Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Mozart - Il Re Pastore / Jerry Hadley Sylvia McNair Angela Maria Blasi Iris Vermillion Neville Marriner Salzburg|
Actors: Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Angela Maria Blasi, Sylvia McNair, Claes H. Ahnsjo, Salzburg Opera
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
MOZART:II REPASTORE - DVD Movie
Sumptuous staging of ravishing early Mozart
Mike Birman | Brooklyn, New York USA | 04/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Following his successes with the previous three opera seria Mitridate (Milan 1770), Ascanio in Alba (Milan 1771) and Lucio Silla (Milan 1772), and especially his most recent comic opera La finta giardiniera (see the superb period instruments version conducted by Arnold Ostman, filmed in the tiny 18th century Drottningholm Theatre), Mozart had assimilated his operatic experiences with astonishing rapidity. This, along with his burgeoning talent, had deepened his dramatic and compositional skills with each new work so that by the time he accepted the 1775 commission from his employer in Salzburg, Archbishop Hieronymus Count Colloredo, to compose a new vocal composition based on a text by the master librettist Pietro Metastasio, Mozart was already a mature professional at the ripe old age of 19. He now had the ability to vary each aria so that in the entire score of Il re pastore there is not a single song which is formally like any other in its structural layout.
This is important because Mozart's two act Il re pastore is described as a serenata or 'serenade', referring to a tradition which was still flourishing at the court in Vienna in which the elements of staging were minimized or even done away with altogether. Reminiscent of the semi-staged oratorios Handel had recently created in England, the emphasis was on music and not on dramatic stagecraft. Less dependant upon rehearsal (hence cheaper), the serenata obviously appealed to the frugal Viennese court and (especially) the penny pinching Archbishop Hieronymus Count Colloredo. Without expensive, cleverly designed stagecraft to dazzle the eye, the variability with which Mozart was able to structure his arias enabled him to dazzle (and surprise) the ear instead. Il re pastore contains some of the most ravishing melodies found in early Mozart. Obviously, Mozart regarded each number as a compositional challenge. What he now felt confident enough to do was to combine the two great formal principles he had derived from differing stylistic musical traditions: the da capo aria which was the great, already ancient, typically Italian vocal form and the newly emergent (Germanic) sonata form which had become the basic instrumental structural pattern.
The resultant hybrid Mozart created was something fundamentally new and totally different. A new type of musical drama with greater emphasis on musical expressiveness to expand the composer's pallette. Il re pastore was Mozart's first work in this new synthesis and the last of his early theatrical compositions. Other than the fragment Zaide, there were no other operatic commissions for a long period until 1780-81. The next musical work for the theater was none other than the masterpiece Idomeneo. Mozart thought highly enough of Il re pastore to compose an extra final movement K213c to enlarge the overture into a symphony using as its slow movement Arminta's opening song "Intendo amico rio". Even more importantly, Mozart later expanded and adapted the aria "Aer tranquilo e di sereni" into the ravishingly beautiful violin concerto in G major K216. This is some of the youthful Mozart's finest music as he rapidly matured, often from work to work.
The plot is set in classical antiquity, during the fourth century B.C. and concerns the Macedonian conqueror Alexander (now in Sidon after liberating it from the tyrant and usurper, Strato), justice and wisdom as desirable traits in a ruler and love rather than power as the true conqueror of human hearts. To see these ancient figures dressed in their finest 18th century velvet knee length breeches and satin waist coats certainly underscores the inherent absurdity of Metastasio's libretto. We recognize Alessandro (superbly sung by Jerry Hadley) by the Macedonian helmet he carries. The shepherd Aminta (the rightful heir to the throne of Sidon and the innocent 'shepherd king' of the title, who is thwarted in love for the wellborn Elisa) is sung by the excellent Angela Maria Blasi. The shepherdess Elisa, Aminta's sweetheart, is sung by the lovely Sylvia McNair. Tamiri, the daughter of the deposed tyrant Strato who, falsely believing herself to be in jeopardy from Alessandro's wrath, has disguised herself as another shepherdess, is sung by the wonderful Iris Vermillion. Agenore, Alexander's wise adviser and in love with Tamiri, is sung by the fine Claes H. Ahnsjo. The opera ends happily, with Mozart providing a beautifully lyrical score. The 19 year old composer is right on the brink of his mature dramatic mastery. It is a lovely and entertaining opera.
Sir Neville Marriner conducts the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. They are superb, playing with grace and feeling. It is hard to imagine this score played better. This production was filmed in 1989 from Salzburg's Landestheater as part of the lengthy celebration of the Mozart bicentennial commemorating the 200th anniversary of his death in 1791. The production was staged and directed by John Cox. It looks beautiful, with sets and props evoking the 18th century. Brian Large does his typically wonderful job as video director.
The video aspect ratio is fullscreen 4:3. The region codes are NTSC 123456 with a disc format of DVD 9. The color picture appears digitally remastered and looks fine, with no video artifacts and just a hint of fuzziness due to the age of the film. Menus are in English. Subtitles are English, French, German, Spanish and Chinese. The sound is available in LPCM stereo and DTS Digital 5.1 Surround. It sounds great with the clarity of voices and instruments making it pleasurable to listen to. The duration of the film is 116 minutes with a Mozart chronology and picture gallery as extras.
A sumptuously staged and superbly performed example of Mozart's youthful operatic genius. Highly recommended for all who wish to enhance their lives with beauty.
Ugly singing from Hadley
figaro | Eugene, OR United States | 03/11/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The singing in this video is generally very lovely, especially the pastoral king, and his lady. They are just divine. The other soprano is also very enjoyable, and the secondary tenor is acceptable. But Hadley is surprisingly awful in this recording. The voice is pleasant but the coloratura is just sad. He does some of the most awkward singing you can imagine. Bad enough to take a 5-star rating down to 3 - I found him painful to hear.
The sets and costumes are quite nice, but Hadley is really disappointing."
H. Rodriguez | Phoenix, Arizona United States | 02/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have seen few productions of this "Serenate" but this one is clearly the best. The stage director brought images of the period with the customs. Sir Neville Marriner and The Academy of Saint Martin in The Fields and the cast of opera performers like Blasi, Hadley, Mc Nair, Vermillion and Ahnsjo complete a well rounded execution of this master piece. The aria for the soprano and violin is beutiful and pathetic but not overly dramatic.It is so touching that almost makes me cry."