Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Schreker - Die Gezeichneten / Anne Schwanewilms Robert Brubaker Robert Hale Michael Volle Wolfgang Schone Mel Ulrich Kent Nagano Salzburg Opera|
Actors: Thomas Oliemans, Bernard Richter, Markus Petsch, Franz Schreker
Director: Nikolaus Lehnhoff
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Close your eyes and listen.....
Ian C. Punter | Thailand | 09/18/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As the strains of Schreker's sumptuous prelude crept in, I was already in 5-star mood. This is a beautiful work from 1918, of which I've already had the Decca CD set for some ten years, (same orchestra as the DVD, under conductor Lothar Zagrosek), along with some other Schreker operas, and as is happening more and more at present one is so grateful for the 'goodies' that are appearing on DVD.
By the end of the 12 minute prelude I was down to 4 stars. Alviano, the main protagonist of this fascinating opera, is alone on stage for the 12 minutes, making himself up and wearing woman's clothes, (close-up, wide shot, close-up, wide shot....), but at least the music didn't drag! (Nagano, as on his recent 'Le Coq d'Or' DVD, on terrific form). Comparing timings for several identical sections on the CD and DVD, Nagano is quite 'spacious', but comparing the total timing, I found that the Decca CD set has 25 minutes more music, - (The Act I Prelude for example: Nagano 12 minutes, Zagrosek 10), so the actual cuts may total 30 minutes or more, given the latter's generally faster speeds. Also the complete 'pantomime' section in Act III is cut....come on Salzburg, you can afford it!
Quite a bit of 'sub-plot' is missing, and in the main part of Act II when Carlotta is supposedly painting the 'hideous humpback' Alviano, which is what causes her to fall in love with him, there is nary an easel in sight, - instead she is slowly removing all the feminine items of apparel from him until he is left wearing a body stocking, - (any of her sung references to how Alviano should be posing also subject to cuts).
There's no space here to recount the plot, but the same set serves all three acts, quite adequately for the first two, but for Act III which takes place on Alviano's island, in a grotto after an orgy, well, 'here we are again!' The orgy is over, but I think I'll look for my orgies elsewhere, thanks. (Whoever is the main Salzburg body-stocking retailer has probably taken a very comfortable early retirement!)
I'm a great admirer of Lehnhoff's Janacek DVDs from Glyndebourne, but although this isn't one of those 'Konzept' productions that blindly ignores the music, it's symptomatic that when Alviano, looking more and more like Elton John in his baggy, shiny white, modern suit, kills his rival, it's with a revolver. And for an opera in part about the 'artist's place in society', the choral contributions from the Genoese crowd have been reduced to a minimum.
Wonderful music, beautifully played, crisp 16:9 pictures, good singing from most if not all the cast, - by all means try it, - but listen to the Decca CD set (from their 'Entartete Musik' series), and let your imagination do the rest.
An interesting, but little heard music
David D. Dollinger | Pasadena, CA | 05/03/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"With the advent of Decca's CD series "degenerate" art the name of Schreker has (along with Zelimsky) gathered some momentum in CD recordings but less so as far as DVD. I gather that Der Ferne Klang is his masterpiece, but the only DVD is Die Gezeichneten. I would have preferred the former, but in a "leap of faith" bought the latter. At this point I have only listened to it once, hardly putting me in a position to make critical judgements but that's never stopped me before but I can claim to have listened to opera for over sixty years so that I am far from being a tyro.
First off I read the comments posted regarding the cutting of around twenty minutes of the score. I gather that most of cuts are instrumental and given Schreker's great mastery of orchestration it is a pity that these cuts were made. Additionally I would have preferred a more conventional representation. I usually have enjoyed Lenhoff's productions of Lohengrin and Parsifal, but the libretto of the opera under consideration is not a model of clarity given the changes made, e.g., Salvago's cross dressing. On the basis of one viewing I see no sense other than it gives the artist something to do.
The vocal line is not one that Schreker is inspired to invest much in the way of melody although repeated viewings may change my feeling in this area. Even Richard Strauss at his most arid moments brought more to his operas than Schreker, while they both share a mastery of opulence and orchestral beauty. Of course the story is not one that would appeal to Strauss, but I think his (Schreker's) inability to come up with some vocally memorable "tunes" will keep this opera from ever entering the repertoire of most companies; hence, a festival such as Salzburg will probably remain its sole venue. Perhaps Munich or Berlin would also consider it.
I confess that one of the main reasons I was intersted in acquiring the set for was for Schwanewilms; her recording of the View Letze Lieder is quite beautiful. Alas Schreker has not given her any moments of transcendent beauty, but then that is a fault he shares with the remainder of the artists, all of whom are superior singing actors.
Even though DVD's have been with us a short time, it is now quite easy to end up of multiples of many works, and I am guilty already of this. I am interested in hearing other works from composers (for whatever reason) who have been given short shrift from opera houses and recording companies and the DVD is an ideal medium of enlarging the experience of seeing works that one has only read about--many times as only a footnote. For this reason I would probably invest in a DVD of Der Ferne Klang."