Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Eugene Onegin by Tchaikowsky |
Metropolitan Opera Live in HD
Actors: Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Renee Fleming, Ramon Vargas, Elena Zarenba, Valery Gergiev
Directors: Robert Carsen, Brian Large
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts
The critically-acclaimed Live in HD performance from the Metropolitan Opera which played to sold-out houses! With an image up to six times sharper than conventional DVD and superior high-definition sound, Blu-Ray lets you ... more »
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One of the better Blu-ray opera videos currently available
David E. Gregson | San Diego, CA USA | 01/12/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Quite often Eurotrash directors gleefully subvert the intentions of the original composer and librettist. Stage directions are ignored, and singers are encouraged to perform actions on stage that run contrary to the actions clearly suggested in the music. Extraneous characters run to and fro, and the mise-en-scène is so radically different than anything ever imagined by the opera's creators that you literally cannot figure out what the story's about. Sometimes such innovative Regietheater can be great fun or even revealing, but 90% of the time it's pretentious nonsense, a perverse and often childish amplification of subtexts. After years of this crud, the Eurostrashcan (aided and often led by Ameritrashers) is crammed with boring "avant-garde" cliches(which should be an oxymoron). Over 100 of these production disasters can be purchased on standard DVD videos here at Amazon.com.
Among the more acceptable malifactors is the director of this fine "Onegin," Robert Carsen, aided and abetted by set-and-costume designer Michael Levine. Plenty of stupid eliminations and additions occur in this production, but the leaf-covered, furniture-cramped-then- empty-spaced Postmodern settings are often visually beautiful in this video, and the principals are rather wonderful -- especially the silken-throated, sexually charismatic baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky (who, as they like to say, "IS" Onegin"), soprano Renée Fleming (at her best as Tatiana), and tenor Ramón Vargas (who sings gloriously and looks exactly like Lenski). Valery Gergiev conducts authoritatively. The widescreen Blu-ray image looks fabulous -- and the sound is spacious and thrilling. This DVD is an edit of the live HD transmission seen in theaters, live from the Met. One hopes all the Met's HD transmissions (for better or for worse) will be available in this exciting new Blu-ray format.
Among the more destructive Blu-ray offerings are the perfectly dreadful Opus Arte "Norma" (turned into a trivial backstage melodrama), the obfuscatory DG "Le Nozze di Figaro" from Salzburg (in which even the conducting is bad), an absurdly vulgar Arthaus "Rigoletto" (not too bad musically, however), and an interesting but ultimately dreary minimalist Harmoni Mundi "Don Giovanni" (conducted by Rene Jacobs and containing some fine singing with added ornamentations not specificed by Mozart). The crazy mixed-up DG "Manon" is actually fun with its looney concept which keeps Anna Netrebko self-consciously evolving through various personae including Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, and Ingrid Bergman. She sings gloriously here, and her des Grieux is the likable Rolando Villazon."
P. Baker | Chapel Hill NC | 01/02/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The singing, the acting, the orchestra are all first rate. Beautiful music, superb cast, everything adds up to a totally engaging presentation. The staging is sparse -- minimalist -- but it works well and is aided by excellent camera work. A thrilling Onegin, not to be missed!"
Tchaikovsky's masterpiece-- a Fleming triumph !
Chhan Thuan Kiat | Brunei Darussalam | 08/14/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ordinarily I avoid operatic productions with minimalist settings and avant garde stage directors like the plague, but this staging of Eugene Onegin by the Metropolitan Opera proved that sparse settings used imaginatively with sympathetic lighting can be very effective and even , dare I say, beautiful. Take the opening scene: to portray the rustic Larin estate, a bare stage thickly strewn with red and gold leaves, in the centre of which two women sit peeling apples, reminiscing about old times and then the appearance of a group of peasants singing in chorus immediately sets the scene in the Russian countryside. The lighting highlights the russet, orange brown hues beautifully and the Hi-Def colour and picture quality are brilliant. I must point out that the costumes are appropriate to the period and very colourful they are too. Simple white chairs in a rectangle are used for the ball at the estate, and a set of ornate chairs for the ball in high society Moscow. The stage is chillingly bare for the duel scene where the protagonist are shown in silhouette; they face each other point their pistols, fire and one falls, very dramatic.
Dmitri Hvorostovsky, is perfectly cast as Onegin, a handsome, aristocratic figure, completely egocentric and callous of others' feelings, a bored society lion. His rich baritone voice is thrilling to hear and he puts in a commanding performance especially in the final scene. Ramon Vargas excels as the poetic Lenski and is most impressive in the poignant scene just before the fateful duel, where he sings wistfully about the end of his golden youth, to great ovation from the audience.
And then there is Renee Fleming. I have to admit having some initial qualms about Fleming cast as Tatiana. Tatiana is a very young maiden, a girl naive and innocent yearning for love and an idealised hero, a Juliette figure in essence.I would have thought that Fleming would be too mature a figure to carry it off. But carry it off she did and with great aplomb. She had me believing she was a moody teenager, head in the clouds or buried in romantic novels pining for love. The scene in the bedroom with her nanny is touching as is the next where she gushes forth all her feelings in a reckless letter to Onegin. And when Onegin confronts her to politely but coldly reject her, her facial expression tells it all: humiliation, anguish and a hope that the earth would swallow her up. Fabulous acting. Superlative singing. And of course the climactic scene where she tears herself from Onegin at last professing his love for her, realising that happiness was so close but quite impossible to attain, and that the past is past. The title of the opera may be Eugene Onegin but this one is all about Tatiana and Renee Fleming. What a triumph."
The "Exercise in reverse"...!
