux's execution. During her big last act scene, she is at least in a gown and they do wheel in a crown at some point, but other than this, I'm clueless as to the concept behind this production.
Aside from Gruberova's performance, the highlight of the DVD is a 20 minute "Behind the Scenes" bonus feature with interviews of cast and crew, including Gruberova. It's a highlight because the interviews shed light on Donizetti's original work (but not, unfortunately, on the concept behind this production).
Those who are familiar enough with the opera to be able to just appreciate the music and the quality of the singing may well enjoy this production despite the unfortunate staging."
There's An Argument for Intelligent Traditional Stagings
Stanley H. Nemeth | Garden Grove, CA United States | 08/16/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's fast becoming clear that stagings in European opera houses these days are by and large in the unwittingly trite "tradition of no tradition." To the claim that one can't do new productions in the same old manner, I'd reply that it's hard these days to see any productions that respect those historical particulars that would allegedly maim a new staging. What we are regaled with instead is an operatic theater featuring the philistine set designer and barbaric costumer as stars. These fashionistas are devoid of any depth of respect for the works they stage, focusing instead on a sort of colorless and mindless minimalism. No discernible fresh but relevant ideas are behind the changes these persons choose to introduce; if there were any, one might be able to make a case for them. Instead, what we have is a parade of repetitive and uniform ugliness.
What is not recognized is that it's the intensity and passion of the composer and the performers that allow a work from the past to transcend a specificity of time and place to achieve universality. It is manifestly not mere costumes and sets, altered for no discernible purpose. The real innovation these days would involve a demotion of these princes of decor to an appropriate subordinate place.
Fortunately, this production features an all stops out performance by Gruberova which can make one forgive much. Even in late career, her work is distinguished for its beauty and passion, and it makes the viewer wish the fashionistas involved in this production had seen the same power in the work that Gruberova surely did. Then the DVD might have merited 5 stars."
Disagreeable sets, but still worth the effort
Robert Petersen | Durban, South Africa | 08/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My title says it all. The singing is excellent, with Gruberova showing she can still pack a punch in her portrayal as Elizabeth. The updating of the opera to modern dress will deter many a traditionalist, hence my 4 star rating, although it does not bother me, as the dramatic qualities of Donizetti's score have never been acted out as well as this in previous productions. Watch it and see what I mean!"