Maximum ambiance with minimum movement
Smorgy | Southern California, USA | 08/30/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This live black & white recording is from a 1964 performance of Fortner's opera based on the Enrique Beck translation of Frederico Garcia Lorca's play, Blood Wedding. Video and sound quality is pretty good for that period. It is sung in German with no subtitle.
The story is a lyric tragedy filled with mysticism and symbolism. The Mother, from her wish to have grandchildren, reluctantly grants permission for her son (the Groom) to marry a girl (the Bride) who was previously romantically involved with Leonardo (who is related to the murderer of the Mother's husband and older son). Being as morally ambiguous as his bloody cousin is, Leonardo abandons his own wife and young child to run off with the Bride on the wedding day, setting the stage for the tragedy that the Mother has been dreading about all along.
The opera stays pretty true to Lorca's play, and the music really matches the poet's mystical tone. This is 'serialist' music... 12-tone in developing variation pattern in the style of Schoenberg, though Fortner manages to make parts of it sounds melodic and even with a Spanish flavor. If you enjoy Lulu or Moses und Aron, you'll likely enjoy Bluthochzeit.
The staging by Guenter Rennert is very static and minimalistic... which turns out to be very good since he has a great cast of singing actors to work with. Martha Moedl as the Mother can hold your attention by just sitting still.. and her strangely rich and hoarsing voice is something mesmerizing all on its own. Even more impressive is Res Fischer in the short role of Death in a Beggar's disguise. Absolutely unforgettably creepy and oozing malice out of her every pore.
Anny Schlemm also holds her own as the Bride (I don't care much for how she sounds at the beginning, but her voice warms up soon enough and she's very impressive in the end even in the company of Moedl and Fischer). With the exception of Mielsch's Moon, the supporting cast is also very well sung and acted. Everyone is kept well together by Ferdinand Leitner from the orchestra pit.
This is a very good performance of a fascinating opera (based on a very fascinating Lorca play). It is too bad that an English subtitle isn't provided.... It would be rather hopeless for any non-German speaker to try to enjoy even if you are familiar with Lorca's Bodas de sangre. And couple that with atonal music... well.. It isn't stuff for opera newbie. Established fans, especially ones who enjoy German opera, however, MUST BUY this DVD if only to get to both see and hear Martha Modl and Res Fischer in a staged performance!"