Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Strauss - Ariadne auf Naxos / Beverly Sills Claire Watson Robert Nagy John Reardon Erich Leinsdorf Boston Symphony Orchestra|
Actors: Richard Strauss, Malcolm Smith, Eunice Alberts, Boston Opera, Carole Bogard
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
VAI DVD 4363 Beverly Sills, Claire Watson, others, Boston Symphony Orchestra/Leinsdorf, 1969, 90 min., Color, Region 0.
A MUSICAL TREASURE FINALLY UNBURIED
Operaman! | Chicago, IL United States | 05/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember seeing this on Public Television when regular telecasts of opera and concerts really meant something to the public, and the Boston Symphony's concerts were regularly telecast. Strauss' original Ariadne (minus the Prologue, with many musical changes and a longer and more difficult version of the Zerbinetta aria) had rarely been heard, and it was fortunate that it was recorded for posterity. For years pirate videos and audio tapes and records in adequate to horrible quality have been circulating. There was even an abortive attempt to include the Zerbinetta aria in a recent compilation of Beverly Sills' recordings. One can only hope the VAI DVD will be of improved video quality and sound.
Suffice it to say that this is a remarkable performance. The very distinctive American cast represents some of the best singing of that time. Sadly Claire Watson, John Reardon and Maestro Leinsdorf are no longer with us - their work is distinctive and remarkable. The supporting cast includes Carole Bogard and Benita Valente, singers who would become important soloists. As for Beverly Sills' Zerbinetta, it is in a class of its own, capturing the singer at her prime and vocally flawless. True this is a concert performance without the trappings of sets and costumes, but with such astonishing music-making, the need for them is hardly noticeable. I can't wait to see this again!"
A remarkable DVD that transcends it's limitations
Mike Birman | Brooklyn, New York USA | 06/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the original version of the Strauss-Hofmannsthal combination of a 2 act Moliere play: Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (translated by Hofmannsthal with incidental music by Strauss) and a miniature 1 act opera seria, as it was first performed in Stuttgart 25 October 1912. It is only the opera that is performed here. Because it was poorly received, it was recast as a prologue followed by a revamped opera. The changes included reducing Zerbinetta's fiendishly difficult coloratura fireworks (which included a number of high F's) and a strategic key change from E to a slightly easier D. The original role of Zerbinetta was considered well-nigh unsingable and the entire evening with its play-opera configuration much too long. It is the revised Ariadne that has entered the repertory.
The entire cast is excellent, especially Claire Watson as Ariadne. But this performance unquestionably belongs to Beverly Sills who offers a stunning performance as Zerbinetta. This is a youthful, effervescent Sills with an utterly amazing coloratura captured at it's very peak. She attacks those high F's with confidence and ease (only pushing her voice to a slight shrillness one time, that I could hear). Her voice is lovely, girlishly lyrical, buttery soft yet sharply penetrating in it's power when necessary. Frankly, I'd forgotten how magnificent a coloratura Sills once was. This DVD is a revelation. The 1950's and 60's truly were a Bel Canto golden age.
Erich Leinsdorf does a good job conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra in this staged performance originally telecast on Boston's WGBH on January 7, 1969. The DVD is filmed in color with a digitally remastered picture. The picture is clear with barely any evidence of age. It is shot full screen with a 4:3 format. The region code is 0 all regions. The sound is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. It sounds splendid; the voices are immediate and clear with a nice presence. If your A-V receiver allows you the option of widening the sound stage, do so and you will be amply rewarded. Subtitles are available in English, French, German, and Italian. There are no extras. A small booklet provides background information. The DVD runs 93 minutes.
This is a remarkable DVD that records a superb performance, especially by Beverly Sills. Whatever age related limitations in sound and picture there are in evidence are transcended by the greatness that is recorded. An important video is at long last available to be savored anew. Most highly recommended.
R. W. Bannon | Kent, WA United States | 11/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A terrific DVD of a 1969 TV WGBH broadcast which features a nearly unsurpassable cast, led by two sopranos who, at the time, apparently hadn't survived Rudolf Bing's test for admission to the Met. Claire Watson's singing is radiant; the tones soar into and benefit from the glorious acoustics of Symphony Hall in Boston - what a sadly underrecorded artist (and under-appreciated in her own country) who died, tragically young. Sills as Zerbinetta not only satisfies every technical requirement with ease, but also clearly enjoys what she's doing and almost makes it sound easy. The relatively staid BSO audience's applause following her big scene would be an ovation, were the performance given today. The rest of the cast (Robert Nagy, John Reardon, Benita Valente, Carole Bogard, etc) sound great and show themselves as committed artists in the best sense of the phrase. The BSO and Leinsdorf follow suit. There are those who try to put down Leinsdorf's work- I'd like to see them better it themselves. Picture quality and sound are just fine. a tremendous document of an historic achievement."
Ariadne auf Naxos a Treasure
Mary P. Johnson | Severna Park, Maryland | 08/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a recording of a studio performance of Ariadne auf Naxos in concert - not a fully staged opera. This format worked fine for me because this 40 year old version boasts a superb cast that would be hard to equal today. Beverly Sills' spectacular coloratura singing the role of Zerbinetta represents the great American diva at her peak and a performance that should prove a real peak to any opera fan who hears it."