Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Handel - Rinaldo / Bicket Daniels York Prinzregententheater Munich|
Actors: David Walker, Deborah York, David Daniels, Axel Köhler, Egils Sinins
Director: Brian Large
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Musicals & Performing Arts
From the Prinzregententheater, Munich. Special Bonus Feature: HANDEL, THE ENTERTAINER, A film by Reiner E. Moritz This exploration of Handel?s operas focuses on this production of Rinaldo, setting the work in the context o... more »
"There's a burlesque theatre where the gang likes to go..."
E. A. Lovitt | Gladwin, MI USA | 03/09/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"On this DVD, during the scene in "Rinaldo" where Argante, the King of Jerusalem is singing of his love for Almirena, daughter of the general of the besieging Christian army, a gigantic plastic bobble-headed doll rolls onto stage and drops its pants. Then it turns its back to the audience.My feelings about this production, exactly.The DVD's added feature is a movie called "Handel the Entertainer." In it Sir Peter Jonas, the General Director of the Bayerischen Staatsoper and Harry Bicket, the conductor discuss Handel and their treatment of "Rinaldo." Sir Peter considers "Rinaldo," one of Handel's early works, a comic farce and treats it as a burlesque. This production features several partial strip teases, including that of the previously-mentioned bobble-headed doll, and a fair amount of genital groping, so 'burlesque' is really an operative term here, not 'erotic undercurrent' as was Sir Peter's intent. The wicked but loving sorceress, Armida is transformed into a cheap hooker. Almirena is a prissy Christian kewpie doll. As to the setting, David Alden, the stage director explains that he was trying for the ambience of the Grand Beach Hotel in Tel Aviv, where he was once stranded for several days. That might explain the bright orange couch and chairs that show up in almost every scene. I was thinking "airport lounge," but "one-star 1950's hotel" works, too. The ambience is further enhanced by a larger-than-life-size plastic statue of Jesus elevating the cup and host, and wallpaper where stylized eyes appear centered in the palms of hundreds of green, red, and flesh-colored hands.The emotional quality of sound is a huge part of Handel's world, and the singing on this CD is good, especially counter-tenor David Daniels in the title role. But the scenic element must support the music and the words. If an operatic producer unravels a single thread of the original composer's unity of words, music, and staging, then the opera's symbolic center will not hold.This production is overrun with symbolism, especially that of a cheap anti-Catholic variety, but I don't believe it was the symbolism intended by Handel.The added feature, "Handel the Entertainer" is actually the highlight of this DVD, and features arias from many Handelian operas, including "Ariodante," "Xerxes," "Julius Caesar," and "Agrippina.""
Avant Garde Handel
Paul L. McKaskle | Berkeley, California | 08/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Rinaldo is a warrior on a "crusade" to "liberate" Jerusalem. En route, Armida, the Saracen Queen of Damascus falls in love with him, and being a sorceress, she uses magic to capture him. Earlier, she had ensnared Rinaldo's beloved, Almerina, daughter of the General of the crusade. Eventually both are freed by some counter-magic and Rinaldo conquers Jerusalem, and, as a result, Armida is converted to Christianity. If you think it might be a story hard to stage, you are right. But, in Handel's time, the story didn't matter much, it was for the arias that the audience came-especially those sung by famous "castrati.". The opera abounds in this last commodity, with four castrati parts (usually sung by counter-tenors today), two soprano parts and a bass part. Its saving grace is some of the most ravishing music Handel ever wrote.
This performance is a throughly "camp" production-in modern dress, mostly. I am generally not a fan of updating operas (especially when the emphasis is changed to fit some political view which was not part of the original) let alone placing them in bizarre sets, but this is a rare exception. The story is almost impossible to stage "straight" and it has wonderful comedic possibilities which are developed here. The singing is superb as is the acting, especially by Noemi Nadelmann, the Armida, whose attempted seduction of Rinaldo is sensational though almost X rated!
