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Monteverdi - L'Orfeo
Monteverdi - L'Orfeo
Actors: Simon Keenlyside, Rene Jacobs, Juanita Lascarro, Graciela Oddone, Martina Dike
Director: Trisha Brown
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Musicals & Performing Arts
UR     2007     2hr 51min



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Movie Details

Actors: Simon Keenlyside, Rene Jacobs, Juanita Lascarro, Graciela Oddone, Martina Dike
Director: Trisha Brown
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Classical
Studio: Harmonia Mundi Fr.
Format: DVD - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 01/16/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/2007
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 2hr 51min
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
Edition: Classical
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Italian
Subtitles: Dutch, French, German, English

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Movie Reviews

Beautiful, but disappointing
Stephen Brady | Brooklyn, NY | 02/20/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I eagerly bought this DVD. I saw this production a few years ago at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and was stunned by the incredible beauty of the performance. I was, however, dubious as to whether it could be captured on a recording. It wasn't.

The disappoinment begins at the very outset with the spirit of music dancing on wires above the darkened stage in a circle of light. The constant cuts to close-ups of Rene Jacobs in the pit destroyed the effect of this stunning performance. Indeed, throughout the recording, the use of close-ups loses the wonderful movement that was resposible for the beauty of this production.

In addition, some sound problems are very obvious at the beginging of the opera. Either they corrected it or I became used to the sound as it was not as apparent later on.

All that being said, this is a beautiful production. Simon Keelyside is magnificent, the music wonderful and, perhaps, if I had not seen the production live I would have thought more highly of the DVD. It's a shame that the video staff did not demonstrate the same high level of artistry of the cast and musicians.

An All Singing, All Dancing Orfeo!
G P Padillo | Portland, ME United States | 08/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In a word: Wow! This is the much ballyhooed 1998 Trisha Brown "All singing All Dancing" production from Theatre de la Monnaie. Rene Jacobs leads chorus and orchestra in an absolutely dazzling performance capturing the essence of baroque flavor with flourish and sans fussiness. Orfeo's opening fanfare is one of my favorite moments in all of Western music and, like the Parsifal Vorspiel, La Traviata's Prelude and the Overture to Die Meistersinger, seizes and transports me immediately out of my own world and into theirs.

As La Musica sings (from the pit) her double, an aerialist, is seen flying high above the stage executing intricate, gravity defying feats against an immense circle of blue providing the first of many jaw dropping moments in
an evening full of them.

I was slightly disappointed by the costuming which for the ensembles (both chorus and dancers) seemed to be couture-like outsized white, wide lapelled jackets (think David Byrne). Euridice is given a blue, balloon-style gown
while Orfeo's costume can best be described as a mustardy nehruy-pajama like ensemble.

Within minutes the costumes are forgotten and focus is on the intricate and near perpetual movement/choreography, lighting, special effects and beautiful singing. Everyone is unshod, perhaps to minimize stage noise but, in mythological tales I always find bare feet an interesting symbolic choice.

Movement has rarely been better used and integrated in an opera than it is here. One madrigal has the singers each pushing the other out of the way in order to get to the front giving the effect of an endless boiling bubble, or a cell dividing and exploding/evolving into something else, injectingn an element of fun into what is often beautiful but static. The intricacy of movement is prevalent even for the chorus and at times I couldn't tell singers from dancers! How often does THAT happen?

As excellent as everyone was - and as self-effacing as he appears to be here - the evening nonetheless and easily belongs to Simon Keenlyside as Orfeo. His performance can only be called remarkable. Ms. Brown give Orfeo a lot to do and while some of the choreography immediately calls to
mind some of the more stilted Peter Sellars/Robert Wilson type gestures Ms. Brown's characters move "bigger": more Martha Graham with its quickly changing, sometimes violent angular movement and lots of intricate body weaving.

Mr. Keenlyside has several moments that might be less than perfect vocalism, but dear God the man's overall sound is as beautiful as anything I've ever heard and he offers a (seeming) sincerity and identification with the role so thorough and strongly felt as to make it difficult to separate artist from the role. Yes! This is one of THOSE performances." In addition, his attention to Baroque style is most impressive offering wonderful effects through trillo, coloratura of every stripe and even straight tone singing.

