Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|R Strauss Ariadne auf Naxos|
Actors: Walter Berry, Axelle Gall, Edita Gruberova, Manfred Jungwirth, RenÚ Kollo
Director: Filippo Sanjust
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Richard Strauss?s Ariadne auf Naxos premiered in 1916, was something new, a startling blend of comedy and tragedy, both a frothy entertainment and a serious dip into the big issues--life, death, art, and love. It succeeds ... more »
Four stars because the singing is magnificent, BUT........
I. Martinez-Ybor | Miami, FL USA | 01/16/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ariadne is a most beautiful concoction, one of Strauss' finest works, with felicitous vocal writing and a miraculous orchestration which makes a twenty-odd piece orchestra sound symphonic. The ending is sublime. I saw this Vienna Staatsoper production on stage with the same cast (except Kollo) and it was lovely, lively and passionate. It amused, it moved, it soared, one smiled and left uplifted by what had been a wonderful musical and theatrical evening. In its day, Janowitz and Gruberova were (arguably) regarded as the prime exponents of Ariadne and Zerbinetta respectively. Janowitz in particular had the vocal sheen and soaring brilliance that seem ideal for Strauss' music, thus she is memorable in his songs, as well as the Kaiserin in Frau, the Marschallin, Arabella, the Capriccio countess, and, indeed, Ariadne. Gruberova was at the start of her career and she was a spectacular Zerbinetta, as an actress and as a singer.
So, what is wrong with this picture? Well, this DVD is a film of a slightly modified stage production, not of a live performance (or composite of live performances). And, it is not a very good film. Here we have Ariadne embalmed. What on stage was lively and spontaneous, here is static and marmoreal. The frisson of getting the voice out and the live interaction between the characters on stage, not to mention an audience, does not exist. Nothing. The singers address the camera, there are lots of close-ups. Characters just seem to stand around, dutifully and dully. I am not keen on films of staged opera productions (unique film visions such as Sybeberg's Parsifal, a work of genius, or Friedrich's Elektra, belong in different category). To start with, turning a stage production into a film gathers the worst of all possible worlds: all the limitations of the proscenium more or less remain, relatively unchanged stage blocking remains, yet one knows the camera is free; on a physical plane, it is ackward because though all filmic creativity has been abandoned, actors/singers are not really singing, but lip-synching, and opera is indissolubly bound to the physicality of singing; in short, verisimilitude, drama, music, and film itself are all short-changed, to the detriment of the whole. We don't have a live performance and we don't have a real film. This viewer finds it hard to relate to what he's seeing.
Perhaps Ariadne has been best served, so far, by the phonograph. If Janowitz interests you, she is in my favorite stereo performance of Ariadne under Kempe on EMI. Otherwise, the great Karajan mono recording, my first, with a ravishing Schwarzkopf in the title role, and the as yet unmatched let alone surpassed composer of Irmgard Seefried.
Note: to my ears, the DVD sounds more immediate (better) in PCM Stereo than in the fake DTS remastering."
At long last, an Ariadne without a weak link
Ivy Lin | NY NY | 02/10/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ariadne auf Naxos is one of my all-time favorite operas, but part of me was a bit skeptical of this video. It sounded too good to be true. Gundula Janowitz, Edita Gruberova, Rene Kollo, and Walter Berry all in one video? With the venerable Karl Bohm waving the stick.
Well, don't hesitate, because in my opinion this is *the* Ariadne to own! The Met video has Jessye Norman in her brief but glorious prime, and Tatiana Troyanos, but it also has a hopelessly over-the-hill and overparted James King, and the too cutesy and overparted Kathleen Battle. Before this film had only existed in a terrible-looking telecast. But DG has really cleaned up the video. As mentioned in the review above, yes there are problems. The film was based on the sensational production in Vienna in 1976. The director made little effort to "open up" the film. As a result, it is somewhat static, and has all the earmarks of a stage production hastily transported to film. Lip-synching is a bit of a problem, as is often the case. But the production is nice and picturesque, particularly the "opera" part. The director had enough faith in the singers to let them just "do their thing," without adding any unnecessary stage business.