In the dvd a full appreciation of what is going on is sometimes masked by an excessive amount of close-up camera work during arias. I had the advantage of seeing a revival of this production in Munich before watching (and buying) the dvd, and in the live performance the purpose of some of the "camp-iness" was clearer. I think the avant-garde staging of the second act where Rinaldo is entrapped by Armida's magic and she attempts to seduce him is especially imaginative and effective. However, the production's eccentricity is not all to the good-for example the giant "bobble-head"(commented on by another reviewer) made no sense whatsoever to me. But, all in all for me, even though I am a fairly strong traditionalist when it comes to opera, this was a worthy and mostly successful excursion into "experimental" theater. Add to it the fabulous singing by all seven members of the cast, it comes out to be a five star production. If you can't stand modernized productions of Handel operas ("modernized" Handel stagings are a fairly common occurrence these days) there are a couple of wonderful CDs of this glorious music-though usually with a mezzo-soprano singing the title role instead of the estimable David Daniels.
One final comment on the use of counter-tenors or mezzo-sopranos singing the role of a Handelian hero. Modern performances and recordings stick to the "original" intentions of Handel, but in the mid-20th century when Handel was revived, a bass or baritone often sang these parts-as can be heard in the Treigle-Sills CD of Julius Ceasar. While I enjoy the modern performances, I also think the transposed versions can work equally well."
Bold, Daring Update With Handel's Sublime Music
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 07/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"David Alden's audacious 2001 staging of Handel's "Rinaldo" brings the complex struggle between the Crusaders and the Saracens to vivid life, as he creates a surreal, out-of-proportion, pop-art world and builds the story off of a series of burlesque acts. For those unwilling to be open-minded and desperate to cling to a linear narrative complete with stodgy costumes, this is definitely not the one to watch (see some of the reviews below for confirmation of this myopic perspective). I imagine the flood of visual references in "Rinaldo" could be overwhelming for a one-time viewing experience. But that is certainly the beauty of DVD...the back arrow button can be your best friend, and repeated viewings enrich your experience of the production. As someone with a taste for the absurd, I think Alden's approach is insanely creative, but it still has a core of humanity around the legend that makes the whole production resonate. The sets and props are so much fun to watch and absorb that it bears use of the pause button intermittently.
The music is beautiful, classic Handel. Front and center is countertenor David Daniels, whose singing is impeccable throughout. His rendition of "Cara Sposa, Amante Cara, Dove Sei?" in Act I, is particularly moving. Dressed in a Dick Tracy-type suit for most of the opera, he also proves to be a deft comic actor willing to upend his romanticized hero mercilessly. This is a marked contrast to the heavily dramatic role of the martyred soldier he played in Handel's "Theodora" (also strongly recommended). The overall sound and picture transfer on the DVD is excellent. A nice extra is the accompanying one-hour documentary, "Handel the Entertainer", a helpful primer for those who want to understand not only the genesis of this production but also the history of the composer's music."
Do your homework FIRST, and then. . . .
Opera-rater | Fayetteville, AR | 04/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This over the top production reads like an inside joke from beginning to end: if you
don't already know what's going on, you'll NEVER figure it out from this production. I
usually hate these modern dress Euro-trash productions, but I actually found this one
clever. There are more male sopranos that you can shake a stick at, but Daniels is
of course, the stand out. David Walker is no slouch either. There are too many inside
jokes to even list, but my favorite is the costuming of the Mago as a New Orleans
style voo doo conjure man: he seems to have escaped from a never written Tennessee
Williams play. Noemi Nadelmann is a knock out as Armida: sexy as all get out and sings up a storm, as does Egils Sinins as Argante. This must be one of the first instances of the evil sexy couple vs. the good
clean (and sort of sexy) couple in opera: I kept thinking Mimi/Rudolfo:Marcello/Musetta for some reason.
This all said, the one thing that gets a little left out of the picture with this production is the MUSIC: the cast is encumbered with all manner of strange and
funny stage business. Everyone sings well, but you sometimes forget to LISTEN, so
odd are the things the singers are called upon to do, especially Almirena's cheerleading/chicken wing bits. Whereas this is interesting if you ALREADY know the story,
if this were your intro to Rinaldo, you would leave the viewing completely confused. I kept wondering what MUST have been going through the minds of the singers, too,
as they valiantly sing killer coloratura while acting supremely silly.
I can recommend this DVD like I would recommend a vodka martini to one who already loves the gin variety . . .VERY different, and you just might like it."