Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Henze - L'Upupa und der Triumph der Sohnesliebe / Goerne Aikin Ainsley Muff Kohler Stenz Salzburg Opera|
Actors: Matthias Goerne, Laura Aikin, John Mark Ainsley, Alfred Muff, Axel Kohler
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
A beautiful complex swansong
P. Linkletter | New York, NY United States | 06/13/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This dark fairy tale / allegory is a brilliant though somewhat difficult culmination of a long masterful career in the theater. Henze has said this is his final opera and he has written the libretto himself based on Arabian tales of seeking and redemption. If you know Henze's other operas, you will be familiar with his mixture of neo-classicism and lyrical expressionism (a graceful 12-tone technique with very singable lines) that have been his hallmark for over fifty years. Once again, the music is beautiful, multi-hued, and brightly kaliedoscopic in a way that reminds me of Berg's Lulu, and like that opera, a first hearing may not be sufficient to completely hear where the music is going and follow all the "melodies." But both operas do have melodies, just not simple repetitive ones. And on repeated hearings, they grow more distinct and haunting. But don't worry--on first hearing, the connecting interludes are immediately distinct enough to draw you through the more difficult passages. Each major episode of L'Upupa has a monologue at its center, and they grow more varied and more lyrical as the opera progresses, culminating in a lovely sad one for The Demon where he asks for an apple from the Tree of Life. All the singers are quite good and some of them are extraordinary: Laura Aiken (as the opera's "heroine") and John Mark Ainsley (as that Demon) come quickly to mind. My only regret is that Matthias Goerne, who sings the main role, seems miscast in some ways. He looks too old and (let's face it) out of shape to be the callow young man the part requires on video and his blank look reads more "mental deficiency" and less the "innocence" he seems to be trying for. On top of that, the lowest notes give him some trouble a couple of times. Still, his singing is lyrical, positive, and often lovely and he is not always the focus of attention. And Aiken and Ainsley are natural and delightful enough to forgive the disbelief Goerne causes you to have trouble suspending. The recording of this very imaginative production is quite good though not perfect: being very picky, balance is occasionally off and some of the cutting back and forth to people onstage is ill-chosen, especially during the important monologues. By the second time you watch it, though, all imperfections pale as the music works a very special magic on those willing to listen. The opera world will be less bright now that Henze has retired from it. May his operas grow more popular and available in recorded productions like these."
Modernist Magic Flute
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 06/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The allusion's to Mozart's "Magic Flute" in Hans Werner Henze's opera "The Hoopoe and the Triumph of a Son's Love" are unmistakable and essential to deciphering Henze's fantasy. The son Kasim clearly reflects the prince Tamino. The Daemon who accompanies Kasim has much of Papageno in him. The bird in the cage? Of course. There are also echoes of Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio in Henze's opera, which is set in an Arabian Nights world of magic and oriental cruelty. There's a lot more to "L'Upupa" than self-referential modernist tribute to the past of music, however. Henze has his own philosophical burden to deliver via music, and it's a different message than Mozart ever intended.
L'Upupa is all about longing, questing, and renouncing. A father who longs for one last song from the hoopoe (a symbolic bird in many texts of European and Arabic literature) sends his three sons in quest of it. Naturally, ala Brothers Grimm, it's the youngest son who embodies the necessary virtues of honesty and selflessness. On his quest, the son encounters his emotional counter-figure, his Daemon, and his sexual other-half, Princess Badi'at. These three roles are sung by Matthias Goerne, John Mark Ainsley, and Laura Aikin; their acting skills and voices certainly define their characters, so that subsequent productions of this opera will have to meet their very high standards. En route to bring home the magic bird, Kasim has to confront three tyrants, a sort of triple Sarastro, each of whom renounces one possibility of anti-virtue in favor of generosity. Meanwhile, Kasim's two elder brothers are comic villains, whose disloyalty and greed lead them into harsher and harsher trouble. When finally the Father, sung and spoken ardently by Alfred Muff, has his hoopoe in hand, what does he do but release the bird, an act of "letting go" that conveys the central theme of the opera, that of giving up freely what you cannot keep.
Henze's music is lush and complex, not something to hear once and claim to appreciate in its entirety. Unlike many modern operas, in which the orchestra is the true protagonist, L'Upupa features wonderful vocal "melos" - melody in the broadest sense - with vivid duets and trios being the strongest attraction to the ear. I'm fairly sure that I'll like this opera even more the second time I hear it, which is high praise for a contemporary work.
The staging and sets also deserve a word of commendation. The sets are well conceived to be visually interesting and meaningful without distracting the mind of the viewer from the words and music. Well-filmed, well-recorded, an absolute delight for all the senses, and a challenge for the mind as well."
Richard | Minneapolis, Mongolia | 04/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is Henze's Magic Flute. And it is a kind of modern Singspiel since there is a bit of spoken dialogue. The story concerns a father who longs for the Hoopoe that might make him happy. His three sons set off in search of the rare bird and have many adventures on the way. While the plot is fantastic the music is not simple. Henze's style takes a little getting used to. Actually the musical interludes between the eleven scenes are more melodic than much of what is sung. And the work concludes with a beautiful interlude for the orchestra. The production is very much in keeping with the exotic plot. The singers and orchestra acquit themselves worthily. All in all I must say I am more in admiration of the work and of Henze than in love with it."
Don't be a knucklehead
Armand Aisselle | North Hollywood, California | 07/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Imagine a luminous, ascerbic, witty and lyrical post-Bergian opera performed by -- The Three Stooges.
It works. Big time.
Take Moe's advice: Don't be a knucklehead. Buy "L'Uppa" today.
Easily one of my three or four favorite opera videos. (But beware: One of the others is Mehta's "Tristan . . .")"