Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: László Polgár, Valeriy Murga, Michael Mrosek, Kismara Pessatti, Rudolf Schasching
Genres: Musicals & Performing Arts
One of the most successful European operas of the first half of the 20th century, D'Albert's Tiefland has had a long history and this minimalist new staging by Matthias Hartmann and Franz Welser-Möst gives it a welcome rev... more »
Stefan Westerhoff | New York, NY | 03/18/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This opera recording is a pleasant surprise. Tiefland is not played very often, but the Zurich recording shows that the opera is worth revisiting once in a while. They assembled a high quality cast, which is I guess the way to do it if you want to make a strong case for a lesser known work. Petra Maria Schnitzer and Peter Seiffert are excellent, but the real standout is Matthias Goerne playing the part of the "evil baritone." The plot is simple: the naive shepherd Pedro (Seiffert) is lured into moving from the mountains to the plains to marry Marta (Schnitzer), not knowing that the entire thing is a scheme by the landowner Sebastiano (Goerne). Marta is Sebastiano's mistress, and he needs to get rid of her to marry another woman to get out of some financial trouble. By marrying her to the simple Pedro, he hopes that he can keep Marta as his mistress on the side. Pedro eventually realizes what is going on and kills Sebastino. He then takes Marta (both have fallen in love in the meantime, don't ask) back to the mountains to escape from the plains, where people are just too evil. So the story is a bit hard to swallow (though not any worse than, say, Cavalleria Rusticana), but the music really has its moments.
Some people might be put off by the (modern) production. The director tries a bit too hard to distance himself from the simple plot, implying that the mountain world, where people are all good and pure, exists only in Pedro's head (he is programmed a la Matrix...). It's a bit of a stretch, but once you reach the second scene, the production is more straightforward and one can concentrate on the beautiful music and enjoy some first rate singing."
Michael Schulman | Toronto, Canada | 04/11/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I knew (and admired) this opera only from audio recordings, and looked forward to finally "seeing" it. I was profoundly angry & disappointed when I watched this "modern" production, yet another ghastly example of a "creative" director's lack of respect for the composer's and librettist's original work. By shifting the framing scenes to a 21st-century mad scientist's laboratory, the passionate story of the three principals - all yearning for love whether naive, brutal or brutalized, loses much, if not all, of its power. The music is, of course, quite beautiful, the singing is adequate, but all the sets (not only the lab scenes) are so far removed from "reality" that it was difficult to get involved with the tormented characters. A shameful enterprise!"
F. FUNES | WHITE PLAINS,NEW YORK | 05/15/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Yes,here goes another example of eurotrash and lack of respect for the composer's and librettist's creation.The word pathetic cannot encompass the loathing that I feel for this production.A gigant like EMI should be ashamed to record such garbage! I bought the DVD on a hunch,looking for a new production of this extremely beautiful opera,knowing only the several
audio recordings and the b/w film with Rudolf Schock and Isabele Strauss
conducted by Hans Zanotelli,which remains up to date the only video recording of the piece showing the time period and what the librettist wrote.As soon as I watched I returned to the record store and wanted my money back,not being though rewarded for the aggravation....
A new video of this wonderful opera is still due.Hope a good stage director comes up with a good production shortly!
Terribly flawed but still moving
Paul L. McKaskle | Berkeley, California | 07/10/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Two reviewers quite correctly characterized this as a eurotrash production. The setting of the prologue is a complete travesty as is the setting for the last minute of the opera. The opera proper is set in a "flour mill" which has a patently absurd 21st century office look to it. The costumes and acting of the three officious servants who serve as sort of a chorus to move things along are simply silly. On top of that the story is also fairly silly--Sebastiano, an evil landowner has financial problems which he can solve by marrying a rich heiress. But he has a mistress, Marta, and to make sure gossip about her doesn't derail the marriage he has Pedro, a simple very naive shepherd from the high Pyrenees, marry her--intending all along to keep Marta as a mistress. Pedro doesn't know about the plan and Marta, initially, loathes Pedro. Even so she bends to the will of Sebastiano and marries Pedro anyway. The emotional consequences of the situation begin to be developed about half way through the first act and, despite the rather silly premise of the opera, some genuinely impressive emotions develop, aided by some gorgeous music. Pedro sings a very long and moving aria "Das Fest ist vorbei" at the close of the first act and Marta's feelings toward him begin shifting to love. This is developed further in the second act when Marta recounts to Tommaso (some sort of advisor to Sebastiano) her horrific upbringing and her eventual virtual enslavement by Sebastiano. Tommaso, as a result, tells the heiress of Sebastiano's perfidy, thus foiling that marriage. Eventually Pedro and Marta proclaim their love for one another. When Sebastiano tries to interfere (to take Marta back as his mistress) Pedro fights and kills him. Then Pedro and Marta flee from the flatlands (Tiefland) for the purity of the high meadows of the Pyrenees.
Matthias Goerne's portrayal of Sebastiano's brings out the essence of evilness. Peter Seifert and Petra Schnitzer--husband and wife in real life--as Pedro and Marta are simply splendid in their roles, both in their singing and their acting. Laszlo Polgar is excellent as Tommaso
Why four stars. It is extremely well sung and for the critical parts the characters come "alive" in that their motivations and feelings are movingly expressed. I almost turned it off after the prologue but kept watching because I have long loved the music. About half way throgh the first act I began to appreciate the emotions of Pedro and Marta (and also Sebastiano and Tommaso--and Eva Liebau in the small part of Nuri was very appealing). I would have been far, far happier if it had all taken place in a less bizarre set. But I am happy that even this flawed product does exist and only hope that someday a more conventional production--but sung and acted as well as this one--will make it onto a DVD.
I don't know what the odds are for that--it is produced with some frequency in Germany (and I saw it once there with a "proper" set). But it is rarely performed elsewhere so the market may not exist. It also has the freight of being a favorite of Hitler (though I'm not sure why--possibly because d'Albert's music is influenced by Wagner--but nothing in the plot would seem to appeal to the Nazi psyche). So, if one can ignore the absurd eurotrash scenery, I recommend this DVD. If the eurotrash is too much, there are several recordings of it on CDs."