Now to the singing. Gundula Janowitz is probably my favorite Ariadne - her silvery voice and elegant presence made her *the* Strass soprano of her generation. In my opinion, her voice is more beautiful than Elisabeth Schwarzkopf's, although Janowitz isn't quite as funny as Schwarzkopf in the Prologue. (Schwarzkopf does a wicked imitation of Lilli Lehmann, decorating the music with dramatic swoops). But most of all Janowtiz makes Ariande human, vulnerable, and touching. Rene Kollo does the best he can with the thankless part of Bacchus. Trudelise Schmidt is the least known member of the cast, but she's not bad as the Komponist at all. And then there's Edita Gruberova. Her initial performances in London were such a sensation that even the famously crusty Karl Bohm applauded her in the pit. Since then, Zerbinetta has been her trademark role. She adopts an "anything you can do, I can do better" attitude. "Grossmachtige Prinzessin" is truly stunning -- she nails every trill, every high E, every staccato scale, and does this all with a "look ma, this is a piece of cake" brio. Facially she is less glamorous and "cute" looking than Kathleen Battle in the Met video, but she has a warm and bubbly presence. Her Zerbinetta is just FUN.
If you love Ariadne (and most opera lovers do) get this video! Don't hesitate!"
A Glowing Ariadne
David D. Dollinger | Pasadena, CA | 02/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Like most Strauss fans my first exposure to thie opera (not counting 78's) was the EMI recording from 1955. It remains a classic recording and deservedly so. It did have a major competitor when EMI released a recording with Janowitz. I was lucky enough to be in Vienna in the fall of 1978 to see a production with Janowitz, James King, Agnes Balta and Patricia Wise. It was a glorious evening in the great house. This filmed version takes me back to that experience even though the film has a different cast, Janowitz excepted.
I would have preferred a live performance to a film, but since that isn't possible what DGG have given us is not to be dismissed. The lipsynching is better than most DVD's that utilize this technique. In any event there are more closeups than most opera DVDs. The production is traditional without a whiff of Regietheatre. The colors glow and give off a richness that is appropriate--house of the richest man in Vienna! Janowitz is peerless; it was her role for many years and deservedly so. Trudelise Schmidt is not a name widely know in this country. If I can't have a Seefried or Jurinac I will accept Ms.Schmidt with no qualifications; her top is radiant and open. Reme Kollo is more problematic. He can sing with great nuance and sensitivity but he is also guilty of loud and/or vulgar singing. Damming with faint praise, the role is not long. Gruberova fan will not be disappointed. I wish I could write more favorably about her since she clearly has owned the role for many years. I suspect that hers is a voice that sounds better in the theatre than on discs, but there is no gainsaying that she is totally unfazed with the difficulties of the role and dispatches them with panache,
The competition is not great; the Met's production is a mixed bag. A black and while production from Salzburg boasts one of the great singers of the century, Sena Jurinac. Alas the Ariadne is close to disaster. Hillebrecht's career is one of the great mysteries.A production from Germany (Dresden?) is a Konzept that will not endear many viewers and the singing is good enough to overlook many of the dramatic faux pas. A new recording from Zurich is on the way and while the cast is somewhat problematic this new DGG release would be my choice if one only has room for one Ariadne."
Superb, Exquisite, and Sublime!
Mr John Haueisen | WORTHINGTON, OHIO United States | 04/19/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For a good performance of Ariadne, the most important ingredient is a good Ariadne and Zerbinetta. Gundula Janowitz sings superbly and ably conveys the bearing of the distraught and, at times, aloof princess, Ariadne.
Edita Gruberova turns in the performance of a lifetime, as the epitome of a coquettish Zerbinetta. Her "Grossmachtige Prinzessin" by itself is something you will want to share with friends, to show them the virtuosity of a truly great singer. As a crowning glory to this famous aria, our flirty Zerbinetta effortlessly ascends to the very highest notes--Get this!--as she powders her face. Spectacularly, it displays both Gruberova's incomparable singing abilities, and her perfectly complementary acting abilities.
The "harlequin group" also displays joyful singing and acting that make them absolutely lovable.
So could anything make this even better? Yes, the tempi and conducting interpretation seem to me to be just as Strauss would have enjoyed hearing them. The hauntingly and ethereally beautiful "Tone, tone, susse Stimme" sung by the nymphs is sung with sufficient volume to be more appreciated. Every other performance seems to make that passage a bit too soft. It's too beautiful not to be properly heard! So why was this conductor able to turn up the volume on it? I think it's because the conductor, Karl Bohm, advanced in age as he was here, had actually worked alongside Richard Strauss. He knew what Strauss expected, and the result is that we can hear it Strauss's way. It's superb, exquisite, and sublime. Oh, and in Zerbinetta's final scene, she winks to us, at precisely the right moment--icing on a delicious cake."