Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Handel - Agrippina|
Actors: Annemarie Kremer, Renate Arends, Michael Hart-Davis, Quirijn de Lang, Piotr Micinski
Genres: Musicals & Performing Arts
"Throwback to the Bad Old Days"
Paul Van de Water | Virginia, USA | 09/27/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I cancelled my advance order for this DVD after reading the review in the October 2006 Gramophone, which accuses this staging of "performance malpractice," citing the reordering of arias, the insertion of incongruous numbers from other operas, the transposition of roles, and a "laboured conceptual production." All in all, it doesn't sound like a good way to spend $25. If you're interested in Handel dramas on DVD, check out Pinnock's "Tamerlano," Rousset's "Serse," and Christie's " Giulio Cesare" and "Hercules." Paul Van de Water"
Very Enjoyable AGRIPPINA!
David | North Carolina, USA | 09/25/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a fun performance with some fine singers with whom I'm not really familiar. The cast is strong, the production is modern but certainly not "Euro-trash." I didn't notice that this DVD is in the PAL format until reading the first review here. My DVD player plays all regions and formats, so I didn't have any trouble viewing it on my TV. Amazon is usually pretty good about this, but I know the same thing happened with the Barenboim SIEGFRIED when it first became available here. At that time I did not have a region-free DVD player, and so I had to send it back and they replaced it with the correct format for the US market. I'm sure they will do the same with this AGRIPPINA if it won't play on your TV."
Exceptional Playing, Inconsistent Video Quality
Brian J Hay | Sarnia, Ontario Canada | 09/20/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
Agrippina; Exceptional Playing, Inconsistent Video Quality
by Brian J. Hay
What saves this set is the quality of the performance.
Annemarie Kremer is wonderfully convincing in the title role. Her 'Agrippina' is lustful, manipulative and conniving and irresistibly sensual. Renate Arends is a delightful (and delectable) 'Poppea'. Quirjin De Lang projects a wide spectrum of emotion in the role of 'Ottone'. Michael Hart-Davis is in fine comic form as 'Nerone'. Piotr Miciski is a hilarious 'Claudius'. Jan Alofs voice resounds with an authoritarian ring in the role of 'Lesbo'. The passion in Clint van der Linde's soars above the stage as he sings the part of the smitten 'Narcissus'. Robbert Muuse makes a wonderful 'Drama King' of 'Pallante'. There's no one voice in this ensemble that stands head and shoulders above the rest. All of the vocalists are uniformly strong, both as singers and actors. That's rare in ensemble productions.
The photography and cinematography are excellent. Director Rob van den Berg had a clear sense of how the piece should be shot so as to insure strong flow of the narrative set by Stage Director Eva Buchmann. The camerawork, by Ruud Dirske, Frits Schrijvers and Rob Ijsbrandy, makes excellent use of both the lines created by the sets and the movements of the characters themselves. The lighting by Kees van de Lagemaat is great. The foregrounds shine with the radiance associated with the old Technicolor process. The backdrops are subdued but clear. The effect is consistent throughout the production and it creates a wonderful atmosphere.
And then there's the work of the Combattimento Consort of Amsterdam. Their musical performance is stunning. This group literally puts the "I" in the word inspired. Every note this group plays is filled with passion. Every musical phrase is spiced with drama. Their musical punctuation is clear and sharp. Their performances of the ballads flows like the gentlest river. They don't simply play the piece. For this performance they become the piece. Jan Willem de Vriend has a fantastic group of musicians on his hands. All that we in North America can ask is 'where have they been all these years'.
From there on things are inconsistent at best and a mess at worst. On the unit I have the video skips intermittently. The jumps' aren't big ones and they don't throw the sound out of synchronization with the images but they are noticeable. Backtracking over a hiccup and replaying the segment eliminates the jump (until the next one appears) so the problem is probably with the format of the disc itself. The player I have is pre-set for NTSC but it reads PAL. The fact that the DVD is formatted for Region 2 (PAL) wasn't included in the pre-release information supplied by Amazon. It probably wasn't their fault. They can only work with what they have and they'd have had no reason to question what they were given. Still, that issue should have been corrected at the source, preferably before the DVD was released.
The subtitles are lousy. And that's not an issue related to the disc format. It's just slipshod workmanship. It's true that the video was created for widescreen TV's but that doesn't explain this goof-up. The point size of the text is so small that the text is hard to read even when the image is zoomed to the third power. By then half of most of the characters' heads are cropped off! It's ridiculous. What Jurjen Stekelenberg was thinking when he did this can only be guessed at.
The 'extras' on the disc are interesting but flawed as well. The documentary about the way the work was produced is fascinating. The interviews were enlightening even if they had to be read in the form of subtitles. There's detailed information about all of the performers. But the aspect ratio on some of the footage used in the mini-bios is off. Did they think this wouldn't be noticed or did the budget just run low? Sheesh!
This disc is sort of like an Albatross with a gilded plume. When it was first released in North America many (DVD) players couldn't play it because it was formatted for Europe. Now that many players adapt to different regions the problems with the technical side stand out like a beacon. It's a good production of a strong work but there are issues that make it a test of patience. But, the musical performance is fabulous. It would get a five star rating on its own. The problems with the video and the format of the DVD cost it the other two.
That said, the musical performance makes the rest worthwhile."
Playing with zeal
C. F. A. Milders | The Netherlands | 04/26/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For the appreciation of art two attitudes are essential: an open mind and a personal judgement. When I saw this DVD for the first time I was flabbergasted. Playing young Handel like this is wonderful. I don't bother whether countertenors are replaces by tenors. All the singers do en excellent job. And the conductor Jan Willem de Vriend eaquals William Christie and Marc Minkowski. At the end of the opera I felt happy and full of joy. That of course is the power of Handel and the enthusiasm of the Vriend and his chamber orchestra. The staging was modern and adequate. It was a good idea of de Vriend to place the orchestra and the stage on the same level in order to enhance the dialogue between individual members of the orchestra and the singers. This opera interpretation is outstanding. Highly recommended."