Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Mozart - Mitridate|
Actors: Richard Croft, Miah Persson, Marc Minkowski, Bejun Mehta, Ingela Bohlin
Director: Gunter Kramer
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
A musically enchanting Mitridate
J. H. Gaulard | London United Kingdom | 01/12/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Initially, this stimulating set of Mozart's Mitridate, taped in Salzburg, was only going to get a 3-star rating. Notwithstanding the musical qualities of the evening, the pleasure one gets from hearing this amazing team of musicians is slightly spoilt by a rather boring production, whose only aim seems to demonstrate to the audience that Mitridate's family was very dysfunctional...We believe that there is more to this opera than exploring the son/brother/father/lover relationship. In particular the political side of the piece is for the most part ignored...so this review was going to be a mix between a 1-star for the production and 5-star for the musical performance...but then, towards the end of the opera, when Farnace sang his heart-breaking aria "Gia dagli occhi il velo e tolto", I was moved to tears by the ability of the production to express the forgiveness between father and son - even if this had a lot to do with the beautifully lyrical alto voice of Bejun Mehta and his fantastic acting capability, turning him from psychopath/spoiled brat in Acts I and II to eventually an adult facing his responsibilities towards the end of the piece. This in itself is enough to forgive the inconsistencies of Guenther Kraemer's production: chorus of Mozart look-alikes sliding down a mud-covered slope, irrelevant balletic moves reflected on a giant mirror on the roof, permanent presence of the main singers on stage whether they are singing or not...overall, all this makes for a rather pointless, crowded and unfocussed production, which is way too static and gets boring after a while. This is a shame because the conductor, Marc Minkowski, and his Musiciens du Louvre transcend this score with their passion, their lyricism and their audible love for the music. The orchestra also has an unusual depth for a period-instrument, which means that this opera is sounding brilliantly. Minkowski was obviously born to conduct this music, even if he confesses a lack of initial interest in Mitridate in the very good bonus feature on the DVD.
As for the team of singers, they simply are world class. Richard Croft as the title role goes effortlessly through the lethal virtuosity of his part with mastery and panache. Miah Persson is a radiant, very moving Sifare while we have talked about the possessed incarnation of Bejun Mehta as Farnace. We cannot conclude this review without mentioning the beautiful Netta Or as Aspasia and the delightful Ingela Bohlin as Ismene - the latter a small part but the singer makes it memorable.
Overall an extremely good performance that could have become an instant classic had it not been for a questionable staging.
If you can't awe them, shock them.... I guess
Smorgy | Southern California, USA | 03/14/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"....I guess I'm not up to updated shows as I thought I was. Maybe there's such a thing as an opera being overly updated, ay? To me this one plays off the current Middle-east tension way too much. Arabic writing on top of stage and Mitridate forcing Marzio to read tramped up lines to blind folded Farnace before slashing his throat a la the Islamic fundies who behead people on camera?
There are some clever things with the staging.. I like the use of the mirror that reflected back-stage that create some really neat visual illusions (if you've seen 'Les Troyens' from Paris, it's the same kind of thing). And the surreal choreography is sometimes interesting, but I don't think they serve the opera well. It is a seria, after all. The theme is more serious than a bratty satire this got turned into.
Musically, I like Marc Minkowski's orchestral read very much. And Miah Persson and Richard Croft sing very well as Sifare and Mitridate (the music of the opera is very virtuosic... tho not many ensemble numbers). I'm afraid Bejun Mehta really does not sing Farnace well... Sorry, mate... But the low passages get transposed up and the higher passages get transposed down so that I wonder if he has more than an octave of voice to sing with.. It takes all the menace out of the role (if you want to hear a really manly and mean Farnace, go for the CD from the 1997 Salzburg Festival on 'Orfeo' label)! And even with all that transposing going on, he still spends most of the evening looking for the right pitch! He does better on the acting front, however... even though I really dislike the choreography.
Would love to give it more stars... but right now 2 is feeling very merciful for me.
Some good bonus features... 'Making of' interviews and clips from 'La Traviata' and other M22 project operas."
MITRIDATE, RE DI PONTO
T. C. | 02/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The stage production is modern and very special. Not every one ill like it. I did!
Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble play like angels for Marc Minkowski. The singers are very good with the exception of Netta Or in the very difficult role of Aspasia, which is not especially impressive in her first aria, but improves later. Best of all is the young Swedish soprano Miah Persson as Sifare. She is amazing. Her big aria with horn obbligato is a miracle!
Terrific singing - mediocre visuals
figaro | Eugene, OR United States | 10/18/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The singing is just wonderful in this DVD. I have had it for months or maybe more than a year and I play it VERY often as an audio recording. I do have three other recordings of the opera that are all good but this is definitely my favorite. There are some interesting cuts - particularly the opening recitative which always does seem a bit long and boring although I think they ought to have written some things on the screen to set up the story. Without the opening recitative, it's hard to figure the story out. There are other cuts, such as Arbate's arias, and the Roman's aria, plus there is some moving around of arias. Ismene's second aria is moved further ahead, which doesn't make sense, since she is singing about Farnace's offence, but now Sifare's offence has just come out of the bag. It is possible the director, producer, or powers-that-be, did not fully understand the story of the opera as it was written, but more likely, they were trying to make the story a little different on purpose. Many characters are in scenes where they are not supposed to be, for instance, Ismene is supposed to show up upon Mitridate's entrance, having come back with Mitridate on his voyage home to be wed to Farnace, but in this show, she is wandering about on stage right from the beginning, and she even says a line or two, before Farnace sings 'Venga, pur, minacci e freme'. The cuts are understandable, because musically, there are a few really boring parts in this opera, however, dramatically all the parts are essential and it will always be hard to make sense of the opera without all the pieces. That doesn't mean I think they should not have made the cuts. Musically, this Mitridate flows along beautifully from one great tune to the next, and it's great fun to listen to, but there was really no call to move arias around and change the nature of the story by moving people around in the scenes - it still doesn't make any more sense than if you just make your cuts and then let things be - what they did here makes the opera make even less sense than simple cuts would.
The costumes work for the most part - generally modern with flashes of ancient Roman. Sifare and Farnace have to wear short pants like long shorts which does make the obvious statement that they are the two sons, but I thought it looked dumb. Princes would probably wear more dignified clothing. The sets are kind of ugly and during the overture, these weird dancer-caricatures of Mozart line up on the stage with fake bug-eye plastic eyeballs stuck in their eyes - I think it's supposed to be humorous, but it put me off. Don't let it put you off the show - the singing is well worth any weirdness at the beginning. Again, I think it would have been much better to use the visual space for an on-screen written explanation of the opera's set-up. There is also a bit of weird mirror-work during the overture, which may or may not have been okay - hard to know with those bug-eyed Mozarts staring at you.
Richard Croft is divine as Mitridate, and Persson, as Sifare, is to die for. The Aspasia is great - a nice voice with a very interesting timber in the middle and lower range; the Ismene is a wonderful Mozart singer, and Mehta, as Farnace, has many terrific moments. The only negative thing I could say about Mehta, is that sometimes I think he opts to be a bit too fancy. Just a bit more taste on the fast pieces would have pleased me more, but he has a lovely voice, good coloratura, and is very easy to hear. He does an exceptional job on his last aria, 'Già dagli occhi...' Gorgeous, gorgeous music.
One more thing, at the beginning of the show there is an ax in a block, and the credits, and complete silence for about one and a half minutes. Odd, but just put up - it does get really good."