Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Richard Strauss - Ariadne auf Naxos / Levine Norman Battle Troyanos Metropolitan Opera|
Actors: Jessye Norman, Kathleen Battle, Tatiana Troyanos, James King, Franz Ferdinand Netwig
Director: Brian Large
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Musicals & Performing Arts
Giles Bernard J. Hall | Tasmania; Australia | 02/03/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Richard Strauss' operas are not as easy to stage as the conventional opera, and finding a cast to sing them equally as difficult.(A bit like Wagner). However, this production from the Metropolitan Opera has not only managed to pull it off, but have done so with a win, win formular. The cast is as powerful as the music itself, then there are the sets, costumes and direction, all equally mastered like a master craftsman working on a prized sculpture.This production has an extremely strong female cast headed off by Tatiana Troyanos who gives the performance of her life as the Composer. Almost bringing the house down in her final statement in the prologue not to mention her skill as an actor. Her singing of "Seien wir wieder gut.....Musik ist eine kunst" blew me away. What a pitty that's all she has to do. One would like to hear her glorious tones again.Then we have Kathleen Batttle as Zerbinetta. Ah! what warm tones and brilliance of voice and character that Kathleen brings to her role. When I heard Kathleen sing "Großmächtige Prinzessin, wer verstünde nicht" I thought that I had died and gone to heaven, what control. Jessye Norman! what can one say of this veteran performer in the title role. The power, the sheer beauty and elegance of her vocal powers. This woman can not only handle the high notes that Strauss demands but those low chest notes roll off her tongue like wine from a bottle. I have never heard Ariadne sung with such conviction, strength and passion. These three singers aptly cast certainly drive this opera home. Barbara Bonney, Gweneth Bean and Dawn Upshaw as Najade, Dryade and Echo respectfully hold their own exceedingly well and balance off the female ensembles with such precission like a well run military machine and enjoying every minutes of it. Then there are the men. I must say that I have never been a great fan of James King as I have only heard him singing Wagner, and I found his voice not quite up to the challange of all that power. But! having seen his performance here I must say he seems much more capable although I would have prefered a much stronger voice, eg Ben Hamper. However his performance and presence are passable. The rest of the men are excellent in their respective rolls especially Stephen Dickson as Harlekin.
The Metropolitan Opera Production team are to be congratulated on such a marvelous production. The sound and vision are not only clear and undistorted but also well balanced.
This would have to be my favourite Opera DVD to date. I look forward to viewing more operas from the Metropolitam Opera in the future.
It is so nice to see an opera production staged as the composer intended and NOT as a contempary nightmare. (I am not a fan of contempory productions and make no apology for it). Which seems to be the way some opera houses are heading these days. What a pitty, it's hard enough getting people into an opera house because the operas are sung in a different language, let alone scaring the pants off them with a wayout production that no one, but the prodction team seems to understand.
Thank you Metropolitan Opera for this wonderful production of Richard Strauss' "Ariadne auf Naxos.""
Germany takes on Greece: and we all win
jwalzer | Greenville, Delaware United States | 05/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Ariadne Auf Naxos" is Richard Strauss' scintillating foray into the world of neo-classicism. The brilliant innovations of "Salome" and "Elektra" were history, and here, Strauss luxuriated in the beauty of sound as an end in itself. Employing a chamber orchestra of 36 pieces with all the fluency of an master, he, and his librettist, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, conjure a delightful two-part opera consisting of a Prologue, which is mostly sung in recitative, and a full-scale operetta boasting some of the most delectable melodies and set-pieces to be found in all opera. Jessye Norman is wonderful as the forlorn and abandoned Ariadne. Kathleen Battle is superb as Zerbinetta, tackling "Grossmachtige Prinzessin" - a virtuoso aria that is to the coloratura soprano what Rachmaninoff's 3rd piano concerto is to the pianist - with a deceptively cavalier aplomb and grace. The rest of the MET cast is a delight. The sets are simple and straightforward, as befits this "play within a play." I watched this performance twice at one sitting, and have to admit getting teary-eyed at the end as Bacchus and Ariadne resolutely face the future, secure in their new love. Strauss' glorious music was never more endearing: pair it with the professionals at the MET and you have an exquisite evening's entertainment. Richard Strauss is sometimes criticized as difficult or too modern: "Der Rosenkavalier" aside, this opera, and subsequent masterpieces such as, "Capriccio," belie such accusations. Strauss, as in this opera, could write music of surpassing mellifluousness. This is a wonderful performance of an enchanting opera."
A night of overwhelming vocal fireworks!
jwalzer | 10/27/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am relatively new to opera, and this DVD introduced me to Strauss' Ariadne Auf Naxos. I don't quite have the words to describe how I felt after viewing the whole thing, let's say I'm blown away. The three leading ladies were absolutely superb in their respective roles, but Norman gave me the most goosebumps. I could never imagine such waves of sound coming from a human throat! Can you say "dramatic"? Such a powerful sound coupled with such dramatic insight into the agonizing character makes for a knock-out of a performance. Kathleen Battle is not a true coloratura but she has the agility and high notes to pull off a stunning Zerbinetta. I've always admired her pure, crystal-clear tones and it's great hearing her sing a ditsy happy character. Troyanos was always known to give stellar performances with equal effort in the singing and the drama. The role of the Composer displays her talents extremely well as there are lots of high notes (for a mezzo anyway), and she gets to portray a jittery worry-wart.I actually enjoy a silly plot as such found in Ariadne auf Naxos; not everything has to be serious, uptight and boring, which is the impression of opera on many of us teenagers. I thoroughly enjoyed this opera, especially Norman's performance. I completely disagree with the person who said this DVD is overrated. Well, see for yourself, it's really that good!"
" Jessye Norman is Sheer Perfection!"
Alfred C. Johnson | Norfolk,Virginia | 12/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Due to this DVD,I have had to change my approach to singers.I will always be the #1 fan of La Splendissima Leontyne Price.I was never particularly impressed by Ms.Norman as an artist.I found her to be showy with little to no substance.I,being somewhat jaded occasionally,never would have believed 1 performance could make me do an about face.There are not adequate superlatives to express the level of performance I witnessed.Jessye Norman's Ariadne is one for the ages. I found her comically delightful as the Primadonna.Ariadne's aria"Es gibt ein Reich" will never be sung more lyrically and compassionately.Kathleen Battle,whom I adore, was wonderful and coquettish as Zerbinetta.Tatyanna Troyanas was a fanastic Composer.The always wonderful Met Opera orchestra was phenomenal.This is the "Ariadne" that must be in everyone's collection.The final scene will take your breath away with it's sheer beauty. Viva Jessye!"