Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Renee Fleming, Morten Frank Larsen, Julia Kleiter, Johan Weigel, Zurich Opera House Chorus & Orchestra
Director: Gotz Friedrich
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Studio: Uni Dist Corp (music) Release Date: 07/08/2008
The best of three!
P. Sutherland | Berea, Ohio, USA | 11/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have two other Arabellas, with Kanawa and Brendel and Janowitz and Weikl, and I liked this one the best. I wanted to see Renee Fleming in the part and she was spectacular; beautifully appointed, in fine voice and natural in the role. When Morten Frank Larsen appeared as Mandryka, I thought, "Ooohh la, la! Someone as beautiful as Fleming to play her match!" After a while, I thought he was as much the star of this opera as she was. His acting and singing were terrific and his character seemed believable and natural. (This is contrary to my impression of the opera film with Janowitz and Weikle, who were both way, way, way over the top!) Kudos to this pair!
Julia Kleiter was an excellent Zdenka and Johan Weigel portrayed Matteo very well as the pathetic character he is. Alfred Muff, as Graf Waldner, the father, was wonderful in the role (and the audience showed their admiration at the end). Cornelia Kallisch as the mother was great, too.
I was not too impressed with the Fiakermilli but I don't care for that part at all, no matter who's singing it. The ballroom scene with the fan dancers was the low point for me.
Otherwise, I liked the updated and simple set and costumes.
I also thought Franz Welser-Most did an excellent job conducting the beautiful score. As usual.
If you are new to Arabella, I'd recommend you buy this one!"
Three "BEST" Arabellas"
Santa Barbara | California | 08/26/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Fleming seems born to be Arabella. Her conversational style here suits Strauss.She illuminats this opera on a par with two others, Te Kanawa at the Met and Janowitz in Vienna. All three of these dvds are equally good and bring insights into this opera.
Amazed by other reviewers who criticized the singing, I would not want any one fond of Arabella to miss this performance . The singing is better than 5 star. (except Sen Guo's Faikermilli who understandably is not up to that of Guberova or Dessay on the other dvds).
As an compelling inducement to watch this dvd, the Mandryka of Morten Frank Larson reaches beyond the best ever to extraordinary. If you have come to think that good male voices are in short supply these days, the singing and superb acting of Morten Frank Larson will be a new star to blaze into your sky.
The loss of one star is for the set, although is improves considerably during the opera is remains a boring gray-purple box for much of the time--Zurich seems often to have poor sets."
It Should Have Been Better
David D. Dollinger | Pasadena, CA | 09/21/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I dithered about acquiring this new DVD of Arabella; afterall I had KIri and Gundula, but most of the Zurich productions I have are very good and even though Renee (and Muff and Kallisch)was the only artist whose work I knew I thought it was worth the plunge. And as far as Fleming, I am glad I did. As an actor she has improved immensely since the taping of the Capriccio--a self-absorbed interpretation created to draw attention to herself at the expense of others. This is not the case with her Arabella, but what a pity that Morton Frank Larsen (a substitute for Thomas Hampson) was the only other Mandryka available. Here is a lyric baritone, seemingly young (and very good looking) who has no business singing this role. Yes, I know Hampson is a lyric baritone, but the man has twenty years of experience and has doubtless given considerable thought to the vocal risks he is currently taking. Larsen is unlikely to be around in twenty years. Already he has an incipient wobble and a lack of resonance in his top notes. The voice itself is not distinguished for beauty, but were he to bring some artistry and musicality this could be overlooked. A pity. The Zdenka is excellent. The three suitors and Matteo are adequate. Muff is a very good Waldemar--wasn't he the Mandryka in Kiri's audio recording from the 80's?
While I am mostly sympathtic with most European productions this is one tha I would gladly pass on. It makes no comment politically or socially, and it is ugly to boot.
Welser-Most's conduction is very similar to Solti's recording: brutal. He dispatches the score with the efficiency of a routenier--something I didn't think I would ever accuse Welser-Most of. To hear this music at its best you need only put on the Met production with Thieleman who obviously loves the score.
And lastly, why did Zurich opt for the 1939 production joining Acts II and III together. Sure Strauss approved it at the time, but then he was notorious for "approving" of cuts that were made by Bohm and HvK. Perhaps he felt not to approve would curtail the prodution. At any rate I thought we had moved beyond this sort of thing."
M. Magie | Seattle | 09/19/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I would like to add my vote to those of reviewers praising Renee Fleming's performance here. It is absolutely wonderful, both the singing and the acting. Fleming's magical dramatic skill is not often enough praised. Here she captures the subtleties of Arabella's character and her changing feelings and situation with great sensitivity and force. Others have praised her singing (those, at any rate, who are willing to hear her, and don't presume to lecture on how a singer "should" sing) and I second their praise. Her Arabella, like her other Strauss performances, is incomparably beautiful.
The production does not try to capture the stately feeling of mid-19th C Vienna, as the Te Kanawa Met performance does (even rather overdoes) -- so those who like their Strauss served with that more conservative feeling might want to have 2 performances or more of this great work. But that's a good idea in any case. The world is rich in fine performances, and there is no such thing as a "perfect" one; I am pleased to have several Arabellas to enjoy on DVD and CD, and much enjoy their differences. This one by Renee Fleming is at the top of my list. I wouldn't be without it."