Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Mozart - Idomeneo|
Actors: Magdalena Kozená, Anja Harteros, Ekaterina Siurina, Ramon Vargas, Jeffrey Francis
Director: Roger Norrington
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Gods and Monsters
J. H. Gaulard | London United Kingdom | 01/21/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"For the best part of an hour, things are not going well. Is it due to the acoustics of the House for Mozart, too huge for its own good? Or the staging, extremely difficult to manage when you are a singer: a very deep stage split in two, with the fist part of it occupied by a big whole...where the orchestra pit plays? In any case, Kozena and Siurina do their job professionally, but nothing more. Ramon Vargas walks his huge body around with little motivation and Sir Roger Norrington imposes a solid routine into this bizarre pit, forcing him to turn around to search for his singers, sometimes behind him, sometimes on the side, sometimes nowhere at all.
But then at the beginning of Act II, Jeffrey Francis, who sings Arbace, delivers a magnificent "Se cola ne' fatti e scritto", and gives a much-needed wake-up call to the party. Ekaterina Siurina displays her superb high notes in "Se il Padre perdei", Vargas brings the house down with "Fuor del Mar", showing the amazing range and strength of his instrument, Magdalena Kozena finds beautiful accents for the ensuing trio (#16: "Pria di partir, oh Dio!"), while Anja Harteros uses her very impressive voice to great effect in the last aria of the opera. Only Sir Roger will remain on the safe side until the end but then considering how the pit is placed, it's a miracle he manages to conduct at all...
The staging of Ursel and Karl-Ernst Herrmann is VERY impressive. The two-part stage is really huge and gives an impression of grandeur. Both stages are separated by a moving wall, which gives beautiful light effects depending on where and how it is lifted or brought down. The mise-en-scene has modern tones but remains loyal to the score and to the libretto all the way: When Mozart and his librettist Varesco say "thunder and lightning", the Herrmanns provide (successfully!) thunder and lightning. The God Neptune is always at the centre of the proceedings (as he should be) and the interaction between characters is generally successful. The stage directors do not try to reinvent the wheel but their pictorial interpretation is innovative and interesting.
How come we are not more enthusiastic then? Bar the fact that the performance takes an awfully long time to take off, and that the stage design (despite being beautiful) is penalising for the music, it is true that this "Idomeneo" lacks the feeling of "team-work" that many other offerings in this M22 collection have. Is it because we have now reached the stage of the last seven operas and that the addition of maybe bigger names and bigger egos make it more difficult for singers, conductors and designers to "jell" together? Is it because it is more difficult for stage designers to reinvent famous pieces that have already been worked to death? In any case, we know that the public and the critics alike have very enthusiastically received this production. I hope I will be forgiven for not quite sharing this enthusiasm, even if there are many qualities in this "Idomeneo".
Smorgy | Southern California, USA | 04/11/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the best DVD of Idomeneo I've seen. The Regies are Ursel and Karl-Ernst Herrmann. I think this production actually premiered a few years back with a different cast (have seen photos of it with Kasarova and Roeschmann), and this is a revival.
Anyhow, it is a minimalistic conceptual staging that works remarkably well in telling the story. Stage-front is extended forward to enclose the orchestra pit in the middle, the backstage is sometimes curtained off, but when exposed, features a triangular upward slope flanked by blue canvas that gets blown up to convincingly simulate the sea. The singers get to move around the orchestra pit a lot and are sometimes between the audience and the pit (dunno how Sir Roger Norrington managed to keep track of them myself...). It works in allowing them to not just be standing around waiting their turn to sing (this is an opera seria, after all).
The performance uses the original Munich version... so we are deprived of Idomeneo's 'Torna la pace' and Idamante's 'No la morte'. But are treated to a superb rendition of the difficult version of 'Fuor del mar' by the excellent Idomeneo of Ramon Vargas, who also shows himself a much better actor than I had expected.
