Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Monteverdi - Il Ritorno d'Ulisse In Patria / Kasarova Henschel Kaufmann Hartelius Rey Jankova Zysset Mayr Kallisch Harnoncourt Zurich Opera|
Actors: Vesselina Kasarova, Dietrich Henschel, Malin Hartelius, Isabel Rey, Martina Jankova
Director: Felix Breisach
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Musicals & Performing Arts
A Good Renaissance Opera Production
mackiemesser | Morehead, KY United States | 10/20/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a good solid production of the story of Ulysses return home as stated in the last half of the Odyssey. The orchestra is more or less in the period style as directed by Nicholas Harnoncourt at the Zurich Opera house. Staging is good and the singing is particularly accurate. The cast, led by Vesselina Kasarova (sp?) is uniformly good though with a bit more vibrato than I would like. Some of the intonation is extremely well done and so subtle that it makes you think about Monteverdi's harmonic intentions. While this is not to me an exciting or new story, the plot is easy to follow in spite of the occasional divine interventions and the acting stylized but appropriate. If you have seen the English video of this opera, you will be amazed at how good this production is. I highly recommend this production and only give less than maximum stars because the story and renaissance musical and operatic style will not be to everyone's taste. There is no doubt that this is a first rate production."
WONDERFUL PERFORMANCE PERFECTLY RECORDED
Jesse Knight | woburn ma usa | 09/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Updated Jan 12, 2010. Impressionist staging that really works. Every singer is excellent. Sound in LPCM mode puts this DVD in my best sounding list of recordings. Highly recommended to anyone who wants to explore early opera. After extensive listening I am impressed by how flexible Kasarova's voice is. As Octavian or Sesto she sings very dramatically with a powerful sound. Here she is singing over a very soft early instrument orchestra, thus she is able to sing with a wider range of vocal colors. Due to the high sound levels of modern orchestras singers are pushed hard to be heard. In my opinion, modern orchestras are perceived to be at least four times as loud as early orchestras. this translates to a 20 dB increase in sound presure level, or more importantly, one hundred times the sound energy level of an early orchestra. It is no wonder that singers in the past had a greater range of expression. The singers on this DVD prove that highly expressive singing is still possible when singers don't have to blast their way through a large orchestra.
Henschel is a wonderful Ulisse and Hartelius as Melanto is perfect, showing a wide range of vocal expression and great acting.
For several years I have been pondering why as recording technology improves, sound seems to get courser. I feel that excessive loudness is the reason. When I took violin lessons as a child, only one string was steel. Now I am seeing stringed instruments with only steel strings. Air is not linear at high sound levels, especially in a singer's throat. The harmonic distortion that results in a singers throat is so similar to that created by amplifiers and speakers that are working too hard, that it is hard to tell what is at fault. Recently I have heard distortion in live unamplified choral concerts, while I was wreaking my voice trying to keep up.
Harnoncourt's 21st century 'Il Ritorno' - no disappointment.
Abel | Hong Kong | 12/01/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This can be called 'Renaissance' opera verging on baroque. The vocal style is different from the later baroque-classical-belcanto-romantic styles. The entire cast encompasses many singers, and the work could really be described as a study in the renaissance operatic vocal style.
And good old Harnoncourt is 'the' expert in this work, so I learnt from another DVD of this composition conducted by him some 30 odd years ago.
There also used to be an old CD recording of this work by the much younger Harnoncourt, which appears to be out of print by now.
In the simple staging and 'no nonsense' approach by the director, the audience can safely concentrate on the wonderful music.
The musical side of this production is nothing less than superb.
There is almost not one single weaklink in the entire big cast. Perhaps's Isabel Rey's goddess of love does compare a bit disfavourably with the rest, but her part is not significant enough to upset the generally high musical and vocal standard one jot.
Henschel in the title role is the sheer ideal Ulisse, while Kasarova as Penelope is moving and visually convincing.
The three puppeteers (bass, tenor and counter-tenor) are so outstanding in the entire Second Act that you would keep checking back on the booklet for their names, and the gods and goddesses all sang like gods.
Particularly noteworthy is Harnoncourt's conducting. Each dramatic moment, each vocal nuance, each pause and stop, he does them for special reasons and effects in order that full justice could be done to Monteverdi's score. There is a keen sense of feeling that this conductor really loves this work.
Bravo, maestro Harnoncourt!"