Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Humperdinck - Hansel und Gretel / Liliana Nikiteanu Malin Hartelius Volker Vogel Alfred Muff Gabriele Lechner Franz Welser-Most Zurich Opera|
Actor: Frank Corsaro
Genres: Musicals & Performing Arts
Humperdinck?s first and most successful opera began life as a commission from his sister Adelheid Wette, who asked him to write music for a children?s play she had adapted from the Brothers Grimm tale, Hänsel und Gretel. H... more »
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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Mr John Haueisen | WORTHINGTON, OHIO United States | 07/25/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you've already seen the Metropolitan Opera's production starring Judith Blegen and Frederica Von Stade, or Georg Solti's, with Gruberova and Fassbaender, then you've seen the best.
I so much enjoy the delicious music and story of Hansel and Gretel, that I just had to see what Franz Welser-Most and the Opera House of Zurich would do with it.
I'll get to the point. Here's the good, the bad, and the ugly of this production:
1. Liliana Kikiteau and Malin Hartelius sing and act beautifully--they look good too.
2. In the first scene, extra children (from the Children's Chorus) are invited into the house by Hansel and Gretel. It may help the audience to feel more involved with Hansel and Gretel as playful children, dancing with the other kids on the stage.
3. The fantastic (in the "fantasy" sense of the word) stage design and costumes are by the unique childrens book illustrator, Maurice Sendak, author of "Where the Wild Things Are." Can anyone imagine a more appropriate artist than Sendak?
4. Martina Jankova's exquisite singing and reassuring gestures to the drowsy children give new life to the Sandman's role. She's the best Sandman ever.
1. All the extra children who are on stage with Hansel and Gretel during the "Dream Pantomime," add little or nothing, and confuse the intended role of the angels watching over the sleeping pair.
2. There is no choice of subtitles--the English subtitles are there--like 'em or not.
3. In an attempt to give the Mother a role with more depth, they seem to have tried to give her a psychological identity connection to the Witch. Intriguing idea but it doesn't work very well.
4. The Witch should have been positioned onstage closer to the oven, to make more believable the idea of tricking her into showing how to put things in the oven.
In this opera, "the ugly" is, of course, the Witch. Volker Vogel, the first tenor I've seen to portray the Witch does a beautiful job of being an ugly Witch. The Witch has to be ugly and menacing to make the story work, and Vogel succeeds.
If this is your first (or your children's first) experience with this lovely musical story, I hope you'll start off with the two productions I mentioned earlier. They are more true to the original fairy tale, but if you sample those two, and, like me, are still hungry for more, you'll enjoy this one too."
THE TWO CHILDREN COULD NOT BE BETTER. PARENTS LEAVE SOMETH
Jesse Knight | woburn ma usa | 09/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This version is strong where the Solti is weak and vice-versa. Solti's version is the best for act one as Alfred Muff, a fine Baron Ochs, has a bad night here. Hermann Prey on the Solti DVD is fantastic.
Act two from Zurich is far better staged than Solti's act two, and the singing of Hartelius and Nikiteanu as Gretel and Hansel respectively is far more spirited than Solti's singers. The two children have real personality here, as Gretel tries to be Hansel's mother and sister at the same time. Hansel likwise tries to be Father and Brother. Librettist Wette was a very keen observer of how children try to parent each other when the parents are "out to lunch". This is lost when the children are sung by singers who underestimate the value of the libretto. Jankova is possibly the best Sandman I have heard. Welser-Moest generates a good bit of tension using rubato. Unfortunately the dynamic range of the sound is limited, so the conductor's dynamic intentions are partly lost. Yet the sound is very clean and detailed. Compressed dynamics is a good thing for hearing impaired listeners, and listeners using low end audio gear. Some audiophiles will be annoyed. Solti's is also compressed by about the same amount. Distortion on the Solti is greater, but by no means bad.
I find act three strong in both versions. Sena Jurinac,in the Solti version is a superb witch. This may be her only video appearance in color and good sound. Thus this is a wonderful farewell for a great singer who never sang at the Met. Zurich, in this version gives the part to tenor Volker Vogel, who plays the witch in drag. This is a novel concept that has some merit, even if the low notes are too low for him.
For listeners too young to have been part of the debates as to who conducts Wagner better, Furtwaengler or Solti, Welser-Moest and Solti conducting Humperdinck demonstrates a similar difference in style. Solti is at his most driven and impulsive here. He moves the opera forward with a great force. Welser-Moest on the otherhand, makes the music dance. Under Welser-Moest there is an elegance that makes me think more of Brahms than Wagner. Unlike Furtwaengler, Welser-Moest keeps things moving. Humperdinck would have had extensive knowledge of both composers.
If you are not familiar with the opera, the Solti may be the best choice to start with. This Zurich production brings out the depth of the two children. Having both versions gives a true sense of how wonderful this opera really is."