Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Massenet - Werther / Marcelo Alvarez Elina Garanca Adrian Erod Ileana Tonca Peter Jelosits Philippe Jordan Vienna Opera|
Actors: Andrei Serban, Alfred Sramek, Markus Pelz
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Provocative and moving "Werther"
L. Gallagher | Los Angeles, CA United States | 12/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Where "Werther" is concerned, there's not much competition in DVD format--only the heavily cut and lip-synched 1985 Petr Weigl film, which is still worth checking out for Brigitte Fassbaender's performance but not for much else. All the more reason to be grateful, then, that this 2005 production does not break the spell that seems to have guaranteed good fortune to virtually all the recorded versions of Massenet's most radical and adventuresome opera in both LP and CD formats (my personal favorites: von Stade and Carreras under Colin Davis, and Kasarova and Vargas under Jurowski). The musical values in this DVD set are quite high, with sensitive direction from the podium (Philippe Jordan) and a seamlessly stellar cast--there's not a weak link in the ensemble. Andrei Serban's staging and direction are perhaps not for all markets--this production moves the drama from Goethe's late eighteenth-century setting to the 1950's--but, for the life of me, if there were ever an opera that cried out for and could actually thrive on imaginative updating, it is surely "Werther." Vincent Patterson's recent updating of Massenet's signature opera, "Manon," which views the heroine's career through the lens of various Hollywood stars (Audrey Hebburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Ingrid Bergman), has received considerable acclaim (see the amazon.com reviews of the DVD); but Serban's vision engages the core elements of the drama in "Werther" far better than Patterson's treatment of "Manon." By comparison, Patterson's "Manon" seems merely clever. Serban's "Werther" is disturbing and profoundly moving, because it meticulously drives home the resemblance between the turmoil registered in the original setting and the soul-killing social and domestic proprieties of '50s-era middle-class culture. While it may be a cliche to think of the 1950s in those terms, this production makes them painfully fresh and real and gives edgy resonance to Massenet's psychologically asute music. The center of gravity does shift, however, but I think this is for the better. In Serban's production, the central character is clearly Charlotte, and the pivot of the drama turns on her (and, in Serban's staging, also Sophie's) unwillingness to acknowledge or act on the true nature of her desire until far too late. As a result, both Werther and Sophie also emerge as more complicated and far less sentimental figures than traditional stagings would allow: here Werther's instability and delusional fugues register powerfully, as does Sophie's painful and frustrated passage into adulthood. In a word, Serban's production does for "Werther" what Douglas Sirk did for filmic melodrama in the 1950s (think: "All That Heaven Allows," not to mention Todd Haynes' 2002 remake, "Far from Heaven"). Marcelo Alvarez captures the danger in Werther with powerful intensity; Elina Garanca's Charlotte is a major incarnation, especially riveting in the harrowing final act. If you love "Werther," you must see this."
Yes it is a disturbing.
Georgiy Korneyev | USA | 03/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"And that's what director wanted to achieve I believe. I have never seen any other production of this opera, so I do not suffer any problems to take it along with the music. Singing on the leading parts is great and the rest are fairely good as well. It is disturbing, but I guess that's how it was supposed to be at the time it was written by Goette. That time was way more sencible and inocent, so the turns of director are justified.
As for the bed scene, the wound in this production is not to the head, but
a confused one to the stomach so there's no contradiction.
I had a great time watching this and I will do it again and again.
Sometimes the opera reviews are reminding me of Islamic fundamentalit's
writings. Not to mention, I am a former opera singer with 10 years of carrer. Buy it if you enjoy the fact that the opera is not something left in the past with the THREE TENORS, there's plenty of great singers in this world and Alvarez is definetly one of the best."
Great singing, poor staging
A. BOSS | Mountainside, NJ United States | 02/12/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Why do directors have to detract from operas by forcing the viewer to watch their ego (which they call creativity)? The singing, acting, and orchestra are very good. So is the opera (one of Massenet.s most popular). But the scenery and the shift of time to the 1950s make it seem silly. As for the scenery, the giant tree that is the theme in all four acts is fine for act 1 (the garden) and act II (the town square, but is rather silly as the wall of the sitting room in act III and is totally ridiculous in Act IV where Werther's death bed in his bedroom is under this tree. Changing the time to the 1950s makes the plot unbeleavable. Girls of the 1950s simply didn't refused the man they loved to marry the man their late mother had wanted them to marry."