Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Janacek - Jenufa|
Actors: Nina Stemme, Eva Marton, Jorma Silvasti, Par Lindskog, Viorica Cortez
Director: Olivier Tambosi
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Special Interests, Musicals & Performing Arts
I Beg To Differ
Brantwood | Buffalo By USA | 02/18/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are three characters in this opera who are infinitely more important, in every respect, than the rest of the dramatis personae put together - to concern oneself with anyone but Jenufa, the Kostelnicka, and Luca is to trivialize one of the most powerful, most deeply moving, operas ever written. And in the production this DVD presents all three are acted and sung to perfection. I encountered this opera for the very first time just seven years ago; I was driving across New York State and my radio was carrying a broadcast from the Chicago Lyric Opera, conducted by Andrew Davis. Within minutes I was capured and listening with more concentration than had ever been summoned up before in 60+ years of listening to radio; I heard and felt that this opera is simply the most direct of them all - even with only a fuzzy memory of the plot synopsis given by the commentator I took in the fact that I understood, deeply, what was going on on stage. And this sense of being in the presence of a genius of a story-teller-IN-MUSIC continued throughout the broadcast; within days I had bought the Mackerras CDs and listened to them over and over and wrote as deeply-felt a fan letter as I have ever written - to Sir Charles, because there could be no fan letter to Janacek.
Since 2001 I have seen a production at the Canadian Opera Company, the one at the MET in which Karita Mattila and Rosalind Plowright as the Kostelnicka were so fine, and an excellent ENO staging; and I have listened many times to both the Mackerras and Haitink recordings. I LOVE this opera, and it was because I love it that I almost did not buy this DVD after reading the two three-star reviews. What a ghastly mistake that would have been. Not only do Stemme, Marton and Silvasti act and sing superlatively well, but they embody their roles uncannily closely - they look as they would if they had been cast just for their looks, as in a Petr Weigl presentation with starry voices dubbed in. I have to say that I do not much care whether there are cymbals where they should not be and strange out-croppings of granite everywhere, or even if the conductor adopts tempi that do not conform to the composers wishes. This is - surely as much as any Italian verismo piece - opera in the raw. The plot could hardly be simpler, the dramatic thrust more irresistible, the stakes for the characters more compelling. This is a story which must have been lived through millions of times through the centuries - it is primal, and the miracle of Janacek's music is that throughout IT tells that story to an extent that is true for very few other operas, in my experience - Pique Dame comes close, but even there the music is not so densely and so completely integral. Decades ago in my own respectable family, my own pious mother, had to deal with a daughter in Jenufa's predicament - the child who arrived is now 50+, but at the time the "horror" of it all was terribly real, and Janacek writes as though he too had lived through the pain of it all. What is, I believe, undeniable about the production preserved on this DVD is that it bites, it grabs, it engages, and it propels us to those last ten minutes - surely one of the most passionate and moving love scenes ever written."
Stefan Westerhoff | New York, NY | 07/06/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"There is much to like and a few things to dislike about this recording from the Liceu. On the plus side, Nina Stemme and Eva Marton are great. It's the same production that played at the Met in two recent seasons, and here and there it looks good. However, it is a bit heavy-handed at times, and the director sure knows how to beat a metaphor to death. The real problem is in the pit. Peter Schneider's conducting is unspectacular and he drags the music out, especially in the first act, but without adding any clarity. Purists probably should know that contrary to modern custom, he has some atrocious cymbal clashes added to the score at the end of act 3. Makes one wonder what else has been tampered with (although the booklet doesn't say anything regarding Brno vs. Kovarovic version, the act 3 finale is definitely not Janacek's version, but Kovarovic). Bottom line, once again, Charles Mackerras is sorely missing, so those who are mainly into the music should stick to his unsurpassed recording on CD. If it has to be DVD, the Glyndebourne production has an equally good team of singers and a better conductor, though its sound is not as good as this one. Since the opera is finally recognized as a 20th century masterpiece, it won't be long before another and hopefully better DVD comes along."