Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Mozart - Le Nozze di Figaro / Ostmann Wahlgren Samuelsson Drottningholm Court Theatre|
The Marriage of Figaro
Actors: Per-Arne Wahlgren, Sylvia Lindenstrand, Georgine Resick, Mikael Samuelson, Ann Christine Biel
Director: Thomas Olofsson
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Musicals & Performing Arts
This 1987 production by Sweden's Drottningholm Theatre is a solid, workmanlike, fairly undistinguished staging of a beloved operatic warhorse. Director Göran Järvefelt follows Lorenzo da Ponte's libretto faithfully, with s... more »
jgarcia112 | NJ United States | 12/04/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I very much enjoyed these same forces in the recently-released DVD of Die Zauberflote, and so was quite excited to see this production. Unfortunately, this is a major disappointment.First the positive: The production itelf is actually quite wonderful - theatrical and intimate, with charming sets and fantastic acting. The singers (several of the same ones as in the excellent Zauberflote) for the most part, possess light, attractive voices, and throw some much-welcomed gusto into their roles. So I give it two stars for the acting and stage directions alone.What takes this peformance out of the running, however, is the orchestral playing, and the conducting of Arnold Ostmann. Ostmann flies through the score at breakneck speeds. I have nothing against fast tempos in principal - when done successfully, the "light and fast" approach can be quite exciting in Mozart, as Gardiner and others have shown. However, Ostmann is fast in the extreme, and the orchestra (on 18th century "period" instruments) simply is not up to the task. Ensemble is scrappy throughout, and at several points breaks down altogether. The basic sound of the string section is scrawny, undernourished and out of tune. Balances between strings and winds are all over the place resulting in some important musical lines being inaudible. Often, the orchestra falls grossly out of synch with the singers. In some choice spots, they manage to fall out of synch with the the singers at the same time as they experience a major breakdown in ensemble, resulting in moments of total confusion and cacophony. Such moments actually might have been funny, had I not just paid $$ for this. As things were, I was not amused. Technically, the DVD itself is also a mess. As in the production of Zauberflote, the picture is grainy and fuzzy with insufficient contrast between light and dark and streaking problems. I can live with that, but the sound presents a major problem as the recording level is extremely low, more so than on Zauberflote. Even when routed through my hi-fi system into two large, full range speakers, I had to turn the volume nob up way past normal, and boost the bass and treble to get anything like a resonable fullness of sound. Even then, I was never able to obtain a satisfying level of sonic impact. I noticed that this production was recorded in 1981 - towards the beginning of the "historically informed performance" age. I believe that this has a lot to do with the dismal state of the orchestral playing. These same forces recorded Zauberflote 8 years later, in 1989, and the orchestral playing, while not world class, is much more secure than here, and the production is a delight. In a way, it is a shame, because as I mentioned above, the stage direction and acting is top-notch. If this production had possessed anything close to competant musical execution, it would easily be one of the better Figaros on video. As it is, viewers looking for a good Figaro on DVD would do better with the Lyon Opera production on Kultur, which boasts excellent picture and sound quality, a young, attractive cast with strong singing and acting skills, well-conceived sets and stage-direction, and an alert , full sounding accompaniment from the Lyon Opera Orchestra. Take a pass on this one..."
Steve Cline | Minneapolis, MN USA | 08/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of the seven opera DVD's I own, this one is my favorite. It's a gem, as one of the early operas shown on TV (1981). This is a highly entertaining performance of Figaro. Right from the opening scene, soprano Georgina Resick is able to portray to perfection the innocent, enthusiastic bride-to-be, Susanna, with an extraordinary vocal sweetness. The tone of her "Guarda un po'..." at the beginning of act 1 is memorable. I listened one more time to some of the famous 1955 Erich Kleiber recording for comparison. While the superiority of the
Vienna Philharmonic was apparent in orchestration, Resick's tone compared quite favorably to Hilde Gueden's Susanna, whose voice seemed lighter, with little humor, and not as playful. Resick's voice is resonant, yet tender and bubbling. I don't think it's fair to compare the marvelous Cesare Siepi to another bass, but Mikael Samuelson is quite competent as
Figaro. He portrays a humorous, not-too-bright Figaro with just the right amount of jealousy and concern. He must deal with the arrogant Count Almaviva, performed sternly by Per-Arne Wahlgren. Cherubino, the adolescent page, is performed admirably by Ann Christine Biel. In fact, she plays the boy so well that it's easy to forget this is a woman performing.
