Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Korngold - Die tote Stadt / Jan Latham-Koenig - Denoke Kerl - Opra de Rhin |
Actors: Anglea Denoke, Torsten Kerl, Yuri Batukov, Brigitta Svenden, Barbara Baier
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
So beautiful, so moving...but what the heck?!!
Eric D. Anderson | South Bend, IN United States | 02/16/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In the ongoing battle between great operas and pretentious, self-impressed production designers and stage directors, the operas usually win hands down. After all, they have the advantage of all that great music, all the beautiful poetry, all the genius! And, here too, Korngold and his heart-melting opera "Die Tote Stadt" do emerge the victors, but just barely! There is so much to admire about this release. It's filming is state of the art, and should be a model for future attempts to put staged opera on the screen. The singers are universally fine, and it's Marietta, Angela Denoke, is a revelation. But if there were ever a production which showed utter contempt for the vision of the creators, it's this one. In the place of the braid of his dead wife's hair, Paul cradles a small doll, and strokes it's hair. He apparently has his wife's skeleton hidden under the floorboards, and during "Marietta's Lied" he strokes the skeletal hand. Later, he drags her shrivelled corpse around the stage with him. Marietta appears to be pregnant in act III, and, worst of all, in an opera which inspired hope in the ruins of post-World War I Germany, he inexplicably stabs himself to death as he sings his final lines. Yet, for all the intelligence insulting rubbish in this staging, I had a hard time not giving this release five stars, because when Marietta sang her final aria, tracing her past from the gutter to finding her own faith, I couldn't help but feel my heart leap into my throat, and couldn't stop the tears welling up in my eyes. But all that is to the credit of Mr. Korngold, and Ms. Denoke. They deserve eight or ten stars.
Yet, complaints aside, anyone who loves Korngold, or the splendid intensity of late romantic opera should still see this, because in the end, it IS the opera that triumphs."
G. Stefan Lazar | San Francisco, CA USA | 01/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'd give this more that 5 stars if I could. This DVD definitely makes up for some of the more boring ones I've purchased. If you're adventuresome and want something that is a challenge, GET THIS! It's perverse, it's garish, it's over the top! But remember, Die Tote Stadt translates to The Dead City and it is about a man's overwhelming obsession for his dead wife and his dream, or better put in this director's point of view - nightmare. The first act only hints at what is to come in acts 2 and 3. I found the ending heart wrenching. Does it all work? No. But those things are easily forgotten compared to the rest of the production, singing, and gorgeous music.The two principles sing and act as if their lives depended on it. Torsten Kerl is truly magnificent in the difficult role of Paul and Angela Denoke as Marietta is almost his match. It must have been an electrifying night in the theatre. My only complain is that it has too soft a focus and at times seems slightly blurry, especially during distance shots. A word of caution - if you have a good sound system, be careful. You could use parts of this recording to break your lease!If your tastes run to the standard operas and conventional stagings, this is definitely not for you. But if your at the other end of the spectrum or at least willing to try something new, order this one now!"
Die Tote Stadt DVD - four cheers for Arthaus.
Janos Gardonyi | Toronto, Ontario Canada | 08/03/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Suppressed by the Nazis as "decadent", this wonderfully inspired
score has Straussian ebb and flow, volcanic eruptions, tender, touching moments, unusual, colorful orchestral effects, not to mention unforgettable melodies. Puccini's influence is distinct, but more of the modern, incisive Puccini of La Fanciulla del West
and Turandot, than that of the earlier, sentimental La Boheme.
There are reminescences of Wagner, Richard Strauss and Mahler, but these are influences never copies.
The 23 year old (!) Korngold is already showing his lion's teeth
in the highly original,inventive and tremendously impressive Bell sequence in the second act: Giant bells of different pitch toll incessantly with the pounding of percussion creating an impression of the dead city, Bruges ,in the night, with its gloomy
mediaeval streets, canals and bridges, the famous cathedral looming in the background.
Unfortunately this is not what we see on the stage, however. The director, instead, has other ideas. He gave us too much light, neon lit cafes, nuns in silly looking hats and other cheap effects. This, I think , dilutes the otherwise fine production.
On the positive side: The first act is fine and follows the composer's intentions faithfully. Even the frantic doll-clutching
works well, indicating Paul's fanatical obsession, symbolically.
The mirror effect and other cinematographic devices are interesting and suitable for a modern 20th century work, such as this. The bellowing skirt, al la Marilyn Monroe, is cute.
But apart from presentation,one should concentrate on the music and singing, which are the essence, and here we doubly get our moneys worth! In the tricky dual role of Marie/Marietta, the gorgeous
German soprano Angele Denoke carries the day. A natural redhead, she sings,acts and dances to exaltation.In the gruelling tenor role Tornsten Kerl braves the monstrous difficulties, though signs of strain are noticeable. After all, this is like singing Tristan continuously for an hour and a half.
A great highlight for me is the long love duet at the end of the
second act, with varying moods in succession (anger, doubt,sadness, awakening ardour and unconquerable passion).
At the end of this duet the lovers fall into each other's arms, much like in the wonderful finale of Sigfried. Even the concluding melody has some similarity.
The conducting of Latham-Koenig is excellent in controlling a huge orchestra of a sustained vulcano, bursting at the seams underneath the action. We can still look up to the late, great
Erich Leinsdorf, but Latham-Koenig is a worthy successor.
One can go on and on. I give it 4 stars, though it probably deserves more were it not for those directorial excesses and self indulgences I mentioned.
Very recommendable for all those curious to SEE this opera (since
it is highly unlikely they will see it anywhere else). Three (or four) cheers for Opera de Rhin and, of course, Arthaus."
Bruce Varner | Chicago area, USA | 10/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"We cannot put ourselves in a position where we accept only one vision of an opera. There are no operas or plays that "must be" staged and/or set in a certain way. "Rigoletto" in a gentlemen's club? "Cosi fan tutte" at a diner? Why not? The staging is nothing more than a vehicle. In the end, it's always about the opera. To dislike a production because of staging is akin to disliking a person because of their fashion choices.
The staging in this production of "Die Tote Stadt" is polarizing, of that there is no doubt. I actually liked the use of the doll through the opera. In my mind, it showed graphically the depth of Paul's obsession with his dead wife. It made the obsession over the top and set up the end beautifully. This opera does, after all, utilize a dream device. Given that, we should evaluate the staging in the context of a dream.
The performances were fabulous. One reason this opera is not performed more frequently is the difficulty of casting the character of Paul. This is a monstrous role that places huge demands on the singer. I was absolutely blown away by Torsten Kerl. This guy puts the "helden" in heldentenor. In addition to his powerful yet controlled singing, he gave his all as an actor.
His partner, Angela Denoke as Marietta/Marie, is a fine performer. Her arias were beautiful. "Marietta's Lied" is always risky, since the aria is in the standard rep of every lyric soprano. Any performance of this aria will inevitably bring comparison. She brought her own interpretation, and I was particularly impressed with her note onsets and her beautiful pianos. Her acting was also very good, as she is able to rouse sympathy, then antipathy, then sympathy again.
I think this was a wonderful production. I was completely engaged from start to finish. I highly recommend this DVD."