Dr. J. J. Kregarman | Denver, Colorado United States | 05/06/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD has quite a bit going for it. It is indeed a magnificent film, and as a film deserves 5 stars. Visually it is superb. The action is set in most realistic places and the costumes are very good. All the singers look their parts, particularly our drum major. All act extremely well and the singing good to excellent. but I do not have a score. So why not 5 stars? On occasion the orchestra overloads the sound track causing some distortion, and secondly, it is a film. As a staged opera during interludes the curtain is down and there is only the music for one to concentrate on. Here these interludes are filled with action - usually Wozzeck walking from place to place - and one is drawn to attend to the action instead of just listening to the music. A small point. I still await a modern staged Wozzeck in Hi-Fi sound. But I will not be throwing away this DVD in any case. Despite any faults it has moments of true greatness."
A Gripping, Beautifully Filmed and Performed 'Wozzeck'
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 06/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Rolf Liebermann, the legendary Intendant of the Hamburg Opera, filmed a number of operas but always said that this film of 'Wozzeck' was his favorite and I can see why. It is beautifully filmed in claustrophobic style in the grounds and buildings of a decrepit Bavarian castle, and sung gloriously. Of course, since it is a film, not a studio or stage production (although it was based on a stage production of the Hamburg Opera), the musical score was recorded in a studio and the singers lip-synched their parts while acting in the opened-out setting, much of it outdoors (as in the willow-cutting scene, or Marie's murder). The lip-synching is nigh perfect and the acting is really quite wonderful. I was especially impressed by the acting (as well as the singing) of Toni Blankenheim as Wozzeck. His face, often shot in close-up, is perfect for the part, with his hangdog, suffering look. He conveys Wozzeck's puzzlement and despair with graphic immediacy. Marie, played by a the ripe-figured and beautiful Sena Jurinac, is also extremely well-done. Richard Cassilly, a wonderful tenor but usually a so-so actor, is terrific as the strutting Drum Major. And possibly best of all, is Hans Sotin, still quite young in 1970, as the cruel and sardonic Doctor. And his singing is hors de concours.
Each scene, of course, is followed by an interlude; in the opera house each is often played with a closed curtain or a static tableau. In this production the interludes accompany silent scenes that add much to the development of the drama. For instance, after Wozzeck's murder of Marie is filmed from a distant vantage point looking through some sparse woods; in the interlude that connects it with the final scene -- the one with the children gossiping about Marie's murder and about finding her body on the path by the water -- we come closer and closer to Marie's corpse lying on that path. Visually this helps accentuate the almost unbearably tense music that accompanies it, thus heightening the horrific effect.
I have not seen the other two currently available DVDs of 'Wozzeck' but I can't imagine abandoning this one. Musically it is wonderful. Scenically it is spectacular. And though it was filmed in 1970, the sound is quite good, although in mono. Bruno Maderna, a thoroughgoing modernist if there ever was one, understands the score completely and the Hamburg Opera orchestra play brilliantly for him.
Sound: Mono; Subtitles: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian; Picture format: 4:3; Region code: 0 (worldwide); TT=106mins; No extras
Samuel | Morganton, NC | 04/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a fanatic of Alban Berg's music. His unique style of composing atonal music and his brilliant ideas for his operas made him one the most known avant-grade composers of modern music. I can say this performance of Wozzeck is one of the best ever filmed. This is an entirely different way of experiencing operas. you'll be transmited to the story in a such vivid way, is amazing. But you may think this might not be a good perdomance because it was filmed in the 70's, or because it audio format is Mono. But this is nothing to do with the experience it grants. The sound is clear and deep. The singers play and exellent role and the location is perfect for the dramatic story. You will not be dissapointed. An applause for Arthaus Musik."
Wow, what a Wozzeck!
W. McKee | Australia | 03/05/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw this as a film in the 1970s when it was shown here in Australia by the Goethe-Institut and thought it magnificent. My opinion has not changed. This is a dramatic masterpiece. Being freed from the confines of a stage production makes it more than just an opera. Toni Blankenheim is superb in the title role and the close-up shots of his hang-dog face just add to the overall impression of a downtrodden man. Hans Sotin (then still young and slim) is perfect as the sinister Doctor and Richard Cassilly impressive as the swaggering Drum-Major. Sena Jurinac is well cast as Marie. There are one or two blemishes in the DVD but these are understandable since it has been recreated from old film. The sound, although only mono, is really quite good. I would recommend this to anybody. In a word - magnificent!"
Gustav Mahler | Miami, FL | 02/10/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw this film in the 70's I thought it was wonderful and have long awaited its commercial availability. The singing acting is first rate overall. I am still impressed how the entire cast, especially Unger (the Captain) refrain from the exaggerations and histrionics that normally accompany these roles. For me, however, the real superstar of the performance is Bruno Maderna, a composer-conductor who consistantly projects a complete grasp of Berg's music and how it should be performed. Anyone who loves Berg should not hesitate to pick the audio CD of his Lulu. It's only the two Act version, but he EASILY beats out all recorded competition. One more thing: the Italian Wozzeck with Gobbi, Dow...etc is also incredibly good. Nino Sanzogno, a student of Hermann Scherchen, is nearly as good as Maderna! One CD manifestation contains as act from the BBC broadcast with Boult conducting from the mid-30's which Berg heard before he died and was very impressed by its quality."