Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|L'Orfeo - Claudio Monteverdi / Netherlands Opera|
Actors: John Mark Ainsley, Stephen Stubbs
Director: Pierre Audi
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Intense and refined performances by an inspired cast, led by a profound and commanding John Mark Ainsley as the legendary tragic musician, are sustained with fluent ease and obvious affection by the ensemble under Stephen ... more »
A voice teacher and early music fan
George Peabody | Planet Earth | 05/02/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"MONTEVERDI'S "FABLE IN MUSIC" DISPLAYS THE POWER OF MUSIC!
Even after three centuries, the music of Claudio Monteverdi glows with the passionate genius of a musical prophet. He was far ahead of his day in his conception of music as a dramatic, expressive art, and in the realization of that conception. The score of 'L'Orfeo', first printed in 1609, records the event of its first performance at the Mantuan court in 1607. A unique aspect of the score is its wealth of information about the deployment of the 'continuo orchestra'. It is this combination - the human voice of Orfeo and the 'heavenly lyre' which accompanies him- which established opera as an art form that continues to fascinate us today. But beyond the enchantments of Orfeo's 'heavenly lyre', is the immediacy and truth of his human voice that rivets our attention and moves our hearts.
The opera begins with the character La Musica, the allegorical embodiment of music, presents herself to the princely company and announces a drama in which the power of music will occupy the center of the stage; it is the story of Orpheus, who conquered the Underworld with his lyre and his singing. As this 'fable in music'(as Monteverdi called it) unfolds, we are exposed to the whole gamut of human emotions, from the most euphoric to the most dejected, presented in musical language that is perhaps closer to impassioned speech than recitative has ever been, before or since.
The story of Orpheus has been done and redone by many composers through the centuries, although it remains essentially the same; Orfeo's beloved Euridice dies and Orpheus goes into the Underworld to find her. He is escorted there by La Speranza (Hope), who leaves him at the gates of the Underworld to be met by Charon, the boatman who ferries him, (albeit while sleeping) across the river to the realm of Pluto, where he pleads for Euridice's life. Moved by the singer's Lament, Proserpine, Pluto's wife, convinces Pluto to allow Orpheus to take Euridice back, but with the stipulation that if he looks back at her,she will return to Death. (what a silly stipulation!). And, of course he looks back and he loses her permanently. But in this version Monteverdi chooses to have Apollo, the father of Orpheus, come down and invite his son to ascend with him into Heaven, where he will know joy and peace forever. Not bad, I say! (I like Gluck's verson better, in which Orpheus gets another chance and he succeeds in getting her back.)
The main cast of singers are: Orfeo (John Mark Ainsley), Euridice (Jaunita Lascarro), La Messagiera (Brigitte Balleys), Apollo (Russel Smythe), La Musica (David Cordier), La Speranza (Michael Chance), and Caronte (Mario Luperi). All acquit themselves skillfully with good characterizations, but why not, they are mostly all experienced in this genre. The accompanying instrumtal group Tragicomedia, also experienced in this area of music, perform neatly and accurately. The choral group Concerto Palatine provide spirited choral renditions throughout the opera.
Intense and refined performances by an inspired cast, led by a profound and commanding John Mark Ainsley as the legendary tragic musician, are sustained with fluent ease and obvious affection by the ensemble under the direction of Stephen Stubbs.
The beautifully styled, evocative stage production, rich with Pierre Audi's trademark, symbolism (I personally love his staging!), accentuates the solemn serenity of Monteverdi's most famous work to create a moving and timeless audio-visual experience.
Sung in Italian with English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch subtitles. There is an illustrated synopsis, cast gallery, introduction to the opera,and interviews with Stephen Stubbs, Pierre Audi and John Mark Ainsley.
My First Monteverdi-A Hit!
drkhimxz | Freehold, NJ, USA | 03/24/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the first of the several Monteverdi opera productions on DVD that I purchased to familiarize myself with this pioneer of opera. Since I cannot compare it with others, for that reason, I write only of my response as an untutored opera viewer to others similarly situated.
It is a static performance. Considerable emotion is contained within the confines of ritualistically defined motion. Seemingly it is traditional-style in which song and music expresses towering feeling with limited externalization in gesture.
Scenic design was simple but an extremely effective complement to song and physical expression. Lighting was also quite first rate, creating a suitable mood for a drama of love found, love struggled for, love lost. Costume, too, enhanced the traditional mode while creating a flow of color and intensification of setting effectively enhancing the patterns within which the action took place. No question but that I found the staging design and interaction with the performers physical presence quite first rate.
While limited in physicality, the actor-singers seemed to me to be giving us an excellent version of what Monteverdi might mean to us today. High marks were earned by all the singers, with the lead providing strong underpinnings, to understanding Orfeo's character. Supporting players were no less impressive. Simply as a personal, not objective comment, I found the bass voice of the character guarding the entrance to Hell, particularly appealing. This was a bass which hit those deeper regions without a tremor.
In sum, I cannot say that you will like this production, but it does seem to me a very good way to experience an extremely important work and to explore the profound message the composer sought to communicate."