Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Mozart - La Clemenza di Tito / Susan Graham Christophe Pregardien Catherine Naglestad Hannah Esther Minutillo Lorenzo Regazzo Sylvain Cambreling Paris Opera|
Actors: Susan Graham, Christophe Pregardien, Catherine Naglestad
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Mozart's final opera expertly performed
Mike Birman | Brooklyn, New York USA | 03/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Last of Mozart's operas to be composed (it was commissioned for the coronation of Leopold II in Prague and premiered there at the National Theater on September 6, 1791) and enormously popular in the 19th Century, the 20th Century saw its popularity wane until today few have heard this wonderful Opera Seria. With text by Caterino Mazzola adapted from a libretto written in 1734 by Pietro Metastasio, La Clemenza di Tito (The Clemency of Titus) may be undergoing serious reappraisal because the number of performances and recordings have dramatically increased. There is an obvious reason for this: Mozart's music is superb and the message of the occasionally sententious libretto (wisdom and mercy as desirable traits in a ruler) is certainly timely. The long-held myth that Mozart dashed off this opera in 18 days and let his assistants write the weak recitatives is only partially correct. Evidence has accrued that Mozart had been thinking about this "real opera" since the project was first broached by the impresario Domenico Guardasoni in the spring of 1789 when Mozart was in Prague. And Mozart meant to write a real opera; with emotional impact and dramatic thrust, not a turgid opera seria as an exercise in classical stasis. He knew the old genre was dead. His da Ponte operas had helped kill it. The recitatives are written by others, perhaps Sussmayr, and they are weaker than in Mozart's other more popular works. But they're not terrible. They propel the story forward with an economy of means that allows this opera to run a shade over 2 hours. That makes Clemenza the fleetest of Mozart's major operas so there's hardly enough time to snooze.
You definitely won't sleep through this stunningly designed production. The Set and Costume (and Lighting) Designer Karl-Ernst Herrmann has fashioned a visual metaphor for 3 different time periods: ancient Rome, the era of "Sturm und Drang" (when the libretto was originally written) and contemporary. The costumes also suggest all 3 time periods simultaneously. Everything onstage is abstract yet recognizably real somehow. How this is done is a treat to behold; beautiful to look at, interesting to contemplate, they are Platonic Forms made dramatically manifest. I spent much time just gazing at the geometric sets and props as works of art in their own right.
Performed by the Orchestra and Chorus of the Opera national de Paris superbly conducted by Sylvain Cambreling, this is an intelligent and thoughtfully entertaining production. Recorded live (in High-Definition) at the Palais Garnier, Paris in May and June 2005, this 2 disc DVD set from Opus Arte is a necessary purchase for lovers of Mozart. The performers include a marvelous Susan Graham in the trouser role of Sesto, Hannah Esther Minutillo in another trouser role as Annio, lovely Catherine Naglestad as Vitellia, Ekaterina Siurina as Servilia, the rotund Roland Bracht as Publio and the fine Christoph Pregardien in the title role as Tito. The Orchestra and Chorus of the Opera national de Paris are excellent, never overwhelming this delicate production which requires finesse to succeed. Karl-Ernst Herrmann and his Wife Ursel are the Stage Directors and have imbued this production with taste. I thoroughly enjoyed it but I think that a certain familiarity with Mozart's sound-world is helpful in order to appreciate opera seria, not everyone's cup of tea.
The film on these 2 DVDs is shot in 16/9 anamorphic widescreen in high-definition. It looks gorgeous. The total running time (with extras) is 212 minutes. Sound is available in LPCM Stereo and 5.0 DTS Digital Surround with no separate subwoofer track. On higher-end A/V systems there is a significant difference between the two, with DTS providing greater presence, a larger illusion of space in the soundfield and a sense of "liveness" I have found in none of the other formats (including Dolby 5.1). Lower-end systems may not reveal much difference. The sound on this DVD enhances the "live" nature of the Opera with the rear speakers providing strong ambiance. The double-layered discs are NTSC encoded for the world. Subtitles include English, French, Italian, Spanish and German. Extras include an illustrated synopsis, a Cast Gallery and an hour long documentary by Reiner Moritz called "A Masterpiece Revisited". The documentary is excellent.
La Clemenza di Tito is comparatively rarely performed. This is an excellent production for everyone but especially for those lovers of Mozart (like me) who can't get enough of his genius.
Excellent female voices
W. V. | NEW YORK | 10/24/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"An overall wonderful production by the Paris Opera with excellent female voices, especially Susan Graham as Sesto. She is worth the entire price of this DVD singing and acting wise. The Vitellia, Servillia, Annio and Publio are all outstanding and give memorable portrayals in this "modern" production. The modern costumes were "interesting" . Unfortunately Pregardien, as Tito, was having the wost day vocally. The set looks like la ocal mental facility. This DVD includes one absurd scene where you can see a lady on top of what appears to be a rotten potato."
Not flawless, but moving and memorable
San Franciscan | 01/06/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My opera club watched this several times during the Bush era, and the central theme seemed more timely than ever: How does a ruler deal with dissent and treason? The review by Mike Birman is quite thorough, so I'll just add a summation: not everything in this modern production will work for you, but if you approach the parts that don't work with a sense of humor, you may find, like us, the overall effect to be quite moving.
I have this on CD and always thought it was terribly dull: march, aria, march, duet, march, aria, and so on. But watching this DVD, it comes alive. Beautiful, simple, modernized staging with stunning costuming that showed everybody to their best advantage. Committed singing and acting all around. The chemistry in the Annio and Servilia duet was breathtaking, with plenty to go around for the Sesto/Vitellia coupling. Weakest point: slight American accents in the Italian of Graham and Nagelstad, but one soon forgets as the action draws one in. Graham and Nagelstad are also definitely at their limits in terms of the most florid coloratura, but in general it is not disturbing since one is sufficiently absorbed in the acting and the moments are brief (these singers are not able to handle 100% of Mozart's demands comfortably like Cecilia Bartoli in the L'Oiseau-Lyre recording, but being top-notch singers, they do a very nice job 99% of the time).
If you're comparing this to the Harnoncourt Salzburg version with Vesselina Kasarova, you may want to check out my reviews of both in the "So you'd like to... Savor opera DVDs off the beaten path" Amazon guide."