Judy Spotheim | Belgium, Europe | 12/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
Amazingly, what we have here is an `exercise in reverse'...
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, we have quite a successful group of singers born bread and trained there, aspiring to take the world's centre operatic stage; those include in no particular order: Vesselina Kasarova (Mezzo-soprano/alto), Elina Garanca (Mezzo-soprano), Dimitri Hvosostovsky (Baritone), Anna Netrebko (Soprano), Angela Georgiou (Soprano), and not to forget the forerunners of those artists, the magnificent Elena Obraztsova (Mezzo-soprano), the superb Ghena Dimitrova (soprano), the great NIcolai Ghiaurov (Bass), and more.
All of these artists which initially were trained in the former Soviet Union schools of music, took to the Italian and French repertoire - and here was the `straight forward exercise' which they took upon themselves; to try (to various degree of success) to overcome their inherent Slavonic culture-of-the-voice, and without the hinder of the Slavonic trained singing voice to shine in the Italian and French repertoire...True, many of them got their voices trained farther with Italian and French singing teachers later on in their fledgling careers.
The `exercise in reverse' now, is, that two of the greatest western cultured operatic voices, born, bread and trained in the best of the Italian and French culture tradition of the voice, namely, Ramon Vargas (tenor) and Renee Fleming (lyric soprano) would dive nose down into the core of the Russian operatic repertoire - Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin...
Right from the start there is a magnificent sense of correctness in the way by which Renee Fleming
enters the scene as a the romantic teenager, expressing her lines in pure Russian diction and pure lyric-vocal-tone and with the right Russian syllables.
From there on, Tatiana becomes Renee Faming - and Renee flaming on stage becomes Tchaikovsky's and Pushkin's Tatiana...
Most rendering is the `letter aria': this is a complete encompassing scene that demands a command of the singing voice, expressiveness and an amazing ability to act - all of which is greatly fulfilled by Renee Fleming. (One might imagine that Tchaikovsky dedicated the vocal lines here to this singer, to her range of colors and registers - no piercing the stratosphere with high notes above the B flat...)
And mind you - the whole of Tatiana's roll the key to Tatian's character and reasoning hinge on this single impressive scene.
The voice here has a successful mixture of the lyricism, timbre, and correct Russian vowels pronunciation, and the degree of shading of the voice that goes into the lower register here, is correctly tinted with a Slavonic hue.
This scene is guaranteed to make your heart break, and give you a goose-bumps, this, along-side Fleming's (garden scene) where her the acting and facial expression are aimed at giving you a heartache when Onegin lectures her and returns her letter while rejecting her.
Onegin's roll sung by the Russian Baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky (the prime winner of Cardiff-singer-of the-world-competition of some years ago), comes to him naturally and without obvious effort, fitting his physique, stage presence, and his `cool' acting, to the teeth.
Still, there are moments in the last act where Onegin have a change of heart, which asks for just a tad more `remorse', passion, naked laying of emotions - in which Hvorostovsky is a tad too stingy.
One should compare this closing scene between Tatiana and Onegin, with the James Levine 25th anniversary DVD at the Metropolitan - where dramatic baritone Dwayne Croft practically stops the show with his full throat out-burst and breath-control in: "what humiliation, what anguish, what a tragic fate!" - to fully understand what is (slightly) missing here with the Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky.
Ramon Vargas, which we associate with Puccini and Verdi tenor rolls emerges here as a fine fit to the Russian roll of Lenski dealt to him. His soave tenor voice carries on into the Russian vocalizations and vowels very successfully. His pronunciation is clear and with no obvious hindrance. His acting abilities are equally satisfying in this roll.
The Russian alto/mezzo-soprano Larisa Shevchenko,- gives a specially impressive performance, in the roll of the old nanny; very believable, well sung and well acted and very reliable, specially so, in her duet with Tatians's mother at the very beginning of the opera and later on in the `letter scene' where her interaction with Renee Flemig/Tatiana, at the start of the scene end - when morning breaks in - gives her part a very special sad touch and a great meaning.
The stage set-up - sparsely decorated, clear and almost empty but colorful (the falling leaves that carpet the floor) has an extra edge: it makes the viewer concentrate on the action and draws the viewer into the plot and the mood more easily. It is extremely functional and gives the actors an `instrument' with which to interact (Tatiana playing with the leaves, using a leave in the embarrassing moments of her lake-side scene with Onegin. her letter-scene, and so forth). Everything on the sparsely decorated stage is functional and has its purpose (a rare phenomenon with modern staging).
The stage illumination too has a clear un-exaggerated function which greatly contributes to the filming and details that the cameras capture (this is no half shading `camera obscura' - the way some Blu-ray is made; in semi darkness...)
The sound recording is as perfect as it gets - it capture the orchestral sound and dynamics and the singers voices in a greatly focused proportional way and with a frequency range that is clear, extended - in the best of the Decca tradition.
The conducting, the tempi, the breath and pause, is a marvel:
What a great conductor we find here for the Metropolitan Orchestra and the Tchaikovsky score in the figure of Valery Gergiev...!
The Tchaikovsky musical theme are quite known and melodic - the lines are easy to memorize, but it might take the novice to Tchaikovsky's operas and the manner by which Tchaikovsky takes to the singing voice score and orchestra, a second hearing/viewing of this DVD - just to get it all to sink-in and enjoy.
No doubts that this is one of the very best (possibly THE VERY BEST) of the Blu-ray DVD opera as yet; One of a great stage production, singing, sound - all in all, a marriage of the best possible assemblage of artists which gives meaning to it all.
The `exercise in reverse' - courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera House, is a mile-stone.