Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Monteverdi - L'Orfeo L'Incoronazione di Poppea Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria |
Actors: Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Trudeliese Schmidt, Eric Tappy, Rachel Yakar, Matti Salminen
Director: Jean-Pierre Ponnelle
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
The First Operas Ever, Together At Last
Joseph L. Ponessa | Glendive MT USA | 03/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Before Puccini there was Mascagni. Before Ponchielli there was Verdi. Before Donizetti there was Bellini. Before Spontini there was Salieri. Before Cherubini there was Paisiello. Before Pergolesi there was Vivaldi. Before Cavalieri there was Monteverdi. And that is as far back as Italian or any other European opera goes.
This is Harnoncourt's second recording of the surviving Monteverdi opera trilogy, which was lipsynched for video by Unitel by the great director Ponnelle. Polygram released the ORFEO and the POPPEA on laserdisc in America, but ULISSE got skipped over (appearing on laserdisc only in Japan). Now at last the three will appear on DVD together in America, with the wonderful option of libretto-on-screen.
ORFEO (1607) simulates a stage production, cutting back and forth between the actor/singers on stage and the musicians in the pit. Harnoncourt himself becomes practically a character in the play. This is particularly appropriate because the theme of the libretto is the power of music to bring back the dead. The DVD competitors lack the sense of life that should result from the musical magic of Monteverdi.
ULISSE (1641) survives only in the sung score, and so there is greatest variety between not only stage productions but also orchestral settings. Harnoncourt's account is tastefully true to the style of the other two operas, which cannot be said of all the others. Ponnelle gives a better account of the three suitors than any competing DVD. The suitors are puppets, for example, in Zurich's own revival of the Harnoncourt edition, an otherwise fine production Nature hates a vacuum, and the suitors are not really cads or clowns but tragic figures who just happen to misread the void of Ulysses' absence with terrible consequences.
POPPEA (1642) is over the top, an apotheosis of the baroque. Ponnelle practically smothers the empress in drapery! Peter Hall's competing version, which was staged at about the same time, has more British reserve and lets Maria Ewing chew the drapery on her own recognizance. One would hate to do without either of these versions, both classic stagings from a better time when the opera world treated these operas on their own 17th-century terms, before the epidemic of updating began."
Harnoncourt Monteverdi operas are the best
Norman L. Donaldson | Portland, OR USA | 10/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I agree, basically, with the review by Joseph L. Ponessa of Glendive MT USA. These operas are gorgeous! Consider, also, they were done in the relatively small opera house in Zurich, Switzerland (seating capacity 1100). Ponnelle makes it feel like a much larger venue. The settings are baroque, but this is how many of these early operas were staged. It is very effective. And the music on period instruments directed by Harnoncourt is impeccable! And, don't forget, this is a set of operas that delve into the relationships between mortals and the gods; however, in the last opera one must admit that Nero himself is the god! These operas are not about some abstract existential something or other!
L'Orfeo (Zurich, 1978)
This opera is stunning. The very best that's available on DVD. Get it and enjoy it! Next best is Jordi Savall's 2002 Barcelona production--perhaps closer to what Monteverdi would have produced but not as spectacular visually as Ponnelle's Zurich production.
Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria (Zurich, 1979)
Again, this opera is stunning! I put it on the same level as Hans Werner Henze's modern instrument Salzburg production of 1985. Both are my favorites. Get both and enjoy both of them--Ponnelle's for the Harnoncourt period instruments and the baroque setting, and Henze's with modern instruments and a bit more abstract setting.
L'incoronazione di Poppea (Zurich, 1979)
Again, this opera is stunning! The best on DVD! Don't bother with any of the others!
Dorothy J. Heydt | Vallejo CA United States | 07/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of all the operas that Claudio Monteverdi wrote, only three survive. In the late 1970s the Zurich Opera performed all three, staged by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, directed by Nikolaus Harnoncourt. They were filmed and later shown on PBS. I had all three on Betamax tape ... but no longer have a Betamax player. Finally, they have come out on DVD.
I can't praise these productions highly enough. Musically and dramatically they are at the top of the tree. Particularly memorable are the performances of Philippe Huttenlocher in ORFEO, Paul Esswood and Alexander Oliver in POPPEA, Werner Hollweg, Simon Estes, and Arley Reece in ULISSE. But the moments that I looked forward to the most, as I finally slid the DVD into my computer, were some of Ponnelle's bits of "business," as for example how each of the gods in ULISSE has his own personal group of instrumentalists who follow him about or go forth to do his bidding, or Iro's last desperate stumble down through the orchestra pit, telling all the instrumentalists how he wants to die....
It's a pity there are only three of them. However, one can also order the Monteverdi Vespers of 1610, a religious work that sounds like an opera and was staged rather like one by John Eliot Gardiner."
The Coronation of Poppea with a Real Boy Singer
Stan Seleen | Portland, OR USA | 06/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"All three of these Monteverdi operas are wonderful, but the Coronation of Poppea as conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt and staged by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, is my favorite of all operas. While other productions of Poppea have been well done, they fall short in my opinion, due to not using an actual boy for the role of Amore. The singing and charisma of Klaus Brettschneider for that part is delightful.
Another strength of the Harnoncourt version of Poppea is the use of counter tenors for roles such as that of Nerone. Eric Tappy captured the madness of this ruler along with the great beauty of the music he was given to sing. One production that I have on DVD, has a woman singing the role of Nerone. When the camera was not zoomed in on the person singing, it was difficult during duets to tell whether the singer was Nerone or Poppea. This made for a weak Nerone. In the love duets and in his arguments with Seneca, Eric Tappy portrayed a powerful character. The choice of singers for every role was right on. Even the minor roles were filled by great singers.
Claudio Monteverdi wrote The Coronation of Poppea late in his long life and brought to it all of his experience from many years of teaching and composing music. The lyrics by Giovanni Francesco Busenello are full of truths about rulers that continue to be pertinent. The emotion and humor present in the words are greatly enhanced by the genius of Monteverdi.
I am delighted that Deutsche Grammophon has put these great Monteverdi operas on DVD and offered them as a set. They are of high quality visually and acoustically."