Where's the orchestra?
Everett Leiter | New York, NY | 01/23/1999
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Listening to this over high fidelity stereo loudspeakers, I found this video largely unsatisfying. It's pleasant to look at, and the singing is fine. The main problem is the balance. The orchestra is much too far in the background, as if the engineers mistakenly considered it to be accompaniment to the singing. As a result the spectacularly colored orchestrations, the harmony, and much of the DRAMA (!) of this work are lost in this video. In short, musically it makes no sense...except for a number of scattered moments when the beautiful sound of the music is discernible. I suspect that this was a good performance, badly recorded or engineered."
OK at Best
Lee Gremillion | Minneapolis, MN | 05/02/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This production of Katya Kabanova is OK, but not much more than that. It has respectable singers, especially in Nancy Gustafson and Felicity Palmer, but they appear bloodless and dull, and the orchestra, as another reviewer has pointed out, has faded into the background. Add this to Glyndebourne's totally non-descript sets and costumes, and you get something that's sort of dull. Also, there are some cuts from Janacek's original score, which is absolutely unfathomable in an opera that doesn't run for an hour and a half in its full versionA much better choice is the Salzburg Festival DVD of this opera by TDK. First, the negatives: it's one of those productions by a European director who thinks that Janacek would have done it this way if only he had just been as clever as the director. It's set not on the banks of the Volga, but in the courtyard of a Soviet-era apartment building somewhere in Eastern Europe. There are a few distractors: a non-singing drunk/demented person (take your choice) who is on-stage all the time; a broken fountain that substitutes for the Volga; the Kabanicha's room perpetually open onto the stage, and so on. However, the positives far outweigh the negatives. Angela Denoke is incandescent as Katya. The entire supporting cast beats the Glyndebourne cast, one-on-one, hands down. Dagmar Peckova (Varvara) and Rainer Trost (Kudryas) elevate their roles through their artistry to primario status. The orchestra(the Czech Philharmonic, Sylvain Cambreling conducting) is clear and powerful, and well-balanced with the singers. Worst case, you can turn off the picture and just listen to it. I got my copy of this version of KK from the Royal Opera's website (Region 0 encoded). ..."
Musically interesting, but very cold staging
Lee Gremillion | 10/12/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The cold and abstract staging here is clearly meant to reflect the suffocating world of the title character, but two hours of it becomes very disagreable. Better get the CD version: the music is gorgeous and there is no distraction from the intensity of the music."
An Intense, lyrical opera
Lee Gremillion | 06/07/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"On the DVD the orchestra is really there. I liked the production, and the cast sang and acted well. Perhaps the sound was remixed for the DVD as I could not understand the negative reviews given this production."