Magda Kozena is vocally very close to perfect as Idamante, tho I don't take to her bipolar (and badly in need of heavy dose of Lithium) theatrical portrayal of him much. Seems this Idamante is either in a manic mode or a depressive one. Ekaterina Siurina is vocally gorgeous as Ilia and a good actress (tho I wish the acting would get into the voice more... Her 'Zeffiretti lusinghieri' sounds lovely but doesn't tell much story). Jeff Francis is a good Arbace and Robin Leggate is a good High Priest. Guenther Groissboeck is the Voice of ...I suppose..Zeus? Can't be Nettuno, since they have the actor Andreas Schlager playing him on-stage and looking disgrunted at what the Voice says. I like that Nettuno is onstage most of the time sinisterly observing the Cretans he's playing his bloody game with.
The show; however, is stolen in plain sight by Anja Harteros' deliciously demented (but not one-dimensionally so) Elettra. Steals practically every scene she appears in. I love the Herrmanns' use of lighting to simulate lightnings during her first rage aria. And she sings every syllable of that obnoxiously deranged Act III 'D'Oreste e d'Ajace'.... Never shouted once, but sings every syllable! This Elettra is as involved theatrically as Hildegard Behren's on the DVD from the Met, and blows all competition out of the water vocally (with the exception of the air-check from Chicago Lyric Opera in 1997 with Carol Vaness as Elettra). Wunderbar!!
The Salzburger Bachchor is wonderful both vocally and in their acting (they are required to act a lot and delivered splendidly). Sir Roger Norrington leads at a brisk pace, though no nuance is lost. A characterful read from the pit.
It is a stellar performance all around. One of the highlights of the M22 Projects (there are some productions I don't care to ever view again, but this one will get worn out by my DVD player very soon). Highly recommended.
btw, there are 2 DVDs (never mind the product info above). The extras are on the 2nd disc... Like all the M22 DVDs (except for 'Tito', perhaps), includes 'Making Of' documentary, clips from other M22 Project stuff, and from Peter Sellar's Mozart opera productions (ack!). Menu is in English, but the work is sung in Italian."
David | North Carolina, USA | 03/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the best Idomeneo available on dvd, though if you have to have a "traditional" production, you might not enjoy it. I absolutely loved it, from the overture to the conclusion. Unlike one reviewer, I did not find the first hour or so boring at all. Ramón Vargas is a thrilling Idomeneo, and this rold really fits him like a glove. Anya Harteros was sensational as the deranged Elettra, and her Tutte nel cor vi sento was one of the most exciting I've ever experienced! The rest of the cast is quite strong, and there is no weak link. Sir Roger Norrington's conducting superbly brings out the incredible energy of this opera, and the Camerata Salzburg play brilliantly, almost as if possessed. I must also give high praise to the Salburer Bachchor, whose members not only sing beautifully, but they give a pretty good acting performance as well. Since the chorus plays an especially active role in this opera, it's refreshing to see and hear a chorus of such high quality. The staging is very modern, and extremely creative thanks to some brilliant lighting effects. Finally, the hd picture quality is of the highest quality, as is the sound. The singers are so life-like they are practically jumping out of my screen! The format is 16:9. The sets are sparse, but I didn't miss them at all. The singers are committed and what staging there is is exceptional, drawing our attention to the music and to the dilemma each character is facing. One of the best of the M:22 series from Salzburg."
Mona0825 | Juarez Mx | 03/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What an amazing singer Vargas is! It's a true delight hear his vocal portrait of Mozart's Idomeno, probably Mozart's most complex role for a tenor. IMHO, Vargas is a terribly underrated singer. If he had better looks, I'm sure he would be "the tenor".
Regarding the rest of the cast, Magdalena Kozena is outstanding. This is the first time I hear her, and I look forward to hear more from her.
The staging? Well, I don't think this concept adds anything to other Idomeneo productions, but how cares? this is gorgeous singing, so let's enjoy it!"