Sylvia Lindenstrand brings a degree of tragedy in her portrayl of Contessa Almaviva, and shines with her "Porgi amor..." aria. Lindenstrand appropriately appears both vulnerable and dignified at the same time. Technically, regarding the picture, I wondered a bit about the fuzziness on occasion, but realized that the camera was focused on the performer intended by the cameraman, and that performer was very sharply in focus. Perhaps the camera lens was opened wider than is typical is more current operas on DVD, due to lighting that wasn't as bright. At the beginning, I felt as though the camera were hand held, but this quickly improved and was fine afterwards.
Although I noticed in another review that the level of sound was inadequate, I found it to be ample, and I enjoy the sound fairly loud in listening to an opera.
Since The Marriage of Figaro is above all an amazing collection of duets, trios, and quartets, it is important that the performers interact well. I felt that the interactions were superb, especially in ones duets performed by Figaro and Susanna.
For the price of any opera, I think it would be difficult to find another one as enjoyable. At the price of this one, it's a steal!
NOT deeply flawed!
Robert Baksa | new york state | 02/13/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Another reviewer has commented in a very negative way about this performance but I beg to disagree. Figaro is an opera that I know very well being able to sing through the whole work practically from memory. I cannot find any place in the performance that the "orchestra breaks down completely" as noted in another review. The performance is only a few notches below the most charming Figaro available which is the wonderful Glydebourne performance with Cotrubas, Von Stade, te Kanawa and Luxon. In a few cases the Drottinghom is superior to the Glyndbourne: Biel is more boyish looking than Von Stade and is more subtle. Lindeband is more convincing than Te Kanawa both in appearance, acting and in singing. Of course, Te Kanawa sounds wonderful but she takes a while to warm up and frequently flattens on high notes. The video quality of the Drottingholm shows its age but it is a small price to pay for a lovely, unpretentious performance. After seeing the garbage that many modern directors devise for their stagings (with their infernal "sub-texts" and trashy sets along with resale shop costumes)it is always refreshing to get back to the innocent charm of these Swedish performances. You can't go wrong with this DVD."
Pleasing but flawed
Bruno L. Garzon | Chicago,IL | 05/03/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This version of Mozart's Le nozze di figaro was a spirited try but not meet up to my exact standards. The bad things were: the count was the most god-awful excuse for a count I have ever seen. Ryan Seacrest could be a better count than him! Another problem was the mediocre and less than pleasing orchestra. If you want to see an example of this listen to them bumle there way through the countesses "Dove sono." Also the minor characters needed some fine-tuning. Don Basilio was very displeasing in "In quegli anni." I won't buy a Figaro unless it has this aria in it! For goodness sakes this aria is not that tolling vocally! Also they made Don Curzio a little more comfortable. Mozart wanted him to be a stuttering little worm! But amoung the bad are also the good. Cherubino was probably the best I have seen (besides Fredricka Von Stade.) Doctor Bartolo and Marcellina were perfectly cast. But Marcellina didn't hold her own in her duet with Susanna but showed a brilliantly stunning "Il capro e la capretta." Speaking of Susanna she was another very uplifting person in this pretty bad performance as was Figaro. The Countess was stunning and gave "Dove sono" a new sort of pathetic-ness that I had never seen before (plus she is the reason I gave this DVD 4 stars.) But she still didn't beat Kiri te Kanawa in my book. Overall lousy but the little things are what makes this DVD special."