Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Strauss - Daphne|
Actors: June Anderson, Roberto Sacca, Scott MacAllister, Daniel Lewis Williams, Stefan Anton Reck
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Anderson's Radiant Daphne
G P Padillo | Portland, ME United States | 01/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just finished watching Paul Curran's production of "Daphne" for La Fenice with June Anderson. While I enjoyed her Lucia some 20 years ago, and several other roles, I never became a real fan of Ms. Anderson's. I was, therefore, stupified at what a completely beautiful performance - breathtaking really - she gives as one of Strauss's oddest heroines. Anderson, whether singing or silent was ever a riveting presence. The voice is firm and beautiful, the high notes - even those wild exposed "out of nowhere" notes Strauss complicates the role with, are spot on, radiant with no lurching towards them, just "there" every time in perfectly executed attacks. All I could do was say "wow!"
A simply designed set by Kevin Knight (who also did the excellent costumes) - a large wooden circle laid into the center of the stage floor with (I don't know what you call this) an enormous ring surrounding it - provided plenty of space and managed to convey a place of mystery. Midway, during Apollo's outburst, the center circle rises and moves at various angles as the outer one rises high above it in wild (almost dangerous) configurations as Daphne and others wend their way over and around it - beautifully synchronized to the music - creating an almost liquid-like effect.
This staging does not allow Daphne's physical transformation into an "actual" Laurel tree (she doesn't even have a single costume change from her white pajama-type pants, white slippers and long white calf-length vest), but rather, through Anderson's graceful, almost balletic-fluidity, she navigates the constantly shifting circles of the set with a queenly elegance, striking poses beautifully lit and highly affecting. Even sans tree-costume, Anderson makes you believe in Daphne's total transformation. I can in all honesty say this was not at all what I was expecting. Anderson was 53 at this taping and while that is no longer "old" for a soprano, it would seem to be pushing it for this role and I cannot praise her beautiful performance enough. I have gooseflesh even writing this!
As Gaea, Birgit Remmert is, likewise, tremendous. Firm of voice, elegant in stature and movement she reminded me a bit of a young Troyanos. Both top notes and low (and Strauss is almost sadisticly fiendish in the vocal requirements for Gaea) she hits everything - at times sounding more baritone than mezzo. It's a rich, excellent performance and Remmert's air of physical lightness contrasted perfectly with Anderson's dreamily gloomy heroine.
Roberto Sacca's Leukippos began fairly well, but only grew better moment-by-moment and by his final scene was heartwrenching and in glorious voice. His violent death provides some of the best lighting effects as Daphne watches in horror. Here, Anderson's bemoaning of his death - both in voice and action as she falls atop his lifeless body, stroking his head, arm, and fingers was nearly unbearable to watch and got me pretty moist around the eyes.
Apollo was Scott MacAllister and in a role that doesn't require much subtlety, he provided none. It's a big sound and he sounded fearless in the music but (and this could be just me) I felt at any minute the voice would pop and break as, while fearless sounding, he never sounded particularly comfortable up there. That he got through this bear of a role in one piece - and in tune - is no simple feat, so kudos to him as well.
The rest of the cast all seemed up to the challenge as well and Stefan Anton Reck conducts the La Fenice forces with great shaping of Strauss's score. The impossibly high, delicate string writing at the end has a bit of scratchiness to it (doesn't it almost always?) and there's a rough spot or two in the difficult horn music, but these truly are minor quibbles when measured against the whole. The chorus, all of the extras, in the Dionysian celebration let loose and the stage is ablaze with color.
During the transformation scene, inset tiny lanterns illuminate the shifting set as Daphne navigates the circles, the lamps at times almost magically illuminating her hands with a golden glow. Combined with that gorgeous music, it is a breathtaking, stunning effect.
David Jacques' lighting designs are positively magical. Towards the lighting becomes a little evocative of "Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind" leaving me in equal awe.
What a wonderful surprise this DVD turned out to be! Highly recommended."
Spontini | 01/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As the prior reviewer noted, this is an excellent live recording at the beautifully rebuilt La Fenice in Venice.
June Anderson has moved to Strauss roles as her voice has matured: in addition to Daphne in Venice she has performed Capriccio in Naples. She is impeccable. Her fine acting skills honed in all those "mad scenes" she has performed are clearly on display here. I also thought her voice blended so beautifully with Birgit Remmert. Would love to see them as Norma/Adalgisa.
The orchestra sounds crisp and, unlike the prior reviewer, I did not have any problem with its tempi. I highly recommend this peformance."
A beautiful production of a rare opera.
T. C. | 12/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Dynamic DVD is of a performance that was recorded at the beautiful Teatro La Fenice di Venezia in 2005.
The director is Paul Curran. Visually this is a charming production with a few stunning scenes. The stage is designed with simplicity: not overloaded but always colorful and imaginative. In the center of the stage there is a big wooden circle, which is encircled by two huge wooden toruses (rings). From about the middle of the opera when the angry Apollo brings in thunderbolts, the huge wooden circles start to rise up and down in various forms and angles and the whole construction is constantly changing its shape. The use of lighting is brilliant. It is especially effective in the finale of the opera, when the orchestra is playing a magnificent orchestral interlude, which portrays Daphne transformation into a tree. The whole construction on stage is faintly illuminated by dozens of small lamps. A ravishing sight! The festival of Dionysus scene is especially colorful, when the stage is crowded with singers and dancers.
The orchestra is conducted by Stefan Anton Reck and plays very well, if at times with relatively broad tempi. Strauss orchestration is masterful as always, and the beautiful pastoral oboe solo in the beginning of the opera is charming.
June Anderson is renowned especially for her Italian and French repertoire. I don't think that she sang a lot of Strauss music in the past (if at all) and now in her fifties she is definitely not in the class of the great Strauss sopranos I know, but I enjoyed her performance and involvement in the role. She is especially moving in the scene where she mourns her lover Leukippos after Apollo murdered him.
Tenor Roberto Sacca is an effective Leukippos. Although he is of an Italian origin, he was born in Germany and sings in excellent German. The other tenor Scott MacAllister sings Apollo with a big voice, and with quite powerful high notes. He will probably be a good Siegfried... Daniel Lewis Williams is an adequate Peneios and mezzo Birgit Remmert is a wonderful Gaea. Her dark and profound voice will make her a very good Erda...
To sum up, judging on musical qualities alone it cannot compete with the best CD recordings (Bohm, Bychkov or Haitink), but by itself this is an excellent DVD and I enjoyed it a lot!!
E. J. Powell | wales | 05/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this DVD for two reasons: I needed to get to know this rare opera, and because of the review by Mr/Ms Padillo on this site. Like him, I had never been a June Anderson fan. At her vocal prime there was always some question about intonation and dramatic involvement. Unlike other reviews on this site, Mr Padillo was a sceptic whose doubts had been overcome. Me too!
The quality of the HD dvd is certainly the best I have encountered. The production is a feast to the eyes: imaginative, creative, staggeringly beautiful. Ms Anderson doesn't put a foot wrong in this historical recording and -- by any standards -- it is a high point in the careers of all those involved.
You need have no doubts - this is a wonderful achievement."