Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Mozart / Czernowin - Zaide / Adama|
Actors: John Mark Ainsley, Topi Lehtipuu, Mojca Erdmann, Paul Lorenger
Directors: Ivor Bolton, Claus Guth, Johannes Kalitzke
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
AINSLEY/ERDMANN/FISCHERZAIDE 2 DVD
Fasten your seat belts!
J. H. Gaulard | London United Kingdom | 01/18/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To present these fragments from an unfinished Mozart opera, "Zaide", the Salzburg festival could have opted for an easy way out: mix it with Thamos, another unfinished "stage music drama" and let the traditionalists be happy...Not so here.
The management decided to commission a brand new work by the Israeli composer Chaya Czernowin, and let her musical language, very dense, very rough and very modern -as far away from Mozart as one can possibly imagine, mix with the arias and ensembles of Zaide. Contrary to what many may think, I believe that there is no better homage to the composer's 250th anniversary than linking him with XXIst-century music...and problems. Indeed, Czernowin's music takes us in Israel, and hints at the impossible love between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man. I think the beautiful aspect of intermingling Zaide and "Adama" (the title of Czernowin's piece, meaning "Earth" in Hebrew) lies in the attempt at showing communication problems not so much between communities but also between people. The man and the woman of Czernowin's piece never really talk to each other: they communicate through syllables, sounds or concepts ("earth", "blood", "mother", "in vain") - the latter much worse since the words are interpreted differently by the different communities at stake and this leads to further suffering and further misunderstanding.
Musically I have been impressed by the Israeli's composer sharp and obsessive language, with very little affect but demonstrably striking passages, such as the duet between the man and the woman at the end of Act I or the unbearable torture scene in Act II. After the intermission, "Adama"'s music becomes even denser, with even less space to breathe, less harmony, less consistency, and more arid sounds. As we went along, I felt less and less comfortable...until this purely magic moment where Zaide, for the first time, sang in Czernowin's composition, linking these two worlds for a couple of bars. It hadn't happened before (except for "Adama" slightly overlapping an introduction or a coda of Mozart's piece)...and it won't happen again.
To capture on stage these worlds of repression (keep in mind that Mozart's characters are also in prison and trying to escape), Claus Guth designed a fantastic production. Guth had delivered a very unique, schizoid Fliegende Hollander at Bayreuth back in 2003. Tragedy is his domain and his portrayal of Zaide/Adama is one of nightmare and desperation in front of adversity.
Musically, everything was perfect. Mojca Erdmann was a beautiful soprano coloratura, John Mark Ainsley (straight from Giardiniera in the same collection) a vocally-strong Soliman, Topi Lehtipuu was very lyrical and so were the two bassi, Renato Girolami and Johan Reuter.
In Adama, Noa Frenkel was incredible, juggling with Czernowin's difficult music as if she had done it all her life. Her lover Yaron Windmueller was also very good: their moments/duets together were among the strongest aspects of the performance. Even Ivor Bolton seemed inspired. Also kudos to Johannes Kalitzke and his Oesterreichisches Ensemble fur Neue Musik", in charge of "Adama", for their very accurate and stimulating work on Czernowin's performance.
The DVD captures the evening very well, down to the "bravis" and the "boos" that accompanied the curtain calls of this incredible stage performance. Congratulations to everyone involved. This is one of the strongest offerings of the "M22" collection.
THE STUFF OF NIGHTMARES
Jesse Knight | woburn ma usa | 07/22/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I seldom react so strongly to a production that I am unable to get it off my mind. It will be a long time, if ever, before I will be able to even hear Zaide without being influenced by this staging.
The set is very simple, containing two school desks. One is a normal size desk but the other is at least twice as high and wide, putting the seat at head level. Some of the cast put large hollow plastic heads over their heads. These fake heads are scaled up by the same scale factor as the large desk. As the singers move from the normal desk to the scaled up desk, they appear to shrink, becoming ghoulish and sinister looking. In the live performance, the illusion would have been tempered by the fact that both desks would be in view at the same time. The live audience was not deprived of binocular vision, hence the effect was not as disturbing. On a TV screen, the effect was so overwhelming that the music actually became quite secondary for me.
If you enjoyed the Salzburg Fledermaus staged by Neuenfels, you will probably enjoy this too. At least Fledermaus has been released many times on DVD. In fact it has been overdone in my opinion, thus it is "fair game" for a "roasting". Zaide is not given frequently, maybe it deserves a better production.
If the purpose of this was to divide the audience, then it is a success. Tentative applause and several boos from the audience gave me a sense of relief, as I realized that I was not alone in being "grossed out".
But wait, there is more! Czernowin wrote connecting music to tie together the bits and pieces that is Zaide. Her music is atonal and very abrasive. This is yet another attempt to mash music together that at least gets ones attention, rather than bore us to death (Irrfahrten II).
Czernowin strikes me as being a disciple of a little known opera composer by the name of Boris Blacher, who wrote an abstract opera. All I recall of this work was a repeated line, something like "Ah-ooh-ah-ooh-gatta-gatta-gatta-ah-ooh." This was a double bill with Blacher's "The Tide" which actually was quite good. Both operas seem to have had a very short time in the sun. I may be wrong, but Adama (connecting music) will fade away as well. This "filter of time" is what gives many the sense that older composers were better, which is not always true.
This is a well sung production, so I give it an extra star for the singers."
Mozart is Mozart, Czernowin is not Mozart
drkhimxz | Freehold, NJ, USA | 09/23/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I'm assuming that you will have read the two existing reviews which clearly establish the bizarre contents of this production. I imagine the only ones who will find viewing it a fruitful experience, aside from stockholders in the disc makers firm, are those who, being familiar with neither composer's work, will have no expectations as to what will be seen and heard in this DVD. To ruin the beautiful music of Mozart by interrupting its flow with the harsh contradictory sounds of Czernowin is aesthetically illogical, to mar the impact of the "new" music by setting up sharply contrasting melodies of a Master among Masters, is to undermine its authenticity.
All in all, I would recommend passing on purchasing this one save if you are thinking of buying the full Mozart 22 set and feel that the price of others in the set outweigh the defects of this one.
Oh, yes, I am sure there are some for whom this will represent an adventurous conceptualization of how to handle a short piece (Zaide). Perhaps they will find the outcome gratifying; others, beware!"