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T. W. Didden | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | 07/28/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I watched my copy of this production after I had seen a pirated copy of the Glyndebourne production and listened to the new cd set conducted by Alan Curtis. I also have the older LP set on Westminster, very admirably sung, and the cd set of the older still production with Sutherland etc. which I am going to listen to, soon. If this dvd were the only game in town, then I would advise the prospective viewer to go for it. However, with the announced dvd version from Glyndebourne, one would be advised to wait and watch a much better staging, with in most cases superior singing. Like the Munich production, the British is set in twentieth century, but the era seems closer to the twenties than the Munich's thirty's fascist Italy, which conceit is a bit strained anyway. Too bad we do not, and probably will not, have the new Met production with Fleming and Daniels; THAT would probably put these out of contention, but the british production is highly satisfactory in staging and singing, and above all, acting. The title role is well sung by both ladies, a bit more tremulously by Roschmann, but she sings expressively and with great beauty. With her stage sister, Eduige, the honors must go to Louise Winter, who chews up the scenery, but with much inuendo and dymanic. Felicity Palmer for Munich is fine but seems old and blowsy, the tone a bit frayed and doesn't seem to be as believeable a seductress. The villan,Garibaldo, is sung in BOTH productions by Umberto Chiumo, who does well in both houses, looking and acting the part to a "t", but Munich's director has him acting the Nazi thug more strenuously, seeming to be overdone to make a point. The userper, Grimoaldo, is better taken by Kurt Streit, who sings very well and looks more commanding in the part, but Munich's Paul Nilon sings well and acts well, but Streit is a little more believeable. Both boy roles are fine, as it is not a sung role anyway, but the younger boy for the Brits is more creditably vulnerable. I have left the two counter-tenor roles for last, because it here the the british production is noticeably superior: interestingly, the british have a german countertenor, and the germans have a british one. Andras Scholl is wonderful in tonal beauty and acting, while Michael Chance is, like Palmer, a bit over the hill. His voice is weaker and not as varied in expression. The other countertenors are not contested; Christopher Robson for Munich is weak and hooty, sounding like a bad "Dame Edna" or Monty Python drag, while the British singer is better and not played as caricature. Of the two stagings, if you like your up-datings eurotrashy, like many other productions coming out of Germany and sometimes England, than this is for you. I found it repugnant, hard to understand what they are driving at, stupid. If other viewers found it hard to understand what is going on in the Munich version, I can sympathsize. The dramaturgy is more understandable and believeable at Glyndebourne. Of COURSE opera plots are silly and implausible, but the british make a much greater case for character motivation and interaction. When the Munich production has the king saying he can't find the proffered sword for his escape because of the darkness, and is doing so in full stage light, common sense takes a backroad, as it does at many other points in this staging. If you haven't bought a version of this yet wait for the Glyndebourne, due at summer's end. If you bought the Munich and are unsatistied, as you SHOULD be, treat yourself to a MUCH finer representation of Handel's wonderful masterpiece. Not incidentally, the music is glorious and deserves our patient attention. As a postscript, both orchestras and conductors are fine; Mr. Bolton has a larger, more traditional size orchestra, while Mr. Christie does, as always, a superb job with his period group, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Enlightenment indeed!"
A great performance
kr2977 | Houston, TX United States | 01/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I agree for the most part with the reviewer from Carlisle, PA. Having had a chance also to view and listen to the Glyndebourne DVD published by Kultur, I definitely prefer the Munich opera performance. Why? There are 2 main reasons: First and perhaps most importantly, the sound of the music on this DVD is very warm and much more brilliant than that of the Glyndebourne DVD. This may be due to different recording techniques and therefore be unrelated to the quality of the musicians. In fact, the singers in the Glyndebourne performances (especially Anna Antonacci and Andreas Scholl as Queen and rightful King) appear at least as good artistically as their Munich counterparts (Dorothea Roschmann and Michael Chance). Listening to the Munich performance, you feel as though you are in a theater auditorium. I don't have this feeling at all when playing the other DVD. Of course, one needs a high quality stereo system to appreciate the differences. Second, I like the more dramatic and passionate singing and playing of the Munich rendition. Rodelinda is a highly dramatic Italian opera ("dramma per musica"), and the great difference in this respect between the two performances becomes apparent as early as in Rodelinda's first aria at the beginning of Act 1. Perhaps Verdi himself would have approved of this performance! I disagree with the above reviewer on some minor points. With the aid of subtitles (provided in English, German, Italian, and Japanese), the plot does make sense, and in fact is quite interesting. Christopher Robson sings and plays his somewhat tricky dramatic role very well. What I do not like in the Munich performance is the staging but viewed against the overall quality of the DVD, this is not a major flaw.
A voice teacher and early music fan
George Peabody | Planet Earth | 01/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"AN EXCITING PRODUCTION WITH HIGH QUALITY DRAMA AND SOME GREAT SINGING!
