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Handel: Semele
Handel Semele
Actors: Cecilia Bartoli, Liliana Nikiteanu, Birgit Remmert, Isabel Rey, Charles Workman
Director: William Christie;Robert Carsen s
Genres: Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2009     18hr 31min

Opera superstar Cecilia Bartoli offers her first operatic release on DVD in 12 years, and also her first opera in English. Bartoli stars as Semele (a role usually taken by a soprano) in Handel s late opera, which features ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Cecilia Bartoli, Liliana Nikiteanu, Birgit Remmert, Isabel Rey, Charles Workman
Director: William Christie;Robert Carsen s
Genres: Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Drama, DTS, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Classical
Studio: Decca
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 05/12/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/2009
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 18hr 31min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
Edition: Classical
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: Chinese, English, French, German, Spanish
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Movie Reviews

Endless Pleasure
Paul Van de Water | Virginia, USA | 03/16/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I've been greatly enjoying this new Decca DVD of "Semele," with Cecilia Bartoli in the title role and Charles Workman as Jupiter. The disc is now on sale here in the U.S., having been available on-line from the U.K. for some time. Originally performed as an oratorio, Semele takes naturally to the opera house (in this case, Zurich). Although in modern dress, Robert Carsen's staging is generally faithful to the text, with few gratuitous additions. As would be expected of William Christie, the musical production is excellent. The cuts are mostly minor. If you want to check it out yourself, you can find several excerpts on YouTube, including "Endless pleasure," "Myself I shall adore," and "Where'er you walk.""
And Bacchus crown the joys of love
Dr. John W. Rippon | Florida | 05/26/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"....and Bacchus crown the joys of love.
The Work.
By 1741 Handel was out of the opera business. For three decades he had presided over a thriving Italian Opera House in London, had produced dozens of operas by other composers as well as written and produced some thirty five or so operas of his own composition. All this time he had been in the favor of the royals and the "people of Quality". However the tastes of the London audience had changed and he had gone from a wealthy man to near bankruptcy. Now he simply changed forms and was writing oratorios in English and was again prospering. A succession of "hits" folloowed including Messiah, Samson, Saul, Joseph and his Brethren etc. Then in 1743 he too up the script of Semele, a tale from Ovid. He had previously written a "serenata" in English also based on Ovid in 1714 called Acis and Galatea which is in oratorio style, not staged. Semele was to be a non-opera even though the libretto by William Congreve was set as an opera by John Eccles in 1707 but not performed at that time. This libretto is a masterpiece of English writing. It pulsates with life, passion, lust, comedy, pathos and eroticism. Certainly not something for a church choir. Handel added some parts of Alexander Pope e.g. Jupiter's "Where 'er you walk" to fill in the Congreve text. His great inspiration began to flow again and Handel produced one of the most perfect gems of his great output.
The Performance.
This DVD production was filmed in January 2007 at the Zurich Opera House, The cast here has the very gifted Cecilia Bartoli, the formidable conductor and Baroque authority William Christie and noted producer Robert Carsen. All in all a very successful operation. The other cast members are not so well known as Ms Bartoli but are most all up to the calling except the Ino of Liliana Nikiteanu who goes breathless on occasion. They all work together along with the excellent chorusto give the piece a light comedic touch, particularly the Juno of Brigit Remmert. When this work was first presented (not staged but sung) in 1744 the reviwer dubbed it "No Oratorio, but a baudy opera", and bawdy it is. A good evvenings entertainment as a staged work.
In 1990 a superb CD was issued using period instruments, the Ambrosian Opera Chorus, English Chamber Orchestra all led by John Nelson. The cast was a dream roster with the young Kathleen Battle in perhaps her best recorded role, the unmatchable Marilyn Horne as Juno and Ino, Samuel Ramey, Sylvia Mc Nair, counter tenor Michael Chance and John Aler as Jupiter. I have listened to and cherished this recording for many years. When I compare this performance to the present DVD I'm impressed with several things. In the CD we have a series of arias superbly sung e.g. Horn "Hence, Iris, hence away", M Chance "Hymen haste, thy torch prepare"(not included in the DVD), Ramey "Wher 'er you walk" (so beautiful). But that is it. It is a series arias sung by some of the best and most famous singers of the time; there is no sense of continuity. Here in this DVD it all works well together as an opera with the good chorus providing push for the action and unifying the parts into a whole. Semele has a sad end but from her ashes is born the demigod of wine and good cheer. So in the end the chorus sings his praises and passes around the wine to everyone onstage, all get tipsy and start doffing off clothes; and Bacchus crown the joys of love."
P. Sutherland | Berea, Ohio, USA | 04/12/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This modern dress production of Semele by Robert Carsen is very entertaining. I've admitted previously that I don't particularly care for baroque opera. This one started out slow, as usual, with the same lines sung over and over again, but once the gods were involved, the production started to percolate!

I wasn't expecting humor but this opera is filled with it. Isabel Rey as Iris and Birgit Remmert as Juno did some very funny bits together. Charles Workman as Jupiter and Cecilia Bartoli as Semele were brilliant together. If there was a weak link, it was Liliana Nikiteanu's English pronunciation and a tendency for her singing to fade out. Otherwise, the entire cast and chorus sang beautifully and the acting was superb!

If you are new to Handel, start here, you'll love it!"
Very disappointed!
Bill E. | Rockville Centre, NY USA | 09/13/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)

"I was waiting for this release to come out with baited breath. Semele is one of my favorite handel works and I've owned the CD version with Battle and Horne with Nelson conducting. I can't tell you about this production because I found the singing to be so god-awful that I paid little attention to the staging. Bartoli is fair - although I found her sung English to be quite understandable. I feel that the other singers really ruined this performance for me. Very sorry that I bought it."