Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Johann Strauss II - Die Fledermaus / Armstrong Allen Petrova Ernman Hagegard Jurowski |
Glyndebourne Festival Opera
Actors: Vladimir Jurowski, Pamela Armstrong, Thomas Allen, Lyubov Petrova, Malena Ernman
Directors: Stephen Lawless, Francesca Kemp
Genres: Comedy, Musicals & Performing Arts
Glyndebourne's 'Fledermaus': "Baritones Behaving Badly"
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 03/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This new release comes from last summer's new production of 'Die Fledermaus' at Glyndebourne, the first ever at that bucolic English opera house. I can happily report that it is first-rate in all respects. The production is helped by the cutting-edge facilities of the new Glyndebourne Opera House built in the 1990s; the ingenious and striking revolving stage setting is a marvel. The story has been updated by about thirty years - to about 1900 - in order to subtly emphasize the sexual subtext of the characters' behavior, something not so easily done in the original 1870 setting and with the original text. The text, too, has been updated - in German - and the score is a new critical edition of the Strauss's 1874 score, and it is played complete except for one very minor cut. The cast is superb. As I write this review Amazon has not included the cast list, so I shall do so:Alfred - Pär Lindskog
Adele - Lyubov Petrova
Rosalinde - Pamela Armstrong
von Eisenstein - Thomas Allen
Dr. Blind - Ragnar Ulfung
Dr. Falke - Hakan Hagegard
Frank - Artur Korn
Prince Orlofsky - Malena Ernman
Frosch - Udo Samel
Ida - Renée SchüttengruberThe London Philharmonic is conducted by very talented young (32) conductor (and the LPO's new principal guest conductor), Vladimir Jurowski. (And in case you wondered, yes he is the son of conductor Mikhail Jurowski.) The director is Stephen Lawless, who has done a wonderful job of underlining the the hypocrisies of the fin de siécle Viennese middle class. It's not for nothing, he says in an interview included on the DVD, that the operetta is named 'The Bat,' as it shows the after-dark behavior of the bourgeoisie. In his interlude before the beginning of Act III, German actor Udo Samel as Frosch gives the operetta a new subtitle, 'Baritones Behaving Badly.' (Of course, the other reason for its name is that the deus ex machina of the plot is the sly Dr. Falke [Ger. 'Falcon,'] who dresses as a bat at the fancy dress ball of the Act II.) The costumes are gorgeous, the dancing spectacular, the sets sumptuous. The singing, I have to say, is the equal of the starry cast of the te Kanawa/Prey/Domingo Covent Garden DVD from 1983. And it makes the recent Euro-trashy production from Salzburg even less desirable than it already was. (Go read my review of that DVD for more details of that travesty.) The acting of the singers - all of whom LOOK the part - is subtle and convincing. I would single out the acting of mezzo Malena Ernman, as the epicene Prince Orlofsky, quite the most convincing jaded young aristocrat I've ever seen; she sings well, too, and even in her singing she sounds so, erm, bo-o-ored. . It was good to see veterans Ragnar Ulfung and Hakan Hagegard singing wonderfully as Blind and Falke. Thomas Allen, who continues to be one of the most talented bass-baritones around, is superb as Eisenstein; he showed a comic side I'd never seen before. Pär Lindskog, a tenor not previously known to me, is suitably narcissistic as the singing teacher, Alfred, but occasionally he is a bit under pitch. As to the two main ladies - Armstrong and Petrova - I have nothing but raves for their performances, singing and acting. Petrova gets the most out of her soubrette role and Armstrong plays and sings the not-so-pure Rosalinda with zest and a rich sound. The extras: Subtitles in English and Spanish. The production is entirely in German except for the spoken interlude in English by Udo Samel as Frosch. Options for stereo or surround sound audio. Pictures of the cast, of the drawings for the costumes and sets. A short interview with the architects of the new Glyndebourne, with a tour of the house and picture of the old house. A short piece about the Viennese waltz. Interviews with Lawless, Armstrong, Allen, Hagegard and Jurowski. The latter illustrates points from the score at the piano. A triumph for all concerned. A hearty recommendation.2 DVDs: Total time of the operetta 159 mins. Extras: 35 mins.Scott Morrison"
Rory Graham | Scotland and elsewhere | 08/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw this in the unflattering surroundings of in-flight entertainment on Singapore Airlines and was so impressed I bought the DVD. The music and staging are wonderful - but, above all, this is very funny and very engaging. Sir Thomas Allen shows a comic timing I was unaware of and Pamela Armstrong gives a wonderfully ballsy performance. And surely no-one has ever been so BORED as Malena Ernman as Prince Orlofsky? This is a real treat which treats the text with suitable irreverance and the piece as an enjoyable operetta, not a delicate work of art."
Excellent in every respect
J. Wayland Eheart | east central Illinois | 07/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First and foremost; great sound quality. The acting and singing are fine; all the singers are very strong. Purists may object to the absence of the exploding stove gag in the last act, but I didn't miss it.
I couldn't figure out whether this one was lip snyc'ed or used parabolic mikes. I'd guess the latter, but the sound quality was so good it's hard to believe.
It was performed before a live audience with applause in all the right places. Really gives the feeling of being in the theater.
Make sure you play it on a really good sound system."
Barry J. James | Honolulu, Hawaii United States | 08/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There is not much that I really wish to add to the reviews already printed here; the quality of the recording (both audio and video) is extremely good and the performances from all of the singers especially Pamela Armstrong as Rosalinde, Lyubov Petrova as Adele and Thomas Allen as von Eisenstein make this a truly ensemble work. The conducting of the London Philharmonic by Vladimir Jurowski was extremely exciting to listen to, and hearing his comments in the Special Features section was most informative. The fact that perhaps not too many people have seen the comic side of Thomas Allen is their misfortune as, from 1969 to 1972 when Mr. Allen was a member of the Welsh National Opera, I was able to see quite a few of his performances. When he appeared as Figaro in The Barber of Seville or Papageno in The Magic Flute, his enthusiasm and sense of comedy made these roles the highlight of the season.
I agree wholeheartedly with all of Mr. Morrison's comments concerning the costumes, acting, choreography and updating the performance to the start of the last century and my only disappointment was that when the stage rotated from Rosalinde's house to the Villa Orlofsky there seemed to be very little change. The stage director obviously liked the set as he rotated it a number of times, with ever diminishing returns, during the work. To see how a revolving stage would enhance a performance of Die Fledermaus, check the DVD of the 1986 Munich Opera performance conducted by Carlos Kleiber, with a production designed by Otto Schenk, which drew applause from the audience when the exterior of the ballroom revolved to show the inside. Both sides of the stage were extravagantly opulent but completely different.
Although I could drop a star because of the slight disappointment with the stage set, the overall production certainly warrants five stars.