'Rodelinda' was first performed in the Haymarket Theater on February 13, 1725 (ten days before Handel's 40th birthday). The success was supposed to have been ecstatic, and his fame increased, He stood at the height of his art as an opera composer.
David Alden has staged Handel's hymn to women's love in time of battle in a modern setting. He stages it somewhere in Italy in the 50's and turns it into a story of an occurrence in the Mafia. To my mind the story is not as important as the production itself.
When viewing this production we see big spaces (somewhat gloomy), long vistas, endless walls of imprisoning brick, that reduces the human characters fo small figures, fighting the powers of oppression and tyranny that threatens to overwhelm them at any moment. Huge statues of 'the boss' dominate the square and the population cowering unseen behind endless dark tenement windows. We are looking at a 1950's urban streetscape with the characters dressed in dark Mafioso type suits, and calf-length dreary dresses.
There are 7 characters one of whom is a young boy who really is only a "prop"; the son of the male lead Michael Chance, who plays Bertarido, and does it gloriously with his wonderful countertenor voice and his great dramatic sense. He plays the role of the tragic exile returning to his country incognito to regain what has been taken away from him: namely his wife and son and country.
Dorthea Roschmann in the role of the captive wife who has been taken over by the enemy, sings her songs with heavy drama, sometimes TOO heavy for Handel's style. She is at her best in the arias that display contempt and anger.
Paul Nilon,tenor, as Grimoaldo, shows that he is really a great "Handelian" performer he sings with power, elegance and restraint.
I was particularly impressed with Felicity Palmer's role as Bertarido's sister who featured in his exile from his position of power. She has been much maligned by some reviewers of this opera, but I simply can't agree with their opinions.
The only weak voice in the opera was Christopher Robson (also a countertenor)in the role of Unulfo. Dramatically he projected his character well, but his singing is really "poor". However, he had a good sense of the characterizaion that really 'saved the day' for him.
Umberto Chiummo(bass) as Garibaldo, was a bit rough vocally, but 'pulled it off' dramatically and made the perfect 'bad guy'.
"For the worst possible happening in a Mafia milieu, there is , by the way, a word from the music vocabulary: that is, when someone 'sings'. Well, under Ivor Bolton the Mafioso have sung. And, to be sure, as beautifully as never before"."
It is not the worse Eurotrash ever
Francesco Alvarez | 08/08/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The music of Rodelinda is glorious. The singers are great, I particularly liked the dramatic, almost... verista!!! :) , performance of Dorothea Roschmann and the delicate voice of Michael Chance. The interpretative (from the musical standpoint) aspects of this Rodelinda are great too. Yes Mr (or Mrs.)Didden (from Pennsilvania) it is Eurotrash at its best, I agree. But do not forget that it is a David Alden's production after all. However, it is not the worse attempt of this british stage director to ruin a Handel's opera. If you did not like this Rodelinda keep away from his other stagings of Ariodante (ENO) and Rinaldo (Munich?) otherwise you will be horrified!. I also hate his stage productions and I think the guy (David Alden) should be in jail or sued by Handel's heirs, but this Rodelinda is OK among his other disgraces. A bit too dark to my taste though. Anyway, after watching so many Eurotrash productions of Handel's operas (it seems that this is the most common way of staging them in Europe these days) I have developed a sort of inmune system (or thick skin) that allows me to enjoy the music and the musicians and forget everything else. By the way, about the comparisson Mrs. Didden makes between Glyndebourne and Munich's Bertarido's interpreters I cannot disagree more. I think Michael Chance is far more superior to Andreas Scholl in this role. The rendering of his fantastic second act aria "Con rauco mormorio" is unbeatable. He really acts the delicate dialog between the voice and the orchestra whereas Andreas Scholl does not seem to feel what he is singing. By the way do not get me wrong, I am a big fan of Andreas Scholl but think I should be fair here."
Great Singing, occasionally tedious dramatically
D. Layman | Elizabethtown, PA United States | 01/19/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In my mind, I went back and forth on the number of stars I would deduct from my ranking.
Firstly, the singing and acting is for the most part excellent. The only partial exception is Christopher Robson in the role of Unulfo: I agree with another reviewer that he has problematic singing coupled with excellent characterization. I went for this production because I had seen Roschmann in another production; she does not disappoint here.
I did not mind the story being updated to a gang war in the early part of the 1900s: after all, much ancient politics was little better than struggles for power over "means of production" to wealth via extortion and con games.
So while only 4 stars? In the middle of the third act, I realized I was bored. I was waiting for Handel (or at least his librettist) to wrap up the story. Perhaps a better staging would have kept the interest alive. The sets were parsimonious, which is not always bad, but in this staging results a measure of tedium.
Perhaps this is one of those operas that is best heard, and not seen."