Keenlyside executes his dance and movement with such natural ease that, at least for a while, it shall be difficult for me to imagine anyone else performing the role any other way. Indeed, at times my jaw would drop as
Orfeo simultaneously leaps high into the air, body twisting, arms in flight and I realize "he's singing, too!" At times Brown has him standing stock still and then - out-of-nowhere - execute a rapid series of movement to create another pose (my lame description might sound like "vogue-ing" but it's not!) At first the effect is jarring and seems almost attention-getting, but once warmed up to her language, Brown's direction (such as having all 3 acts played without pause) truly only serves to enhance the overall experience which is a joyous one, indeed.

So many moments stand out it's difficult to describe. As the shepherds dance the camera shoots from above and we see Orfeo at the center of the swirling mass and he shoots out from the circle leaping for joy. (Several times I was struck at the uncanny facial resemblance between Keenlyside and Nureyev, very similar broad, yet angular faces, lips and noses.)

The sparse set provides the cast with a most wonderful playing area and lighting and the few scenic changes make the effects feel all the more dramatic. At the news of Euridice's death, the sun (which dominates much of the opera from rear of stage) is eclipsed by a darker circle and adds to the mood of despair.

A sensational effect was made by having Orfeo's descent into Hades occur sideways. An immense, dark wall with Paul Gerimon - excellent as Caronte - sitting atop it, slides from stage left, slowly, but ultimately shutting off grief-stricken Orfeo from his world of light. It gave the impression that hell is not "down there" but a perpendicular or parallel world to our own.

Apollo appears to his son, precariously strapped to a smaller circle within the sun, giving the impression of a large, omniscient eye (and causing me not just a little worry for the safety of singer Mauro Utzer). Orfeo's tortured spirit is made manifest as his corpse stretches across the ground, earthbound and out of reach of his father/sun. Even as he accepts Apollo's offer of immortality, Orfeo slowly rises to reach his father. At once the chorus appears followed by the violently dancing Baccantes who, as Orfeo first recoils then falls backwards onto them, claim his now lifeless body. Stunningly powerful. The response from the audience is an overwhelming and extended ovation unlike that for most Baroque opera.

A remarkable performance."
Neither opera, nor dance, but FANTASTIC!
Teacup | Assam, India | 10/20/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"If early opera is an acquired taste, and the difficulty with acquired tastes is the acquiring of them, here is the perfect remedy. The msuic is late Renaissance-early Baroque and the melodies and harmonies are those that I would associate with the Church rather than the theatre, so it was a little strange at first, strange, but mesmerising. I put the DVD in "just for the prologue" and sat there, glued to my chair, until the messenger bringing the news of Euridyce's death fell from the stage into the pit.

This may disappoint those who watch it as opera and those who watch it as dance, but viewed with an open mind, it is amazing theatre. There are no "sets" worth speaking about. Normally, this has me shrieking for my money back, but here, backdrops and lights worked beautifully in place of conventional sets. The transitions between this world and the underworld is brilliantly done, and very gripping, and it is achieved with lighting and a partition. There is a circle in the backdrop, used brilliantly in every scene in the opera.

Like a previous reviewer, I was disappointed with the costumes. They were certainly not Greek. Perhaps they were designed for free movement since the chorus and the dancers have to keep moving most of the time. I did like the bare feet. Dancers in India always perform in bare feet, so I guess that chimed with me. Simon Keenlyside is a magnificent Orfeo, the only close rival is the Caronte and the two together are nearly overwhelming. Well, there are exceptions. Pluto and Proserpina's costumes, as well as that of Apollo are great, but then these are characters that are mostly stationary.

To sum up, an opera first performed in 1607 has been directed by a dancer from a country that did not exist when the opera was composed, and the result is magical. I am so grateful to the recording technology that allows me, sitting in India, and coming from a totally different tradition, to watch this marvellous fusion of myth, music and dance, and bring an alien myth to life for me.

Keenlyside is a wonder...magnificent....
gerwill | 08/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"What a wonderful performance...quality is great and keenlyside is wonderful...I am new to classical...and just adore his won't regret this purchase...."