A wonderful overview of an extraordinary soprano
Jorge Fernandez Baca | Lima, Peru | 12/11/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD gives you a unique opportunity to see Mrs Elizabeth Schwarzkopf in some of her best live performances as an opera singer and a Lieder interpreter. I have always been curious about how she could look on scene, given that I am of her more fervent admirers. My veneration for Mrs Schwarzkopf began when I first heard her singing the role of Donna Elvira in the Giulini's version of Don Giovanni, and it grew bigger when I saw for the first time a photograph of her and I learned that she was not only an excellent soprano but also an amazingly attractive woman. This rare combination of talent and beauty was particularly unusual in the 1950's, and even today there are few exceptions, such as Renée Fleming and Angela Gheorghiu.In less than an hour the film gives a quick account of Mrs Scharzkopf's career, narrated by herself, since her very beginnings in Berlin until her retirement in Zürich giving master classes. Then you will see her singing at the Deutsche Oper, during the nazi regime, singing La Bohème and Carmen, at the time when she was a coloratura soprano, as well as the dramatic bombardment of Berlin, which she fortunately missed due to a tuberculosis that obliged her to leave the city. Then we will find her in Viena, when she became worldly famous in the roles of Donna Elvira, Countess Rossina and the Marschallin, after her marriage with Walter Legge and her transformation into a lyrical soprano. The third part of the documentary shows her singing Lieder songs, which happened to be her favourites and used to predominate during her recitals. Finally, we can see her giving song lessons in Zürich, at a time when she surely was in her 70's but her face still reveals how beautiful she was. What most impressed me is the last part of the film when we can hear her speaking but she does not dare to show herself before the cameras, surely because she does not want her admirers to see her too old.
The only two things that I regret from this film. The first one is that is too short - the film lasts less than an hour - and the second one is that it does not contain further filmed material of her best opera performances."
Victor H | 03/10/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The definitive voice of Lieder and Mozart Opera is much-maligned by this inadequate presentation of her lifeTo start with the opening shot of this quasi-documentary is of uninformative, cheesy to say the least, shot of a flower and bee. What follows is a much too short film, lacking in available archive footage. I was left knowing very little more about Miss Schwarzkopf's extra-ordinairy life. Apart from that there were cringing moments when eg the Wienerwald song was played instrumentally with footage of unknown people dancing the waltz out of rhythm of the song. And to top it all, a most delightful recording of Schwarzkopf singing the very same song does exist! Perhaps further research in the subject matter would have helped the director to do this wonderful singer's life and accomplishments justice and produce a true celebration of her art?"
A fine introduction to Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
Victor H | Washington, DC | 11/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Even though it is a self-portrait with moments of unabashed self-laudation, it is still a fascinating look at a great artist and equally intriguing woman--one of many inner conflicts. One can tell that she was her own harshest critic, keenly aware of her limitations as well as strengths. The shortness of the film whets my appetite for more of her--recordings by her, books by and about her. My admiration for her is not diminished by the knowledge of her early political associations--so many of the German musicians of that era were in the same boat. Last but not least, this film does show her timeless beauty through the years."