Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Johann Strauss - Die Fledermaus / Marc Minkowski - Delunsch Hartelius Klink Br Duesing Trissenaar - Salzburg Festival 2001|
Actors: Christoph Homberger, Mireille Delunsch, Jerry Hadley, Dale Duesing, Olaf Bär
Director: Don Kent
Genres: Comedy, Special Interests, Musicals & Performing Arts
Grotesque! An Atrocity. But the Music's Nice.
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 05/10/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I have little good to say about this DVD of the 2001 Salzburg Festival production of Johann Strauss's 'Die Fledermaus' in Hans Neuenfels's grotesque staging. The production, while sumptuous in some respects, is so tawdry that I could barely force myself to watch it through to the end. I wouldn't have done so if I hadn't decided to write this review to warn people off it. Neuenfels enjoys, if that's the word, a reputation as an enfant terrible of opera in Europe, although at his age - 60 at the time of this production - he should have grown up by now. His entire style seems to be based on shocking the bourgeoisie, in this case the well-heeled attendees at the Salzburg Festival, one of the most expensive musical venues in the world. The production is set in roughly 1900. There is entirely new and often scatological spoken dialog by Neuenfels that makes unsubtle references to the hypocrisy and decadence of society, that of Austria in particular. He has made Prince Orlofsky into a cocaine-addict; the part is played by a "jazz musician" of whom I'd never heard, one David Moss, who is tricked out as a Rastafarian in dreadlocks and pajamas. His singing is all over the place, from Tom Waits-like growling to a girlish falsetto. He prances around the stage like someone in a junior high school play. We get to see him snort cocaine and offer it to his guests during the ball scene. Kewl!The main singers are, in the main, quite good. I would single out particularly Mireille Delunsch (Rosalinde) and Malin Hartelius (Adele). Also, Dale Duesing (Frank) is fine, although he is required to wear a big white cylindrical contraption that makes him look like a walking wedding cake; the symbolism escaped me. Olaf Bär (barely recognizable as Dr. Falke) sings superbly as one expects from him, and his acting as the evil Falke is smarmily repellent. Frosch is taken by a 'comedienne,' Elisabeth Trissenaar, and her humor - cruel, solipsistic, ugly - eluded me entirely. I kept wishing for Jack Gilford in the old Met production! The Salzburg Mozarteum orchestra, led by Marc Minkowski, is fine. The mise-en-scène is a single set that is varied artfully by the stage lighting. There are extras galore, chorus and dancers, who are required to do very strange and, at times, repulsive things. There are two added characters, the children of the Eisensteins, who look like they wandered in from a second-rate production of "Hänsel und Gretel." It is not clear what they add to the action, although they certainly ham it up a lot. Dr. Blind is actually blind (nyuk, nyuk!). Eisenstein is not only a figure of fun - that is, after all part of the plot - but a figure of cruel fun. There are gratuitous erotic acts (e.g., involving the two Eisenstein children) that are simply embarrassingly inappropriate. I gave the DVD two stars merely because of the musical performance. And perhaps added a little in empathy for the embarrassment of the cast and musicians who had to perform in this travesty. At the première of this production there was a near uprising by the audience; one hears booing from the audience during the curtain calls. One attendee reportedly sued to get his ticket money back. And it created a 'ein grosser Skandal' in European opera circles. It is no surprise that Gérard Mortier, the Intendant of Salzburg at the time of this production, is no longer there. Scott Morrison"
Mr John Haueisen | WORTHINGTON, OHIO United States | 01/29/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Be careful! Don't buy this dvd unless it's your fully-conscious decision to go off the beaten path and perhaps into the briars and brambles.
I expect a really good production from the Salzburg Festival, and indeed there is some excellent singing here. But they've added more characters, new dialog, and bizarre changes to Strauss' original work.
Most startling is a Prince Orlovsky, in striped pajamas and dreadlock braids, alternately screaming, shrieking, gasping, and snorting cocaine. Eisenstein and Dr. Falke occasionaly appear wearing what can only be described as large wedding cake outfits--really!--that's what they look like: large singing wedding cakes. I tried to imagine what "social comment" the production was trying to make, but I'm at a loss.
Please, if you want to see good productions of Die Fledermaus, try Carlos Kleiber and the Bavarian State Opera, or Placido Domingo and the Royal Opera, Covent Garden (with Kiri Te Kanawa and Herman Prey). Another excellent dvd is Richard Bonyne and the Royal Opera House, which features among Prince Orlovsky's guests, Joan Southerland's touching farewell to The Royal Opera House.
If you have all three of these productions, and just simply must have every version of Die Fledermaus, then buy this one.
But don't say I didn't warn you!"
Iconoclastic, confrontational, and totally enjoyable
Yuval Sharon | Brooklyn, NY | 12/16/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you are looking for a polite and unoffensive night of pretty music, this is not the FLEDERMAUS for you. But if you are looking for a wild, biting, contemporary view of Strauss' operetta, this is as good as it gets. The broad concept is supported by totally committed and exciting performances by an energetic young ensemble. Christoph Homberger in particular is absolutely hilarious as the deranged Eisenstein, Elisabeth Trissenaar as the enigmatic Frosch transfixes every time she stops the show, and Dave Moss' Rasta party host gives a performance unlike any you will see in any other opera house--garaunteed. Having seen this production live, this was also a great document of the VERY angry reception this production received by an audience expecting good digestion. You can hear the booing on this DVD, which really is part of the fun. While the filming of the performance is sometimes jerky and often fails to give a sense of the madcap whole, this will nonetheless give American audiences a chance to judge true "Regietheater" for themselves.I for one found this to be the first time I actually ENJOYED FLEDERMAUS as a performance. Neuenfels and his cast bring this work up to date in a way that is never cheap or improperly thought out. Also, for the first time, I got a sense of the energy and zaniness inherent in the opera (does anyone actually find a "traditional" staging of Act II entertaining?). If Act III loses its steam, the wild inventiveness of Act I and especially Act II will not disappoint those who come in with no assumptions. In all, its a performance that will constantly catch you by surprise and makes you wish American opera houses would be even half as daring."
Be warned ! avant garde to the point of absurdity !
ken koonce | beaverton, oregon | 01/25/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"a cocaine sniffing prince orlofsky . a director who decided to rewrite the operetta putting in new dialogue. dark ,sadistic,amateurish. i knew i was in trouble when i started reading the booklet inside the dvd box. i wish they had put that information on the outside of the box. get the royal opera at covent garden dvd production with placido domingo conducting. one last comment . the costumes were out of some brechtian three penny opera,mother courage german expressionist nightmare."